Doug Morrison-Cleary

Books

This member has not published any books.

Doug Morrison-Cleary's favorite authors on Smashwords


Smashwords book reviews by Doug Morrison-Cleary

  • Panix: Magician Spy on April 03, 2012

    I enjoyed this book. It had some very interesting ideas about the place of magic in a technological (steam-age but not steampunk) world. It's also a story of obsession and redemption with good character development. The writing style reminds me a little of, perhaps, Jane Austen and took some getting use to but I never felt like putting the book down. It is clever, interesting and its world is one I would love to explore further.
  • Amberwine- Book 1 of the Lich War Series on May 25, 2012

    I started out thinking this was just another ordinary D&D based fantasy novel. There was the noble mercenary and the mage, the healer and the spell that turned an innocent woman into a vampire (well, almost). But even as the book kept close to so many of the stereotypes, it had intrigue, plenty of interesting characters, and engaging plot-lines enough to keep me reading 'page' after 'page'. If I have any criticisms, they would be that this epic style leaves little room for character development and all the races came together a little too easily. Still, it was a fun read and I have already bought Book 2 and Book 3!!! Read and enjoy…
  • Voidhawk on July 28, 2012

    A 4 star Firefly meets Spelljammer pageturner. Voidhawk is the adventures of a man and his companions on the spaceship he found abandoned. His crew is a quirky band of misfits and the captain hides his heart of gold behind a gruff exterior. Sounds like Firefly/Serenity, which is probably why I loved this book so much! The big difference between Voidhawk and Firefly is the setting. Rather than a science fiction setting, this book is set in a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy setting that reminded me of the Spelljammer setting from 2nd edition. In fact, the Spelljammer setting fits so well that I wonder if it didn't influence Joss Whedon. Jason Halstead has crafted a great fantasy homage to Firefly which reads well. It kept me turning the metaphorical page and I will definitely buy the other novels in this series.
  • Lord of Arradon on Aug. 28, 2012

    Ticks off all the key elements and then some! All the standard fantasy fare is here in this book by Heath Aston. Dwarves and elves, dragons and demons, heroes and great evil fill the pages. What the author does with all of these standard elements isn't always original, but he has crafted a wonderfully engaging story that is deeply satisfying. Talain, the High Lord of Arradon, the hero of the story, is a great hero and surprisingly human. There is no Sam Gamgee , the reluctant and devoted hero, here, nor even a Frodo Baggins, hero in the midst of failure, but Talain has just enough of both to be approachable. The other characters are well thought out and only one becomes too much of a deus ex machina character right near the end. The plot is complex enough to give the characters plenty of work to do without being unnecessarily obtuse. To say much more about the plot, though, would be to give spoilers. There do seem to be a couple of slight problems with geography and chronology, but, again, these are minor quibbles with a story that covers eight centuries and an entire continent. This is standard fantasy done particularly well. It is well worth its price. I can't wait for the next instalment. I would give this book four and a half stars if I could - it is that close to a five star work.
  • Sing the Midnight Stars on Oct. 22, 2012

    Wow! A fascinating world and excellent writing. A joy for anyone looking for an intelligent and unique fantasy story. Andrin Sethuel is a drug addicted police detective of the highest rank in a country where almost everyone has access to magic bound up in "stone and sigil". Already the story was intriguing and within the first few pages you are introduced to a collection of truly interesting characters. Of the characters, only two felt a little too cliched (Bardelain Elarin and the Queen). Andrin and the mad king are brilliantly crafted while most of the other characters easily carry the weight of the story and its unique setting. Even Elarin and the queen have plenty of room to develop in interesting ways over the next three books. The setting—essentially a single city, though we gain plenty of glimpses of other parts of the world—avoids many of the cliches of fantasy. It is an early enlightenment setting rather than the traditional medieval one. The city is distinct enough from any other fantasy city I have come across. And the magic systems are inspired (although astromancy does call to mind Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince and Dragon Star series). What sets this book apart from so many others is the intrigue… and there is shiploads of it in this book. By the end of the book there is a three way war brewing, the Aluian Killer remains elusive (but could it be… ah, but no spoilers), the Rift has its own agenda, and the layers of intrigue spread over the book like blankets on a cold winter's night. At the end of this book we, the readers, know almost nothing more than most of the characters. Sure, we have hints, and lots of them, but knowledge for everyone inside and out of the book is severely limited. All of this intrigue is combined with plenty of action and suspense. If you want a light piece of fantasy fluff, then this book is not for you! If you are looking for a unique and intriguing book that will keep you reading from beginning to end with the promise of much more to come, then dive into 'Sing the Midnight Stars' and enjoy. Doug PS: There was one moment that left a somewhat sour note with a line regarding the creation of the stones that seemed unnecessarily anti-homosexual… I'm not sure what to make of the comment (probably not much) and it doesn't affect my appreciation for the other 126516 other words.
  • Children of the Halo: Special Edition on Dec. 09, 2012

    This is a review of two books: Children of the Halo by E. J. Spurrell and Counterpoint to Chaos by Robert Courtland. The same review can be found with both books. I have always enjoyed stories of people from our world finding there way into another world. CS Lewis and Guy Gavriel Kay have always been two of my favourite authors. Having read these two books, I now have two more favourite authors! ********* Spurrell's 'Children of the Halo' take the 'people from this world' theme to a whole new level. Dunsmith, a town of about eight thousand inhabitants on Vancouver island, is transported to a new world! That's right—a whole town crosses over to a different planet. And when I say "the whole town" makes the trip, I mean the entire town is carved out of the ground… The next six hundred pages follow the adventures of several individual town members, the whole town, and several of the natives of this "new" world. The individual stories are woven well into the broader stories of conflict between nations and the town. The contrasts between our modern world and the more medieval world to which they are transported are cleverly developed. And the ensemble cast of characters are developed in realistic ways. The inclusion of several short background stories at the end gives the reader a more detailed glimpse into the background of the characters. A welcome addition. 'Children of the Halo' is a great read, cleverly executed and compelling presented. The copy editing is excellent (though not quite perfect). The prose rarely gets bogged down. The characters are well drawn. And its great to have a Canadian setting rather than a US setting for the town of Dunsmith. If I have any criticism it would be that the adjustment to being in a new world (both the physical adjustment of getting electricity up and running and the mental adjustment of being ripped out of the familiar and placed on a new world) is a little too easy. Not one person seems to have had a mental breakdown! ********* 'Counterpoints to Chaos' is a more familiar tale of two people transported to another world. What makes this book so great is that the traditional formula is allowed to breathe in unique ways that feel exactly right. Tony is a farmboy struggling to leave the farm and make his way in the city (Regina in Canada). Nazia is a Muslim Pakastani woman in Regina for her cousin's wedding. Neither knows anything of the other until they are transported to another world where they are called upon to fulfill an ancient prophesy. The pace of this book is excellent and the low magic of the world is refreshing. The integration of our world and this other world is handled intelligently and bears similarities with CS Lewis and the Narnia tales. The world, itself, is delightfully filled with a more 'Oriental' flavour than most fantasy books. Even the vampires (the Ninnun) feel suitably different—more eastern, perhaps. What is most interesting is the integration of Islam into the overall story. This is done with a very light hand and is most often hinted at rather than spoken of. It gives the book a flavour that is at the same time familiar and unique. The writing is, again, compelling with very good (though not quite perfect) copy editing. The ending is a little simplistic in its treatment of reactions from others after returning home. A story otherwise so well written could have explored a variety of reactions morerealistically. But that is a minor quibble for what is an extraordinary tale.
  • Counterpoint to Chaos on Dec. 09, 2012

    This is a review of two books: Children of the Halo by E. J. Spurrell and Counterpoint to Chaos by Robert Courtland. The same review can be found with both books. I have always enjoyed stories of people from our world finding there way into another world. CS Lewis and Guy Gavriel Kay have always been two of my favourite authors. Having read these two books, I now have two more favourite authors! ********* Spurrell's 'Children of the Halo' take the 'people from this world' theme to a whole new level. Dunsmith, a town of about eight thousand inhabitants on Vancouver island, is transported to a new world! That's right—a whole town crosses over to a different planet. And when I say "the whole town" makes the trip, I mean the entire town is carved out of the ground… The next six hundred pages follow the adventures of several individual town members, the whole town, and several of the natives of this "new" world. The individual stories are woven well into the broader stories of conflict between nations and the town. The contrasts between our modern world and the more medieval world to which they are transported are cleverly developed. And the ensemble cast of characters are developed in realistic ways. The inclusion of several short background stories at the end gives the reader a more detailed glimpse into the background of the characters. A welcome addition. 'Children of the Halo' is a great read, cleverly executed and compelling presented. The copy editing is excellent (though not quite perfect). The prose rarely gets bogged down. The characters are well drawn. And its great to have a Canadian setting rather than a US setting for the town of Dunsmith. If I have any criticism it would be that the adjustment to being in a new world (both the physical adjustment of getting electricity up and running and the mental adjustment of being ripped out of the familiar and placed on a new world) is a little too easy. Not one person seems to have had a mental breakdown! ********* 'Counterpoints to Chaos' is a more familiar tale of two people transported to another world. What makes this book so great is that the traditional formula is allowed to breathe in unique ways that feel exactly right. Tony is a farmboy struggling to leave the farm and make his way in the city (Regina in Canada). Nazia is a Muslim Pakastani woman in Regina for her cousin's wedding. Neither knows anything of the other until they are transported to another world where they are called upon to fulfill an ancient prophesy. The pace of this book is excellent and the low magic of the world is refreshing. The integration of our world and this other world is handled intelligently and bears similarities with CS Lewis and the Narnia tales. The world, itself, is delightfully filled with a more 'Oriental' flavour than most fantasy books. Even the vampires (the Ninnun) feel suitably different—more eastern, perhaps. What is most interesting is the integration of Islam into the overall story. This is done with a very light hand and is most often hinted at rather than spoken of. It gives the book a flavour that is at the same time familiar and unique. The writing is, again, compelling with very good (though not quite perfect) copy editing. The ending is a little simplistic in its treatment of reactions from others after returning home. A story otherwise so well written could have explored a variety of reactions morerealistically. But that is a minor quibble for what is an extraordinary tale.
  • Flight of Shadows on April 24, 2013

    Sing the Midnight Stars was brilliant. Does book two of the Rift series match the brilliance of that volume? On the whole the answer has to be 'yes'! Flight of Shadows is, necessarily, a more complex volume for it must begin to pull some of the threads together into a coherent whole. It does so with skill and compassion. It also does so in a more psychologically complex way that pits Andrin against himself and against the several women in his life. There is a resolution to one of the primary threads in this volume. I wasn't surprised by the resolution although I still hadn't solved that mystery for myself. It made sense, and that is important. Too often these kinds of threads will either be obvious from the start and the suspense is never there, or resolution comes through a deux ex machina move by the author. Characters are strong, suspense is present in spades, there are moments when I want to throttle a character for their perfectly reasonable but oh so frustrating choices, and the integrity of Wallace's sub-creation is untarnished. The language of the book remains an absolute joy--sophisticated without being elitist, rich without being cloying--and very well edited. Criticisms? I'm still not sure about the queen. She was too one dimensional in the first volume. We see more of her psychology in this volume but I'm not quite convinced! I also found the ending not quite satisfying. A final assassination attempt, maybe? Or Andrin going off the deep end for a moment? Or … ? It does all makes sense and the psychology of it is fine. It just feels a little too easy, I guess. But these are minor niggles. This is a superb book--well written and engaging. It is clearly a book which sits within a series rather than on its own but it also, very cleverly, completes one of the arcs of the original book. If you enjoyed the first book (and how could you not) then this is a wonderful continuation of the series. If you haven't read the first book yet, then go and read it, then come back, snuggle into a comfortable chair, grab a delicious snack or two, and enjoy this one.
  • This Darkling Magic on June 19, 2013

    Wow! Yes, Wallace is back with number three in the Rift series and it is delightful, brilliant and wonderful. Book two, Flight of Shadows, was a solid instalment in the series. Well written, it moved the story along with a lot of action and twists. This Darkling Magic takes the series into strange and unexpected places that begin to put the entire series into a more epic framework without losing the intense character development we have come to expect. There are no wasted characters here and each is developed in unique and believable ways. Indeed, the assumptions we may have about the most of the main characters are neatly challenged by the weight of tradition and the exercise of power. As the characters twist in the winds of fate and history, the plot also develops in new directions that hint at future pathways. But if the books so far have proved anything, its that plots have a habit of twisting themselves in unexpected directions. I will admit that This Darkling Magic almost confounded me as it began. How could Acheron exist and be so unknown? How had this magic been hidden? Yet this is, in a sense, the very heart of this book. This Darkling Magic marks the completion of the move from a low magic to a high magic world. What begins as almost a logical impossibility is transformed into a profoundly disruptive but absolutely logical reality in this new world that is being formed before our very eyes. And now we have come to the writing. Perhaps this is going too far, but Wallace's writing in this book reminded me a lot of Shakespeare. Wallace has a lyrical voice that transports me into this new world that is also so familiar and old. Then each character comes on stage and speaks with their own, unique, voice. The vocabulary is advanced but not showy, and will challenge most teens even as the story captivates them. This is part of the beauty of the book--another reminder of Shakespeare--as we journey from the rat runners to the stars. For the sake of full disclosure, I am the Doug referred to in the book's dedication. I am touched that Wallace has done this and am grateful that I received this book gratis. However, I don't think I would have said anything differently in this review if my situation were the same as for the first two books. This is brilliant and beautiful and intelligent. Yes, there are a couple of slight niggles with distances and times, but these are not enough to change my perspective on This Darkling Magic. Please read this and then join me in anxiously awaiting book four!