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Book review: The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage, #2)

Book review: The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage, #2)


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The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

My rating : 4.25 of 5 stars

Series: The Powder Mage

Genre: Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, Military fiction

Published: May 6th 2014 by Orbit

 

The Crimson Campaign is the second book of the Powder Mage trilogy and it picks up a few days after the last events of Promise of Blood. The story is still told from 3 main male POVs and a smaller female POV (that is gaining in importance).

The Crimson Campaign was really, really good. Brian McClellan showed in it some of the great potential Promise of Blood hinted at!

So why not a 5 stars rating, one would ask ?

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Book Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1)

Book Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1)


The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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

“A person can never hear too many tales. Tales are like honey cakes. Once you have tasted one, you want another, and another, and always more.”

This was my first encounter with Juliet Marillier, but it certainly won’t be the last. I can see her becoming one of those authors I turn to when I’ve just had enough of the darkness, and need something bright and pretty in my life. The Harp of Kings is lovely and lush and bright, a wonderful change from the grimdark that populates the fantasy genre. And from what I gather, that’s par for the course with Marillier’s work. While there are stakes here, it’s still a quiet story, inviting and soothing and somehow peaceful even when the events of the story are not. I found it to be a story that calls one to meander along instead of racing ahead. This book is the first in a new series of standalones, set in a world that will already be familiar to Marillier’s fans. But even if you’ve never read any of her work before (like me), this is a great starting point. I never felt lost in the least, though I am now definitely more curious about her various other series. Also, even thought this book is the first in a new series, it stands on its own perfectly well, with a plot that feels self contained and completely finished.

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Book Review: The Black Hawks (Articles of Faith, #1)

Book Review: The Black Hawks (Articles of Faith, #1)

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

The Black Hawks by David Wragg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Articles of Faith (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 429 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 3rd October 2019 by Harper Voyager


Entertaining, intense, and filled with great lines spoken by morally grey characters to root for.

If you’ve been following the adult fantasy market for the past two years, you’ll most likely realize that the cover art is quite similar to Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames—one of my favorite fantasy debuts of all time. The cover art is done by the same artist—Richard Anderson—and as always, he never fails to deliver a striking/distinctive artwork. Excluding the similarity in cover art, does the content actually provided something similar to Kings of the Wyld? It would have to be a no from me. The exposure and advertisements I’ve seen for The Black Hawks so far have led me to think that this is an overwhelmingly comedic and light-hearted book; I have to disagree with this notion. Sure there are some funny lines embedded into the narrative, such as this description about wolves for example:

“To think I left Clyden for this. Eaten by a fucken dog with a hairstyle.”

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Book Review: The Bard’s Blade (The Sorcerer’s Song, #1) by Brian D. Anderson

Book Review: The Bard’s Blade (The Sorcerer’s Song, #1) by Brian D. Anderson

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

The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Sorcerer’s Song (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Published: 28th January 2020 by Tor Books


Simply exquisite, gripping, and tension-packed; The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson is an enthralling start to a series.

I’ll be honest and say that it wasn’t the premise of the book that got my attention; it was Felix Ortiz’s gorgeous cover artwork that grabbed me, and I’m truly grateful for it because the quality of the content in this book lived up to the exterior. I’m both blessed—because I get to read this early—and cursed—because I have to wait even longer for the next book—enough that the author and publisher sent me an early copy to review. Thank you and congratulations, Tor Books, you have found a winner here; consider giving The Bard’s Blade the same scale of promotion and advertisement you did for The Ruin of Kings.

“Never allow the wickedness of others to dictate who you are.”

The Bard’s Blade is the first book in The Sorcerer’s Song series by Brian Anderson. We follow the perspective of two main characters: Mariyah and Lem. Mariyah is a wine maker that loves her simple and casual life in Vylari, a land magically sealed with an impenetrable barrier from the outside world. Mariyah is betrothed to Lem, a super talented musician (bard) and they’re enamored with each other, believing that whatever comes their way, they’ll get through it if they face it together. A dangerous truth from Lamoria—the world outside Vylari—somehow managed to came through and it ended up changing their lives; dire circumstances force them to live in Lamoria and it’s a vastly different world compared to Vylari in almost every possible way. In a way, The Bard’s Blade sits in the middle of the classic—destiny, rumors of ancient evil resurfacing—and modern fantasy genres; it’s certainly comfortable and familiar territory that somehow also felt refreshing to read for me. Among many aspects, the factor that made reading this book so damn entertaining and engrossing were the incredible characterizations given to the characters in both main and supporting roles.

“Those in power in this age have fought and killed over nothing more important than to whom they offer their prayers.”

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Book Review: Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 512 pages (Hardback)

Published: 5th September 2019 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 3rd September 2019 by St. Martin’s Press (US)


O’gentlefriends, Darkdawn concluded The Nevernight Chronicle trilogy on a bloody high note, and it’s not implausible for me to say that this has become my favorite book in the series.

“Don’t fuck with librarians, young lady. We know the power of words.”

Each installment within the series can be classified as Mia’s journey throughout her life; Nevernight as Mia’s book of birth, Godsgrave as Mia’s book of life, and Darkdawn as Mia’s book death. Don’t worry, if you’re reading this without any knowledge of the series, that’s not a spoiler; the first page within the first book of the series has mentioned that Mia died. Now, the specifics leading towards it, and whether Mia’s death is a lie or truth, I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself. The Nevernight Chronicle, in a way, is Mia’s revenge story told by an unnamed narrator that the reader didn’t know, not until they’ve read Darkdawn anyway. I can’t tell you anything specific about the story in Darkdawn except that it continues immediately from where Godsgrave left off, and Darkdawn really finished Mia’s story. What I can tell you, however, is what made the book worked so well for me.

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Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

TS’ rating: 5 of 5 stars

Haïfa’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Published: September 12th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 10th, 2019 by Redhook (US)


TS’s Review

ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit.

Incredibly lush, exquisite and enchanting, The Ten Thousand Doors of January has all the makings of a classic. One which I’m certain will be well-loved and much-read. And I dare say not only by those who enjoy fantasy, for this novel is pure joy in literary form that is a tribute to almost every reader out there.

Do you love books? This book is for you.

Do you love the written word? This book is for you.

Do you love stories and escapism? This book is for you.

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Book Review: Dragonslayer (Dragonslayer, #1) by Duncan M. Hamilton

Book Review: Dragonslayer (Dragonslayer, #1) by Duncan M. Hamilton

Review copy provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Series: Dragonslayer (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 304 pages

Published: 2nd July 2019 by Tor Books (UK & US)


Dragonslayer is a typical and straight-forward dragon-slaying tale that’s been done countless times before.

There isn’t anything wrong with Dragonslayer. The book is well-written, the prose used was simple, the narrative flows well. However, everything about it seemed to not reach its maximum potential; every element lacked something crucial to elevate the book to be memorable in the current SFF market. To sum up my point easily, Dragonslayer played it way too safely by telling the same kind of overdone story without offering anything new in it that the content ended up being okay at best.

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Book Review: Smoke and Stone (City of Sacrifice, #1) by Michael R. Fletcher

Book Review: Smoke and Stone (City of Sacrifice, #1) by Michael R. Fletcher

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

Smoke and Stone by Michael R. Fletcher

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: City of Sacrifice (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy

Pages: 511 pages

Published: 1st November 2019 by Michael R. Fletcher (UK & US)


Utterly remarkable post-apocalyptic grimdark fantasy.

It’s surreal, but as it turns out, it’s been two years and approximately two hundred books since I’ve read anything new by Fletcher. It’s a serious shame that after all this time, Fletcher still hasn’t received the fame and recognition he deserves. When it comes to grimdark fantasy, I find that George R. R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and Steven Erikson tend to be the most often mentioned names; for many good reasons. However, I do strongly believe that Fletcher should be equally ranked as high as them. I am drowning in books to read, but when Fletcher asked me to read and review his newest book, I accepted, started, and finished reading it immediately within two days.

“The fifth age ended in catastrophe and the death of a world. We live now in the sixth age, the age beyond life, the age of apocalypse. We live a nightmare. We are damned souls, doomed to a slow and rotting demise.”—Loa Book of the Invisibles

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Book Review: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)

Book Review: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)


The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Subtle Knife picks up almost where The Golden Compass ended, except that this second installment took a slight detour in order to introduce us to a second main protagonist in the form of Will Parry. I quite enjoy Will, and found him a great counterpart for Lyra. Their personalities are very different, but they are both defined most by the protectiveness that fuels them and the fierceness that courses through them. Will is both more civilized and more violent than Lyra, which shines a softer light on our original protagonist than we saw in her first book. The two children on the cusp of their adolescence are quite obviously being set up as either the salvation or damnation of the countless worlds they now know exist.

“It’s like having to make a choice: a blessing or a curse. The one thing you can’t do is choose neither.”

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Book Review: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 7th September 2017 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 5th September 2017 by St. Martin’s Press (US)


I applaud The Droogs who finished Godsgrave before or around its publication date, thank you for your sacrifice; may the Lady of Blessed Murder bless your patience.

“That’s the power of words; twenty six little letter can paint a whole universe”

Godsgrave is the sequel to Nevernight. The story still follows our beloved ruthless assassin, Mia Corvere, as she continues her journey for vengeance. Godsgrave didn’t start off easy for me to get into. Nevernight was a revenge story with a battle-school setting; Godsgrave is the continuation to that revenge story without any of the battle-school trope. Almost the entirety of the book revolved around a new mission: Mia’s struggle to win the gladiatorial collegium for a chance to complete her unfinished revenge. Although familiar faces and characters—such as Mister Kindly and Eclipse—still played a huge role, many previous characters only appeared briefly; there were a lot of new characters introduced in this installment and for the majority of the time, Mia spent her time with them rather than the characters from the first book. Also, I’ve mentioned in my Nevernight review that the footnotes didn’t bother me; they were entertaining and they provided insights into the world-building of Itreya. This is still true in Godsgrave, but admittedly, the footnotes in this installment were often too long to my liking. I’m talking about one or two pages long footnotes. The longevity of the footnotes ended up being distracting to my reading immersion, and this was especially true in the first half of the book. Because of all these, Godsgrave ended up taking me longer—around 40% of the book—to fully engross myself into. Were all this necessary though? Yes. Rest assured that the build-up and groundwork were put to good use; resulting in an incredibly engaging second half of the book.

Picture: Pale Daughter by Nan Fe

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