Abi has run from being set free, but she hasn’t set free her heart. Luke has made it off the island, but not out of Crovan’s reach. With their small world in upheaval, who should Abi and Luke trust? And can they trust anyone – Equal or not…
I don’t know where to start with how disappointed I was in this ‘finale’. There were too many perspectives and it became difficult to work out whose side I should be on. Betrayals and side-plots seemed to be the norm, with no sense of continuity.
Luke. What has happened to that boy? Or perhaps, what hasn’t happened? Am I expected to think that everything else played out happily ever after? That you-know-who would just be ok with giving up power? That a dalmation (not Dog) can change its spots?
Let’s talk about character development. We get to see a bit of Silyen, but it doesn’t seem to be authentic or consistent with the previous two novels. He seems to have ‘grown up’, yet at the same time his wonder and questions are still child-like and simple. Does he have a mental condition? What’s with him in general?
It seemed like the author herself got sick of having so many characters that she decided to just kill them off in order to finish up the novel quickly. I didn’t have even an ounce of remorse for any of them dying. More could have died in fact, and I would have been happier!
I really enjoyed Gilded Cage, mostly enjoyed Tarnished City and this one? Well this one didn’t do the series any justice. I would have originally promoted this series as a modern take on slavery, but I just couldn’t justify it given all of the other problems. I’ll give it 3 stars, because I did finish it and enjoy some parts, but it wasn’t the killer ending it could have been.
The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars
Bo’s best friend is Nix, the fox – but that’s all he has in the world. His guardian Mads doesn’t really love him, and the nearby villagers think that he brought the Shadow creatures. When Mads dies, Bo has to decide for himself what he wants to do – follow the adventure he had no intention of beginning, or just try to stay out of trouble.
Bo is lied to and abused by almost everyone in his life. In fact, even the people he trusts lie to him – even if sometimes it is to protect him. The underlying theme of this novel is that sometimes life is unfair – but you don’t need to let the anger grow too much.
Something I didn’t understand was why Bo always needed to hide his face in his hood. In the village it seemed to make some sense, since he was recognisable to everyone. After he got into the main world though, I couldn’t understand how people knew he was different.
I put off reading this novel because I had forgotten that it was middle grade, and I thought it might follow the pattern of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I was pleasantly surprised that it was an entry fantasy novel that was light and quick to read – nothing like the YA offerings of this author of Frankie and Tin Heart.
I’m not the target audience, so with that in mind I would still recommend this book. It has a blatant message that it is bad to lie, and that forgiveness is hard to properly give, but it’s also fantasy so it is enjoyable to read. 4 stars from me.
Penguin Random House | 20th October 2020 | AU$16.99 | paperback
Phèdre is Naamah’s servant, laying down with people she does not love for her master. Unlike her companion, she looks forward to being tormented by her patrons. She was taught intrigue and spycraft, and no matter what else happens she will help the true Queen hold the throne.
I feel some confusion about these novels. Yes, they are on an epic scale, but somehow I can’t bring myself to care about most of the characters. Delaunay was nice and all, but I didn’t feel sorrow when he died. Thus the power grabs are secondary to my interest in Phedre’s character. I felt this way when I read Kushiel’s Dart nine years ago (review here).
Perhaps part of the problem is that I couldn’t get a real understanding of why Phedre is so special. She could have gone to Valerian House, and I’m not sure it would have mattered! If she can get excited by a sewing needle going in an inch on her spine, I don’t see why ‘punishing her’ would get such a rise out of people. Or perhaps there are more people into bondage and pain during sex than I would expect? Update after reading Kushiel’s Chosen: I think it is more that she can have endless sex, and pain makes it somehow better? Or maybe it’s pure humiliation.
I slogged through Kushiel’s Chosen, but I couldn’t make myself read the final book in the trilogy. I feel guilty that I’ve not finished reading them (especially as I own all 9 books!) but I also don’t want to waste more of my reading time. I need to let them go and make more room on my shelves for the epic fantasy that fills me with joy (The Way of Kings, anyone?).
I find it difficult to suggest an audience for these books – maybe those who enjoy non-historical / alternative-historical novels, who aren’t afraid to invest in a short-sighted character who shows little growth. Part of the problem was that it was written in past tense, with hints as to future events, and so I had no fear of the main characters dying. I demand more from my fantasy.
The Waters and the Wild
Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Olivia’s summer is looking pretty fine. A family vacation away from her divorcing parents with her super-hot, popular boyfriend? But when her boyfriend pays no more attention to her than he does to his brothers, Olivia is left wondering why he brought her – for himself? Or someone else…
I was surprised that Blake didn’t try to take sexual advantage of Olivia. Olivia was (and is) such a pathetic character with almost no spine (and no self-confidence) that I felt sure Blake would have pushed her into sex, and she’d have justified it. Her best-friend’s concern just seemed to blow right past Olivia, but how can one person be so clueless? Olivia is just plain dumb (perhaps what more can I expect from a vegan who survives on PBJs?).
Olivia’s depression is a grey fog that I almost thought was supernatural – Blake literally pulling the life out of her. She certainly couldn’t think straight about anything that was going on, and her inner voice rang true for me. However, the ending of the novel basically has her curing her clinical depression with a near-death experience and some bonding with her mother – and that reads to me of just being
I found the ending particularly unsatisfying. Blake is essentially able to get off scot-free to continue abusing women. I find that extremely upsetting and although realistic, not a notion that I want to see furthered anywhere. Essential Olivia’s going to go off the college, and the rest of the world will just go on.
This is a return to the Serrated Edge series where elves drive race cars. The novel Silence (my review here) is very similar to this on in plot (young woman/girl in peril is saved by mysterious otherworldly person). Actually, I thought that this series / world / universe was commanded by Mercedes Lackey with co-writers, but it turns out that there are a couple of books by single authors as well that I might bother reading if I can find them at the library. 3 stars from me, but don’t go rush out and buy it.
The Parshendi of the Shattered Plains have fallen but at terrible cost. The Everstorm has come and irrevocably changed the Parshmen of the world. One success, they have uncovered the lost city of the Radiant Knights, Urithiru. Dalinar realises that his goal of uniting the 10 Highprinces was not enough and sets his sights on uniting the world in the face of the return of the Voidbringers. But to do this Dalinar must confront his past and all the pain therein.
I was lucky enough to basically read the first three books of the Stormlight Archive for the first time, one after the other right before the fourth book came out. So there have been a lot of connections and inklings made as I’ve read the books, much to the delight of the other Sanderson Fan in the house. Having the little details of the past filled in makes for incredible reading. Often my perception of a character got turned on its head as the details were filled in. The small quotes at the beginning of some chapters provide a little bit of insight though usually only in retrospect did I realise that they were offering that insight. It made for the best sort of game when i was able to catch those details.
Just like the previous two books provided backstory details on Kaladin and Shallan repectively. The backstory in this book was about Dalinar. And oh goodness, were there are ton of details. I had a perception of Dalinar before this book. And he wasn’t my favourite character. He still isn’t, but I can relate to him a little more. Some of his flashbacks were heart-rending. Mainly because there is a weight of experience to Dalinar’s memories. It does come to a a head towards the end of the book in the best possible way.
Interestingly, I’m still very on the fence on who my favourite character is. Because there are aspects of a lot of characters that I enjoy. Kaladin’s fierce desire to protect, Shallan’s struggle with her past and her mind, Adolin’s cheerful nature, Navani’s organised approach and scientific rigour. I think at the moment I appreciate Adolin the most because he knows he is only a person in the wake of the return of the Radiant Knights. But he still wants to be the best version of him.
The main part of a Sanderson book that I love the most is that it makes you think. And it give you the chance to catch the Easter eggs. I’ll definitely be re-reading these books again in the future. Because I know I didn’t catch all the hints and I look forward to catching them. If you haven’t read this series, or are on the fence about it definitely give them a try. They won’t disappoint if you are a fan of epic fantasy. These books fit the term in an incredibly satisfying way.
Words of Radiance
The war on the Shattered Plains continues with no end in sight. Kaladin pushes to keep his people safe, even as he is conflicted between his anger and what is right. Dalinar seeks to end the war with the Parshendi while struggling to understand the path he must take to move forward. Shallan finds herself caught between lies and truth, all the while attempting to ignore the pain of her past. The Everstorm comes and will overtake them all if they cannot unite.
I don’t know where to even start with this book. It was a ride from start to finish. A little slow in places but each story line works parallel to the others. So while one story line might be slow the others may be filling in background knowledge or moving forward. Keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. I had trouble putting the book down at all since I wanted to know what would happen. We get to know each of the characters a little more, as well as getting insight between the characters now that they are in the same place. I couldn’t begin to say who my favourite is, since I love them all for different reasons. Kal is completely bull-headed but has the advantage of being the first character you get to know. Adolin could easily be put into the role of typical privileged noble, but isn’t. Shallan is the back story focus this time around. And I’m beginning to like her more for the twists and turns that her story takes. Her growing more of a spine on her own only helps there.
Sanderson as ever, takes the story line and twists it on its head. You can tell so much planning has gone into these books. Finding out that there was more going on behind the scenes with the Parshendi was a kick to the guts. That perspective makes it hard to totally side with the characters that you have known from The Way of Kings. Sanderson remains top class when it comes to trope breaking and I really cannot get enough of it.
One aspect of these books I adore are the interludes where we get a little bit of extra information about the world of Roshar in general, hints about what may happen with the actual narrative, and what I am sure in some cases are set-up for later books. Given that this is the second book of a planned 10, there is a lot that is only just getting set up to ensure a good flow from start to finish.
This is definitely 5 stars from me. I could not put these books down, and I loved the way these books made me thinks as the characters struggled and came to realisations about themselves and the world. I will definitely be reading them again in the future.
Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light
Darkness is coming, and it’s up to a 2/3 trained Bard, a simple woman, an over-worked social worker and a bag lady to stop it. Oh, and a perfect but overly emotional Aspect of Light. Toronto will never be the same.
You’d think that with three female characters you’d see some serious woman-kick-ass but nope, the focus still seems to be on the paranoid Bard and the too-hot-to-be-human Aspect of the Light. Oh, and two random cop characters. This novel was such a mix of perspectives I’m not surprised that I hated it.
I honestly don’t know why I kept reading this novel. Perhaps a fear of missing out on the train wreck? Honestly, I hated the characters so much that I hoped they all died in a burning fire / were taken by the Dark. I had difficulty skimming through it simply because it was an eBook. I could sworn I had read other books by this author and enjoyed them, so I thought maybe it could redeem itself!
Roland is tortured, doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life and fears all possible hints that he might be gay. He’s also not quite a bard, which seems to be the least of his problems. We also see a neurodiverse cast member in the shape of Rebecca who is simple and thrives on rituals to keep her life stable. I think what we are supposed to believe about her is that it’s not a bad thing that she is ‘stupid’, but it honestly comes off as trite and ultimately unfulfilling.
The author seems to be playing with the fact that life revolves around sex – one of the tactics used to delay the Light is by basically making him a sex god! There’s nothing normally wrong with this, but it’s unclear to me why the author decided that some awkward male-male bonding was necessary. It made it seem like being gay was a problem!
Ultimately this should have been a 1 star novel. I shouldn’t have kept reading it, but was somehow too invested (or bored at work) to stop. I’m disappointed and I think I won’t be touching anything by this author for a long time until I’ve forgotten how awful this one was.
The Way of Kings
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Everything has grown or develop ways to handle those storms. Ten consecrated orders existed once, now long gone but their weapons and armour persist. The Shardblades and Shardplate of the Radiant Knights, capable of transforming men into near invincible warriors. Linchpins of wars.
This book has a three main characters, plus a few extra characters that provide context and world building. The three main characters are Kaladin – an apprentice surgeon turned soldier turned slave; Dalinar – a highprince and skilled general, fearing for his sanity; and Shallan – an unskilled girl with a love of learning, planning a daring theft.
Most of the other extra characters provide information in the interludes between parts of the book. Though Dalinar’s son Adolin sometimes features during the main parts – most often during Dalinar’s section providing context and extra information regarding the war camps that Dalinar has a role in commanding.
I’ve never minded having multiple viewpoints in a book but Sanderson in particular has a distinct skill for each character possessing a distinct personality and motivations. It’s always clear which character you are with and what section of the story is the current focus. There is a focus for whose background you are getting the most information from though. In this book the focus of back story is Kaladin. There are various chapters throughout where we learn of Kaladin’s past. How he becomes and soldier and how he ends up a slave. As ever struggling to protect the people he claims as his own. Despite the length of this book (which is divided into two no less) it was a quick read, and I was able to jump into it so very easily. Even though I didn’t want to put it down (sleep? what is sleep?) I never had any trouble reorienting where I was in the novel. As I got to the end of the second book there were small hints of information, this is an epic world-building in every sense. There are small scraps of information woven throughout that you might not notice fulling on the first reading.
You could read this book as its separate parts quite easily, the selected break point makes sense for the story and still leaves you with a completed feeling for the novel, but finishing the first part left me and an overwhelming desire to dive straight into the second part. But if you aren’t sure, or have less time then you do have that option. Overall, definitely a 5-star read for me and I’m looking forward to an eventual reread to catch small details that I missed the first time around. There are quite a few that I caught. but others that I obviously missed.
A Dance of Fate
This novel follows on from the previous book, with of course a minor time skip. The last book ended on Liobhan and Dau going to tell Liobhan’s parents about Broccs decision. We join them again at the very end of their Swan Island training, having a display bout to determine which of them finishes the training as first or second pick. A formality that goes wrong in all the worst ways when Dau is injured by freak accident. What follows is the discovery of Dau’s background and all the horrible things that lie at the heart of his past.
I dove into this book right after finishing the first, eager to see what the next story would show. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get the see the visit with Liobhan’s parents but I can’t be too sad since it means we jump straight into the meat of this book. It is another gripping tale even when the focus is more on Dau overcoming the pain of the past as opposed to completing a specific task. We also get to see more of the Otherworld as Brocc now lives there. For Brocc, it seems like he is a bit caught between how he was raised and where he now finds himself. Which is not helped by the fact that the Fae Queen is not entirely sure how to be in a relationship either. These parts of the book were not as gripping as the rest of the story but it did provide some important hints and set up some things for the ending. This books’ theme almost seems to be miscommunication. Since there are many instances where if the characters spoke up about their thoughts maybe things would go a little better. But much like in real life people don’t share those inner most thoughts like that.
Again Marillier stuns with complex characters and realistic responses to the situations. We see more of Liobhan’s stubbornness to stick out hardship, even in a role where she needs to keep her head down. Dau’s injury was well handled – I thoroughly wanted to thump him upside the head for his stubbornness. But even feeling that I also understood that I probably wouldn’t have handled suddenly being blind with any more grace. It did make me glad that I live in a day and age where medicine is a little more reliable. All the potential hate I had towards Dau in the first book was well saved for Dau’s oldest brother. All I can say is damn there were some messed up things that happened there. But again there was a surprise by the Dau’s other brother. Once again reminding me that refreshingly complex characters seem to be a standard from this author.
An outstanding read and solid 5-stars, as I’ll want to read it again. The most disappointing part was reaching the end and realising I’d have to wait for the release of the third book.
The Harp of Kings
Liobhan and Brocc are brother and sister in training to join the elite Swan Island warriors. They are selected to go on an undercover mission during their training due to their musical abilities. To find the magical Harp of Kings that has been stolen and return it so that the new King can be coronated. However, there is more going on than they realise.
This book pretty much grabbed me at the start and didn’t let me go until I finished the story. The overall story line was recover the king selection mcguffin to allow the Crown Prince to be formally crowned king. The details are always more involved, a crown prince who doesn’t want what’s best for his kingdom, druids who know more than they wish to tell, and a child who gave Liobhan the hints of what is really going on. The Celtic air of this novel is really engaging. The inclusion of the Fae, not in their all powerful, mess with humankind selves is woven in masterfully. A dwindling race that are fighting to keep themselves safe, their presence slowly fading from the world.
The 3 main characters are Liobhan and Brocc, as mentioned. the third is another warrior candidate on the island Dau. At the start of the book I was all set to hate Dau, and perhaps in any other novel I would have. But the sections where Dau was the PoV character gave such an insight into him that I couldn’t really dislike him. The character complexity for all the characters was something that not only surprised me but was also the reason I couldn’t put the book down while reading. Nor was it just Dau, each character was fleshed out with strengths and flaws. One of the my favourite scenes was Liobhan’s self-awareness. She has a temper, and she could recognise when that would do more harm than good to her goals was wonderfully refreshing. It would have been harder to not connect to the characters given the realistic take. The last character Brocc it was clear there is so much more to his back story as well.
The ending comes with Liobhan completing the tasks set for her, and the group ensuring that the harp of kings is found and that the king is crowned. It sounds like a very straight-forward story. But the way the characters interact are what really drives the reader. I just wanted to know what happened next. The final notes of the book were heartbreaking in the best way possible. I honestly couldn’t have given this anything other than 5-stars.