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Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Hard science fiction

First English translation: 2015 by Tor Books (US), 2016 by Head of Zeus (UK).


The Dark Forest is a stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed The Three-Body Problem and in my opinion, surpassed it by the magnitude of astronomical units.

While I hold the first book in high regard, I had to admit that characterisation was sidelined in the narrative which focussed heavily on the science and plot. The sequel’s storytelling approach was more balanced with the hard science toned down somewhat and character development emerging more prominently. The leading character in this respect is Luo Ji, an astronomer and sociologist, who was given cryptic advice by the person responsible for the events leading to the impending extraterrestrial invasion. Luo Ji cuts an anti-hero figure who wanted nothing to do with saving the world and just continue flitting around in life, almost frivolously, as an ordinary person. On top of becoming invested in his person, I was also delighted that arising from his POV we have the return of my favourite character from the previous book, Shi Qiang (nicknamed Da Shi), the hard-boiled ex-policeman who works for the Planetary Defence Council security department. Between Luo Ji and another prominent character, Zhang Beihai, a naval political commissar turned space officer, the story and its central plot weave a compelling, fascinating and unpredictable path through the epoch-spanning narrative.

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

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

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 3 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2001 by Bantam (UK) and 2006 by Tor (US)


The harder the world, the fiercer the honour.

This in-world quote succinctly explained why Memories of Ice is one of my favourite volumes of my favourite grimdark epic fantasy series.  It is the reason why I even read grimdark in the first place, given that I am so easily assailed by emotions that one wonders why I willingly put myself through such heartbreak. So bear with me throughout this series when I keep waxing lyrical about how humanity manifests its most awe-inspiring qualities in the face of relentless hardship and horrors of a world ravaged by conflict.

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Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Wayfarers (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Science fiction

Published: 2015 by Harper Voyager (US) and Hodder & Stoughton (UK)


This is one of the most endearing and charming novels that I’ve ever read.

I’ve had this book for quite a while but never got around to reading it. From all the reviews I’ve seen, I got the idea that it is one of those stories which the focus is around the characters instead of the plot and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that. Perhaps I happened to pick this up at the right time, because I absolutely adored this captivating story of individuals just interacting with each other, and as a tight-knit multi-species crew they are as a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts.

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

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

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 2 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2000 by Bantam (UK) and 2005 by Tor (US)


For those who have read Gardens of the Moon and thought it was relatively tame for a grimdark fantasy series, Deadhouse Gates will change your mind. This sequel took the series to new heights and was also when I begun to wholly understand Erikson’s opening quote in the debut. The grimness, violence and brutality in this book made me rethink of how I viewed A Song of Ice and Fire.

The events at the end of Gardens of the Moon saw the Bridgeburners splitting up, with the bulk of squad remaining on Genabackis with Dujek Onearm and Whiskeyjack to face the threat of the Pannion Domin. Meanwhile Fiddler and Kalam headed off to Seven Cities, where the Bridgeburners were forged, and which is on the brink of rebellion as the Seventh Year of Dryjhna, the Apocalypse, approaches. When the Book of Dryjhna is delivered into the hands of the Sha’ik, the spirit of the goddess will embody this prophetess and the Whirlwind together with the rebellion will rise.

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Book Review: Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)

Book Review: Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 1 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  1999 by Bantam (UK) and 2004 by Tor (US)


Gardens of the Moon is the grand overture to The Malazan Book of the Fallen, providing just a glimmer of what this massive, grimdark epic fantasy tale has to offer, which is best described below in the author’s own words.

“Now these ashes have grown cold, we open the old book.
These oil-stained pages recount the tales of the Fallen,
a frayed empire, words without warmth. The hearth
has ebbed, its gleam and life’s sparks are but memories
against dimming eyes – what cast my mind, what hue my
thoughts as I open the Book of the Fallen
and breathe deep the scent of history?
Listen, then, to these words carried on that breath.
These tales are the tales of us all, again yet again.
We are history relived and that is all, without end that is all.”

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Book Review: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)

Book Review: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 2 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: March 4th 2014 by Tor Books (US) and March 6th 2014 by Gollancz (UK)


Words. Of. Radiance.
– End of review –

Jesting aside, the title of the book does pretty much sum up the magnificence of this sequel to The Way of Kings. Words of Radiance should be the paragon of excellence by which all sequels should hold themselves to as it was the best second book of a series that I’ve ever read.

If you have read my love letter to The Stormlight Archive, you would know that I pretty much adore everything about The Way of Kings – the characterisation, the worldbuilding, and even the minimal plot progression, given the significant portion of the book dedicated to the former. Words of Radiance took every element which I loved in the first book and enhanced it beyond my imagination.

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Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

TS’ rating: 5 of 5 stars

Haïfa’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Published: September 12th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 10th, 2019 by Redhook (US)


TS’s Review

ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit.

Incredibly lush, exquisite and enchanting, The Ten Thousand Doors of January has all the makings of a classic. One which I’m certain will be well-loved and much-read. And I dare say not only by those who enjoy fantasy, for this novel is pure joy in literary form that is a tribute to almost every reader out there.

Do you love books? This book is for you.

Do you love the written word? This book is for you.

Do you love stories and escapism? This book is for you.

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Book Review: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

Book Review: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 1 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: August 31st 2010 by Tor Books (US) and December 30th 2010 by Gollancz (UK)


The Stormlight Archive is Brandon Sanderson’s “love letter to the epic fantasy genre”. His magnum opus. From my perspective, he had lovingly and painstakingly crafted a masterpiece that was not just his greatest but one of the greatest of all time.  And thus, this is my love letter to The Stormlight Archive and I hope it can do some justice to this favourite series of mine.

There are many great fantasy books out there; some have a compelling story to tell supplemented with great characters; some have awesome magic and epic battle scenes, and some come with an interesting world that was richly imagined and detailed.  The Way of Kings is a huge opening act to The Stormlight Archive which took every single one of these elements of a good fantasy story and elevated the art of storytelling to a different league. You might think that “Yeah, you say that because you’re a Sanderson addict”. Then let me say that I’ve read The Way of Kings before I became addicted to his books. Or to phrase it the other way, I became an addict because of it.

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Book review: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2) by Fonda Lee

Book review: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2) by Fonda Lee

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

Jade War by Fonda Lee

Petrik’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

TS’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Green Bone Saga (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 624 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: July 25th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & July 23rd, 2019 by Orbit (US)


Petrik’s Review

Absolutely amazing; Jade War was a brilliantly compelling sequel filled with skillfully-written characterizations and tension-packed action scenes.

I buddy read this novel with four other readers of different ethnicities—TS, Emma, Jenia, and Nils—living in different parts of the world and all of us pretty much agreed that we were both in love with and terrified by the events in Jade War. I find it equally satisfying and astonishing that Lee was able to create a sequel that outshone the stunning quality found in Jade City, which won many readers’ hearts and the World Fantasy Award trophy last year. But Fonda Lee did it spectacularly; Jade War was unbelievably better than the first book. The fantasy genre needs more urban fantasy as refreshing and great as this series.

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