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Category: Petrik’s Reviews

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: The Crimson Queen (The Raveling, #1) by Alec Hutson

Book Review: The Crimson Queen (The Raveling, #1) by Alec Hutson

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Raveling (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 423 pages

Published: 28th November 2016 by Alec Hutson (Indie)


This book should’ve earned more fame and praise. A familiar and utterly well-written start to an epic fantasy series with prose redolent of Brian Staveley’s writing style; I loved it.

Back in 2017-2018, when I was still a reviewer for Booknest, I was one of the judges for SPFBO 3 held by Mark Lawrence. In that year’s SPFBO, The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson won the joint runner-up spot together with Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe. My ex-blog chose this novel as their pick for the best book of the competition. Admittedly, I didn’t get assigned to reading The Crimson Queen, I didn’t know how good it was, but Celeste, one of my co-blogger from back then (and now) did read it, and she occasionally reminded me to give this book a go because she loved it very much. Two years since SPFBO 3 has ended, here I am finally getting around to reading this book, and I will say this: my ex-blog made the right choice. I would’ve personally chosen The Crimson Queen as the top book for SPFBO 3 myself if I had read it back then.

“The arrogance of writing comes not from the finished creation, but from the very act itself. What hubris is required for a single mind to believe that its thoughts should populate the world? What unbridled arrogance is it to disperse ideas like the petals of a dandelion in the wind, allowing them to float free, to germinate in the minds of others like an invasive weed?”

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Book Review: Ravencaller (The Keepers, #2) by David Dalglish

Book Review: Ravencaller (The Keepers, #2) by David Dalglish

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

Ravencaller by David Dalglish

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Keepers (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 576 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 19th March 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 17th March 2020 by Orbit (US)


There is no lull moment in Ravencaller, this action-packed sequel brings well-written morally grey characters and bloody macabre into one package.

First of all, I’m usually not a fan of sudden cover changes in the middle of a series, but this is, in my opinion, one of those rare cases where the new cover artist did a better job than the previous artist. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the cover art of Soulkeeper, but I LOVE the cover art of Ravencaller that’s done by Paul Scott Canavan; it looked spectacular, and it’s more fitting for the series. Second, look at the Ravencaller in the cover art, it reflects what’s written in the text of this book and—this is very important—it reminded me of Eileen the Crow from one of my favorite games: Bloodborne! Lastly, I know I mentioned last year in my Soulkeeper review that I’m going to read more of Dalglish’s books, especially his Shadowdance series, I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t able to achieve this yet. After reading Ravencaller, it’s even more evident that I HAVE to read Dalglish’s Shadowdancer series because this sequel was even better than the first book which I already highly praised.

“Humans have always been reactionary creatures obsessed with the present, ignorant of the past, and fearful of the future.”

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Book Review: Stormblood (The Commons, #1) by Jeremy Szal

Book Review: Stormblood (The Commons, #1) by Jeremy Szal

ARC provided by the author and publisher—Gollancz—in exchange for an honest review.

Stormblood by Jeremy Szal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Common (Book #1)

Genre: Sci-fi, Military sci-fi

Pages: 432 pages

Published: 4th June 2020 by Gollancz


Milestone achieved: This is my 400th review!

A captivating military sci-fi debut. Stormblood tells a splendid story about two brothers divided by war that is full of comradeship, actions, and conflict.

Here’s an ugly truth, I haven’t been reading a lot of sci-fi lately. I was able to read 115 books in 2019, and only eight of those books were sci-fi novels. For this year’s priority sci-fi TBR pile, I have only ten sci-fi books on my list; nine of them belong to the entirety of The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, the other one is Stormblood, Jeremy Szal’s debut. I came to know about this book because the author—same as me—is a huge fan of Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown and Mass Effect video game franchise, and after reading this book, I can say that both inspirations are evident in his novel. I definitely would suggest anyone who’s a fan of either one of them, even better if both, to check this debut out.

“People compare overcoming addiction to climbing a mountain, but that assumes there’s a peak to climb towards. Stormtech was more like swimming in an endless, churning sea. You never truly beat it. You just found temporary ways not to drown.”

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Book Review: Underlord (Cradle, #6) by Will Wight

Book Review: Underlord (Cradle, #6) by Will Wight

Underlord by Will Wight

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Cradle (Book #6 of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia

Pages: 308 pages

Published: 1st March 2019 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


The release of Underlord last year marked the exact moment I decided I have to read Cradle this year, and I can agree that this is the best of the series so far.

To elaborate upon what sparked my curiosity further, Underlord has a consistent and insanely high rating ever since its publication day. During the time of posting this review, the average rating of Underlord on Goodreads sits at 4.69 out of 6,450 ratings; on Amazon (US) it has an average rating 4.9 out of 1,049 ratings, and no one rated it below 3 stars on Amazon. These numbers and the barrage of personal recommendations from other readers were the two sole reasons why I ended up giving this series a go earlier than planned. What made Underlord even more awesome? A lot, but if I were to narrow it down to one main feature, it’s the significant characterizations and development given to the main characters.

“The baby squirrel had finally left the nest and grown into a…well, squirrels never turned into anything scary. Call it an ancient sacred squirrel.”

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Book Review: Blight Marked (Ethereal Earth, #3) by Josh Erikson

Book Review: Blight Marked (Ethereal Earth, #3) by Josh Erikson

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

Blight Marked by Josh Erikson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Ethereal Earth (Book #3)

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 390 pages

Published: 11th March 2020 by Josh Erikson (Indie)


This series is pure entertainment, get on this as soon as you can!

“Deep down we all believe we’re frauds. But it’s only when we stop believing that it actually becomes true.”

Hero Forged was good, Fate Lashed was incredible, and thankfully the second book wasn’t a fluke. Blight Marked, the third book in the ongoing Ethereal Earth series by Josh Erikson, retained the overall quality displayed in Fate Lashed. At the same time, Erikson also managed to include more of the fun and entertaining dialogues from Hero Forged into this book. Several readers have said that Fate Lashed was relatively more serious in tone, although I grew to loved the series because Erikson did that, there were times where I missed the fun and, at times, hilarious dialogues in the first book. One out of many examples, you can’t say that you don’t like good banter with a pun like this right? RIGHT?

“I feel like you’re setting yourself up for some kind of elevation pun, and I’m not really—“
“Though I suppose it’s more of a ladderal move,” he cut in.”
She nodded sadly and bent to start down the hole. “Yep. Good lord.”

Ehem.

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Book Review: Ghostwater (Cradle, #5) by Will Wight

Book Review: Ghostwater (Cradle, #5) by Will Wight

Ghostwater by Will Wight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Cradle (Book #5 of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia

Pages: 310 pages

Published: 31st May 2018 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


Started a bit stale for me but it ended up being a gripping and entertaining story with Dungeon Crawl element.

For this review, let’s start with why I haven’t given any books in the series a full 5 stars rating, shall we? If you want to know what the premise is about, read the official blurb at your own risk. Ghostwater is the fifth book in the Cradle series, and it didn’t start off as smoothly as I hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the series very much and I continue to do so; my rating for each installment pretty much speaks for themselves. However, I want to love it more, if I were to be brutally honest, Cradle has been missing one crucial aspect that’s, more often than not, is very necessary for me to love a book even further: an empathizing main character. Up until now, the side characters—Yerin, Eithan, Orthos, Jai Long, Little Blue—were the characters that made the series shine for me. This notion of mine was proven even further with the inclusion of a new character in Ghostwater, an A.I named Dross which I loved ever since its first appearance. I don’t think I need to explain further how much I loved Eithan, Yerin, Mercy, Orthos; I have enjoyed reading about all the side characters more than I enjoyed reading about Lindon.

“And I can see your face so much clearly now! It’s…well, at least you have a wonderful spirit. Yes, indeed. That spirit of yours, wow.”

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

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

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

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Fetch Phillips Archives (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 352 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 6th February 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 2nd February 2020 by Orbit (US)


A well-written urban fantasy with a wonderful take on the premise of “what happens when magic runs out?”

The Last Smile in Sunder City is Luke Arnold’s debut, it’s the first book in an urban fantasy series titled Fetch Phillips Archives. I think I’m speaking on behalf of many readers that we have come to know the name Luke Arnold from his role as “Long” John Silver in the Black Sails TV series. Admittedly, I didn’t finish watching the TV series until I saw Orbit’s announcement of Arnold’s debut, which frankly intrigued me. He did an incredible job there on the TV series, but how about his debut as a fantasy author? Well, there’s nothing to worry about, this was a great read, and I think if you know what you’re getting into, you’ll find that there’s plenty of things to love within this short book.

“I like books. They’re quiet, dignified and absolute. A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold.”

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Book Review: A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3) by John Gwynne

Book Review: A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3) by John Gwynne

ARC provided by the publisher—Pan Macmillan—in exchange for an honest review.

A Time of Courage by John Gwynne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 672 pages (UK hardback edition)

Published: 2nd April 2020 by Pan Macmillan (UK) & 7th April 2020 by Orbit (US)


A Time of Courage is one of the best final books to a series I’ve ever read in my life. It was truly a bittersweet, satisfying, and masterfully crafted finale to conclude Of Blood and Bone and the entirety of The Banished Lands saga.

Permit me to start this review with words from Gwynne himself:

“So, finally we come to the end of this series, and with it, the end of the Banished Land’s tales. Although Of Blood and Bone is a trilogy that can be read as a standalone series, it is also the final chapter of a longer history that involves the four books from The Faithful and the Fallen series. When read together they form around a one-hundred-and-fifty-year history of the Banished Lands, and a sizeable chunk of my life. Roughly seventeen years have flown by, I think, since lifting my pen and writing down my first ideas. I hope that you’ve enjoyed your time spent here, and that this book feels like a fitting and satisfying conclusion to all that has gone before.”

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Book Review: Skysworn (Cradle, #4) by Will Wight

Book Review: Skysworn (Cradle, #4) by Will Wight

Skysworn by Will Wight

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Cradle (Book #4 of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia

Pages: 292 pages

Published: 30th September 2017 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


Wei Shi Lindon may not have any advancement happening to him in this book, but the series did. Skysworn, just like each respective previous books, once again upgraded the overall quality of the Cradle series.

I honestly think that Skysworn was even better than Blackflame; imagine my surprise when I found out that many readers thought of this one as a downgrade for the series. I respectfully disagree. What happened in Skysworn is the direction that the series needs, although I highly enjoyed Blackflame, I didn’t have that uncontrollable urge to continue with the series. But now? I might be having nightmares if I don’t continue with the series.

“I don’t have any love for the Jai clan, but as for you, if I saw you on fire I’d hold an umbrella for you so the rain didn’t put you out.”

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