Posts Tagged Assassin

The Red Cross of Gold I:. The Knight of Death, Assassin Chronicles – Brendan Carroll

Storyline: The Knight of Death certainly lives up to his name.  This story, surprisingly enough, starts off in modern-day Texas after a preface set during the Fall of Jerusalem in 1187 CE and another  short scene that takes place in modern Italy.  Our hero, Sir Mark Andrew Ramsay, is a grouchy Scotsman with a problem (several of them, in fact!)  He is not a very nice fellow, but due to a vicious attack and kidnapping, he has forgotten that fact.

While in this state of discombobulation, he falls in love with one of his captors, which is strictly forbidden by the rules of his ancient Order.  His original assassin’s mission forgotten, he has to fight for his life on two fronts as his captor’s try to kill him and one of his Brothers of the Order comes after him with  blood vengeance in mind.

I was impressed by the complexity of the plot and the ease of reading that made me carry this book everywhere I went, unwilling to put it down. I enjoyed the flashback action that told bits and pieces of Mark’s past worked in as memory flashes as his head began to clear up.  The ending was surprising and original and left me wanting to know what happens next.

Grammar/Spelling: Although it does have some grammatical errors and typos sprinkled throughout, I kept forgetting to keep an eye out for them because the story advances so quickly.  Another once over with spell-checker/grammar might make it even better for sticklers.

Character Development: The characters were very well described and developed.  There were several characters to hate and some that made me just scratch my head and go hmph!  For the most part I ended up hating on the right people and liking the best ones.

I loved Meredith Sinclair’s naïveté and Cecile Valentino’s evilness.  Mark, of course, is my hero even though he has a number of serious issues.  I can imagine in a series this long that there will be many more characters to love and hate and if they are as well developed it will be a pleasure to read about them.

Writing Style: Mr. Carroll’s writing style is refreshing in that he keeps the action going for the most part in such a way that it is hard to catch a breath before something else happens.  He uses dialog and accented speech (spelled out phonetically) that allows the reader to catch the full impact of the scene.  I could actually hear them talking in my head.

Descriptions of settings, clothing, feelings are included in the story as it progresses.  There is a bit foul language where a reader would expect to find it (non-gratuitous in other words), which I personally appreciate, but there are some mildly explicit love scenes that are tastefully executed, which I also appreciate.

Continuance: I found no problems with continuance.  Blue cars stayed blue and time lines were quite realistic and well thought out.

Overall Rating: 5-

I would suggest that the author check once more with a grammar/spellcheck or Beta reader, perhaps.  The chapters were not uniform in length and I like to stop at one chapter or two depending on my schedule and some of the chapters were very long.  The inclusion of scriptures at the beginning of each chapter really lent an air of ominous doom and I found myself waiting to see how they played into the story, this I liked very much.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a different type of Templar fiction than what is normally seen in the bookstore.  It is R-rated so mature audiences would be in order.  Even if the Templars and Fantasy genre is not generally the reader’s cup of tea, I believe that they might be pleasantly surprised by this novel since it includes action, adventure, mysticism, murder, mayhem, love, hate, humor… well, just everything a reader could ask for.

An interview with Chevalier Mark Andrew Ramsay of The Knight of Death and Assassin Chronicles Books 1-21 concerning his stormy relationship with his author, Brendan Carroll.

Celia:  How did you first meet your writer?

Mark Andrew:  It’s been quite a while since I first met him.  He had fallen into Loch Ness and I had to pull him out.  Bloody fool thought he saw Nessie (ahem).  Sorry.

Celia:  Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Mark Andrew:  If I had foreseen Mr. Carroll’s intentions from the first, I would have kicked him out of me house in a heartbeat, but he was in no condition to travel for a while and a bit.  I’m convinced that he was playing on my hospitality and pretending to be infirmed while he was simply gathering fodder on me.

Celia:  What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?

Mark Andrew:  I rather enjoy some of the flashbacks because I get to re-assassinate a few deserving souls.  Sometimes I miss the action, you see?  Assassinations and swordplay are not as popular as they once were.

Celia:  Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Mark Andrew:  I always come out on top, if you get my meaning.  I am, after all, the Alchemist.  What I mean to say is that I get what I want.

Celia:  Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

Mark Andrew:  Bloody hell! Excuse me.  I have enough nightmares without flitting around inside that morass of mayhem.

Celia:  What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Mark Andrew:  Generally, I prefer a nice quiet evening in the lab making gold, sipping a good glass of Glendronach Scotch (or a bottle depending on the mood and the weather).  A nice fire, howling with the wolfhounds maybe.  (slight laugh)

Celia:  Are you currently engaged in a relationship?

Mark Andrew:  Romantically?  Bloody hell.  Oh, sorry.  (Shifting in chair)  That’s what got me into trouble in the first place… well, yes, I am.  Yes.

Celia:  Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?

Mark Andrew:  It’s best that some would put my story in Fantasy.  That way I can go on my merry way without all the attention.

Celia:  If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

Mark Andrew:  I’d rewrite the whole bloody thing and make it a collection of nursery rhymes for hobgoblins.

Celia:  Do you like the way the book ended?

Mark Andrew:  Wot th’ divvil?  Did ye read th’ thing?  How wud ye loike to ‘ave thot ‘appen to ye?  Especially aftar oll ye went thru to get thair?!  O’ carse, I dunna loike th’ way th’ book ended, Lassie.  (more words, possibly in Gaelic?)  Excuse me.  Get on with it, please…

Celia:  Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?

Mark Andrew:  Now that is a silly question if I ever heard one.  Do you have any Scotch?  I’ll settle for a bottle of spring water, if not.  Thank you.  I think the answer is obvious.

Celia:  Do you believe that you are suitably portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?

Mark Andrew:  I have a library full of first edition literature.  They all have nice leather bindings or linen.  If you keep them well-maintained, there is nothing better than the smell and feel of a good book.  These paperbacks are a bit flimsy, don’t you think?  I mean the thing couldn’t possibly survive a little spill or two without the ink running all over the thing, you see?  And what happens if the electric cuts out?  You can’t run that contraption… that Kindle whatsit… on kerosene now, can you?

Celia:  Did you have any input into the book cover design?

Mark Andrew:  The first book was done without my permission and I had to engage a barrister from Edinborough to get any say in it.  I like the cover, none-the-less.  It ws the principle.

Celia:  What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

Mark Andrew:  They tell me I’ve no sense of humor, but that is nonsense.  I can be quite witty and I like to laugh as much as a body should.

Celia:  If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?

Mark Andrew:  I already have more power than I know what to do with.  Power is a dangerous thing, Lassie.  Either way, too much, not enough?  The results are usually the same:  Disastrous when the time comes to take action..

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Cameo the Assassin – Dawn McCullough-White

Storyline: Cameo the Assassin is a truly fang-tastic novel by Ms. Dawn McCullough-White!

Cameo is an assassin for hire and she’s good at her job. Very good. She is also the stuff of local legends and frightening children’s rhymes. Her story begins after she receives an atypical assassination assignment and a chance encounter leads to unexpected changes in her “typical” assassin routine. Cameo manages to make friends and make new enemies when she becomes the target of an attempted assassination.

The story is distinctive in that the reader is uncertain of Cameo’s origins and what she truly is until about mid-way through the book when her true nature is revealed. The pacing is just right, with enough back story and action to keep the reader interested, wanting to learn more and even cheering on the “bad” guys.

Grammar/Spelling: I only noticed a few missing commas or periods throughout.

Character Development: Ms. McCullough-White does a remarkable job creating a killer that is both plausible and easy to identify with. Cameo manages to leave your heart aching for her to have some normalcy and acceptance in the world. Ms. Mc-W’s ability to present the reader with a unique cast of characters without them becoming too contrived or predictable is truly remarkable.

Cameo is our heroine/killer and she is exactly what I would imagine a person in her line of work would be: excellent at killing people, jaded and lonely. Throughout all of this, she still has moments of true humanity and even romanticism that help prove that she is not without a conscience or heart.  With each revelation of her past, the reader is drawn to her like a moth to the flame.

Black Opal is the dashing Highwayman who loves fanciful fashion and lovely lasses. Opal thinks of himself as a debonair and charming gentleman who just happens to rob coaches for a living to support his dandy lifestyle. However, there is more – much more – to him than he lets on.

Writing Style: Ms. Mc-W’s style is something to be envied and is certainly as refreshing as much as it is straightforward. She doesn’t bombard the reader with too many details; yet develops the story with enough speed and grace to keep the reader captivated.

Her choice of character names is very interesting in that many of the names seem to have been switched from the typical masculine use to the feminine and vice versa. I have always been intrigued by the origin of names and words and for someone efficiently switching it up a bit and creating “new” names without stringing together a series of vowels and consonants just to “create” a different name is an excellent change of pace for a fantasy novel.

Continuity:  The length of a character’s hair is referred to several times as extremely long – all the way to his ankles – and towards the end of the story, his hair is described as touching the ground.

Overall Rating: 4+

I am extremely pleased with Cameo the Assassin and am looking forward to reading the second book Cameo and the Highwayman. Without giving away too much of the plot, I can say that a book with a central character like Cameo is like nothing else I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I can only hope that Ms. McCullough-White continues this series for many, many volumes!

The story has some violent scenes; though, none are too graphic and there is very little adult language. Although, the dark storyline isn’t for everyone, I can say that many people would enjoy this and I would recommend it to nearly anyone with an interest in the more macabre side of life (or death, as it were).

Character Interview with Black Opal

An interview with Black Opal of Cameo the Assassin and Cameo and the Highwayman concerning her relationship with her author Dawn McCullough-White.

Celia:  How did you first meet your writer?

Black Opal: It was the summer of 1987, and I remember it as if it was yesterday.  The care she took crafting my image over and over, pencil in hand… of course I’m very aesthetically pleasing so I can understand the draw.

Celia:  Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Black Opal:  Oh yes.  I really can’t imagine it otherwise, can you my dear?  I’m just a little bigger than life… and some of the things I’ve done in my time, well, can’t give away the whole series but there is more to me than meets the eye.  Of course, I might be willing to tell you love, somewhere a little more quiet, a bit more… private.  Perhaps later, after this interview?

Celia:  What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?

Black Opal:  Oh the swashbuckling and the witty repartee are fine but the romance, well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mark that at the top of my list.

Celia:  Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Black Opal:   Yes.  The love scene.  Good lord, she rewrote that thing around fourteen times until she realized that my original take on that scene was the right one.  If she’d only listened to me to begin with, it wouldn’t have taken the woman so long to get the novel finished!

Celia:  Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

Black Opal:  Once.  I just wanted to give her the idea what it was like to be me for a little while.

Celia:  What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Black Opal:  Oh, let’s see…  Robbing coaches, enjoying a bottle of good wine, buying a new frock…  lying in the arms of a beautiful… individual.

Celia:  Are you currently engaged in a relationship?

Black Opal:  Would I have asked you to meet me later if I was?  Certainly not.

Celia:  Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?

Black Opal:  What genre are we considered again?  Sometimes it’s Dark Fantasy, others it’s Historical Fiction… I can’t keep up.  Truly though, I’d make a rather funny character in say… science fiction, or pulp fiction, although I’d probably do just fine in Chick Lit.

Celia:  If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

Black Opal:  The tower scene.

Celia:  Do you like the way the book ended?

Black Opal: Oh yes.

Celia:  Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?

Black Opal:  As fate may have it I was able to convince Ms. McCullough-White to write a second novel with a storyline all about me.  Well, all right there was another subplot that had something to do with a vampire fellow who took Cameo hostage, but other than that it was all about me.  That was no easy task let me tell you, I spent months invading the time she was trying to write out the first novel, and forcing her to write dialog for the second novel.  I know this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I was downright vexing.  I simply would not shut-up.  Ha, ha… and in the end it all worked out for the best.

Celia:  Do you believe that you are suitable portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?

Black Opal: I am suitable for all forms of media.

Celia:  Did you have any input into the book cover design?

Black Opal: Sadly, I wasn’t given the opportunity to speak my mind but I did influence Ms. McCullough-White that I should be on the cover of the second novel, and lo and behold- on the second cover, you may note there is an image of me.

Celia:  What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

Black Opal:  Lame… lame… hmm…  I can’t think of one- oh I know, she gave me small pox and now I have all those awful scars that mar my appearance, and I’m blind in one eye.  For a moment there I thought you might be asking about something intangible such as… vanity or something like that.  Silly of me.

Celia: If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?

Black Opal: The ability to erase memories.

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