Tag Archive | "magic"

Evil Ways fiction review

Posted on September 10, 2009 by

They had me at the giant demonic bats.

Evil Ways is a suspenseful dark fantasy novel by Justin Gustainis. Black magic and occult investigators are mixed together skilfully creating a exciting plot. It’s a very entertaining book… so long as you don’t mind jarring geographic errors and odd attempts at dialect.

The second book in the “Morris and Chastain” investigations, Evil Ways (published by Solaris Books) presents its protagonists with a problem: someone is killing children and stealing their organs, and this means dark magic is afoot, and a lot of it. Quincey Morris is an paranormal detective with skills in a variety of areas, including burglary; Libby Chastain is a white witch with experience in taking out some pretty nasty guys.

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Preview of The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Posted on August 10, 2009 by

FlamesRising.com is proud to offer you a preview for the book The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

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The Magicians Fiction Review

Posted on July 28, 2009 by

In fantasy, there are books that have high adventure and engaging characters; there are others that focus on the journey of one character through his (or her) trials and tribulations. The Magicians written by Lev Grossman, author of Codex, is a little bit of both.

When I received The Magicians, the first thing I noticed was the back cover. Why? Well, there were no less than six recommendations by authors including George R.R. Martin and Kelly Link. Normally I’m a bit skeptical about books (or movies) that are so highly praised, because immediately my expectations as a reader are a bit elevated. “Wow,” I had thought to myself. “This book better be that good.”

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Street Magic Fiction Review

Posted on June 13, 2009 by

There are some rare talents in fantasy these days whose words coast along like poetry while depicting a world full of dark and terrible dangers: drugs, monsters, and magic among them. Crafting a balance between artful and gritty writing – such that the language doesn’t shy away from either side of the equation – is incredibly difficult. Caitlin Kittredge has mastered it.

To my shame, Street Magic, which I received earlier this year as an electronic advance copy, is the first novel I’ve read by Kittredge, despite the fact that I own some of her earlier books. They’ve been sitting on my TBR pile, just waiting for me to catch up with other review titles and series titles that always seem to come first. I can tell you with great confidence: no longer. I’ll be picking one up to read as soon as I finish this review.

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Gabriel Nassif Wins at MtG Pro Tour Kyoto

Posted on March 4, 2009 by

Magic: The Gathering Tournament Champion is First to Capture the Title in 2009

The Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour season kicked-off this weekend in Kyoto, Japan. Gabriel Nassif from Paris, France was the first to be crowed Pro Tour champion in 2009 and took home $40,000. Luis Scott Vargas from Davis, California, Akimasa Yamamoto from Iwade-shi, Japan and Brian Robinson from North Quincy, Massachusetts filled out the top four. Nassif’s win in Kyoto marks his first Pro Tour victory although he’s had several top-8 finishes and was the 2004 Player of the Year. Since 1996, Wizards of the Coast has given away more than US$32 million in prize money, which includes both cash prizes and scholarship awards.

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Keeper of Light and Dust Fiction Review

Posted on February 17, 2009 by

After reviewing Natasha Mostert’s book, Season of the Witch, I was curious to see how this up-and-coming author’s next book would fare. Keeper of Light and Dust is not a sequel to Season of the Witch, but was written as a stand-alone story about the duality of healing as it relates to chi. Mia Lockheart is a mystic protector, a healer who works as a tattoo artist in South London secretly guarding the lives of today’s warriors, a group of boxers. The villain of this tale is a modern day vampire, a man who learned how to steal chi, that mystical and ancient energy force that fuels our souls and provides us with life’s energy.

Well-researched, Keeper of Light and Dust is an excellent nod to the modern day sport of boxing mixed with the ancient form of martial arts. Not often do we find athletics at the center of a supernatural tale, and it’s refreshing to read a book where the sport is part of the plot.

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Quintessential Wizard RPG Review

Posted on January 30, 2009 by

As I was currently playing a Wizard in a D&D 4E campaign, I figured that when the opportunity to review The Quintessential Wizard came up it was serendipity. When I created my character I was a little let down at the lack of options and flavor for building my arcanist. The choices available in comparison to the other classes seemed a bit…bland, or maybe un-unique. Same-ol, same-ol. The Quintessential Wizard goes a long way towards rectifying this.

One note: the book was designed by Italian studio Asterion Press, and there are a few instances where the translations show. Nothing major, the work they did was exceptional and I seriously doubt any of us could do better on an Italian published book. When reading, be a bit forgiving of a few awkwardly worded sentences.

Review by Jeff Preston

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Magic: the Gathering Conflux Preview

Posted on January 23, 2009 by

A powerful and infinitely sinister force is conspiring to reunite the Shards of Alara. This reunification will come with a deadly price – sheer chaos, as realities begin to overlap. Thus begins the Conflux.

Wizards of the Coast is releasing a new expansion to their popular Magic: the Gathering game. In addition to Puzzles, Launch Parties and other events, the company has handed out a few preview cards to show off.

Here at Flames Rising we are happy to reveal this new card:

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Spearfinger – A New Hunter: the Vigil Adventure

Posted on January 21, 2009 by

The old woman totters off to enjoy her breakfast, as tiny drops of bile patter on the street behind her.

People are turning up dead with their organs missing, but there’s no evidence of scars or surgery. The deaths are clearly unusual and perhaps even supernatural, and when one victim dies right in front of the hunters, their involvement becomes crucial. While the hunters may at first believe they are simply tracking down a monster, their investigations soon reveal a pattern to the killings, which implies some guiding intellect behind the travesties.

A story in the Storytelling Adventure System for Hunter: The Vigil.

Spearfinger is available now at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers Beta Released

Posted on January 18, 2009 by

Wizards of the Coast has released the Beta version of Duels of the Planeswalkers, an arcade-style video game for Xbox LIVE Arcade developed in conjunction with UK company Stainless Games. The game is rated T for Teen and is scheduled for spring release for the Xbox 360.

Duels of the Planeswalkers takes players on a journey through a Multiverse in which they take on the roles of Planeswalkers, powerful wizards who battle others for glory, knowledge and conquest. Throughout their journey, Planeswalkers battle with, or against each other in lush interactive 3D environments. Similar to the Magic: The Gathering trading card game, Planeswalkers are equipped with an arsenal of spells and creatures that if used wisely will help advance the Planeswalker through the game.

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Dog Days Fiction Review

Posted on December 30, 2008 by

Dog Days gets off to a somewhat awkward start with too much exposition during an action sequence to make the action feel immediate, but as I got accustomed to the voice of Mason, the hero and jazz/magic improvisation master that narrates the book, the world and story both began to come together. As a practitioner, Mason isn’t much good at the actual practice implied by such a title. His real talent is improvisational magic–something that most people never master at all. Other practitioners use spells to control magic, but Mason can pull energy from the surrounding environment, using ideas and archetypes and emotions to craft the effects he desires. He also has Louie: an Ifrit (named after the djinn, though no one is sure if they’re related) who takes the form of a small, mini-doberman like dog.

Review by Alana Abbott

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Dresden Files Audio Books at Buzzy!

Posted on December 22, 2008 by

Jim Butcher, New York Times best selling Fantasy & Science Fiction author has many interests and they all season his fiction. Jim is a multi-discipline martial arts enthusiast, skilled horseman,and enjoys gaming,fencing, singing, and bad Science Fiction movies.

The Dresden Files are about a wizard who works in Chicago solving supernatural crimes and assisting the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago Police Department. It has large helpings of action, humor, and old fashioned chivalry in a very modern world.

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Backup (Dresden Files) Fiction Review

Posted on December 8, 2008 by

One of the great elements of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is the large cast of interesting characters that Harry Dresden encounters throughout his adventures. Friends, foes and fellow wizards make up a variety of supernatural (and a few “normal”) beings in the Dresden-verse. One of the most interesting characters is Harry’s half-brother Thomas Raith, who also happens to be a vampire.

Although the marketing for this tale makes claims of it being a novella, I’d have to say it is more of a short story with great art. Without the fancy hardcover or the illustrations by Mignolla this would fit just fine in one of the urban fantasy anthologies we’ve seen other Dresden Files tales in (My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding for example).

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Princeps Fury by Jim Butcher Fiction Review

Posted on December 3, 2008 by

Princeps Fury is the latest novel in a series dubbed “Codex Alera” by Jim Butcher. The fifth book in the series, its plot centers around a promise made in the previous book and the deadly war between the Vord and well, everyone else. Alera, the Kingdom run by the First Lord who isn’t well liked for many, intricate reasons, is under attack while Tavi escorts the Canim back to their homeland over a turbulent sea.

Whenever I read a book in a series like this, I have to ask myself two questions. The first question is, “Could you read Princeps Fury without knowing anything about the Codex Alera series?” The answer to that question is, “No, definitely not.”

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Keys to the Supernal Tarot for Mage: the Awakening

Posted on November 5, 2008 by

The Major Arcana

Each key, each trump, is a step along the path of the mage. From the dangerous ignorance of the Fool to the completion of the World, each card holds a secret. Seek Justice, pursue Strength, trick the Devil, and defy Death — the cards will show you the way.

A Chronicle Book for Mage: The Awakening

Keys to the Supernal Tarot is available in print at Amazon.com and in eBook format at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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Welcome to the Jungle (Dresden Files) Review

Posted on October 27, 2008 by

When reviewing this graphic novel, I have tried to be as impartial as I can be. But the problem is that I am just a Jim Butcher fan that it is very hard. I have read all of the books, I am play testing the RPG based on it. Yeah, I am a fan. But I did at least attempt to be as partial as I could.

It probably was not very successful.

Welcome to the Jungle was a 4 issue comic release revolving around Jim Butcher’s creation, Harry Dresden. For those of you familiar with the story, it takes place shortly after his first novel, Storm Front.

Review by Stacey Chancellor

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Armed and Magical Fiction Review

Posted on October 6, 2008 by

You may remember that in my review of Shearin’s Magic Lost, Trouble Found, I expressed some confusion about reading a novel that felt like urban fantasy but was set in an elves-and-goblins style world. Armed and Magical follows the further adventures of Raine Benares as she tries to get rid of the Saghred, the evil stone that has claimed her as its link to the world, and has very much the same style as the first book. In reading the sequel, however, I finally made the connection that I missed in Raine’s first adventure: Raine is a seeker, which is roughly the equivalent of a private investigator for her world. What Shearin is writing isn’t a hybrid of urban fantasy and low fantasy–it’s hard boiled fantasy noir.

Review by Alana Abbott

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Home Is Where The Heart Is – Mage eBook Bundle

Posted on September 25, 2008 by

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Eddy Webb, AP developer, and RPGNow have made a new PDF offering available today. This week we are focusing on Mage supplements centered around the places of power, after all – Home is where the Heart is. These materials normally retail for $33.98, but in PDF form for the next seven days, you can acquire them for $15.99.

The Home is Where the Heart Is bundle is available at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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Magic: the Gathering – Shards of Alara

Posted on September 20, 2008 by

Alara was whole once. But that was millennia ago. Where once there was a plane, now there are five: the Shards. The plane of Alara was a world rich with mana, a world in balance… until the Sundering. In a cataclysm of unimaginable proportions, Alara was rent asunder into five separate worlds, each a refraction of the others.

We can’t tell you everything about the Shards of Alara set yet, but keep watching magicthegathering.com for more information as we release it, including three weeks of official card previews beginning Monday, September 8. In the meantime, keep checking the Visual Spoiler to see all of the Shards of Alara cards officially previewed anywhere.

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Night Child Fiction Review

Posted on September 17, 2008 by

The mystical is also believable in Jes Battis’s ace début novel.

An Occult Special Investigator for Vancouver’s Mystical Crime Lab, Tess Corday arrives at a crime scene where a vampire is dead. A note and photo on the vamp lead Tess to Mia Polanski, a thirteen-year-old in danger but whom also possesses great power, and Lucian Agrado, a necromancer who’s liaison to the vampire community. And the action heats up as the investigation deepens…

Vancouver is a welcome diversion from the seemingly endless stream of American cities in urban fantasy. Jes Battis gives a right good dose of Canadian flavour that makes the setting all the more enjoyable.

Review by Tez Miller

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