Friday, September 23, 2016

“Dead Man’s Reach” – Historical Fantasy in Colonial Boston

I recently finished Dead Man’s Reach by D.B. Jackson, the fourth book in his Thieftaker series. The book turned out to be another excellent installment in Jackson’s historical fantasy tale set in Colonial Boston. Here’s my review.

The story presents another mystery for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker whose job involves hunting down thieves and retrieving the stolen goods for his clients. Kaille, however, is also a conjurer, or “speller” in the world of these books, who can wield magic by summoning a ghost-like spectral guide. And it’s within the realm of magic that the novel’s mystery unfolds.

The Colonial Boston setting is one of the things I love most about the series, and this time the story takes us through the events of the Boston Massacre in March of 1770. Tensions are smoldering between the British soldiers occupying Boston and the citizens who oppose them, including Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But when the protests begin turning violent, Kaille discovers that a conjurer is using magic to fan the flames. Even more, he suspects the conjurer may be one of his old foes – one that Kaille thought he had put in the grave.

The mystery drives the story, but it’s the history and the characters that make this such a fun read. All the regulars are back: rival thieftaker Sephira Pryce, his girlfriend Kannis, Kelf the bartender, his good friend Diver, and all the real historical characters who lived during this time like Sam Adams. But my favorite among them is Kaille. In fact, after four books Ethan Kaille is becoming one of the iconic characters of historical and fantasy fiction, like Roland Deschain, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, and Elric of Melniboné.

The story’s villain hits Kaille close to home in this book, and for a moment I feared we were headed toward the end of this series. But after the last chapter, I don’t think that’s the case. Jackson has been slowly building his tale toward the Revolutionary War, and Paul Revere is already a minor character. I really hope we get to experience Revere’s Midnight Ride before the series ends, and if so, I’ll bet Ethan Kaille will be right in the thick of it.

Thanks to Amazon you can read a preview of the book here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Will “Westworld” Tide Us Over Until “Black Sails”?

I’ve written a lot about the TV wasteland we’ve lived in since the season finale of Game of Thrones. Seriously, an entire summer has gone by and what have we had? The Olympics? (Okay, we did have The Night Of, which was awesome, but not the right genre for this blog).

So, on October 2nd, HBO will finally give us Westworld. The drama is based on a 1973 movie written by Michael Crichton, the world-class author who gave us Jurassic Park, Sphere, The Andromeda Strain, and so many other great stories. I remember seeing the 1973 film on TV (sometime after 1973, but not too much after), and I loved it, even though I found it scary. Some of the scenes, such as Yul Brenner as the gunslinger stalking his prey, are still burned in my mind. (Maybe my parents shouldn’t have let me see it; I bet I was about 8 or 9.)

The premise is similar to Jurassic Park. In fact, I think this was Crichton’s warm up to his most famous novel. It involves an adult amusement park where customers can live out their fantasies in settings such as the Wild West or the Middle Ages. The park’s inhabitants are all androids that appear entirely human. But when something goes wrong – just like in Jurassic Park – the androids get lethal and all hell breaks loose.

My major criticism of the film adaptation of Jurassic Park is that Steven Spielberg turned the book's villain, John Hammond, into a kindly, doddering old man. This eliminated the story’s antagonist and really screwed it up, in my opinion. Based on HBO’s trailer for Westworld, however, it looks like Anthony Hopkins is well prepared to play the role Crichton intended. The trailer looks amazing, and I’m looking very forward to ending this TV drought.

Black Sails won’t return until January, and Game of Thrones is postponed until the summer of 2017. So let’s take what we’ve got and enjoy some Westworld!

* Image courtesy of HBO

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Post-Labor Day Sale for “Enoch’s Device”!

As I work on editing the sequel, the Kindle version of Enoch’s Device is going on sale for the next seven days. If you've read the novel and enjoyed it, now is a perfect time to tell a friend! Here’s what the book is about: 

Nearly a thousand years after the birth of Christ, when all Europe fears that the world will soon end, a young Irish monk, Brother Ciarán, discovers an ominous warning hidden in the illuminations of a religious tome. The cryptic prophecy speaks of Enoch’s device, an angelic weapon with the power to prevent the coming apocalypse. But a heretic-hunting bishop has arrived at the monastery, willing to kill to make sure the weapon is never found.
Pursued by the bishop’s men and supernatural forces, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor journey to the heart of France in search of the device. There, they rescue the Lady Alais, a young widow accused of witchcraft because she holds a key to the prophecy. Together, the trio must race across Europe to locate the device, which has left clues of its passage through history. But time is running out, and if they don’t find it soon, all that they love could perish at the End of Days. 
Enoch’s Device is a fast-paced medieval adventure steeped in history, mythology, and mysteries from a dark and magical past.
Here are excerpts from the book’s reviews:
Author Cate Peace of Indie Books R Us called Enoch's Device “a refreshing twist on the religious thriller, and one that will have you turning pages from cover to cover as fast as you can.” 
In other reviews, Stephen Reynolds of SPR called Enoch's Device “a wonderfully imagined, vividly described, alternately lyrical and violent romp of a novel that should give lovers of historical fantasy just the kind of fix they're looking for.”
And Marty Shaw of Blog Critics wrote: “If you enjoy tales of magic and adventure that are perfectly blended with reality and history, ‘Enoch’s Device’ by Joseph Finley will be an exciting read for you.”
I gave an interview to Ms. Peace, where I revealed a bit more about the upcoming sequel – you can read it here. Also, you can read more about Enochthe Fae, and the Paladins of Charlemagne in my interview that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer here

And, thanks to a new feature that Amazon is offering, you can read a free preview here.