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Category: TS’s Reviews

Spellslinger (Spellslinger, #1)

Spellslinger (Spellslinger, #1)

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Spellslinger is delightfully fun and engaging read with some serious themes that fit the young adult genre.

I would probably sound like a broken record, but I reiterate that I’m generally not a reader of YA books. So far, the ones that I’ve enjoyed are those written by authors who’ve already carved a name for themselves writing adult fantasy books. One of these authors is Sebastien de Castell; his adult fantasy series, Greatcoats, was one which I loved. In Greatcoats, he balanced a dark and personal tale of a broken man caught up in his past with humour and wonderful characters. For Spellslinger, the tone was somewhat similar but clearly targeted at a younger audience.

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The Sword of Kaigen (A Theonite War Story)

The Sword of Kaigen (A Theonite War Story)

The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Simply phenomenal; The Sword of Kaigen is a stunning achievement of empathetic and masterful storytelling.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that sinks its hooks and claws into your very soul. It transcends beyond what a 5-star book usually means to me. It is a book that I will plead, beg and maybe even force everyone to read, so that they can experience the same awe and emotions as I did.  Thus far, I have not gone down the road of awarding 6 stars to some of my favourites, but there are several that I could easily place in that category. Namely The Stormlight Archive, a few titles from Malazan Book of the Fallen, and Heir of Novron, the final omnibus of The Riyria Revelations. Now, this extraordinary stand-alone fantasy novel, which is a rarity in itself, has earned itself a well-deserved spot among these masterpieces.

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Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1)

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1)

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the start, just the turning of leaves. Winter is still on its way.

Michael J. Sullivan is one of the authors on my auto-buy list. Ever since I’ve finished his Riyria series (both Revelations and Chronicles), I’ve been recommending them to my family and friends either as a gateway to fantasy or as a breath of fresh air amidst all the grimdark fantasy. And in just a short space of a year, I’ve reread all of Riyria and was hungry for more of his stories. Age of Myth was more than up to the task of satisfying my longing. Set in the same world 3,000 years ago, the Legends of the First Empire series is the actual account of the historical events that will eventually lead to the story of our two favourite thieves.

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The Perfect Assassin (The Chronicles of Ghadid, #1)

The Perfect Assassin (The Chronicles of Ghadid, #1)

I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

A decent debut, The Perfect Assassin impressed me most with its fascinating worldbuilding.

It is refreshing to see more and more fantasy releases of late not relying on the more traditional Europe-centric medieval setting for its worldbuilding. In The Perfect Assassin, the setting was decidedly Middle Eastern with an interesting twist. Ghadid was a city built hundreds of feet above sand dunes, made up of numerous connected platforms balanced on top of pylons. As the spirits of the deceased roam the sand dunes seeking for new bodies, such construction of the city was meant as a form of protection. The possession of such spirits can render a person mad, and sometimes even kill. My favourite element in the worldbuilding was the currency of water, which fit well into the desert scenario. The commodity was not only precious for sustaining life, it also powered miraculous healing and the magic needed to control the deadly spirits. As such, the deliberate act of wasting water can bring about a death sentence.

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Underlord (Cradle, #6)

Underlord (Cradle, #6)

Underlord by Will Wight
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Such insane power. Such insane fun. That, in a nutshell, is the Cradle series, and Underlord is its current pinnacle.

Underlord was everything that its title promised adoring fans (including yours truly), and so much more. The Prologue was so ridiculously epic it gave me goosebumps, and all the awesomeness that was the Cradle series came crashing down on me again. I tried to prolong the enjoyment by keeping myself occupied with things to do, to avoid finishing the book too quickly. Alas, it barely lasted 36 hours from the time I received the download from my pre-order.

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14

14

14 by Peter Clines
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A fascinating and engaging genre-bending novel with excellent characterisation, elevated by the narrator’s superb voice-acting.

14. Firstly, the number, when spoken in Chinese sounds like “will/must die”. Due to this superstition, there are numerous buildings in my part of the world which do not use this number. You will instead get Level 13a or Unit 13a in place of 14, and sometimes even a jump from 13 to 15. I started the book with this notion at the back of my head. And all I knew about the story then was that the building was strange and mysterious. A potent and thrilling combination, and yet I was still pleasantly surprised with the direction the story took.

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The Sleeping Dragon

The Sleeping Dragon

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Sleeping Dragon by Jonny Nexus.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Sleeping Dragon was an entertaining and pretty clever piece of writing.

When the author approached me to offer a review copy, I checked out the blurb as I usually would, and was intrigued by the premise of a five hundred-year old world-ending prophecy being brought into play in the modern world where “heroes” were obsolete.  I’ve yet to read a fantasy novel where a prophecy revealed during medieval times was to be dealt with in an urban setting.

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Hero Forged (Ethereal Earth, #1)

Hero Forged (Ethereal Earth, #1)

I received a copy of the audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hero Forged by Josh Erikson
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Hero Forged is a rare achievement for an indie urban fantasy debut, both in terms of its compelling characterisation and excellent author-narration.

I cannot claim to have a wide repertoire of urban fantasy under my belt, but I have read some of the more popular ones such as The Dresden Files, Kate Daniels, and The Iron Druid Chronicles, and my favourite, the Heartstrikers.  I’ve not come across such in-depth and engaging character development of the main protagonist in the first book of a series. Save for perhaps another self-published title called The Never Hero – also an origins story of a reluctant hero.

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Ghostwater (Cradle, #5)

Ghostwater (Cradle, #5)

Ghostwater by Will Wight
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Ghostwater is a worthy winner of the Reddit r/Fantasy 2018 Stabby Awards for Best Independent Book; I am now a huge fan of the Cradle series.

The author kept on surprising me with his inexhaustible imagination and the ever-increasing, mind-blowing, magnitude of magical and martial power in this series.  All without ever making me think that it was ridiculous.  Well, okay, it was – just ridiculously fun and exciting, that is.

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Kellanved’s Reach (Path to Ascendancy, #3)

Kellanved’s Reach (Path to Ascendancy, #3)

ARC received from the publisher, Random House UK, in exchange for an honest review.

Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Kellanved’s Reach was a great continuation to the story behind the rise of Kellanved and Dancer, and the beginnings of the Malazan Empire.

Judging from the direction of the narrative in this book, I strongly doubt that this would be the end of the series (which was marketed initially as a trilogy). Compared to the previous books, the number of character POVs in the third book had more than doubled. There were multiple storylines told from the perspective of all the different warring city-states within the continent of Quon Tali. Arising from these were several new characters being introduced. While most of these individuals will have significant roles in the later Malazan books, their respective subplots at in this book seemed largely detached from the main story. There was one character whose nickname was yet to be known by the end of the book, and it made me want to tear my hair out. I was certain that he’s a prominent person in the later books, but his character development at this stage did not provide sufficient clues.

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