Saturday, 29 July 2017
Review: Blade Song: Special Anniversary Edition - J.C. Daniels
Includes the short story DAMON and never-before-released deleted scenes and more.
Kit Colbana--half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades--has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.
So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters--especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.
Or maybe it's all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she's gotten in over her head. Or maybe it's because if she fails--she's dead.
If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she'll even live long to collect her fee...
A Stroke of Dumb Luck
Proceed with Caution - A Collection of Deleted Shorts & Scenes
The Colbana Files:
A Stroke of Dumb Luck (Free Short Story)
Bladed Magic (Short Story)
Blade Song: Special Anniversary Edition
Misery's Way (Novella)
Visit J.C. Daniels' website for more information
This is a special anniversary edition of Blade Song that doesn't just include the first book in the Colbana Files but also has several short stories, novellas and deleted scenes too. A Stroke of Dumb Luck and Bladed Magic are both available to purchase separately but this is the first (and currently only) opportunity fans have to purchase the novella Damon (a Damon POV story) outside of J.C. Daniel's (AKA Shiloh Walker) Patreon campaign and the deleted scenes and shorts gathered together with the title Proceed with Caution are unavailable anywhere else.
I already reviewed nearly all of the stories included in this collection so I've just copied my reviews here to make it easier for you. I literally bought this ebook for the deleted scenes at the end but if you've not read the short stories or the first book then this is a great price to get you started on the Colbana Files series.
A Stroke of Dumb Luck:
Fans of the Colbana Files are going to really enjoy this little short story prequel that can be read for free on the Tor website. The story is also available to download from Amazon for the Kindle but you have to pay a small amount for that version. I have to say that although I'm happy to have read it for free I think I'd have been disappointed if I'd spent money on it (it's very short at around 20 pages). Please note that while A Stroke of Dumb Luck is published on Amazon with the author's correct name, Shiloh Walker, but the rest of the series has been published under her pen name, J.C. Daniels. I think that is a little confusing - especially to anyone who hasn't come across the series before - so I wanted to point it out for anyone who is unaware.
This story will have much more meaning to people who have already started reading the series and who know the characters involved. I've read the first two books (Blade Song & Night Blade) so I'm already invested in this world and it was really nice to get a glimpse into Kit's past. We get to see one of her earliest meetings with vampire Jude and we also get to see a bit more of the background of her friendship with Colleen. If you're new to the series then this story is a nice introduction but it doesn't show the full complexity of the world Shiloh Walker / J.C. Daniels has created, it's a nice taster to whet your appetite but there is only so much you can show in 20 pages. I would highly recommend the series though, it is fast becoming one of my favourite urban fantasy series and I think it will appeal to fans of authors like Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs.
Bladed Magic is a short story prequel to the Colbana Files series by J.C. Daniels so you can start with this story even if you're new to the series. If you're a series reading order nut like me then it technically fits into the timeline after A Stroke of Dumb Luck (another short story) and before the first book Blade Song.
For people who are new to the series this is a nice introduction to the main character Kit Colbana, you'll learn a little about her history and discover some of her magical abilities but obviously as this is a short story it won't go into a huge amount of detail. I think it does a good job of showing what a kickass character she can be though and this is a great way to test the waters if you're not sure whether to start the series or not. I do think it's worth pointing out that Justin isn't the love interest for these books so even though he and Kit have some chemistry you shouldn't read too much into that - I'd hate for anyone to be disappointed when they go on to read Blade Song.
If, like me, you're up to date with the series then I'm sure you'll love this chance to see how Kit met her ex Justin. This story shows just how Kit was persuaded out of her hiding place in TJ's bar and how she ended up working as a private investigator. It was Justin's encouragement that helped her get past her anxiety to start taking control of her life again and I enjoyed seeing how instrumental he is in helping her discover more about her abilities.
The Colbana Files has quickly become one of my favourite urban fantasy series since I discovered it so it's one I'd highly recommend. If you're a fan of Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews then I'm sure you'll enjoy J.C. Daniels just as much!
Damon is a short story set in the Colbana Files world and its only available to Shiloh Walker's (aka J.C. Daniels) supporters on Patreon. You can sign up for as little as a dollar so it doesn't cost a fortune but it's a great way to help out an author you love and you only pay per story so you're always getting something for your money.
If you're a fan of the Colbana Files then you're going to love this novella, it's set just before Blade Song (although I think you'll enjoy it more if you're already familiar with the characters so I'd recommend reading it after that book) and gives us the chance to see what Damon's life was like before he met Kit. We get to find out why nobody worries when Doyle first goes missing, see more of the friendship between Damon and Chang as well as visit Alisdair and the wolf pack.
I enjoyed seeing certain things from Damon's point of view and this was a nice little teaser that's left me even more eager to read the next book in the series.
Kit is half human and half Aneira (think Amazon warrior), she was trained by her family to become an assassin and thief but instead she has opened a PI firm and is struggling to make ends meet on her own. There has been a distinct lack of cases recently so when she is approached by the enforcer for the alpha of the local pack of cat shifters she reluctantly accepts the job. Working for the cats is madness - everyone knows the alpha is insane - but finding out that the job is to locate a missing teenage boy tugs at her heartstrings and she just can't say no. When she finds out that the penalty for failure is her death she realises that she may come to regret that decision, especially since it also means working in close contact with pack enforcer Damon. The job won't be an easy one but if anyone has the skills needed to get it done then it's Kit, she just needs to do it fast enough to keep the alpha happy.
I love urban fantasy so as soon as I heard about Blade Song I wanted to get my hands on a copy, thankfully I was approved for an advanced copy via Netgalley and I couldn't wait to get started. This is a fantastic start to a new series and I think it will appeal to fans of authors like Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs. I love the fact that Kit brings something new to the table in a genre that is crowded with vampires and shapeshifters. She is descended from a race of warriors and although she isn't the most physically powerful amongst the supernatural races she has a unique skill set and a special affinity with weapons that mean she isn't someone to be taken lightly. She had a difficult past with her family which has made her wary of trusting others but she is strong enough to stand on her own two feet. If anything she can be a bit too independent and needs to learn to rely on her friends to help her more, I'm sure that is something that we will see her learn to do as the series continues though. There aren't many Aneira left and most of the supernatural community have never even heard of them so Kit is often mistaken for a human and her adversaries have a tendency to underestimate her which comes in quite handy and allows her to take them by surprise.
When it comes to enforcer Damon I have to admit it took me a while to warm to him. I do love Alpha heroes, especially when I'm reading paranormal books, but Damon takes it to the extreme and has a really bad attitude towards Kit at the beginning of the book. One particular action of his was almost unforgivable but you get to see how much he regrets what happened and Kit doesn't let him off easily. As we get to know him we see a much nicer side to his character and it was at that point I really started to see his appeal. There is some great snarky banter between the pair of them and although I felt they moved their relationship forward a bit too quickly I still find that preferable to a series where the protagonists have that will they or won't they thing going on for multiple books. I like a bit of teasing but you can have too much of a good thing!
Alongside Kit and Damon we are introduced to some interesting side characters that I'm looking forward to getting to know better. The witches in particular have a lot of potential as allies for future books and it would be interesting to learn more about the covens. I have a feeling we're going to be finding out a lot more about Kit's family as the series continues and I also think that Damon still has some secrets up his sleeve. I'd recommend Blade Song for any urban fantasy fan, there is plenty of action, the story is fast moving, Kit is a strong heroine with unusual and interesting abilities and Damon is a hero who will grow on you the more time you spend with him. I'm already looking forward to the next instalment.
Proceed with Caution - A Collection of Deleted Shorts & Scenes:
Proceed with Caution is a collection of 4 short stories and deleted scenes that haven't been published before. These haven't been fully edited (it openly states that in the book) so there are some errors but not enough to stop me enjoying reading them.
1. Damon POV from beginning of Blade Song - get to see Kit and Damon's first meeting from his point of view. It was really interesting to see inside his head during that first meeting so I definitely enjoyed this short. My only complaint is that I wanted it to be longer.
2. The Tree - this is a short story featuring Kit, Justin and another witch called Tate (who I can't remember if we've come across in the series before or not). They are working a case and have been asked to investigate a haunted tree but it quickly becomes clear that there is much more going on that a simple ghost. I really enjoyed this story but it ended a little abruptly which was a major disappointment, it didn't feel like a finished story & was almost like the final chapter hadn't been included.
3. Damon POV from the end of Night Blade - This contains spoilers for Night Blade so if you've not read that far in the series please hold off on this Damon POV. If you have read Night Blade then you'll probably find it pretty heartbreaking reading about his side of Kit's rescue (I know I did) but I'm always happy to get the chance to see more of his side of the story.
4. Damon's Valentine POV set sometime after Edged Blade - this is a cute little slice of life snippet set after Edged Blade, it probably contains mild spoilers but doesn't go into much detail about what has happened to Kit so you're probably safe to read it before the book. It's all about Damon trying to put a smile on Kit's face one Valentine's Day and I really enjoyed seeing them having fun together.
Also included at the end of this edition is an excerpt from Hidden Blade, the next book in the series which will be publishing sometime in the next few months. If you're new to the Colbana Files this is a perfect collection to get you started as it includes the first book and all the prequel short stories, but even if you're already familiar with the series you'll probably find it worth buying just for the additional extras that aren't available elsewhere.
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.