Sunday, December 2, 2012

Demons: A Clash of Steel - Review

Demons: A Clash of Steel AnthologyDemons: A Clash of Steel Anthology by Jason M. Waltz
S.E. Lindberg rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quick Review :
A stellar concept for a collection; "Demons" delivers some entertaining tales. *** Note, the current eBook (*.mobi, 2012) version is marred with truly demonic formatting (Kindle version & Kindle-App viewing on iPhone), so consider tracking down a paperback ***

1) Concept: Rogue Blades Entertainment (RBE) delivers what it claims: a sampling of demon stories and adventure. Your chance of finding appealing stories is decent with 28 entries. Chock full of demons, champions, possession, witches, etc.. Kudos to RBE for keeping these tales alive from a 2006 publication (Carnifex Press). The purpose of an anthology is to provide an array of options, allow new readers to explore the genre, allow self-described “veteran readers” identify new authors, and enable reading in small doses (i.e. great for travelling or parents with small children constantly interrupting their activities). “Demons” delivers this.

2) Content
For anthologies, we do not expect to enjoy all entries. We expect to experiment with small doses of new material/authors. For me, three stories that emphasized personal demons (or personal challenges) were outstanding. They stuck with me and are worth rereading:
- Fifteen Breaths - by Phil Emery
- Into Shards - by Murray J.D. Leeder
- Through the Dark – by Darla J. Bowen

Many more were entertaining:
- The Man With the Webbed Throat –by Steve Moody
- Body Guard of the Dead –by C.L. Werner
- The Beast of Lyoness –by Christopher Stires
- The Vengeance of Tibor – by Ron Shiflet
- First League out From Land –by Brian Dolton
- Son of the Rock -by Underwood Laura

The remaining tales were largely more juvenile in content or pacing … or (as a long-time, desensitized fantasy reader) the material did not impact me; however, they should appeal to the younger adult audience or readers making the transition to darker/edgier fiction.

3) Demonic Kindle formatting
Despite feeling an urge to rally behind RBE (or any others who support growing the Dark Fantasy genre), I must highlight that the conversion of this book to the Kindle reader (and its App for the iPhone) was simply terrible. Granted most eBooks have some formatting issues (this book has those too, which many of us are accustomed to overlooking), but an anthology requires a means to navigate to the chapters independently and this has product no means to do so:

(a) No hyperlinked Table of Contents Really. Want to jump to one of the entries just recommended? Want to reread a chapter ? Good luck getting there. There are NO links. This really distracts and diminishes from the experience. Perhaps in a chapter book we could excuse this since it is assumed readers will go through linearly… but not in an anthology!
(b) No titles at the chapter locations Really. Let us imagine that you finally scroll or jump to an approximate %-complete to read an entry and…guess what?…the Chapter Titles are missing! Luckily, the “by author name” was converted, so if you memorize the name you may know when to stop scrolling. With an eBook, you will have little feedback (no page numbers or headers) to guide you.
(c) Indents and returns/breaks for paragraphs are often missing: Really. I was willing to forgive some of this for a while, but too many dialogue scenes were scrolled/wrapped-up into each other.

In short, I recommend hunting down the paperback.

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