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Found 9 results

  1. Before starting A Court of Broken Knives I was reading Leviathan Wakes. For those who haven't read Leviathan Wakes, it's a really easy and smooth read, fast and fun. You fly through pages without realizing it. Opening A Court of Broken Knives I had to not just pump the breaks but slam on them. The writing is thick and poetic. It isn't the type of prose that you fly through, each word is loaded. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the writing, I did and it didn't bother me to slow down this much. It reminded me of the mind set I have when reading someone like Bakker or Erikson. It's a different approach. The book switches from first person to third person and omniscient POVs and some readers can be put off by that. The action scenes are specially enthralling, putting you in a position of not only seeing what the characters see but the feelings and thoughts they have during these events. You feel uneasy and a sense of chaos happening all around you. The sentences and word give you a sense of panic and that you have no control or sense of all that's going on, a tunnel vision that makes sense during a battle like this from a characters perspective fighting for their life. It reminded me of the uneasy feeling I had reading someone like Adrian Selby. We switch POV's now and then but stick with each character enough to grab onto them and attach yourself to them. It jumps around but not too often. There aren't many characters that you really truly root for, but I wanted to know more about them and how they fit into the world. None of them are completely likable and you can go from feeling sorry for them and the next minute fearing what they'll do because they are so unpredictable. Their motivations aren't always clear, but that adds to the suspense and political maneuvering. Lots of political maneuvering and even some double crosses. You never really trust anyone, the world is gritty and unforgiving. The world is on the verge of something having go give and you feel it rocking back and fourth knowing something will give soon. It's fascinating how the world uses religion as means of control. The traditions change over time, so what starts out as a necessary sacrifice becomes less often when it's not as popular. Some absolutely brutal scenes that play out because of these traditions or beliefs. How those traditions can be manipulated and controlled by outside forces or people in positions of power. We learn about the history and the past, creating a clearer idea of what their motivations may be. You start to wonder if prolonged periods of peace are intentionally sabotaged over the course of our own history. Do we crave conflict? Do we get bored when it's peaceful for too long? If you like to go into books blind, avoid the synopsis.
  2. Obsidian Awakening is one of those books that feel easy to read, but when you look back you realize how much depth it had. How much you've learned about the world, the politics and the characters without feeling like you at the time. The characters and world are so clear and defined that you feel like you've read a few books in the series already. All of the characters have something they struggle with or something that happens to them that changes them in a positive or negative way. How they deal with what happens to them is so fascinating. There are some absolutely heart breaking scenes but they happen for a reason and serve the story. It's established pretty quickly that anything can and will happen, nobody is safe and the characters you begin to latch onto won't be spared. All of the characters get enough time that you get to know all of them, they are all flawed and are dealing with trauma. The world is lush and vivid. Lots of maneuvering and politics, making you wonder what will happen next or what is really going on and what everyone's motivations really are. Sienna Frost also explores the cost of survival and civilizations. What leaders must do to keep order, to keep everyone fed and alive. How do you rule over so many people and keep them motivated? Would you trade freedom for security? Would you rather be safe behind walls and part of the machine or be free and vulnerable to the many dangers in the world? So many details I'm sure I missed on the first read, this one is just begging for a re-read. Not because it's hard to follow, but because there are so many details sprinkled in that will be relevant later in the series.
  3. Before we get into the review, we should talk first about Sarah Chorn. Sarah is an author, editor, blogger, reviewer and editor at Grimdark Magazine. I don't know how she finds time in the day. I wasn't quite sure to what to expect with Seraphina's Lament. The over looks like a dark fantasy and grimdark mix with a touch of horror. That's pretty much what it is, but it managed to have me invested in the characters and world in ways that doesn't happen too often. The story revolves around a group of characters who live in a world of oppression and struggle from a government that controls their lives and livelihoods. I don't want to say too much about this part of the story because it's something that unravels as you read, but you can feel the oppressive nature of this government and it's control over some of our characters. The odds are stacked against them and it's just hard to enough to stay alive. There is little hope at times. In the darkest of times you'll find glimpses of humanity, people doing their small part knowing in the big picture it's futile but still refusing to bend. Sarah's writing style is very lyrical and poetic. I found myself writing down lines from the book because they were so well constructed and beautiful, sometimes even laughing during a really troubling scene because the word choices were just so clever. When I was about halfway through this book, author and friend P.L. Stuart mentioned this book was as dark as Michael R. Fletcher's Beyond Redemption. At the time I didn't think it was that dark, but after finishing I can agree it's on par with that world in having you feel the hopelessness the characters feel. There is one death in particular that really got to me. While reading it my heart was pounding because we could see this death coming for a while now but you almost become accustomed to something happening to prevent this horrible thing from happening to a character you are invested in. But I also knew Sarah wasn't going to pull any punches and the world that has already been established set the table that this isn't that kind of world. The final moments of this character was something I didn't want to read but I couldn't put it down. When it was over, I had to set the book down and walk around for a few minutes. There are different character arcs that we follow, but we spend enough time with each one that switching back and fourth didn't bother me. When we switch POV's too fast and too often I have difficulty being invested, but that wasn't the case here. The arcs all come together at some point and everything becomes clear when they do. The conclusion was very satisfying and left me feeling like I just read a story bigger than what I thought I was reading, left me with questions I didn't expect. This is one of my favorite books of the year, it will easily make my top 10 or even 5. If you're a fan of dark fantasy, grimdark, fantasy or horror you should give Saraphina's Lament a try. It's available on Kindle Unlimited and fairly short for a fantasy book, about 344 pages.
  4. I had high expectations for this book, it's been one I've been looking forward to for a while. But I didn't expect it to have this much of an impact on me. This is one of the few books I didn't mind reading the synopsis, it gives you just enough detail to tell you about the story without spoiling anything. We follow Teyr, who is on a mission to travel through the Circle, which is an untamed land full of warlords and warring clans she used to call home. This book starts off with a bang. You know within the first few pages what kind of ride this is going to be. Or do you? In this world herbs are almost like drugs. With the right recipe you can craft all sorts of brews that can do all sorts of things, good and bad. I'm picky about action, especially in fantasy books. The action scenes in The Winter Road are quick, disorienting and visceral. During the fight scenes you feel like you're there and the world is spinning around you. There's a brutal, violent and moving story between these pages that are going to stick with me for a while. It's not just a story about the Circle and our main character Teyr. There is lots of traveling, and you can feel the distance - it wears on you. The environment is oppressive. The danger is always present. You never feel safe. When things really get going the story takes some absolutely devastating twists and turns. As the story unraveled I thought about life. About getting older and our bodies shutting down. About the passage of time, no matter how hard you try there will always be something in your way, some obstacle to overcome. This is a story about life, history, time, getting older and love. When I flipped the last page of the book I kept thinking about the story, that's the kind of story I love. Favorite quote, no spoilers
  5. Stone and Shield is the first entry in the Fall of Emros series and a good way to describe the genre would be grimdark adjacent. It rides the line between fantasy and grimdark but I would say leans more into grimdark territory maybe if it's just a little bit. The first half or so of the book is setting up the world, establishing the players and giving you a feel for how everything works. In the second half the action really ramps up and there are some fun battle scenes. The battle scenes don't last for pages, not even half a page sometimes but that makes them more effective. When violence happens, it's sudden. I say it leans more into grimdark territory because Thomas J. Devens has a knack for getting you comfortable with certain characters, convincing you they'll be around a while only to surprise you when they suddenly and violently meet their demise at unexpected times. The banter between the characters gives us some humor breaks between the violence and brutality. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, I struggle with long character names in fantasy. There were times I was confused with who was who and had to look back to make sure I had the right character in my mind. One of the characters is quickly becoming one of my favorites in fantasy, but I always have that nagging worry that she'll be killed at any moment. It's that kind of series. There's some themes being played with here that left me thinking after I finished the book. The cycle of violence, friendship, cruelty, what power does to people and how different age groups perceive and handle that power. Overall it's a solid first entry in the Fall of Emros series and I'm looking forward to digging into book two: Split Paths. Stone and Shield can be found here on Amazon and is available on Kindle Unlimited
  6. We've all walked past NPC's in a video game while playing. They walk around saying unimportant things and living their little lives. We never pay much attention to them, but they are there. We have more important side quests to complete, like collecting 20 mushrooms from a certain area of the map. Sadly, all but a few of us would be considered useless NPC's in real life. We have our own lives and struggles, but we're on the sidelines watching the really big events happen that shape our lives. Seasons of Albadone tells the story of some NPC's in a fantasy world. The stories are grounded (in a fantasy context). Filled with emotion, love, happiness, loss, struggles and tough decisions. Reading these stories was like a breath of fresh air when I've been reading the world is going to end unless the chosen one does XY and Z. Que dramatic music and yawn. There are a limited amount of POV's, no info dumps, not a ton of world building shoved down your throat in the first 10 pages. Don't get me wrong, there are is world building and all the things you love about fantasy, but it's done subtly and focuses more on characters. The first 2 1/2 pages of prologue give you all you need to know to get started and set the book up nicely. This book had some very emotional beats, surprises and explores struggles that in a respectful way that I was not expecting. It's also a short and very addictive read, I had a hard time putting it down. Find Seasons of Albadone on Amazon (available on Kindle Unlimited) I recently had the opportunity to chat with authors Élan Marché and Christopher Warman about their process writing this book, inspirations, the upcoming audio book and many more topics. If you'd like to know more about this book and it's creators, give it a watch or listen:
  7. The Faithful and the Fallen series seems to be beloved by many in the fantasy community. After hearing so much about it I went out and bought the entire series, confident I was going to love it. I was wrong. The characters are all cardboard cutouts of exactly what you'd expect in a story like this. They do exactly what you'd expect them to do. They say exactly what you'd expect them to say when you expect them to say it. There are no surprises here. Nothing is ever in doubt. The chosen one will learn all the necessary skills quickly and triumph. Don't worry, if you lose track of who's who or what's going on everything is repeated several times throughout the book just in case you forget. While the battle scenes are fun and well written, they happen so often that your eyes start scrolling through them quickly because nothing of substance is going to happen. In reading this series I realized I'm not a big fan of epic fantasy. I found myself rolling my eyes at moments that were supposed to be fist pumping, scrolling over pages of battle scenes that meant nothing in the big picture. I understand why some people enjoy this type of fantasy, but it's just not for me. It's like going to a steakhouse and buying a cheeseburger. You know what you're going to get and while you may walk away satisfied you'll always wonder why you didn't opt for the steak. Malice can be found here on Amazon
  8. I was a little nervous going into Aching God. Hadn't had too much luck with fantasy for a couple of books and I was feeling a little burnout. After talking with Mike I was even more excited to read it but it exceeded my expectations. It's a great mix of epic fantasy, dark fantasy and even a touch of horror. Wait, horror? Yep. There are some great horror moments in this book that will have you hoping Mike Shell writes a fantasy horror series one day. In Aching God the characters we follow aren't brushing off their past experiences. They have physical and emotional scars from what happened before. I loved hearing stories about what happened before the events of Aching God, getting bits and pieces of what they experienced and trying to figure out what happened and what they are dealing with. As they journey back to this location the tension builds and builds, you start to worry about them and not only what they'll experience when they get there - but how they will react, too. Fantasy often seems predicable and by the numbers to me, but that isn't the case with Aching God. I'm usually not a fan of quest stories, but because of the build up it had me hooked. The last 100 pages or so especially ramped up and will have you on the edge of your seat (or reading chair). Aching God can be found here on Amazon Below is our SPOILER filled discussion with Mike Shell and booktuber @EpicTalez
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