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 | THE LIGHT OF ALL THAT FALLS BY JAMES ISLINGTON

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

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

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

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

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

A few facts about this book:

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

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

On to the full review…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All right,” growled Wirr.

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE RANKS: 

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

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


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


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

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

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

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

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

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

A few facts about this book:

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

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Darkness spreads across a land in need of heroes.

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

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

On to the full review…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE RANKS: 

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

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


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | SNAKEWOOD BY ADRIAN SELBY

Hello Bookish Folk!

I am writing my review of Adrian Selby’s debut novel Snakewood. First off a huge thank you to Dan for putting this book and author on my radar back in October 2020!

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Snakewood
  • Author: Adrian Selby 
  • Series: Standalone but he has to other books set in the same world
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

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. 

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

Review:

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

  • A gloriously grim and dark mercenary fantasy;
  • An ambitious and unique world which you will love;
  • Fight brews and biological warfare;
  • Gruff, battered and grizzled mercs with quite the past; and
  • A risky but brilliant debut.

On to the full review…

I want to start off this review and just explain that this book a little bit of an epistolary, which if I am remembering correctly, is a novel made up of letters and accounts of others to tell a story. Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is an example of such works, but anyway my point is these types of books can feel jarring. I personally didn’t really have a huge issue with this in Snakewood, admittedly it did, at one point, seem a little disjointed and I had to think where I was in the timeline but generally I followed it well and the plot flowed well because there is a dominant POV to keep you grounded.

Snakewood is such a suspense filled story with so much tension and it is filled with all the intrigue and mystery you could ask for. I had such fun unraveling the twists and turns and Selby does an incredible job at redirecting your thoughts on things you feel fairly confident about. Selby writes really well and I had such joy reading his prose. The battles and the fighting in this book was so vivid and captivating to read. He also managed to create really unique and distinguishable voices for his characters which is even more incredible when you know this is a debut and in such a risky format.

Selby also did the whole ambiguous character really well, none of the characters in this have a a well-aligned morale compass. Some are bad yet still relatable, some are a mix and others your are rooting for but they by no means have a clean track record! But what they all are is utterly compelling, well written and complex. For some it is slower than others but you really begin to care for these characters and become totally invested in their journeys, relationships and more.

Also, the brews! The whole biological warfare in this book was just incredible, and that doesn’t even aptly describe this element. It was magic, well it wasn’t in the traditional sense but it was such a refreshing way to represent a magic in a new way, it had limitations and it had consequences both with a more immediate effect and a lifelong consequences of its use. It was utterly unique and incredible to see in action within this world and used by the characters.

Snakewood is also dark, I didn’t really see it until a certain way through it, yes it has dark elements but holy damn it gets grim. It is ruthless in parts.

I can understand a few of the critiques around this book, it does have a unique writing style and the author has created certain phrases that are completely new, but I really felt like he introduced you to them well and then explained them through their use.

Overall, this is a great debut and one I am so so glad I read it. Now a quick note, I asked Dan my go to Selby expert and he said to read these book in the order they were published. If you were to read Brother Red before this is spoils one of the biggest twists in Snakewood. Plus, after speaking to another friend they tried Brother Red and found the language confusing, so for several reasons I would say read this first.


THE RANKS: 

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

I really liked this book and I can not wait to read Winer Road and then Brother Red!


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 | 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!