Monday, May 30, 2011

Review of Black Halo (Aeons Gate book 2) by Sam Sykes

Lenk and his companions set sail to bring the relic away from the reach of Ulbecetonth, the Kraken Queen. Haunted by their pasts, plagued by their gods, tormented by their own people and gripped by madness, their greatest foes may be themselves.
When I finished Tome of the Undergates (book 1), I was astonished to say the least. I thought that I was on an actual 3D adventure in Disney Studio's in some Pirates of the Caribbeanesque' type ride. Point being, I wanted more, I needed to find out where this adventure would take me next. Being that Tome of the Undergates was Sam Sykes first novel, and such a great one, there was some apprehension about how Black Halo was going to turn out. Well, ladies and gentlemen, You can all relax because Mr. Sykes has done it again. In the words of Randy Jackson, "Sam Sykes is in it to win it!"

While the majority of book one takes place on a ship, the atmosphere among other things switches to an island after a brief but exciting introduction to an enormous sea creature. Said creature proves to not be of the soft cuddly variety. Gariath (our highly esteemed Dragonman) who is dealing with some mild depression with a strong case of suicidal tendencies thrown in thinks he can take this creature on by himself. This does not end well.

The next thing we know is our lovely band of miscreants are strewn about an island of unknown origin. Lenk, Kataria, and the Dragonman are separated from each other and the other three. It was at this point that I started to really wonder where the author was going with all this and I really started to worry about the the arc of the story Coming Undone.

Brief musical interlude 100% relevant to the story:

Awesome... Love that song. Anyway... I thought that this is where the story was going to take a turn for the worse. So, don't let this throw you off like it did me. Sykes opens the characterization flood gates and smacks you in the face with it like it was yesterday's tuna. I mean seriously, you get a whole new grasp on each of the characters through all this. You can get a more in depth look into someone and gain a certain understanding of a person when they are left to their own devices. More so than through countless pages of dialogue. This combined with a prose that just lifts you out of your seat will surely take your level of emotion for these characters up a couple notches. It's in the beautiful articulation of how these sentences are put together that you can see how our young author is growing and expanding. While Tome of the Undergates had some really great writing, you can just tell that more care was paid to these words so there shape was oh so more fluid. As a reader it is a great thing to look at a string of sentences and want to go back and read them over, say them out loud so that you can hear how they sound. This happens a lot more in this release and it is much better for it.
"Poets, she had suspected, were supposed to have beautiful dreams: silhouettes of women behind silk, visions of gold that blinded their closed eyes, images of fires so bright they should take the poet's breath away before she could put them to paper"

And that is just a glimpse of it...

The tension, in so many ways that you would not think possible, between Lenk and Kataria is growing into an animal force all of its own. I mean, no wonder the guy is going insane. And yet again, our highly imaginative, and deeply cruel in his suggestive tones author is not letting that cat out of it's bag or proverbial box yet. This relationship gives all new meaning to flirting with disaster and I love it! I need to know and I can't wait to find out more!!

To add to the onslaught of madness that is continually shaping our characters, we go a little more deeper into the ways of the Netherlings, the long-faced purple people that attacked our band at Irontide in the first novel. We are introduced to a few characters on this side that create a whole mess of turmoil for Lenk and his crew. Also, the introduction of a couple other races of people, the Gonwa and Owauku who at first glance seem to be working together for a common goal are probably under different agendas entirely. Another great addition to the story is that of Bralston, a highly powerful and mysterious character, schooled rigorously at the Venarium, he is a Librarian. A term we will learn that is to not be taken lightly. The shear intrigue of this character leaves you wanting to know more and I certainly hope that he is developed even further in the next novel.

At 26 years old Sam Sykes is a new powerful voice to be reckoned with in the hack and slash rag tag arena of sword and sorcery fantasy. Action packed and quest driven, Black Halo is an outstanding sequel in the The Aeons Gate Trilogy. Next up in the series is The Skybound Sea and I cannot wait to get it in my hands. Thanks Sam for another great installation to The Aeons Gate. Special thanks to the people of PYR for a copy of this book for me to provide a review that will hopefully bring more people to know yet another great author.


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