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Author: TS Chan

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Hard science fiction

First English translation: 2015 by Tor Books (US), 2016 by Head of Zeus (UK).


The Dark Forest is a stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed The Three-Body Problem and in my opinion, surpassed it by the magnitude of astronomical units.

While I hold the first book in high regard, I had to admit that characterisation was sidelined in the narrative which focussed heavily on the science and plot. The sequel’s storytelling approach was more balanced with the hard science toned down somewhat and character development emerging more prominently. The leading character in this respect is Luo Ji, an astronomer and sociologist, who was given cryptic advice by the person responsible for the events leading to the impending extraterrestrial invasion. Luo Ji cuts an anti-hero figure who wanted nothing to do with saving the world and just continue flitting around in life, almost frivolously, as an ordinary person. On top of becoming invested in his person, I was also delighted that arising from his POV we have the return of my favourite character from the previous book, Shi Qiang (nicknamed Da Shi), the hard-boiled ex-policeman who works for the Planetary Defence Council security department. Between Luo Ji and another prominent character, Zhang Beihai, a naval political commissar turned space officer, the story and its central plot weave a compelling, fascinating and unpredictable path through the epoch-spanning narrative.

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Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

ARC provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review

The Once King by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series:  FFO (Book 3 of 3)

Genre:  LitRPG fantasy

Publication date:  12th November 2019 (Independently published)


Gripping and thoroughly satisfying, The Once King, concluded the FFO trilogy with yet another compulsive read.

The entire series has been incredibly fun and addictive with lots of action and humour, while packing some solid emotional punches at the same time. Tone and style-wise, FFO is similar to Aaron’s earlier series like Heartstriker, Eli Monpress, and Paradox; they tended towards being lighthearted and hopeful.  While Aaron and Bach had worked together on every book she has written, this was the first time that they shared the writing process, and the result was fantastic.  So much so that I finished reading The Once King in one day, I just didn’t want to put the book down.

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Book Review: The Three-Body Problem ((Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)

Book Review: The Three-Body Problem ((Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Hard science fiction

First English translation: 2014 by Tor Books (US), 2015 by Head of Zeus (UK)


This critically well-acclaimed science fiction novel certainly deserves its laurels.

“Wildly imaginative, really interesting..” so proclaimed Barack Obama about this trilogy. From what I can gather after reading this book, I already wholeheartedly agree. The Three-Body Problem is a truly unique and original science fiction within the realm of plausibility. Melding real-world science, history, philosophy, religion and fantastical ideas, this novel delivers a beautifully-written (and translated) narrative which engages the mind, heart and soul.

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Book Review: Up To The Throne (The Dark Renaissance, #1)

Book Review: Up To The Throne (The Dark Renaissance, #1)

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Up To The Throne by Toby Frost

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Dark Renaissance (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, political fantasy

Published: December 18th 2018, independently published


If you’re looking for political intrigue and a badass female main protagonist, Up To The Throne might just suit your fancy.

The setting is inspired by the Italian Renaissance, albeit in a world enhanced by magic and alchemy. There was even a nod to Leonardo da Vinci in the narrative, while referencing to an inventor in this world whom the church considers as a madman. Also similar to our own history of the Catholic Church, this was also a time of the Inquisition who was determined to wipe out ‘heretic’ magic-users.

The story is centred around a revenge plot. Giulia Degarno, our main protagonist, was a female thief who has been severely scarred and left for dead 6 years ago on the orders of a master criminal, Publius Severra. Giulia returns to Pagalia after spending years honing her skills to bring her plans of assassinating Severra to fruition. However, during the course of those long years, Severra has also built significant political strength and is no longer a mere criminal.  Strong enough to be in position as one of the three contenders to seize the throne of Pagalia, with the very ill incumbent Prince expected to die pretty soon.  With his stronghold over many of the guilds in the city and living in a house that rivals a fortress, how would Giulia ever get close enough to assassinate Severra?

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Book Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)

Book Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 3 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: November 14th 2017 by Tor Books (US) and Gollancz (UK)


That Storming genius has outdone himself. Again!

Words of Radiance was easily the best book I’ve ever read, which naturally resulted in some pretty high expectations going into Oathbringer. As much as I’ve tried to dampen it after waiting for over 3.5 years, I just had to accept that it was futile.

Who am I kidding? Sanderson has completely smashed all my expectations by offering yet another best book I’ve ever read.

Is Oathbringer a masterpiece? I certainly think so. Is it a fantasy classic that will stand the test of time and be remembered in the same vein as Lord of the Rings? That might stretch it a bit too far, but only time will tell. I wouldn’t also call it flawless, as it is not. As far as I am concerned, however, it is a singularly brilliant creation which is both epic in its scope and intimate in its soul.

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Book Review: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Book Review: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

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

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars.

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: High fantasy

Publishing date: 1st October, 2019 by HarperCollins, US and 17th October, 2019 by Gollancz, UK.


Angel Mage is a stand-alone fantasy novel that engages with its fascinating magic, but less so in its plot and character development.

I’ve enjoyed Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy and was particularly impressed with the worldbuilding in that series of books. Similarly, I found the premise of Angel Mage to be intriguing as magic is bestowed by the ability to call upon angels with the use of icons. To make it even more interesting is the cost of magic, i.e. the lifespan of the person who employs angelic magic. The more powerful the angel which was called upon, the more life is literally sucked out of the caller. The lore is also fascinating where different regions or countries are governed by different Archangels and their respective pantheons – from Cherubims to Seraphims, and Principalities, to name but a few.

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Book Review: Memories of Ice (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)

Book Review: Memories of Ice (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 3 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2001 by Bantam (UK) and 2006 by Tor (US)


The harder the world, the fiercer the honour.

This in-world quote succinctly explained why Memories of Ice is one of my favourite volumes of my favourite grimdark epic fantasy series.  It is the reason why I even read grimdark in the first place, given that I am so easily assailed by emotions that one wonders why I willingly put myself through such heartbreak. So bear with me throughout this series when I keep waxing lyrical about how humanity manifests its most awe-inspiring qualities in the face of relentless hardship and horrors of a world ravaged by conflict.

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Book Review: Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Book Review: Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Book of the Ancestor (Book 3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy

Published:  4th April 2019 by Harper Voyager (UK) and 9th April 2019 by Ace (US)


Incredibly satisfying, Holy Sister is a powerful conclusion to a remarkable trilogy that shines most brilliantly with its superb characterisation.

I am truly impressed with Mark Lawrence’s ability to write such realistic and relatable female characters, and to achieve that across such a wide range of age, backgrounds and personality of all the nuns and novices. I loved how he managed to make each and every one of them shine in different ways. To top it all off, it was the amazing portrayal of friendship, love and bonds between these characters that tied it all together in a most emotionally captivating narrative of sisterhood.

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Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Wayfarers (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Science fiction

Published: 2015 by Harper Voyager (US) and Hodder & Stoughton (UK)


This is one of the most endearing and charming novels that I’ve ever read.

I’ve had this book for quite a while but never got around to reading it. From all the reviews I’ve seen, I got the idea that it is one of those stories which the focus is around the characters instead of the plot and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that. Perhaps I happened to pick this up at the right time, because I absolutely adored this captivating story of individuals just interacting with each other, and as a tight-knit multi-species crew they are as a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts.

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Book Review: Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)

Book Review: Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 2 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2000 by Bantam (UK) and 2005 by Tor (US)


For those who have read Gardens of the Moon and thought it was relatively tame for a grimdark fantasy series, Deadhouse Gates will change your mind. This sequel took the series to new heights and was also when I begun to wholly understand Erikson’s opening quote in the debut. The grimness, violence and brutality in this book made me rethink of how I viewed A Song of Ice and Fire.

The events at the end of Gardens of the Moon saw the Bridgeburners splitting up, with the bulk of squad remaining on Genabackis with Dujek Onearm and Whiskeyjack to face the threat of the Pannion Domin. Meanwhile Fiddler and Kalam headed off to Seven Cities, where the Bridgeburners were forged, and which is on the brink of rebellion as the Seventh Year of Dryjhna, the Apocalypse, approaches. When the Book of Dryjhna is delivered into the hands of the Sha’ik, the spirit of the goddess will embody this prophetess and the Whirlwind together with the rebellion will rise.

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