Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo – John Birmingham

Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo – John Birmingham
Part 2 of the ebook trilogy for Axis of Time series, follows straight on from Part 1 (Rome). Here we find ourselves still trying to piece together what is happening with the Soviets. Why there is so much focus on a scientist in Cairo for a talk.Will all be revealed in the soon to release Part 3 Paris.
Loving these brief returns to the world created in Axis of Time. Cant wait for Part 3 but i’m still not liking this whole ebook trend. I understand this author is in disputes with some Publishers so has chosen the self-publish ebook route for these books, but the concern is why are they always so short? There seems to be a real trend of publishers wanting shorter stories to fuel the ebook market. Aiming at people with short attention spans or busy schedules who don’t have lots of time to be able to read. Instead of releasing these ebooks as 3 small 100 page books, we not combine them into a proper sized book of 300 pages?
I need the big epics, i love my Tom Clancy or George R.R. Martin massive tomes. I pretty much won’t buy a book if its under 300 pages, i only grabbed these ebooks because it was the only way to continue the story that was established in the first trilogy. That being said i have my fingers crossed that they will be released in physical book one day so i can delete this damn kindle app for good.
Physical books for the win!!!!

Stalin’s Hammer: Rome – John Birmingham

Stalin’s Hammer: Rome – John Birmingham
Continuing on from the epic Axis of Time trilogy,  John returns us to the world he established but a few years later. The year is now 1955 and the world has changed. The Allies won world war 2 (again) but with different outcomes, German cities being Nuked and finished earlier than expected.  The technology from the future has been in their hands for 13 years now and great leaps and bounds are being made.
Stalin’s Hammer is scheduled to be broken into 3  books, Rome being the first, Cairo and Paris being the other too and these books catch us up on what has been happening. Turns out Stalin not happy to hear his communist party doesn’t survive to the turn of century and sets out to fix this. Whatever that may mean….
Let me be clear i’m not an ebook person. I could ramble on about the smell, tactile sensation or how awesome a full bookshelf is but that’s beside the point. I prefer books on the shelf but since john has been screwed over by publishers he is going out on his own. As such the only (read cost effective) way to get the books is in ebook format. These are just novellas so quite short but i loved the world he created and just had to get them. Since my favourite characters from Axis of Time return such as Prince Harry, it is a fantastic (short) read.
He intends to release part 2 and 3 for free on his mailing list first so defiantly jump in there and sign up if you like freebies. http://cheeseburgergothic.com/

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Who hasn’t wondered about theoretical what ifs. What if Hitler got into The Academy of Fine Arts as a youth, would he still of got into politics? What if JFK changed his route that day?  So when you see movies like The Final Countdown, you think its going to be awesome but it just doesn’t live up to it since they fail to destroy the Japaneses (they want to preserve the timeline).

I had previously dabbled in some alternate history works by Harry Turtledove in his “Days of Infamy” duology in which the Japanese follow up Pearl Harbour bombing with a land invasion too.  Then i heard of the Axis of Time trilogy (which is now more than 3) in which a multinational task force from the year 2021 is sent back to the battle of midway (by accident). They are stuck in the past, as soon as i read that i was yes, shit is going to get messed up and changed. So i had to get them.

It great from the get go, The multinational task force had a Japanese ship in it so when the midway fleet see that they attack and are pretty much destroyed by the future ships. From that point on history is completely changed. Its worse because some of the fleets ships are missing. Did they travel back?  If so where or who has them, because some had nukes on board.

John crafts an amazing universe here with 1940s tech trying to adapt and jump forward to 2021. We see huge leaps in tech, Generals in WW2 using Ipads but more interestingly, John does a fantastic job of bringing to the front cultural issues too. Us civilized countries take it for granted that our armed forces are made up of both men and women and people of many colours but 1940s is far different. There are some massive issues in 1940 of people taking orders from women captains and “coloured” captains. I feel john does an amazing job of capturing this racist attitude. I know back then they didn’t see it as that but in today’s world that is exactly what it is, racist. This series covers the time frame of world war 2 which to no surprise finishes earlier in this new time line.

There are numerous comic moments for example Prince Harry was serving in the fleet that got sent back, so he gets to meet his grandparents before they were married and the royal succession line goes into a panic trying to adapt. Stalin loves hosting Tarantino marathons!

While this Trilogy deals just with ww2 John has continued this universe in some ebooks but set 10 years later. This series has really cemented john as one of my top 5 authors. Doesn’t hurt that he is an Aussie too, even though he is from Queensland.

The Five Greatest Warriors – Matthew Reilly

The Five Greatest Warriors – Matthew Reilly

Essentially what Matthew has done is make these Jack West Jr books into a lord of the rings style trilogy. In that each book doesn’t finish the story, just continues it. In fact the second book much like its twin the two towers has no conclusion and leaves the story hanging on a cliff hanger no less. What a pain it would of been to of read these books back when they were released and reach that end and have to wait a year or so for this book to wrap things up.

This book picks up right from the cliff hanger from the previous one. The story then moves on the follow the team as it tries to find the remaining stones and pillars and naturally save the world. Which of course is done after quite some adventuring. It was refreshing to see someone other than the US being the bad guys. Matthew does seem to have something against them, with the US being the bad guy in numerous stories. Art imitating life anyone? Here we have Japan filling the role of the “bad guy” to the extreme, wanting to destroy the planet and thus erase the events of their WW2 defeat which stripped their nation of honor. Extreme, yes but then again when you hear of a small minority of Japanese schools removing reference to Pearl Harbour and calling the US the aggressors, is it really that much of a stretch?

This book really did have a “Return of the king” style to it as many plots from the previous ones were wrapped up however i couldn’t help but notice his choice of titles for this series. “Seven Wonders” “Six Stones” “Five Warriors” clearly a countdown which precludes the need for four more books to complete the countdown. And sure enough in the interview at the back, he suggests this very notion and implies there will be more. Which aside from some real stretches of the imagination in terms of plot so far, i am actually quite looking forward to. I have really taken a shining to these characters

The Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

The Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

This is a continuation of the story started in Seven Ancient Wonders. Which is a rather strange thing considering, All the plot lines wrapped up rather nicely at the end of that book when the machine was used and the planet saved. So i couldn’t see where this book was going to go. Well the story follows that, the Japanese find a way to undo the effect the machine had and that the solar flare caused by an enormously large sunspot (plot from previous book) was just a precursor to an even deadlier dilemma. A rogue planet of dark matter entering our solar system

Since dark matter isn’t 100% understood or identified, it can serve as a feasible plot device however we once again get drawn into the world of an ancient advanced civilization that died out eons ago. The same civilization that built the great machine from the first book also built six shrines around the world, which also held machines and giant pits that reach to an unknown depth. This idea was rather hard to swallow.

Regardless we are once again led on a wild ride as we try and discover the locations of these 6 shrines and the titular sacred stones to power them. However this story only covers several of the stones the rest are left for the next book.

This series while requiring some suspension of both, belief and scientific knowledge. It is still quite a thrilling adventure story and am really starting to like these main characters. Quite possibly because the Protagonist Jack West Jr is Aussie

Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly

Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly
I have been a Matthew Reilly fan for awhile now and have managed to buy all his books, i just haven’t got around to reading them all. Specifically i hadn’t read the Jack West Jr series. They are action and adventure novels kinda like Indiana Jones. And until recently i haven’t been in the mood for it. I had imagined this series was similar to his scarecrow series in which it is just a collection of one off stories. But the Jack West series isn’t like that. It seems my run of picking up trilogies continues but unlike Star Wars Aftermath or Lost on Mars. This series has part two and three already released.
We find that Jack West Jr has been put in charge of a multi national task force with the aims of preventing the destruction of the planet. Lofty goals i know. The story is all based around an ancient machine used to protect the planet from a deadly solar flare. Solar flare plot is believable, there are big ones that could really mess up life on earth but ancient advanced civilizations i found a stretch. Yeah i know there is some evidence of many unknown ancient races and myths but i just find it hard to picture an even more ancient and yet advanced like western society civilization. Where is the evidence?  But anyway its a story so we can suspend realism for a moment. This ancient civilization much like our many known ancients civs were good at astronomy and knew of the impending doom and built a machine to protect Earth. In fact they used the machine in the past to protect earth and when they died off for unknown reason they left the machine for others to find
Long story short. The Egyptians knew about this, knew that the flare occurred regularly so they found the machine and built the great pyramid to use it. After the Egyptians saved the planet the broke the machine into pieces and hid it in the locations of the seven ancient wonders hence the book name.
Our story is simple jack must find the pieces and save the planet. Naturally there’s a twist who ever uses the machine will ensure his county becomes all powerful for a millennium. Which is why the Egyptians hid the pieces. So naturally there is a group of evil US forces trying to find the pieces and Jack and his team represent a coalition of small nations who don’t want the US to win.
After suspension of belief on a few plot issues namely advanced ancient civilization etc it is quite an Indiana Jones like  adventure finding the remains/locations of the ancient wonders and navigating booby traps all to save the planet quite a fun read and strangely for part one in a trilogy, wraps up plot ends quite nicely. Going to dive straight into part two to see how they continue on

Temple – Matthew Reilly

Temple – Matthew Reilly

What i have come to love about Matthew Reilly novels is the pace. Its just non stop action. This story even more so than his previous works, as we have 2 story lines. Both pumping at breakneck speeds. Firstly we have the story of a Spanish monk during the conquest of the Incas. He gets caught up with an Incan prince trying to evade capture and hide a priceless relic from the Spaniards and then in modern times we have the story of William Race, racing against time to find the final resting place of the relic as it can be used as power-source for a special nuke.

The hidden treasure part of this story really reminds me of some Clive Cussler novels. For the most part I love the backstory put into this story bar one exception. The author states the distant planetary system the meteor that the relic is made from came from. How could he possibly know this? I understand if the meteor is spotted in the sky to some extent we can calculate its trajectory but this meteor crashed hundreds of years ago how could they know where it came from? this concept just doesn’t sit well with me
Bar this over sight its another great read by Matthew and quite a lengthy one at that.