Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Dragon Apocalypse" and Review: "Bitterwood" by James Maxey

I recently read the Bitterwood quartet by James Maxey on recommendation by another speculative fiction author (Alethea Kontis) and picked it up for a steal (it's currently still a steal). I've included a review of Bitterwood below, but first I want to let you know about James Maxey's newly completed series that I can't wait to read! 

Dragon Apocalypse is, as James Maxey says, “bad girls, big dragons.” He gives a great description of the book and how it is different than “Bitterwood” here on his blog: http://dragonprophet.blogspot.com/2016/09/dragon-apocalpse-complete-collection.html

Cinder, the 4th book in the series, just came out, and you can get the complete quartet here.

And, oh my gosh, that cover! I noticed the author's announcement on facebook because of the cover. I see so many things on my social networks that sometimes I accidentally keep scrolling, but this one really grabbed me. The cover is by Hugo award-winning artist Julie Dillon.

So, if you've gone and read Maxey's post linked above, you already know that Dragon Apocalypse has a different, lighter feel than Bitterwood. Even so, it was Maxey's great plot and world development in Bitterwood that makes me so excited to read Dragon Apocalypse. If you do not like anti-heros and other dark tones, you'll still want to check out Dragon Apocalypse.

The Bitterwood quartet by James Maxey is a complex speculative fiction tale of bitterness and revenge that at first presents itself as a dark fantasy. The narrative draws back proverbial veils throughout the quartet, in the end revealing a deep history in an expansive post-apocalyptic, SF world. Maxey weaves plot in a way that makes big things happen in an otherwise small and petty world inhabited mostly by small and petty people. Many of the characters present as anti-hero to begin with and change their alliances throughout the series. The combination of high-tech and complex characters makes for a thrilling plot that takes unexpected turns.

Although I was drawn in from the start, it took me longer before I could appreciate the characters. Jandra in particular started as a seemingly flat character – a flatness brought on by her sheltered upbringing – but in time she grew to become a character that I enjoyed. Antagonists such as Blasphet grow alongside the protagonists, a dynamic that, along with the complicated world, allows the story to explore many themes and subplots appropriate to a SF quartet patterned after epic fantasy. The bad guys (and sometimes the good guys) offer up plenty of deception and misuse of religion that go along with the many layers of the history and world of Bitterwood.

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