BOOK REVIEW: ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE BY ROBIN HOBB

Oh gosh, I feel like I haven’t written up an actual book review in so long so don’t judge, I feel a little rough around the edges!

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Assassin’s Apprentice:

  • Title: Assassin’s Apprentice
  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Series: The Farseer Trilogy (Book One) and First trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings series.
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 401

I read Assassin’s Apprentice on my Kindle which is currently only £2.99 on Amazon! I do plan to buy physical copies too!

Synopsis:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. 

AVAILABLE FROM: | WHSMITH | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA | BLACKWELL’S | WATERSTONES

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Review:

As it is with the well established series of the fantasy genre, and even more so ones of this magnitude, there are always tonnes of opinions. What the book did wrong, how it depressed some readers, how it was slow but amazing or any number of other comments. So it is more than likely you will see some similar views within this review but I like talking and reviewing books so I’m still going to write this despite what I have just said 😀

As we can see I’m pretty late to the Robin Hobb party but I don’t think it is a book I could have tackled any earlier. I had this trilogy on my TBR for a while but always veered away from it because I knew it was an older fantasy book and a classic. Though, I can safely say that I am happy I joined the Hobb party no matter how late.

So Assassin’s Apprentice has some fairly long chapters, at one point I was tired and thought ‘Ohhh I’ll just read to the end of the chapter’. Ummmm, no. I quickly looked how long it was and was like ‘nope, I can’t do it. I can’t make it that long’ 😂 

Straight off the bat, I knew I would love Hobb’s writing style. It is soo stunningly written, and being told her other trilogies only get better is amazing and has be insanely excited. 

With writing like Hobbs it often goes hand in hand with immense world building and this book is no exception. Hobb treats you to such detailed and colourful world building, there wasn’t a time I didn’t feel utterly involved in the book, in both larger scale plot events and smaller interactions.

One thing I really loved about this book was the time spent with Fitz as he grew up, I really enjoy these starts to a book and this one kinda reminded me of Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. Now, I know this came out first but I read Blood Song first, so if I say it reminds me of Blood Song just take that as it is, ok? Ok. I loved Blood Song, so as soon as I met a young nameless boy being carted off to somewhere other than what he thought was his home and be thrust into the unknown I was eager! Even more so for this tale to begin the way it did with the snippets of narrator texts (again reminded me of Blood Song) it was already off to an amazing start.

Though, while I mention this and as I said I enjoy these beginnings because we see incredible character developments it does make for a far slower pace. This isn’t really an issue for me, least all in a first book but I know it may be for some people.

Hobb has done a damned fine job at building an incredible collection of characters. I loved the depth of Fitz as a character, he had so much personality and as a reader you genuinely felt a whole range of emotions. What made him even more intriguing was the fact that he never truly showed anyone himself wholly, he always kept something from someone! It provided a lot of options for the book, is he going to slip up with one person, tell the wrong person something they don’t know, show them a side of him he simply cannot? It is brilliantly written.

You do spend a lot of time in Fitz’s head, and this isn’t really a bad thing but i did find myself at times hoping for a character interaction and not getting one. 

This story goes far beyond Fitz alone, you become invested in nearly all the characters and Hobb both gives you the goods and doesn’t. Chivalry for instance, isn’t a character we got more from and I really wanted to see more of him, but where this is the case Hobb seamlessly interweaves the characters relationship to him to satisfy it. We see the way Burrich thinks of him, and the level of loyalty he shows, this alone shows us more into Chivalry’s character. His relationship with his brother and with Patience. It is quite masterfully done, we create a relationship with a character who isn’t even there so imagine the goods you get from those we do come into contact with.

Now, I don’t often mention magic systems in my reviews, I probably should because the are an intrinsic part of the fantasy genre but honestly I don’t feel qualified in magic systems yet having not read some of the leading ones of the genre. That’s not to say I don’t have an opinion on them but you won’t get me talking about hard magic or rule based ones and so forth. Buuuuut, saying all that I am going to say how much I liked the magic in this book. We have Wit and Skill and they are so simple in nature yet the way Hobb weaves them into the plot and the characters development just puts them a step above others I have read. Hobb also teases us with the potential for these magics to play a far greater role in the future books of the trilogy.

Overall, I am so impressed with this book and have already started the next book. I am reading them considerably slower than usual but that is more to do with a busier schedule than anything but I am almost grateful for it as the time I am giving these books when I can is that much more treasured.


Book Tour: Kings and Daemons by Marcus Lee

Welcome! Today it is my turn to follow in the footsteps of some incredible bloggers on the Kings and Daemons Book Tour hosted by the amazing Storytellers on Tour. It is day five and my turn to gush about this gem of a book.

For full details about this tour then head on over to the Storytellers on Tour Book Tour Page.

Firstly, the giveaway…

Click on the picture above for a chance to win one of five paperback copies of the brilliant Kings and Daemons! Ends in three days!

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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!

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

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.

Review:

I really bloody enjoyed this book!

Kings and Daemons is Marcus Lee’s debut novel and the first in the series, I loved it and I am excited to read the next book in the series.

As I said on my Twitter and Goodreads update I truly loved Marcus’ writing, it read perfectly to me, and by perfectly I mean it is exactly the tone and style of writing I adore in fantasy. It made me feel like I was reliving a tale told by someone who knew the characters and witnessed the story unravel. 

I really enjoyed my time in the world, it was a dark and punishing world with a history as bloody and harsh as it’s present. Really early on it the book, when we hear a little of Kalas’ history, I was thinking give me that book too! I wanted to know more and more and could have read about the previous wars and beauties of the Ember Kingdom for longer and that’s saying something! For this not to come off as an unwanted info dump is a feat all in its self. These glimpses into the characters and the worlds history were utterly enjoyable.

Spoiled vegetables in the fields, dead or dying fish in the rivers, the whole land was teetering on a knife-edge.

Marcus really managed to make the world something in its own right, yes the witch king was an epic villain and always the root cause of it, but the world was almost a character unto its self, it was so evil and utterly corrupted. People were taught to relish in bloodshed and revel in the gore of war and death, it was so corruptive you saw glimpses of it’s corruption even in your ’good’ characters. 

His dreams, full of killing and bloodshed, he would once have considered nightmares, had shown him his destiny in all its blood-drenched glory.

Throughout we see glimpses of quite a few characters in Kings and Daemons, I’m going to say this is third-person omniscient because the narrator knows all the characters and their inner thoughts not just our leads, but I could be wrong. As I was saying, you see into other people’s minds in between our main characters. This is done brilliantly, I enjoyed the breaks in main character pov’s and found that they really added to the story and the scenes. In some cases it showed the awe of someone in response to one of our leads actions or the disgust. It is done fluidly and does not come across as disjointed or clunky. 

Maya is one of our main characters and I found I quite liked the nimble-footed little hunter, at one point she says something a little flirtatious and I was a shocked and giddy at it, as was who it was said too, because I was like oh hello new playful Maya. Then the nitpicker in me thought is that really in character for her and it was, because all her life she had been told to stay away and keep to herself, play herself down whereas now she was in the company of folk whole knew her so she had nothing to hide and could be her true, playful and nature-loving self. 

Mmmm, and the grey hair! You know I love this, I mean I named my dog Rogue (after the x-men and not rogue one star wars) so I was digging this little detail. 

Kalas was also quite an intriguing fellow, I adored his history and thoroughly enjoyed reading of it. Kalas was at sometimes infallible though, there didn’t seem to be any risk to him. I would have liked to have seen more go wrong for him, or at least provide a few wee hiccups in his journey. Though saying this I don’t think this will be an issue in the next book!

From there, chaos reigned. But inside the chaos, as men ran forward, swords clashed, blood flew and screams shattered the afternoon air, there danced the daemon, moving fluidly, every blow deadly, men falling behind him like leaves from a tree.

Rakan was a great character too, I actually liked him from the start despite his horrible nature. Something about him just seemed redeemable and to see his character grow and develop was an absolute treat.

Taran was a joy to read too and I thoroughly enjoyed the blossoming relationship between him and Maya. 

His life which was hardly gifted by the gods, was now certainly cursed.

And. Don’t judge me. I like the Witch-King, its almost as if by calling him by his given name I feel more understanding towards him. He didn’t have a great start and was pushed to some degree in the direction he took. Don’t get me wrong he continued in that direction with a ruthless brutality but I still kind of like the guy. It is understandable how he masterfully manipulates those around him perfectly, by knowing his soldiers and gifting them his attention and actual gifts! Heck, he manipulated me into kind of liking him! Thats how well written his character is. Marcus managed to create a brilliant cast of characters who are all fun and unique.

Marcus takes you on a great journey with his plot and his writing, I love the burst of colour when Maya works her magic and his descriptions of such create such vivid imagery. The plot is filled with many of the aspects I love from fantasy and constantly had me wanting to read more. We are treated to dark fantasy elements, a natural feeling and stunningly written romance and your classic fantasy elements. 

I’d rather die fighting next to you, than live without you. Don’t ask me to go again. I won’t.‘

The magic in this book is satisfying to read, I love that it always comes with a cost and Marcus does a brilliant job at slowly showing you the rules of said magic. Without saying much I am really excited to see the costs of said magic for some of the characters, we find a few out in this book but I expect we may find out some others in the later books too.

This book is really good, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, it was a super easy read and you will find yourself reading and reading and reading.


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


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, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

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 cover.

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 😉

Thank you for reading!


What’s New To My Kindle?

This month I went a little mental with Kindle Deals, I got so many and a few others that were still a steal but not necessarily one of the deals.

Here we go…

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Add Them To Your Goodreads!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Add This To Your Goodreads!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Add This To Your Goodreads!

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Add This To Your Goodreads!

A Time of Blood by John Gwynne

Add This To Your Goodreads!

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Add This To Your Goodreads!

Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell

Add This To Your Goodreads!

Vultures by Luke Tarzian

Add This To Your Goodreads!

Spit and Song by Travis M. Riddle

Add This To Your Goodreads!

The Blood-Tainted Winter by T L Greylock

Add This To Your Goodreads!

The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

Add This To Your Goodreads!

The Wildfire Cycle by D. P Woolliscroft

Add These To Your Goodreads!

Well, that is my list of Kindle purchases! So many of these are currently £0.99, I think for another two days or so!

So you should definitely head on over to Amazon and get them while you can!

Thank you for checking out my new purchase. What have you bought this month on Kindle?


Review: Valour by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Valour:

  • Title: Valour
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen Series (Book Two)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 669

I read Valour in paperback, but gods do I wish i had this beauty in hardcover!

Synopsis:

The Banished Lands are torn by war as the army of High King Nathair sweeps the realm challenging all who oppose his holy crusade. Allied with the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren, there are few who can stand against him. But Rhin is playing her own games and has her eyes on a far greater prize . . .

Left for dead – her kin have fled and her country is overrun with enemies – Cywen fights to survive. But any chance of escape is futile once Nathair and his disquieting advisor Calidus realize who she is. They have no intention of letting such a prize slip from their grasp. For she may be their one chance at killing the biggest threat to their power. 

Meanwhile, the young warrior Corban flees from his conquered homeland with his exiled companions, heading for the only place that may offer them sanctuary. But to get there they must travel through Cambren, avoiding warbands, giants and the vicious wolven of the mountains. And all the while Corban struggles to become the man that everyone believes him to be – the Bright Star and saviour of the Banished Lands. 

Embroiled in struggles for power and survival, the mortal world is unaware of the greatest threat of all. In the Otherworld, dark forces scheme to bring a host of the Fallen into the world of flesh to end the war with the Faithful, once and for all. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

If you were an absolute rockstar and read my review of Malice you will know that I enjoyed it immensely. As with Malice, this is probably going to heavy on the gushing and low on the critique. Ahhhh, who am I kidding? I found no faults with this book. Valour is the second book in The Faithful and the Fallen Series, and it was AMAZING! 

In my Malice review I said this series was likely to be my favourite one, and I can say that I still firmly stand by that statement.

John Gwynne does not disappoint, picking up pretty much straight after the ending of Malice, we plunge back into the world that is The Banished Lands. John Gwynne’s incredible writing style remains true in Valour, as he continues to wow with his intricate weaving of facts and simple but profound writing style.

Having read Malice and understanding the level of sly manoeuvrings and betrayals of its characters I was actually able to pick up more little hints of what was to come in this instalment. Now, you might think that a bad thing but I assure it wasn’t. Gwynne did this in such a way that you don’t necessarily notice the first breadcrumb or so, but then maybe three of four down the line something clicks and immediately you are itching to read more to get to what you think know will happen. Simple as these bread crumbs are they give you a whisper of hope, a chance that someone may realise the errors of their ways or a character might just make some choices you wanted and not follow in blind faith! Ohh, and that person you think I’m referring to you are probably wrong. He isn’t that obvious, these breadcrumbs are so finely woven and seamlessly blended you almost miss them. And that my friends is the magic of John Gwynne’s writing.

In Malice we saw a low magic system, so it was nice to see the elemental magic we were introduced to expanded further in Valour. Gwynne better explains the rules of the magic and we see it’s use a little bit more. 

In every book you read there is always a drive to reach the conclusion of the story, a need to finish it and see how it all ends. That need still stands with Valour, but at the same time you are so invested in the smaller things happening to each of the characters own individual stories and relationships. Upon finishing valour I still felt utterly satisfied,  much happens in Valour and Gwynne made it that I wasn’t chasing the end of the greater story but grasping the pages to conclude the smaller plot lines making this book utterly enjoyable.

Gwynne furthers the bonds of brotherhood in Valour, more so than in Malice. I particularly liked the blossoming relationship between Camlin and Dath. Corban also began to show greater levels of camaraderie, not that it wasn’t present in book one, it certainly was especially with his band of friends but Gwynne develops this even more to brother and sisters in arms, bound by the harrowing events of book one and book two.

I also found Valour to be diverse in it’s conflict. In more than one way, as with Malice we saw different levels of good vs evil, some being the greater war, others personal fueds and also that between kings and queens. Gwynne does not fail to keep this diversity in Valour. As a lover of all things military and battle-related I was happy to see that Gwynne treats you to guerrilla warfare, shield walls, magical and monstrous battles between giant and wolven and so much more. He does not fail to mix things up. I also enjoyed seeing the different aspects of a single battle. It was nice to see Corban not fighting but helping Brina in the medical wing at one point.

The plot in Valour is definitely a little darker than Malice, but it fits, we get a deeper look at the prophecy and those who will inevitably play a role in it. The pace is a lot quicker than Malice and things are heating up more and more. This book is amazing, and dare I say more enjoyable than Malice, and if that keeps and these books keep getting better then that’s freaking brilliant! 


Review: The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about the Grey Bastards:

  • Title: The Grey Bastards
  • Author: Jonathan French
  • Series: The Lot Lands (Book One)
  • Publisher: Originally self-published but later published by Ballymalis Press 
  • Pages: 529

I read The Grey Bastards on my Kindle and then proceed to buy it for my shelves!

Synopsis:

LIVE IN THE SADDLE. DIE ON THE HOG. 

Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs. 

Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs. 

Jackal rides with the Grey Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster. Supporting Jackal’s dangerous bid for leadership are Oats, a hulking mongrel with more orc than human blood, and Fetching, the only female rider in all the hoofs. 

When the troubling appearance of a foreign sorcerer comes upon the heels of a faceless betrayal, Jackal’s plans are thrown into turmoil. He finds himself saddled with a captive elf girl whose very presence begins to unravel his alliances. With the anarchic blood rite of the Betrayer Moon close at hand, Jackal must decide where his loyalties truly lie, and carve out his place in a world that rewards only the vicious. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

I read this back in August 2019, and loved it so I am SUPER surprised I didn’t get around to reviewing it. So, here is my long overdue review of this fantastic book! And look at that cover, unfortunately that isn’t the cover anymore, but I LOVE it so thought to feature that one, the other is cool too.

Never did I think I would want a hog in place of my motorbike but Jonathan French has taken the Harley Davidsons nickname and brought it to life! As a motorbike lover and owner I can’t promise an unbiased account of this gem! 

“Live in the saddle. Die on the hog”.

The Grey Bastards is a unique and interesting story that will satisfy any fantasy fans needs, in my opinion. We have unforgiving lands that are patrolled by Hoofs, half-orcs brotherhoods, that protect the Lot Lands from full blooded orcs and more while riding warrior hogs!

Here, faith was better placed in a strong mount, a loaded stockbow, and a few solid companions.

This book hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. It is fun and exciting and at no point does it fall into a predictable rhythm. I was beyond impressed with this book.

It is no wonder French stood out with this novel in the SPFBO with his unique plot and brilliant writing. French’s writing is clean and elegant while remaining utterly believable and authentic with its epic fight scenes and great world-building. 

A little warning, this book is filled with hilariously filthy jokes, characters more foul mouthed than a seasoned sailor and unforgiving amounts of violence. Whats not to love?

Would this arrogant ass risk a feud just to save face in front of a gaggle of outcast nobility with new saddles and wet dreams of heroism?

On that note though, it is important to point out that the language in this book is wholly appropriate and authentic to the characters, the world building and the plot, both in the way the speak and the topics they discuss. These are burly, violence-loving, hog-riding orcs, what do you expect? 

The characters are easily the most entertaining aspect of this book, second to its amazing plot. French has created a cast of memorable characters each with great characterisations and overall development that capture you and keep you reading. 

I would recommend this!


Review: Malice by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Malice:

  • Title: Malice
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and The Fallen (Book One)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 672

I read Malice in paperback form, but really wish I had it in hardcover.

Synopsis:

A black sun is rising … 

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. 

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. 

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust. 

Goodreads

Review:

Malice is book one in The Faithful and the Fallen series, and for some reason unknown to me there are still so many fantasy fans yet to read this book. My own Goodreads has twenty GR friends with this marked as ‘to be read’. 

PEOPLE, READ THIS BOOK! It is amazing, and you will not be disappointed.  

Now, Im not sure I am going to say much different to what many have already said, and by far better reviewers but one cannot simply rate this book and leave it without its due praise.

“I shall stay and tell my tale, hope that it may serve some purpose, that eyes shall see it and learn, that the future will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That is my prayer, but what use is prayer to a god that has abandoned all things . . .” 

I can safely say that this book lives up too, and far exceeds all recommendations to read it.

Gwynne is a tremendous writer with his beautiful and effective prose. I found Gwynne’s writing to be excellent if I’m honest. Each description came to life, the world or the scene, blooming in my mind. It was so immersive and real that time just passes you by without even realising. 

To say John Gwynne does anything less than transport you to a breathtaking fantasy world and take you on the journey of a life time is to do it an injustice.

The world that Gwynne has built is fascinating, and has considerable detail. The lore, cultures and religion were all entwined with character views and interactions, and you can see that this world was well thought out. It is incredibly easy to lose yourself in The Banished Lands.

I also really like it when an author distinguishes internal thought by way of italics. It just pleases me.

Gwynne deals more in character depth and development initially in this book, and thus sets a slower pace, but it is still an addicting and exciting read. It isn’t boring at all, or at least I didn’t find it to be, and this is done by the injection of small and frequent action sequences, such as a fight or a wolven encounter, into each POVs story. Honestly, I am struggling to find anything I don’t like about this book. What a debut!

I enjoyed the way in which Gwynne moved forward his timeline too, he smoothly intermingled relevant facts of previous movements/encounters/character actions without overwhelming you with long winded explanation. He points out through a characters internal thoughts a few key conversation snippets without detailing on and on about them walking to a ship, getting on said ship, setting off and so on. So, you know, no unnecessary filler material.

This is a classic tale of Good Vs Evil, though do not mistake this as a simple plot. It isn’t. The plot is filled with intrigue from the get go, it is brimming with dangerous encounters, battles, jaw dropping revelations and gutting betrayals, all of which are written in stunning detail. You will not be bored.

I genuinely don’t know where to start when talking about the characters of this book, there are several of them, and we get a look at all of them. Even the smaller, seemingly less important characters carry with them a massive punch and play an important role in this book. I read this with several people through a buddy read and something I said to them was that I loved the characters more because of the people that surrounded them. Gwynne has written a whole host of characters who all have a massive input in this debut.

Put simply, Gwynne makes use of numerous characters to establish and advance the plot, and though some follow the standard tropes, they are exciting and cleverly written, thoroughly developed, and utterly compelling. 

This book has made me care about the characters in a way no other writer has ever managed, and not just one or two of the lead characters. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. It has left me breathless, had me laughing out loud, scowling at the pages and damned near crying.  

Im pretty sure this is going to be one of my favourite series, and I am only on book one.


Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about The Bone Shard Daughter:

  • Title: The Bone Shard Daughter
  • Author: Andrea Stewart
  • Series: The Drowning Empire (Book One)
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Pages: 448

I read The Bone Shard Daughter on my Kindle and was provided with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people. 

(Goodreads)

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Review:

The Bone Shard Daughter is an exceptionally good fantasy debut. With its imaginative word-building, unique magic and a brilliant cast of characters The Bone Shard Daughter hooks you and doesn’t let go.

The Bone Shard Daughter is set within a failing empire which is made up of several islands. The emperor rules in name only, while he spends his days hidden away in one of his many locked rooms  while his monstrous constructs regulate and police the empire. But at what cost? Rebellion is brewing and his people dying, this debuts follows several characters as they make their way through this world and find their place. 

Stewart tells this unique and intriguing story through the eyes of five very different people, Lin, Jovis, Ranami, Phalue and Sand, and in a slightly different way. Lin and Jovis are both written in first person while the other three POV’s are in third person. At first when I read that this was the case I was worried it would be terrible and come across disjointed and disruptive to the reading experience. This is not the case at all. 

With regards to the plot, Stewarts keeps a great pace and keeps you reading with this quite thrilling plot while thrusting you into a rather heartfelt journey. Stewart’s characters are well developed and rich in detail. I thoroughly enjoyed each characters journey and their growing relationships and loved reading each one of them, though Sand was my least favourite. I simply found myself wanting to get to another characters chapter sometimes. 

I really enjoyed Lin as a character and found her story the most gripping and intriguing but I truly loved Jovis and Mephi. I am an absolute sucker for a companion so this really did it for me. We are still yet to know just what Mephi is but it is obvious he is key. Ranami and Phalue, while having less of a spotlight were brilliant, and such a gem to read. The two characters brought forward a great deal of emotion. Stewart did brilliantly at portraying the issues they faced, one rich and one poor, while not leaning towards one lifestyle in particular. At times I felt, truly felt, for Ranami and the sheer frustration of Phalue’s insistence that the system worked yet in the next beat I was so angry at Ranami for risking Phalue and not thinking past her own needs to change her outlook. 

I loved the idea of the constructs within this story and the use of bone shards, it felt quite Frankenstein’ish in that these crazy constructs are made up of several animal parts and then imbued with life through bone shards. The magic is what caught my attention and it didn’t disappoint, we learn enough and understand it and its relevance but also are teased with a previous kind of magic, one elemental I nature. I suspect we will learn more of this and the mysterious Alanga in the next instalment.

Stewart’s writing style is lovely to read. I always feel like the beginning of a novel is the longest, It’s the waiting to fall into rhythm with the writing style and to form attachments to the characters, but with Stewart it didn’t take long to meet that rhythm. There was some repetitiveness with a few words and phrases but beyond that I felt that Stewarts’ writing was elegant and well written. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this debut and I am excited to read the next book. I can’t really find anything I didn’t like about this book. 

Official release date: 10th September 2020 (UK) and 8th September 2020 (US)

AVAILABLE FROM: | WHSMITH | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA | FORBIDDEN PLANET | WATERSTONES


Review: Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Race the Sands:

  • Title: Race the Sands
  • Author: Sarah Beth Durst
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 544

I read The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.

(Goodreads)

Review:

Oh, this book! It is an absolutely amazing standalone fantasy and I found it even more pleasing as a reader having read the author’s comments at the end. 

I believe that fantasy is a literature of hope and empowerment. It can serve as a light in the darkness, as a guide toward strength, and as an escape from pain. It is my secret hope that someone will read Tamra and Raia’s story and realize that they can be who they want to be, that they can shape the world, that they can race the sands—and win.

Durst, Sarah Beth. Race the Sands.

This was my first time reading Durst’s work, and she certainly made an impression. I loved everything about this book and it is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

Durst’s writing style is also lovely, it is well written and flows seamlessly. She just keeps you reading with each chapter. 

I was in love as soon as I finished the first chapter!

Tamra…just what a character she is. She was incredible because she was so real and strong. I truly appreciated her as a person, for me she was one of the main driving forces. I wanted to see her succeed and gods I wanted her to be able to protect her family. I found her character rather gritty who knew her flaws and had accepted them.

“Maybe they are purer than me. But that doesn’t make their actions right.”

The plot was great, it was filled with political manoeuvrings, intrigue, action sequences and obviously the kehok races. I found the whole thing to be really well paced and Durst kept me reading each chapter. The last ten or so percent of the books were really fun to read too! Though, not taking anything away from the rest of the book, I was so excited reading the conclusion. While I guessed most of how the story would unravel it made it no less enjoyable to read because Durst is an incredible storyteller.

While it was the whole riding monstrous kehok’s in a bid for redemption that initially grabbed me, it was the characters and the world-building that held me. Set in the desert world of Becar, Durst’s world-building is an experience. There was a healthy amount of description and focus on the spiritual culture of Becar.

I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans both younger and older and feel this book is going to remain one of my favorites this year!! Durst blurs the lines between Young Adult and Adult in this book so it is more than appropriate for both readers. It would also serve, I feel, as a transitional read for those reading younger fantasy books who want to move into Adult Fantasy.

The only thing that prevents this from being a five is that I would like to have known the reason for the Lions ending… 

**Below is kinda spolier’ish. Maybe. I don’t think it tells to much but because I have been vague but if you don’t want to risk it stop reading.** 

Why didn’t it happen? Was the charm lost or corrupted? Did they want to honour him as he was? Would he be reborn a Kehok after this form despite the reasons behind his becoming of a Kehok? Answer those and this is becomes a five star rating in a breath.