Tag Archives: fantasy

shadow’s edge

Shadow’s Edge (Night Angel #2) by Brent Weeks

This post may contain spoilers.

Kylar and Elene have escaped with Uly and are trying to set up a new life in a nearby country. Elene is trying to break Kylar away from his old murderous life as a “wetboy” assassin. Kylar is desperately trying to become a new person while dealing with the guilt of having killed his master, Durzo, and abandoned his best friend Logan. His inate skills are augmented by the magical ka’kari and he struggles to abandon his former ways for good.

The residents of the Warrens are struggling under the oppression of the conquering armies of Khalidor and revolution is brewing. Led by Kylar’s friends Jarl and Momma K they manage to consolidate their forces and raise an army to oppose the God King. However, they still need a champion and a leader to rally around.

Logan didn’t die in the first book but escaped into the dreaded prison known as the Maw and the Hole. He’s desperately clinging on to life among the dregs of society that have been reduced to worse than animals in a constant battle to survive.

Jarl comes to Kylar with the news that Logan still lives and now he must choose between his love for Elene and his debt to Logan.

Throw in the beautiful and ruthless assassin Vi, who has been offered freedom if she delivers Jarl and Kylar into the hands of the God King, and you have a complicated but gripping story of magic, evil, betrayal and love.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

More on Goodreads and Amazon.

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dragon keeper

Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles #1) by Robin Hobb

This post may contain spoilers.

I’m a fan of everything I’ve read from Robin Hobb but this is definitely one of the best fantasy books I’ve read for quite some time. The author takes elements from the three previous series Liveship Traders, Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies and focuses them all on the Rain Wilds. It’s also a perfect example of why you should take reviews by other people with a big pinch of salt as I’ve seen many reviewers pan this book.

The story is told from the point of view of three brand new characters and in a very pleasant change to the norm all three are female. The first is Alise, daughter of a lower status Trader family that catches the eye of a prestigious and wealthy Trader son. Her stroke of fortune soon becomes a marriage of loneliness and abuse but she manages to make an escape on an adventure to the Rain Wilds that looks like it will change her life for ever.

Thymara is a deformed child of the Rain Wilds that was saved at birth by her father. He went against all tradition by bringing her home when she had been left out to die because of her deformities. Unfortunately, she is shunned by the Rain Wilds community and has a very isolated and lonely life. She is given a suspiciously profitable chance to change her life when the Trader Council recruits a team of Rain Wilders to escort the new dragon population away from the ancient buried city of the Elderlings.

The third POV is one of the newly emerged dragons. Female dragon Sintara is the dragon form of serpent Sisquara from the earlier stories. Like the rest of the newly emerged dragons she spent much too long as a serpent, cocooned much too late in the year and emerged with deformities. Now abandoned by Tintaglia and unable to fly the dragons are stranded and have become a very unwelcome burden on the Rain Wilds.

Another dragon (Mercor who was Maulkin as a serpent) carries memories of the ancient city of Kelsingra (sounds very like the city Fitz visits via the travelling stones) and convinces the others to trick the Rain Wilds council into providing them assistance to reach there. This brings the three strands of the story together and we join them as they start the first part of their journey.

Most of the characters are new and the setting of the Rain Wilds is expanded much more than in previous books but there is a familiarity also that links the earlier stories. Add in cameo appearances by Althea, Brashan, Paragon and Malta and it creates a perfect mix of old and new. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this story develops further.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

More on Goodreads and Amazon.

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the great hunt

The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time #2) by Robert Jordan

From Amazon:

Rand al’Thor and his companions set out to retrieve a powerful magical artifact from The Dark One’s Shadowspawn.

For centuries, gleemen have told the tales of The Great Hunt of the Horn. So many tales about each of the Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of…

Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages.

And it is stolen.

In pursuit of the thieves, Rand al’Thor is determined to keep the Horn out of the grasp of The Dark One. But he has also learned that he is The Dragon Reborn—the Champion of Light destined to stand against the Shadow time and again. It is a duty and a destiny that requires Rand to uncover and master magical capabilities he never imagined he possessed.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The second instalment is described as following on directly from the first but some time has obviously passed. The story starts with Rand and company reasonably settled in Fal Dara and Rand having enough instruction from Lan to become at least a competent swordsman. Overall with all the characters there is a feeling that they have all grown up a bit since the last time we saw them.

***SPOILERS AHEAD*** A lot happens in this book. The main focus is Rand coming to terms with his destiny, accepting that he can channel and that he is the Dragon Reborn. How he goes from denial and rejecting this to giving in to the forces of the Pattern and finally accepting his fate is really well done with a powerful ending that sets the scene for the next book.

Another important strand gives us our first insights into Aes Sedai society and politics both within Tar Valon and outside, how the different Ajahs work together while still striving to be in control. This is just a first glimpse of what is to come. We also get first impressions of the process whereby girls in training pass through the different stages and the trials this involves.

Finally we meet The Seanchan. They seem like the real wild card with nobody in the Westlands knowing anything about them or that they even existed. They come with strange customs, armour and beasts and with a determination to reclaim the world of Artur Hawkwing for the Seanchan Empire. Part of this strategy is to capture and enslave all women who can channel thereby threatening the entire social structure of the Westlands just as it appears The Last Battle is approaching.

Overall this book widens the scope of the story tremendously with many new strands introduced. When I first read this series the first book intrigued me but it was this one that really hooked me and returning to it now I can see why.

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darkspell

Darkspell (Deverry #2) by Katherine Kerr

From Google Books:

Inextricably bound to the fate of the land, Nevyn, Rhodry and Jill struggle to unite the humans of Deverry with the mysterious and once-hostile race of Elves. But the evil and powerful sorcerers of Annwn know that any alliance between the two races will threaten their own dominion.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It sounds like it should be confusing having multiple stories being told in 3 different time lines with the same characters reincarnated but it somehow managed to work. The three stories very much focus around Jill and her former lives this time and we see her portrayed as three very different people.

Add in the Dark Dweomer and this book is very interesting and a great read.

For such an easy going type of story there is a lot of sexual violence including sexual assault and systematic abuse and rape. There’s also the typical violence of a medieval setting and subsequent battles. However, despite all the violence and evil magic it somehow manages to escape being a dark story.

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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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