Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Tattooed Duchess

The Tattooed Duchess (A Fire Beneath the Skin Book 2)The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two months after the events of Ink Mage, Rina Veraiin is officially the Duchess of Klaar. She's struggling balancing the life she wants to live with Alem, the desire to use her powers, and the responsibility of being a Duchess. Meanwhile events are unfolding around her that could easily change not only Klaar, but the entire world.

The Tattooed Duchess is a far different story than it's predecessor Ink Mage. I envisioned Rina would turn into one of those kind of hot yet kind of scary tattooed motorcycle women, but she's firmly committed to caring for Klaar and she's not traveling the globe in search of new tattoos. It's a nuanced approach as many authors would have her gather power rather than handle her responsibilities to Klaar. She's quickly learning for all the power of being a Duchess, she's somewhat powerless in choosing how to live her life as the King of Helva's heir, Gant, has explained.

The story immediately adds a new threat in the form of a resurrected god Mordis. The resurrection was unexpected yet fitting considering the exchange Rina had when she obtained the hand of death tattoo. Mordis is on the periphery of this story, but when he appears things go insane.

In many ways The Tattooed Duchess is the standard middle book of a trilogy. It sets the table for the events in the final book. The book is full of cliffhangers even though less events happened in this book compared to the Ink Mage. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Grace of Kings

The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty, #1)The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

King Réon of Xana conquered the seven kingdoms of Dara and forged them into The Xana Empire. With his new empire Réon gave himself a new name Emperor Mapidéré. The Emperor had grand plans for The Xana Empire and to accomplish them he plans to enslave many of the conquered men of Dara. As the years pass the people of Dara yearn to be free and two special men rebel against the empire. Kuni Garu an intelligent youth with little motivation and Mata Zyndu the giant last son of the Zyndu Clan fight back against the cruel empire with the utmost of their varied skills.

The Grace of Kings was an interesting story that in many ways felt like Greek Mythology. The main reason for that is the Gods of Dara are among the people watching, vying for power, and playing favorites. They even disguise themselves as humans to interact with their favorites and those they find useful.

Before I say anything else I want to say The Grace of Kings is long and also feels long. The story has a slow pacing to it and reads almost as if it's a history book. The story also feels as though it's two books in one. I can't help but feel most authors would've made two books out of it because there are two very different objectives in the first and second half.

My biggest complaint about the book outside of the slow pacing is the characters. Outside of Kuni and Mata none of the characters have much personality. They have characteristics that the author talks about, but little distinction that makes them unique. Even Kuni and Mata aren't as fleshed out as I'd like. They make some choices that just don't fit the personality the author previously described particularly with Mata.

My other main complaint is that the author constantly dumps tons of information on the readers.  The author tells us how characters think and feel, but the characters don't provide this information.

The Grace of Kings was a solid novel with a lot of room for growth in its sequels.

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