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Tag: self-published

The Sword of Kaigen (A Theonite War Story)

The Sword of Kaigen (A Theonite War Story)

The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Simply phenomenal; The Sword of Kaigen is a stunning achievement of empathetic and masterful storytelling.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that sinks its hooks and claws into your very soul. It transcends beyond what a 5-star book usually means to me. It is a book that I will plead, beg and maybe even force everyone to read, so that they can experience the same awe and emotions as I did.  Thus far, I have not gone down the road of awarding 6 stars to some of my favourites, but there are several that I could easily place in that category. Namely The Stormlight Archive, a few titles from Malazan Book of the Fallen, and Heir of Novron, the final omnibus of The Riyria Revelations. Now, this extraordinary stand-alone fantasy novel, which is a rarity in itself, has earned itself a well-deserved spot among these masterpieces.

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Underlord (Cradle, #6)

Underlord (Cradle, #6)

Underlord by Will Wight
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Such insane power. Such insane fun. That, in a nutshell, is the Cradle series, and Underlord is its current pinnacle.

Underlord was everything that its title promised adoring fans (including yours truly), and so much more. The Prologue was so ridiculously epic it gave me goosebumps, and all the awesomeness that was the Cradle series came crashing down on me again. I tried to prolong the enjoyment by keeping myself occupied with things to do, to avoid finishing the book too quickly. Alas, it barely lasted 36 hours from the time I received the download from my pre-order.

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Ghostwater (Cradle, #5)

Ghostwater (Cradle, #5)

Ghostwater by Will Wight
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Ghostwater is a worthy winner of the Reddit r/Fantasy 2018 Stabby Awards for Best Independent Book; I am now a huge fan of the Cradle series.

The author kept on surprising me with his inexhaustible imagination and the ever-increasing, mind-blowing, magnitude of magical and martial power in this series.  All without ever making me think that it was ridiculous.  Well, okay, it was – just ridiculously fun and exciting, that is.

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Fairy Tale (The Temple Chronicles, #0.5)

Fairy Tale (The Temple Chronicles, #0.5)

Fairy Tale by Shayne Silvers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fairy Tale is the prequel to the Nate Temple Chronicles by Shayne Silvers, and is the first piece I’ve read from the series or the author. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The snark level here is exactly what I’m looking for when I choose to read urban fantasy. When I start gravitating toward UF, my life is generally becoming hectic in some sense. I go to UF because I know that I will almost always deliver fast-pasted, well plotted stories with a dynamic cast of characters and, in the best case scenario, a plucky protagonist who wields sarcasm as a weapon whom I can look forward to revisiting again and again as UF series tend to be long in installments instead of hefty books.

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We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire, #2)

We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire, #2)

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

We Lie With Death by Devin Madson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is no calm after the storm, Devin Madson has crafted a sequel rich with wonderful character developments and illuminating revelations.

It’s been roughly seven months since I finished reading We Ride the Storm. Ever since I finished it, We Lie With Death instantly became one of my most anticipated books of 2019. Considering the unreasonably high expectations I had for this book, I honestly think that it’s truly praise-worthy that Madson was able to create another novel that repeatedly grabbed my attention. Before I begin my review, I would like to first inform everyone that there’s a “Story So Far” and a Characters List section at the beginning of the book that will help refresh your memories of the first book.

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Skysworn (Cradle, #4)

Skysworn (Cradle, #4)

Skysworn by Will Wight
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Holy moly, this series was seriously fun and addictive!

I was initially planning to read an ARC for a soon-to-be-released book, but temptation drew me to start Skysworn instead, which I duly finished in just over a day.  Verdict: Will Wight has a new fan.

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Hero Forged (Ethereal Earth, #1)

Hero Forged (Ethereal Earth, #1)

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

Hero Forged (Ethereal Earth #1)Hero Forged by Josh Erikson
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A solid beginning to an urban fantasy series.

I’ll first start this review by saying that urban fantasy is a rare hit for me. In fact, other than The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett, Heartstrikers by Rachel Aaron, Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton, and Jade City by Fonda Lee, I’ve been mostly disappointed with what I’ve read so far. Hero Forged is a new rising urban fantasy that’s well-loved by some reviewers I know. However, knowing my hit and miss statistics with the sub-genre, I was actually going to decline the request to review this book. The author then told me that the main character resembles Vash the Stampede from Trigun; there’s no way I would decline reviewing the book after hearing that and I’m glad I gave it a go.

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Blackflame (Cradle, #3)

Blackflame (Cradle, #3)

Blackflame by Will Wight
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

I think I am finally in love. Blackflame was a fantastic continuation of the Cradle series.

Integrating the fascinating Eastern-inspired worldbuilding and magic-martial arts system with better characterisation, Blackflame was easily the best book in the series so far. Even though I’m still not wild about the main protagonist, Wei Shi Lindon, I was growing more invested in what his future may bring. At the end of Soulsmith, Lindon found himself being given one year to train and advance in his sacred arts in order to fight an opponent that is way more powerful. Lindon seemed to be the typical underdog character who kept defying the odds through a combination of sheer drive, ambition and a bit of providence. Notwithstanding, one can’t help but be curious to see how his story will pan out.

“Sometimes the game is rigged against you, and your only option is to flip the board.”

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Soulsmith (Cradle, #2)

Soulsmith (Cradle, #2)

Soulsmith by Will Wight
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

A worthy sequel that expands on the worldbuilding and magic system, Soulsmith delivers on the promise of an engaging and fascinating story of epic powers inspired by Far Eastern martial arts.

Outside of the Sacred Valley in pursuit of advancement, Lindon came face-to-face with his destiny as he encountered powers beyond his imagination. The most powerful amongst the clans and Schools within the Valley are mere children compared to the dime a dozen Golds that can be found in the Desolate Wilds. As expected, and I don’t believe it to be a spoiler to say so, Lindon did manage to level up in his powers. How that happened, though, is the part where I will not deign to reveal.  Safe to say, it was far from painless.

“The sacred arts are a game, and your life is the only thing you’ve got to bet. You want to move up? This is what up looks like.”

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Unsouled (Cradle, #1)

Unsouled (Cradle, #1)

Unsouled by Will Wight
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

I have heard great things about Will Wight’s books. If Unsouled was just a taste of what the Cradle series has to offer, I will say those praises are well-founded.

Cradle is an Eastern-inspired fantasy with complex worldbuilding and a cool magic system that reminds me of the Chinese martial art genres of wuxia (heroic) and xianxia (immortal). The narrative follows a young man, Wei Shi Lindon, an Unsouled who was not allowed to learn the sacred arts of his clan in the Sacred Valley. There are myriad paths that a sacred artist can follow, utilising the core of their soul to employ and control the vital aura; forces of the natural world. This power from the soul is called madra.  Through various means of progression, which includes training, ingesting elixirs and spirit-fruits, a sacred artist can level up from different stages of madra mastery and strength from Copper to Iron, to Jade and then to Gold. There are also magical artefacts, or Treasures, which also range from those that can be wielded by the lower-ranked sacred artists to those that can only be powered by stronger madra.

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