Posts Tagged With: fantasy

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.

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Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Promo: Vernossiel

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DeviantArt ][ Patreon

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Lara Elena Donnelly – Amberlough

29939270I 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.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coinneach Da Reo

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Coinneach Da Reo,
A Character from The Witcher Saga by A. Sapkowski.
Painting by me: [Soukyan]
(yes, I take commissions)

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Lynn Flewelling – Shadows Return [4]

2065091The 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!

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Flewellin – Traitor’s Moon [3]

74273The 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.

Categories: 4-5, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kristin Cashore – Bitterblue [3]

bitterblueFinally, 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.

Categories: 4-5, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin [3]

acowarUsed 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.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kristin Cashore – Graceling [1]

graceling_1Some 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)

Categories: 4-5, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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