BOOK REVIEW | THE WINTER ROAD BY ADRIAN SELBY

Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening

Hi, I’m Dan contributor to the thebookinhand.com and today I will be sharing my review of ‘The Winter Road’ by Adrian Selby.

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

A gritty and epic adventure to appeal to fans of Mark Lawrence, Andrzej Sapkowski and Joe Abercrombie – The Winter Road is a fantasy novel which remembers that battles leave all kinds of scars.

The greatest empire of them all began with a road.

The Circle – a thousand miles of perilous forests and warring clans. No one has ever tamed such treacherous territory before, but ex-soldier Teyr Amondsen, veteran of a hundred battles, is determined to try.

With a merchant caravan protected by a crew of skilled mercenaries, Amondsen embarks on a dangerous mission to forge a road across the untamed wilderness that was once her home. But a warlord rises in the wilds of the Circle, uniting its clans and terrorising its people. Teyr’s battles may not be over yet . . .

All roads lead back to war.

DAN’S REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I will begin by saying this has become one of my favourite standalone fantasy novels and that this novel is the very definition of a grim dark novel!! It’s one few books that have made it onto my list of a select few, that really achieve the grim dark style successfully.

This is exactly the kind of fantasy that I’ve been seeking out since the beginning of my journey into the fantasy genre. It’s darker, more violent and does push the boundaries more than most mainstream fantasy writers. I love the totally uncompromising approach Selby has to his writing and I think he’ll have a real cult following going forward. What he’s achieved in a short novel is truly astounding. I enjoyed the format of the novel, going from past to present for the first half of the book and then taking a more linear approach towards the final conclusion, which was very different approach and it was skilfully delivered. It really did feel like a a really well rounded, fully fleshed out novel. Selby is one author that has mastered the art of saying more with less.

The plot in a nutshell…..We follow our main protagonist Teyr Amondsen is a vetran soldier and and wealthy merchant. Teyr’s intentions are to unite the clans, to build the infrastructure and rebuild old relationships amongst the warring the clans. But but the path to prosperity is most definitely paved in blood. Her plans are thwarted by a ruthless warlord with his band of psychotic white boys who have similar intentions for the circle and there methods are beyond ruthless. What she encounters is a horror that she thought existed only in her nightmares but has now become her reality. She’s now faced with the brutal reality of life within circle and she’s being lead back down the road to war.

The world that Selby has created is one of the most beautiful, but brutal worlds that that I’ve encountered in a some time. The corruption and the sense of hopelessness is rife within this world and it’s hard to distinguish between the hero’s and the villains within the power structures of this world. So yes the majority of the cast is just filled with very morally grey characters as you would expect. What I found really interesting is the focus on the biggest commodity in this world which is Botanical trade. The various mysterious plants are used for medicinal purposes and other practical uses, but by far the most interesting was it’s uses in warfare. So this is what gave this novel a very unique angle and was the first time I’ve encountered something like that in a fantasy novel. It was also presented as a magic system almost, which i found quite innovative, but I’ll talk about that later in the review. There are magic users present within this story are the Oskoro who live deep within the Amulet forest and they have mysterious history surrounding them. They’re part of Teyr’s story and are the only significant thing that introduces those fantasy elements into this novel and served there purpose really well. That aspect of the book was very much shrouded in mystery which made it feel like it had a heavier presence in the novel. I would definitely love to read another novel and puts a focus on them, because they are fascinating.

The characterisation is as amazing as the world that Selby has created. We follow Teyr Amondsen who is one of the strongest female leads that I’ve encountered for some time. Her character totally pushes the boundaries of the female hero character trope. As we get to know her, it was clear that she had the noblest of intentions with her mission and her tenacity to succeed was overwhelming. Her journey really does push her to the very limits of the human experience. What her character goes through is truly horrific and more than any human should be able to withstand. It was hugely emotive seeing that suffering through her eyes, but made the experience feel so real and and I was overwhelmed with compassion for her character. She’s not without her flaws and her ambition sometimes blinds her from making the right decision and has truly devastating consequences for herself and those she loves. Selby does really paint the picture of a very majestic view of her family life, which deepens your appreciation of her complex character and it adds another dimension to her. The character development is incredibly skillful in its delivery and it’s an emotional roller coaster from start to finish and you really need to prepare for heartbreak. But you really understand her motivations and everything that has lead her to that point, making her a fully fleshed out character. But it is her maternal nature, that makes her a balanced character and really humanised her. It creates a real contrast between who she’s was, to who she has the desire to become. In crafting Teyr’s character he’s managed to create a totally unforgettable leading lady. It’s without doubt some of the best character work I’ve ever read.

The entire cast was phenomenal and they felt totally authentic and believable in the roles that they served. Our villain Khiese was a wonderfully crafted character and Selby delivered as much character development that was necessary and still managed to conjure a very menacing presence in this world in the early stages of this tale. We’re privy to a lot of very interesting war torn heroes in the latter part of the novel, that had there place in Teyr’s past, which really added more depth to Teyr’s back story. So as I mentioned earlier Selbys achieved so much with his character work in this short novel.

The world building isn’t hugely extensive but this is very much a character driven novel. But as I mentioned earlier it does still feel like a fully fleshed out world, mainly with the format Selby used. It does put a lot of focus on our characters which is its main focus. We do spend most of our time in a harsh snow covered forests and in amongst small settlements and homesteads as we follow the path through the circle. Selby really does capture the harsh reality and the unforgiving nature of life within the circle and it feels so real. But the minimal world building, is a less is more scenario and is still very easy to get lost and feel totally immersed in this world. Everything in this world is deeply captivating and flows effortlessly and feels authentic.

So as I mentioned earlier, I really like the innovative approach to using botanicals as a functioning magic system of sorts. I just thought it was simple, but very innovative and had a big presence in this novel. The fight brews meant that the individual that’s consumed them is able to exceed their normal human limitations and exhibit sharpened senses and manifested a level of aggression that made them into fiercest warriors imaginable. So yes the fight scenes are totally brutal . Its effects almost seemed comparable to a narcotic and had a detrimental effect if brewed in the wrong hands. Which gives birth to the nature of the white boys.But the reason why I compare it to a magic system is that it functions like one and was presented like one. The rules applied to most modern magic systems were the same in terms of knowing it’s limitations and what it was capable of and also its flaws. I really like this innovation I thought it worked really well and added a unique dimension to this novel. It did really create an almost supernatural quality to the White boys which was truly haunting, the strategies they used were comparable to a wolf pack and the psychological effect on there victims was almost sadistic. It did heighten the impact of the White boys and you genuinely feel the anxiety within the characters and totally made the experience so much more engaging.

I really loved Selbys writing style, he incorporated stylised grammar and language that added to the charm of this world and still managed to show off his pretty flawless prose. In general terms I loved this book because I thought the character work was phenomenal and as huge grim dark fan I felt that it was everything it should have been. This is fantasy that is truly dark and more violent than most mainstream fantasy novels and is not for the faint of heart. So I can see why this book may not be for everyone. But It is in many regards totally uncompromising and I have to say that I have huge respect for Selby for taking that position. This without question one of my favourite grim dark novels!!! But it was balanced, it wasn’t totally hopeless and there are certain elements to Teyr’s journey that shined a little brighter and presented a sense of hope that left me feeling content especially in the latter part of the book.

I’m so excited to get into Snakewood and the Brother Red and going forward I will be reading everything that he releases. I am 110% sold on his work. Also if you’re a fan of Selby I think you will love The legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar. Another unusual Grim dark novel.


BOOK SPOTLIGHT | KINGS AND DAEMONS BY MARCUS LEE

A massive thank you to the fabulous TheWriteReads for arranging this blog tour.

Hello EVERYONE!

I have been away for a while now, with several attempts at coming back that I have failed at miserably but I am now officially back so we can expect content from me again!

I won’t bore you with the details and so I will move swiftly on to this post…

Today we are participating in the book tour for Kings and Daemons, you may or may not have seen my previous review of this book, so today I will be posting a spotlight post. Now, this is the first spotlight post I have ever done so pardon me if it sucks ass!

ONTO THE BOOK…

KINGS AND DAEMONS BY Marcus Lee

THE GIFTED AND THE CURSED | BOOK ONE

A few facts about Kings and Daemons:

  • Title: Kings and Daemons
  • Author: Marcus Lee
  • Series: The Gifted and The Cursed (Book One)
  • Publisher: Self Published by Mr Marcus Lee
  • Pages: 416

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

If you like fantasy tales of conquest, dark kings, daemonic heroes, and magic, you’ll love ‘Kings and Daemons’ by Epic Fantasy author, Marcus Lee. This is a spellbinding Dark Fantasy novel which will enchant you with its plot of ambition, revenge, love, and tragedy. What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.

—–

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King, and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.

Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.


Sound good…I can confirm it is! If you want to pick up your own copy you can do so through Kindle Unlimited or treat yourself to a physical copy from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com


A SNIPET OF MY REVIEW..

CONTINUE READING…

What Marcus had to say…

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, and now I’ve started, I don’t intend to stop.

Ways to get in touch with Marcus…

Author Website:

Head on over to Marcus’ website where you can see his upcoming books and also other version of his book covers.

Marcus’ Twitter:

Go and follow Marcus, he is a great contributor to the Book Twitter community and is great to engage with too!

Marcus’ Facebook:

What I just said! But for Facebook…

PRAISE FOR KINGS AND DAEMONS…

KINGS AND DAEMONS is a multi-perspective fantasy tale that takes the reader on an exciting journey that both entertains and gives all of the familiar traditional fantasy feels that made me fall in love with the genre to begin with…”

Nick Borrelli @ Out of This World SFF

“I wasn’t expecting such an enthralling and well written book. I was hooked pretty much from the start…”

Cassidee @ FanFiAddict

“Deliciously dark fantasy, and a spectacular debut…”

Rowena Andrews @ Beneath a Thousand Skies

“Marcus Lee managed to write an excellent debut and I am really looking forward to reading the following two books of the trilogy…”

Lily @ Lily Reads

“Grim and hopeful at the same time, Marcus Lee’s debut is an enjoyable tale of magic, possessed knights, dark lords and Daemons…”

FBN @ FantasyBookNerd

Well, as usual thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and read about the book I am reading! I truly hope you pick this book up as it is such a great read!

Byee



BOOK REVIEW | THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening

Hi Im Dan, contributor to The Book in Hand Blog and today I will be sharing my review of The Shadow of the Gods by John Gywnne!!

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Set in a brand-new, Norse-inspired world, and packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance, The Shadow of the Gods begins an epic new fantasy saga from bestselling author John Gwynne.After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrið.Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.Now, as whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls under the shadow of the gods . . .

DAN’S REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

John Gwynne’s 2021 release of his Norse inspired novel The Shadow of the Gods is one of my most anticipated releases this year. Like so many people I became a huge fan of the faithful and the fallen series and his follow up series Of Blood and Bone.Given the combination of Gywnnes success with epic fantasy and his passion for Nordic history I was so excited for this new series. It’s writers like Gywnne that have pioneered darker, more violent, fantasy that feels more authentic and successfully brought it to a mainstream audience. But what Gwynne also brings to the table is the fact that he is embracing newer trends in the technical execution of his novels.

There really is very little that this book doesn’t offer from solid characterisation, to innovative world building, to spell binding Lore and magic and authentic Norse warfare. All the elements of this book were all weaved so tightly together so they could unravel at a fast pace that was intended. The reforging of the Norse myths really did feel authentic and what Gwynne did with it was truly mesmerising and it manifested in every facet of the plot. Gwynne’s battle scenes have become hugely popular within the fantasy genre and they’re amongst my favourite. I’ll be honest unless battle scenes are well structured it can be the best, or my least favourite part of a fantasy novel. But we had high impact blood soaked battles that were exhilarating from start to finish. Every battle scene was meticulously put together and never felt clunky at any point.

Gwynne’s writing style in this novel is the strongest it’s ever been and I think his prose is quite poetic when it needs to be and flowed effortlessly everywhere in between. This really meant the pace never slowed but still had impact to those key scenes, especially in the battle scenes. He really paints totally vivid and captivating scene’s of snow covered forests, to small settlements, to elaborate structures built within the bones of dead Gods and crafts those scenes so precisely that I felt deeply immersed in every scene. Everything within this world, especially the characters, felt so stylised and the huge attention to detail made them totally unforgettable. Equally the tone of this world was captured so perfectly, as its brutal unforgiving nature was totally atmospheric. Never have I read a Norse Saga that’s had this much impact and I consider this first installment to be truly flawless.

The world building unraveled perfectly with this fast moving plot and was shaped so precisely with Gywnnes wealth of knowledge on this era and his genuine passion really shines through in abundance and really made everything feel so authentic. The world building was a departure from the more classic extensive world building that we saw in Malice into something much faster moving in pace for the setting up of his new series. So from what I’ve taken away, is that in order to achieve that, it means really cutting the fat from the world building and being very skillfull in terms of how you deliver it in conjunction with the character development. The world building rolled out on a broader scale as two of three PoVs were part of our fabled warbands and it meant that we could see different parts of the world without the pace slowing. Along the way the politics, the lore and all the elements of this story are weaved skilfully into the POVs that we follow and it flowed effortlessly. There was zero filler and everything was totally relevant and intentional. This book show cases some great examples of these new modern innovations and how they should be delivered.

It’s general consensus that Gywnne’s characterization is one of the finest elements of his work and one of the major reasons why we all fell in love with the faithful and the fallen. Using only three PoVs, as well as the changes to the format of the world building, it really puts so much focus on our characters, which is what John does best.

I really appreciated the skill used in how the POVs were used to change the pace and the mood throughout, which meant it never slowed and kept me engaged throughout.We follow three POVs, Orka, Elvar and Varg, who all have three very different stories that all eventually converge within in this fast paced story. I really like the character development, as it really engaged me in different ways over the course of the book. Orka’s PoV really set the tone for the novel and I was engaged quickly with her story being highly emotive. No punches are pulled with the level of violence in her story and you really felt her rage bursting through the pages. I really enjoyed Elvars character and her ideals of forging her own destiny and disregarding her privilege to claim her battle fame and her prowess on the battlefield made her such a unique and strong female character. Despite her story taking longer to bloom it did give us more insight into the privilege and the corruption within the nobility and without huge info dumps we were able to move forward quickly. So her exploits as well as Varg also gave us more insight into the brutal nature of this world on a broader scale. Varg’s PoV, despite being slowest burning, had the most intrigue and was very much shrouded in mystery for the large part but ended up having huge impact on the books conclusion. But as his character was fairly one dimensional early on, I thought it gave us a chance to absorb more information and focus on the bloodsworn. The Bloodsworn were all perfectly crafted battle hardened warriors, their characters were fully fleshed out where needed and I was quite taken by all of them. In general terms I really enjoyed our richly imagined cast and I’m so excited to see them develop as things play out.

As i mentioned earlier i was so drawn to a Ragnarok style story but then to construct the magic system as well as the lore of this world based on the same idea was totally intoxicating. How the nature and the traits of the Gods manifest in this world truly takes so many aspects of this world to another level. The effect that will have on the warfare really excites me for the future installments of this trilogy. The pagan witchcraft, the creatures of this world and everything about the lore of this world unravels with so much intrigue and again arrives in full force as part of the dramatic ending. There were really were some very original creatures that Gwynne has created for this book and he really describes them perfect detail and are very much central to our plot.The more well known creatures like Trolls were magnificent and those scenes were incredible, they were so vivid and I genuinely felt the fear amongst the characters. But the creatures of this world really did add another dimension to this book introducing high fantasy elements that you would expect from a book inspired by Nordic mythology. For me I think I that this was one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. So being fed the information slowly really kept me intrigued, but always with knowledge that what’s to come is going to be epic in scale.

All things considered I felt that this was a 5⭐ book. There are few novels out there that deliver the kind of Norse experience as this novel does and this will be a landmark trilogy. This is really what modern Norse fantasy is going to look like and Gwynne has set the bar very high. As I mentioned earlier I’m totally behind the departure from traditional methods into following more modern trends and Gwynne has crafted one of the best setup novels that I’ve read so far. I think in general terms that Gwynne has reached new heights and technical execution of his work and has elevated him into one of the best fantasy writers working today. I am so excited to see where this trilogy goes next and this stands to be his finest work so far in my opinion.



BOOK REVIEW | SHARD OF EARTH BY ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY

Hello Bookish Folk!

Today I am reviewing Adrian Tchaikovsky’s newest book ‘Shards of Earth’ as a part of TheWriteReads Book Tour!

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Shards of Earth
  • Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Series: The Final Architects (Book One)
  • Pages: 560

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A vast and immersive world with fabulous races and worlds;
  • An oh so epic space opera;
  • A fairly complex but intriguing and well done;
  • Great characters; and
  • Lots of intriguing elements to keep you wanting more.

On to the full review…

I say this all the time but I apparently never actually make a conscious I effort to do it; but…I WANT TO READ MORE SCI-FI!

So, when the fabulous WriteReads contacted me asking if I was interesting in possibly partaking in their tour I was super excited! I had a quick browse of the book synopsis and was safely intrigued! Having read Adrian’s ‘Doors of Eden’ I felt comfortable going into this book and enjoying it!

I took the plunge into reading Shards of Earth and was glad I did. The thing is with Sci-Fi for me I really struggle to stay immersed if it gets too scientific. I am definitely not alone in this, and I tread a fine line of what I consider to be enjoyable. So, this review will be from a stand point of someone who has read less than 15 science fiction books. I have done well so far, those I have read I have enjoyed immensely with a few exceptions but I’m still grateful for those books because it defined my taste a little more. 

Shards of Earth, yes I am going to actually start my review instead of waffling, was a great read. My initial reaction was a good one. Though, I did feel like I was being given a fair amount of information at the start, it was done well and I was glad for the history of this world but it was still an info dump.

Shards of Earth is filled with so many incredible, unique and utterly captivating races and cultures and it was a thrill to be in such a world! The attention to detail of this world is fabulous, I personally am not actually a massive advocate for expansive worldbuilding. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate it and enjoy it when it is to my tastes but I like to use my own imagination to fill in the gaps, yanno?  However, saying that it was actually the heavier world building element that helped me this time around. I haven’t read too much fantasy, as I said and the world AT has created had such vivid imaginary popping up left right and bloody centre in my mind, even my imagination was heavily influenced by things such as Mass Effect and other SF games and TV shows I have watched. But that ain’t bad!

I really appreciate politics done well in a book, I don’t like politics for the sake of it and it has to be crucial to the story. Well, I am happy to announce AT does politics great! There was such a refreshing balance in SOE because while we had fairly devoted characters they weren’t blindly loyal so I wasn’t constantly frustrated at their decisions. 

I think something I look forward to when choosing to read a book by Adrian is that there is always something that is totally unique to it, in this instance AT created unspace and it was great experiencing it. I won’t say much on it and will let you discover that for yourself but know it is great!

I really enjoyed the character POV’s in Shards of Earth each grew on me more and more, they could have had a wee little it more development but it was by no means lacking. I think Idris was my favourite, but each had something they brought to the story and the team! Even the side character had a pull to them, you bonded with the team and I was constantly wanting to know more.

Shards of Earth was a great read for me, I enjoyed its epic world and its unique characters, and I cant wait for book two. The plot was fairly complex but I am used to that with fantasy so I was able to follow and enjoy it!


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I enjoyed this book and I am keen to see how it will progress, it was beautiful and creative and was what I needed in a sci-fi!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE COUNCILLOR BY E. J. BEATON

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening

Hi I’m Dan and I’m going to share with you my review of E. J. Beaton’s The Council.

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar’s quest to choose the next ruler of her kingdom amidst lies, conspiracy, and assassination.

When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.

Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers – especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.

Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.

In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises… even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint. 

ORDER HEREKindleHardback | Audiobook

Page count: 448

Publisher: DAW

DAN’S REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is E J Beaton’s debut novel and is described as a Machiavellian fantasy. Given the inspiration for the novel, the politics of this world are shaped by Beatons passion for that era. The plot involves everything that you would expect, from political intrigue, to sharp insights into privilege and power with fantasy elements intricately woven into this very intelligent, sophisticated and beautifully written novel. I think Beaton has weaved so much intrigue into every aspect of this world, as well as introducing her stunning world building, phenomenal characterisation and brilliant Innovation in the crafting of the history and the lore of this world. This installment has really setup this series so well. I think fans will be so engaged for what’s to come.

Never have I read a novel with so much intrigue as this, every facet of this book presented so many questions, from Lysande humble beginnings at the orphanage and the details surrounding her discovery in a war torn district, to the assassination of Seralin and everything that followed after her appointment as Councillor. It really is fascinating journey following her through the murky world of politics, through a fractured realm, not knowing who to call friend or foe. But the biggest mystery, was the information surrounding the ominous threat of the White Queen and her elemental army, as the details have formerly been hidden within the history books. Everything within this world is a tale of discovery for our main protagonist Lysande Prior, she’s the person that must unlock those secrets to save the realm. With so much to know, those pages keep turning and the eagerness to know more never ceases. For me this level of intrigue is what most readers will really love about this novel.

In all honesty when I started this novel I had misconception that their would be an overwhelming cast, with huge amounts of information to take in, with many complex political machinations, but what I quickly realised is that the execution of the plot is done in such a way that it allows you take in what’s happening at a steady pace and I felt that everything unraveled perfectly. I think multiple PoVs would have made the book feel so much more drawn out and a little tedious. As the execution of the plot was so skillful, it didn’t take the focus off the characterisation and made that aspect of the book shine a little brighter. As a more character driven reader I totally appreciated this approach. I feel some plot heavier books sometimes neglect adding that depth to the characterisation.

I had only basic knowledge of Machiavellian politics when I started the book. I wouldn’t say its essential but I think it would’ve deepened my appreciation. Its definitely inspired me to learn a little more about the history, also potentially do a reread before the second book arrives. You do really recognise the influences mainly in the way the Iron queen rules the realm of Elira. It’s very much about the fact that it’s better to be feared than adored and by extension the treatment of the Elementals is an obvious example of where that comes into play, as most of them find their ways to the gallows. During Lysandes constant reflection on her memories of their relationship, it really puts a focus on the politics and not just there relationship and gives a deep dive into Sarelins character at the same time. You see continuing influences in the strategies Lysande employs and the ruthless nature of the politics in the way that she engages the other rulers . So It’ll be interesting to see the journey that Lysande will take, from where she is in this novel to maybe arriving at the point of seeing the necessity of the Iron Queens philosophy. I found the historical political influences really interesting and very accessible and there are many great insights.

This novel features an incredibly rich well imagined cast of very morally grey characters, lead by the enigmatic Lysande the Councillor to the crown. The characterisation was phenomenal, the whole cast was incredibly well fleshed out , described with a level of intricate detail that totally draws you in and you become totally immersed in these characters stories. Our main protagonist Lysande is such a masterfully crafted character, I have to say that I loved her intellect and lust for knowledge, overwhelmed by her ambition and I envied her tenacity to succeed. Although she is a flawed character, I think her drug addiction really did humanise her and made her a very balanced character. She’s without question a hugely compelling character and is a formidable leading lady. Her constant periods of introspection gave her much greater depth, which fleshed her character out as much as possible. Our villain the ominous White Queen, Mea Tacitus character was so brilliantly executed that you genuinely shudder at the mention of her name! She really has the presence of malevolent god who strikes fear into all those within the realm. On a personal note she is literally one of the most finely crafted villains that ive come across and one of my personal favourites. For a character that only exists in the minds of our characters in this book, her impact was huge! That dynamic was really interesting and worked so well. So considering these two epic characters the battle for the realm seems like it will be an incredible journey. But I have an inkling it may not play out as we think it will…

The world building can only be described as beautifully vibrant, vivid and totally captivating. The attention to detail is astounding really making this novel burst into life.There are several brilliantly crafted kingdoms within this realm, rich with their own histories and cultural identities. Every nation did have its own religious and spiritual identity which helped define each nation with a little more depth. Beaton guides you through the grandeur of the capital, through the gothic cities of Rhime to the desert cities of the south with intricate detail painting some of the most ornate settings that are totally memorising. I really enjoyed seeing Lysande unearthing secrets from the history books as it was such a great opportunity to introduce so more depth to the world building and the magic and the Lore of this world. The strong world building in this first installment has really laid the foundations successfully for this series going forward.

This is a low magic fantasy, it is however central to this books plot, it does have a more of a traditional feel and isn’t overly complex in comparison to most modern magic systems. I really do prefer some mystery surrounding the magic system and I enjoy learning about the history and lore of a world and this is amongst the most memorable. The lore and the alchemy of this world is totally fascinating and very innovative and is totally intoxicating.I loved the fact that Chimaera is central to the elementals lore, really making it quite unique and was a phenomenal choice, as opposed to the over used mythical creature we all know to well. There is definitely more depth to the magic users of this world and you’ll be hooked on their history as much as everything else, I was left with so many questions.

For me the flawless lyrical prose was the best aspect of this novel and is what you’d expect given EJ Beatons background, but it does really heighten the experience of this intricate, nuanced, wonderfully elegant and engaging novel. Beatons prose could be easily compared to Robin Hobbs and I’d imagine going forward that Beaton will be standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest authors within the genre.

It’s without doubt a totally fierce debut, it really was totally stunning, this book sets up this world for what promises to be a phenomenal series. This is one author we all need to keep and eye on, as its mind bending to think what heights this series could reach as we go further into this world. It is also an incredible introduction to Lysande Prior and I can see her becoming a totally iconic character amongst fantasy community!! As far as debut novels go, the bar has been officially raised!!!



BOOK REVIEW | THE NAME OF THE WIND BY PATRICK ROTHFUSS

Hello Bookish Folk!

Today I am going to attempt review the book that is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Name of the Wind
  • Author: Patrick Rothfuss
  • Illustrated By: Daniel Dos Santos
  • Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle (Book One)
  • Pages: 752

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

DAY ONE: THE NAME OF THE WIND

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.


So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Paperback | Kindle | Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

“Someone’s parents,” he said, “have been singing entirely the wrong sort of songs.”

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • Stunning prose;
  • Incredible characters from Kvothe all the way to the secondary characters;
  • A well balanced and beautifully structured story; and
  • A book wholly worthy of its praise and status in the fantasy community.

On to the full review…

“Kvothe, Defend yourself well at the University. Make me proud. Remember your father’s song. Be wary of folly.

Where do you even begin with a book such as this, nothing I say feels like it can adequately explain what this book is because it is so much more than a book. 

So many books are good, even incredible but they aren’t always a story, they don’t give you that bone deep feeling of an age old tale told by only the wisest of your community. Rothfuss makes storytelling feel like what it was, old campfires and bringing people together because they are so enraptured by a tale of a person they have never known yet they need to know more, and it is what brings them back the next day. That is what this book is.

The Name of the Wind is a really hard book to describe, and reviewing it is even harder because it isn’t something that I feel should be reviewed in the normal way. It is so much more,  it is about how the book leaves you feeling and you can’t pull that apart into characters, world and blah blah blah. They were all exceptional and this is one of best books I have read, everything within this books pages feels so perfectly balanced.

The Name of the Wind evokes such a level of emotion from you as a reader, it is quite profound. It is the story of Kvothe’s life from his time in a troupe to his time in university, and yes that includes growing up, traveling and going to university. You’re probably thinking okkk but what else happens…well my fellow newcomers to The Name of the Wind, so much happens but it is not a book with huge battles and such but the formation of friendships, lots of rumours, beautiful world building and so much Kvothe. 

“I’m to be whipped and admitted to the Arcanum.” He looked at me curiously, trying to see if I was making a joke. “I’m sorry? Congratulations?” He made a shy smile at me. “Do I buy you a bandage or a beer?” I smiled back. “Both.”

The world building is phenomenal, it is so detailed and well thought out but none is told to you, everything is shown and built so well. Entering this world was like stepping into a lusciously hot bath. First the toes slide in and you feel the sensational heat and you want more, up the legs you go until you are fully emerged into the all encompassing heat of the water and there you want to stay. That is what this world is, you are introduced slowly enough that you don’t get burnt by too much of it but are teased with its skill and you want all of it and you want to stay there.

The character work is also exceptional, this is the epitome of a character driven fantasy and I loved every character I came across even the ones I hated. Yes I am looking at you Ambrose! But each character you meet is purposeful and brings so much to their scenes.

Rothfuss is without doubt an incredible writer, each scene is so well crafted to show you the exact emotions he wants you to feel and his writing style is dynamic and ever changing to match that. At one point, when Kvothe is stricken with grief Rothfuss adjust his writing to really exemplify the tone of those chapters and the same goes for when he is writing a joyous scene. And the music…I have never seen something that is so hard to pin down with words and explain so well explained. You felt it all.

“Words have to find a man’s mind before they can touch his heart, and some men’s minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”

I have even begun to scratch the surface on how amazing this book is, these are the times a podcast would be better suited because you can discuss this book and all its glory for hours. From your favourite scenes, to the characters, the worlds history and so much more! Me and Davis S from FanFiAddict talked none stop through this, honestly if you saw our chats you be itching to read it all over again. Just seeing quotes from the books has you wanting to read specific scenes again, if not the whole bloody book.

IT WAS NIGHT AGAIN. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I LOVED this book and I picked up the Illustrated 10th Anniversary Edition for my Buddy Read and I am SO glad I did! I think I paid £28.00 for it and honestly I would pay a whole load more too! As soon as I have a little photoshoot of the book I will show you!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Hello Bookish Beings!

Today I am finally going to review John Gwynne’s newest book The Shadow of the Gods.

I would like to thank Orbit for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, receiving this by no means influences my review but if you don’t know already I am a HUGE John Gwynne fan so…

This review is likely no shock.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Shadow of the Gods
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Bloodsworn Saga (Book One)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 496

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

ORDER HEREAudible | Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover |  Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A Norse inspired epic;
  • Phenomenal world building;
  • An incredible first book to what will no doubt be brilliant series; and
  • AMAZING characters and side characters.

On to the full review…

The Shadow of the Gods was easily my MOST anticipated release this year and it did not disappoint. It is just one more example of how spectacular an author John Gwynne is. Set in a brand new norse inspired world it is the start to something incredible and I am desperately excited for book two! AND BOOK ONE ISN’T EVEN OUT YET!

“I am blood. I am death. I am vengeance.”

The Shadow of the Gods is told from three POV’s, we have Orka, Varg and Elvar and as per usual with John Gwynne I loved them all. Usually when reading a book with several POV’s you tend to prefer one to the others and while this is still the case for this book it always changed! The way John Gwynne writes allows for each character to have their limelight, for some chapters I was itching to get back to Elvar and other Varg or Orka. This, in my opinion, is great because you are always on your toes and you are constantly learning more and gravitating to different characters and also to the side characters that surround them.

If you have read any of Gwynne’s work before you will know just how fabulous his characters are, not merely his main characters but also the side characters too. There is such a realness to ALL the characters Gwynne creates and even those with a smaller part to play in the overall story pack a punch and are memorable. There is a curiosity around all the characters you come across and the journey into unraveling their past is such a fun experience. I won’t go into the characters to much because I want you to experience them first hand, but goodness they are fab! Gwynne gives you tiny snippets into their past and following those breadcrumbs is always fun, I loved this in The Faithful and the Fallen so I was so happy to see it in The Shadow of the Gods too.

The depth of all the characters is great, each of our characters brings something to the table and there is such a variety of characters to attract you to the tale. We have battle hardened warriors, retired warriors, a loyal protector, witty and hilarious friends, mysterious witches and so so much more.

Now, for the bloodshed! I have to say this is probably the bloodiest book I have read by Mr. Gwynne and it isn’t like he stays away from it in his other books! There are shield walls, battles, skirmishes, wicked creatures, godly relics and DRAGONS! It is gritty, brutal and oh so good. Every battle in this book was tense and at no point did any character feel infallible, because lets be honest we all know John Gwynne ain’t afraid to kills off his characters! But because of how Gwynne writes his battles I kind of want to tell all fantasy authors to go dabble in battle reenactments just so they can know the weight of a shield, the demands battle has on a person and to know the feeling of bodies throwing themselves again a shield wall! Because these details that Gwynne inserts into his writing will always keep him a step above.

“That is why we fight so hard for each other. We do not abandon the living. We do not abandon those we have sworn oaths to.”

The world that Gwynne has created here is bloody marvellous, and honestly I would like a bestiary just for this world! I was constantly imagining the creatures that fill it and I loved the general world. I spent a weekend in York pre COVID and we went to Jorvik which is an epic recreation of a nordic settlement and I am so glad I went and even more so now because all the world building tidbits we get to see in this book were so on point and ones I had seen at Jorvik. Gwynne truly managed to capture the day to day aspects of this world and it sets the tone of this world brilliantly. I have read quite a few norse inspired books now and none even come close to Gwynne’s ability to capture the authenticity of this time period. Gwynne is meticulous in his world building and none of it is pointless or boring. I am really not a person who needs to much world building but there are books that show me that when it is done right I am all for it! The Shadow of the Gods is one of those books. I could read a whole host of books set in this world!

“Fear can be ice or fire in the veins, freezing the body or setting a blaze within it.”

I am constantly wowed when I read Gwynne’s books because he is just an incredible storyteller, he is constantly building and building to get to the climax and boy when you are there it is nothing short of outstanding. The pace was great for me, the story never felt stale for me and it was constantly moving forward. Another bonus is that I trust John Gwynne implicitly, I was only saying the other day to a friend that Gwynne gets away with some things with me, not errors or flaws but, for example, cliff hangers usually annoy me to no end but I don’t care about that in this book, it has just made me more excited because Gwynne has continually provided and impressed me as a reader. I have utter faith this series will continue to shine and impress me as this book has.

To conclude this review and generally reign in my need to gush even more I will end this review by telling you to pick this bloody book up! It is a brilliant start to the series and is one that gives you so much but lets you know there is also so much yet to come! As per usual Gwynne has created some of the best characters you will read and had me falling in love with them quicker than any other book can.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

This book is simply brilliant, and lets take a minute to praise the STUNNING cover. If Gwynne’s writing didn’t warrant a BUY THE HARDBACK rank the bloody cover would!

The Shadow of the Gods full cover by Marcus Whinney

AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE LIGHT OF ALL THAT FALLS BY JAMES ISLINGTON

Hello Everyone and welcome back to The Book in Hand for another review!

As with The Shadow of What Was Lost & An Echo of Things to Come I read this book with David from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books continuing with one of the best Buddy Reads.

If you haven’t already listened to me in my last two reviews go and check out their accounts. They ROCK!

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

You can find David’s review of The Shadow of What Was Lost HERE and you can find his review of An Echo of Things to Come HERE.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Light of All That Falls
  • Author: James Islington
  • Series: The Licanius Trilogy (Book Three)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 864

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The Light of All That Falls concludes the epic adventure that began in The Shadow of What Was Lost, the acclaimed fantasy blockbuster from James Islington.

The Boundary is whole once again, but it may be too late.

Banes now stalk Andarra, while in Ilin Illan, the political machinations of a generation come to a head as Wirr’s newfound ability forces his family’s old enemies into action.

Imprisoned and alone in a strange land, Davian is pitted against the remaining Venerate as they work tirelessly to undo Asha’s sacrifice – even as he struggles with what he has learned about the friend he chose to set free.

And Caeden, now facing the consequences of his centuries-old plan, must finally confront its reality – heartbroken at how it began, and devastated by how it must end.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • Mmmm, so it is pretty complex;
  • An epic and utterly satisfying conclusion;
  • Still 10/10 for its characters; and
  • A masterfully complex series but one you can follow and enjoy.

On to the full review…

“Faithful people suffer and evil people prosper all the time, Davian—you must know that is true. Besides, if our actions are driven only by reward or punishment—eternal or otherwise—then they are motivated by greed and selfishness, not faith or love.”

Ok, so I am going to start this review with one of its easier points! There is a lot to love about this book, and the trilogy as a whole but it can be so hard to get your words out, especially ones that truly do justice for the book in hand (see what I did there)…

Ok, I know that was bad. Back to the review…

Something I always appreciate in a book, and what this trilogy has continually impressed me with is the writing. It is no unknown thing that this is a fairly complex trilogy, and this book goes even further than the others but Islington’s writing made it that much more manageable. And good lawddd!! The authenticity of the dialogue in this book is so on point. This trilogy has so much going for it but one of the strengths for me is the humour, in a book that is complex, heartfelt and thoughtful the insertion of humour is much needed and so well done. It is just the humour I love too.

Wirr glowered. “Easy for you lot to say,” he grumbled.

Caeden glanced across at him. “We’ll make sure you’re safe. We’re all painfully aware that you’re the weakest one here.”

“It’s a little awkward,” concurred Asha.

“Lucky you’re a prince, really,” continued Davian absently, peering over the edge into the raging white water. “You wouldn’t have a whole lot going for you if you didn’t have—”

“All right,” growled Wirr.

This book and the books before it are actually quite emotional books, they have such strong themes that are so beautifully written and brought to life with the incredible characters we have come to know and love.

When starting this trilogy the third book was already out and there was a lot of hype for its conclusion. That hype is not over-exaggerated. All I will say on the matter is that it is utterly satisfying and the ending the series needed. You know that feeling, when you are at a concert and everyone is singing the final song, chanting loud and full of life, the music stops and it is just the crowd carrying on the song. You’re both elated from the experience and sad it is going to end…that is what this book is.

I have said it before, but I will say it again…This series has a cast of characters that are simply outstanding and their development and growth both individually and as a group of friends never once failed to surprise and impress me. This book will give you ALL the feels, some good and some bad but all worth it. The level of emotion this books pulls from you as a reader is exceptions to say the least.

There isn’t really much I can say that I haven’t said already in my two past reviews of this series. I totally get why people review a series as a whole after an initial review of the first book, might be the way forward.

This is a series I binged and it is one I will definitely reread, and I suspect a trilogy that I will read again and spot all sorts of little subtle reveals and just be an excited dope! The fact that I am able to have just finished this series and already be excited about any potential rereads just shows you how great this series is!

“It’s not enough to fight for the right side. You have to figure out how to fight the right way, too. If winning is truly all that matters, then we’ve lost sight of what’s actually right and wrong in the first place.”


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

While I don’t actually own the Hardbacks for this, if I could get my hands on them I SO would. These books are incredibly fun, have some of the best characters I’ve read and are books I have no doubt I will reread!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | AN ECHO OF THINGS TO COME BY JAMES ISLINGTON

Hello Everyone and welcome back to The Book in Hand for another review!

As with The Shadow of What Was Lost I read this book with David from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books continuing with one of the best Buddy Reads.

If you don’t already know or follow them you totally should! They are simply the best!

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

You can find David’s review of An Echo of Things to Come HERE.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: An Echo Of Things To Come
  • Author: James Islington
  • Series: The Licanius Trilogy (Book Two)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 704

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Darkness spreads across a land in need of heroes.

In the wake of the devastating attack on Ilin Illan, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs – finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. However, as Davian and his new allies hurry north towards the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.

In the capital, Wirr is forced to contend with assassins and an increasingly hostile Administration as he controversially assumes the mantle of Northwarden, uncovering a mystery which draws into question everything commonly believed about the rebellion his father led twenty years ago. Meanwhile, Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows, determined to discover not only where they went but the origin of the Vessels that created them – and, ultimately, a cure.

And with time against him as he races to fulfil the treacherous bargain with the Lyth, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed . . .

ORDER HERE: Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • Multiple character POV’s which are all equally interesting and fun;
  • Well written and utterly enthralling time jumps/flashbacks;
  • A closer look at the world and all the that gill it both in the past and the present; and
  • A brilliant bridge book to prepare you for book three.

On to the full review…

“The lesser of two evils, and the greater good. The most dangerous phrases in the world.” 

An Echo of Things to Come is the second book in the Licanius Trilogy and it was a great read. While I enjoyed book one just a smidgen more this was still an incredible book. I got the feeling that this book was more of a bridge book. This instalment gave you more history, character development and even greater foundations for its ultimate conclusion. Which I think is such an apt and cool way to describe this book (thank you Eleni) because it was still a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book but ultimately it is more about preparing you for book three. Which I really don’t mind when it is done this well.

Though, despite my above comments (not that they are bad) this book was so utterly engaging. We see so much more from all the characters as they develop and grow into some of my favourite characters written! They are so well developed and nuanced. Each character has their own interesting storyline, their own mission if you will, and Islington continues to give each a unique journey and voice. Each is a little bit different than the other, one will give you the political intrigue and all the power plays you love while another will give you that feeling of adventure and keep moving through the world showing you more and more each time. It is brilliantly done.

“Even if our choices are inevitable, it doesn’t mean that they are not our own.” 

Now, some of you may know I look for good characters above all in a book, I like to be a part of their journey and become invested in their goals and on this front Islington did not disappoint! At. All.

As I said, i buddy read this and something we all kept coming back to was just how amazing the characters of this series are, their growth is incredible and goes beyond anything you expect. Caeden for example, Islington really managed to show you his character and his struggles. without spoiling anything, Caeden learns certain things about himself and learns of past friends and acquaintances and the way in which Islington manages to showcase their relationships is nothing short of astounding. You feel everything, and that is no exaggeration, the aching weight all his revelations have on his soul and so much more.

“The danger of evil, the purpose of evil, is that it causes those who would oppose it to become evil also.”

I thought Islington was ambitious with book one and quite the daring writer considering this is his debut series, and I stand by that statement! Islington goes several steps further in this instalment, so yes it does get quite complex and I would recommend reading these books with too much time between them. I read them days apart and felt comfortable (as one can with time hops and flashbacks) with most of this book, though I imagine if you have waited it can be quite daunting, confusing and a little unenjoyable. This books increases the number of timelines we see, so just be prepared for that, but don’t worry too much it is done really well.

Islington’s writing was great in book one, it felt accessible and too easy to read, and he continues this with books two. The writing is descriptive but not in your face, the dialogue is organic and every chapter feels purposeful despite its slower pace and bridge book status. There is so much packed into the pages of this book and you see the scope of this world more in this instalment.

“I’m telling you that you should doubt—as I do my own beliefs. The day on which you decide not to question what you believe, is the day that you start making excuses for why you believe it.”

I’m not going to blabber on to much with this review because I don’t want to repeat myself too much from my review of book one.

Overall, this was a captivating and enthralling second instalment to the Licanius Trilogy and had me so excited to start book three (which I have read) and see how such an epic tale could be concluded! It is ambitious and daring but it really pays off.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I rated this five stars on Goodreads and I would happily get the HARDBACK of this book! I enjoyed this instalment so so much.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | LEGACY OF THE BRIGHTWASH, TAINTED DOMINION (BOOK 1) BY KRYSTLE MATAR

Good Morning, good afternoon, good evening!!

I’m Dan, and I am going to share with you my review of Legacy of the Brightwash as a part of the Storytellers on Tour Book Tour!

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong?

Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack. 

Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions. 

Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her? 

Why was he the only one who cared? 

Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for? 

ORDER HERE: Kindle (Free on Kindle Unlimited) | Paperback

Page Count: 655

Published by Imberleigh Book Company

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The legacy of the Brightwash is described as a gas lamp, grim dark novel. The setting for this novel was inspired by the era of the 1890s in a time of huge economic depression, and within that time period, there were many social issues that inspired some of the darker subject matter within this novel. Krystle does not pull any punches when exploring these social issues and really gets down to core of it. So the inspiration for this work of fiction is taken from a very dark time in human history, really setting the tone for this novel. This is a hugely original fantasy novel, with some very new and innovative themes and concepts. This novel can be described as a very character driven novel and my personal favourite, a grim dark novel. I was totally sold!!!

This grim world unravels with each passing chapter, as you follow the masterfully crafted characters through the brutal and unforgiving reality that is life within the Dominion. I think what makes this a very unique world, is that, it’s a move away from conventional fantasy settings. Matar does an incredible job of painting a picture of a world from this era, from the humble working class neighbourhoods, to the glamour of high society, to the sinister Authority institutions, down to the gritty gangster underworld, its truly vivid and captivating. There’s also massive attention to detail, even down to the fashion of that era, so this world really does burst into life. So, you see it features excellent world building with a progressive approach and is achieved skilfully to really put the focus on our characters.

The plot is centered around our main protagonist Tashue. We watch as he’s drawn into the corrupt world of high society and the Authority. As he climbs the ranks, he becomes embroiled in their corruption, but at the same time the cracks in his world start to show and everything begins to collapse. Meanwhile his ongoing investigation of the mutilated girl found washed up on the Brightwash, leaves him few clues, she does bare a mysterious tattoo, but beyond that his investigation is fruitless. He’s forced to turn to the criminal underworld to find the truth. Using his connections he’s able to seek answers using unconventional methods which invites it’s own set of problem’s.The biggest weight he has to bare is his son Jason, who is tainted, who refuses to register and who is now imprisoned.The Authority is really at the core of all these characters struggles, it’s grasp on this world is truly sinister, and as you’ll find out, it harbours such dark secrets. The tainted are invaluable to the Authority, they acknowledge the dangerous nature of the tainted and claim to be the Dominions protector. But have enslaved the tainted to utilize their abilities for practical purposes, allegedly is to promote peace and harmony within the Dominion…. In amongst the chaos, the shining light in Tashue’s dark world is his love interest Stella, but as with all things in this world, nothing is simple.

As the first few chapters introduce you to the investigation, and his relationship with his son, it hooks you into the story very quickly and for readers like myself is essential. The dialogue between father and son is very emotionally charged and parents reading this novel, be prepared for those heart strings to be pulled. There are so many aspects of this book that’ll provoke powerful emotions, it’s usually down to the oppressive presence of the authority. The exploration of some of the social issues in this book, from that era, are genuinely engaging and you’re compassion for these characters will be overwhelming! But despite this being a very character driven novel, I think even for those more plot driven readers, you’ll be able to see those indicators of this series becoming more plot heavy as the series plays out. There is so much potential scope for this world. But its drawn out slowly so there’s a great deal of intrigue that warrants so many questions.This is a dark novel, but hope does bloom ….

The best aspect of this book without question is the characterisation. As a huge fan of very character driven novels I felt totally immersed in their stories and I was totally captivated by the complexities of these characters. I felt the five POVs we follow gave a very three dimensional view of the characters and the well placed inner monologues gave further insights into core of what motivates them. So you really felt like you know them intimately. The characterisation for Tashue our main protagonist was phenomenal, his existential crisis was captured so perfectly!! Not to take away any attention from Stella our leading lady because she has some of the best virtues any woman could have, but she harbors her own dark secrets, her vulnerability was so skillfully portrayed. When she meets Tashue you can fully understand their connection because of the depth of understanding you have about these characters. There really is a diverse cast who are brilliantly fleshed out, even the Villains in high society to our silver tongued mob boss. But it was the consistency with the character work that was most notable, I usually talk about maybe one, or two favourites, never have I been totally enamoured with an entire cast before, not to this extent.

The vast majority of characters that I’ve read previously play into those well known character tropes and don’t always present something new. This is one of those books that really shows the big paradigm shift in how characters are portrayed in modern Fantasy. It seems , that the term grim dark is a term that’s used to often! But this novel is the very definition of a grim dark!! I feel Matar has succeeded beyond my expectations in creating some of the most original, authentic, morally grey, unforgettable characters and totally achieved that sense of gritty realism.

The social issues effecting these characters within this novel are hugely emotive, there are examples of racism, social segregation, huge inequality and addiction. All of the subject matter concerning these issues is handled incredibly well and are completely relevant.

The majority of these social issues are born from the authority itself and the presence of the Authority seems to manifest in every aspect of these characters lives. As a result the majority of the characters within this novel have their own internal struggles and are forced to act under the weight of their oppressors, often acting in a way that’s necessary for their survival, which really carves out a very lonely and isolated world.

“Better to be lonely and feel the sharp edges of it, she thought, than to be empty and filled with nothing”

The romance was so stripped down, it wasn’t pretentious, it was very authentic and central to this books plot. It’s not often that I feel emotionally invested in this aspect of a book but the romance blossoming in such a dark world really did make it shine a little brighter. I think when a relationship is very much the path to salvation for two characters, to me, it really has substance, rather than something that’s very superficial. I also feel that Matar has done incredibly well to be very inclusive, a broad range of readers will be able to identify with many of the relationships within this book, giving it a very modern dimension, which is totally necessary…

So let’s talk more about the magic system, which is central to this books plot. Within this world there are individuals with magical abilities that are referred to as having the talent, and by some are referred to as the tainted, dependent on who you ask … The tainted have immense value to the authority, but inspite of this, they’re still classed as second class citizens, segregated, dehumanised and stripped of their humanity, not even afforded basic the liberties of normal citizens of the Dominion. But the narrative from the Authority is that they themselves are the last defense between the tainted and there unpredictable, dangerous nature. I really liked the way the magic system was portrayed, you know in basic terms what its capable of, what it’s limits are but all the while leaving some questions unanswered, so there’s definitely still some mystery, which I really liked. However it is taking the magic system into the realms of a technology, which is moving away from traditional magic systems,which totally worked in this instance. The element of mystery surrounding the magic system, keeps you intrigued and unlike a lot of modern fantasy books, is not there to over shadow the weaker elements of the book.

I found Matars writing style to be highly evocative and very engaging. The pacing and the technical execution of the this novel was pretty flawless. I think it was the consistency of the quality of the writing that was notable, in each chapter you can totally see the amount of work that went into this book. This is a glowing example of the fact that flowery prose is not a necessity for good writing. The skill in the writing was abundantly clear. I can definitely see influences from David Gemmel and Anthony Ryan in the writing.

I was really left feeling that I’ve just been privy to the beginning of a series that’s going to be very special. I think that once you’re taken by Matars characters, the emotional investment is so overwhelming that you’ll be following these characters for as long as Krystle is happy to write about them. I really feel that Matar has burst out the gate with this stunning debut and it’s my feeling that she will very quickly establish herself within the fantasy genre. Krystle has clearly worked incredibly hard to forge something that is really original, something that shows huge innovation and creativity.The passion behind this book is abundantly clear and shines through as every aspect of this novel.

There are elements of this book that Abercrombie, Pierce Brown fans will absolutely love!! It’s my belief that Mr Abercrombie should be concerned because there is a new girl in town!!

I’m hugely invested in this series and will eagerly awaiting the next installment!!