Books: Fantasy

John Patrick Kennedy – Princess Dracula [1]

33763808I started reading John Patrick Kennedy book “Princess Dracula” (Princess Dracula 1; ASIN B01MSQGCS3; 203p.; Goodreads) last year, and barely managed to finish it last night. It’s a very plot-lacking book that smells of a man not knowing he can just write a woman like she’s a person, and not an alien.

Ruxandra Dracula, daughter to Walachian prince Vlad the Impaler, has been raised in a covenant for most of her life. One of these nights he comes to collect his daughter, and Ruxandra can only pray it is so he can marry her off to someone kind and handsome, like one of the knights that came with him. Instead Dracula takes her into a cave where a ritual for demon summoning is being prepared. He offers the demon his own daughter, confident he’ll be able to control the powers given, and use them against the Ottoman Empire. But demon only laughed, for it had spiteful plans of its own.

Ruxandra craves blood. At times her own body fights her, and all too often completely overpowers her, with this need to survive, while she herself is not exactly feeling like it. But she’s a Dracula, meaning she’s stubborn and determined. Determined to not hurt people, and find a way to die eventually. Until a beautiful young man finds her in the woods. Kind and caring he inspires hope in Ruxandra’s dead heart.

Too much work was put into explaining the logic of why the female protagonist has to be naked time and again. Too little work left, thus, on the plot, which was mediocre at best. For most of the book – nothing happens. And what does happen, like the brides of Dracula take (there’s an unevolved plot-line where those “brides” are actually Ruxandra’s friends, and they’re having this strange poly-amorous relationship, it could work, it would be an interesting take of Dracula’s Brides, seeing how Ruxandra is Dracula), gets left mentioned by a word or two across whole book. So I start a year with a book I can only give 2 out of 5 to. But that doesn’t mean I won’t read further.

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Categories: 2-5, Books: Dracula, Books: LGBT, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, Nosferatu Books, vampires | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Adrian Tchaikovsky – Guns of the Dawn

23524779I can’t recall how this book reached me. But it did, and I’m brewing with happiness I’ve read “Guns of the Dawn” by Adrian Tchaikovsky (ISBN 1447272676; 658p.; Goodreads). It was an amazing read, one beautiful story in fantasy-steampunk realm, story of war, heroes, crimes, and the reasons behind it all.

Denland and Lascanne were once allies. Now they’re mortal enemies at war, for long enough too so that regular lascanner forgot the times denlander was but a neighbor. Lascanne king is pouring all he has into the war zone, all his warlocks, created by the spark of royal blood anointing them, giving them power to wield fire by burning an imprint on their skin. All his soldiers, and every able men. And, when even that wasn’t enough, he demands every third woman to be taken to serve too. In the end, they almost won anyway, so for them it’s merely a chance to get a medal and run back home, victorious! But if the war is truly almost done, why all this effort against Denland, country whose king was assassinated even before the war, thus a country with no mages to put to warring.

When towns and villages had only women, old folk, maimed folk, and babes left, and when even the women were required to come and serve, most genteel families sent off their maids, serving girls. Such noble families as Marshwics were expected to do the same, but Emily, their eldest, always had a heart a little too kind, a little too brave. So once the time came, she reported for duty, she and many other women, not many of any worthy rank, came to have their hair sheared short, and get taught how to use their weapons. Given the choice she even asked to serve in the worst of the worst of places, in one of the swamps covered by constant mists, full of giant beetles that thought of these meager humans as food, and as good as littered with dead of both sides. One of the last warlocks made by their king served here too. And so here, among these people she soon started calling friends, Emily learned what war is all about. For, after all, even the noble lips sometimes lie, even the most loyal hearts tend to believe wrong, and even the most deadly enemy with all the advantages sometimes offers peace, and most importantly, truth.

I can’t tell you how great this book was. Not a moment in it boring, not a moment dull. And so unique at times, what with magic only passed on by the burning touch of the royal line. But most importantly, I loved how to the very end I couldn’t tell how could this possibly be solved! It takes changes to change things. Unheard thing: drafting of women, was what it took to change the tide of the war, and then end it too. 5 out of 5, a glorious 100th book this year for me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Witcher | Sword of Destiny

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I am so happy they’re doing new releases of The Witcher for us. I will, of course, forever be grateful to Dagon, for that very first publishing, and Eridanas, for the whole Witcher series that we got before the first game ever came out, and many other great books they published while they still lived. But I am thankful to Alma Littera too, for the covers are wonderful, and the shape of the book is great (it’s narrow and tall, with beautiful separations between chapters)

Categories: Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christina Henry – Red Queen | The Chronicles of Alice 2

27246122I wasn’t really in the mood for anything wonderlandish, but I needed something short and light, and so I picked up second book in The Chronicles of Alice by Christina Henry, the “Red Queen” (The Chronicles of Alice 2; ISBN 042526680X; 291p.; Goodreads). It was pretty good, but again, not the best as Alice’s retellings go, and maybe a tad poorer than the first one too.

Lands beyond the Old City are burned, scattered with bones, and patrolled by strange people in even stranger contraptions. But this is the path Alice and Hatcher must take in order to find his daughter Jenny. So they simply move forwards, trying their hardest to survive against the climate that lacks so much as clean water for drink, and hides many a predator, let alone all the spells, traps, and schemes cast upon the land by White Queen and Black King.

The Black King was once a man. A man no one said “no” to. He was used to getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. Including magic. Their family magic was fairly weak, so when a magician got in his way on one of the hunting trips, his fate has been sealed. And not even because he wanted it all that bad. No. More because the White Queen has wanted him to, and likely instructed what must be done to obtain that power. But their hearts were not meant to be, for one didn’t wish to belong to another. And so today their spill their anger and sorrows onto the former green and hopeful lands.

For some reason these books reminded me a lot of Howl’s Moving Castle stories. Likely because of how magic works, or how Alice wields it so similarly to Sophie. I really loved the White Queen’s story too. But all in all, I can only give this book a 3 out of 5, but if there’s gonna be more, I will read more.

Categories: 3-5, Books: Fantasy, Books: Horror, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Neven Iliev – Morningwood: Everybody Loves Large Chests | Vol. 1

36469357If a funny book gets noticed, the funny book gets taken and read without waiting in the TBR line. I do like me a good comedy. And I am a gamer, so “Morningwood: Everybody Loves Large Chests” by Neven Iliev (ASIN B076NSQ6JT; 252p; Goodreads) was just a must-have and must-read-now book. I regret nothing!

It all began rather simply. A hero was raiding a low level dungeon on his own, expecting some not too dangerous monsters to help him level up. Then he could at last move on to bigger places, where loot and treasures were automatically better. His wish almost came true when, finally truly lost, he noticed a low level treasure chest at the end of the corridor. Hey, it may not be a monster he wished for, but treasure chest is a treasure chest, and he wasn’t big enough level yet to pass one when found. The chest waited patiently as hero came closer. And as the man finally bent over to open the lid – chest ate him whole. For the treasure chest wasn’t really a treasure chest. It was a mimic in whose nature it was to look like one, that’s all.

After mimic has sated the immediate hunter, it was ready to slump back down and await another traveler. Yet, an undefined thought spread in it’s brainless little head: his surroundings were suspicious, what with all the blood and discarded gear, and might scare off potential food. This logical decision to tidy up has sent the snowball rolling, levels gained, abilities unlocked, decisions more complex than going after food getting made, and even a very beautiful summoned companion mimic could, at the very least, eat up while bored.

The book was very amusing. At first one can’t even expect this is not a story of a hero on a stupid quest, but rather of a little low level mob. It is also very well written and funny, even with all the random gore there and here. Definitely a 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Books: Funny!, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

C.S. Pacat – The Summer Palace | Captive Prince 3.5

33230173The beauty of C.S. Pacat‘s books is something to savor. Yet I swallowed “The Summer Palace” (Captive Prince 3.5; ISBN13 9780987622303; 30p.; Goodreads) in one night, not something my exhausted mind allows often these days.

The story is set after the third book, so make sure you’ve read them before heading into this one. After the gruesome battle with the regent and those loyal to him, or yet, opposing Damianos as rightful heir of Akielos, both him and Laurent took to their own kingdoms. To mend, secure their positions, and maybe set some order. Yet before doing so they agreed: when all of this is over, they will meet in an Akielon summer palace for a breath. And today is the day for that.

Laurent stood there, waiting, in Akielon garbs, his yellow hair now longer, watching the road for any signs of King Damianos and his entourage. But Damian took a shortcut, in a hurry to see his friend, his lover, and surprised both Laurent, and the scarce skeleton staff in the palace. He was in too much hurry to see him again, to talk, to rest. And discuss things, for there’s certainly still plenty of water under the bridge to sort out. Not the least or last question being what customs they’ll follow in their new palace on the border of their countries.

This was a beautiful recap of what happened, and an even more beautiful ending to it all. Also, I was right, the more Laurent trusted being safe in his surroundings, in people around, the less clothes happened. Theory confirmed, 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Books: LGBT, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Jeaniene Frost – Bound by Flames | Night Prince 3

BoundbyFlames-coverI love the way Jeaniene Frost weaves a web for the reader, one I can never get out of, for it seems, what, just another page, just another chapter. I couldn’t put “Bound by Flames” (Night Prince 3; ISBN 0062076086; 342p.; Goodreads), the third book in a series of four. To add to the pretty great plot, the character development keeps getting better. Yes, yes, especially Prince Dracula.

This is a far darker, and far greater book than the previous two. The pace is perfect, with one episode following the other one closely, with only this much room to sit and talk it out. Szilagyi continues to harass Vlad and his household, pushing wedges where he can’t pull allies. A turncoat thus soon appears in prince’s flock. And in disguise of napalm bombing of his home, they steal his wife away, where she successfully get’s tortured physically, and mentally. Szilagyi is confident that he found a way to break the prince once and for all, thus he speaks, and we find out why he’s such a disgusting rat’s ass. But little does this bastard know, that he’s dealing with people who do not believe in limitations, and who dearly trust in one another.

Vlad spares nothing in search for Leila, trusting she’ll do all it takes to survive until he does find her. This is officially a war between the two vampires, and maybe that’s just for the best. Vlad pulls favors, finds people, and lets us in on his past, all the while keeping a sharp, if a bit rude eye on Leila’s family, still caring for their safety. There is no doubt in his heart that he’ll find the bastard, and at last squish him. But of course, surprises await, bad and good for both sides. Curses, bindings, and unexpected family members from the old Dracul line of Basarabs.

So, yes. This was amazing. I loved it to bits. Which, sadly, means I’ll keep the final one unread for as long as I can. This one pulled me out out of a very dark place. 5 out of 5, well deserved.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Dracula, Books: Horror, Historical Books, Nosferatu Books, urban fantasy, vampires, Vlad Dracula III | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Neil Gaiman – Coraline

17061I wanted to read “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman (ISBN 0061139378; 162p.; Goodreads) for an eternity now. But I kept postponing it, because Gaiman, sometimes, feels like Murakami: I can never be sure if I liked it or not, do I want more of what I’ve just read or not. But I worried for nothing. It was a fun book, and I enjoyed it.

Coraline and her family move into a house that has been separated into flats. It’s an old house, with plenty to explore inside, and outside. But as time goes by, and Coraline’s family doesn’t have enough time to play with her, Coraline is slowly but surely running out of ideas. It’s only that many times that she can visit the neighbors without bothering them, after all. And she already counted all the windows, found all the blue things, and, tasked by her mother, looked what’s behind every door. All except one. That one is locked. Her mother claims there’s a wall separating their flat from their neighbors there. But ever since the key was turned, and the door got left unlocked, strange things began to happen.

On the other side of the door there’s this same flat, but different. Out there, in the Other place, live Coraline’s Other mother and Other father, awaiting her dearly. The house looks fun, better stocked for a girl like Coraline, and her parents are always up to play with her. Yet there’s just something off about them, about their behavior, their black shiny buttons for eyes… Coraline, after one lovely night there, expresses her will to return to her actual family. And while Other parents let her go kindly, they claim they’ll be very, very sad without the girl around. And thus they must motivate her to return…

This was a fun story, a bit scary at times, but otherwise really entertaining. The ending left me wanting, as if it was missing a chapter, or at least 20 more pages, but it is as it is. 4 out of 5 from me, solid!

Categories: 4-5, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity: C.S. Pacat – Green but for a Season | Captive Prince Short Stories 2.5

31814812Most of you don’t even know that I recently re-read the Captive Prince trilogy. Well, I did, and then I remembered there’s short stories I didn’t yet get to! “Green but for a Season” by C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince Short Stories 2.5; ISBN B01LB1H41E; 24p.; Goodreads) is the first one, held between the second and third books, and concentrates on Laurent’s captain, Jord.

Jord is a lowborn nobody with a well honed fighting skill. It was because of this skill that prince Auguste has noticed him back in the day, and took him into the ranks. Later, as Auguste fell in the battlefield, and red regent flags covered up the blue ones of the prince, soldiers and guards either took up the red, or were put away. Lowborns were the least wanted. So here he was, trying to make due for years. Up until prince Laurent grew a little, and realized what game his uncle was playing. Seeing the dangers, he decided to form his own Prince’s Guard, with gold starburst on blue, not red, and for that he wanted only the best of the best. And his brother surely knew who the best were. So, again, here he was, Jord, trying to make due, as Laurent called upon him, promised him this will be even harder than it was with Auguste, and asking if he’ll take up arms for him, the way he did for his brother. Jord didn’t need to be asked twice.

Today Jord is a captain, proud to serve prince Laurent, who proved true to his word. The boy protected them, and in return, they were ready to kill and die protecting him. Still, a captain’s rank to a nobody seemed a dream beyond wildest of hopes. Especially in a situation where an actual high-born nobleman was present. A nobleman who was forced to serve the prince, as the youngest son, with least prospects, other than a good betting chip, in case Regent gets fooled. And maybe, just maybe Laurent knew it before Jord did.

This was a very fine read, shining light on many things at last. 5 out of 5, not even a half point less.

Categories: 5-5, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Stephen King – The Gunslinger | The Dark Tower 1

43615I bought this book so very long ago. Yet came about to reading it only when they released the series. I’ve a love-hate relationship with King’s books. I like his stories, but don’t much enjoy the books themselves. Adaptations are often good, but then… Anyway, I’ve finally read “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King (The Dark Tower 1; ISBN 0452284694; 231p.; Goodreads), the first book in The Dark Tower series. And I really didn’t like as much as I hoped I would.

This is a very slow story of a Gunslinger, the last of his kind, chasing a man in black in a world that’s tearing itself apart, across the desert beyond which the world, according to some, simply ends. But that is where he must go, for he must find the Dark Tower, and the man in black is likely the key to getting there, getting inside. All the while he’s expecting a trap from the man in black, for he has seen it before. He left villages obliterated due to those traps, due to people attacking him with firm belief that he is the very devil incarnate. He saw it in minds of others, even in people he liked. Like the woman who was given a keyword that would’ve opened the memory of her risen from the dead friend. He would’ve then told her what’s out there, beyond, and it would’ve driven her mad. Much like the idea of a trap is driving the Gunslinger mad.

The Dark Tower itself is a nexus of everything. Time, possibilities, but most importantly – size. What’s behind the door, behind the sun, the galaxy, all of the galaxies, what’s there, at the far end, where nothing is anymore? The idea of it, the want to see, to know, is driving Gunslinger through this scorched place of madness and delusions.

The idea would’ve been of epic scale, if I’ve not read similar philosophies many times before. This embodiment of everything, across the dunes, and over the train tracks, built by gods, for who else could’ve done that? Demons in the sand, in the bones, in the machinery that no longer goes. If none of that sounds familiar, then you might just like this book. It is worth your love, it is a classic for a reason. It’s just not my cup of tea. 2 out of 5, but, yes, there’s a but. I’m not ready to quit just yet, so I’ll be reading the next one.

Categories: 2-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Dystopian, Books: Fantasy, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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