Seven Blades In Black Review

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Author: Sam Sykes
Series: The Grave of Empires Book 1
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date:  April 9, 2019
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 704 (661 + Extras)
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.

Seven Blades In Black is the dark, gritty, sarcastic, epic, guns, swords, and sorcery revenge story you’ve been wanting, even if you didn’t know it. Continue reading

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Sixteen Ways To Defend A Walled City Review

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Author: K. J. Parker
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date:  April 9, 2019
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 384 (350 + Extras)
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

I was sent a copy of this book for review by the publisher.

When I first saw Sixteen Ways To Defend A Walled City I was intrigued. Before this I’d never read anything by K.J. Parker and honestly didn’t know much about him. Somehow I’ve been living under a rock because he’s written a crap ton of books either under this name or as Tom Holt, and more than one twitter/blog follower commented how much they loved his books. The premise was one I was instantly drawn to, a medieval siege with little hope for success; a city whose defenses are led by an engineer not a regular army commander. And this colonel of engineers is a “liar and a cheat” who has issues with authority? Add to that the medieval themed cover design by Lauren Panepinto (I’m a sucker for cool covers) and well of course I wanted to read it. Continue reading

Grey Sister Review

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Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: Second Book Of The Ancestor
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date:  April 3, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 432
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I love this series! That’s probably an understatement but it’s easily become one of my new favorite series in fantasy fiction. There’s just something about it whether it’s the story, the compelling baddass nun characters, or Mark Lawrence’s writing. I stayed up late to finish Grey Sister and I’m still not sure I’ve digested it all but I’m giving it a go.

Beware, as this is the second book in a series there are bound to be minor inevitable spoilers in this review if you haven’t read book one. If you haven’t read my review of Red Sister you can find it here. For this review I’m going generally follow the same format I did for Red Sister with some technical stuff first then overall comments at the end. Continue reading

The Winter Road Review

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Author: Adrian Selby
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date:  November 13, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

The Circle – a thousand miles of perilous forests and warring clans. No one has ever tamed such treacherous territory before, but ex-soldier Teyr Amondsen, veteran of a hundred battles, is determined to try.

With a merchant caravan protected by a crew of skilled mercenaries, Amondsen embarks on a dangerous mission to forge a road across the untamed wilderness that was once her home. But a warlord rises in the wilds of the Circle, uniting its clans and terrorizing its people. Teyr’s battles are far from over . . .”

I finished The Winter Road last night, set the book down, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. I had to collect myself a moment – had to pause and digest it. The Winter Road is a story of the pain and heartbreak that underlies human achievement. It’s the kind of book I haven’t read in a while, like you’re drawing back the curtain on some grand event in history where everyone knows the glorious result, only to discover the grim truth about how it came to be. One where the reader is pulled through the wringer along with the characters…you may be new on the other side, but the pain and disfigurement of the experience lingers, some parts of you are left in the bucket, and you’ll never go back to the way things were before. Continue reading

The Bear And The Nightingale Review

img_5124Author: Katherine Arden
Series: Winternight Trilogy Book One
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date:  January 10, 2017 (Hardcover)
Format: Paperback (June 27, 2017)
Pages: 333

“Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and o groom her rebellious stepdaugher for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has concealed – to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.”

Oh man…this book. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to like it when I set out to read it. Yeah I’d seen a lot of reviews rating it highly but I still wasn’t sure it was for me. Boy was I wrong…this was so me.

Arden weaves a modern story that feels like a fairy tale set in medieval northern Rus. It is atmospheric and bewitching, with captivating prose and compelling characters that will transport you to another time and place. A place so richly described you can smell the earth, feel the cold, and sense the spirit world around you. Continue reading

The Wolf Of Oren-Yaro Review

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Author: K.S. Villoso
Series: Annals of the Bitch Queen (Book One)
Publisher: Liam’s Vigil
Publication Date:  January 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 417

Let me start by saying I’m a bad, bad book blogger and should be punished for how bad I am. I read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro in September as part of Self-Published Fantasy Month here on Off The TBR. SEPTEMBER. The book had already been out four 9 months. It’s been five more months. The book has now been out over a year. Book two has already been published and has been out for ten months. And I’m just now getting around to posting this review. It’s been so long I will miss important details and points because I didn’t take notes and the review won’t be up to my usual standard. This book is good and deserving of a detailed review. Really good in fact. I suck.

Now that I’ve got some self-flagellation out of the way let me tell you something about this beautiful book. Because of what I mentioned above this review won’t follow my usual format and may not be as detailed as usual. (Some of you will like that). Continue reading

Pirate Latitudes Review

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Author: Michael Chrichton
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384

“The Caribbean 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses. In this steamy climate there’s a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease – or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it.”

I picked up Pirate Latitudes from my local library when preparing for our recent trip to Jamaica. I was looking for a fun page turning beach read set in the Caribbean in general or Jamaica specifically. I’d read Jurassic Park and Rising Sun back in high school (way back in the 90’s) but nothing by Crichton since. I really enjoyed those books then and figured this one would be cool. I would read it while sitting on the beach sipping a rum drink and bask in all the atmosphere. We were even staying at a resort on a bay where the pirate Calico Jack was supposedly captured. I mean c’mon pirates (check), Jamaica (check), rum drinks (check)! This had everything going its way. To add to the interest factor It turns out Pirate Latitudes was published posthumously in 2009. Supposedly after Crichton died in 2008 an assistant found the manuscript on one of his computers.

As you might could tell I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I tried to like it. But in the end I just couldn’t. There was a reason Crichton hadn’t published Pirate Latitudes yet and it shows. I think he knew it and that’s why he hadn’t submitted it yet. Continue reading

Red Sister Review

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Author: Mark Lawrence
Series: The Ancestor
Publisher: ACE
Publication Date:  April 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 469

“I WANT MORE!!!”

Those were the words that came out of my mouth the moment I finished Red Sister. I stayed up late to finish it and felt cheated I didn’t have book two in hand and another day to devote to reading.

I was late coming to this read and was aware of all the hype surrounding it the past couple of years yet I was still surprised by it; just how much was unexpected. I know there isn’t a lot I can say about this book that ten other reviewers haven’t already said but I’m gonna give it a go. Continue reading

Kingshold Review

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Author: D. P. Woolliscroft
Series: Wildfire Cycle Book One
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date:  April 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 506

Regicide, politics, assassinations, pirates, magic, demons, and giant draco-turtles are just taste of what’s in store for you in this solid and entertaining self-published debut from D. P. Woolliscroft. Kingshold made it to the semi-finalist round in this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blogg Off (#SPFBO) hosted by author Mark Lawrence and it’s easy to understand why. Offering a fresh take on revolution and dynastic change in fantasy literature this first book in the Wildfire Cycle sets the stage for an imaginative and rousing new series.

I read Kingshold back in September as part of Self-Published Fantasy Month here on the blog but didn’t get a chance to write up my review. It made my list of favorite reads for 2018 though and I’ve been wanting to be sure to review it even if the review came late. Given that it’s been about four months this review may not be as good and detailed as I’d prefer. That’s nobody’s fault but mine. Continue reading

The Great Restoration: A Tale of The Verin Empire Review

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Author: William Ray
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date:  2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 483
(I received a copy of his book from the author in exchange for an honest review)

Gaslight, elves, goblins, secret societies, kidnapping, detectives, and black-powder fantasy. All of these come together as William Ray continues his Tales Of The Verin Empire series with The Great Restoration. Where Gedlundthe first book in the series was a mix of black powder fantasy mixed with sword and sorcery while on military campaigns at the boundaries of the empire, for this installment Ray took a different approach. In fact he kinda went with a slightly different sub-genre. The Great Restoration is a detective-mystery story set within both the heart of the empire and one if its recently acquired territories. Continue reading