BOOK REVIEW | THE BLACK COAST BY MIKE BROOKS

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

Today I will be posting my review of, as the title of this post suggests, Mike Brooks’ book ‘The Black Coast’. I would like to thank Orbit for providing me with a copy of this book this book in exchange for an honest review.

I also bought this as an audiobook too as I was struggling to find the time to read it so opted to listen when I could too.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Black Coast
  • Author: Mike Brooks
  • Series: The God-King Chronicles (Book One)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 643

Synopsis:

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The Black Coast is the start of a series filled with war-dragons, armoured knights, sea-faring raiders, dangerous magic and battle scenes.

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Amazon.co.uk

Review:

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

  • Fantastic world building;
  • A solid foundational book to start a series;
  • LGBTQ+ rep;
  • Political intrigue; and
  • Epic battles.

On to the full review…

The Black Coast first appeared on my radar when I was browsing through NetGalley, and if I am being honest, I probably would have kept on scrolling if I hadn’t loved the cover. It is amazing what a good book cover can do.

So, as you do I checked out the Goodreads page. The book sounded a little different but definitely intriguing and it had a few good reviews already attached to it so I decided to request it from NetGalley. I am happy to say that I am glad I did. While, I only rated this with three stars on Goodreads it was still a good solid read and a series I will continue.

This book was an interesting one, namely due to its focus on finding a peaceful resolution when war is the usual choice in such books. I honestly think this is what gave this read such a refreshing feel to it. Brooks still managed to create enough tension and hostility in his writing without it being outright war between these peoples.

I am not usually one to sing and dance about a books world building, I always appreciate it and will openly praise it, but as a reader I don’t need too much of it. I am the kind of reader that needs a little here and there and a good few distinctive features thrown in to the mix, then I can let my imagination run wild from there. However, saying this I was continually wowed by Brooks’ ability to build such a seamless world, and yet have so many different cultures woven into it. Brooks managed to throw these people together and create a believable environment, one in which some preferred certain elements of the others way of life and vice versa. Which as you can imagine was a great way to create tension between several character in a authentic and exciting way.

Brooks’ writing was easy to read and despite the level of detail found in its genders, cultures and languages it was still accessible and enjoyable. It is not easy to introduce such a new and detailed world and it not feel to the reader like you a trudging through mud to understand it, but this was not the case for this. It was easy to follow and you understand each cultures way of life quickly.

Brooks also deserves much praise for his dialogue in this book. I laughed, I frowned and I scowled. No word is wasted here, and all of it seems to go that few steps further to showing you who the characters are.

In terms of the characters I found myself enjoying certain ones over others and I found myself wanting to get back to their POV’s more often than not. I felt at times there was quite a disparity between several of the characters we meet, some were a lot more fleshed out than others which led to me not really connecting with some of them. I think we will definitely see more of them in the future books and learn more from them but in this instalment many fell into the background for me.

However, those that seemed to fall into the background a little were ones which seemed to be crucial to the beginnings of future plots. Those relevant to the main plot were utterly brilliant.

I enjoyed this book and the audiobook is great! While I had a few issues with the characters I am excited to see those that fell into the background grow and become more crucial to the plot. This book is definitely a foundational book and brings with it some of the flaws of focusing on preparing for the overall series but in the same breath has me so excited for the next book.

I believe that this will be a brilliant series, and once we get to know all the character to the level we have reached with some of them in this instalment, it is going to be magical.


THE RANKS: 

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

This is a book I would currently rank at BUY THE PAPERBACK, or audiobook with a credit. I was honestly going to rate this as a BUY THE EBOOK but then I remembered how much I liked listening to it via audiobook and if I am spending £7.00 on it via a credit then I would also spend that on the PB!

The Black Coast was a solid foundation to a series and one I will continue to read, I feel like this will be ranked higher when I have read more of the series because there is SO much potential here!


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:

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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!!!



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