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Kingshold (The Wildfire Cycle, #1)

Kingshold (The Wildfire Cycle, #1)

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

Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.

An enjoyable classic fantasy romp with some modern touches, Kingshold is a commendable debut by D.P. Woolliscroft.

This first book of The Wildfire Cycle is heavy on politics as its major plotline is centred around the election of a new Lord Protector to the Kingdom of Edland. With the current King dead and after many generations of useless monarchs, the ancient wizard, Jyuth, who founded the kingdom refused to take any further responsibility in choosing the next one. Instead, an election was proposed and the story ensued with political scheming and assassinations (which are perfectly legal if performed under a contract).

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The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #2)

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #2)

The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

The Bitter Twins is a stunning sequel of staggering inventiveness and imagination.

I am in awe with the direction the story took after the unexpected turn of events at the end of The Ninth Rain. Instead of suffering from the middle book syndrome, The Bitter Twins continued to captivate me with its eldritch worldbuilding and engaging characterisation. I had to keep this review a bit shorter than usual, as there’s simply too much potential to accidentally spoil the numerous surprises that I kept encountering during my read.

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Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3)

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3)

I received an advanced reading copy from Tor.com in exchange for an honest review.

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

I wish to echo Ann Leckie and simply say “I love Murderbot!”

With Rogue Protocol, The Murderbot Diaries is indeed shaping up to be a fantastic series of novellas that tick all the right boxes, albeit in a smaller-sized package of excellent science fiction action and empathetic character development.

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Age of Legend (The Legends of the First Empire, #4)

Age of Legend (The Legends of the First Empire, #4)

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

A brilliant sequel which fulfilled both my eager anticipation and high expectations, Age of Legend takes the First Empire series to another level of greatness with the promise of a showstopper by its finale.

Age of Legend is structurally different from the continuous narrative in the preceding three volumes. This book has three sections; the first part is the shortest which deals with the immediate aftermath of the battle at Alon Rhist. The second section takes place one year after that, and there will be another five years’ time leap for the third and largest part of the book. Without needing to go into too much detail and dragging the narrative, the three-part story enabled the reader to appreciate how protracted the war was between the Rhunes and the Fhreys, before going into the more portentous events.

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Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)

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

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

An awesome sequel to All Systems Red, Artificial Condition pumps up the fun and action.

Before I continue, I maintain that our genderless robotic main protagonist sounded female in my mind and hence, I will refer to it as she. Our sardonic SecUnit decided to return to the mining planet where a prior incident culminated in her self-christening as Murderbot, with the intention to investigate the real cause of the said incident. In the course of attempting to hitch a ride there without being caught, she managed to bribe her way through by offering the transport bots her treasure trove of media, books, serials, and music downloads. I don’t know about other readers, but this cracks me up so much!

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Last Bastion (FFO, #2)

Last Bastion (FFO, #2)

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

Last Bastion by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Bastion was supposed to mean safety.”

It seemed, however, that Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach decided that safety will be a bit boring for the fictional characters and the readers. Hence, they gave us a heart-pounding, fast-paced, action-packed and dangerously addictive MMORPG-style adventure in the world of Forever Fantasy Online with a great cast of characters.

The story picked up immediately from the ending of the first book. Our main characters, James and Tina, arrived at the city of Bastion to seek refuge and find some answers after the world of FFO was suddenly released from the Nightmare. A term used by the NPCs who are supposedly real people to describe their entrapment in the game environmen, the Nightmare is so named for the dreadful never-ending cycle ofreliving the quests the players undertake, oftentimes dying a painful death over and over again. What greeted the player characters, however, was a city on fire and laden with corpses. Not exactly their idea of a safe haven from the constant danger and fighting they’ve encountered in the past few days.

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Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth, #2)

Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth, #2)

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

Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Josh Erikson does it again with his stellar narration in Fate Lashed, and this time with a faster-paced, action-packed and riveting plotline.

In the previous book, we got the origins story of Gabriel Delling – how he became intertwined with supernatural entities and ended up as a human with the ability to use magic (well, just somewhat at this stage). After losing the evil God from his head and spending time hiding out in a remote cabin to ruminate, he returned to civilization and in no time landed himself into trouble again. As fate would have it, the powerful inner circles of the Umbras are now contending to seek a ‘Key to the Universe’ which has revealed its existence just about the same time that Gabe got himself unwittingly embroiled in the affairs of these creatures from the Ether. That he survived what he did in Hero Forged, Gabe became a wildcard that fate has neither a read nor a hold on. In other words,  he is now the key much sought-after player in this quest for the Key, for better or for worse.

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Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire, #3)

Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire, #3)

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

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Age of War marks a fine conclusion to the first act of the series, revealing the true story behind the legends spoken of in Riyria Revelations which was not all fairy tales, rainbows and butterflies.

Before I start, let us take a moment to admire the stunning cover for Age of War by the one and only, Marc Simonetti. In my opinion, this is the best cover he has produced for any of Sullivan’s books to date, and it is most fitting that the book dedication is made in his honour.

This book is dedicated to the artist Marc Simonetti. People are told not to judge a book by its cover, but so long as Marc is creating them, judge away.

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The Procurement of Souls

The Procurement of Souls

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

The Procurement of Souls by Benjamin Hope
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.

A commendable debut, The Procurement of Souls is a dark and fantastical tale that will satisfy gothic fans.

Right from the very start, there was a disturbing scene of a man trapped and strapped down on a chair by a mad scientist, Dr Weimer, who duly inserted a long tube with a metal barb at its end down his victim’s mouth, throat and even further to extract something out of that poor man. And that something is where the book got its title.

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Forever Fantasy Online (FFO, #1)

Forever Fantasy Online (FFO, #1)

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

Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent characters, an engaging story and geek humour. What more can one ask for?

Forever Fantasy Online is one of my first LitRPG novels, but thanks to the powerhouse couple of Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, it will not be my last. I will start by talking just a bit about my experience with RPGs as this will provide some context for my review. While I had been quite a geek during my younger days, my RPG days (via books and PC) ended over two decades ago, and I did not have any exposure to multi-player online RPGs. Neither have I been in the anime scene to appreciate the inspiration of this trilogy, which is a hugely popular anime series called Sword Art Online.

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