Posts Tagged With: fantasy
I heard a lot of good on “Amberlough” by Lara Elena Donnelly (ISBN 0765383810; 400p.; Goodreads), thus I expected a lot of good too. Sadly, that’s not what I got. But the book was very unique, and pleasant in its own way. Like an interwar story set in a fantasy place: spies, soldiers, politics and trouble when your views on it are wrong, and so on.
Amberlough is the Heart city of Gedda. Full of corruption, bright lights, spies, ugly politics, and revolution, if not outright war, smell in the air. This smell gets stronger as the reader progresses. It all starts fairly innocently tho. Cyril DePaul, against his wishes, against his horror, and fear, is sent back out into the field. As a master spy, he ends up on the other side of the front lines. He’s doing his job well, but soon is informed – there’s a mole on their side. Cyril DePaul is exposed. Funny how sometimes you can expect more humanity from the enemy, than your own comrades…
Cyril bargains for his life, for papers that’ll get him, and his lover Aristide out of the city before the war starts outright. Thanks to Aristide he even gets a very good cover, a woman who can pretend to be his mistress, and not get appalled or run blabbing when she finds out he’s not interested in her. The three of them end up helping each other a lot, sometimes on purpose, other times – by pure accident. But that still doesn’t mean all goes well. It never does, does it?
The book is interesting world-wise. The story itself is mediocre. It’s not bad, truly, no. It’s just not so special either. I do believe that people who like stories from interwar times, rowdy soldiers catcalling at nightclubs, and said club owners shivering at the backstage, for one wrong show will set their property ablaze – will like this book. The characters are interesting, and as I said, the world is too. I can give it a firm 3.5 out of 5, easily.
Coinneach Da Reo,
A Character from The Witcher Saga by A. Sapkowski.
Painting by me: [Soukyan]
(yes, I take commissions)
The tradition continues with Nightrunner series. Every second book is far better than the previous one. So while I didn’t much like the fae realms, I did love all that happened in “Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 4; ISBN 0553590081; 522p.; Goodreads). It had a good pace, and a great, alchemy filled story.
Seregil and Alec return to Rhimenee, hoping to create a new runner persona, since their previous alter ego had to die. Even the most clueless nobles of the city might have otherwise noticed the pattern: Cat returns when Lord Seregil returns! Odd! Yet their fate had other plans for them. Remember that prophecy by oracle? Time to put it back in motion. Seregil and Alec end up in slavers hands, and are taken to enemy lands, where fae blood, especially the kind Alec has in his veins, is highly valued. Thus, they are separated, and sold…
Seregil, away from Alec, ends up at the mercy of his former lover, the man who betrayed him, the man who had him exiled. The only joy Seregil now has is the bittersweet knowledge: he is a slave too, if gilded.
The story was really pretty great, reminded me of Anne Rice’s “Claiming Beauty” trilogy, and C.S. Pacat “Captive Prince” too. I’ll give it a firm 4 out of 5, and hope it continues with these great topics!
The tradition of slow pace, and plot only gaining something at near end continues with third book in Nighrunner series by Lynn Flewellin, “Traitor’s Moon” (Nightrunner 3; ISBN 0553577255; 540p.; Goodreads). But I got used to this by the middle of second book. Once you make a connection with characters, plot, pace of it, becomes secondary.
With war at the gate, Skala’s greatest hope lies with the Aurenan ports, and possibly their soldiers. The dying queen thus gives final orders. She names an heir, her oldest daughter, and sends the younger one to Aurenan for negotiation. The soon-to-be queen is opposing it already, but once princess Klia is gone – all things are set to motion, not to be stopped. At least, not with someone like Seregil at her side. For this need to negotiate opened the door home for him. And so, with anxious heart, he and Alec make their journey to the lands of legend. Yet all that doesn’t mean Phoria won’t try to sabotage the mission…
Aurenan is full of pulsing magic, apparitions, ghosts, spirits, secrets, and dragons who deem it fit to chew on you, if you’re worthy the honor. The only true nuisance there are the fae themselves. They’re in no hurry with their long lives, and honor is law, yet everyone schemes for the good of their clan, because that, in a sense, is honorable too. Sorry, Seregil, but your people are the worst.
Well, I’m happy the illusion of some magical Lord of the Rings elven forest was broken. There’s great things in this book, but really, I came to dislike the fae a great deal. I can’t seem to get into Seregil and Alec being a pair either, their relationship is so odd, and in a sense it’s amazing how much they seem to simply just be friends, but then… I don’t know. But don’t let me digress, 4 out of 5 for this baby, and I will, absolutely, continue with the series.
Finally, with “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 3; ISBN 0803734735; 576p.; Goodreads) I have finished the Graceling Realm trilogy. After all three of them, I can say that they are indeed simple enough to be liked, and this third one was pretty good, in compare to the other two. Still, this was very much not my cup of tea. While I love the worlds that aren’t yet fully explored, I dearly dislike having all the action happen elsewhere, and return in form of a story only, and not even something we can witness first-hand via someone else eyes.
Bitterblue became the queen of Monsea, after her cruel, mind-control graced father, has finally been killed. Yet even after his death her kingdom is filled with fog. People don’t know what’s real, and what’s only lies told by Leck. Bitterblue is determined to find a way to make this fog lift once and for all. She wants the truth. But here’s the thing with the truth: while some things people were made believe by king Leck could still be fixed, say, like the funeral traditions in Monsea. Others weight so heavy that people get killed for them. Or choose death themselves. What could Leck have made them do, or see, for her own trustworthy, good soldiers, to kill innocent people, and commit suicides? Can a truth be that bad?
In the meantime, Po gets sick with fever, and his grace becomes erratic for the time being. During one of such delirious moments he speaks of path through the mountains opening up, and Katsa jumps to investigate. Because if anything did open, and they can get through, then, truly, someone might just be able to get in also. And when she returns, Bitterblue’s world shifts again. For in Katsa’s hands there’s a pelt of a rat, so vivid and gorgeous in colors, that it can be nothing else but a Monster from the stories her father used to write. Could it be that out there, behind the mountains, there’s another world, another kingdom?
Well this was an odd review. So many questions I gave you, like I’m trying to sell it. In truth, I can’t really recommend these books, since while they’re pretty okay, or even good, there’s just way too many way better ones. You take these when you’re done with all other things, not before. Or maybe indeed before, so you don’t get disappointed. The very good part here is the political bit. Whole ruling of the land happening is interesting. And a very bad part is that you get the story through eyes of someone who gets told about the adventure, rather than lived it. So I guess you’d like these books, if you like good old classics, where whole story is written by two people sitting down, and one of them telling their best adventure. Still, I can absolutely give this book a 3.5, which we’ll translate to 4 out of 5 for the sake of it. I’ve no regrets.
Used to be I disliked series. Now I love series! Because who wouldn’t love that odd sense you get after you finish one, where you don’t know what to do with your life anymore. Everyone’s living their lives, as if you hadn’t just survived a wizard war or, in this case, a fae war. Yes, I have finished “A Court of Wings and Ruin” by Sarah J. Maas (acotar 3; ISBN 1408857901; 699p.; Goodreads), the last one in acotar series or trilogy. And while they’re not as great as, say, Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab, they’re still pretty damn amazing.
The Wall between humans and fae was never meant as permanent solution. It was made to cease fire, to give time for healing, to learn co-exist. Yet humans have short lives, and horror tales of fairies got worse, and worse with every new generation. While fae lived long enough to have seen humans freed, and witness this day with wall about to crumble. And not all who did feel that it is right to co-exist with great-great-great-great-grandchildren of their former slaves. The war is inevitable. All there is to do now is prepare.
Cauldron once created this whole world, so how does one stand against a weapon able to create the cycle of life and death itself? Fayra and Rhysand are trying to gather allies, rally everyone they possibly can. They’re seeking any advantage points in this overtipped scale, and if that means unleashing Death Gods themselves, Fayra is willing to make a bargain again. Bargain she was warned against while she was still mortal. And with worse beings than fae…
Rhysand, on the other hand, has his own little (or not so little) problem. How does one convince the world that this mighty High Lord of the Night Court to whom Court of Nightmares bows, wants to protect, and defend, rather than wreck havoc? How does he gain trust once the mask falls, and who will dare to stand with him? Especially with Tamlin running amok, with a tale of betrayal in his court, by no else than Fayra, his mate.
And Lucien? Lucien, like a stray kicked cat is testing the waters with caution. Being left courtless, which is pretty much homeless, twice in his life now, he fits into the Court of Dreams by his nature of an unwanted oddity alone. But can Rhys, this mortal enemy of Tamlin’s, his friend’s nemesis, really be trusted to not just give him up to his family, where he’d surely be killed? He’s willing to try his luck, if carefully, at the very least, for his mate, who now lives under Rhysand’s wings.
So, the book. Whole inner monologues of “how and why I feel” almost ceased to exist. And once you start believing that pace of the book is too slow – someone drops a brick on the heroes heads. Or an army. There’s funny, there’s witty, there’s edge-of-the-chair intense. So I give it 5 out of 5, for now the story truly earned it.
Some time ago I was subscribed to a YouTube vlogger Katers17 (now I’m subscribed to her new channel: KateInRealLife, tho she posts very little). I always loved people who read, and with her I realized I love the chaos, and passion books provide. “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 1; ISBN 015206396X; 471p.; Goodreads) was probably one of the very first books I added to to-read list on my Goodreads, and that was thanks to Katers. And now, a million years later, I finally came around to read it. Heck, I even have a physical copy…
Graced aren’t very liked or loved. Two different eyes mean you will be kept away, in some corner where people won’t see you, even if your grace is merely baking good pies. Of course, there are graced that are feared for a reason, with nasty, treacherous, and dangerous powers. Like Ketsa’s. Held on a leash by the king himself, she is graced with killing, and serves as a maiming, torturing, and murdering tool to intimidate those who displease her king. Even if they paid a double-fold for what they did. Even if she hates herself for doing it. She simply doesn’t know a different way of life. Thus, when prince Po crosses her path, confused and surprised of why indeed she’s following orders she hates, when it would take her king an army to subdue her, she… She’s confused.
In the meantime, Po is keeping an eye on a different kingdom, a different king. An orphan, praised for his kind heart and love for all injured, a boy who was once so loved by the king and queen of that realm, that when they had no children of their own – they named him the heir. A boy, now a grown man, a king, with only one eye, and a sickening horde of people who are prepared to defend his very honor offended, no matter how far they are, or how little they have reasons to…
The story is good, unique, with wonderful characters. But it fell a little short. There’s a ton of wonderful things here, the way things work, that it simply felt lacking in the end, and that’s the only reason why I will now give it only 4 out of 5. I will continue reading, in hopes that author delves deeper in all the things further on, the graces, the kingdoms, the way graces happened, and worked. But just know that I’d consider this a light read to the point where it was a bit too light. (but good, really)
How can a book annoy so much, and yet be so great? Second book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas (ASIN B015FELXQ0; 626p.; Goodreads) was a killer with all the inner monologues on feelings. But it had a great message, and I believe it passed it on perfectly.
Amarantha is destroyed, but the plans to tear down the wall separating Fae world from the mortal realm are still bubbling as before, they merely changed hands. In the meantime, Fayra is not allowed to train, because that would send a wrong message to her people, she’s not allowed to leave without guards to escort her, because Tamlin is terrified for her safety (but doesn’t let her train anyway), and eventually, she’s locked the hell up in the Spring Court. In desperation, suffocating in this gilded cage where she’s not allowed news or any activities beyond brushing her hair and dressing up, Fayra sends a message down the bond she now has with the High Lord of the Night Court.
They say you ought to be careful for what you wish for. Being owed a week every month as bargain between them demanded, Rhysand takes no time in storming the Spring Court and kidnapping Fayra. Is it kidnapping per se, if the victim is willing? Either way, Night Court is infamous. It is said, that Amarantha’s own Court under the mountain was made in example of the one Rhysand, the most powerful and wicked High Lord that ever walked the realm of Fae rules. Torture for entertainment, schemes, and other wicked deeds are awaiting, and Fayra can do no more but brace herself, when… Rhysand puts an alphabet before her, intending for her to finally learn how to read. At least. (yes “least”, not “last”.)
Okay, now to the point. This book is full of gooey love stuff I don’t really like in any books. Didn’t like it here much either. Sappy, annoying, and saturated even more so with Fayra constantly analyzing it all. But. This book has a message I hope every reader caught on: No matter how much you love your prince Charming, the day he makes you his birdy in a cage, he is no longer the good kind man, and it’s time for you to get the hell away. Fayra doesn’t want to be saved. She wants to be able to save herself. And when she’s denied that right, she makes the hard decision. So here’s 4 out of 5 for that, for the strong lady who didn’t want to be a statistic number.
Don’t stay in abusive relationships.
Ah. There are books you read in one sitting, because they’re just THAT good. And then there are books you read in one sitting, because you already know what’s going to happen in the next page. I’m sad to say that “The Falconer” by Elizabeth May (The Falconer 1; ISBN 1452114234; 378p.; Goodreads) is the latter kind. If you read more of this YA kind of fantasy, there’s no reason for you to pick up this one. In short: time trial for the chosen one to close a thing before bad things come out of the thing.
She is one of the kind. And the last of her kind. The awkward Scottish lass leading her double life. During the day hours she is attempting her best to salvage her reputation scraps, and build new contraptions on the spare time (steampunk theme). And at night time (and I’m almost quoting here), she’s trying to sate her unquenchable bloodlust, her need for murder, power, by killing the very bad fae. The fae are usually all teeth and claws, fairly scary if you ask me, and they all feed on human energy. Those who resemble humans more can put you to such awe, that you’ll be tempted to throw your reputation in 1844 Edingburg right there, out the window. That’s called Faestruck, by the way, and our so very bad and murderous heroine is apparently immune. Apparently.
Time Trial begins. A gate to fae prison is opening, and she’s the only one who can close it before all the bad things come pouring out to hunt humans as they used to, and destroy all the things. So she packs up her flying contraption, her own made weapons, which are impressive, I admit, and the Mister Unfriendly Fae friend for whom, of course, she’s developing feelings, and goes to close that damned thing! Did I mention it has to be done during specific lunar event? Well, in my humble opinion, that was obvious anyway.
Now, don’t get me wrong, not all is bad about this book. I’ve simply had oh so many like this one in my hands before, that I can no longer appreciate the simple beat-the-clock script. If you don’t read many of this kind, it’s a very good starter book. Story has all the things, Steampunk, decent jokes, funny heroine, the inhuman love interest, best guy friend who will marry you because that’s his duty as your friend: to defend your tarnished honor, and references to Scottish folk tales, that are pretty damn great, if you ask me. But for me, in my own personal opinion, this is not worth more than 3 out of 5, and that’s mostly because her fiance drank his own tea, and then hers too, because her butler was too slow in filling his cup.