Book Review: Wrath by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Wrath:

  • Title: Wrath
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen Series (Book Four)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 720

Synopsis:

Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasures are in his possession. And together with Calidus and his ally Queen Rhin, Nathair will do anything to obtain the remaining Treasures. With all seven under his command, he can open a portal to the Otherworld. Then Asroth and his demon-horde will finally break into the Banished Lands and become flesh.

Meanwhile Corban has been taken prisoner by the Jotun, warrior giants who ride their enormous bears into battle. His warband scattered, Corban must make new allies if he hopes to survive. But can he bond with competing factions of warlike giants? Somehow he must, if he’s to counter the threat Nathair represents.

His life hangs in the balance – and with it, the fate of the Banished Lands.

(Goodreads)

Review:

What a treasure this series has been to read, and I can safely say without a single doubt that it will be the same when I read it again. 

Five stars do not come close to rating these books. Starting with Malice, all the way to Wrath John Gwynne has continuously improved each book. Which is really hard because Malice was amazing, so to keep getting better and better each book is just monumental.

When I read a book, I jot down the things that spring to mind while reading, and no lie every time I start a new bullet point I always start it with ’one thing I have noted…’ and I don’t know why because there is never just one thing of note, especially not with the Faithful and the Fallen Books.

So one thing I have noted 😉 (I’m sorry I couldn’t help it) throughout this series is the POV structure, albeit a pretty menial thing in the grand scale of things, but it is something I really appreciated. At times of battle Gwynne sometimes has it that the POV’s jumps between two key players while not seeming disjointed or clunky. Gwynne also gives us insights into some of the less than savoury characters, though they are never too long and are just enough to remind you of that persons plans and role in the inevitable betrayals, he manages to ignite the spark of hatred for them and their horrible deeds and wicked ways. It’s bloody marvellous. 

In every book I have read of this series I have found something more, be it about the plot or the writing or the characters. It never stops growing. Gwynne was able to make these books feel personal, the way he writes is filled with emotion even when describing a bright sun in a sheer sky that has no warmth. It is utterly compelling and I can not praise him enough. 

As many reviewers have said previously this book, along with the others, doesn’t take fantasy in a new direction and uses many of the classic tropes found in this genre but the way in which John Gwynne writes these is so refreshingly creative. During Wrath there are moments when you truly see the diversity of everyone involved, instead of having your typical band of races (elf, dwarf, man, wizard, etc) it has the likes of a former slave, a rebel queen, a loyal to the bone shieldman, a tired and beaten warrior, a sister, a brother in arms and so much more. It is nice to see the things that became tropes of the genre reimagined a little. 

I enjoyed everything about Wrath, at no point does it feel slow, at no point did I want to skip a character POV, and at no point did the plot fall flat, literally these books are perfection. The villains are all as well crafted as the hero’s and as we travel through the Banished Lands you experience everything.

Wrath is such an epic and brilliant conclusion to the Faithful and the Fallen Series, and it holds nothing back…not even the heartache. I cried. I actually cried. My Sisters Keeper, Marley and Me and every soppy ass film you can think of did not pierce this stone heart of mine, and this book broke me. I CRIED! I never cry.

Gwynne wraps everything up in Wrath, and in the most satisfying of ways. I loved where the characters went, with nobody ending in a way that felt like it should have ended in a differently, there were no grand gestures that the characters wouldn’t have ever done to dress it up, each ending fell in line with what the character you grew to know and love would have done.  Honestly,  the idea of the school made me want to read the other books in the banished lands just to see how it went! 

I am genuinely saddened to have finished this series, thank you John Gwynne for creating such an epic masterpiece that has done what no other book has managed! 


Book Review: A Storm of Silver and Ash by Marion Blackwood

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A few facts about A Storm of Silver and Ash:

  • Title: A Storm of Silver and Ash
  • Author: Marion Blackwood
  • Series:  The Oncoming Storm Books
  • Publisher: Published by Marion Blackwood
  • Pages: 326

Synopsis:

What would you sacrifice to save your friend?
Your soul? Your humanity? Your life?

The Oncoming Storm is a name whispered in awe throughout the Underworld. She’s known as a master thief and a lethal knife-wielder – some even say she has the skills of an assassin. All of it is true. She’s also a sarcastic smartmouth with the social graces of a bull.

You will find her running across rooftops, sneaking in the shadows, and breaking into houses. That is, if she’s not busy getting ambushed and blackmailed into a seemingly impossible mission. Grudgingly caught in a dangerous power struggle, the Oncoming Storm must leave behind the world she knows and maneuver through scheming assassins, calculating elves, and desperate royals.

Before her adventure is over, she will have loved, saved, killed, and double-crossed those around her. The only question is, who? The clock is ticking, and before time runs out, the Oncoming Storm must decide who to trust and who to betray…

(Goodreads)

Review:

A storm of Silver and Ash is a promising debut, was a fun read and I found myself wanting to keep reading.

The synopsis of this book is what really grabbed me, as did the cover. I was sold. A thief with the social graces of a bull, and us getting to see more of Storm utilising her surroundings. It gave the opportunity for incredible world building scenes and stunning descriptions.

Blackwood created a great world, I love a good dingy underworld where it is almost a place unto it’s self. It had a hierarchy, a cast system of the criminals who associate with a guild and the less than savory folk who can’t be apart of it for reasons such as they are too dark or can’t deal with authority etc. 

The underworld hierarchy, while being pretty simple, is a great addition to the world Blackwood created. I enjoyed the concept of the different guilds and their rankings. The idea of a beggars guild, it kind of reminded me of the homeless unit of hitmen from the John Wick films. I would have quite liked to see more of them, as an information source maybe. I thought the world was nicely done but could have been used much more in the actual story. 

Blackwood also created what I found to be a totally a refreshing take on elves, while the elves were not wholly different to those we see in the world of fantasy, it was their culture and social practices I enjoyed. They were a tougher more hunter like people, hardier and less about ethereal grace and such.

I unfortunately I found Storm to be a little off-putting at times, what was one of the main drives to me reading this book quickly became a little disruptive to the story. In terms of the character as a person, she was a cool character, fun and sarcastic but then not so good. I like the morally ambiguous character at times but when done in a way that you can still route for them, Storm just killed at times and felt a little unnecessary.

Now, this is definitely nit picky on my part but these things too often pulled me from the story. More at the start than anything else, but still. There was a lot of ’telling’, yanno the whole show me don’t tell me thing. There was also a lot of emphasis on how bad ass Storm was, and how no one liked to mess with her, but this was told through her own thoughts on how bad ass she was. I thought this could have been shown a wee bit better. 

I also noted a few things I would say we’re inconsistent. For example, Storm may enter a place renowned for being cutthroat, orderless, outside of the guilds and known for being a pretty rough place especially for a women (which she herself tells you). Yet she cleared a table with a glare alone. Or her not knowing a type of material which is so picky, I know, and sounds weird to say but if you are a thief I would expect one to have an eye for details, to know when something is a fake or cheaply made etc yet she didn’t.

The breaking of the 4th wall in this book was also not my favourite. 

Despite my above complaints I did find myself wanting to keep reading, and I enjoyed this book as a whole.

I discussed this with my partner, who had just played both Last of Us Part Two and Infamous Second Sons, and when I told him my thoughts on it he said that it was like what he thought about second sons. It was a fun game that you go back to and complete but when compared to Last of Us you realise that thats all it is, fun, the story and characters don’t really give you any of the feels but you still liked it as a whole.


Book Review: Limbo by Thiago d’Evecque

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A few facts about Limbo:

  • Title: Limbo
  • Author: Thiago d’Evecque
  • Series:  Standalone
  • Publisher: Published by Thiago d’Evecque
  • Pages: 162

Read Limbo on my Kindle FREE with Kindle Unlimited. So, not free because you pay for KU, but it still feels like a free book.

Synopsis:

The fate of the world hinges on a forsaken spirit, a mad god in a sword, and 12 mythological beings.

The Limbo is where all souls — human or otherwise — go to after dying. Some don’t realize where they are. Death is a hard habit to get used to. Gods and mythological figures also dwell in the plane, borne from humanity’s beliefs.

A forsaken spirit is awakened and ordered to dispatch 12 souls back to Earth to prevent the apocalypse. Many don’t take kindly to the return. Accompanied by an imprisoned mad god, the spirit must compel them.

Each of the 12 unlocks a piece of the forsaken spirit’s true identity. Memories unfold and past wounds bleed again.

The journey will reveal buried truths about gods, angels, humanity, and the forsaken spirit itself.

If you like epic fights, diverse mythology reinterpreted, and surprising plot twists, Limbo is for you.

(Goodreads)

Review:

When I woke up, I knew something was wrong. For I only opened my eyes when the world spiraled into chaos.

Limbo comes across as an incredibly intellectual tale, it touches on many aspects of life such as religion but also humanity. Our existence and the way many live, it pulls everything that makes these topics so provocative and inserts them into Limbo through our main characters thoughts and understandings. 

“The past is enticing, and we need it to make sense of our lives. We can only understand who we are when we look back to who were. But it’s a trap. Watch it and leave it, there’s nothing you can change there.”

Limbo is a strange tale to be told, interesting and quite creative with its mixture of many religions, legends and folklore tales. It was interesting to read one story which is made up of many historical tales coming from Asia, Europe and all across the world and done so skilfully as not to feel disorientating.

I found myself really intrigued as to who our main character will enlist next, excited to see what legendary figure was to be chosen and what myths or religion it came from. 

Limbo was a lovely quick read, its chapters were short and snappy and its sentence structure refreshingly sharp. 

Thiago has you intrigued at the start, and does brilliantly to create an interesting world where anything can be conjured. The world Thiago creates, or the Limbo he creates, is written in amazing detail and comes to life for each new person encountered. 

The surroundings took shape, bringing the refreshing scent of wet dirt and leaves. Huge trees obstructed the sky. Spears of light pierced through the swaying branches and canopies.

With any short story there is a degree of difficulty to develop a character to the extent the readers of longer books expect but Thiago bridges this really well. The pace is definitely slower but it feels appropriate with the themes this story utilises, being more thought provoking and meaningful. 

I especially enjoyed reading Thiago’s notes at then end, throughout the book I highlighted each historical person/culture/legend that intrigued me with the intention to research these later but I didn’t need to do this completely blind because Thiago gives some detail as to them and its brilliant.


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: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Blood Heirs:

  • Title: Blood Heirs
  • Author: Alicia Wanstall-Burke
  • Series: The Coraidic Sagas
  • Publisher: Self published by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
  • Pages: 335

I read Blood Heirs on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. 

Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him.

Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?

Reviews:

Blood Heirs is a promising debut and sets itself up for a darkly entertaining second book. I enjoyed reading Blood Heirs due to the amazingly beautiful writing style that is Alicia Wanstall Burkes and the great characters, but I did find myself wondering where the story was going. 

The beasts, magic/curse, ghosts and monsters are all really enjoyable to read and bring the world to life. 

Both Lidan and Ranoth were great characters and I enjoyed their journeys so much, though both did fall flat at times for me. Thankfully, when I found myself wanting more or getting a little bored (for lack of a better word) the POV switched and the pacing shifted, balancing it out nicely. 

Wanstall Burke also did amazing to create complex and well developed secondary characters. Sellan and Erlon were great, as was Ran’s ghost friend and, although a small part, Brit. They fleshed out the word and added much appreciated detail to the characters journey and emotions.

At times I did feel like the two POVs were too separate, they felt worlds apart and totally disconnected. Having read the first installment I am still yet to see the bigger picture. To me this book felt more like a build-up to the second book as a lot, if not everything, is left unanswered. I will definitely read the second book as Wanstall Burkes makes it difficult not too. 

This is definitely a character-driven book, we see Lidan and Ranoth deal with their own problems and emotional turmoil. Both characters worlds are turned upside down and each is faced with a world-wind of emotions. The two need to decide who they are, what person they want to be, in a world filled with betrayal and deep family bonds, and what they want in the end. 

I did enjoy Blood Heir and I am intrigued to read the next book but I found the plot to be a little bland, which is silly because so much happened. I don’t know, it didn’t feel like it had a build up or a climax, and because of that I wasn’t able to rate it higher. Though, that is my only issue really, everything else about this book is brilliant. 


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.


Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Promise of Blood:

  • Title: Promise of Blood
  • Author: Brian McClellan
  • Series: The Powder Mage Trilogy (Book One)
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Pages: 545

I read Promise of Blood on my Kindle first but I enjoyed it so much I bought the trilogy (paperback) for my shelves.

Synopsis:

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it. 

It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king…Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved…Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

(Goodreads)

Review:

From start to finish, this book was outstanding. I don’t think I can find one thing I didn’t like about it. It was that good.

This was a completely new genre for me having never read flintlock fantasy before and I can definitely say it won’t be my last. I think the fact I had never read a book of this nature before only added to it’s enjoyment because I found the magic system brilliant. It was new (to me) and well thought out. The magic system is a high magic system, being central to the plot and its characters, it is consistent throughout the entire book and at no point do we see a break in the rules surrounding its use. I enjoyed the clarity of the magic, where it came from (black powder) and that it was sometimes costly. 

McClellan’s writing ability is flawless, he creates deep and meaningful connections and evokes a full range of emotions from the reader despite being beautifully crisp and simple. Pair that with the realism his characters possess and you have a winner. 

McClellan also excels in his world building, I didn’t once find myself overwhelmed with information, he gently weaves its setting (industrial revolution), culture and religion into the character interactions seamlessly. Laying what is a solid foundation for the other instalments of a wonderful series. 

Promise of Blood is told from several POV’s; Tamas, Taniel and Adamat (and that is probably the order in which I rate them 🙈). There is Nila too but she isn’t a huge feature. McClellan has crafted an incredible cast of characters for Promise of Blood, with even the smaller parts being memorable and entertaining. Tamas and Olem were particularly fun to read throughout, I loved the contrast between the two of them and how well they worked despite it. 

“Tamas suppressed a smile. He could like this man. Too free with his tongue, perhaps.

Tamas is all about rules and against his better judgment he likes Olem.

“Olem shrugged. “You’re a teetotaler, sir, and it’s well known among the men you won’t abide smoking either.” “Then why are you hiding it behind your back?” “Waiting for you to turn around so I can have a hit, sir.

Then you get another enjoyable duo; Taniel and Ka Poel. The fact that Ka Poel is mute just adds to this relationship, by seeing the way she communicates with gestures and body language is greatly entertaining. I certainly felt more from these two characters and could feel the connection between them, seeing its growth and understanding it more the further into the story and their development you get.

The pacing of this book is somewhat up and down, and does have several stages we’re it is slower and less exciting but I didn’t feel like this took anything away from the book.  This is because the story is filled with action, investigating, revenge, betrayal, political plays and more, all of which require different paces. 

As for the series: I have read the complete trilogy and would rate the overall experience as I have this book, with five big ass stars.