Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Review - Rysykk's Rise, Bk1: Rysykk's Rise © J.C. Natal

Rysykk's Rise

Bk1: Rysykk's Rise

Author: J.C. Natal

Publisher: Dark Roast Press

Genre: GLBT

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Alarin is a skid living in the dark and dangerous underside of Washington-America, where the sun can no longer be seen through the buildings and streets of the upper levels. He’s a pickpocket and a thief, and sometimes a whore when he’s hungry enough, until the night he picks the wrong pocket and falls victim to a vicious beating.

A mysterious benefactor whisks Alarin away from the mean streets and offers him a life of luxury, ninety floors in the sky…but who exactly is Maleus Bryant and why does he want Alarin when he could have his choice of companion? What is it he knows that Alarin doesn’t?

Adding to Alarin’s discomfort is the image in his mind of a killer with blood on his face, a Rysykk, rising out of the black of night and the legends of old to fill Alarin with fear. Could Maleus be a Rysykk, hiding in plain sight?

Even if he is, can Alarin turn his back on shelter and food and a life he’d never dreamed of, or will he stay, knowingly a Rysykk’s private whore?



"How long have I been here, Rose?" Alarin asked as he dropped sweating and breathless onto the bed after only a short walk, leaning heavily on the cane she?d brought.

She cocked her head to the side and looked at him. "Do you have somewhere better to be?"

He laughed and lifted his splinted leg up onto the bed while she poured him some water and set his little cup of pills beside the bed. "Yeah; 'cause my flop hole and trash bed's so much better ... and I gots stuff what needs doing." He snorted and tossed the pills back, slamming down the water. He figured he should get as much of the good stuff as he could while he was there. Soon enough he'd be back down in the gutter.

"It will be a month tomorrow." Rose said finally.

Alarin shook his head. "Long time."

"Mr. Bryant will be home from his trip in a few days. By then we should have your strength up. He'll want to see you. He's been pleased with your progress."

That made Alarin more nervous than he wanted to admit. He had nothing to offer this man. He couldn't imagine what a man like Maleus Bryant could possibly want with a gutter-born bottom feeder like him. Well, he could imagine, but none of the things that came to him were pleasant.

A week later Alarin was given clothing, simple but new, and better than anything he'd ever worn. He was led out of his room, into a bright, white hallway and over to an elevator that took them up ten floors. A whole level. As the doors opened, the servant escorting him gestured into the room. "Mr. Bryant is waiting for you, sir."

Alarin actually snorted at that. He'd never been called a "sir" before. He limped his way into the room, which was a stark contrast to everything he'd seen before. The walls were lined in rich wood paneling, dark and well polished. The back wall was filled, floor to ceiling, with books. The carpeting was nearly ankle thick as he stepped hesitantly onto it. A few steps further into the room, and he eyed the lush furniture-- black leather. It was more than a few moments before his eyes adjusted enough to see the eyes regarding him with cool amusement from the depths of one of the chairs.

"Forgive the lack of light. I'm afraid my eyes are sensitive." The voice was slightly accented, gentle, compelling.

"No problem. I come from the dark levels." Alarin responded reflexively, and he sensed, rather than saw, the smile.

"I recall. I trust you are feeling better?"

"Yeah ... you know ... thank you. I can't pay you for this."

The shadows seemed to shift as Maleus moved forward in his chair. "There is nothing to repay. It was my pleasure."

© J.C. Natal



My Thought

I came upon this book literally by accident and snapped it up because  I liked one of the main protags name (Alarin).. We readers are a funny lot, you never know what will make us read a book.

The book is a mix of futuristic society meeting urban fantasy and I was intrigued by this more than anything else.

The story starts off with a young boy in what is called Bottomside in a fight literally of his life, this is not an unknown situation though as in this place it is really survival of the fittest, the fastest and the one who can rob Peter to pay Paul without letting either find out about what you are doing. What is different about today for Alarin is that something he has always thought a legend may just have saved him and he is grateful..

Grateful enough that when he finds himself in a newer and cleaner setting a long way from Bottomside he doesn’t make waves. Alarin however is quick and he picks up on secrets and lies within the house of  Maleus Bryant, his saviour.

Maleus is something the world has closed it’s eyes to but he has a plan to make things right for his kind. For the most part he is a good person to the selected few who crosses his path, he can however be someone's worst nightmare and Alarin isn’t sure yet what Maleus is to him.

One thing leads to another and Alarin and Maleus reaches an uneasy truce with Alarin accepting Maleus for what he is and what he wants to make of him while Maleus continue with his life doing what he does best – plotting. However he is thrown off kilter by his developing reaction with what should be a passing fancy and a step up through his life and he is not happy.

All of that is however the minor subplot, someone know the secrets of these two and he aims to rid society of their kind.

(The blurb does a good job of detailing this book)

What I like

. I really liked this plotline, while the rich guy saving the little guys is old news – I love how Natal made this fable her own. There is a familiar feel to this legend but with enough new material added in “The Rysykk” is something with a bit of an edge.  

. The world building is wonderful, the levels that make up this world is fascinating. The skulduggery, destitution and opulence all in this one bubble was a great mix I thought.

. The cast themselves, and not only the main protags. The supporting casts help to make up the big picture and they aide in adding more to the mystery of the Rysykk legend. I loved the fact that nothing about this book is cute, it’s harsh realities, it’s doing what needs must and it’s making every sacrifice for the greater good.

. I am probably at a place in my reading where I am over the happy ending, so I really appreciated this book for that. It was not even HFN it was more a “on agreeable terms” sort of ending and I need to get the next book to see where they go from here.

. The connection between Alarin and Maleus was wonderfully done I thought as well, there wasn’t the dreaded misunderstanding in any of the events here. Maleus was direct to the point of being rude when he opened up and Alarin was probably a product of where he grew up “a realist” and I thought the two dealt well together and I loved the scenes where they were together.

. The added skulduggery and the “one upmanship” attitude of most of the player in this book was just right up my street. I love a good nasty and some of these people had the craft of being snide and condescending down to an art.  


. Too much secondary stories that never really goes anywhere .. ( This is a minor niggle as a second book is on the market – so these might be addressed in that book)

.  After a rather good built up on the  mystery part of this book – it was over too quickly. I am more than likely too blood thirsty in my reading but I really wanted pain and horror here.

. There were a few predictables that just really let the story down after the grit of the streets and the future that Maleus was trying to carve out.. ( You will have to read it to know what I am talking about)

Bottom line

While I really likes this book because some of the core elements that I love in my reading is all there I can see where some readers might have problems with this production. In essence this is not a romance book, and with the few genuine sex scenes in the book it is not even erotica for the most part ..

The whole plotline has an operatic feel to it and in some way demands that there is more description and less side story to this first book, what I got was an intriguing tale that held me for the most part and left me frustrated when I wanted more of a particular scene.

Overall – definately worth the read for the world building, the not cute aspects and just meeting Alarin and Maleus made this journey worth it. 

2 Speak To Me:

Chris on 23 November 2010 at 16:19 said...

Thanks for the review, EH. I'm thinking this one is not for me.

Blodeuedd on 23 November 2010 at 20:16 said...

I think I must second Chris' comment there