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GUEST REVIEW: Demon Forged by Meljean Brook

GUEST REVIEW: Demon Forged by Meljean Brook

This guest review is brought to you by Jill Myles, author, friend and blogging partner of Meljean Brook. We will have a review of Demon Forged by Janet (aka Robin) next week.

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Dear Meljean Brook:

0425230414.01.LZZZZZZZI’ve struggled to write this review a little. In fact, this is the second time I’ve tried to write it on paper, and probably the ninth draft from my head.

Disclaimer – you and I blog together and we are friends, but…I was a friend to your series (does that sound lame? Can I say that?) long before we’d ever said hello. I was first introduced to the Guardians when Jane Litte of Dear Author raved about DEMON ANGEL. Hello, angel story? I am there. It wasn’t until much later that we became friends, but I wanted to throw this out in the open lest someone think I have bias, and I guess I do.

Some of your books I have loved more than others. DEMON BOUND was my absolute favorite, and some of the others were less…favorite… (I’m looking at you, DEMON NIGHT) but were still excellent reads. For me, your books are a consistent treat – when I want dense, layered storytelling, an epic plot and damn hot sex, I reach for one of your books. And when I told Jane how much I loved your new book and how groundshaking it was as a faithful reader, she invited me to come do this review.

So. Review.

I’m not so good with reviews so I’ll try and hit a laundry list of things. I like lists, you see. (Editorial note, lists have numbers or letters, Jill, or at least bullet points).

DEMON FORGED is the story of Irena and Alejandro, both Guardians. Irena can control and sculpt metal, and Alejandro can control fire. 400 years ago, they were lovers until a demon broke them apart. And naturally they are thrown back together again for the storyline of the novel. (I’m not going to recap the entire plot because I am really, really really bad at recaps. Honest. What you need to know is that Irena kicks ass, and Alejandro kicks ass, and at some point they both get together, kick other people’s asses, and then do hot, nasty things to each other. End recap.)

I know you have gotten crap in the past about your dense storylines. And it’s true – there is a ton packed into every Meljean Brook novel. This is no fluffy bunny tale that you can breeze through in an hour. Your novels are complex, detailed, layered in plot. The worldbuilding is incredible. I think you’ve thought of everything, and it shows. Can you pick up DEMON FORGED if you haven’t read the other books in the series? I think so. The story starts off following Irena closely. Will you be completely lost? Maybe for a brief while.

I have a small confession to make: I suck at remembering ongoing storylines. While I recall characters, I never remember what happened in the last book, so I basically start fresh with every novel as well. So while I do think some readers will be initially confused, trust Meljean Brook that she will lead you through the story and hook you in. (And if you need a bit more help, there’s always the Primer here: http://meljeanbrook.com/books/the-guardian-series/primer )

If you’re someone that has followed the Guardians series for a while, though, I have two words for you: HOLY CRAP.

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If books in a series were playing cards…you just played your ace, Meljean Brook. DEMON FORGED takes everything you knew about the Guardians and their world, shakes it up, breaks it, and then leaves you begging for mercy. This book was impossible to predict, and breathtaking with the way it steamrolled me right to the very last page.

(For those of you worrying, worry not! There’s a definite happily ever after and it’s a good one – it’s just everything else that goes BOOM.)

So I won’t spoil it for you, but just want to say that it was pretty awesome. And I probably cried 3 or 4 times at the end (one scene in particular between Colin and Savi left me breathless) but it was a good cry, not a devastating cry like I did at the end of the Disney’s Pocahontas movie.

(Forgive but never forget, people. Hero sailing away at the end? FAIL.)

I’m going to take a different angle from some of the other reviewers I have seen. While I fell in love with Alejandro from the first (and really, all of your heroes punch my buttons), I found Irena hard to love. She is stubborn like a mule, impossible to please, and tends to snarl at everyone. But by the middle of the book, I understood what made her tick. And by the end of the book, I was rooting for her, even though she wasn’t my favorite heroine of yours. Some people go for the anti-heroine and some people go for the pretty princess heroine. I’m a pretty princess heroine girl myself, but if I have to go for a nail-your-nuts-to-the-wall-and-make-you-like-it heroine, Irena does the job admirably well.

To be honest, the thing that stuck out in my mind the most in this book were the supporting characters. Michael and his hinted-at-heroine had me riveted. I lived for when Jake appeared on the page. And Rosalia won me over the moment she appeared on screen. Not that the rest of the book wasn’t good, mind you. But I really love some of your quirkier characters, and was just crazy about Michael. CRAZY.

Oh, and one more thing to mention. You write some really sexy stuff. Demon Forged is the hottest book so far. The scene with the forge is ONLY surpassed by the scene with the statue. Barely. Hot stuff. So, there’s my review for Demon Forged.

If you are a fan of the Guardian Series, you absolutely must pick up this book. Absolutely. In fact, go pre-order it right now.

If you are thinking about trying the Guardian Series but not sure if this is the right book to pick up, I say YES, but with a note of warning. You will be doing a little catching up in the beginning, but I feel that Brook is an author you can trust to bring everything full circle and make sense of things.

A solid A- from me. And the minus is because I have to be objective. Or something

~Jill Myles

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers starting tomorrow, October 6, 2009.

GUEST REVIEW:  The Mage’s Daughter by Lynn Kurland

GUEST REVIEW: The Mage’s Daughter by Lynn Kurland

THe Mage's Daughter Lynn KurlandHow long does it take for a book to become a favorite? If it’s measured in time, then this book doesn’t qualify, for it’s only been out for seven weeks. But if it’s measured in re-reads, then this book surely has become one for me, for I’ve already read it five times and loved it more each time. I’d like to share it with those of you who joined me in singing the praises of Robin McKinley’s Beauty.

Lynn Kurland has made a name for herself in time travels and paranormals for the last 12 years, with every single one of her books still in print. But in my opinion, she has outdone herself, and The Mage’s Daughter is the best so far.

I love the way this fantasy tells a story of good versus evil, yet you are not dragged down by the darkness that is trying to overtake this world. Rather, you experience the emotions and thoughts and feelings of the characters as THEY deal with the evil that is thrown at them. You’re also given the chance to share in their victories, just as you share in their conversation and laughter when they’re warm and safe around the fire.

I love the way the magic is a silvery ribbon that winds through characters that are still so human that they effortlessly become my friends. They have magic and know spells, but they use them in the same utterly human ways that you or I use our knowledge and skills.

The Mage’s Daughter may be the second in a trilogy, yet the story told in this book isn’t ruined by the fact that it’s part of a larger story. Its beauty is in the romance, unwillingly begun in the first book, now finally allowed to grow and blossom into something truly beautiful in this one – yet still holding promise for the end of the trilogy. This story’s beauty is also in the exquisite writing and world-building, both of which draw you into the Nine Kingdoms in such subtle ways that you end up wondering how you know so much about this world, when you’ve never been asked to stop and listen to an explanation. Instead, you’re given a chance to see and experience this world solely through the eyes of the sheildmaiden and the mage, and to experience an adventure and a love that will linger in your mind until you can no longer keep from starting on page one again.

Morgan is the shieldmaiden. She was an orphan who buried her childhood so completely that she lost all memory of who she’d been. She simply knew that she hated "magic in general and mages in particular," and considered "finger-waggling" to be the coward’s way to fight. Taught by Weger, the famed sword master who shared her hatred of magic, her sword skill grew until there were few, if any, who could match her.

Miach is the youngest of seven brothers, the eldest of whom is the king of powerful Neroche. He was only fourteen when the mantle of archmage fell upon his capable shoulders, and he has spent the intervening years quietly and unassumingly bearing the responsibility of protecting the realm.

But the day came when a new, unrelenting assault against his spells began. The same day, his brother lost his kingly magic, as well as the ability to call to the magic that is bound into the Sword of Neroche. Miach decides that a wielder must be found for the Sword of Angesand – someone with the magic of Camanae in their veins – the wielder that Meher of Angesand had forseen centuries earlier.

Book one, called Star of the Morning, is the story of how Morgan learns that there is magic in her blood and she cannot run from it. It is the story of how Miach sets out in disguise to search for the weilder, and instead finds love. As Morgan is taken farther and farther away from the life she embraced, and deeper and deeper into nightmares that hint of the life she ran from, she comes to depend on Miach in a way that she frankly finds more than unsettling. Miach doesn’t mind, but he is all-too-sure of what Morgan will think when she finds out who he really is.

I won’t give away the scope and story of Star of the Morning, but this is where The Mage’s Daughter begins.

Morgan, weak in body from the poison of a black mage and sore in heart from the treachery she thinks Miach dealt her, runs back to Weger’s tower to regain her strength for swordplay and to be free from the unwelcome magic that now rages through her veins. But when Miach sets the fate of the realm aside to follow her inside the magicless Gobhann, she begins to realize that even here, things aren’t as they’ve always seemed.

Morgan must face the fact that the man she loves is not only the simple man who prefers to be underestimated, he is also the archmage of the realm who spends his weary nights shoring up the spells that keep the evil in the north from overrunning the Nine Kingdoms. He is not only her Miach, he is the man of whom it is said, “I have lived centuries and seen mage after mage walk across the world’s stage, and Prince Mochriadhemiach stands alone before them all.” And he is not only willing to go to almost any length to protect the realm, he is willing to go farther to have her, and farther still to protect her.

There is so much more I could say. So many secondary characters come to life in such a way that you find yourself longing to read their stories. I could try to portray the humor that makes you smile and laugh over and over again, even on the fifth read. I could give examples of the many surprises that are more satisfying than the story progression you were expecting ever could have been. I could even talk about the scope of kingdoms and magnificent throne rooms that come to life in your imagination. But that would ruin the story for you.

So I’ll merely say that this is the story of a strong woman who loses that strength, and begins to find it again as she learns to accept both who she is and her destiny. It is the story of a man who must also face the fact that he cannot protect his love from the danger that waits along their path. And it is the story of two people who are humbled to slowly discover that elves and mages born centuries ago are still watching them, for the fate of the Nine Kingdoms is in their hands.

- Katie <><
My blog: http://www.HopeIsCalling.com
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This book can be purchased in trade paperback or ebook format.