Category Archives: Dark fantasy

The Bladed Faith (The Vagrant Gods 1) by David Dalglish

Stars: 2 out of 5

DNF at 45%.

There are the makings of a good book in there, that’s why I am not giving it a one star review, but the execution was sorely lacking, at least for my taste.

First of all, it drags. Even the battles move slowly and the narrative parts between them are never-ending. We get a long training montage at the beginning of the book that was interesting for the first 10 pages, but rapidly lost my goodwill after it dragged and dragged. 

I think the reason for that is because even though the characters acquire new skills and evolve physically, they never grow mentally. I found that the character development is next to null in this book. I never got to bond with the characters because I was never allowed in their heads. What drives them? 

Why does Cyrus decide to endure this harsh training? Just because he was told that he could become the avenger of his people? He didn’t strike me as someone that selfless and patriotic at the beginning of the book. I would understand this better is I was privy to his inner thoughts and doubts instead of just his relentless training. 

Same goes for all the other characters. They are kind of there and going through the motions, but I can’t picture them in my head. They are not “alive” to me. I am a character-driven reader, I don’t do well with books that lack those. I can forgive a lot of flaws and plot-holes as long as I’m invested in the characters. Here, I wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some interesting ideas in this book. The whole idea of the origin of divinity is one I would have loved to know more about. This is one of the reasons I kept reading for as long as I did. But then I caught myself skipping pages upon pages and stopping just to read the major plot points. That’s when I knew that it was time to abandon ship. 

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Empire of Exiles (Books of the Usurper 1) by Erin M. Evans

Stars: 4 out of 5

Sometimes you pick up a book because you like the cover or the blurb and discover a hidden gem. This is what happened to me with Empire of Exiles. I haven’t read other books by this author, so this book was a surprise hit for me. Now I have a new series to look forward to and a new author to follow!

I loved how complex and “lived in” this world feels. There is history there. There is a past. The different races feel distinct but also plausible, with their own religions, philosophies and physical attributes that don’t feel shoehorned into the story just for the sake of diversity. I would love to explore Semilla more in future books. 

The empire itself is an interesting construct. Like the title of the book says, it’s an empire of exiles or of refugees, since all the races who call it home fled their native lands facing extermination by a common enemy – the changelings. Desperation and the threat of extermination are sure to force people to cooperate, but I love what they created out of the ashes. An empire that assimilated all these religions and philosophies and let them coexist. 

This world wouldn’t be as memorable if it wasn’t populated by such vivid characters. I loved all of the protagonists in this story. They felt real. Sure, they had their quirks and their moments of weakness, but they always felt like people. I couldn’t help but feel Quill’s pain and confusion when his best friend dies in front of him after committing a crime that was completely out of character for him. I rooted for Amadea the more I discovered the depth of horror her childhood has been. Seriously, how did she manage to piece herself together and remain a functional human being after everything she’d been subjected to? I loved all the specialists in the archives and was truly worried about them when their affinities seemed to overwhelm them.

Speaking of the Archives, what a wonderful concept! A central repository of all the knowledge those fleeing nations brought to Semilla when they arrived ahead of a horde of changellings. Where all scrolls, works of art, religious text and everything else is perfectly preserved for future generations.

The magical system is also rather unique. I would like to learn more about it in future books. Especially what differentiates a specialist from a sorcerer, and is that what Yinnii is now? How would that affect the rest of her life?

My only complaint about this book is that the budding love stories feel forced. I mean, there is way too much blushing and stuttering during conversations. I would understand that from teenagers like Quill and Yinnii, but Amadea is in her thirties, so why does she behave like a hormonal teenager who never had a crush? That read so false that it took me out of the story.

Other then that small complaint though, I absolutely loved this book. I can’t wait to explore this world more in the next installments. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered, after all. Like is the world behind the Salt Wall really as desolate as we are lead to believe? What really happened with the changellings? What was the Usurper’s endgame and why did he need Amadea for it? I’m definitely picking up the next book.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews

Stars: 2 out of 5

Well, this was a disappointment. Do you sometimes happen across a book that should, by all accounts, be right up your alley, but realize that it’s a complete miss? This is what happened to me with this book.

First, I didn’t like the worldbuilding itself. The world is too reminiscent of the Roman Empire with a little bit of magic added for good form. Oh and a monotheistic religion that mirrors what Christianity became at it’s worse – intolerance towards other religions, Inquisition, and witch hunts. Though in this case, we should probably say mage hunts. Other than those parts, the world itself has no originality. There is nothing that makes it unique or memorable, or even “fantasy”.

I am still fuzzy about the geography of this world or the different people who live in it. We talk about the forest tribes and the Empire, but it’s mentioned that the Empire conquered a lot of other people as well… yet I don’t see this diversity in the book. Even the tribes looked like a monolithic block to me, despite the fact that Emlyn mentions several times that each tribe is unique. We are told that, but we aren’t shown it.

Same with the Empire itself. It’s just an homogeneous mass of soldiers to me. I can’t even tell you what the main characters look like. Kyron is supposedly descended from the tribes, so does he look different than another citizen of the Empire? One descended from the original invaders that came from overseas? No clue. 

Speaking of that, why is the capital of the Empire on this new continent if the Empire originated elsewhere? Who governs that part of the Empire? Are they aware of the death of the Emperor and all the drama that follows? There is no mention of that. It’s hinted that it’s a big territory, yet it’s not important enough to even mention more than once in the story?

This moves into the second problem I had with this book. There is no sense of scale. The author hints at a huge continent and the Emperor is somewhere north of it with his army… yet it takes them what, one or two weeks to get back out of the forest and almost to the capital? Considering that they were moving on forest trails and with heavy carts full of with provisions, as well as the Emperor’s body, they weren’t moving very fast. Probably even slower as than a normal march. So if this was a big continent, it would have taken them a month or two to get out of the forest and into proper roads. And the author mentions that it took the Princess and her retinue a week to sail to the city with the bridge… yet they were back in the capital rather quickly after that battle. This creates such a confusion about geography and distances. I don’t “see” this world at all, thus I’m not interested in it.

Finally, I didn’t click with the two protagonists either, though I liked Bogan better than the whiny Kyron. Yes, the kid does some growing up in the course of the story, but he is still as selfish in the end as he was in the beginning. And his actions at the end of the book only prove it. His grandfather begged him to leave and do nothing. His master begged him to leave and do nothing. Heck, a lot of other people who know what they were talking about begged him to just save himself. Did he listen to any of them? Of course not. And by acting against the wishes of the person he is trying to save, he makes things so much worse…

Also, if found that the ending was at least 60 pages too long. The battle at the bridge was a very nice climax to the story with a great emotional payoff… but then the story kept going… and going… and going. Frankly, I lost interest and started just scrolling to the end, reading a word here or there. Even the twist and the big reveal didn’t manage to recapture my attention. I think it’s because that twist is so out of character for the actual villain of the story. Either that or Bodan can’t read people to save his life. 

If this book is a standalone, then the story isn’t wrapped up by the end. If it’s the first in a series, unfortunately, it didn’t make me interested enough to wait for the next one.

PS: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Savage Legion (Savage Rebellion 1) by Matt Wallace

Stars: 3 out of 5.

While I mostly liked this book, it didn’t wow me like some other fantasy books I read this year. 

I think the reason for that is that I had too many questions about the worldbuilding that were never answered. Crache is a fascinating concept, but if you start digging a little deeper into it, you realize that it doesn’t work. 

Try as I may, I couldn’t picture this country. Cities are mentioned, but never truly explored apart from the parts of one city where the Gens live and the Bottoms, where the poor, the beggars, the infirm, and the “useless” eke a pitiful existence. What about the people in the middle? What about the simple citizens? They are mentioned once in passing. How do they live? How do they make a living? If you have to form a Gen to do any kind of trade in Crache, then what do the simple citizens subsist on? Are they allowed to work? Or do they just exist on some kind of universal income and do nothing? 

The second problem for me was the whole concept of the Savage Legion. “Brutal. Efficient. Unstoppable.” is what the blurb says. I would have to disagree with the last two statements. There is no way an army assembled from the dregs of society, barely trained, equipped with broken weapons and almost no armor can be efficient. Yes, they can overwhelm some opponents with their sheer numbers, but there is a limit to that as well. The Roman Legions have proven that organization and training trump sheer numbers any day of the week. Legionnaires conquered most of Europe, even though their numbers were much smaller than the Visigoths that opposed them. But they were professional soldiers, skilled, trained, and better equipped. 

With the Savage Legion, we are talking about half-starved and often infirm people who had never fought a battle in their life before. Who are just thrown into the fray as cannon fodder. Any well organized army would make quick work of them.

Finally, the multiple POVs do this book a disservice, in my opinion. They are too distant from each other. I understand that the author wanted to show different aspects of Crache through the experiences of these three women, but as a result, all three stories feel broken and disjointed. As soon as we are immersed in one story and the tension is mounting to some kind of resolution, the next chapter switches to another story. Tension – killed. We try to pick up the thread of that story again and decide whether we care or not. And as soon as we start caring for that story again, the POV switches one more time.

The problem with multiple POVs in this book is also that none of the stories have a resolution. I understand that there is a sequel, but there should be at least some emotional pay off at the end of book 1. A reward for following the story so far, of sorts. Some kind of win for the protagonists. Here, the story just… stops. Well, all three stories just kind of stop in the middle. 

To me that is rather frustrating, and it doesn’t make me want to pick up the next book, even though I already have it on my kindle. But I might give it a go just to see if I get more answers to all my questions.

Into the Broken Lands by Tanya Huff

Stars: 5 out of 5

I absolutely loved this story! The setting is unique and the characters are memorable. Exactly what I need in a fantasy book. 

This story is in fact two stories told parallel to each other. One is about the journey of a young heir to a powerful city, charged with bringing magical fuel out of the Broken Lands to keep the flame going that protects his city. The other one is of his uncle who undertook the same journey over 50 years ago. The common denominator for both stories is Nonnie – the last living weapon created by the mages before they annihilated each other and created the Broken Lands.

It is interesting to follow two similar journeys of two different parties of characters. Their mission is the same. Their destination is the same. They are going into the same lands… but their stories are as different as the Broken Lands themselves.

The Broken Lands, what an intriguing concept! Image a land created by magic, and then scarred by the same magic during a horrible war. There are fixed points in the landscape – places that stay the same, no matter what happens. Everything else is… malleable, mutable, and definitely hostile to outsiders. See, the road between two fixed points can take a day during the first journey and meander for four during the next one. It can cross a lush forest one time and become a murderous swamp other. Landscape, weather, and even time are not set in stone. 

This makes both journeys fascinating. Just because Ryan and his crew have the accounts of his uncle’s journey, their own adventure takes a different turn. They never cross the same landscape, apart from those fixed points. And I think that is the point of this book, no pun intended: each team gets their own share of trials, tailored specifically to them, like that dark tunnel in the cave that was the second fixed point. The Broken Lands force them to confront their own fears and insecurities an emerge on the other end changed. Some for the better, some for the worse, but always as a consequence of their own choices.

That’s another thing I loved about this book. There isn’t a big bad to fight against here. Yes, the mages who created the Broken Lands were horrible beings (I wouldn’t even call them human by now), but they are dead. The horrors they left behind stay in the Broken Lands. There isn’t immediate danger to the lands around them (apart from some incursions). Our protagonists choose to cross the boundary and travel these lands, so all the horrors they encounter are the consequence of their own choices. You could say that what they find in the Broken Lands is a confrontation with themselves. It’s a crucible, in which they either crumble or are mended into a better version of themselves.

And all the characters are memorable, even those you begin to hate by the end of the book. Which is no small feat, considering that we have two distinct groups of around eight people each (even though not all of them make it back out of the Broken Lands). They all felt distinct and “alive”, and I mourned those who were left in the Broken Lands along with their surviving companions, because they weren’t just numbers, they were people.

Nonnie is the glue that holds his story together. It’s amazing to see how much she’d grown between the story journeys – from a weapon that barely spoke and didn’t even consider herself as a person, who could have feelings and desires, and who was forced to undertake the trip into the Broken Lands, to someone fully accepted into a community, valued and respected, who chose to accompany this new group because of a promise she’d made to a friend. And she knows that the Broken Lands test people both physically and mentally, so she lets her companions make sometimes stupid choice because she knows they need to go through those trials. Like she lets Ryan find out for himself what his precious fuel really is, and make his own decision about what he wants to do with that knowledge. Just like she let his uncle fifty years ago.

I will definitely check out other books by Tanya Huff because I was impressed with her imagination and storytelling. 

PS: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Mad Trinkets by Cameron Scott Kirk

 Stars: 2.5 out of 5

I honestly don’t understand all the 5 stars ratings and raving reviews for this book. I didn’t see complex characters or well-realized world. All I saw was gratuitous violence, oversexualization, and very wobbly worldbuilding.

My biggest pet peeve is the worldbuilding, actually. I am a firm believer that in fantasy, you either create your own world with its own geography, mythology and religions, or you use our world, but very carefully. Then it’s called alternative history anyway. 

What we have in this book is a complete mess. It’s set up in the fictional land of White Cloud, where two kings rule and an evil Hungry King had been defeated barely a year ago. Of him, we don’t know much. He was a cannibal, maybe? He had magic, maybe? Who knows. We never get any details on him apart from a few mentions… There is a tall mountain, and a city at the border of a vast desert, and maybe evil metal that fell from the sky. With me so far? Okay. All that is good. All that paints an interesting and fictional world…

And then we get the mention of God and Jesus Christ and real places like Jerusalem. One of the characters is a Norsewoman… who carries a katana. No, seriously, a real Japanese katana… and was given a Japanese name. So are we in our world or some kind of invented one? If we are in the real world, then where exactly is this land of White Cloud on the map of our world? When are these events taking place in reference to our present time? And if it’s NOT our world, why mention a religion from our world? Especially since it has no influence on this story whatsoever? Why give your Viking woman a Japanese katana? Again, it isn’t relevant to the story. All it does is kick me out of the story and irritates me, because I can only suspend my disbelief so far.

The characters are also nothing to write home about. All the women are good and righteous, even in their anger and thirst for vengeance. Other than that, we are not privy to their inner thoughts or desires. All men are overly sexualized pigs… apart from a few obviously good guys who somehow overcome their base nature by the end. Again, we aren’t particularly privy to their thoughts either. 

By the end of the book, I sincerely couldn’t care less for any of the characters. I skimmed the last 10% of the book just to get to the end of the story. This hasn’t become a DNF only because I was almost at the end and I was too stubborn to quit. Honestly, won’t recommend this.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

City of Stone and Silence (The Wells of Sorcery 2) by Django Wexler

 Stars 5 out of 5.

If anything, book 2 is even better than book 1. Since the backstory and worldbuilding had already been established in book 1, we can jump right into the story here. And what story it is! We thought that just reaching the garden and surviving the Rot had been a challenge. Well it’s nothing compared to what awaits our friends from Soliton when it reaches its destination.

I love the fact that Isoka underwent tremendous character growth in the last book, and it continues here. She went from being this ruthless, unfeeling person who was only out for herself and and her sister to becoming a reluctant leader who actually cares about the people she ended up in charge of.  This change makes her a lot more relatable and, while I’m sure she had that compassion hidden deep down inside her anyway, it is slowly coming out thanks to Meroe. Meroe loves Isoka, but she also constantly challenges her and makes her take a long and harsh look at her actions. And she leads by example. My only complaint about this book is that we don’t get quite enough Meroe awesomeness. 

We also get to really meet Isoka’s sister Tori in this book. In book one, we only got a glimpse of her through Isoka’s eyes, and she seemed exactly what Isoka wanted her to be: a beautiful and innocent upper-class girl far detached from all the filth and violence of the streets. In this book, we get to live in her head as well. And we find out that she is far from innocent and definitely far from detached. The innocence is a façade that she is putting up for her sister and the retainers she’d hired, but underneath is a thoughtful and determined young lady. There is no malice in that act, mind you. Tori knows that seeing her happy and pure off the filth Isoka has to wade through every day makes her sister happy. So she gives her that happiness. Because she remembers the cold and the hunger and the brutality of the streets, and she remembers everything her big sister had to sacrifice to keep her safe.  And she loves her for it. 

I admit that Tori was the biggest surprise in this book for me. From the glimpse we had of her in book 1, she’d appeared very shallow and young. But we get to follow a young woman with a heart of gold and spine of steel in this book. I can truly say that both sisters are exceptional. I can’t wait to see them reunited at last and delivering their own brand of justice to those who wronged them.

And I can’t wait to jump into the last book in the trilogy. This is a must read. If you like a thoughtfully created world and wonderfully flawed characters, pick up this series.

Shadebringer by Grayson W Hooper

Stars: 2 out of 5

I added one extra star for the originality of the premise. A soldier who dies during the Vietnam war ends up in a sort of transitional afterlife world where souls are supposed to heal and deal with their hang-ups before they transition into Heaven or Hell or reincarnate, depending on their religious preferences. Oh, and all the souls in this world are soldiers from all the wars ever fought on Earth. This could have been such an awesome story! I was so looking forward to exploring that! Unfortunately, the execution was mediocre at best.

The story takes a long time to get up to speed. I mean, the protagonist doesn’t even end up in Irgendwo until about 40% into the book. Until then we have a long and tedious account of him fighting in Vietnam. Well, by fighting I mean drinking, cursing, and being a total ass to his subordinates in Vietnam. We don’t get much actual fighting. And when we do, the fight sequences are confusing and not particularly well written.

Once we finally get to Irgendwo, the story doesn’t get much better. The author tells us a lot, but doesn’t show anything. He also doesn’t particularly explain how his world works. We travel through a desert and some woods and reach mountains, but there is no sense of scale. At one point it says that it’s days to the sulfur caves from the city where the protagonist is, yet it seems like an army of over two thousand people covers that distance almost instantaneously. I mean imagine the logistics involved in moving this many people over a long distance? Provisions, tents, etc.? Nope, no mention of that. They cover the distance seemingly by magic.

Speaking of magic. Apparently, there is such a ting in Irgendwo, but how it works is never explained. It’s like, here, put your hands like this and throw a fireball. Look at that, it works! There is mention of necromancers, and scryers, but how any of this works is never explained.

Nothing is explained or actually SHOWN. We are told that the people of Mora are evil and want to destroy this world, but apart from a brief scene where the protagonist witnesses a public hanging, I saw nothing that proves this supposed evilness. Or the goodness of the other guys… who force conscript anyone coming to their city. But it’s for a good cause, because the author said they are the good guys…

Also, we have soldiers from different conflicts throughout human history, including the most recent ones like WW1 and WW2. Heck, the protagonist died in Vietnam… yet all their weapons and armor are stuck in the middle ages. We have swords and maces and bows, but no guns? Why? Once again, nothing is explained. 

I think by now you can see the trend here.

I could have forgiven the lack of decent worldbuilding and explanation, if the characters were interesting. Unfortunately, that is not the case. All the secondary characters have the personalities of a cardboard cutout. And the cutout isn’t of a real person, but of a cartoon. Seriously, I can hardly remember their names, yet alone their descriptions. 

The main protagonist doesn’t fare much better. I found him extremely unlikable. He comes across as an entitled asshole who thinks that he is better than everyone else, so he treat them like dirt. Oh, and he gets away with this because he is the Chosen One. He is so quick to pass judgement on people based on their appearance or actions, yet we have seen him being a horrible excuse for a human being during his time in Vietnam… yet he considers himself so good and righteous. I wanted to slap him or throttle him for most of the book.

I quit reading at 85%, smack in the middle of the last decisive battle that was supposed to decide the fate of Irgendwo, because I realized that I simply didn’t care one way or another. I wasn’t invested in this story and the people. I couldn’t care less if that portal was closed or if the Children (which we know next to nothing about) were finally going to invade and burn everything to the ground. As far as I’m concerned, they are welcome to it.

This is supposed to be the first book in a new series, but I have no interest in picking up the next one. Me and Irgendwo are parting ways.

PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Thousand Eyes (The Serpent Gates 2) by A. K. Larkwood

 Stars: 5 out of 5

I had absolutely loved the fist book (and you can read my review here), so I had picked up this book with a certain amount of trepidation. Too often the second book in a series is much weaker than the fist one, serving just as sort of filler before the grand showdown in book 3. I am happy to report that that is not the case here. The second book is just as good as the first one. I am also happy that the author decided to turn this into a duology. We get to finish the journey with all our characters and wrap up all of their paths in more or less neat fashion. 

I will try to avoid spoilers, but let me just say that this book went in to a direction I wasn’t expecting at all, but that’s what made it such a fun and engaging read as well. I really didn’t know where the author would be taking the characters next, but I was so invested in their fates that I was happily along for the ride. Just be warned that the book turns rather dark at some points and things happen to both our characters and the people around them that would be considered nightmarish. 

This book raises several important questions. What is the definition of self? Is self-consciousness set in stone or can it evolve over time and circumstances? What happens when two different entities merge as one? Does one effectively dominate and destroy the other? Do they share the body and take turns? Or do they blend into something new, a combination of both entities? And what makes us human? Can divinities experience love and compassion? Can they change? 

It also asks the important question of how far would you go to save the person you care about. Does the desire to protect the one you love excuse the horrible things you have to do to keep them safe or to just remain by their side? Also, is the lack of compassion and a complete self-absorption the fault of a divine presence, or was it already part of the human soul that merged with it? So many important questions and so many different fates interwoven into this tory. I loved that each characters chose their own, often rather unique answer to them. Because everyone’s story is different. Just like in life. 

It’s an interesting story to navigate along with Czorwe, Tal, and Shutmili, because they are all seeking answers to those questions in their own deeply personal ways. I am also glad that everyone gets a (sort of) happy ending despite all the hardships fate puts them through along the way. Especially Tal, because the poor boy has suffered enough. 

All in all, it was a wonderful world that I enjoyed discovering alongside all characters. I wouldn’t mind revisiting it someday just to discover more strange worlds in the broken maze, even if the stories are told by a different set of characters. I will definitely be following this author closely and check out their new books.

PS: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Empire’s Ruin (Ashes of the Unhewn Throne 1) by Brian Staveley

Stars: 3 out of 5

This was an okay book, but nothing special. I mean, it kept me engaged enough to plod through 600+ pages, but it never got me engaged enough to be truly invested in the story. 

The world is interesting, and I really wanted to read more about it. I also realized that this was a sequel to an existing trilogy, but I don’t think you need to have read the previous books to understand the world. From what I could gather, this story follows a different set of characters anyway.

So why did I give this only three stars? I had two problems with it. 

The first one is the pacing. There is no sense of urgency, no real stakes for our characters. Gwenna is sent to the butt end of the world to recover kettral eggs, but there is no timeline on this. We are told that the empire is falling apart and that restoring the kettral is crucial in saving it, but nowhere in the book are we given an indication that the fall is imminent. We are TOLD that it’s the case, but we aren’t SHOWN. It’s hard to be invested in a quest when the stakes aren’t known. Gwenna could take years to get those eggs back, and the empire might still stand. Who knows? The readers certainly don’t. 

Same problem with Ruc’s storyline. We are told at the beginning of the book that this supernatural badass “First” is coming with an army and he will subjugate this city… then we don’t hear from him at all until the very end of the book. Again, we are TOLD. We are shown a dead messenger who didn’t even try to resist and some kind of bat creature who, supposedly, killed several people before it was captured. We are TOLD that, but we don’t see that happening. So again, the stakes are unclear. The urgency is minimal. Especially since we spent the entire book in one place – the Arena. The characters kept talking about escaping, but never really actively doing anything about it (apart from almost at the very end). So there is this big army coming, and we keep hearing that Ruc and Bien need to escape the city… yet they are still in the Arena every time the narrative comes back to them.

As for Akiil’s storyline, I still have no clue why it was even necessary to include it, apart from that one little seed at the end. Other than that, he was my least favorite of the characters, so reading through his POVs was a slog. One of the reasons is that I can’t understand his motivation. I figured out Gwenna and was onboard for her slow descent into depression and cheered when she finally clawed her way out of it. I was mildly sympathetic to Ruc’s efforts to suppress his violent tendencies, but Akiil? I still have no clue what motivates him. It honestly felt like he was making bad choices just for the sake of making bad choices. And that whole ark with the Captain and Skinny Gwenn? I’m not even sure what the point of that was…

So all in all, I was engaged enough to finish this book, but I’m not sure if I am invested enough to pick up the next one, or to go back and read the original trilogy.

PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.