the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘violence


This is the story of how a monster known as The Butcher came in existence. And it’s got a nice little hook at the beginning: big scary crazy guy walks into a bar, and treats his axe as if she’s a flesh and blood woman.  Good hook, followed by tight pacing, we’re off to good start!

All monsters start out as little boys, and as a youth Orsus always felt he was to blame that he couldn’t save his family. Conveniently, he grows up to be about seven feet tall, and he’s got the right combination of body strength and gullibility to be a basic gang thug. The fantasy narrative jumps back and forth in his life, from that horrible day in his childhood when his family was killed in front of him, to his employment with a criminal organization, to the loss of his wife, to his ordering of a slaughter at a border village, to his judgement day in front of the queen.


I think it’s great that tie-in fiction is showing up on the Hugo ballot, but in all the ways that matter, this story just didn’t work for me.


Orsus  will pretty much do anything to ensure he can be violent with little to no consequences, and the violence simply became too much for me at a certain point.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read plenty of violent fiction, and I’m usually okay with it, but part of being okay with ultraviolent is understanding *why* the character is doing what they’re doing. you’re buying in to the character’s mentality, sympathizing with them.  And i never bought in to Orsus, I never felt like I got inside his head enough to sympathize with what he does during the story.  Okay, yes, I understand that he blames himself for his family being killed, and that he blames himself for horrible things happening to his wife. But beyond that, there wasn’t any “there” there. The guy just didn’t have much of a personality and I didn’t find his story to be very compelling.  There had to be something else going on here that I was missing.

Feeling lost and confused, I did some research. Turns out this is a tie in piece for the Warhammer 40K library.  Dan Wells has been into Warhammer for a long time, and had been invited to write an origin story for Orsus, a character who is a fan favorite. I’m sure if I was into Warhammer 40K, this story would thrill me. Now, if someone would just write a decent origin story for Liet Kynes and get it on the Hugo ballot, I can be one of those people cheering for a story that will have most readers scratching their heads in confusion.

Black Fire smallThe Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen

published June 2013

where I got it: received review copy from the author










On a filthy and horrifying Riverboat, young Erzelle has learned to stay hidden. So long as she plays her harp during dinner and stays small, there’s a chance she might stay alive.  Every night the guests arrive, and every night a mutated ghoul from the holds below becomes dinner. Erzelle will never forget her first night on the Riverboat, when it was her parents on that silver platter, their heads still alive.

One evening, a beautiful human woman is a dinner guest. Erzelle fears the woman will become dinner, but instead she joines Erzelle on stage to accompany her with a magical pipe that glows with runes. By dawn, the guests have been run off or slaughtered, Erzelle has been freed from bondage, and the beautiful woman, Olyssa, has realized her lost sister is nowhere to be found on the Riverboat.

Thus begins Mike Allen’s debut novel, The Black Fire Concerto. Exploding with magic, music, and violence, this short novel has the magical feel of an old school suspenseful fantasy adventure as filtered through the eyes of H.R. Giger.

Olyssa takes the orphaned Erzelle under her wing, and the two travel the wasted Earth searching for Olyssa’s sister. Along the way, she teaches Erzelle a concerto for harp and pipe and the child unwittingly becomes the sorcereress’s apprentice. Erzelle came to the Riverboat as a small child, she knows very little of the outside world, and all she saw on board were ghouls and horrors.  She and Olyssa escape a Temple of Grey Ones, befriend the vulpine Reneer, and through visions of an Antlered Man, Erzelle becomes dangerously involved in Olyssa’s family heritage.

Where did the Grey Ones come from? What’s their connection with the Vulpine community nearby? Who is the antlered man who Erzelle keeping seeing in her minds eye? She can’t possibly understand what he’s asking of her. The gift he gives her will save her life as it slowly kills her.

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Hi Everyone, welcome to the second week of our The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch read along!  we’re starting to get into the meat of the story, and many games are afoot. People are starting to die, mob bosses are taking evasive actions, and even the Right People are running scared.  this section of our read along covers chapter three Imaginary Men through the interlude called The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, and this week’s questions were provided by the lovely nrlymrtl over at Dark Cargo.  Be sure to be  a friendly blogger this weekend and head over to Dark Cargo and comment on her Lies of Locke Lamora post. Lots of other fun stuff over at DC as well.

Some folks mentioned last week their editions didn’t have a map. here ya go, bigger version available at Lynch’s website. while you’re there, check out his live journal. . .  he’s been posting some nifty behind the scenes goodies as well!

Be warned, there be spoilers ahead.  Those wishing to avoid said spoilers should probably not click the “more” button below, as my answers and some other fun stuff is below the jump.  Leave your link in the comments or e-mail or tweet it to me, and I’ll add you to the link list below.

just discovering this read along and want to get involved? no problem! just comment on this post that you want to be added to the sooper seekrit mailing list, and it shall be done. 😉

on twitter?  use #lynchmob.   but not @lynchmob.  that’s someone else.

here are this week’s discussion questions:

1) Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game – and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!

2) Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?

3) Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?

4) Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?

5) I got a kick out of child Locke’s first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?

6) Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?

7) In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can’t ‘create’ the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke’s solution to this conundrum?

Make sure you visit these other wonderful conversations:
Nashville Bookworm
Rose’s Thingamajig
Dark Cargo
Tethyan Books
Kaitharshayr’s Musings
Paperless Reading
Scruffy Fiction
All I Am: A Redhead
Lynn’s Book Blog
Numbers, Words and Ramblings
Booky Pony
Books Without Any Pictures
Just Book Reading
My Awful Reviews
Coffee Cookies and Chili Peppers
Beware of the Froggies
Lisa Pizza / A Blog thinger
Felix Pearce
the Hugo Endurance Project
The Bente Way of Life
SF Signal


Updates to the Theory of Everything

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.