#SPFBO Finalist

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Today I’m announcing my finalist for the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.  300 self published books, ten bloggers, one winner.  Brainchild of Mark Lawrence the SPFBO is in it’s third year and is going strong.

This year I’ve found it difficult to make a choice.  I had four books that were competing equally for my attention.  I’ve read and reviewed them and even been back and reread the beginning of each book over again to try and help choose a winner.  The four books in question (with links to the reviews) are:

Jack Bloodfist: Fixer by James Jakins

Today is Too Late by Burke Fitzpatrick

Empire of the Dead by Phil Tucker

The Archbishop’s Amulet by Watson Davis

I will say that having more than one book tied neck and neck is downright not good.  I hate having to choose between them but that’s the deal.

There can be only one

My winner is: Jack Bloodfist: Fixer by James Jakins

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I liked all four of the above books for different reasons and I would definitely continue reading future books from all four authors.  What really stood out for me with Jack Bloodfist was the fun I had reading it and I hope the other bloggers enjoy it as much as I did.

I would just like to say a huge thanks to all the authors who took part.  Putting your work out for such scrutiny and potential criticism must be difficult and I applaud you all.  Thank you. 😀

 

#SPFBO Review: Jack Bloodfist: Fixer by James Jakins

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jackbloodJack Bloodfist is one of my remaining four books for the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.  I will be choosing a winner on Saturday but will first review each of my final books.

This was a very entertaining read, it kept me pretty much glued to the pages and held me gripped throughout.  I’m not going to lie – the cover didn’t really work it’s magic on me and so I went into this read feeling a little bit dubious which made the content a very pleasant surprise indeed.

At the start of the story we meet Jack.  Jack is part orc part goblin and as such almost runs interference between the two different tribes.  He’s known as the fixer and, although some mock his role or try to down play it, strictly speaking he’s a key player in keeping these two rather temperamental tribes on something of an even keel.  As the story kicks off Jack is about to head off on his latest job which involves showing his cousin and fiancee into their new temporary accommodation and from there things pick up pace almost immediately.

The majority of the story is based in Summervale, Virginia but obviously that isn’t where the orcs and goblins originated from.  They were brought to this world as an escape from an angry god and unfortunately it seems they were followed here by a holy knight.  The knight in question has been out of action for a number of years.  Cut off from his god, and likewise his power, he has spent most of his time on Earth incarcerated.  Unfortunately, for the orcs and goblins it seems like his prayers have finally been answered and he has a new mission.  One which primarily involves killing them all.

The majority of the story is told in the first person.  Jack tells the majority of the story except for the  occasional change in format when we jump to a different character.  This is a style that I felt worked well.  I liked Jack, he’s a good narrator and his personality comes across really well, particularly his sense of humour.  Basically he’s easy to like.  He has a very honest way of describing things, he’s a bit self deprecating and although he has a temper he can keep it under control.  The POV swaps worked really well for me too.  They help the reader to observe other parts of the story as they develop without simply restricting the read to those elements of the tale that Jack is a part of. Win win.

In terms of the other characters there’s Detective Denelle (Denny).  She spends a good deal of the time accompanied by Jack as she investigates the mounting number of orc deaths and I also found her very easy to like.  Denny is a drow – an elf basically.  She’s quite a tough nut to crack and she has an easy going friendship with Jack where she acts all tough and treats him like a child – which, given her true age is, strictly speaking, correct. The two of them gel very well together and make for good reading.

The story is populated with other fantasy characters/elements.  Magicians, men in black/bureau type characters, inter dimensional travel and Gods.  Plus others – but I’m going to stay mysterious on that front.

I’ve not really elaborated on the plot and don’t really want to do so.  It’s entertaining and fast paced, there’s plenty of action but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.  I found myself tearing to the conclusion at breakneck speed.  There was one element of this that was patently obvious, even if Jack couldn’t spot it, but that didn’t detract at all.  Not everything has to be a mystery and the plot, the history and the characters themselves all came together really well.

I think the only slight criticism I had was in relation to Jack’s relationship (which is not with the Detective by the way and also is not the major focus of the story) – there’s nothing wrong with the relationship as such but it has a slightly rushed feel to it during one particular element of the story.  That was only a very slight niggle that I had though and definitely not something that put me off.

On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed this, it made me smile, I cared for the characters and the ending is downright batshit crazy.  You know that you’re enjoying the story and becoming attached to the characters when you’re really scared that the author is going to kill one, or some, of them off.

I would definitely read more from Jack Bloodfist.  He’s a character that I would like to get to know better and I hope that this is just the start of his adventures.