Tag Archives: fantasy

wit’chstorm

Wit’chstorm (The Banned and Banished #2) by James Clemens

From Goodreads:

Elena bears the mark of the wit’ch upon her palm, the crimson stain that testifies to the awesome power of unimaginable potency: wild seductive, and difficult to control. Only a mistress of blood magick can stand against the foul minions and all-corrupting evil of the Dark Lord. But Elena is not yet the mistress of her magick. Protected by an ageless warrior and a band of renegades, she quests for a lost city where prophecies speak of a mystic tome that holds the key to the Dark Lord’s defeat. But if the Dark Lord finds her first, Elena will become his most fearsome weapon.

A different form of power touches Sy-wen, girl-child of an ocean-dwelling clan that bonds-mates to the terrible and majestic sea dragons. But bonds more ancient still tie Sy-wen to the land she does not know, to a man she has never seen…and to a legend asleep in stone deep beneath A’loa Glen-a legend beginning to wake.

Now, as Elena and Sy-wen converge on A’loa Glen from land and sea, will the forces they unleash lead to a future of freedom-or an eternity under the Dark Lord’s yoke? 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This picks up directly from the first book and after the first quarter I was starting to wonder how the story was going to last through 5 books without getting repetitive and potentially boring. Then there is a massive injection of new characters and storylines that really ramp up the complexity. Particularly liked how everything was brought together at the end of this chapter and looking forward to seeing how it develops further through the rest of the books. Although I read this series a long time ago I remember very little about the story except that it was good.

The section of the story with the Swamp Wit’ch reminded me quite a lot of Shota and Richard from the Sword of Truth series. The characters and stories are different but it just felt very familiar for some reason.

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summer knight

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher

From Goodreads:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him–and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything..

My Rating: ⭐⭐

Although I managed to get to the end I really struggled with this book. The storyline just didn’t work for me. The blend of fantasy and crime investigation just didn’t work, it was just too outlandish and unbelievable. The fantasy element was way off the scale and the frenetic pace of the story hampered my ability to get to grips with anything that was going on. I was just reading it on auto pilot most of the time!

According to Goodreads reviews the series improves a lot from the fourth book so I will keep going with it but after this I would be tempted to give it up.

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the eye of the world

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan

From Goodreads:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Having recently watched and enjoyed the Amazon TV adaptation of The Wheel of Time I was inspired to go back and read the original books for probably the 5th time! It has been a long time since I’ve read the earliest ones though and I’m finding details now that I missed before.

Starting this series is a serious investment of time as there are 12 instalments in total and each is well over 10 hours reading time.

Some of the themes and characters of this story are simplistic and dated by now but this is the start of one of the most epic stories in the fantasy genre. To me it is a brilliant blend of many different themes and story elements from the best that fantasy has to offer. I’m going to enjoy reading them all again, even the difficult ones!

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daggerspell

Daggerspell (Deverry #1) by Katherine Kerr

From Goodreads:

Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he’d righted that wrong-and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness. . . and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly revised edition comes the incredible novel that began one of the best-loved fantasy series in recent years–a tale of bold adventure and timeless love, perilous battle and pure magic. For long-standing fans of Deverry and those who have yet to experience this exciting series, Daggerspell is a rare and special treat.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have been a bit nervous about reading this book and have been putting it off for a while. Following on from my recent review of “Into The Out Of” this was the series of books that convinced me in my mid-late teens that Fantasy was the genre for me. I read the first 3 stories many times and followed the series all the way to the 9th book before losing track of it for some reason. I see now that it’s up to 15 stories with more to come.

This book is where the whole story starts and for me it’s one of the perfect examples of the genre. It has everything you expect from an epic style story with fantastically developed characters and some of the best story writing I’ve come across.

I am delighted to find that it has also stood the test of time and it was an absolute delight to return to the world Katherine Kerr has created and to immerse myself in the complex story of reincarnation and magic set in a very familiar yet wonderfully different medieval Celtic society.

If you have any interest at all in the Fantasy genre then make sure you read this book!

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into the out of

Into The Out Of by Alan Dean Foster

From Goodreads:

An ancient evil…

They’re small and dark–and as elusive as a shadow under your bed or an unexplained creak in the night. But the shetani are beings of awesome power, a swarm of spirits stealing into our world from the Out Of to destroy the very fabric of reality.

A modern menace!

Only one man sees the growing danger. Olkeloki, an elder of the Maasai people, an African laibon with the knowledge to fight the shetani both in this world and its bizarre counterpart. But he must have help from two others if he is to stem the deadly tide–U.S. government agent Joshua Oak, a man all too used to combat, and Merry Sharrow, a courageous young woman braving demons of her own. Together, they must invade the very heart of a nightmare and–as spell-cast mayhem causes one earthly crisis after another–defeat the shetani in their own terror-strewn world

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This was one of the first science fiction stories that I ever read and it really gave me a hunger for more. That was in my mid teens (late ’80s) and I have been wanting to read it again for quite some time now. I recently came across a digital version and added it to my reading list.

After more than 35 years of reading science fiction, fantasy and horror I found this early example of the genre quite dated. It starts well with an interesting concept, good characters and a good storyline. However, the second half of the book very quickly runs out of steam and becomes quite dull. There was huge scope for creating an alternative world (the out of) but it’s as if the author created a concept that he didn’t know how to handle and ended up with a poor shadow of the potential. With this he also lost grip of the characters and they quickly lost depth as well as my interest.

Despite its poor aging it was still worth a read even just for sentimentality but there are many better books out there that I’d recommend instead.

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northern lights

Northern Lights (US: The Golden Compass) (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman

From Goodreads:

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is very much a teen/young adult book and I didn’t expect to give it much of a rating seeing as I’m a long way away from the target audience. The characters and storylines are quite simplistic in how they jump around with little development in between scenes but at the same time they are complex enough to challenge a younger reader.

I found the closeness to reality with the society, locations and technology almost like ours but subtly different, a bit jarring. I couldn’t get comfortable with it. In addition the concepts of daemons and sentient polar bears was just way off for me. With both being central to the story I found them both a constant niggle.

Some of the characters were very interesting though. I particularly liked the gyptians (even if the clan style society was a little over simplified) and the society of scholars that raised Lyra in Oxford. Lord Asriel was a complex and dark character that I wouldn’t expect to see in a book for such a young audience.

SPOILER: the plotline of removing the daemons from the children in order to harness the released energy was very original though and really saved this book for me as well as the concept of crossing into the parallel universe to change the current one. I think I’ll probably give the second book a go just to see what happens next.

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the way of shadows

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks

From Goodreads:

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is the author’s debut novel and it feels like one. The characters and storylines are good but they just don’t have the flow and polish of an experienced author. However, it is definitely worth a read and shows promise for more to come.

The genre is fantasy but it’s definitely modern fantasy. There’s a real dark edge with poverty, hardship and abuse and not much of it softened. We also join the story in a lull between conflicts between Cenaria (the country the story is set in) and its stronger and bloodthirsty neighbours. Not much background is given up front so you are finding stuff out as you go along. This very much reminded me of Stella Gemmell’s The City and Stephen Erikson’s series Malazan Book of the Fallen.

The author has received a number of awards for this and a second series so looking forward to seeing how his talent develops and how the rest of the story progresses.

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wit’ch fire

Wit’ch Fire (The Banned and The Banished #1) by James Clemens

From Goodreads:

From a brilliant new voice in fantasy comes a band of heroes, a world in peril, and an unforgettable heroine whose unexpected gift of magic awakens an ancient, slumbering evil.

On a fateful night five centuries ago, three made a desperate last stand, sacrificing everything to preserve the only hope of goodness in the beautiful, doomed land of Alasea. Now, on the anniversary of that ominous night, a girl-child ripens into the heritage of lost power. But before she can even comprehend her terrible new gift, the Dark Lord dispatches his winged monsters to capture her and bring him the embryonic magic she embodies.

Fleeing the minions of darkness, Elena is swept toward certain doom-and into the company of unexpected allies. Aided by a one-armed warrior and a strange seer, she forms a band of the hunted and the cursed, the outcasts and the outlaws, to battle the unstoppable forces of evil and rescue a once-glorious empire…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yet another series that I read a long time ago and have decided to revisit. I was a bit wary of doing so as although I remember the series and even the covers, I couldn’t remember anything about the story or characters. My misgivings were definitely misplaced and once I was a couple of chapters in it started to ring familiar bells and I was really enjoying it.

The quality of writing is really very good. The characters are diverse but very manageable and very well introduced. This first book is all about bringing the band of characters together, showing us their individual stories and setting them up for the main story which is also partly introduced.

This book kind of reminded me of the Dragonlance stories with its mixture of human and non-human characters and with magic at its core. However, while I found Dragonlance quite simplistic and dated this story is much more complex and definitely fits with modern fantasy writing.

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fool’s fate

Fool’s Fate (Tawny Man Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

The triumphant conclusion to the Tawny Man trilogy, from the author of the bestselling Farseer and Liveship Traders trilogies. The moving end to the tale of the Farseers, in which kingdoms must stand or fall on the beat of a dragon’s wings, or a Fool’s heart. A small and sadly untried coterie – the old assassin Chade, the serving-boy Thick, Prince Dutiful, and his reluctant Skillmaster, Fitz – sail towards the distant island of Aslevjal. There they must fulfil the Narcheska’s challenge to her betrothed: to lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends tell is buried there deep beneath the ice, upon her hearth. Only with the completion of this quest can the marriage proceed, and the resulting alliance signal an end to war between the two kingdoms. It is not a happy ship: tensions between the folk of the Six Duchies and their traditional enemies, the Outislanders, lie just beneath the surface. Thick is constantly ill, and his random but powerful Skilling has taken on a dark and menacing tone, while Chade’s fascination with the Skill is growing to the point of obsession. Having ensured that his beloved friend the Fool is safely left behind in Buckkeep, Fitz is guilt-stricken; but he is determined to keep his fate at bay, since prophecy foretells the Fool’s death if he ever sets foot on the isle of the black dragon. But as their ship draws in towards Aslevjal a lone figure awaits them…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Robin Hobb is without a doubt one of the very best fantasy fiction authors that I have read. The fantasy world that she has created is outstanding and the stories that she has created are simply wonderful to read. She builds the stories around a small number of central characters but creates detailed supporting characters that manage to bring depth and understanding without the reader getting lost in the detail.

Over three series she has also managed to create three separate but interlinked stories and bring them all together in this final book to a hugely enjoyable conclusion. There is a huge amount of sadness throughout this final book. Fitz definitely does not have an easy life nor does he make it any easier for himself. There is a lot of loss and strife for him in this final installment but there is also a very emotional and satisfying conclusion. It is one of the very few endings that provoked a genuine emotional response from me. That is incredibly difficult to do with a book and shows Robb’s skill in creating a character that you really get to know and become attached to.

The book finishes as an end. It feels like the author intended to leave the story here but there are two further series that I haven’t read and have seen mixed reviews on. With such a perfect conclusion to this story I’m in two minds whether to carry on or just leave it here. We’ll see…..

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mistress of the empire

Mistress of The Empire (Empire Trilogy #3) by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts.

From Goodreads:

The world on the other side of the rift:  Kelewan, a land seething with political intrigue and deadly conspiracies.  Following the opulent panoply of Daughter Of The Empire and the dazzling pageantry of Servant Of The Empire comes the resounding conclusion to the Empire trilogy.

Besieged by spies and rival houses, stalked by a secret and merciless brotherhood of assassins, the brilliant Lady Mara of the Acoma faces the most deadly challenge she has ever known.  The fearsome Black Robes see Mara as the ultimate threat to their ancient power.  In search of allies who will join her against them, Mara must travel beyond civilization’s borders and even into the hives of the alien cho-ja.  As those near and dear to her fall victim to many enemies, Mara cries out for vengeance.  Drawing on all of her courage and guile she prepares to fight her greatest battle of all–for her life, her home, and the Empire itself.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Overall this is one of my favourite series of all time. The breadth and scale of the story, the world and customs and characters is amazing. However, this is a disappointing final installment. It’s reasonably good and taking Mara out of the empire and bringing her to the brink of annihilation is inspired storytelling. Add in the changes in her relationships with her servants and the traditions of the empire mixed with a showdown between her and the Assembly backed up by the Cho-Ja and you have all the elements for an epic story.

However, it gets terribly bogged down in detail, becomes incredibly slow moving and is far too long. For the first 25% virtually nothing happens. However, it is definitely worth reading and it does bring a satisfying and complete conclusion to the trilogy.

Overall the collaboration between these two authors has resulted in the best of both and therefore better than either on their own. I’m glad I went back and revisited this series and it has inspired me to go back to others I read when I was much younger.

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