Saturday, February 27, 2021

 This Week's Review Of. . .
Be Afraid . . . Be Very Afraid!

Howling Dark

In this, the second book of the Sun Eater Sequence, Hadrian Marlowe’s life begins to spiral out of control. Seeing what happened to him in Empire of Silence, that’s saying something.

Here’s the blurb for Howling Dark:


Hadrian Marlowe is lost.
For half a century, he has searched the farther suns for the lost planet of Vorgossos, hoping to discover a way to contact the elusive alien Cielcin. He has pursued false leads for years among the barbarian Normans as captain of a band of mercenaries, but Hadrian remains determined to make peace and bring an end to nearly four hundred years of war.
Desperate to find answers, Hadrian must venture beyond the security of the Sollan Empire and among the Extrasolarians who dwell between the stars. There, he will face not only the aliens he has come to offer peace, but contend with creatures that once were human, with traitors in his midst, and with a meeting that will bring him face to face with no less than the oldest enemy of mankind.
If he succeeds, he will usher in a peace unlike any in recorded history. If he fails, the galaxy will burn


Hadrian Marlowe wakes from cryo-sleep to find himself light-years further away from the Empire’s clutches, and one step closer to discovering the location of elusive Vorgossos. And therein lies the rub. On every occasion he thinks he’s gained vital information, he discovers those clues to be nothing but smokescreens and illusions that do nothing but lead him along divergent paths.

However, those trials and tribulations serve another, just as important purpose. They notify ‘strange & terrifying powers’ of Hadrian’s existence. Drawn into a web of dread and shocking potential, Hadrian Marlowe is beset by doubts and indecision. Yet he is matured by his experiences. So much so, that when hard decisions have to be made, he isn’t slow in stepping up.

The thing is, stepping up puts him directly in harm’s way. And in this adventure, Hadrian Marlowe is ever beset by the potential for great harm. From the Empire, who view him as an embarrassment to be silenced; from the Cielcin, who, despite his earnest desire for peace, look on all humans as chaff to be reaped; from long-dead legends who have no right to be alive; from diabolical nightmares who have never known the fragility of flesh and blood; and even from his closest friends.

Yes, death is Hadrian Marlowe’s closest friend. And it’s astonishing how things work out for him when that specter comes-a-calling, for ‘something’ has Hadrian in its cosmos-spanning eye, and he has a task to accomplish before it’s/they’re done with him.

As I mentioned in my review of Empire of Silence, this awesomely epic space opera portrays the scope of Frank Herbert’s, Dune; The scale of Arthur C. Clarkes, 2001: A Space Odyssey; and the poignant message conveyed in Barry B. Longyear’s, Enemy Mine.

It’s magnificent stuff, is better than the first book, and will keep you engrossed from beginning to end.

Bravo, Christopher Ruocchio. Bravo indeed!

Amazon Review

Monday, February 15, 2021

Lockdown Distractions

Still Completely Sane

 This coming week's diversions are:

Something Old

Something New

Should be fun!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

 Where No Man

(Including Simon and Garfunkel)

Has Gone Before

Empire of Silence

This is the first book I’ve read by Christopher Ruocchio. And if the Empire of Silence is anything to go by, it certainly won’t be the last. Take a peek at the introduction to this story:

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.


Yes, Hadrian Marlowe is a man born to power and privilege. Yet, he sees such things as a living hell, and yearns to break free of the shackles chaining him to an unbalanced institution that panders to a privileged elite, while fighting a 300 year old war against the Cielcin. The society he was born into is rigidly indoctrinated by the elitism imposed by the Chantry, and enforced by the Emperor and his legions. Such elitism does nothing but to rob everyday citizens of their humanity and simple decency.

Hadrian realizes this, for he possesses something rarely seen in this far-future empire. A conscience. He knows things need to change and longs to travel the vast expanse of the stars in order to seek answers to questions that should have been asked long, long ago.

So he decides to do something about it . . . or at least, he tries to.

As a result, he is rendered excomminicado, his inheritance as first in line to his family’s wealth and power simply wiped away; he’s sent into exile; sold into slavery; ends up begging on the streets of an impoverished backwater planet; fighting as gladiator fodder in the colosso.

And just when he’s on the verge of throwing in the towel, discovers something that truly captures his heart and soul: clues as to the origins of life in the universe. And far from the rhetoric spouted by the Chantry, it isn’t anything to do with humanity. Oh no. Something more ancient and vaster than mankind can possibly imagine once used the cosmos as its playing ground. And humans?

Well, that remains to be seen.

Be warned. Empire of Silence is a lengthy tome. But it’s well worth the commitment it takes to read it. Ruocchio is an accomplished world builder, and weaves a rich tapestry of far-future, galaxy spanning expansion that maintains a brisk yet steady pace throughout, without losing the personal touch.

The main characters are detailed and credible. You can relate to – or hate – them in equal measure, while the supporting cast, though many and varied, add attention to detail that adds credibility to the star system spanning arena in which the story is set.

While reading, I was distinctly reminded of the scope of Frank Herbert’s, Dune; The scale of Arthur C. Clarkes, 2001: A Space Odyssey; and the poignant message conveyed in Barry B. Longyear’s, Enemy Mine.

It’s great, epically proportioned stuff, and will keep you turning the pages in your haste to find out what happens next. (And in all honesty, it’s a great way to while away the never-ending lockdown hours)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

 Cookie Anyone?

Refresh your memory of my last visit to the After Rot cafe, where we mulled over the meaning of cookies, munched on life, giggled like schoolboys, and pretty much took a long-distance break from the lockdown.

(Pretty much sums life up eh?)

After Rot

Saturday, February 6, 2021

 Lockdown Distractions

(My Sanity Teeters on the Edge of an Abyss)

To help focus my fragile mind, I'll be mixing it up with - to myself, at any rate - favorites slanted on the "something old and something new" idiom.

This weeks diversions are brought to you, courtesy of. . .

Something Old

Something New

See you on the other side :)