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 OF THE MONTH | FEBRUARY

Hello Bookish folks!

It is that time of month where I talk about the book I have read in February and guys I read a lot in February, too much to be honest. While I enjoyed the books I read after so many I got serious book fatigue. My pace dropped and I had a mini slump of sorts, it wasn’t the slump in which no book sounded interesting but a literal inability to focus and read more than a few paragraphs without being distracted by tiny things!

I overdid it!

Though, I have to admit I am seriously impressed with my month at the same time, I made such a big push because I want to get through my ARCs both physicals and from NetGalley, and I was able to up my NetGalley ration through the five reviews I was able to get through.

On top of that I dealt with a two physical ARCs and worked my way up to a few other NetGalleys…the ones where I may have, and by may have I mean definitely did, request book three of a series which then got accepted and so meant I have to read the two earlier books…

I know, its a shameful thing to do!

What I am reading currently…

I am currently reading The Light of All That Falls by James Islington with David S from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books! I am also about 70% of the way through The End of Dreams by Marcus Lee as a part of the Book Tour hosted by Storytellers on Tour and finally I am listening to The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell in preparation for one of those shamefully requested NetGalley.

ALL ARE GREAT SO FAR!

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS MONTH?

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them – the Gifted – are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their own powers.
As a young Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and his friends are despised beyond their school walls for the magical power they wield: a power that Davian, despite his best efforts, cannot seem to control. Worse, with his final test approaching and the consequences of failure severe, time to overcome his struggles is fast running out.
But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will change his life – and shake the entire world.

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Here

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, more so because I had the joy of reading this with some amazing book friends but I cannot deny it is an amazing debut!

Snakewood by Adrian Selby

This debut epic fantasy from a British writer of incredible talent tells the tale of the Twenty, a band of mercenaries hunted by an unknown killer. Filled with unique voices and incredible worldbuilding, this stunning novel will delight fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, Joe Abercrombie or Mark Lawrence.

Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through their cunning, their closely guarded alchemical brews and stone cold steel. Whoever met their price won.
Now, their glory days behind them and their genius leader in hiding, the warriors known as the ‘Twenty’ are being hunted down and eliminated one by one.

A lifetime of enemies has its own price.

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Snakewood was a really great and an amazing introduction to the works of Adrian Selby, it is a format that some may not like. It has an actually name but I cant remember it but it is when the book is made up of a collective of journals and accounts to make up a story. Either way I really enjoyed it.

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD by T. L. HUCHU

When ghosts talk, she will listen . . .

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghost talker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan . . .) as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets. And in the process, she discovers an occult library and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

Opening up a world of magic and adventure, The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu is the first book in the Edinburgh Nights series.

Review Link: Here

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This was a different read to my normal, I enjoyed it and its main strength is definitely its main character Ropa.

Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt

Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.

A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.

A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.

A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.

The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.

Review Link: Here

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Now, this wasn’t my favourite read as I had a few issues as to character depth and its length but I can appreciate its prose, world-building and captivating plot.

THE SHADOW OF THE GODS by John Gwynne

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 . . . 

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

As usually John Gwynne has knocked it out of the park! He is such a great writer, I was only discussing the other day with a friend that in some ways we love these books because we trust John Gwynne as an author. So while usually I might not like something, say I don’t know like a cliffhanger! I really don’t mind with Gwynne books because he has done nothing but deliver in the past and has earned my trust as a reader!

THE LEGION OF FLAME by ANTHONY RYAN

Survival is the only currency…

For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood–and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed–to fuel and protect its empire. But when the drake blood lines began to fail, a perilous expedition was mounted to secure them.

Claydon Torcreek survived the fraught mission through uncharted lands in pursuit of a myth that might have secured his people’s future. Instead he found a nightmare. The legendary White Drake was awoken from a millennia-long slumber, with a thirst to reduce the world of men to ashes, and the power to compel an army of Spoiled slaves to do it.

Spurred on by a vision he desperately hopes he can trust, Clay and rebel naval officer Corrick Hilemore hijack a warship and head towards the icy southern seas, searching for an ancient secret that may give them and their allies a fighting chance.

They are aided on another front by Blood-blessed agent Lizanne Lethridge. The spy and assassin will use her diplomatic status to infiltrate deep into enemy territory on a quest for a device to save them all.

As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few Blood-blessed are the last hope for all of civilisation. 

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Anthony Ryan is another author who has my trust a a reader, I really love these books and I am so sooo excited to start book three! This is a brilliant second instalment to an already amazing series.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by ALIX E. HARROW

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Here

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, it was a nice refreshing read for me and one that timed perfectly with my mood at the time, proving that just sometimes being a mood reader rocks!

The Ravenmaster’s Revenge by Jacob Sannox

It is the autumn of 2019. Merlin’s wayward apprentice has escaped from the Tower of London with his raven familiars. Legend foretells that the White Tower, then England, will fall.
Can King Arthur, a weary veteran of the English Civil War, Waterloo and the Somme, prevent the Ravenmaster from exacting his revenge?

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This book is a great reworking of an Arthurian legend, and one which I enjoyed, a strength of this book for me was the authors ability to show the effects of immortality on a person, something I have seen other more popular authors not do half as well.

Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster…and spy. As Tomas’s power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.

People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become–until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors.

When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.

Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.

In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people’s champion…or just a priest of lies.

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Here

My Thoughts:

An impressive and standout dark fantasy sequel from Peter McLean for a series which is shaping up to be an all-time favourite.

A ​Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas 

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This is a typical SJM fantasy romance, and one I enjoyed very much!

An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington 

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 . . .

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Another second instalment that was brilliant, while this did feel lie it was setting up the third book a little it was still a great book and one I loved!


Ok, so the bit of the post you actually wanted to read…

This months BOOK OF THE MONTH is…

THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Once again I have been very lucky in the books I have read this month, but John Gwynne has this one in the bag and it is much to do with the fact the book is bloody brilliant but also to do with the fact that this book got me out the book fatigue/slump I was talking about earlier.


Well that’s is fellow book friends! Thank you for reading, feel free to comment here or on Twitter if you have read and loved/hated any of my reads this month. Also, let me know what your favourite read was this month.


BOOK REVIEW | PRIEST OF LIES BY PETER MCLEAN & NARRATED BY DAVID MORLEY HALE

Hello and Happy Friday, Bookish Folk!

Apparently I review this series on a Friday because I reviewed Priest of Bones on a Friday too!

Happy Friday!

A few facts about this book and audiobook narration:

  • Title: Priest of Lies
  • Author: Peter McLean
  • Narrated By: David Morley Hale
  • Series: War of the Rose Throne (Book Two)
  • Published by Jo Fletcher Books
  • Pages: 368
  • Narration Length: 12 Hours 44 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster…and spy. As Tomas’s power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.

People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become–until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors.

When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.

Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.

In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people’s champion…or just a priest of lies. 

ORDER HERE: Audible | Paperback | Hardback | Kindle | Bookshop.Org

Review:

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

  • An impressive and standout dark fantasy sequel;
  • It is harsher, bloodier and even more intense than Priest of Bones;
  • A page turner that will consume you; and
  • just an exceptional read you need to make time for.

A little about the narration

ONE OF THE BEST…

On to the full review…

An impressive and standout dark fantasy sequel from Peter McLean for a series which is shaping up to be an all-time favourite.

I honestly don’t think I have a bad thing to say about this instalment of the War for the Rose Throne series. It is just so incredibly good and I enjoyed every page.

As a second instalment review I am going to try and keep it shorter, because as usual most of my points of book one still stand for book two (you can find my Priest of Bones review here). We see more of the world and a much wider spectrum of people in this instalment. I loved seeing more interaction between the side characters and their own story arcs. I think it shows the talent of a writer when they can give you fully fleshed out arcs for other characters when a story is told from a single POV, and that is just one of the amazing things McLean delivers in this instalment.

McLean upped his game in this book from an already superb first instalment. Priest of Lies is harsher, bloodier, more intense and focus’ even more on Tomas and his journey to becoming even more powerful than he already is. Tomas is an incredible character, and listening to the audiobook for this was even better because it only added to an already distinct and unique character voice. I think he may be up there as one of my favourite characters written. He was such a deep and complex character, experiencing his journey through his sole POV is nothing short of outstanding.

I would also like to note I did not read this straight after book one, there was a gap of maybe just over a month, and I forgot nothing about book one. I slotted straight back into this world and its characters with an ease not many books achieve.

I really do not feel like I can accurately explain just how exceptional this book is, it throws so much at you and none of it is predictable and will for sure shock you to the core. It is heartfelt and harrowing at times and filled with betrayal and gore at others.

It has the characters, the plot, the pace, the prose, the world and everything in-between that makes for a super book. It is just that good.

This is one of those books you read and then feel terrible about how long you then have to wait for the follow up book, and I’m not even waiting that long compared to those who read this via an ARC! I devoured this book, I often listen to audiobooks for an hour or two, longer if I am super busy with cleaning and the likes but it is not often I just listen sat down because I fall asleep or my attention goes elsewhere. I listened to this book for a solid five hours in one sitting, it is so riveting and captivating you don’t want to stop reading/listening and there is never a dull moment.

I highly recommend this series.


THE RANKS: 

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

BUY THE FOOKIN HARD BACK Y’ALL! This book (as I have said) upped its game from an already brilliant book so its and easy HB purchase for this one.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST BY JAMES ISLINGTON

Hello Everyone and welcome to my latest review!

I hope you are all doing well and have something fantastic of your own to read, but still if you haven’t read this book, I am going to try and tempt you to add it to your TBR or move it up The TBR altogether!

I figured it was about time I wrote my review for The Shadow of What Was Lost considering I am due to start book three very soon! I have read this book and book two with David from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books in one of the best Buddy Reads!

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

You can find David’s review HERE.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Shadow of What Was Lost
  • Author: James Islington
  • Series: The Licanius Trilogy (Book One)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 704

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

OLD POWERS AWAKEN

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them – the Gifted – are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their own powers.

As a young Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and his friends are despised beyond their school walls for the magical power they wield: a power that Davian, despite his best efforts, cannot seem to control. Worse, with his final test approaching and the consequences of failure severe, time to overcome his struggles is fast running out.

But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will change his life – and shake the entire world.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Review:

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

  • A complex epic fantasy done RIGHT;
  • NAMED WEAPONS;
  • An outstanding character driven fantasy;
  • A wonderful and oh so relevant magic system; and
  • another AMAZING debut.

On to the full review…

The Shadow of What Was Lost is another book you could say I am late to the party for, I missed all the hype of its publishing originally and then missed it allover again for book two. It wasn’t until book three was making its rounds in the Book Community that I thought to move it up The TBR, and not because I didn’t want to read it because I did. It was just one of the many unknown ways in which the TBR sucks books into its void.

Anywho to the review, as you may have gathered from the fact I will be starting book three soon I enjoyed this book.

This is my first time reading the works of James Islington and I was not disappointed in the slightest, he writes in such an accessible and easy flowing way. Before you know it you have read 100 pages and you are hooked! He is also incredibly skilled at doing complex the right way, which I mention a little later on. While Islington’s writing is easy to consume it doesn’t not lack flare, and is beautifully written!

“You can put your trust in something that’s obvious, that’s measurable or predictable – but that’s not faith. Nor is believing in something that gives you no pause for doubt, no reason or desire to question. Faith is something more than that. By definition, it cannot have proof as its foundation.” 

The Shadow of What Was Lost is a fine example of an outstanding character driven fantasy, and I can confirm it has an incredible cast of characters of whom you will want to fight for, love, cry for and so much more. This book is told from several POV, we have Davian, Wirr, Asha and Caeden (who my phone ALWAYS changes to garden, so if you see it just pretend it says Caeden, yeah?)

I loved every single character of this book, I didn’t find myself getting to a certain POV chapter and wishing for another. Each POV brings you something unique to themselves and also relevant to the world, so you are always excited to read all of them. Which may sound like a silly praise but it is incredibly important to me, too often have I found I don’t like all the characters and when I get to them I think ‘ahh I will stop reading here’ because I cant really be arsed with them. So, the fact this isn’t an issue in a book of this page count makes for an incredible read.

The plot of this books is quite complex and has many intricacies, though having read Gardens of the Moon right before it I honestly didn’t feel at any point like I wasn’t following, Islington gives you the details and feeds it to you in such a captivating way, I didn’t find myself being like ‘Gahh, what is going on i’m so confused’ but more along the lines of ‘ohhh Islington you crafty devil, this now makes sense and that does but what about this mean…give me MORE’. It was fun, and wonderful and, in my eyes, how complex plots should be done. I wanted to know everything while 100% enjoying what I had received so far, I didn’t get frustrated or annoyed at it! 

Also, guys the prologue and overall start to his boo is brilliant! 

The world of Andarra is also a joy to read, Islington seamlessly shows you the world through all of his characters. The history of the world, the conflicts and key figures are all explained to you perfectly. He does not drop place names, people, wars and other historical facts at your feet like a sack of spuds but feeds it to you in an easily digestible and incredible alluring way. He gives you just enough for you to understand but also enough to have you going ‘ohhh thats great but wait what about this..?’ And so you HAVE to read on! This is in my opinion how world building should be done! Especially with epic worlds which have such a well established and fascinating history and magic in place, like Andarra does. 

The magic in this book is wonderful, it has rules and limitations and at no point felt pointless, also we have NAMED WEAPONS people, NAMED FREAKING WEAPONS. I love them, can you tell? The magic is also quite a visual one and is crucial to the plot. It impacts the world/setting, the characters, their choices and so much more so the fact that it is easy to understand and generally fun to read works brilliantly.

“Everyone has a darker nature, Caeden. Everyone. Good men fear it, and evil men embrace it.”

Honestly, this book really blew me away and I’m pretty sure it will be one of my top series’ pending book three but I’m not worried about it, the reviews so far speak for themselves! 

Also, the fact that this is a debut blows my mind, it is such a large sale epic fantasy and done so well you would think Islington had been writing for a lot longer.


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 immensely. I always love doing buddy reads with likeminded people because you get to theorise and gush and cry about which ever bit you are on, and it makes the reading experience so much better but even if I read this on my own I would have loved this book just as much.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!