Friday, December 14, 2012

Rogue Angel: The Dragon's Mark by Alex Archer

Archaeologist Annja Creed and her sword have never been outmatched— until now. When a surprise party for her mentor Roux includes some uninvited guests, Annja finds herself fighting desperately for her life. The intruders escape but leave a sinister message behind.

A legend has resurfaced about a sword that should be feared. A sword that seeks a master as bloodthirsty as itself. It is wielded by an assassin known as the Dragon who initiates a terrible game of cat and mouse. Eventually, the two swords—light and dark—must meet…and only one shall triumph.

If I had a guilty reading pleasure - grinning here - it would be the Rogue Angel books.  They are straight out FUN and silly and Over The Top. Rogue Angel books are a mixture of Tomb Raider / Indiana Jones / Witchblade / Time Team and Monster Hunter tv shows with a good bit of The Librarian movies thrown in for good measure.

There are a lot of titles in the series, maybe around forty or more? But each story is self-contained and you are rapidly informed by way of a quick bit of exposition as to who Annja is, how she comes be such a bad-ass with a sword that disappears into nowhere and then reappears when it's needed.

The books are written by a series of writers but Joe Nassise who wrote The Dragon's Mark, is one of my favourite writers in the series.  The author's name doesn't appear on the book, but they are acknowledged within, so I always check to see who's writing the one I'm reading at the moment.

Joe excels in writing crazy action sequences that leap off the page.  But then, he gives Annja great moments of introspection that I really quite like too, because it makes her feel less of a stock character.

Annja's a great character and when written well, she utterly is a bad ass. As an archaeologist she gets to know some really random stuff, and that part is her official and serious academic side, but then her day-time job of working for a tv show called Chasing History's Monsters, allows Annja to go on these madcap adventures all over the world.

Admittedly, I make the books sound a bit mental, and I'm sorry about that, but really, they are fun commercial pulp fiction with a great premise and I'm utterly addicted to them.  Out of the forty odd books I probably own about thirty eight or so of them.  I call them my "snack books" because when I need down time or inspiration, I'll pick up one of the new ones and flash through them.

Annja's adventures are always perilous and dangerous and she invariably gets into a lot of trouble, but in the hands of people like Nassise, you 100% believe in her abilities. The snippets of history and lore you pick up along the way is a bonus.  In The Dragon's Mark, the way we get to know the assassin stalking Annja is a bit unnerving as we are kind of aware of who this person is, so when Annja runs into her "unexpectedly" there is a moment of "oh crap, it's gonna go bad".  And it does but not the way you expect it.

I don't really have much more to say, apart from: The Dragon's Mark is fun and thoroughly enjoyable and Mr. Nassise fully entertained me for the duration of the book and I'm very chuffed to discover that the new Rogue Angel title I've just picked up today, Saturday, 8th, is another Nassise and it's called Rogue Angel: Library of Gold.

Come to think of it, these books are actually great quest novels for readers in say high school who are interested in reading something different and fun.  There's no sexy times, there's no swearing, and a lot of the research backing Annja's adventures are really well done.  Also, the size of these are ideal to go into your bag or a pocket, so you aren't laden down with reading big tomes.

If you can though, buy the first book in the series: Destiny, as it really is the framing story (although it is recapped in each book briefly) it gives you an idea as to the background etc. but really, each book works as a standalone so it isn't really necessary, but if you're a nerd like me, you'll want to.

Find a list of all the titles here at this wiki-page.  Sadly, Rogue Angel's publishers never really carry a full list of titles on their website which is a bit annoying as I find it frustrating having to rely on a wiki page for my info, rather from the publisher's "mouth" as such.

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