Many books these days are part of a series. And a fair chunk of my recent reading has been made up of such books. My favourite type of book series is one in which each novel is a separate story, as opposed to one long saga broken down into instalments. I like these books to have continuity and story elements that span the series… but having a story with a beginning, middle and end, all in one book, is rather good.
So today, I’m going to tell you about two such books — book two in Steven Lochran’s Vanguard Prime series and book three in Michael Pryor’s The Laws of Magic. Two very different books but both excellent in their own way.
Vanguard Prime is about superheroes. The first book, Goldrush (see: “Vanguard Prime to the rescue“), introduced us to Sam Lee, an ordinary teenager who suddenly finds himself acquiring super powers and joining the ranks of a quasi-military group of superheroes. In the second book, Sam teams up with fellow Vanguard Prime hero, the Knight of Wands, to go on a personal mission against an organisation calling itself The Major Arcana.
Where book one was an introduction to the world of superheros through the eyes of Sam Lee, book two, Wild Card, is an exploration of the Knight of Wands’ past as well as his frame of mind. I found the more personal nature of this second mission very engaging. And I also found myself becoming more accustomed to the perspective-swapping present tense narrative that I found a little distracting with the first book. It was good to get some insight into the history and motivations of one of the other Vanguard Prime members, and the Knight of Wands is certainly the superhero with the darkest and most mysterious past.
Wild Card is a good read. Fast paced and entertaining, but with some depth to what could easily have been cardboard cut-out characters. And as a bit of a pop culture junkie, I loved all the references that Lochran has peppered this story with — from Comic-Con to Star Wars. This book is also an easy read… I think Vanguard Prime is a great series to hook in reluctant readers.
Book three in the Vanguard Prime series, War Zone, is due out in September this year. I’m looking forward to it.
The Laws of Magic, by Michael Pryor, is an older series. The final book came out in 2011… I’m just a little late to jump onto this bandwagon. And what a magnificent bandwagon it is. Pryor has created a superbly detailed alternative Edwardian world, where magic exists alongside science. Into that world he has placed memorable characters, complex plots and a fascinating set of magical laws. The series centres around a gifted young aristocratic magician, Aubrey Fitzwilliam, who, due to over-confidence and a dose of arrogance, has placed himself in a rather tricky situation. I loved the first two books (see “Michael’s Blaze of Glory” and “Pryor’s Gold”), and I can say without any doubt that I loved this third book just as much. I’m looking forward to reading the remaining three.
Word of Honour is as enthralling a read as its predecessors. Pryor’s prose is a joy to read and his created world is a joy to explore. The characters we’ve come to know and love are back, facing a dastardly new plot — but is it the work of Aubrey’s nemesis Dr Tremaine, or is someone else behind it? Well… I’m not going to tell you. Go read the book! You won’t regret it!
Catch ya later, George
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