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Month: January 2023

Book Review: The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry

Book Review: The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry

The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advance digital copy of this novel from the publisher, Orbit/Redhook, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Magician’s Daughter is a book that excited me as soon as I saw the announcement. I love H.G. Parry. Her debut, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, is one of my favorite standalones of all time. It is a love letter to book lovers, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I have yet to finish reading her Shadow Histories, her incredibly well-researched (but dense) duology, but I was thrilled at the prospect of having another standalone from her. I didn’t love it quite as much as I hoped I would, as there was something about the plot and pacing that didn’t quite compel me to burn my way through the story, but The Magician’s Daughter was an absolute delight to read.

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Cover Reveal: The First Ancestor (Ranger of the Titan Wilds, #2) by J.D.L. Rosell

Cover Reveal: The First Ancestor (Ranger of the Titan Wilds, #2) by J.D.L. Rosell

Hi everyone! Petrik from Novel Notions here.

We have an exciting post today. Novel Notions will be hosting the cover reveal to The First Ancestor by J.D.L. Rosell. This is the second book in the Ranger of the Titan Wilds series, a Horizon: Zero Dawn inspired epic fantasy series. I haven’t read started the series yet, but the first book which has interior illustrations by Felix Ortiz published through a Kickstarter campaign is in my possession already, and it looks stunning. This second book in the series will be published through a Kickstarter campaign, too, just like the first one, and the link to the campaign (due to launch a week from now) is up already. Make sure to not miss the campaign HERE! In the meantime, without further ado, here’s the gorgeous cover reveal of The First Ancestor!

Cover art illustrated by Felix Ortiz

Cover designed by STK. Kreations

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Book Review: The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf, #2) by Richard Swan

Book Review: The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf, #2) by Richard Swan

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

Tyranny of Faith cover

Cover art illustrated by: Martina Fackova

Cover designed by: Lauren Panepinto

The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Empire of the Wolf (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 560 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 14th February 2023 by Orbit (US) & 16th February 2023 by Orbit (UK)

The Tyranny of Faith is a great sequel filled with wonderful characterizations, thought-provoking passages, and explosive ending sequences.

“If our lives were inherently meaningless, were we not obliged to extract every happiness from it that we could?”

First things first, if it has been a while since you’ve read The Justice of Kings and you don’t have the time to reread the first book before reading this one, Richard Swan has prepared a detailed recap of what happened in the first book on his website. Make sure to check it out. I used it, too, and I certainly benefitted from it because I read The Justice of Kings in late 2021. And it wouldn’t be right for me to start this review without giving a proper shoutout to the cover artist, Martina Fackova. I thought the cover art to The Justice of Kings, the first book in the Empire of the Wolf trilogy, which features Justice Konrad Vonvalt, was incredibly striking already. However, Fackova topped it even further with the beautiful cover art of The Tyranny of Faith. Helena Sedanka in the cover art looks badass, and I think this is another victorious cover art from the artist and Orbit Books. I am curious to find out what the cover art of the third and final book of the trilogy will look like. The same goes for the content of the third book, too, of course! But all of that remains to be seen. For now, this is my review of The Tyranny of Faith, the riveting sequel to The Justice of Kings.

“No event simply occurs. Each is the culmination of countless factors that trace their long roots back to the beginning of time. It is easy to bemoan an era of great upheaval as a sudden commingling of misfortunes– but the discerning eye of history tells us that there are few coincidences where the schemes of man are concerned.”—JUSTICE (AS HE THEN WAS) EMMANUEL KANE, THE LEGAL ARMOURY: ENTANGLEMENT, NECROMANCY, AND DIVINATION

The story in The Tyranny of Faith continues from where the previous book ended. The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but that doesn’t mean the war for the Empire of the Wolf’s future is finished. The majority of the plot in this book takes place in a new setting, the capital city of Sova. And this capital city is evidently gripped by whispers of conflict and rebellion. Justice Konrad Vonvalt, Helena Sedanka, Dubine Bressinger, and Sir Radomir, however, are ordered by the Emperor to focus on a quest to rescue the missing prince first instead. No man is above the law. If you have heard or read a review or two about The Justice of Kings, there is a good chance you would know about this phrase. Law, morality, and justice are some of the main themes of the first book, and if you loved reading about them before, I am confident you will love reading what Swan has in store in The Tyranny of Faith.

“There are times when a guilty person must go free. There are other times when the difference between a just killing and murder is procedural formality.”

I have a difficult time deciding which book I love more, The Justice of Kings or The Tyranny of Faith. Halfway through the novel, I was confident I loved the first book more. This isn’t to say The Tyranny of Faith was ever bad or boring to me. Swan’s prose did not allow me to feel bored reading his books; if we’re speaking of writing quality and memorable passages about justice and morality, this one was unquestionably superior to the first book. But the entire plotline regarding the missing prince almost felt like filler. I knew it wouldn’t be the case; there MUST be something important to this plot thread that takes up more or less half of the book. And yeah, there were. But we did not reap the satisfying result until late into the novel. Until we reached the last 30% of the book, the pacing sometimes felt on and off to me. I will go back to talking about the final 30% of the book later. Allow me to say this first. Even though this missing prince quest felt like filler initially, Swan did include many crucial character moments and development as compensation.

“History is neat. It is packaged, artificially broken up into epochs, and dissected remotely, both geographically and temporally, with the benefit of long hindsight. The reality of living through these turbulent times was much different. Matters are insidious. They build up over time, like small pieces of wood being chipped out of a supporting beam. Complexities and nuances are lost in the retelling of the story. Even this personal account omits a great deal.”

Just like in the first book, the narrator of the series is still Konrad Vonvalt’s apprentice and protege: Helena Sedanka. This does not change the fact Justice Konrad Vonvalt is one of the main characters. Heck, sometimes I even forgot this book is written from the perspective of Helena just because so many story and conflicts centers around Vonvalt’s and his decisions. But comparatively, there were several scenes where Helena shined bright in the spotlight. In The Justice of Kings, Vonvalt, Helena, and Dubine Bressinger were the trio characters of the book. In The Tyranny of Faith, Sir Radomir can now be added to the equation, and the book is better for it. These characters are lonely individuals, and they don’t have a lot of, or any, real friends other than each other. I think the relationship development between Konrad Vonvalt and Helena Sedanka will be divisive among readers. Even as I write this review, I am still unsure what to think about it. However, I am confident many will agree it was so good and heartwarming seeing the relationship development between every one of these four characters and having more background revealed on Vonvalt and Dubine.

“It is strange how when two people are of one mind, thoughts can be expressed as clearly as if some third party were to appear out of thin air and speak them aloud.”

To me, one of the most surprising elements of this book was how much the villain grew to become so memorable. We know that Vonvalt wouldn’t be the perfect paragon of virtue Helena seemed to think he is. I do not consider it a spoiler at all to say that. But Vonvalt’s existence and the tenacity of the law keepers are necessary to fight against the evil that is Bartholomew Claver. My memory of Claver was a bit hazy at first. He felt like a forgettable villain in the first book for the sake of being the target enemy of the main characters. That notion has changed here. I don’t want to say much on this, but Claver is a superb example of what would happen if evil is left unchecked for too long.

“In peace send me the kind, the goodly, and the strong of heart. In war give me the cruel, the hardy, those who will act in want of all honour. The latter build nations; the former sustain them.” COUNT HAMER VON SCHOFF, 2ND MARGRAVE OF SEAGUARD

With a more terrifying villain and increasing danger, it is safe to expect the conflict and circumstances our main characters struggled with here to be more threatening. I’ve mentioned in my review of The Justice of Kings that the world of the series didn’t utilize many magicks. Yes, we have Emperor’s Voice, used by Justices to command people to answer questions truthfully, but that’s mostly it. This situation is no longer the case here. The Tyranny of Faith displayed grimoires, magicks, and supernaturals that are more potent, violent, and destructive in their nature and execution frequently. And the final 30% of the novel was insane, intense, and brimming with explosive action scenes. Swan did a terrific job writing these chaotic scenes, immersing readers into the chaos and stakes of the situation emotionally and vividly with ease. Everything came together in the final pages of the novel nicely. The wait for the final volume of the series, currently planned to be published in 2024, will be painful. But as always, I will be patient.

“Humankind is not so self-terminating that we would allow our greatest quality– that of our capacity for hope– to be fully extinguished. But I shall readily admit that there are times when we are reduced to fanning the embers.” MISTRESS OF THE MAGISTRATUM NEVENKA ZORIĆ

Overall, The Tyranny of Faith is another enthralling volume in the Empire of the Wolf trilogy. Ask me today, and I will say The Justice of Kings in its entirety is a better book, but ask me tomorrow, and I might end up choosing The Tyranny of Faith over it. The halfway portion of the book did feel like filler at times, but it’s worth persevering through. The ending sequence of this book was so impactful, and I am eagerly looking forward to reading the third book as soon as possible.

“The Nemans preach that if one is good and moral in the course of their life, paradise awaits them in the afterlife. Well, in my experience the afterlife and everything in it is completely indifferent to us and our ‘souls’. One should lead a good and moral life because that is the right thing to do as an end in itself.”

You can pre-order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Book Review: Eleventh Cycle (Mistland, #1) by Kian N. Ardalan

Book Review: Eleventh Cycle (Mistland, #1) by Kian N. Ardalan

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

Cover art illustrated by: NinoIs

Cover art designed by: Shawn T. King

Eleventh Cycle by Kian N. Ardalan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Mistland (Book #1 of 4)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

Pages: 802 pages (Paperback)

Published: 1st February 2023 (Self-Published)

Eleventh Cycle is one of the best books I’ve read. Berserk and Dark Souls fans, this page-turning epic grimdark fantasy novel is written for us.

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Death’s Beating Heart by Rob J. Hayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Grimdark, Adult
Pages: 480 pages
Published: 26th December 2022, Self-published

Note: spoilers from the previous The War Eternal books below.

A powerful ending to a fantastic series, Death’s Beating Heart delivers equal measures of pain and triumph that grants Eskara Helsene the legacy she deserves.

At the end of book four, Eska’s daughter Sirileth crashed a moon into the surface of the planet to prevent the world’s destruction from The Maker. Sirileth killed countless thousands to save millions. But the planet’s environment has become unlivable; there is no direct sunlight, crops are dying, the water is dirty, and kingdoms are focused on their own survival instead of working across borders to find solutions. Oh, and there’s an unspeakably powerful immortal entity called Norvet Meruun that is conquering all of Sevorai, and threatens to cross the rift into Ovaeris. It’s up to Eska, Sirileth, and the fear-devouring horror Ssserakis to raise a resistance before the planet either dies from neglect or is destroyed through invasion.

Eska is such a compelling character because she is consistently misunderstood. Although she is the boogeyman to her peers, she usually has best intentions in mind: she’ll defend her family and friends at all costs, taking no prisoners along the way. She is also prideful to a fault; she is responsible for unspeakable horrors, but also gravitates toward taking on extra guilt for actions of which she had little influence. Hayes has also done an excellent job writing Eska’s struggles with depression. The listlessness and desire to shut off during times of anxiety or crisis felt genuine and visceral. Eska is presented with excruciating choices where there is no easy solutions, and although she might be the most powerful Sourcerer on the planet, she’s just as vulnerable and human as the rest of us.

But not all is gloom and doom! This is a grim novel, but it is also an absolute blast to read. Hayes’ Otherworld creature design impressed me to no end. I won’t spoil the details, but Flowne and Kekran are two of my favorite monsters I’ve read in recent memory. They are powerful and horrifying and launched some of the best battle scenes in the entire series.

Death’s Beating Heart is a story about sacrifice and consequences, and how far a mother will go to protect what she loves. All throughout Eska’s narration, the reader was tantalized with foreshadowing and references, and Hayes managed to pull all the strings together beautifully for an epic, memorable conclusion. The first half of the book took its time setting the table, but the feast of an ending made it up for its relatively slower start.

Fans of grim fantasy with dark humor, high sorcery, epic battles and characters with singular voices will find a lot to love in The War Eternal series. Highly recommended.

Book Review: Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Cosmere

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic fantasy

Pages: 483 pages (Kindle)

Published: 1st January 2023 by Dragonsteel Books (Kickstarter) & 10th January 2023 by Tor Books (US Ebook)/Gollancz (UK Ebook)

Tress of the Emerald Sea was simply whimsical and wonderful. Starting the year 2023 with the first secret novel from The Year of Sanderson is the correct action for me.

“Even small actions have consequences. And while we can often choose our actions, we rarely get to choose our consequences.”

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Book Review: Lost in the Moment and Found (Wayward Children, #8) by Seanan McGuire

Book Review: Lost in the Moment and Found (Wayward Children, #8) by Seanan McGuire

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher, Tordotcom, in exchange for an honest review.

One of my personal holiday traditions has become reading the newest Wayward Children novella on or right after Christmas. Tordotcom has been kind enough to facilitate that tradition for the past 6 years by sending me a galley copy of each installment before its publication, usually in January. It’s always one of my most exciting pieces of book mail of the year. Some installments have been more successful (for me) than others, but this year’s release, Where the Drowned Girls Go, brought me back to the magic of the first book. There we were introduced to the dark sister school of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, but we also begin to see various storylines from previous novellas finally tying themselves together. Because of this, my hopes for this newest installment, Lost in the Moment and Found, were very high, and I was expecting even more of the series to come together.

Lost in the Moment and Found is nothing like I expected while still being everything I hoped it would be.

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Book Review: The Lonesome Crown (The Five Warrior Angels, #3) by Brian Lee Durfee

Book Review: The Lonesome Crown (The Five Warrior Angels, #3) by Brian Lee Durfee

Cover art illustrated by: Richard Anderson

The Lonesome Crown by Brian Lee Durfee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Five Warrior Angels (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Epic fantasy

Pages: 1088 pages (Paperback)

Published: 29th November 2022 by Saga Press

The Lonesome Crown is a massive fiery, brutal, and unpredictable concluding volume to The Five Warrior Angels trilogy.

“One must cease trying to control every little thing. Let the rivers of time flow, let the waters run where they may, for what destiny is yours shall remain the same and polished from the journey.—THE WAY AND TRUTH OF LAIJON”

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