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Book Review: Esrahaddon (The Rise and Fall, #3) by Michael J. Sullivan

Book Review: Esrahaddon (The Rise and Fall, #3) by Michael J. Sullivan

Read an early copy of the ebook as a Kickstarter backer

Artwork by Marc Simonetti

Esrahaddon by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Rise and Fall (Book 3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy, classic fantasy

Publication date: 15th August 2023 (ebook) and 5th December 2023 (hardcover) by Riyria Enterprises, LLC.


Esrahaddon was the stunning final piece in the puzzle that masterfully connected all the stories that had been told in the world of Elan.

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Book Review: Mother of Learning ARC 3 by nobody103 or Domagoj Kurmaic

Book Review: Mother of Learning ARC 3 by nobody103 or Domagoj Kurmaic

Cover art by: Mansik Yang

Mother of Learning: ARC 3 by Domagoj Kurmaić

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Mother of Learning (Book #3 of 4)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Web novel

Pages: 743 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 6th September 2022 by Wraithmarked Creative (Indie)


Mother of Learning has been one heck of an entertaining ride, and the beginning of the end is here.

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Book Review: Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3) by Pierce Brown

Book Review: Morning Star (Red Rising Saga, #3) by Pierce Brown

This review is a copy of the transcript of my video review on Morning Star and Red Rising Trilogy.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Red Rising Saga (Book #3 of 7)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Classic Fantasy

Pages: 518 pages (Paperback Edition)

Word Count: 173,000 words

Published: 9th February 2016 by Del Rey (US) & 11th February 2016 by Hodder (UK)


Morning Star is an absolutely prime conclusion to the first trilogy in Red Rising Saga, my favorite sci-fi series of all time to date.

“If this is the end, I will rage toward it.”

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Book Review: Witch King by Martha Wells

Book Review: Witch King by Martha Wells


Witch King by Martha Wells
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

As soon as it was announced, Witch King immediately intrigued me. I loved the title and the cover and the premise, and while I’ve never read anything from Martha Wells, her Murderbot Diaries series is highly loved and lauded by those I trust. I’m much more of a fantasy reader than a sci-fi reader, so when I saw that she was writing a fantasy, I knew that I wanted to read it as soon as possible. And I’m happy to report that, in spite of those sky-high expectations, I was not disappointed. Witch King is a high-octave quest through a very original world littered with compelling characters, captivating locales, and some deeply disturbing magic and monsters. But, at its core, it is the ultimate story of found family, one of the best I’ve ever read.

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Book Review: The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #1) by Tad Williams

Book Review: The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #1) by Tad Williams

This review is a copy of the transcript of my video review on The Dragonbone Chair.

Cover art illustrated by Donato Giancola

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (Book #1 of 3), The Osten Ard Saga (Book #1 of 7)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Classic Fantasy

Pages: 703 pages (Hardcover edition)

Word Count: 288,700 words

Published: 25th October 1988 by DAW Books


Incredible. The Dragonbone Chair is an absolutely brilliant transition from classic to modern epic fantasy.

“When you stopped to think about it, he reflected, there weren’t many things in life one truly needed. To want too much was worse than greed: it was stupidity—a waste of precious time and effort.”

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BOOK REVIEW: ETHERA GRAVE (THE GRAVEN, #3) BY ESSA HANSEN

BOOK REVIEW: ETHERA GRAVE (THE GRAVEN, #3) BY ESSA HANSEN

Ethera Grave (The Graven, #3) by Essa Hansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 560 pages (paperback)
Published: 18th July 2023, Orbit


“Overhead, the Cartographer and passager fleet streaked the sky. On the opposite horizon, the encroaching rind flux hit the exosphere. Arcs of simmering luminosity coiled across the view. The salthuin entreated their heavens, billowing diaphonus bodies in synchrony, oceanic and serene.”

Ethera Grave is a wildly imaginative and thought-provoking conclusion to the unforgettable Graven trilogy. I pored over its prose, chewed on its theories and conflicts, and allowed myself to walk in the shoes of all its main characters. It is a richly-drawn story that I connected with, hard. Hansen has an incredible talent for drawing the reader into her unique and colorful multiverse, populated with ideas that stretch the mind while still reflecting on our current society’s cultural values. It raises philosophical debates while addressing identity, responsibility, and influence, and above all, is an incredibly fun read. Every time I started a new chapter, I never knew what to expect, and it kept surprising me over and over again.

This story focuses on the pros and cons of choice versus unity on an immeasurable scale. But one of the themes that particularly stood out was how refreshing it was to have platonic love and found family as the strongest and most visible relationships in the story. While Ethera Grave contains more romance than the first two books combined, it doesn’t lose focus on the most powerful bonds forged within its wide cast of characters. I felt most connected to the tender moments shared between characters that weren’t overtly sexual in nature.

Character development is one of the book’s strongest assets. Every supporting character has their own distinct journey, but for the purposes of this review, I’ll focus on four major viewpoints.

Abriss is creating a utopia by collapsing universes into her own, but doesn’t seem to mind that you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette. Unfortunately, these cracked eggs are acts of genocide, as entire civilizations and histories are wiped out if they cannot adjust to their new universal physics. Abriss has been steadily influenced by a Graven consciousness for entire life, so it is difficult for her to determine where her motivations stem from, nor how to control them.

Leta is uncomfortable in her own skin. Although her consciousness has drifted from body to construct, she has never quite felt like she belongs in any of the forms she’s been tied to, either in her service to Abriss, or her human origins. She longs for peace in her physical and mental space, but sacrifices so much of what she wants to help her companions when she can. She sacrifices love and a chance at happiness due to her deep empathy with those she is close to. Her arc is heartbreaking and hopeful, and is one of my favorite characters of the trilogy.

Threi is obsessed with control. For most of his life, he has much of the multiverse under his thumb due to his innate Graven abilities. Although that has affected the way he builds organic relationships with his peers, he takes advantage of his role and tries to build practical solutions to some of the universe’s biggest problems. But his sister Abriss is even more powerful, and stopping her plan of unifying the multiverse becomes his new obsession. Seeing how he deals with the ever-changing scope of his campaign, especially with loved ones at stake, is new territory for Threi. How does he react when he’s not the most powerful Graven-fueled human in the room? It’s time for Threi to assess what’s truly important, and what must be sacrificed along the way.

Caiden has come a long way since his days as a mechanic, but some things never change: he is a born fixer, and is willing to put aside his own needs and desires to achieve results. Caiden’s whole life has been about serving the greater good. Will there ever be a moment when he can focus on living his own life, on his own terms? Can he ever escape the clutches of his Graven influence? Is there a line he wouldn’t cross to stop Unity, to preserve a part of himself?

Beautiful, descriptive, and imaginative prose flows out of every page. It’s hard to choose which passages to share, since I highlighted so many, but here are a few of my favorites:

“The rind membrane splintered, and Unity paved into the other universe in a vicious front of conversion. Space expanded, allowing light to break its limits. Mathematics rioted. Music tangled into dissonance as it transposed into Unity, restringing space to play new chords.”

“Leta was too exhausted to carry hope. The shape of it had carved into her over all this time. One day it’d cut right through.”

“The chalarii was sensitive to the group’s scent information. He towered over the gathering but was viciously thin, body gelatinous and water-drop smooth over transparent, spongy bones. An oily sheen that migrated across him betrayed his irritations.”

“Pressure rolled in the air like thunder slowed. Electricity effervesced through the orrery as Ethera poured into physical space. The projected stars bent and rays crumpled, space bulged and contracted, huge folds of unnameable mass: coils and waves and scales and arms and roots. The light of heavens slicked over strange curves, helping define the Graven for her mortal vision.”

The Graven trilogy is one of the very best trilogies I’ve read — science-fiction, or otherwise. It is packed with emotion, discovery, allegory, and speaks volumes about our current cultural climate. Plus, it’s just so darn cool. It was a joy to read and I cannot recommend this series enough.

Book Review: Nolyn (The Rise and Fall, #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

Book Review: Nolyn (The Rise and Fall, #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

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

Cover art illustrated by Marc Simonetti

Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Rise and Fall (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 480 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 3rd August 2021 by Grim Oak Press (Self-published)


Nolyn was an engaging military fantasy and murder mystery novel in the world of Elan. But this is not designed for newcomers to the world of Elan.

“An empty house is a lonely place, an oversized coffin with furniture and windows.”

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THE NAVIGATING FOX BY CHRISTOPHER ROWE

THE NAVIGATING FOX BY CHRISTOPHER ROWE

The Navigating Fox by Christopher Rowe
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fable, Fantasy
Pages: 160 pages (print)
Published: 26th September 2023, Tordotcom


The Navigating Fox was a joy to read. Each page is packed with well-developed world-building, compelling characters, humor, and mystery. I found it remarkable that so much excitement was packed into a one-session novella, and I hope to see many more stories set in this world.

The setting leans on Roman history for its naming conventions and overall aesthetic. In this world, the animals are divided into two categories. The gifted animals are “knowledgeable,” self-aware and able to communicate with spoken language. They have been bestowed the gift of high intelligence. The rest of the non-knowledgeable animals are referred to as “voiceless,” and they consist of traditional animal intelligence. What makes some animals knowledgeable? This is but one of many interesting questions raised during this story.

Quintus, our narrator, is a fox – and he’s the only knowledgeable fox in the world. He is a navigator, and helps expeditions travel and explore using hidden paths. We join Quintus after he returns from a first, tragic journey. But he is soon pressed into duty for a second expedition, with a terrifying goal. The story alternates chapters between past (first expedition) and present (second expedition), while Quintus aims to discover important secrets about his past along the way.

There is a wonderful set of characters in the story, and I quickly grew attached to several of them. Rowe injects lifelike personality into both his human and animal characters, while addressing issues of morality and purpose.

There’s so much going on in this highly entertaining world that I would be shocked if there aren’t more novellas planned in this setting. The Navigating Fox is a rich and colorful story, with fun characters and intriguing plot lines, and I am already hungry for the follow-up.

Book Review: The Severing Son (The Sundered Nation, #1) by Vaughn Roycroft

Book Review: The Severing Son (The Sundered Nation, #1) by Vaughn Roycroft

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

Book cover

Cover art by John Anthony di Giovanni

The Severing Son by Vaughn Roycroft

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Sundered Nation (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy

Pages: 538 pages (Paperback edition)

Published: 18th October 2022 by Avalon Cottage Publishing (Self-published)


The Severing Son is a fast-paced modern fantasy debut with great actions and nodes to classic fantasy tropes.

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Book Review: The Bone Shard War (The Drowning Empire, #3) by Andrea Stewart

Book Review: The Bone Shard War (The Drowning Empire, #3) by Andrea Stewart

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

Cover art by Sasha Vinogradova

Cover design by Lauren Panepinto

The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Drowning Empire (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 624 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 20th April 2023 by Orbit Books


In the words of Mephi, The Bone Shard War was a very good and satisfying conclusion.

“Popularity doesn’t make a thing less valid. On the contrary, I’d argue that the book is popular because the proverbs ring true to so many.”

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