Category Archives: Fantasy

The Hero of Ages (The Mistborn Saga 3) by Brandon Sanderson

Stars: 5 out of 5.

This was a fitting end to an epic trilogy. What I love about Brandon Sanderson is that his worlds are always complex and well thought-out. Things happen for a reason, even if that reason isn’t immediately discernable by the reader. There will be no deus ex machina here. Everything that happens has been foreshadowed in the previous books or hinted upon in this one. 

I also like that he lets his characters be flawed and make mistakes. Vin isn’t a strong female lead that can do no wrong, and when she does, it’s not wrong because she is the protagonist. I’ve seen too many of those in the movies and TV series lately. No Vin is a very human character, with her needs and wants. She is rash and acts without thinking things through sometimes. And people die as a result. And Vin realizes this, and strives to do better, to try harder. 

It’s disheartening to see both her and Elend try so hard to protect their people, but no matter what they do, Ruin seems to prevail. I especially felt for Elend there because he came into this story as a stary-eyed idealist full of good intentions. Life proceeded to regularly beat him down and show him that good intentions aren’t enough when you are responsible for the lives of thousands of people. That sometimes you have to make hard decisions. I like the fact that even despite that, he kept the moral core that made him a good man right until the end.

And even though I love our main couple, there is no denying that Sazed, Spook, and TenSoon are the real heroes of this book. My heart broke for Sazed who experienced a veritable crisis of faith in this book. And Spook… Oh Spook. From a minor characters who could barely talk he becomes a leader worthy of Kelsier’s crew. 

Speaking for Kelsier. It’s amazing how a character who died in the first book manages to influence everyone he came in contact with for the next two books. God knows he wasn’t perfect, but he managed to inspire people to fight seemingly impossible odds. And, dare I say, he helped create the Hero of Ages.

I came out of this trilogy with a sense of immense satisfaction, but also with a broken heart, though I understand that things ended how they needed to end for all of our characters. I will definitely check out the books in the next era of Mistborn world, but I think I will take a break first. Because despite how much I love Brandon Sanderson’s style, these books are rather hefty tomes that require a lot of brainpower to get through.

Cast in Courtlight (Chronicles of Elantra 2) by Michelle Sagara

Stars: 4 out of 5.

This was better than the first book, even though the narrative is still a bit meandering at times which makes it rather confusing. However the story is rather fascinating, so I was willing to excuse the less than tight writing style.

We discover a lot more about the past of Elantra and about one of the secretive immortal races that calls this city home – the Barrani. I found this foray into Barrani culture fascinating. How would you live your immortal life if your name truly defines you? Not only that, but it gives whoever knows it power over you as well. So much power that they can compel you to do horrible things. What choice do you have when you know that the only way to escape this influence is death, but you are immortal? 

I find the world of Elantra fascinating. And yes, I’m aware that I used the world “fascinating” at least three times since the beginning of this review. We have a whole civilization living on the ruins of another, much older one. And those ruins are still imbued with magic which is often dangerous. Some of them serve as prisons to beings that should never see the light of day if this new civilization is to survive and thrive.

For example, the High Lord of the Barrani isn’t just an empty title that anyone can hold. That person needs to have sufficient power to serve as jailer to something burried underneath the High Court. Something even the Dragon Emperor fears. The location isn’t vanity. It’s necessity.

Or the ceremony of becoming a Lord of the Court? On the surface, it’s just an exercise in vanity as well. A riddle to be solved for the dubious honor to call these ancient halls home. The price of failure, however, is worse than death, as it turns out.

The more I read about this world, the more I want to know. And I especially want to know how the markings on Kaylin’s body tie into all this. What role will she have to play in what seems to be the continuation of an ancient war between immortal races and forces far more terrible, but long forgotten?

I admit that I am less fond of Kaylin herself than I am of the world she inhabits. For someone who has been through all the horrible things she had lived through, she surprisingly lacks maturity. I know, she is only 18 or so in these books, but sometimes she behaves like a petulant teen who lacks the brains to think her actions and reactions through before she does something. Though I must admit that I see some improvement between Kaylin in book 1 and Kaylin in book 2, so I am holding out hope that she will grow and mature as the series progresses, and hopefully not get on my nerves as much.

As it stands though, I am definitely continuing with the series, because I want to learn more about this fascinating world.

A Blade Through Time (Desolada 1) by Louis Kalman

DNF at 48%

This book started so strong. The first chapter was intense and full of danger and tension… Unfortunately the rest of the book that I managed to wade through before I gave up wasn’t as good.

We start with a vicious attack and a young boy who lost everything in the space of a day, almost died, and discovered that he can rewind time. So he flees the city and vows to master his time-shifting gift enough to come back and save his family. Wonderful premise for what could have been a great story. 

But that potential is wasted, because absolutely nothing happens for the next half of the book. Leones gets to the philosophers… and the story comes to a grinding halt. We have pages upon pages of Leones training with weapons, or drinking and gambling in an opium den, or just brooding around. He does nothing productive. He doesn’t even explore the city he ended up with beyond the philosopher’s gardens and the gambling dens. He doesn’t try to find out what happened in the city he fled. He only uses his time rewinding ability when it’s convenient for him. And he mops around and he feels sorry for himself. It’s boring.

I think I wouldn’t have been as boring if this part of the book was populated with interesting characters, but Leones is so self-absorbed that he barely pays attention to anyone besides himself, and only if those people can serve him in some shape or form. As a result, the other apprentices are barely described. I don’t know anything about them beyond their names and physical appearance. And because Leones never bothers to ask, I don’t know anything about their pasts or their aspirations. Heck, I don’t even know what most of them do outside of the philosophers’ gardens. 

As a result, they seem more like cardboard cutouts then real people that I should care about. Even when Leones’s maybe girlfriend is assassinated, which should be a big traumatic discovery for him, my reaction was very lackluster. Probably because Leones didn’t particularly grieve for her either. 

Speaking of which, Leones as a character didn’t work for me at all. He is depicted as being completely detached from his feelings. He is either a sociopath, or so traumatized by what happened in chapter 1 that he can’t allow himself to feel anything for anyone. If it’s the later, it’s not made clear enough in the book, so he comes across as self-absorbed, selfish, and unfeeling. Not a character I want to spend a whole book with.

By the time the action finally picked up in the book, and things were finally starting to happen, I realized that I simply wasn’t interested enough to continue. I mean one of the characters seemed to have been erased from existence, but I couldn’t’ are less. So I decided to call it quits, because I didn’t care how this story ended enough to invest any more time into it.

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

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2) by Jen Williams

DNF at 55%.

I had loved the Ninth Rain, the first book in this trilogy. I had loved it so much that I was really looking forward to reading this book and learning more about the world and our characters… until I actually started reading the book. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s well written, and we learn a lot more about the worm people, as well as more insight into the Erborans and their relationships with the rest of the world, but the story is just so… boring, I guess. The opening chapter was excellent, don’t get me wrong! it was  a fun-filled epic battle that our heroes epically fail. That chapter had me excited about the rest of the book. But then the action just stops. And we get pages upon pages of dialogs, monologs, descriptions, and characters basically just sitting around doing nothing. Even by the time they actually start doing something, the story is so disjoined that I found it hard to keep up with everything, or even care for where it was going.

I think the biggest hurdle for me was the author’s choice to split up the core group that was created at the end of book 1 and send them all on their own epic quests. It’s all well and good, but I found myself loosing interest in most of those quests. Yes, I kinda wanted to know if the Origin island where the sacred tree came from really existed, or whether the war beasts would regain their memories. But the rest of the story arcs? I found myself completely disengaged from them.

I kept trying to get back into this book for four months, resolving to read at least 20 pages each time I picked it up. But I found my attention starting to wander after about 5-10 pages and getting to those 20 page count would be a chore. I mean, I read 15 other books while I was on and off attempting to finish this one, and I found myself making excuses not to pick it up. That’s when I decided that maybe it was time to call it quits.

Other reviews say that the story picks up in the last 30% of the book, but I’m not sure I have the willpower to wait that long, wading through the slow and dreaded middle. I own this book, so I might pick it up at a later date and try again, but for now, I am calling it quits and taking it off the list of books I’m currently reading, just because I feel guilty every time I see it on my Goodreads page and that stresses me out.

Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy 2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I was a little apprehensive starting this book, because I loved Foundryside so much and there is definitely a dreaded middle book in the trilogy curse going around. So I was afraid to be disappointed. I shouldn’t have worried. RJB has never let me down before, and he didn’t this time. This is an excellent book that grips you from the first page and doesn’t let you go until the last. It makes you care for the characters and cheer them on… oh, and it rips your heart out in the process. I should have known, I’ve read the Divine Cities trilogy, after all.

The story starts about seven months after the end of the first book, and our Foundryside crew are doing well, plotting and scheming the downfall of the great scivener houses of Trevenne and accomplishing daring heists. And it seems like they have all found some modicum of peace and happiness, not to mention friendship. Well, all except Gregor, but can you really blame him after the revelations at the end of last book?

So the reader prepares for a book centered around our friends basically giving the finger to the big scrivener houses of Trevanne and bringing about the revolution… but if you think that’s what this trilogy will be about, you don’t know the author very well. Soon freedom for the people of Trevanne takes a whole different meaning, and the stakes become sky high. And our unlikely heroes are left scrambling, trying to stay ahead of the tsunami that is bearing their way, and there are no good choices only bad and less bad ones. 

I loved all the characters from book one and I’m glad we got to explore their relationships more in this book and see them work together as a unit, but also see that they have become the found family all of them needed. It was heartwarming… and we didn’t get nearly enough of it. I would have loved to see them in their compound, sharing scrivening definitions with other scriveners, answering questions, collecting definitions for their library… Unfortunately, we will never get that, judging how this book ended, and that’s sad.

The danger they are facing is very real, very urgent and rather terrifying in its sheer disregard for human life. And the more the book progresses, the worse it gets for our friends and for Trevanne in general. I won’t get into any spoilers, but the ending really rips your heart out. 

I really want to know what happens now and how this story will end for our friends, so I will be definitely picking up the last book in the trilogy.

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

The Killing Floor Blues (Daniel Faust 5) by Craig Schaefer

Stars: 5 out of 5.

This is the best book of the series so far, at least in my opinion!

It starts off strong with Daniel Faust waking up on a prison bus in transfer to a prison, when last time we left him at the end of book 4, he’d just been framed for a murder and arrested… Only it seems that four months have passed, he’d already been put on trial (and lost), and he is being transferred to a maximum security prison to serve a life sentence. Confused yet? Add to that the fact that Daniel doesn’t remember anything about those four months. To him, he was arrested, and next time he woke up, he was on this bus. 

I loved that the reader gets to experience that state of confusion and disbelief with the character. I even went back to the end of book 4 and re-read the ending just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. This confusion helps empathize with the character. Makes the reader root for him even more than before.

And Daniel will need all the support he can get in this book, because for once, he doesn’t have his friends and family to help him. He doesn’t even have access to his magic tricks. He is utterly alone in a hostile environment where people get shanked for just looking at the wrong person at the wrong time. Oh, and somebody really wants him dead to boot. And not only dead, but he needs to suffer horribly before he dies.

This was a very fast-paced story with constant tension, because not only is Daniel like a fish out of water here (although he does the best he can with the cards he is given), but also because so many different things are wrong with this prison. And the more wrong you discover, the more worried you become about the protagonist.

I also loved that when he finally manages to get help, the issuing fight is awesome and spectacular. And I’m not even a little bit irritated with Caitlyn in this book, which is rare. I think her almost total absence from the story is what made this book so great.

All in all, I love the direction in which this series is progressing. I want to know who the man with the Cheshire smile is and what his end game is. Something tells me Daniel and team are going to mess his plans so bad, he won’t realize what hit him. And I will be happily along for the ride.

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood and Co 4) by Jonathan Stroud

Stars: 4.5 out of 5.

This series continues to deliver, and we finally get some answers (and a lot more questions).

It’s wonderful to have the team back together by the end of this book. I understand why Lucy thought she needed to leave at the end of the previous book, but I think that she also learned a couple valuable lessons. First that you need a team you can count on and companions you can trust. Second, that there are situations that you simply cannot deal with on your own. And finally, that Lockwood will always be Lockwood, and he will always play with death with abandon, like he has a death wish (pun intended).

The world in this series is getting bleaker by the book. It almost seems like the whole of the UK is permeated by some kind of despair. The Problem is getting worse. More and more Visitors are manifesting almost everywhere, people are dying, so everyone just goes about their day with a sort of resigned pessimism. 

It is also rather disheartening to see that the two agencies that are supposed to be the last defense against the Problem are, in fact, using said problem for their own gains. I mean there were already hints that things were not as they seemed in previous books, but here the message comes across as loud and clear. I even wonder if Fittes and Rotwell didn’t cause the Problem in the first place, especially considering the revelation we get at the end of the book.

So it is with a certain amount of trepidation that I look forward towards reading the next and last book in the series. The lines have been drawn, and some not so subtle threats have been voiced. Will our friends from Lockwood and Co survive the confrontation with a giant like the Fittes agency? And more importantly, will they finally uncover the cause of the Problem and save England? 

Faded Steel Heat (Garrett Files 9) by Glen Cook

Stars: 3 out of 5.

This is the weakest of the Garrett stories so far, and compared to the previous ones, it was  a big disappointment.

First things first, it dragged way past the time when it was a polite thing to bow out and say goodbye. I would say at least 50-60 pages past that point. This book seemed way too long in general, with a lot of filler that could have been cut out without hurting the story. 

Second issue – I get it that Garrett is a chick magnet and that his brain goes down south every time he sees a good looking enough woman, but it was a bit of an overkill in this story. It stopped being cute and became irritating at about the halfway point. 

My biggest disappointment however is the reveal about Glory Mooncalled. I think Glen Cook dropped the ball on this big time. I think I get what he was trying to go for – don’t meet your heroes and all that, but this was so anticlimactic… I mean Glory Mooncalled has been the driving force behind most of the background events in this series since book 1. By now, he acquired an almost mythical status. To end it the way the author ended it… I don’t know, I feel like it’s a huge disservice to the character and so much waisted potential.

Honestly, same could be said about Sadler and Crask. That was a bit of an underwhelming ending for those two characters that have always been larger than life.

Another complaint is that we didn’t have nearly enough Morley Dotts in this book, but what had what wonderful. I love the interaction between Garrett and him. 

I feel like it’s then end of an era in the Garrett Files series. So much was tied around Glory Mooncalled and his actions in Kantard that I honestly don’t know where the series will be going not. But even though I was not as thrilled with this book as I was with the previous ones, I am definitely looking forward to continuing the series.

Magic to the Bone (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress 7) by Annie Bellet

Stars: 3.5 out of 5

A lot of things happen in this book despite it’s small page count. First of all, Jade finally reunites with Wolf and integrates her into her own psyche so to say. This makes their bond stronger and more seamless than before. And she gets back her magic that she almost completely burned out in the previous books by rewinding time to save her friends from Samir.

Oh, and the final confrontation with Samir that we have been building up to for six books now, finally takes place. WARNING – SPOILERS:  So ding dong, Samir is dead by the end of this book. I am not sure how I feel about that. For six books he was built up as this ultimate big bad that Jade was so afraid of, so the final battle was a little… underwhelming? Don’t get me wrong, it was still intense and the stakes were high, but not high enough in my opinion. I guess that’s the issue with creating an ultimate big bad and hinting at how badass he is for six books – the reader has very high expectations of the final confrontation.

That disappointment notwithstanding, I liked Jade’s progress in this book. She finally realized that she can’t shelter her friends from danger all the time. And by trying to do that, she paints a big target on their backs and weakens herself as well, since she has to spread her attention so much. She realized that her friends weren’t hapless either, and that the best thing she could do was trust them to do their part in the fight.

That’s a lot of growth on Jade’s part, because all her life she was on the run, trying not to get attached, trying (and failing) over and over again to protect any found family she would create. 

I also liked that her friends trusted her enough to know she didn’t just run on them, even though they had no memories of the horrors that happened before she rewound time. I love protagonists who have a strong support system and wonderful friends.

The only question is what happens now? The big bad that loomed over Jade’s life for seven books is dead (or as good as dead), and there are three more books left in the series. What can be worst than an immortal sorcerer hell-bent on harvesting your heart and destroying everyone you love in the process? I guess I will have to pick up the next book to find out.

I am also a bit sad that Harper decided to leave town for a bit, though I understand why. 

The Last Wish (The Witcher 0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I had read this series back when I was a teenager and remember loving it. Then I played all of The Witcher games and watched the Netflix series. The series was a huge disappointment, especially season 3, but Henry Cavil is 100% Geralt of Rivia. You can see that he loves the source material as much as I do.

Anyway, while I will not be continuing with the TV series, I decided to reread the books. And I started at the book that introduced me to this series the first time as well. I remember being fascinated by the way the author wove original Slavic monsters and folk tales into this rich and complex world. And I absolutely LOVE Geralt of Rivia. 

This book is a collection of short stories that weave into a cohesive narrative that serves to introduce us to Geralt and the most important characters in future books, like Yennifer, Jaskier, the elves, etc. And while Ciri isn’t in this book, she is mentioned and we get to read the story about how Geralt got to be linked to her by destiny. 

I liked that not all of the short stories involve Geralt slaying soulless monsters. In fact, in a lot of them humans are worst monsters than the actual monsters. And some of those stories are actually rather heartbreaking. Like the whole horrible affair in Blaviken. Was Renfri born a monster like the sorcerer claimed, or did humans make her that way by driving her to become cruel and callus just to survive? Or what’s the point of all your arrogance and pride if your entire race is dying off because of that pride?

I plan on rereading the entire series this year and I am looking forward to immersing myself in the complex and bloody world of witchers, monsters, and political intrigue.