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

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

House of Chains by Steven Erikson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Series: The 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 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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Book Review: Soulsmith (Cradle, #2) by Will Wight

Book Review: Soulsmith (Cradle, #2) by Will Wight

Soulsmith by Will Wight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Cradle (Book #2 of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia

Pages: 286 pages

Published: 26th September 2016 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


A great sequel that build upon the foundations laid in Unsouled.

Soulsmith is the second book in Cradle series by Will Wight. Continuing from where the previous book left off, Lindon has left the Sacred Valley in pursuit of advancement and accessibility to stronger powers. An ancient ruin has risen, and many sacred artists—Lindon included—gathers and they fight for the treasures inside. As I’ve mentioned in my review of Unsouled, it seems very likely that each sequel in this series will better than their respective previous installments, and Soulsmith is the first proof of that. Admittedly, I’m still not a huge fan of the main character himself, but Yerin and the new characters being introduced here—especially Eithan and Jai Long—were so entertaining to read.

“In his experience, practically anything became an adventure if framed properly.”

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Book Review: Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Tor.com) in exchange for an honest review.

Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children novellas have quickly become one of my yearly highlights. I love having them to look forward to. I’ve been eagerly anticipating Come Tumbling Down since I read the final page of In An Absent Dream this past January. While I didn’t adore it as much as I have some of the previous installments, Come Tumbling Down is a fast-paced return adventure spanning two of McGuire’s worlds that I’ve come to love in recent years. It was an action-packed read that had me flying through its pages in one sitting.

“…the fact that I’ve been damaged doesn’t make me broken…”

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Book Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5)

Book Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5)


The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Destiny has many faces. Mine is beautiful on the outside and hideous on the inside. She has stretched her bloody talons toward me—”

You can probably guess why I finally picked this book up. I’m stupid excited for the Netflix series of The Witcher. And since I’m a good student, I wanted to at least have read the first book of the series before watching the show. I’m very glad I did. The Last Wish is a wonderful introduction to Geralt of Rivia, the eponymous Witcher of the series. Set up as short stories with a framework, we get to see some of Geralt’s greatest hits of his career, as well as gaining a bit of insight into his character.

“People,” Geralt turned his head, “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live.”

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Book Review: Blood of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #3) by Brian McClellan

Book Review: Blood of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #3) by Brian McClellan

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

Blood of Empire by Brian McClellan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder (Book #3 of 3), Powder Mage (Book #6 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy

Pages: 688 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 5th December 2019 by Orbit (UK) & 3rd December 2019 by Orbit (US)


Six years after the first publication of Promise of Blood, it’s time to say goodbye to the Powder Mage universe.

Blood of Empire is the third and last book in the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy. McClellan has also said that this will be the final novel in the Powder Mage universe, and there’s a chance there won’t be any new full-novel in this universe, at least not for years because McClellan has a new series—Glass Immortals—coming in 2022. So overall, was this a satisfying conclusion to the saga? I’ll say yes. I have a few issues with it that prevent me from giving it a full 5-stars rating, but overall I’m satisfied. There aren’t many things that I can say regarding the details of the plotline without going into spoiler territory, and I don’t want to do that, so I’ll get into what worked for me and a few things that in my opinion would’ve made this final book more awesome.

“Styke was willing to put up with all sorts of creeping things for the sake of an ambush. He would not, however, allow a man to piss on him.”

Every time I talk to readers and fans of McClellan’s work, the majority have agreed that McClellan is very well-known for his fast-paced and action-packed oriented storyline. Contrary to The Powder Mage trilogy, every installment in Gods of Blood and Powder adapts a slow-burn story that escalates towards a big explosive conclusion. Both Sins of Empire and Wrath of Empire uses the same method, and the situation is even more apparent in Blood of Empire where the big action sequences happened only at the final 15% of the novel. McClellan has spent a lot of time building the setup towards reaching the final confrontation set piece. In fact, out of all six novels in the Powder Mage universe, it felt like this is the one where action scenes happened the least. It’s different from the first trilogy but it’s not a bad thing per se. It may be slower relatively, but McClellan was still able to tell a compelling story without neglecting the high focus on characterizations, relationship developments, and politics. Cultural differences, greed, faith, responsibilities, loyalty, love, and learning from mistakes were some of the patent themes used effectively to enrich the narrative in Blood of Empire.

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Book Review: Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #2) by Brian McClellan

Book Review: Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #2) by Brian McClellan

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder (Book #2 of 3), Powder Mage (Book #5 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy

Pages: 639 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 15th May 2018 by Orbit


Incredible character development given to Ben Styke and Michel; a bit conflicted regarding Vlora’s. Wrath of Empire sets up the stage nicely for the hopefully satisfying conclusion of the series.

I’ve mentioned in my review of Sins of Empire that the hype and the positive reviews for both Sins of Empire and Wrath of Empire were the main reason why I ended up giving this trilogy a go. Seeing that I absolutely loved Sins of Empire, I was excited to hear from everyone that Wrath of Empire, Brian McClellan’s highest-rated book so far, exceeded Sins of Empire in terms of overall quality. Admittedly, despite how much I enjoyed this book, I can’t agree with that notion.

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Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne

Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne


A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“And you’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, haven’t you?”
He shook his head.
“That it’s like setting a ladder to the sky. A pointless waste of energy.”

I have to say, I’d never have picked up this book had it not been so highly recommended by both Petrik and his girlfriend, Katherine. Not because the subject matter wasn’t of interested, but because I had honestly never heard of it. I’m not sure how, but A Ladder to the Sky completely missed my radar when it was released in 2018. I had heard of two other of the author’s work, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and while they sound great, the premise of this particular book is far more intriguing to me personally. As someone who loves every single aspect of books, from how they’re made to who wrote them to those who sell them and the stories they actually hold, any novel that involves bookselling or authorship or any other profession or hobby linked to books is always going to draw me in. Not every such book delivers, in my opinion, but this one sure does. A Ladder to the Sky was compulsively readable from page one, even though it took me a bit longer to actually gel with the story it was telling.

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Book Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

Book Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

 

The Holdout by Graham Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: 20th February 2020 (Orion)

Being a juror on a high profile murder case has got to be a thrill ride and a half: looking at the bloody evidence and weighing witness statements, the savage craziness of the media interest, then finally getting to decide the fate of a man charged with murder. It’s got to be just like tv, right? Exciting. Maybe even a shot at your own fame… 15 minutes or otherwise.

But what Maya Seale got wasn’t quite fame, it was INFAMY. Not convinced of Bobby Nock’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, she campaigned for a Not Guilty verdict and eventually persuaded, or wore down, all the other jurors. The result was spectacularly unpopular, provoking uproar in both the courtroom and the real world, and changing the jurors’ lives forever.

Now it’s 10 years later and they’re back together again. Apparently there’s new evidence to consider and more questions to be asked. Everyone wants to know if they got it wrong. But when one juror ends up dead, it looks like someone’s willing to kill to keep their secrets buried for good.

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Book Review: Legacy of Ash (The Legacy Trilogy, #1) by Matthew Ward

Book Review: Legacy of Ash (The Legacy Trilogy, #1) by Matthew Ward

Achievement unlocked: This is the 100th ARC/Review Copy I’ve read and reviewed!

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

Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 784 pages (UK hardback edition)

Published: 5th November 2019 by Orbit (UK) & 9th April 2020 by Orbit (US)


Legacy of Ash is an epic fantasy debut aptly designed for well-seasoned epic fantasy readers, and I wouldn’t recommend newcomers to the genre starting to start their epic fantasy adventure here.

We all know how it goes; if it’s an epic fantasy debut, the particular book will immediately be advertised as A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones meets (insert another author/series/book here,) and Legacy of Ash isn’t excluded from that tradition. As much as I often find this kind of advertisement misleading most of the time, Legacy of Ash may have just done justice to this often-misleading claim. Legacy of Ash is an epic fantasy debut with many characters and names to remember, imbued with the hint of huge scope found in A Song of Ice and Fire and action sequences that bear a resemblance to Bernard Cornwell’s.

“The Tyrant Queen’s reign is done, but vigilance remains. For just as the shadows are strongest on the brightest of days, we are never more imperiled than when we think ourselves safe.”

Have you ever heard the argument that prologue sucked and unnecessary? I won’t lie, it’s an opinion that I can’t understand, or maybe I’m just lucky because I haven’t found any prologue that ends up becoming unnecessary to the main story. Prologues have the capability to set the tone, background, and premise of what’s to come in the main story, and Legacy of Ash, the first book in The Legacy Trilogy by Matthew Ward, did this wonderfully; it begins with a prologue that’s integral to the main conflicts that start fifteen years after the prologue.

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