Ghostwater by Will Wight (Book #5 Cradle Series)

To see book 4 Skysworn go here.

Ghostwater by Will Wight is #5 in the Cradle series. If you’re here I’m sure you’ve already become vested in this universe.  Sorry it took so long to get this out. Let’s get into it. So, once again I feel like each book is going to be my new favorite. The interesting thing about this one though compared to the past ones is Lindon pretty much is in a brand-new pocket world (Ghostwater) inside the world we already know. It’s quite brilliant in finding a way to create new lands, creatures, and adventure without having to find a way to whisk the characters off to new geographic locations. It’s a fun way to flex your creativity and level up the characters to do better in the situation they’re still in. I always love new lands or in this case pocket dimensions to explore. 

This book is where I am 100% in on the character of Lindon. I mean I’ve been liking him more with each book; I just feel he made broad strides in this one. He and Orthos are essentially trapped in this pocket world as the weaker of the people there. No one to bail him out. They draw the ire of Ekerinatoth, a gold dragon, on the path of the Flowing Flame. There are also some crazy swarms of giant fish too. Sounds kind of delicious. Ok, so Lindon and Orthos have to find a way to survive as they look to get out of this mess. Having sealed themselves in in some underground bunker they explore to find…pretty much someone has looted the area already. Though interestingly Lindon finds a memory construct chilling in some high-grade mental elixirs. It seems to have given the construct a consciousness. It knows everything about Ghostwater. Sweet deal. This construct ends up with the name Dross helps form a plan for our duo…or trio now I suppose…no foursome because we have little blue too! Lindon doesn’t just get out of it, but he kills her which has repercussions. Unfortunately, she lives long enough to get back to her people, so they know she was killed and by what kind of path. BLACKFLAME.

This leads to chaos for Yerin and Mercy. Oh, side note, I really enjoy those two hanging out together, fun dynamic. Anyways they try to get to Lindon by pissing off the Skysworn and some angry dragons. Lindon kicked the proverbial dragon nest..roost? Yerin has to hide a lot which makes her quite unhappy. Yerin and Mercy get beaten down pretty badly. They too have to find a way to deal with their situation. I don’t have much to say about them in this, but they are fun.

This very much felt like a Lindon adventure though. There are a lot of cool and also deadly things left behind by the Monarch who built Ghostwater. Lindon comes across many valuable elixirs, meat, books, and overall knowledge. Leveling Up, Scott Pilgrim has nothing on you. We also meet Emo warrior Ziel of the Wasteland. Seemingly bored with life he doesn’t mind lending his oversized Warhammer to help out the weaker. Ziel manages to help not only Lindon in Ghostwater, but helps save Yerin and Mercy on the outside. Cheer up bud, the world needs you. 

After Ziel is gone we of course have the arrogant Akura Harmony who comes along to steal Dross from Lindon. This was not very nice. Lindon and Orthos go after him even though Harmony is part of a Monarch faction and was the most powerful person in the pocket world in the beginning of this book. Lindon, Orthos, and Dross manage to beat him with a mix of power, quick thinking, and strategy. Lindon offers to take Harmony out of Ghostwater before it collapses. Harmony instead threatens retaliation and revenge. What can you do? Lindon leaves him behind with Orthos breaking off his chance of escape. SAVAGE. Harmony seems to be trapped when the pocket world collapses. Gone forever? Who knows? This will have repercussions in Lindon’s relationship with the mighty Akura family. Oh, Harmony was also Mercy’s ex-fiancé. AWKWARD. Lindon is great at making enemies. Excellent skill to have my man. It certainly makes things more entertaining for us readers. 

Lindon reconnects with Yerin and Mercy. Yerin and Lindon seem to be connecting more especially now that Lindon is closing in on becoming her equal. Hmmm. Will their arc lead to more than best friends? Stay tuned you Cradle lovers. Wait, that sounds weird. Cradle Fans!!!


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is how you do a standalone fantasy novel! Well, I may have just spoiled this review. It’s going to be a good one to say the least. This was just a beautiful story all around. If you want a fantasy novel to break from trilogies (or longer) than I highly recommend this book. Let’s get into why though. 

It’s hard to put into words how Samantha Shannon snuck up on me in this story. In the beginning, I would say the first 10 chapters, I was kind of curious as to why people love this book. We are thrown into an interesting world and unknown characters. I was like yah okay Dragons are cool there’s west and east of the world who have the same enemy, but different beliefs on the wider world in some kind of cold war. Reel me in Shannon what ya go….oh…oh that is what you got…oh yah….that’s the spot….so what happened you ask?

I got to know the characters more. I got to learn more about the lore of this world’s beliefs. That’s right, give me fascinating characters and lore! Oh, wait did I mention we have representation here? Like people are bi-sexual, gay, lesbian, and we have us straights here though let’s be honest, we are a bit more boring at times. Did I also mention there’s this weird thing that skin color can vary because of that big star in the sky? It’s crazy how humans can be different, but come together for a compelling story, right?

Though what drives humans apart in this world are beliefs of 1000 years ago around Dragons, a Knight or Liar, and a Mother or Damsel depending on who you ask. You have the West Ruled by Virtuedom believer in a Knight who became their Saint and his Queen the Damsel. They despise all dragonkind. Ever since then they have been a Queendom and every Queen only has daughters, yes ONLY GIRLS ALLOWED. As long as the bloodline continues, they believe the Nameless One will stay locked away.

Then you have the East. Who worship water dragons They ride them into battle & consult with them on politics. They despise only fire dragons and the nameless one. They do fear the west as the home of the ilk of fire dragons that can pass on a plague to humans. They have a strict code around dragons and are at war with pirates who like to kill and harvest dragon parts. 

Think that was all? No then you have the Mages of the Priory of the Orange Tree in the South. They believe the Saint of Virtuedom is a liar and fake. His Damsel he claims married him actually spurned him. Instead, she became the Mother of the Priory after she sealed the Nameless one away. The Saint claims he defeated the Nameless one. The Priory teaches he actually ran from the Nameless One and the Mother picked up his magical sword to defeat him instead. So then who did he marry to have a child with? Who is Sabran’s female ancestor? Where is this magical sword? What really happened 1000 years ago?

The mystery of why all these beliefs differ especially in the West and South is one of the main draws of this book. It gives a great look into how history, religion, and beliefs can be altered by lies of the powerful and stories handed down. There is manipulation, shame, ego, etc. Is the truth worth destroying stability? People will believe what gives them hope and purpose. The belief is not the only part, but how it is used. Onto characters!

First up is my favorite PoV Ead Duryan as her public name, but Eadaz uq-Nāra is her real name. She is a mage from the Priory of the Orange Tree sent to Virtuedom in order to join the court of its current ruler Queen Sabran IX.  Eadaz mission is to protect her juuust in case her line really does keep the Nameless one at bay. Eadaz may be a mage, but these mages are also extremely skilled warriors and dragon slayers. Eadaz is quite an amazing figure throughout this story. She goes through a wild transformation and discovery about who she is and what she wants. Oh yah mages are feared in Virtuedom too, I’m sure this will not be an issue. 

Next we have Tané who is training in the east to hopefully be a Dragon Rider or if deemed unfit for that role will become a Scholar. Early on she breaks the rules and it causes a huge domino effect not just in her life, but another interesting PoV Niclays Roos who was banished from the west and in a controlled settlement in the east. These two interact with a character I found super annoying in the beginning chapters. I was so grateful he was not a PoV character. I think he was one of the reasons the book started slow. Luckily, he wasn’t as dominating a figure as I thought he’d be. Tané is a skilled warrior. No, I mean do not mess with her at all, you will die. The sad part though is she is way too hard on herself. My heart aches for her at times because I believe she is doing her best and when things go wrong, she deeply feels she deserves it. Her arc is tough to go through, but pays off. 

Niclays Roos I feel pity for at times and other times he angers me. This makes him a great character. His motives always make sense and can go from aggravating to interesting. I’m never 100% sure on what his decisions will be. Then our last main PoV we have Arteloth ‘Loth’ Beck. Now this man that gets around to different parts of the world. While he comes from Virtuedom and is Queen Sabran’s best friend, the man gives us some fascinating adventures and constantly has to deal with his beliefs and assumptions being shattered. 

The relationships and character dynamics in this story are so well done. They flow so realistically. I believe it can all happen this way in real life and is not just written that way because the story needs it. Then we have the magic system, which is so unique, at least to me. I don’t want to give much away because if I say too much then you wont get to explore it and interpret it yourself. It is simplistic, but not at the same time. There so much we learn about its place in this world as the story unfolds. 

This is of course a standalone novel so there will be jumps in time a bit. It leaves some imagination to fill in how things transpired as they go. It’s not a huge time jump, but you will not be with them traveling long from point A to B. There will be moments between characters that keep moving along off page, but it’s all set up to make each time make sense.It is not complicated at all to follow.

I think the weakest part of this is not getting a feel for the size of the world. The land masses or overall scenery. This is a book I wish I had a map on hand to figure out exactly how everything looked and where places are. It’s not a big thing. You know the important places for lore and story sake. I just always like a bit more of an idea of what the landmasses and kingdoms look like on a grander scale. 

Overall I love this story and I hope Samantha Shannon writes more stories in this world at a future time. The ending is pretty final, but I’m sure an intelligent author can have more going on in this world. I mean humans and dragons still exist so it’s not like there will not be conflict in the future. I know many people have this on their list. Well get to it already! It has dragons, magic, romance, fight scenes, warriors, intrigue, mystery, and Lore. This story has heart. What are you waiting for Slackers!


The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime

Hello my Wheel of Time fans and curious non-readers. Here is my Non-spoiler review of Amazon’s adaptation Season 1; episode 1-3. Go here if you want to see my last post about things to know before the show. This will be me as a die-hard fan judging the show itself. I will probably follow up after I have seen the whole season as well. What do I think so far??? The short answer is that it’s very good. I never rate books, but for a show, sure….I will at the end.

The best thing about the show so far is that it’s BIG F-Fantasy. They do not try to hide the fact magic is prominent and used in this world. I will also say the magic looks very good. I honestly cannot put into words how I pictured it would look from the books, but it works. The One Power are weaves and the spells are being weaved. The only thing that may confuse those that never read the book is how there are different flows of magic using different elements: Earth, Spirit, Water, Air, and Fire. It is hard to tell exactly how it works being that the weaves are the same color. I have seen a lot of new people think it is Light magic because Moiraine calls on the Light for help. Hopefully that gets ironed out in future episodes. 

The characters are aged up compared to the books so they are a bit more mature. Their lives have also advanced some that do make sense in this adaptation that wouldn’t be in the books at their slightly younger ages. I do not agree with how some of these are setup , but not against them either. It will depend on how it all plays out; I do have ideas of how it can work for the better depending on how it is all developed. With that in mind I can tell who all the characters are. For non-readers you would have no way of knowing. So far the characters are quite interesting. I love Moiraine, played by Rosamund Pike, she is amazing; perfect in how she displays the character. Nynaeve and Tam are great too. The rest are doing a good job and I cannot wait to see how Mat is developed this season. I am sad Barney is leaving after season1 because so far he’s owning Mat. Either way I adore the cast as they are playing them so far. My nitpick is the writers are not using “in world” curses or lingo. It seems they will modernize the language more which I will probably learn to get used to.

The Dark One’s creatures so far are great. The Trollocs or mutated beast-men look amazing. Sometimes the CGI aspects stutter a bit in terms of quality, but for a TV show they look very good overall. The practical effects are amazing. The Eyeless Ones or Fades as they have called them a lot in the show are scary. Though we haven’t seen them fight yet; that will be something to see I hope. I have to give props when there’s magic flying around with beast men, and humans fighting it has moments where I’m like oh man they are overdoing it with how much the SFX team can handle, but then it evens out and flows well. Props for managing all that. I think the only thing that looked odd was the dark figure in their dreams. I know who it is, but non-readers do not. I will say it looks a bit like they were not sure where to go with it and didn’t iron out the details. Not too important since he appears in dreams. I have heard new watchers call it the alien thing though.

The flow of the show is fine. There are things added in that take up time that wasn’t part of the books. I have to see how they play out before I judge though. Sometimes I feel like we need to spend more time with characters than we get to, but overall I think it can be okay if the pacing is managed well between all the main characters as they grow. The biggest issue I’m hearing is that non-readers are getting a bit lost in the lore and world. The main plot seems to be understood, but the whys and hows people are struggling with. I can see that easily. I will say Game of Thrones lost people for a bit too so not worried currently. Though this series has way more to teach us and for people to digest. It worries me that people may get frustrated and quit too early. Amazon does have lore mini videos people may not know about that can help too. Check those out.

The cinematography has been anywhere from good to amazing. The sound/music is perfect. The writing is good and interactions flow pretty naturally especially when Moiraine is involved. Rosamund is just brilliant with every word, movement, and action she does. In terms of my nitpicks about the show vs. books that will not be here. I will say as a fantasy show so far it’s a 8/10 for me at this point. I cannot wait for the next episodes already. Cast is great. Special effects team is being pushed hard. Costume designs are working for a fantasy setting without a solid point of reference in our world. I also have to give a nod to the showrunners who are trying to tackle this gigantic piece of source material with a TV show, ambitious. They still have much to prove especially with pacing and character development; they can win me all the way over though.

Also…I feel I need to address that the show is being review bombed by book purists who do not understand adaptation. There is also some misogyny & racism involved that we still have to deal with in today’s world too. Judge for yourself as I do not pay much attention to reviews because of issues like this as shows become less male and Caucasian dominant. However; that actually makes sense in this world. It isn’t “woke” casting or story changes. As a big fan of the books, women are the powerful mages and skin color isn’t really a part of the series except with a few people. Though no I am not saying if you do not like it then you are like these people. Not everything is for everyone. I know many who loved Shadow and Bone, but I started it months ago and still have not finished it…I will… I promise. If it doesn’t click for you; thanks for giving it a try. As for book purists, the only way a play by play of this series could ever work is a very long and expensive anime series. You could also just re-read the books which have flaws in them too that I hope get ironed out in the show actually. Regardless, go watch it and tell me what you think. I will did a spoiler review (of episodes 1-4) on my own blog and that is linked here.


The Wheel of Time for Non-Book Readers

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan aka James Oliver Rigney Jr. and finished by Brandon Sanderson is a 14 book series with one prequel. Book one the Eye of the World was published in 1990. In my opinion it is a remarkable epic that helps connect classical fantasy with more modern fantasy. Even with its flaws it’s my favorite series of all time. 

Though the point of this is not to convince you to undertake the reading of this series, but to prepare you for Amazon’s adaptation of it into a television series. The show is created by Rafe Judkins starring THE Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred. We will get more into Moiraine in a bit. This will be non-spoilery. If you are interested in videos maybe checkout Unraveling the Pattern chock full of information and non-spoiler content.

  1. The first rule of Wheel of Time for new fans is Google is not your friend!!! The Wheel of Time is an epic series spanning since 1990. There are websites and articles all over the internet. Social media is full of groups and people who talk about it endlessly, including my own Twitter account! If you wish to go into the show fresh, stay away from looking too far into it. Every major event, death, and character development is heavily spoiled everywhere on the internet. This is not a series where you want spoilers ahead of time; there’s just too many great threads and moments. I am sure the TV series will change things, but don’t count on them changing the big events. 
  1. This series is not Medieval fantasy. It’s not a European based Fantasy setting. This series blends in cultures, religions, races, and beliefs from all over our known world. Do not go into this expecting white armored Knights and baby making Ladies in distress. Women known as Aes Sedai are big players in guiding the world as well as women circles. In this time men magic users are feared and blamed for devastation in the past. Women have a much stronger role than in our history. This world is such a blend of what our world has been throughout history the best I can say is that Robert Jordan himself described it as late 17th century. Though some argue it can be considered post-apocalyptic and even science fiction. I would say it’s a bit more complicated, but A good way to help expectations going into this is Robert Jordan’s take on his own work.
  1. Time is not linear in this universe. Time is what the series describes as a wheel or cyclical. Everything is happening in the past and the future for someone. Certain events start and end ages which have already happened, but yet will come again. This can include “souls” of people, you can be reborn again. Many heroes through the ages are actually the same people it’s just that they nor anyone else knows it when they are alive. 
  1. The Wheel of Time is adult high fantasy. It is not YA. There will be death, violence, nudity, and mental illness. It’s not grimdark as Game of Thrones, but it’s darker than Lord of the Rings. The story dynamics are complex, much beyond that of Harry Potter or Shadow and Bone respectfully. I would say it is in the same vein as The Witcher in terms of what to expect for mature themes. That’s not a great comparison, but in terms of TV viewing I think it is the closest. As Fantasy starts blooming more into the mainstream hopefully we get more apt comparisons in the future. 
  1. Moiraine is the main front and center character in the TV series at least according to the promo, but in the books that is not the case. She is more like the guide to the main PoVs in the book. However, in my opinion this is perfect. Not only is she my favorite character, but for people who never read the books she will be the perfect character to help build this world so no one gets lost on what is happening. Starting off with a farmboy in a small village is great for books, but if you want to engage TV audiences you need a worldly person to guide viewers and the small village characters into the wider world. The lore, magic, politics, and factions are quite large and complex. Moiraine is the best to start the series with. 
  1. The magic system is based on the True Source or the One Power thought to come from the Creator. Women channel Saidar and men Saidin. Unfortunately for men their magic has been tainted by the Dark One. Men who learn they can channel will essentially be feared and hunted because eventually using the magic will cause them to go insane. This is why women who use magic are so prominent and powerful. They can use their power freely without negative side effects. Of course, in any human run world there will be people, especially men, who create beliefs that make Aes Sedai out to be evil and in need of being cleansed as well. Robert Jordan is great at understanding the intricacies of human psychology of groups in my opinion. 
  1. The characters have been aged up in the series. I actually agree with this because that way it won’t be confused as being Young Adult fantasy and the darker themes may be harder for people to stomach with teens than with adults on TV. It’s not sexually violent as Game of Thrones, but many bad things will happen to our young protagonists. It is smart in not confusing expectations nor making it seem like things are done for shock value such as in Game of Thrones TV series with Sansa Stark being raped. Things will be more nuanced in struggles and setbacks. It’s not just about shocking fans in that anything can happen, there’s a structure to Robert Jordan’s writing; a more intricate version of classical fantasy themes.
  1. This brings up my final notice. The Wheel of Time is not a shock factor series. It is not about causing constant anxiety about what bad thing will happen next. It is not about sex and violence. It is about the characters overcoming obstacles and  preparing themselves for a final confrontation with a powerful entity and its armies. There are dark themes, but everything serves a purpose. There is tons of foreshadowing and threads are woven way ahead of time for big payoffs later. There is a place for grimdark, but the Wheel of Time is not one of those places. There is a place for YA fantasy, but the Wheel of Time is not that either. Your expectations will be subverted in a different way than other fantasy series on TV. It’s not about inducing anxiety in viewers, but wowing them. Pay attention to details. If Rafe foreshadows like Jordan than you will be pleasantly surprised.

This ends what I really wanted to say about the upcoming series or if you are late to the party, what I expected from the series. I am sure I will write about the show in the future so if interested keep an eye out for that. This series is amazing, beautiful, and brilliant. Sure there are things that could have been done better in hindsight, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Let the TV series explore and update some themes to really stay ahead of its time. I’m sure I missed some things, but here is what came to mind the most and what popped up from people on twitter. Prepare or go watch this on Amazon Prime! This is my request from you. Report back to me here or on Twitter with your thoughts; otherwise you may be a Darkfriend!


Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver

Well, this review was meant to be up for Halloween, but my computer decided to kick the bucket. I now have a new one which was a few years overdue anyways. The end result is that I’m back. I read a shorter Ghost Story called Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. When it comes to horror my preference is strong characters in a supernatural setting.  I went into this book blind; never heard of it. Let’s get going.

This story takes place in 1937 within a gloomy Britain which at this time is filled with rumors of war coming. Enter the journal of Jack Miller; a specialist wireless operator who works a menial dead end job. As he drops further into poverty and merely going through the motions, he has a chance to join an arctic expedition to Gruhuken on the northeast coast of Svalbard. It wasn’t long ago these lands were unclaimed with people looking for fortunes there. Now Gruhuken is oddly vacant of human life trying to find some way to make wealth there. Jack goes on this journey of course and this book is his journal Jack documents along the way.

This story starts off with so much excitement and hope then slowly gives a feeling of creeping dread. Michelle must have done some research or had experience in how it would be to live in the arctic in 1937. I believed this could be a real journal. It was interesting to get a real feeling of traveling to and surviving in such a cold and eventually dark desolate place. The party starts off with 5 people, but bad luck causes only 3 to actually make it to gruhuken and start the expedition. I’m sure there’s no ill omen in this right? I will say they did bring sled dogs with them so that actually pushed back some of the dread I was feeling. When it comes to ghosts, dogs are a great warning. 

The first sign something may be wrong is the Swedish captain tries to talk them out of going to Gruhuken and to land their expedition somewhere else. When this doesn’t work he tries to claim he wasn’t planning on going that far to drop them off. The man is clearly trying to look out for these scholarly Englishmen with no idea of the lands they are going to. Of course eventually they talk him into bringing them to their destination. His uneasy crew helps them set up a cabin then flee from there as fast as possible. The expedition is of course ill fated or else this book would just be a science journal of the arctic. 

Journal formats can be quite tricky to write. It needs to feel natural and you need to make the reader believe the writer knows how to wield words to fascinate us. Michelle is quite good at setting up Jack as an educated man of words despite his low standing in life and the prose feel natural. Jack makes the world around him feel wondrous, dangerous, beautiful, and deadly as the story unfolds. I believe this man could be writing like this as it goes from a mission of science to a mystery of what is happening to the expedition. I do not want to spoil too much, but something doesn’t want other people on these lands; not even for science. 

I cannot say this book felt like it did anything really new, but it did everything exceptionally well. I was invested in Jack’s journey and what his fate would be. There is definitely a point in the book when you really are not sure how the story will end. It certainly did not go the way I thought. The slow building of dread I thought could use a bit more payoff, but overall I was satisfied with the mystery of this land. Jack could have avoided much of what happens with different decisions, but his decisions made sense in the long run. It was not contrived to keep the story going. In fact it seemed realistic. 

Overall I feel like Michelle nailed the gloomy British ghost story in journal form. I was marveled by her attention to detail and making the world around Jack feel alive. The few characters in the story also felt distinct and real from Jack’s PoV. Even the sled dogs felt organic and believable in how Jack viewed their behavior. It would certainly take a lot of guts to go out in the arctic even nowadays not to mention in 1937. Jack definitely was stupidly brave. It was a fascinating shorter read in the world of ghost stories. 


Skysworn by Will Wight

I apologize for my delay in getting, well, anything up. At work I’m alone in a unit of what should be four people. It’s been exhausting to say the least. Enough of that though. Here we have another review on the Cradle series by Will Wight. This will be a continuation on my journey with book 4 Skysworn. I have to say before I get started each book is better than the last. I’m behind on writing so I have actually also got through book 5, so that still stands.

Will Wight’s magic system and character depth grows with each passing book. In book one I was pretty eh on Lindon, but the kid continues to develop into an impressive character. Yerin also goes through the mental ringer as well. Of course, the big event in this book we have been waiting on is Lindon vs. Jai Long. This does not disappoint. Interesting enough an even bigger issue that turns this story sideways is Jai Daishou, Patriarch of the Jai Clan. He seemingly is losing his mind wanting revenge against Eithan for defeating him, ok and Eithan did temporarily kill him. I mean sometimes you got to let things go Daishou!

Let’s get to the book which is called Skysworn. The military elite of the Blackflame Empire. Apparently, they do not like anyone using the actual power of Blackflame though, oops. I mean it is based on fire and destruction, what’s the problem? Sooo Lindon is imprisoned, but that doesn’t stop Eithan from breaking into every jail cell Lindon is locked in so he can keep training him. Its comically amusing to see him casually get into prisons, stay, and aggravate the Skysworn to make certain Lindon is ready to fight Jai Long. I really thought that battle was going to be the icing on the cake. The finale of the book. However, it comes faster than expected. While it is a great battle sequence and use of sacred arts by Lindon; the stakes get wilder and more dangerous at the end of their duel. In case you haven’t gotten into it this book fully the results will be left hidden here. I’m happy it went the way it did for character development reasons. That said Lindon was impressive.

As the battle ends Jai Daishou is off his rocker and tries to kill Eithan but ends up awakening a Dread God instead. Can’t be too bad right? Jai Daishou uses an artifact that could kill everyone at the site, but luckily for them Jai Chen puts an end to it. A favorite side character of mine that I’m not sure we will see ever again after this book, but way to go girl. Unfortunately, the followers of this Dread God, Redmoon Hall, are inspired to invade the Blackflame Empire. They just wholesale slaughter anyone in their path. They are pretty freaky people, definitely don’t invite to dinner parties. Their invasion is swiftly moving across the land and an Underlord of Redmoon Hall arrives to where our protagonists are working on a plan of escape. This Underlord and his army use blood madra. They can use spilled blood to create bloodspawn to fight for them. Imagine your own wounds not just being a detriment to you, but then your blood is used to attack you. That is damn horrifying. No thanks, I’m out of there.

They eventually escape battered and beaten. I mean if they didn’t the series would end. After they get safely to the flying fortress Stormrock (cool name) Eithan is sent on a mission to get help from the Akura family Monarch. The Akura are essentially the real power in the area that protects places like the Blackflame Empire from even bigger threats. The emperor is more of an overseer of the Blackflame territory because they could replace him in an instant if they so wished. That leaves Yerin and Lindon with Orthos on their own for now. What do these crazy kids and a dragon turtle do?….well the title of the book, they join the Skysworn. The Skysworn don’t trust them so unsurprisingly they are put into a special group with another character that is quite intriguing, Mercy of the Akura. She is caste out from her family to survive on her own, I guess? Honestly, she seems quite clumsy and very much the opposite of Yerin. I enjoy her character so far for very different reasons. They get sent out which causes Yerin’s Blood Shadow to gain strength. I mean she has a Blood Shadow; we have Bloodmoon Hall attacking? What could go wrong? Well, alot apparently. The Skysworn even try to toss Yerin away, pun intended! Chaos ensues, but luckily the Akura Monarch comes help one of the territories under her family’s domain. This was not guaranteed and will not be in the future. So much going on and it seems multiple Dread Gods are starting to stir on this world. That sounds a tiny bit ominous.

All in all a riveting read. Honestly because of the expected ending being in the middle, this book felt like the longest in a good way. A lot happened here that was fascinating in terms of learning more about the magic system, battling, political landscape, but also character growth all around. We get to learn more about the mysterious Eithan and his connection to Ozriel an ancestor of his. I don’t talk much about the the Abidan and what is happening there because its just so far above this one world with its own mechanizations I’m kinda just letting that story unfold, focusing more on our main group of world bound characters.

Will Wight seems to write better with more experience he gets under his belt. It is a steady thing I have noticed with each read. I’m looking forward to this steadily curving upward. Again, though Will Wight’s strength is his devotion and evolution of his magic system; it’s impressive. As Lindon levels up we learn more about the intricacies of madra, sacred arts and aura that surrounds everything. I mean honestly, living in this world sounds awesome and terrifying all at once. Besides our characters working hard to become better sacred artists, I’m never quite sure what craziness they will get into next. If I wrote this before book 5 I would never have even guessed what happens in that book. Wight’s world seems to have endless wonders and things to discover. I mean the Blackflame Empire is a second-rate territory that we are still in. Who knows what else Lindon and the gang will get up to in the future? So, stay tuned as I report my thoughts until I catch up to book 10.

See Previous Blackflame Post


Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Today I bring you some Science Fiction; Outpost by W. Michael Gear is book 1 of the Donovan Trilogy. I have some mixed feelings as I read/listened to it and as I write this. I’m glad I don’t rate books because this one would be tough. Let’s just jump into A rundown of the synopsis. In the future humans live in a corporate run solar system, but this book takes place on a colonized far-off alien world named Donovan. Unfortunately, after around 23 years after humans set foot here, starships have been vanishing after going there. This left colonists alone to create their own society where our main protagonist Talina Perez is one of the leaders. Seven years after the first ship vanished A corporate vessel has finally made it there again; only to find a colony that is supposed to have their rigid rules and regulations along with the corporate supervisor all gone. This vessel is led by corporate Supervisor Kalico Aguila, a up and comer in the corporate world. The ship also has a Captain of the Marines Max Taggert. There’s another major player too, but we will get there. I will however quote the final paragraph of the synopsis that hooked me into giving this one a try along with the cool cover you see above.

“Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander, appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that deters any ship from attempting a return journey. And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game. The secrets of which are hidden in Talina Perez’s very blood.”

So, here I go to do my best in dissecting how I feel about this book. What Gear does brilliantly is create a new alien planet with its own unique biome. This planet is very predatory. Humans are not at the top of this world even being there for around thirty years already. They still have much to learn even by the end of this book. Gear makes this planet feel alien and unique. We also get a great sense of how the main earth solar system operates as well even though we never go there. It’s kind of like a corporate run resource-based economy, but people do earn credits. Though people have no understanding of property ownership outside of Donovan now. No poverty or hunger, but a corporation decides on work contracts and how resources are dispersed. World/universe building is top notch.

Long range space travel is also quite fascinating. In Gear’s universe long range vessels must rely on artificial intelligence to invert space. The issue is that no one knows where the vessel actually goes when this happens and there’s a 20% chance the ship may never be heard from again. The fact this dropped to 100% chance going to Donovan for 7 years until Kalico’s ship arrives is of great concern. It was assumed the ships would be at Donovan taken over by a hostile colony force, but alas that is not the case. Those ships are just missing. The colonists welcome Kalico and Max with no violence.

There are two big mysteries that are the most interesting throughout and unfortunately didn’t give me enough in this book. There’s an alien creature on the planet that seems animal like but displays higher cognitive functions. It also seems to be able to bond with humans in a way and they decide what humans they kill or leave alone; mysterious. We also have a ship that was only missing for 6 months show up with a crew that died long ago of old age and created a death cult on board. These mysteries are why I stuck through this story until the end but left unsatisfied. I need more investigation into these mysteries if you wish to sink the hooks into me, so I pick up book 2 right away. I may someday, but not anytime soon.

The characters have interesting and strong personalities. I think Kalico and Talina were the best from start to finish. Max has quite the journey that felt pretty straightforward but made sense. Now my least favorite character PoV is Dan Wirth. This guy is a textbook archetype psychopath. He is a boring character who talks crudely of women. He’s a misogynist looking to manipulate people to become powerful on this new frontier. Dan is also not good at even hiding this for long stretches of time. He will tell you how great he is, but it is not shown. He exposes himself quite easily. Dan brings frustration to the story, but nothing interesting. What he does bring is a lot of obnoxious language and crude thoughts. He works hard to makes manipulative plans others can see through, but that no one tries hard to stop. Couldn’t stand his PoVs. There are other characters in the series that are interesting which does help deal with having Dan round, but he gets far too much page time.

This brings me to another huge distraction in the book. Grown adults on a hostile planet trying to kill them and a ghost ship above the planet, but there’s constant reminder of how sexual attractive other characters are to them. Men and women alike need to take some cold showers in this book. I don’t need a constant reminder of sexually desirable characteristics all the time. I don’t have an issue with sex and hormones in books, but it sometimes felt like it was written from the perspective of a horny high schooler. Show sexual interest through flirtation and actions instead of constant thoughts of sexual appeal of others. Gear does this at other times as well; tells instead of shows. His prose is way above average for a science fiction book, just not always used to enhance the readers experience. I do want to give a shout out to the Audible narrator, Alyssa Bresnahan . She was brilliant.

Overall, the world building, science, and mysteries are captivating. Seeing humans work hard to survive on the frontier of space travel is always interesting. The story just gets bogged down with less interesting nonsense and PoV. I just want to know more about this planet Donovan and what is happening when ships invert space in this system. What we have is a quintessential mixed bag of a story in my opinion.


Blackflame: Book 3 of The Cradle Series

Who else has kids and adjusting to the school year along with their extracurricular activities? Cause I have been off kilter in trying to get back into balance. I’m getting close though so I thought I would drop a quick review on the Cradle series by Will Wight. So far there are ten books out. If you want to see what I had to say about the first two books, then go HERE. This will be a continuation on my journey with book 3, Blackflame.

Will Wight has drawn me further into his world with this entry. I feel extremely invested in Lindon, Yerin, Eithan, and now A giant dragon turtle as well. You’re probably either saying yes Orthos is awesome or what the hell are you talking about Will!? I don’t want to spoil too much, but I never knew I needed a giant black flame spewing Giant Turtle in my life until now. Orthos is a new animal companion that’s not just powerful, but talks and has an attitude. It is the most original animal character I have encountered. Its absurdly brilliant in the context of this story. If you do the audio book, the narrator is perfect in how a giant dragon turtle should sound. So yah.

We last left Lindon with quite the predicament. Our boy needs to level up quickly. Luckily or unluckily for him he has Underlord Eithan Aurelius to push him beyond his limits. Lindon of course still has my favorite character Yerin by his side. She’ still deadly, smart, and looking out for our boy Lindon. Eithan brings our characters to the city of Serpent’s Grave within the Blackflame Empire. Serpent’s Grave is literally built in a grave of Dragons using their skeletons as buildings. It’s as awesome as it sounds! I promise. The Blackflame Empire is of course named from the now extinct Blackflame technique, a path of the sacred arts used by Dragons and the human rulers who came after them. So….you know, nothing crazy.

What I love about Will Wight is his complete dedication to his magic system and fleshing it out. It may be the most intricate system I have encountered in fantasy. I feel like if we had the sacred arts in this world, that I would have an idea of how to use it. It’s fascinating to see characters really work out how to better themselves in the rules of the magic system Wight developed. Of course, nothing is easy for our protagonists. Yerin is dealing with her own issues of trying to become better in her path but can’t seem to let go of her Master. Lindon is trying to figure out what path in the sacred arts to follow in order to become as powerful as possible. He of course got a late start in life thanks to his backwards community. What path should Lindon follow? It’s quite the mystery where this could go…nothing dangerous, I’m sure!!

I really enjoyed this book. It started to further develop Lindon from a more passive personality to really push his journey to the next level. It also builds up Yerin’s struggles and fleshes out her character development. They go through quite the trials in this to build up Lindon and help Yerin overcome some of her emotional blocks to better herself. We also get to know Eithan more. He’s a fascinating character with quite the mischievous bravado. Its hard to really pin down his motives in this book, but wow does he impress as the story unfolds until the end. I mean how often can a character make a broom and scissors seems deadly? Do not make Eithan take out the broom, its no joke. There are great battle sequences in this book.

The great thing about this series is the books are shorter compared to many long series so you can jump in and out of this world whenever you want without having to devote a lot of time into it. If you love magic systems, slow burn world building, and characters who need to struggle in order to become more powerful, then continue on this journey. I’m having a fun time as Wight brings us along on a journey to the unknown. Stay tuned as I report my thoughts until I catch up to book 10.


Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Welcome to my first addition to the site. The five people who read my blog may know me already, but if you do not, my name is William, a life long rural New Yorker in the United States. I love Fantasy, but am also a fan of Science Fiction & Horror. For my introduction here I bring you my review of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This is book one of Muir’s Locked Tomb series. I have to say, I’m impressed. Gideon the Ninth is such a unique story. It combines Soft Science Fiction, Necromantic Fantasy, and Punk Rock Insanity. I honestly cannot come up with a more suitable description than that. I had wanted to read this before it was even available. I only put it off so long because it seemed so insane and knew more books were going to follow it. Finally, needing something different to dive into, I give you my review of Gideon the Ninth.

“One flesh, one end, bitch.”

This book aptly follows Gideon Nav, an indentured servant of the Ninth House within a Galactic Empire. She is the young adult ginger warrior of this series, complete with skull face paint, dark cloak, sword, and snarky attitude. Quite the picture painted for you there. Even as an indentured servant of a Necromantic space faring empire with an Immortal God Emperor, she gives zero shits about angering anyone. To say she is confident would be an underrepresentation of an amazing character.

“Why was I born so attractive?”

In the beginning of this, depending on your sense of humor, Gideon may overwhelm some readers. Her humor hits me just fine, but others maybe not. Do not fear though dear readers. Gideon has to adjust quite quickly, based on new circumstances that forces her to alter how she interacts with others. You will find much of her over the top attitude is directed toward our other major character, Harrow, the Ninth House’s Heir. While Gideon is a master with the sword. Harrow is a master of Necromancy. Quite the dysfunctional duo. What they do have in common is that they are both amazingly written. A servant and an heir. Completely different statuses. Different personalities. Different viewpoints. A great adventure for us.

“Because everyone would have throttled you within the first five minutes otherwise”

While this is a very character driven story there is much going on in the backdrop. This galactic empire has nine noble houses. The Ninth house guards a locked tomb for the empire and are essentially a death cult. You will get to meet and learn about all the houses in this book though. Muir does this without revealing much about the wider universe. She’s super tricky here. Another thing she is quite good at is there is not much future tech, or weapons in this book…yet you won’t care. The only thing that really lets you know there is space travel, are spaceships. Even then we do not get much of even them. This is a brave choice, but one that works exceptionally well in this book.

“I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it”

This space faring empire relies heavily on Necromancy and swords as their primary fighting tactic. Though how they wage war will be interesting to see. I cannot imagine other civilizations rely on necromancy and swords. We get teased that there is a war against someone out there, we will need to wait on that it seems. This intro book is mostly a complex mystery that takes place in a huge, haunted structure, perfect! All the heirs and their cavaliers (specially trained bodyguards) are invited to this place to seemingly compete to become a Lyctor.  Lyctors are powerful immortal Necromancers that work directly with the emperor. This is of course Harrow’s seemingly main goal and as for Gideon, well, she just wants her freedom. Well actually she also wants to be awesome. These characters grow exceptionally well throughout this mysterious place full of death and intrigue. You will be trying to figure out what is happening and every time you think you might know, you’re wrong!

“Yes you can, it’s just less great and less hot”

The fact that Muir combines fantasy and science fiction but doesn’t reveal too much about either while giving you amazing character work shows me that she is an author to watch. The characters in Gideon the Ninth feel extremely unique, special in their own right, they really come alive. You would think a bunch of noble necromancers would be similar, but they’re oddly not. Muir is able to break apart fields in necromancy and types of house personalities exceptionally well. I cannot wait to read book two to see how she expands on this. Of course, I should also warn people as a world of necromancers there will be a lot of gross descriptions of blood, sinew, corpses, bones…well you get the idea.

“Maybe it’s that I find the idea comforting…that thousands of years after you’re gone…is when you really live. That your echo is louder than your voice is.”

Personally, the most important thing I took from this book, is that we are not all so different. As a thirty-nine-year-old heterosexual male, I felt connected to this young gay warrior woman in a futuristic landscape. Representation in media is important for this very reason. We’re all not so different as we believe. I digress though. Gideon and Harrow are two characters that have shot up my favorites list. Not just as individuals, but as a duo. Book two I know will be from Harrow’s perspective and I’m betting it will be quite wild to get the PoV of a necromancer in this world. If you’re looking for something quite different in the SFF genre I highly recommend this book. I will be keeping an eye on Tamsyn Muir as her career grows.

Thank You for choosing to read my first write up for the site. If you wish to connect with me more I’m quite active on Twitter @thatdarkrogue.