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Kings of Ash (Ash and Sand, #2)

Kings of Ash (Ash and Sand, #2)

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

Kings of Ash by Richard Nell
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Kings of Ash triumphed over its predecessor in almost every possible way.

Kings of Ash is the second book in Richard Nell’s Ash and Sand trilogy. It’s the sequel to the highly praised Kings of Paradise, but the fans of the previous book don’t need to worry about stumbling into the infamous middle book syndrome here. Kings of Ash surpassed the previous book’s quality and it can all be boiled down to one reason: this is Ruka’s book. I mentioned this in my review of Kings of Paradise: “Ruka’s POV was easily one of the best anti-heroes POV I’ve ever read in grimdark fantasy,” and I stand by my words, even more so after reading this installment. Kings of Ash is a different kind of book from its predecessor; it’s much more character-driven. Almost the entire narrative was told from Ruka’s POV and I’m incredibly satisfied by this decision. Nell offers a deep exploration of Ruka’s character and it makes the storyline feel more intimate. More importantly, this storytelling style shows Nell’s greatest writing strength as an author – his characterizations.

“A lioness cares nothing for the shriek of jackals, old woman. Now hear this, and hear it well—if she had raised me to hate, I would kill you and all your kin, and no man or god could stop me.”

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Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands, #1)

Seraphina’s Lament (The Bloodlands, #1)

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

Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brutally remarkable and captivating Holodomor-inspired fantasy debut.

Seraphina’s Lament is Sarah Chorn’s debut and it’s the first book in The Bloodlands trilogy. For the purpose of targeting the right reader for this book, I’ll start by saying that if you’re not a grimdark enthusiast, you might either want to skip this, or at least prepare yourself for some dark and heavy moments. As for its premise, check out the official blurb on Goodreads/Amazon, the author did a great job setting the stage without spoiling anything.

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Forge of Darkness (The Kharkanas Trilogy, #1)

Forge of Darkness (The Kharkanas Trilogy, #1)

Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Forge of Darkness displayed Erikson at the top of his prose but unfortunately, the book was bogged down by too much too much too much TOO MUCH philosophies.

Before I get to that though, let me just say that it’s quite baffling that there’s a list that recommends starting Malazan from Forge of Darkness instead of Gardens of the Moon. I’ve read and loved the main series but this novel took the cake for being the most difficult to get into. If I haven’t read the main series, this would be at best a 2 stars read. I’m not kidding, the saving grace of this novel was Erikson’s prose and the knowledge on what the characters will do in the future, this is only possible if the reader has read the main series, Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #0.5)

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #0.5)

Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely marvelous. Not only Skullsworn is Staveley’s best work so far, it’s also one of the most well-written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Skullsworn is a standalone prequel to Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy; focusing on Pyrre Lakatur—one of my favorite characters from the main trilogy—as she faces her final trial to become the Priestess of Ananshael, the god of death. To pass her trial, Pyrre has fourteen days to kill the seven people depicted in an ancient song, including the one she loves / someone who will not come again. The main problem in this trial for Pyrre isn’t the killing itself, but love; she isn’t sure if she’s ever been in love or whether she knows what love is. If she fails to find someone to love—and then kill—she will fail the trial and die in the hands of the Priests of Ananshael. Pyrre isn’t afraid of death but she hates failing, and hence, she returns to the city of her birth, Dombang, in the hope of finding love and ending it with her blade.

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