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Author: TS Chan

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1) by James Islington

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1) by James Islington

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

Petrik’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

TS’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series:  The Licanius Trilogy (Book #1 of 3)

Genre:  Fantasy, Epic fantasy

Pages: 736 pages

Published:  3rd August 2014 (self-published). 8th November 2016 by Orbit (US) & 10th November 2016 by Orbit (UK).

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Book Review: Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5)

Book Review: Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5)

Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 5 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2004 by Bantam (UK) and 2007 by Tor (US)


Betrayal. Lies. Greed. Power.

These are the dominant themes presiding over Midnight Tides, the excellent fifth chapter of Malazan Book of the Fallen, which opened with a Prologue dated back to the Time of the Elder Gods, providing yet another history lesson into this deeply complex world.

One would expect that progressing through the series should only get easier right? It seems though that Erikson decided to up the ante for worldbuilding by bringing the reader to a completely new far-flung continent and an entire cast of new characters. There is only ONE name that is familiar in the Dramatis Personae, one whom we met in the previous book – Trull Sengar. It turns out that Midnight Tides was dedicated to relate the story of how Trull ended up being in his dire position as we’ve seen in the Prologue of House of Chains.

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Book Review: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2)

Book Review: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2)

A Time of Blood by John Gwynne

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Of Blood and Bone  (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Published: 18th April 2019 by Pan Macmillan (UK) & 16th April 2019 by Orbit (US)


A fantastic sequel in the Of Blood and Bone trilogy, A Time of Blood is yet another testament to John Gwynne’s extraordinary ability to write incredible stories.

The tone and direction of the narrative stayed true to Gwynne’s approach of escalating the stakes, and ratcheting the tension to a penultimate cliffhanger ending that makes one go “Why are you doing this to me?”

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Book Review: Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire, #5)

Book Review: Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire, #5)

Age of Death by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Legends of the First Empire (Book 5 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy, classic fantasy

Published: 4th February 2020 (Grim Oak Press)


Age of Death took an astounding turn in the direction of the overall story, and it was brilliant!

This book is aptly titled as it would be the death of me. We have yet another cliffhanger ending as the second arc of
The Legends of the First Empire series is shaping up to be one continuous story. It was excruciating to say the least, but I can empathise with Sullivan in struggling to find a suitable point to break off for each volume, short of releasing it as a single doorstopper.  A single volume wouldn’t work for physical printing purposes, especially if collectors of the hardcovers want to maintain the aesthetics of the books.  And if you’ve seen their covers and how the hardcovers look like, you’ll want that consistency.  They are stunningly beautiful.

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Book Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives,#1)

Book Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives,#1)

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

 

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Fetch Phillips Archives (Book 1)

Genre:  Urban fantasy, mystery, noir

Published:  6th February 2020 (Orbit UK) & 25th February 2020 (Orbit US)


The Last Smile in Sunder City was an impressive debut by Luke Arnold; a dark urban fantasy that enraptured me with its stellar worldbuilding and writing style.

Firstly, I’ve never been exposed to much noir elements in my reading so far, so I won’t be able to make any comparisons. However, I can still safely say that this book accurately captured that feel in its worldbuilding and the characterisation of its main character, Fetch Phillips. In a world where magic was destroyed, creatures or beings dependent on magic for their existence suffered delibitating effects. The setting has a truly bleak, post-apocalyptic feel.  Sunder City couldn’t be more appropriate a name for a progressive city where all hopes and dreams have been torn asunder when magic was lost.

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Book Review: House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4)

Book Review: House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4)

House of Chains by Steven Erikson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 4 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2002 by Bantam (UK) and 2006 by Tor (US)


There will be slaughter. Yet another apocalypse on Raraku’s restless sands. It is as it should be.

Retribution is at hand for the rise of the Seven Cities rebellion as the new Adjunct to the Empress arrives to lead the Malazan army to face Sha’ik and her Army of the Apocalypse. The Holy Desert of Raraku continues to emanate despair, even more so now than ever after the Chain of Dogs left in its trails the miasma of vengeance and grief.

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Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

A review copy received from the publisher, Orbit UK, in exchange for an honest review.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, mystery

First published: 23rd July 2019 by Redhook (US) and Orbit (UK)


How many of us readers have experienced the kind of immersion and connection to a story, its setting or its characters, which made us wish that it could be real? I’d gander a guess that it covers pretty much all of us. H.G. Parry’s marvellous debut novel, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, perfectly illustrates the magic of stories and words on a page.

“That’s how the story works, the way the sentence and metaphor and reference feeds into the other to illuminate something important. That explosion of discovery, of understanding, is the most intoxicating moment there is. Emotional, intellectual, aesthetic. Just for a moment, a perfect moment, a small piece of the world makes perfect sense. And it’s beautiful. It’s a moment of pure joy, the kind that brings pleasure like pain.”

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Book Review: The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2)

Book Review: The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2)

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

The Shadow Saint by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Black Iron Legacy (Book 2)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy

Published: 7th January 2020 by Orbit (US) & 9th January 2020 by Orbit (UK)


The Gutter Prayer had been constantly lauded as one of the best debuts of 2019. Hanrahan’s imaginative and extraordinary dark fantasy worldbuilding, as well as his unique voice, continued to impress in its sequel, The Shadow Saint.

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TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2019

TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2019

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 List.


Hello everyone!  This is the first time I’m listing my top reads for the year 2019.  Initially, I wanted to opt for Top 10 but having read 100 books and rated a lot between 4.5 and 5 stars, I felt that I would struggle to limit it to ten.  The parameters for my list are as follows:

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • Not limited to books which are released this year.  Those not published in 2019 will be specified.

With exception of #1, none of these are ranked.  I’ve merely listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  I’ve also included my favourite classic read of the year as we’ve started the Novel Notions Classic Club in July. All of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads.

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Book Review: Starsight (Skyward, #2)

Book Review: Starsight (Skyward, #2)

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

Series: Skyward (Book 2 of 4)

Genre: Science fiction, young adult

Published: 26th November 2019 by Gollancz (UK) and Delacorte Press (US)


Starsight proves once again that Brandon Sanderson is a masterful storyteller across genres and age groups, and who simply excels at writing sequels. 

I’m actually at a loss as to how to start or write this review without sounding like a broken record. As far as I’m concerned, Sanderson is a genius and he has never failed to deliver a captivating story, whether he was writing adult or young adult, fantasy or science fiction. And after reading so much from him and listening to him talk at signings and interviews, I honestly believed that it comes from his passion in just wanting to tell good stories. Notwithstanding the excellent worldbuilding and fantastic magic systems he is so well-known for these were, first and foremost, stories about people.

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