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Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library, #1)

Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library, #1)


The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Ace) for providing me with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

“No story is insignificant.”

Books are one of the most magical of mankind’s creations. Our ability to tell ourselves stories, to reshape reality and craft worlds of our own using nothing more than ink and page and the random scribblings we’ve agreed on as an alphabet, is in my opinion one of our most human capacities. Every life is a story, and those who write have been gifted with the rare talent for immortalizing the tales that live inside their minds. But what about the rest of us? What about those of us whose minds are filled with stories that we never find time to jot down, or authors who pass away with a multitude of tales still living inside them that never made their way onto shelves next to their kin? Where do those stories go? Do they die along with us, or does the world find a way to keep them? According to Hackwith, it’s the latter.

“Stories are, at the most basic level, how we make sense of the world.”

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Book Review: Steel Crow Saga (Steel Crow Saga, #1) by Paul Krueger

Book Review: Steel Crow Saga (Steel Crow Saga, #1) by Paul Krueger

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

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Steel Crow Saga (Book #1)

Genre: Fantasy, Asian-inspired Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 528 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 26th September 2019 by Gollancz (UK) & 24th September 2019 by Del Rey (US)


Multi-cultural, diverse characters & superbly character-driven narrative; Steel Crow Saga is a brilliant Asian/anime-inspired fantasy.

As an Asian who loves watching anime and reading mangas and SFF novels, Steel Crow Saga is a novel that felt as if it was written for me. Steel Crow Saga has been published for more than a month now, and I feel like I’ve sinned—Sloth—for postponing reading this book. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of my favorite anime of all time (seriously, watch the anime if you haven’t) and I also love Pokemon and Avatar: The Last Airbender; these three are the most dominant anime inspirations imbued into Steel Crow Saga. I REALLY would’ve read this book months ago, and I did have the chance to do that because I received the eARC from Gollancz in August. But here’s the thing, the eARC I received was so terribly formatted—it didn’t even include the entire prologue, for one—that I had to give up reading through it 15% in. Thankfully, what I’ve read so far back then was enough to solidify my decision to wait and read the finished copy instead. I’m super pleased that I made this decision; the wait was worth it because this is an amazing Anime/Asian-inspired fantasy book that’s worth reading without any hindrance.

“All the books in the world will never convey the technical realities of a procedure.”

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Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

ARC provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review

The Once King by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series:  FFO (Book 3 of 3)

Genre:  LitRPG fantasy

Publication date:  12th November 2019 (Independently published)


Gripping and thoroughly satisfying, The Once King, concluded the FFO trilogy with yet another compulsive read.

The entire series has been incredibly fun and addictive with lots of action and humour, while packing some solid emotional punches at the same time. Tone and style-wise, FFO is similar to Aaron’s earlier series like Heartstriker, Eli Monpress, and Paradox; they tended towards being lighthearted and hopeful.  While Aaron and Bach had worked together on every book she has written, this was the first time that they shared the writing process, and the result was fantastic.  So much so that I finished reading The Once King in one day, I just didn’t want to put the book down.

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Book Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1) by A.K. Larkwood

Book Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1) by A.K. Larkwood

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

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Serpent Gates (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy, Science-fiction, Space Opera

Pages: 496 pages (UK hardcover edition)

Published: 20th February 2020 by Tor (UK) & 11th February 2020 by Tor Books (US)


The Unspoken Name is a terrifically-written debut that merged science fiction, space-opera, and high fantasy into one inventive book that’s incredibly suitable for SFF enthusiast.

One look into the striking cover art by Billelis, and I already wanted to speak about this book. My urge to read this book increased when both Nicholas Eames—the author behind The Band series— and Dyrk Ashton—the author behind Paternus trilogy—recommended the book to me. Then I found out that Lindsey Hall, the editor behind two books—Kings of the Wyld and the upcoming The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson—I truly loved edited this book too, suffice to say that The Unspoken Name has attained all the package that made it a necessity for me to read; I’m glad I did.

“Csorwe had spent a lifetime readying herself to die, not to talk to strangers.”

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Book Review: The Burning White (Lightbringer, #5) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Burning White (Lightbringer, #5) by Brent Weeks

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


The Burning White by Brent Weeks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #5 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 992 pages (Hardback edition)

Published: 24th October 2019 by Orbit (UK) and 22nd October 2019 by Orbit (US)


Epic, engaging, well-written, and surprisingly full of theology.

Here we are, nine years since The Black Prism was first published, The Burning White—the fifth and final installment in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks—is finally out and with it, the Lightbringer pentalogy is officially over. This is one of my—along with many fantasy readers—most anticipated books of the year, to make sure that I’ll be able to appreciate it fully, I even binged reread the series from the beginning—something I rarely do—in preparation. Now that I’ve read it, I have to say that I’m both satisfied and also disappointed with it. Don’t get me wrong, as far as enjoyment goes I’m still giving this book a 4 stars rating; I was engrossed, wasn’t bored, and I finished this 392,000 words tome within five days. However, although I had a wonderful time with this book and series, I can’t deny that I had issues with the way Weeks resolved the series; allow me to dive into that later, but first, I want to elaborate on the parts that I loved as spoiler-free as possible.

“Of all the things that die, hope is the most easily resurrected.”

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Book Review: The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2)

Book Review: The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2)


The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Pullman has created something so special with Lyra’s world and the mythos of other worlds he set up in the original His Dark Materials trilogy. La Belle Sauvage, the first installment of this spin-off trilogy, took us back to Lyra’s beginning, giving up the wild story of her infancy and the two children who rescued her. This second installment fast forwards to years after the events of the original trilogy, when Lyra is grown, having just tipped over the cusp of adulthood. The final events of that first trilogy haunt her still, but she is convincing herself more and more that those events aren’t quite true. As she falls into the trap of rationality Pantalaimon, her dæmon, rebels against her loss of imagination. From there, the plot goes wild.

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Book Review: Up To The Throne (The Dark Renaissance, #1)

Book Review: Up To The Throne (The Dark Renaissance, #1)

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Up To The Throne by Toby Frost

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Dark Renaissance (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, political fantasy

Published: December 18th 2018, independently published


If you’re looking for political intrigue and a badass female main protagonist, Up To The Throne might just suit your fancy.

The setting is inspired by the Italian Renaissance, albeit in a world enhanced by magic and alchemy. There was even a nod to Leonardo da Vinci in the narrative, while referencing to an inventor in this world whom the church considers as a madman. Also similar to our own history of the Catholic Church, this was also a time of the Inquisition who was determined to wipe out ‘heretic’ magic-users.

The story is centred around a revenge plot. Giulia Degarno, our main protagonist, was a female thief who has been severely scarred and left for dead 6 years ago on the orders of a master criminal, Publius Severra. Giulia returns to Pagalia after spending years honing her skills to bring her plans of assassinating Severra to fruition. However, during the course of those long years, Severra has also built significant political strength and is no longer a mere criminal.  Strong enough to be in position as one of the three contenders to seize the throne of Pagalia, with the very ill incumbent Prince expected to die pretty soon.  With his stronghold over many of the guilds in the city and living in a house that rivals a fortress, how would Giulia ever get close enough to assassinate Severra?

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Book Review: The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons

Book Review: The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons

ARC & Review Copy provided by my friend—Traveling Cloak—and the publisher—Tor UK—in exchange for an honest review.

The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Chorus of Dragons (Book #2 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 592 pages (UK hardback edition)

Published: 31th October 2019 by Tor (UK) and 29th October 2019 by Tor (US)


The Name of All Things is vast, complex, and engrossing; a wonderful improvement over its predecessor.

It’s quite surreal to think that Jenn Lyons released her debut, The Ruin of Kings, at the beginning of this year and a week from now its sequel, The Name of All Things, will be published to the world as well. Some of you may be familiar with The Ruin of Kings; it was Tor’s biggest and most advertised debut of the year. If you’ve read my review on The Ruin of Kings, you would know that I’ve had my share of mixed feelings with Lyons’s debut. It wasn’t that it was a bad book per se, but more like it could’ve been an even more incredible debut if it wasn’t due to the storytelling style that in my opinion felt too unnecessarily convoluted; whether you loved it or not though, I don’t think there’s any doubt that The Ruin of Kings was a super memorable debut with a unique narrative style. I can assure you that The Name of All Things is a great sequel that retains the series’ unique storytelling style but it was told in a much less convoluted manner which ends up elevating the book to triumph over its predecessor.

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Book Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)

Book Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 3 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: November 14th 2017 by Tor Books (US) and Gollancz (UK)


That Storming genius has outdone himself. Again!

Words of Radiance was easily the best book I’ve ever read, which naturally resulted in some pretty high expectations going into Oathbringer. As much as I’ve tried to dampen it after waiting for over 3.5 years, I just had to accept that it was futile.

Who am I kidding? Sanderson has completely smashed all my expectations by offering yet another best book I’ve ever read.

Is Oathbringer a masterpiece? I certainly think so. Is it a fantasy classic that will stand the test of time and be remembered in the same vein as Lord of the Rings? That might stretch it a bit too far, but only time will tell. I wouldn’t also call it flawless, as it is not. As far as I am concerned, however, it is a singularly brilliant creation which is both epic in its scope and intimate in its soul.

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Book Review: The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer, #4) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer, #4) by Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #4 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 704 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 27th October 2016 by Orbit (UK) and 25th October 2016 by Orbit (US)


A prelude novel to the—hopefully—incredible conclusion.

Since the start of this month, I’ve been binge rereading Lightbringer from the beginning non-stop, and I’d say that my reread experience for the previous three books has been rewarding. The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife were even better on reread; The Broken Eye more or less on the same quality. Unfortunately, I have to say that rereading The Blood Mirror gave me an inferior reading experience compared to the first time I read it. There were two glaring main issues that, somehow, weren’t noticeable on my first read: one of them being that The Blood Mirror felt almost like a filler (more on this later) and the other being Kip’s POV that was just utterly full of sexual innuendo and frustrations.

Picture: The Blood Mirror by breath-art (Jian Guo)

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