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Month: January 2019

Interview with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

Interview with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

Hi everyone, Petrik from Novel Notions here. Today I’m bringing you an interview with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, the author behind the recently released debut, The Gutter Prayer. I have read and reviewed The Gutter Prayer since last year and upon finishing it, I immediately claim that it will be the best fantasy debut of 2019 and I’m sticking by my words. It was really that good if you stick through it. I decided then that I simply have to interview the author so here we are.

You can check out my review of The Gutter Prayer on the blog and I hope it will convince you to order it if you haven’t already done so. Now, without further ado, here is my interview with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.

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Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy, #1)

Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy, #1)

Dancer’s Lament by Ian C. Esslemont
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

My first 5-star rating this year, and it’s a Malazan book.

I love the world of Malazan, and the Malazan Book of the Fallen stands as my favourite grimdark fantasy series. However, these are not books which one can pick up to read for ‘fun’. Not only were the worldbuilding complex and the cast of characters extensive, but the prose was also dense and philosophical. Moreover, the narrative frequently messaged dark and bleak themes. To be honest, it felt like work sometimes to read MBOTF, albeit work that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A Clash of Kings was a brilliant sequel that brought the spotlight of the series to one of the most well-written characters in fantasy: Tyrion Lannister.

A Clash of Kings is the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire saga by George R. R. Martin. The main story in this sequel mainly revolves around the multiple kings of Westeros battling in full force for the right to sit in the Iron Throne. This, however, is just scratching the surface of the story. Martin built upon everything he has established in the first wonderfully and with that, the scale of the story has become much bigger than before that I found it quite a difficult task to review this tome without spoiling anything, but spoiler-free review as always it is. Just like my review on A Game of Thrones, I’ll be doing some qualities comparison between the book and its TV series (Season 2) adaptation.

Picture: A Clash of Kings by Marc Simonetti

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The Gutter Prayer (The Black Iron Legacy, #1)

The Gutter Prayer (The Black Iron Legacy, #1)

ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review.

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A truly extraordinary debut, The Gutter Prayer strikes an intense chord with its powerful worldbuilding, vivid imagery and evocative prose.

Two things about this book caught my attention. Firstly, the blurb which indicated that the main characters were three thieves (I have such a weakness for stories with thieves). And then, my co-blogger’s review which raved about the dark worldbuilding. Alright! I’ll admit that the gorgeous cover also played some part in this.

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Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods, #1)

Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods, #1)

ARC received from the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review.

Master of Sorrows by Justin Call
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Master of Sorrows was a remarkable debut which I simply cannot put down.

This book recalled so much about what I loved about classic epic fantasy and yet felt modern.  The author has quoted David Eddings as his earliest favourite.  Having read and loved Eddings’ works myself, I can definitely see the influences from The Belgariad in this book; a prophecy, Gods and a coming-of-age tale of a young man destined for greatness. Except, in this case, that greatness may lie in the path of darkness instead of light.

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Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands, #1)

Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands, #1)

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brutally remarkable and captivating Holodomor-inspired fantasy debut.

Seraphina’s Lament is Sarah Chorn’s debut and it’s the first book in The Bloodlands trilogy. For the purpose of targeting the right reader for this book, I’ll start by saying that if you’re not a grimdark enthusiast, you might either want to skip this, or at least prepare yourself for some dark and heavy moments. As for its premise, check out the official blurb on Goodreads/Amazon, the author did a great job setting the stage without spoiling anything.

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Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2)

Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2)

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“There are some lessons that must be written in scars.”

Grey Sister is an action-packed thrill ride that packs a heavy emotional punch. It’s everything a second book in a trilogy should be. So many writers miss that mark when it comes to a middle book, but not so with this series. There was not a single chapter that felt boggy or unimportant to me; I was entranced by every page. Lawrence took the story and relationships he crafted in Red Sister and managed to make them both more playful and more poignant and, most importantly, more powerful. I have never come across another fictional character to whom friendship is more important and personality-defining as it is with Nona Grey. I think this quote illustrates that importance beautifully:

“Those…are my friends and I would die for them. I would face a terror for them that I haven’t the courage to stand against on my own behalf.”

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Unsouled (Cradle, #1)

Unsouled (Cradle, #1)

Unsouled by Will Wight
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

I have heard great things about Will Wight’s books. If Unsouled was just a taste of what the Cradle series has to offer, I will say those praises are well-founded.

Cradle is an Eastern-inspired fantasy with complex worldbuilding and a cool magic system that reminds me of the Chinese martial art genres of wuxia (heroic) and xianxia (immortal). The narrative follows a young man, Wei Shi Lindon, an Unsouled who was not allowed to learn the sacred arts of his clan in the Sacred Valley. There are myriad paths that a sacred artist can follow, utilising the core of their soul to employ and control the vital aura; forces of the natural world. This power from the soul is called madra.  Through various means of progression, which includes training, ingesting elixirs and spirit-fruits, a sacred artist can level up from different stages of madra mastery and strength from Copper to Iron, to Jade and then to Gold. There are also magical artefacts, or Treasures, which also range from those that can be wielded by the lower-ranked sacred artists to those that can only be powered by stronger madra.

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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you love watching Game of Thrones, you’re most likely going to love reading A Game of Thrones.

Like countless readers around the world, I probably wouldn’t have known about A Song of Ice and Fire without its TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones. I’ve been following the TV series ever since the release of its first episode, I was completely captivated by the originality of the storyline and characters. Upon finishing the first season of the TV show, I immediately picked up this book and honestly? I DNF’ed it about a quarter into the book. It wasn’t that the book was bad, it was because the TV show—at least the first season—did a spectacular job of adapting the first installment of A Song of Ice and Fire. Something you have to know about me is that when my first entrance into a series is through a TV series/movies adaptation which I ended up loving, I tend to find the original material—usually novels—become super boring because I already know how it all will go down. It’s the biggest reason why I’m still not able to finish The Fellowship of the Ring. Unfortunately, it’s also the reason why I couldn’t finish this book back then. Now, years after my first try of reading A Game of Thrones, not only I was able to finish it, I loved it so much and I craved for more by the end of it.

“… a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

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Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart

Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart

Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart by Steven Erikson
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

With Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart, Erikson holds up a mirror for all of humanity.

The Earth, when seen from space, shows no borders.

A First Contact story that examines the path of the human race on Earth, Rejoice nails some very brutal truths about humankind at large; where humanity is heading to and what awaits us in the future without intervention. Once again, Erikson offers up a stunning philosophical discourse, albeit one that is less allusive and hitting much closer to home as compared to his epic fantasy masterpiece, Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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