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Book Review: Sons of Darkness (The Raag of Rta, #1) by Gourav Mohanty

Book Review: Sons of Darkness (The Raag of Rta, #1) by Gourav Mohanty

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

Cover art illustrated by: Micaela Alcaino

Sons of Darkness by Gourav Mohanty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Raag of Rta (Book #1)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Historical Fantasy

Pages: 668 pages (Paperback)

Published: 3rd June 2022 by Leadstart


Mahabharata imbued with A Song of Ice and Fire, The First Law, & Malazan Book of the Fallen, Sons of Darkness is the best fantasy debut of 2022.

‘Whenever men found it hard to justify success, they inevitably fell back on luck as the reason. And if the success was completely unimaginable to their feeble minds, they called it magic.’

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BOOK REVIEW: PRIEST OF CROWNS (WAR FOR THE ROSE THRONE, BOOK 4) BY PETER MCLEAN

BOOK REVIEW: PRIEST OF CROWNS (WAR FOR THE ROSE THRONE, BOOK 4) BY PETER MCLEAN

Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Political Fantasy
Pages: 481 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 4th August 2022, Jo Fletcher Books


For three books, Tomas Piety’s memoirs have tracked his evolution from soldier to priest to gangster to Queen’s Man. Priest of Crowns takes what you know and burns it all down into glorious wreckage, and it was a brilliant and unexpected journey that caught me flat-footed.

Be very wary of an old man in a young man’s game.

Tomas Piety is a meticulous man. He plays every move close to his chest, and his clever and careful actions have allowed him to ascend far up the ladders of both politics and crime. But living in the capital city of Dannsburg, it’s not just about ascension anymore, it’s about survival. As a Queen’s Man, rubbing elbows with those who turn the gears of government, one wrong move—hell, one wrong comment—and Piety will find himself swinging from the gallows come morning. Thus, one of the more interesting struggles that McLean writes for Piety is a deep insecurity about the amount of respect he gleans from his companions. He is compelled to be the boss, even from those he calls friends. He craves respect and is willing to sacrifice the bonds of friendship to fulfill his need to be the alpha, in all situations. Therefore, it was great fun seeing Tomas out of his comfort zone, facing enemies more powerful than himself, or dealing with allies who were unreliable and borderline insane.

Priest of Crowns is full of surprises and savage heartbreak. Tomas’ evolution from man to boogeyman is a brilliant journey to witness, ingeniously constructed over four books and blown apart in its final moments. It questions the nature of sacrifice, and it dares you to re-read the series from the start with new perspective on it all.

‘Sometimes you have to weigh two evils in your hands and choose the lighter one.’
‘I’m not sure I believe that,’ Anne said.

I’m going to miss one of my favorite narrative voices in fiction, though he got the ending he deserved. A screen adaptation of War for the Rose Throne could easily stand beside prestige dramas like Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders, and Better Caul Saul. McLean has crafted a remarkable story with a distinct voice on the state of modern politics, and a cast of colorful, vibrant characters that brought the story to life. Unputdownable.

Book Review: Always Never by Jordi Lafebre

Book Review: Always Never by Jordi Lafebre


Always Never by Jordi Lafebre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think reading this made my heart grow three sizes.

Always Never is one of the loveliest graphic novels, and most unique love stories, I’ve ever experienced. Spanish cartoonist Jordi Lafebre both wrote and illustrated this himself, and there’s a level of cohesion to the prose and the art that feels incredibly rare to me because of that. I was captured from the very beginning by both the art and the unique format.

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Book Review: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

Book Review: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl


The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The last time I remember reading and connecting with a musical memoir like this was with Hollywood Park, but Grohl’s story is immediately a happier read. I absolutely love his joie de vivre, his unapologetic enthusiasm for life. The Storyteller is a joyful, irreverent, triumphant look at a life lived hard and fast but well. And hearing it told in Grohl’s own voice added even more power to a rocking story. This is one of those books that demands to be heard, though I’m also thankful to have a physical copy that I was able to annotate and which provided some wonderful photos of his life to complement the stories.

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Book Review: The Golden Age (Locke & Key #6.5) by Joe Hill

Book Review: The Golden Age (Locke & Key #6.5) by Joe Hill


Locke & Key: The Golden Age by Joe Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read the original 6 volumes of Locke & Key, I fell head-over-heels in love with every element of it: the story, the art, the characters, the concepts, the setting, all of it completely enchanted me. I consider it one of my favorite series of all time, and definitely my favorite series of graphic novels I’ve ever read. Every single volume was a 5 star experience. I wouldn’t have changed a single sentence or frame. It’s one of those rare instances where the art and the prose carry equal weight in the story, and something about Rodriguez’s art style stole my heart as surely as Hill’s writing did. I loved every single thing about it.

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Book Review: The Jade Setter of Janloon (The Green Bone Saga, #0.5) by Fonda Lee

Book Review: The Jade Setter of Janloon (The Green Bone Saga, #0.5) by Fonda Lee

ARC was provided by the publisher—Subterranean Press—in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by: Charis Loke

The Jade Setter of Janloon by Fonda Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Green Bone Saga (Book #0.5 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 144 pages (Hardback edition)

Published: 30th April 2022 by Subterranean Press


The Jade Setter of Janloon is an exhilarating and heartfelt appetizer or dessert to The Green Bone Saga, depending on when you start this novella.

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Book review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Book review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) by Brandon Sanderson


The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.”

The Hero of Ages is exactly as epic a conclusion as I remembered. I feared that knowing all of the big twists and reveals might lead to it not being as powerful upon rereading as it was when I experienced it the first time, but those concerns were unwarranted. My anticipation of said reveals made for a reading journey that was just as fulfilling as my first read-through. Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy isn’t quite a perfect series, but it’s very, very close. With fantastic world building, high stakes and palpable tension, mysteries to be solved and a whole plethora of wonderful characters to root for, philosophical musings on belief and hope balanced with brilliant action scenes and some of the most cinematic and interesting magic systems I’ve ever encountered, I don’t think it’s at all a stretch to call Mistborn a masterpiece.

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Book Review: Locklands (The Founders Trilogy, #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Book Review: Locklands (The Founders Trilogy, #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

ARC was provided by the publisher—Del Rey—in exchange for an honest review.

Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Founders Trilogy (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Urban High Fantasy, Science Fiction

Pages: 560 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 28th June 2022 by Del Rey (US) & Jo Fletcher (UK)


Locklands is a truly inventive, emotional, genre-blending, and reality-defying finish to The Founders Trilogy.

“We’re all the result of countless actions and choices made throughout the centuries, and the odds of those actions and choices going the exact same way again are basically nil.”

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Petrik’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (1st January-27th June 2022)

Petrik’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (1st January-27th June 2022)

 

Click here if you want to see the list of all the books I’ve read so far this year: Petrik’s Year in Books (2022)

Between 1st January 2021 and 27th June 2022, I’ve read 39 novels + 55 manga/manhwa volumes (31k pages).

Please read this first. There will be three rules I set in this list in order for me to give appreciation to more authors rather than having only a few authors hoarding this list. These rules allow me to highlight more authors, and at the same time, I’ll also be able to include both new and older books (many of them still need attention) that I read within this year.

  • Rereads aren’t included.
  • One book per author.
  • The books listed here are not all exclusively published this year; the list consists of the top books I read for the first time within this year. Non-2022 published books on this list will have their first date of publication included.

Do note that although there’s a rank to this list, I HIGHLY recommend every book/series listed below because I loved all of them immensely, and they received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me. Without further ado, here are the top 10 books I’ve read this year so far! (All full reviews of the books listed can be found on Novel Notions and my Goodreads page.)

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Book Review: The Exile (The Bound and The Broken, #2.5) by Ryan Cahill

Book Review: The Exile (The Bound and The Broken, #2.5) by Ryan Cahill

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

Cover art by: Books Covered

The Exile by Ryan Cahill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Bound and the Broken (Book #2.5 of 4 or 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 184 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 19th May 2022 by Ryan Cahill (Self-published)


Incredibly action-packed, engaging, and surprisingly emotional, The Exile is hands down the best installment in The Bound and The Broken series so far.

“War is no different to peace. It is simply more honest. Do not hesitate, do not contemplate mercy. Remember everything I have taught you.”

I know that sounds crazy, especially considering how relatively small The Exile is compared to the main novels. But I have to give my praises to Cahill on this. He’s one of the few fantasy authors I know who can pull off not writing not only big-sized novels but novellas as well. Technically, at almost 200 pages long, The Exile can be considered a short novel. But regardless, I stand by my point. The Exile is an impressive novella about Dayne, my favorite character in the series that appeared for the first time in Of Darkness and Light, and he immediately left an impact on me. In a way, it’s even more impressive that Cahill could pack this much content and emotions as efficiently and effectively into a novella. After reading Of Darkness and Light, I wanted more of Dayne, and I certainly got what I wanted here. This isn’t me saying I don’t want more of him, though. If The Exile became a novel, I won’t complain. But for now, I’m content with this until Of War and Ruin is released.

“We will always want for time, Dayne. That is the human way.”

The story in The Exile revolves around Dayne’s vengeance against those responsible for taking everything from him. His family, his home, his people. The Lorian Empire took them from him, and Dayne is determined to carve a bloody path through Epheria to kill the perpetrators. By blade and by blood. In Of Darkness and Light, the beginning of Dayne’s story revolves around him coming home to Valtara after being away for twelve years. In that novel, we never know the details of what happened to him. The Exile tells the main points of Dayne’s exploits and journey in these twelve years. And yes, twelve years is a long time. It was never possible for the narrative to tell all of Dayne’s past in one novella or even one novel. I mean, his story could’ve easily worked as a trilogy! And I will not complain about it if that end up happening. However, I think Cahill did a great job telling the main points of his exploits by dividing the novella into four parts with different timelines.

“He had not found peace in a single death, not even the slightest of joys. Though any man who took joy in killing was a man worth killing.”

Dayne instantly became my favorite character in the series despite his relatively brief appearances in Of Darkness and Light. Obviously, it’s easy to say that it goes without question that Dayne was the highlight of the novella for me. Seeing the tragedy that visited him changed him dramatically has made me care for him even more. And yet, he still tries his best to stay true to his ideal of justice and virtue. Kindness for the innocents and his loved ones, no mercy for his enemies. But although this novella kinda works as an origin story for Dayne, it will be a mistake to think that you can just jump into The Exile without reading the other books in the series first. As the author mentioned, this is a companion novella, and it will be hugely beneficial for you to read the other two novels and one novella first before reading it. This is to get you interested in Dayne first, and more importantly, important supporting characters from the main series appear in The Exile. If you haven’t read the other books first, I think their appearance here will lose their impact.

“Part of me did die that day. Unfortunately for you, it was the kinder part.”

Cahill is an author that keeps getting better with each book. And one of the ways he exhibited this is through how fast he hooks his readers into being attached to a new character. It’s true that Cahill’s action scenes improved significantly from the time of The Fall and Of Blood and Fire. His action scenes felt vivid, brutal, and fast-paced. He’s not there yet, but at the fast rate he’s improving his craft, he might even reach John Gwynne’s and Joe Abercrombie’s level. But personally, it’s worth noting that great combat scenes lack substance if an author fails to make their readers care about the characters, especially the ones involved in the combat, first. And this, similar to what occurred to Dayne in Of Darkness and Light, is what I experienced again in The Exile for the new character named Belina.

“What idiot isn’t afraid of the dark? Did you not hear me? Nothing good happens after dark. You’re a storyteller. You, of all people, should know this. Tell me one happy story that takes place on a mountainside at night in an abandoned fortress.”

The passage above is spoken by Belina, and I won’t even be surprised if fans of the series think of her as their favorite character. Belina is a riot; not only hilarious but having her in the novella gave Dayne’s story opportunities for more emotional displays other than wrath, rage, and killings. Plus, I genuinely think Dayne and Belina have one of the best friendships I have ever read in a fantasy novel. This kind of thing is what made this revenge-centered novella even more powerful. The themes of family, justice, grief, love, and friendship drove the narrative. They act as the oil that powers the vehicle of Dayne’s vengeance. Similar to Abercrombie’s famous “You can never have too many knives.” Belina told Dayne that you can never have too many blades. But we’re also accompanied by beautiful passages about love and grief. For example, this lovely quote about love reminded me of the famous quote from The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. You will know what it is if you have read The Wise Man’s Fear.

“Love, my son, cannot be quantified by how and why. It is the intangible tether that connects your heart to others. It holds no conditions or rules, for if it did, it would not be love, but simply convenience. It is not found in the ‘because’, it is found in the ‘and yet’. Your father is strong, compassionate, and understanding, but it is not because of those things that I love him. Rather, they are why I admire him. He is also foolhardy, pig-headed, and he always says the wrong things. And yet, I love him anyway.”

As a novella, The Exile is easily one of the best fantasy novellas published. With this, I am finally caught up with all of Cahill’s published works, and I can safely say Cahill is on his way toward becoming one of my favorite authors. On top of telling a heartfelt and epic story in the series so far, he has laid a lot of groundwork for an epic convergence in the third main novel of the series, Of War and Ruin, and I am seriously excited to find out how he will execute it. If he succeeds in transforming Of War and Ruin into a book that top Of Darkness and Light and The Exile, then you will see me praising him as one of my favorite authors. Honestly, though… it’s only a matter of time until that day transpired. If you have not read The Bound and The Broken series, get to it ASAP! By the time I have access to the ARC of the next book, I will be reading it immediately.

“It is never weak to grieve for the ones you love… To hide your tears is to do them a disservice. They have earned your love. Let them have it.”


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