Posts Tagged With: magic

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Thorns and Roses [1]

acourtofthornsandrosesI won Sarah J. Maas book “A Court of Thorns and Roses” (ISBN 1619634449; 421p.; Goodreads) in a contest at P.S. I Love That Book. And once I finished the Silo trilogy, I really had no reasons to put the reading of this book off, as I did in the past, without the physical copy to beckon me (I’m an advocate for e-books, but I admit, sometimes there’s more moral obligation in me to read a physical book, than the endless supply of e-books provides). And besides, I like pointy-eared warriors…

In the dark forest, thin due to it being dead of winter, and so very too close to the wall separating world of mortals from that of the immortal and brutal fae realm, Fayre is searching for any prey that could feed her family. The only solace to her heart, filled with dread by stories on fae being merciless, is the sole ash arrow in her quiver, said to be the only weapon against the immortal folk. But the giant beast of a wolf she gazes upon in the dark gives her doubt enough to stop and reconsider the purpose of that highly priced and rare arrow. If it eats her, her family starves. If it eats her prey, her family starves. And the two meager regular arrows she has might not even slow the great creature down. There’s only one way out of this.

One night later their whole hut shivers in protest, as the door splits apart, huge horned creature storming in through it. He’s here for a blood debt. Life for life. He’s here for the hunter who killed his friend.

I admit, at points this book is mighty boring. But then the good parts are oh so worth it. I believe I loved their world the most, in the whole setting. Much like Shades of Magic, this one too was so alike our own, that I could almost believe it real, but so very different, and thus so very much more worthy to imagine as true. A world full of magic, curses, and unbreakable promises. I will also admit that I already started the second one. I’ll give this one 4 out of 5, due to some things bothering me a lot. Like constant “male” and “female“. While it made sense, it also made me cringe oh so many times. And second thing being empty threats. “There won’t be anything to burn once I’m done with you” – and then the “done” part is as good as a stab with a butter knife. Even if it did work – there’d still be plenty to burn!

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

V.E. Schwab – A Conjuring of Light [3]

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabMy journey through Londons ends, and I must say, I’m fairly content about it. With “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic 3; ISBN 0765387468; 624p.; Goodreads) Shades of Magic trilogy ends. Some things were left untold, and it felt natural, for they were the things Red London didn’t speak about. Other things received their dots where dots were needed. And since there’s spoilers further on, my advice is to not read unless you’ve read the previous book. Know that I loved this book.

We’re all familiar with the concept of AI becoming self-aware, and what could that mean to us, to our world. In our “grey” world, if not per se London, this concept is the most interesting among theoretically possible ones, for having no magic means we advanced in other things. Red London, on the other hand, has full-on magic…

Once, due to a mistake, or worship, a spell became self-aware outside the will of the caster. And now this creature, believing self to be a God, for hey, they DID worship it where it’s from, is wrecking havoc on Kell’s home. And, of course, he’s prepared to kill it or die trying.

They say two heads are better than one, so how about four? Kell, Lila, Alucard, and their prisoner, sail out into the ocean, in search of the blackest market of all the black damn markets. If you need it – they have it. If you want it – bargain for it. And they’re nothing if not in need of weapons able to fight a divine power, where revered creatures as Antari don’t stand a chance to compete. Just imagine these four in close ship quarters for a week… Rhy, in the meantime, stays behind to defend London until they return, with a promise to Kell that he won’t get into TOO much trouble until he’s back. But that’s easier said than done, for there’s a monster outside alright, but what about the traitors on the inside?

I love how no one went out for a stroll in Black London, and the myth, more or less, stayed a myth, or at least a forbidden place no one wants to think about, like the ajar closet door at night. I like that prince was so utterly in love with his man, that he listened, and understood, and made things possible, as kings do. I like that Delilah stayed her own woman, with her own agenda, her own mind, even with all the stuff about Kell, and that it was him who got to consider that hey, maybe I’m not actually rooted into one spot after all (I hate those damn stories where girl stays behind, and doesn’t go to some uni, just because her new found love was too dumb to get in anywhere, and had to stay in some miserable hometown of theirs). I love that everything ended so well, and that the end, if firm, is not solid, and if need be – there could be a book 4, but if there never is – reader is content with absolutely everything. It’s a very right, and very good ending to have. So I give it 5 out of 5, something I have never done to an entire series before (I think, I might have done that to Harry Potter, but I can’t recall anymore), and will add it to my favorite list when I’m not too lazy about it.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Gathering of Shadows [2]

gatheringofshadowsI forgot I didn’t yet tell you about this book until I realized I have barely any left of the third. So do let me tell you how great was the second book in V.E. Schwab trilogy Shades of Magic, “A Gathering of Shadows” (ISBN 0765376474; 512p.; Goodreads), for it was amazing. Mind you, if you haven’t read the first one, you might want to skip this review, and just know that I loved it cover to cover.

As Kell and Rhy are now sharing one life – a lot of things pass between them via that magical link. At first it was seemingly just pain, for if one dies – the other one dies too, only natural you’d feel the deadly prick just as the other party does. But then there’s all the mental stuff too, and before they strangled each other due to constant hum at the back of their heads, Rhy makes up his mind. His brother will have to attend the magical dueling tournament and release some of that built-up magical steam. For unlike your regular mages, this one will gladly slap you if you finish off his already thin patience, or scare him too much by nearly dying if he cared about you, etc. And, of course, since he’s the most powerful magician known, that people revere and fear as a god, he’ll have to enter in disguise…

Delilah Bard turns her ears up when Captain Alucard, after long months at sea and foreign ports, turns the ship around back to London. He intends to attend this magical dueling tournament, and Lila just happens to have discovered she has powers too…

In the mean time, White London, the drained and bleak one, is stirring. A legend came true. On their throne now sits a hero, a king that fairy tales claimed to be able to restore magic in their world.

I can’t stop admiring the characters, how much each one of them is their own person, acting on their own set of mind, and not just there to ask the right questions. I love how Rhy would flirt with a chair, but then is madly in love with one person, and keeping that feeling safe from the world. I love how Kell, at points indeed revered as god due to power is actually a hotheaded spirit, ready to stomp his feet in anger, and yell at you if you chocked and nearly died in his arms, because he got so scared, and you can’t do that! And I just love Delilah Bard, I do believe she is my all time favorite woman ever written. 5 out of 5, deserved every one bit.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic [1]

ADarkerShadeOfMagicAh, what a discovery, what a find! Thank You, Hannah Cassie, for all those relentless recommendations at P.S. I Love That Book, for at last I reached one and it was oh SO good. This is my first encounter with V.E. Schwab, and her first book in the superb fantasy trilogy “A Darker Shade of Magic” (Shades of Magic 1; ISBN 0765376458; 400p.; Goodreads) blew me away. One of those books I nearly finished all in one sitting, but then scolded myself, and reminded how bad it feels to not be able to continue the next day. I promise, there was more than 2 chapters left when I put it down.

Kell – a messenger from Red London, traveling among the other ones, passing letters from royals to royals. Grey London is mighty boring, no magic, no nothing. White London is fairly scary, for magic there is enslaved, and thus – fights back, draining the life out of the users to the bone. Legends say there was once Black London too, but people don’t speak of such nasty things in good company.

Of course, being one of the rare creatures who can travel among Londons is not the only talent Kell has. He’s a great damn smuggler too, taking little trinkets between the worlds, under the nose of the law. Sometimes just because it’s fun. Other times because it pays off, thou how is a heavy question: what do you need, belonging to royal family, with crown prince loving you as his own brother? And another time – just because he wanted to do something good to the desperate. On one such expedition Kell finds himself with an artifact that by all means, should not exist. The artifact creates magic, where magic shouldn’t be, as in – those who have no talent for it – suddenly can create like they were born into it. Worst of all, the inscription on the artifact is written in the language Kell knows for a fact was used so freely only in Black London. No, wait, that’s not the worst. The worst is that he notices it too late.

Oh, this was so amazing. Delilah is amazing, the most wonderful woman I have ever read about. Kell is fantastic, such a bad-ass with so little understanding of how bad-ass he is. No “fell off my unicorn due to how gorgeous you are” shit, they’re imperfect, usually dirty like chimney-boys, and so on. No “I wanted to travel, but I’ll stay here, because you’re here” bullshit either. The pace was perfect, build up – great, tension – even more so. 5 out of 5, this is definitely among my favorites of all time now.

 

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lynn Flewelling – Luck in the Shadows

74270Luck in the Shadows” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 1; ISBN 0553575422; 479p.; Goodreads) is one of those books where you love the topic, and the beautiful ideas. But then there’s a whole bunch of useless action and descriptions. But I guess that might be a flaw in most of the high-fantasy books, for what better way to introduce the reader to a magical city, than to force the hero onto a walk via it, say, by buying a new horse, and taking it for a test-ride.

Seregil is a rogue with no equals. With some training in magic, and no real talent for it, he’s also a master of disguise. On a mission to steal a magical artifact, he got purposefully caught, and thrown into the dungeon, where he found young Alec. Alec, an orphan, finally caught for poaching got his share of luck in shadows, as Seregil, escaping, grabbed him along. Happy to have his life back in his hands, Alec didn’t expect to end up in an adventure of that scale. Magical city, mages, mythical beings, legends come to life!

Seregil overestimated his strength, and soon the artifact started overpowering him. Strange visions, blood thirst, and insanity are slowly, but very surely taking him over, and he’s afraid he might not reach his mentor in time. Young Alec is no less worried for his friend, for in this strange new world he’s at, lands and seas across from home, he has no one else but Seregil. By all means he can’t let him die.

The book is truly a pleasant read, and I will start the second one right away. Yes, it’s full of useless things, like a whole chapter describing what animals heroes turned into. So the best I can give it is 4 out of 5, but I expect latter books to get better.

Categories: 4-5, About Msg2TheMing, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

K.J. Charles – A Case of Possession [2]

18074870I am the worst, I know. I finished the book probably a week ago, but here I am, only now making up some kind of a review. K.J. Charles book “A Case of Possession” (A Charm of Magpies 2; ASIN B00D89QGW8; 159p.; Goodreads) is the second book in the trilogy, and I must admit, I am more than half way done with the third by now. And not that this book wasn’t as good or anything, it’s just… I get lost in comparisons, I guess.

Peter S. Beagle taught me that there’s no force more dangerous, than a magician who found no peace in death. When giant rats start flooding London, coming from no where, going hell knows where, killing mercilessly – Crane finds himself able to help his magical lover, and point him in the right direction. No matter how modern you are, how deeply you abandoned old beliefs, and how much you don’t care for superstitions, if a Shaman dies in your care, you’d want to make sure they found peace, just as a precaution… For giant rats is a myth told in Shanghai, that is proving to be very real, and very hard to stop back here, in London. And if that didn’t get under the Lord Vaudrey’s skin, the next best thing over fluence is coming when the magic in his blood is noticed by the very worst…

This book was pretty intense, I’d say. Blood and gore is just as present here, as it was in the previous one, but add the unappealing idea of dog-sized rats inflicting the gut-tearing. It’s not too badly detailed, I’d not dare call this a horror story, but author really knows how to dash the dark colors into the lines. I’ll give this one another 4 out of 5, for while better than the previous one, it still fell short… And maybe that’s the problem: it was short.

To those curious, yes, there’s smut here, fairly rough but absolutely consensual sex between two similar age guys with severe size difference (Stephan is short and red-haired, while Crane is tall and blond). Njoy the ride!

 

Categories: 4-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, Historical Books, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

K.J. Charles – The Magpie Lord [1]

17730586Ah, what a wonderful transition from a fantasy world with realistic history similar to our own, that of Captive Prince, to this. Our very England, filled with warlocks and what not. “The Magpie Lord” by K.J. Charles (ISBN 1619215764; 200p.; Goodreads) was yet another recommendation I took from Bonnie Burton (not personally, but the book club she’s in, and her goodreads are good sources for curious, open minded, and ever searching people), and once again, it did not disappoint.

Lucien Crane Vaudrey was the bad and rotten son in his father’s eyes. Thus, when this became possible, he packed the boy off to Shanghai, informing his servant that there’d be no tears if the lad fell over board during the journey. It says nothing good of Lucien, especially knowing what the rest of his family is like. Folk already learned to avoid the Vaudreys, and expect no justice from them. In fact, they’re realizing they might have to take justice in their own hands, for otherwise innocent blood will continue to flow as the father and son pleased. We could imagine here a mob, pitchforks and torches. But why the bother when there’s a witch at hand?…

After whole Vaudrey family took their own lives due to sudden madness, Lucien has no other choice but to return and take care of all the legal matters one has to take care of when one is the new Earl. He didn’t plan to stay long in the country, and at best – stay in London, up until first nuisance, attempt to arrest him for his orientation (being gay was illegal in those times, and thus the reason he was exiled too), or such, then he’s off, back home, to Shanghai. It’s just that the madness that pushed his father and brother to suicide seems to be lurking in his blood too. Dark spots in his memory, and vision, voices. Getting back to your own mind, with your servant trying to take away the knife that you didn’t use all that delicately in attempt to carve your life out of yourself. This can’t continue. Either he’ll go mad, or… Merrick, with his lord’s blessing, went out to the darkest places of London in hopes to find help that would’ve been at hand in an open-minded Shanghai. He needs a Shaman. After all, all England cannot hate Vaudreys, can they?

I love how they used magic, how magicians a.k.a. practitioners are like vampires here: they need energy, and can very well take it from a person, even if it means taking their life in the process. I loved how Merrick reminded me lightly of Sebastian Michaelis (Kuroshitsuji), allowing little slips in courtesy towards his master now and then. And I loved how it all reminded me of the intense adventures I had with Bartimaeus, where walls shook from the power of those entities summoned. Oh, and not to forget, I loved how “prince charming” was a tiny, thin, redheaded man with crooked teeth. 5 out of 5, no less.

Categories: Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire [#2]

playing_with_fire  Alrighty, here comes the second book on my favorite skeletal detective, Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire, by the marvelous wordsmith Derek Landy (ISBN 0007257031; 320p.; Goodreads). Author seems to have improved even more on his character speech and jokes, and Skulduggery seems to have improved on throwing tricks out of his sleeves! Or fists, for that matter! And from my praises, I hope, you already know how I’ll rate this book.

In the war long ago, those who followed the vicious gods called Faceless Ones were defeated, but not eradicated. A truce was made, fragile and as it turned out – not very lasting. Some lingered on the dark side out of sheer convenience, a quick way to gain power, others just liked to be bad. But then there were those who believed in their gods with zealous fever. And one of those madmen just got out of prison, and is very up for the task of “fixing” the world by calling his gods back into it. How did he get out of the damned place? Who helped him and why? Sounds like a case for Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain!

If this is my last book of 2015, then I end the year well (even if my read list is hitting the lowest of the low). I think I finally again found a book series that I can follow without grinding my teeth! So I give the book 5 out of 5 and rest my case.

Small warning: killing is brutal and detailed in this. There’s no torture scenes, but you can imagine the pain a man feels when his skin rips off anyway. Also: skeletons, giant spiders…

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, Gothic Books, Nosferatu Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Derek Landy – Skulduggery Pleasant

924062 Sometimes, when I get into a streak of books in same genre and category, I notice myself get irritated by how repetitive two books can be, being by different authors, written in different times, and sets. Yet, sometimes those same similar books can also leave me with whole different opinions, even if I did feel the irritation there and here. “Skulduggery Pleasant” by Derek Landy (ISBN 00077241615; 368p.; Goodreads) is one of those exceptional types. It sits in the shelf of “same type“, with books like Bartimaeus, Nicholas Flamel, and others, yet unlike the latter (I loved Bartimaeus, I do hope there’d be more one day), Skulduggery left me with a pleasant opinion. Devil’s in the details, ’tis true.

Skulduggery Pleasant is a detective with a very noir feel about him. He’s nothing but a skeleton with a great fashion sense, great magic abilities, and a sharpest non-existent tongue. He solves mysteries for a living, and while having a reputation of being a good detective, he’s neither well liked, nor well trusted. Thus, a dilemma arises when he finds himself in a need to convince the authorities to take action against a very old enemy of his, a powerful sorcerer who is after an artifact their world believed to be only a fairy tale. They know Skulduggery has an agenda. But the niece of his best friend, who was murdered trying to protect that artifact, has no agenda at all. Might they believe her? Would he dare putting someone so dear to his best friend at risk? Or is saving the world worth any means?

The books is written in this wonderful language, full of plays on words, fancy talk, wits, simple jokes, and so on. I promise, there’s nothing to not understand either. It’s smooth, and it’s easy. I give it 4 out of 5, and I will read the other two I already have. Well done indeed.

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

George R.R. Martin – A Clash of Kings [2]

a-clash-of-kings-book-2-of-a-song-of-ice-and-fire  I have this love-hate relationship with Song of Fire and Ice. Usually at the start of the book I feel motivated. Mid-way I’m already angry and bored, because it takes 8 chapters to reach one that I like. And yet so far every damn time the ending leaves me very happy. George R.R. Martin book “A Clash of Kings” is barely a second one in Song of Fire and Ice, so maybe I’m judging too soon, but when is it not too soon? The book is so fat that an avarage author could make two to three books out of it. I’m grateful to our dear Martin for that, by the way, I wouldn’t want 22 books in a series, better a few very thick ones.
Very often in Fantasy books we witness the death of magic. Be it Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, where last Elves are leaving for the West, because a hour of a Man is upon Arda. Or Sapkowski and The Witcher Saga, where magic is simply dwindling out, either by someone using it up, or murdering it’s creations. In this case we witness the magic being reborn and that’s one big fat plus for these books.
As much as I love Dany and most of the Lannisters, this book made me understand how important Starks actually are. Starting with their mother. She witnesses powerful magic at hand in a kinslaying that happened before her very eyes in an arm reach. Her eldest boy Robb is now King in the North, fighting the Lannisters. Her eldest daughter Sansa first-hand (sort of, as much as high-born non-knighty-type ladies do) witnesses what it’s like to stand by the Iron Throne when so many want it and it’s defenders are such wusses. Her youngest daughter changes two lords and was awaiting a third to serve, all the while not leaving the tterritory of the same castle, because battle changes hands that fast. Luckily she seems fed up by it. Sadly, she didn’t go with the Faceless Man. Hell, that would’ve been The Innkeeper’s Song all over for me, I just know I would’ve loved it (and even the story is told in a very similar fashion). Little boy princes Bran and Rickon Starks are separated, just to keep the Stark blood alive. Betrayal fell upon them. But creators, was it a plot twist in the end! And then there’s the bastard Stark, Jon. Probably fighting the most important battle of all, far away in the North, beyond the Wall and the damned Seven Kingdoms.
So there we go. The Trees have Eyes again, the Dragons have returned and the Winter is coming. They say that it’s exactly the Dragons that bring the magic back, but is it really? The more I read, the more I do believe it’s in the winters cold grip that the magic awakens in a roar of a Dragon and a howl of a Direwolf. Thus making the very song of Fire and Ice. So far I do like it just as much as I hate it. Well, maybe I like it a little bit more, because I keep on reading, so I’ll give this one 4 out of 5, just because, really. First one was better, but this one definitely left me certain I’ll read on.

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