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Tag: Grimdark Fantasy

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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Merciless and brilliant.

This was unbelievably amazing. A Storm of Swords could actually be the height of George R. R. Martin’s writing career. I know I haven’t read A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, or the extra books of the series yet, but realistically speaking, it would be bloody difficult for Martin to top what he has achieved in this book.

Picture: A Storm of Swords by Marc Simonetti

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Grim Solace (The Chasing Graves Book #2)

Grim Solace (The Chasing Graves Book #2)

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Grim Solace by Ben Galley

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Thanks to Ben Galley for providing an ARC of Grim Solace, in exchange for an honest review.

Spoiler-free review. Please note that the quotes in this review are taken from the ARC edition and may change in the published edition.

Grim Solace is a brilliant second book in this original and grim trilogy. Ben Galley wove a brutal tale of murder, treachery, greed and deception in a world that mastered death and bent it to the whims of the living. 

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Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy, #1)

Dancer’s Lament (Path to Ascendancy, #1)

Dancer’s Lament by Ian C. Esslemont
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

My first 5-star rating this year, and it’s a Malazan book.

I love the world of Malazan, and the Malazan Book of the Fallen stands as my favourite grimdark fantasy series. However, these are not books which one can pick up to read for ‘fun’. Not only were the worldbuilding complex and the cast of characters extensive, but the prose was also dense and philosophical. Moreover, the narrative frequently messaged dark and bleak themes. To be honest, it felt like work sometimes to read MBOTF, albeit work that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Chasing Graves (The Chasing Graves Trilogy Book #1)

Chasing Graves (The Chasing Graves Trilogy Book #1)

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Chasing Graves by Ben Galley

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

A big thanks to Ben Galley for providing an ARC of Chasing Graves, in exchange for an honest review.

Spoiler-free review. Please note that the quotes in this review are taken from the ARC edition and may change in the published edition.

When Ben Galley revealed the cover of Chasing Graves and after hearing that it was an Egyptian mythology-inspired fantasy, I knew I had to read the book. My only experience with Galley’s writing before CG was with The Heart of Stone and it was a book I very much enjoyed because of its writing, atmosphere, philosophy and the humanity and depth he insufflated in his not quite human main character. Knowing that, I had the feeling I would embark in a deep and atmospheric reading journey with Chasing Graves and I’m happy to say I wasn’t wrong.

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Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)

Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)

Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A peerless and jaw-dropping epic installment; I consider myself damn lucky to have witnessed this powerfully evocative tale.

I’ve stated that it’s mandatory to read at least two books of the series in order to truly find out whether you’ll love this series or not. I retract that statement and change it to three books instead. Trust me, if you don’t love Memories of Ice, you might as well drop the series now. And that would be okay because no series can work for everyone. Honestly speaking, I had a bit of doubt about the series but this incredibly mesmerizing installment has convinced me to finally become a fan of the series.

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Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)

Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)

Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2)Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


Coltaine and the Chain of Dogs, enough said.

People told me that when you’re starting Malazan Book of the Fallen, it’s mandatory to read at least two or three books in the series before finally deciding on giving up on the series. One of the main reasons behind this is that Deadhouse Gates is considered one of the strongest installment within the series by the fans after Memories of Ice and The Bonehunters. Now that I’ve read Deadhouse Gates, I finally understand why people insist newcomers on continuing to the second book first. However, please do check your expectation. Despite how much I loved this installment, I’m actually slightly disappointed with how it turns out; more detail on this further down below.

Picture: Deadhouse Gates by Marc Simonetti

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