Tuesday, March 13, 2012

'Eskkar & Trella' by Sam Barone

OK, I’ll admit that this was another one of those books that I immediately bought within five minutes of getting an eMail from the author telling me about it.  I’ve been a huge fan of Sam Barone ever since ‘Dawn of Empire’.  ‘Dawn’ was published in 2006 and here I am six years later still excited to be reading about this series.  That says a lot.  ‘Eskkar & Trella’ is the fourth book of the series but it’s also a prequel to the other three.  I was eager to read about Eskkar because I remembered how brutal and burly he was.  This was a (very) rough time in history and nowhere has the phrase “only the strong survive” meant more.  You either fought and fought well, or you take early leave of your life.

If you were a woman… well, if you were a woman you had little choice than being property.  Your only hope was to find a man/husband who would only beat you once a day and take his unnatural pleasures with a young slave.  Food was scarce, Villages were small, bandits were the ancient outlaws, and blood flowed faster than the Tigris.  In ‘Eskkar & Trella’ we see how Eskkar becomes an outcast and the events that he endured that helped (or hindered) him in becoming a man.  It’s up to you if you want to read this series in chronological order or published order.  Personally I think you should read them in published order because there are certain nuisances and certain growth you see in the author and their stories when they write “out of order”. 

Anyway… in this brutal world Eskkar must learn to use his brawn as well as his wits to survive.  “Trust no one” isn’t just a popular modern saying, it’s a lesson you learn fast if you want survive.  In this life adventure Eskkar meets thieving villagers, sharp swords, loose women, hunger, thirst, betrayal, blood, the unforgiving earth, and plenty of ale. 

This book starts with a young Eskkar and the telling of life around his village.  Something happens to his father that causes him to become an outcast.  Easily one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, but to a young man it’s an almost sure death sentence.  But Eskkar isn’t your normal man.  He must fight and kill for the smallest scrap of bread and every day is a gift.  Every village has an “Elder” or a group of “Elders” to rule.  With no one really in charge justice is fleeting and found only on the edge of a sword, the end of a fist, or underneath a loincloth.  Eskkar’s existence is brutal and reading about him has been a true thrill for the past six years. I see that the next book comes out this summer… glad to see my obsession can continue.


Friday, March 2, 2012

'Kristina - Queen of Vampires' by Frans Mensink

With vampires (and in a lesser sense zombies) taking over the world in literature, TV, movies, and pop culture, it seems that the persona of “vampire” has gotten viral A.D.D.  You have your glowing vampires, your sensitive vampires, your day-walker vampires, your young vampires, your ancient vampires, your ghetto vampires, and your high brow vampires.  In this erotic graphic novel we meet another type of vampire: the sexual vampire.  Needless to say this is my favorite of them all.

But Kristina isn’t just a sexual vampire, she’s full blooded walking carnal demon of lust!  This graphic novel opens with an assault that sets the tone for the rest of the book.  If you like your vampire books dirty, bloody, and indecent… here you go.  As “out there” as most of these erotic graphic novels are, there is always one scene that is just THE scene that makes you go, “dude… seriously”.  For me that scene was near the end in the alley.  Even though the drenching sexuality of the art is the draw to graphic novels like these, there is a pretty good storyline here as well.

Frans Mensink wrote this in 2005 and it looks like there are two more in this trilogy… and I can’t wait to read them.  There are a lot of erotic graphic novels making their way to the scene and it might be difficult to pick out the good ones.  This is a good one.