Browsed by
Tag: Grimdark Fantasy

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

Read More Read More

Book Review: A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness, #1) by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness, #1) by Joe Abercrombie

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

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Age of Madness (Book #1 of 3), First Law World (Book, #8 of 10)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark fantasy

Pages: 480 pages (Hardback)

Published: 17th September 2019 by Gollancz (UK) & 17th September 2019 by Orbit (US)


Grim, dark, fun, and glorious; A Little Hatred is irrefutably worth the wait.

Let me begin by saying that although this is a new series in the First Law World and you can technically start your journey into this world here, it’s quite mandatory to read at least The First Law trilogy in order to fully appreciate the intricacies of this book; even better if you’ve also read Best Served Cold and The Heroes. Reading A Little Hatred without knowledge of the previous books would be a similar experience to reading Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold without reading his previous three books or reading Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy without reading Farseer trilogy first. Do yourself a favor and make sure you read The First Law trilogy first before you start A Little Hatred, I even binge reread the entire trilogy to make sure that I can start this book with refreshed information. Make some time for it, not only it’s a brilliant trilogy, but you’ll also be doing a huge disservice to the book and most of all your reading experience if you don’t do it. On to the actual review now.

“Nothing like being wanted, is there? Wanted by someone you want. Always seems like magic, that something can feel so good but cost nothing.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3) by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3) by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The First Law (Book #3 of 3), First Law World (Book, #2 of 10)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark fantasy

Pages: 670 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 20th March 2008 by Gollancz (UK) & 8th September 2015 by Orbit (US)


Abercrombie has been titled as Lord Grimdark for years now; I truly believe that Last Argument of Kings is majorly responsible for this.

“Round and round in circles we go, clutching at successes we never grasp, endlessly tripping over the same old failures. Truly, life is the misery we endure between disappointments.”

Last Argument of Kings is the third—and final book—in The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Every plot lines from the first two books lead to the revelations and brutal conclusion in this installment. The story picks up immediately from where Before They Are Hanged left off, and it has come full circle. Depending on your perspective, Last Argument of Kings is either bittersweet, depressingly bleak or in between; I personally think it’s the latter. Abercrombie writes as if he’s a maestro of death and hopelessness. If you’re hanging on the edge of a cliff, Abercrombie will give you a dangling rope to save you but when you use that rope to save yourself from falling, he annihilates your hopes by using that rope to strangle you when you’re at the top. Yet, I must say that it is precisely for this unforgiving realism that I end up considering Last Argument of Kings as my favorite book in the series.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The First Law (Book #2 of 3), First Law World (Book, #2 of 10)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark fantasy

Pages: 573 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 15th March 2007 by Gollancz (UK) & 8th September 2015 by Orbit (US)


Before They Are Hanged succeeds over The Blade Itself wonderfully.

“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”—Heinrich Heine

I’ve mentioned in my review of The Blade Itself that although I highly enjoyed it, Abercrombie’s debut felt like more like a setup book; a necessary installment for the remaining two books in the trilogy to shine. Before They Are Hanged is where Abercrombie starts progressing the storyline and the third book is where he wraps things up explosively. On this reread, I’ve come to realize that The First Law trilogy can be defined as one gigantic volume divided into three; the conclusion of the first two books in the trilogy continues immediately in their respective sequel as if it’s a simple chapter change and there were no definite conclusive storylines until the end of Last Argument of Kings. This storytelling style makes binge-reading the trilogy such a great experience, and I love this book more than The Blade Itself.

Read More Read More

Book Review: The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1) by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1) by Joe Abercrombie


The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The First Law (Book #1 of 3), First Law World (Book, #1 of 10)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark fantasy

Pages: 544 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 4th May 2006 by Gollancz (UK) & 8th September 2015 by Orbit (US)


The Blade Itself was my first entry into a grimdark fantasy novel that I highly enjoyed; on this reread, I loved it even more.

“Once you’ve got a task to do, it’s better to do it than live with the fear of it.”

Back in October 2016, the only reason I stumbled upon this bloody marvelous trilogy was that, as many other readers did, I was looking for a reading experience that could offer me the kind of unpredictability and morally ambiguous characters that the Game of Thrones TV show did. I haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire back then, fans of Game of Thrones weren’t so divisive in their opinion yet too, but suffice to say I was surprised that I got what I was looking for in this series, and more. I’ve read many grimdark novels since then, and it’s baffling that I haven’t encountered many grimdark characters with characterizations level as high as Abercrombie. Seeing that Abercrombie’s newest novel in the world of First Law is coming out in a month, I figured it’s about time for me to actually refresh my memory and check whether it was my nostalgia goggles playing trick on me; it wasn’t, I actually loved my reread experience more than my first read.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Book Review: Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Chronicles of the Black Company (Book #1-3 of 9)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 704 pages (US Omnibus edition)

Published: 18th September, 2018 by Gollancz (UK) & 13th November 2017 by Tor Books (US)


The Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook is a series that Steven Erikson has praised intensely for a long time now, it’s even considered to be his inspiration for Malazan Book of the Fallen and after reading this omnibus, I can certainly see why.

There were many aspects that displayed them; similarities between the Bridgeburners and the Black Company, a storytelling style that drops readers into the midst of the plot without any clear explanation, just to name a few without spoilers. The differences between Erikson and Cook would be that Erikson’s series is gigantically more massive in scope and difficulty. Chronicles of the Black Company omnibus comprises of the first three books in the series: The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose. These three made up for the first story arc in the series: Books of the North story arc. Same as my review for Riyria Revelations omnibuses, I won’t be writing a full review for each book but I’ll write a mini-review for each book in this volume instead.

Read More Read More

Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)

Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read some dark stuff in my life, but I believe that Last Argument of Kings is the bleakest, most brutal book I’ve read, ever. Joe Abercrombie undoubtedly earned his title as the King of Grimdark. If it wasn’t for the humor Abercrombie had been deftly layering into the story since The Blade Itself, I don’t know that I could’ve finished this final installment. I joked with my fellow Novel Notions bloggers that I felt like I needed to bathe in kittens and rainbows when I read the last pages, and that honestly wasn’t far from the truth. I started half a dozen or more books in the aftermath of this book, only to put them down again because they weren’t bright enough. I finally settled on rereading a Nora Roberts trilogy that I’ve read over and over since my teenage years. Nora’s charming descriptions of Ireland could not be further removed from the Union and the North as Abercrombie detailed them.

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

Read More Read More

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”

I am astonished by how much I loved this book. I went from thinking that grimdark wasn’t for me to being an unapologetic convert to the genre. Whatever the cause for my change of heart, I’m insanely glad it happened, because Before They Are Hanged is absolutely fabulous. Brimming with humor and overflowing with compelling characters, the second installment of The First Law quenched a thirst for high stakes and long odds that I didn’t even know I had.

“Honour, eh? What the hell is that anyway? Every man thinks it’s something different… The more of it you have the less good it does you, and if you’ve got none at all you don’t miss it.”

Read More Read More

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.

Read More Read More

Deadhouse Landing (Path to Ascendancy, #2)

Deadhouse Landing (Path to Ascendancy, #2)

Deadhouse Landing by Ian C. Esslemont
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Deadhouse Landing was another fantastic novel in this prequel trilogy of two of the most notorious characters from the Malazan series.

This sequel continued to expand on the origins story of Dancer and Kellanved, by bringing us to the infamous Malaz Island – where it all began. For readers of Malazan, some of the names in the Dramatis Personae were enough to make one incredibly excited for what’s in store. It was so hard for me to write this review without giving away even the smallest detail, which might diminish the impact of the “Aha!” or the “OMG, it is HIM/HER!” moments. These names alone aren’t actually spoilers in its truest sense. Nonetheless, my take is that a Malazan fan will derive more delight from reading these prequel books without prior knowledge of whom among the Old Guard might be featured.

Read More Read More

%d bloggers like this: