Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Shorefall

Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy, #2)Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sancia and her friends despite the odds, saved Tevanne and themselves from destruction. Three years later their firm Foundryside is trying to change Tevanne for the better by sharing scriving with everyone...and stealing it from the Campos when necessary. After the one of their most ambitious capers, Sancia gets a warning. Someone is attempting to revive one of the hierophants and Sancia and her friends hold the only chance of stopping it from happening. Hierophants are people who through their immense scriving ability, have convinced the world they are gods. Sancia and her friends must not fail. If they do, who can stop a god?

Shorefall is a book where the pace never seems to let up. After the opening sequence, we go from one disaster to the next. Each one seemingly worse than the one before it. It had a magical mission impossible sort of feel to it.

I have to admit that I forgot everything about Foundryside except Sancia, Orso, Clef, and scriving. I'd recommend rereading Foundryside before picking up Shorefall for that reason. Robert Bennet Jackson doesn't take time to slow down or go over much that happened in the previous book either. I really appreciate that generally, I just didn't remember much about the first book.

The book's main theme seemed to be the perils of human nature. Various characters pontificated on how every new technology eventually gets used to hurt people. The fact that the weak and needy suffer while the vile thrive. Three different groups were trying to change the world for the better, but none could agree what would truly change things for the better. That was largely what fueled the conflict.

I did appreciate the relationships between the Foundryside gang. Orso with his fatherly relationship with Berenice was especially touching. Gregor and Sancia wanting to belong and finally feeling as though they did. Sancia and Berenice's relationship was the backbone of the book.

Overall I enjoyed Shorefall and I'm curious to see how the series concludes.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Arcanist Fables

Arcanist Fables (Frith Chronicles, #5.5)Arcanist Fables by Shami Stovall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

War is coming thanks to the Second Ascension and the birth of new god creatures. Members of the Frith Guild and the Second Ascension are making their preparations for the battles to come and the book shows those preparations from their prospectives.

First and foremost, if you expect to see or learn anything new about Volke Savan prepare to be disappointed. Volke is mentioned, but no notable information about him is discussed. With that being said, the book is incredibly illuminating in regards to the Second Ascension. I'd mention details, but they are all significant spoilers.

Arcanist Fables isn't quite what I expected. On a plus we do have multiple point of view characters including Illia, Adelgis aka Moonbeam, Calisto, Hexa, the Kirin arcanist Orwyn Tellia, Everett Zelfree, new characters Ezril Rivers and The Keeper of Corpses, Fain, Ryker Blackwater, Mathis Weaversong (Luthair's first arcanist), and Rhys. The downside is the stories aren't all told directly after the book World Serpent. Many of the stories take place during World Serpent and some are before it. I was hoping for more current information on the characters, but that's a mixed bag with this book. The majority of the stories that happened during or before World Serpent didn't feel that worthwhile, but those that happened afterwards did provide some interesting prospectives and information.

The majority of the characters behave just the way you would expect. I was not a fan of Ryker. I hope he's not whining all the time moving forward. Ezril Rivers and the Keeper of Corpses were an unexpected plus. It will be interesting to see what the story has for them moving forward. Though not being a point of view characters, we learn a lot more about Theasin Venrover and the Autarch. Everett Zelfree's opinion of Theasin continues to be proven correct over time. Theasin is a particularly vile individual. I hope we learn more about the Autarch as he's far more complex than the outright villain Theasin.

Arcanist Fables was a solid story and seem to be necessary reading for those who plan to continue the series.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Dragon Mage

Dragon Mage (Rivenworld, #1)Dragon Mage by M.L. Spencer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aramon Raythe is an outcast in his own hometown. Something about him is different than others and he's ridiculed for it as a result. Little does he know that something old and powerful stirs within him. Something strong enough to save the world.

Dragon Mage is an ok young adult story. It has some fresh takes to it in it's magic system that involves seeing colorful auras, knots, and beings impervious to magic. The story is one filled with emotions as nearly every characters emotions seem to be described throughout.

This story felt like 4-5 young adult stories in one book. It has 99 chapters, not counting the prologue and epilogue, and it is almost 1,000 pages long. I respect the fact the author is giving the reader a lot of content for their money, but I don't know that it helped the story. I didn't feel the story was so compelling that I wanted to read so much of it in a single read. I was initially drawn in by the boy who seemed to be on the autism spectrum and was referred to as a true savant. He couldn't express himself well through words, he has obvious idiosyncrasies, he's obsessed with knots, and he has no friends. I found that kid interesting. I loved him finally making a friend in Markus and meeting Master Ebra the traveling bard. There are many heartwarming moments like Master Ebra telling Aram's mother:
"Your boy's not simple, ma'am. Aram is very smart. He just sees the world a bit differently than the rest of us."


The story falls heavily into tropes from there. Deadly mistakes are made, the first of many life threatening injuries are dealt, and nothing will ever be the same again. When I say many life threatening injuries, I mean I have never seen a character so often near death yet never seems to suffer any true long term physical issues because of it. We have villains with unclear motives and some who only want power. The bad guys initially seemed to have good reason until we learn that's simply untrue.

I also want to note that the term Dragon Mage is never used in any part of the book. On top of that, a lot of people use dragons in the book so the dragon aspect isn't all that special.

I was also disappointed at the way the final battle was handled. I don't wish to spoil it, but it took me a few pages to realize a certain character had died. It was surprising consider the significance of the role the character played throughout. I also didn't care for the development that the story didn't foreshadow whatsoever.

To be fair, Dragon Mage may simply not have been the best choice for me. I don't really care for young adult books and I didn't realize this book was 100% young adult.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The First Step

The First Step (A Thousand Li, #1)The First Step by Tao Wong
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Long Wu Ying knew what to expect in life. He'd be a farmer like his father and live a simple life, that was at least until he was conscripted into the army. Due to unforeseen circumstances Wu Ying was offered a spot with the Verdant Green Waters Sect and a life as a cultivator. Now he's entering a world he never imagined and life as a cultivator.

I really wanted to like The First Step, but I honestly found it bland. It reads largely like a rough draft waiting for the finer points to be added. We have the hard working farm boy trope with Wu Ying along with the obnoxious nobles who believe they are better than everyone else. What the story is missing, is personality. Wu Ying for example doesn't have one unless hardworking has become a personality trait and no one told me.

Unfortunately on top of the characters having no personality, the story also lacks descriptive action. The battle sequences are vague and easily forgotten. The author chose to describe fights using form names as though all readers are familiar with them. Perhaps for a reader with more familiarity, it would be more than enough. I found it lacking.

The First Step was unfortunately disappointing for me and I won't be continuing the series.


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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Nolyn

Nolyn (The Rise and Fall, #1)Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nolyn, the son of Nyphron and Persephone and heir to the Empyre has been reassigned after 500 years of exile. Nolyn has been sent to the front lines in war and is certain he's being sent to his death. Fortunately for him he's been assigned to the Seventh Sikaria Auxillary Squadron, an already noteworthy squadron who has a legendary warrior among it's ranks. New legends are beginning in the midst of deception and tragedy.

Nolyn is supposed to be one of three bridge books between Legends of the First Empire and the Riyria Chronicles / Revelations. For those familiar with the mentioned series, there is a lot of familiar occurrences happening. The story revolves largely around the first two half human and half Fhrey people in existence, Nolyn son of Nyphron and Persephone and Sephryn daughter of Tekchin and Moya. The story is largely told from their perspective though there are additional point of view shifts to other characters.

It seems to me that one of the largest themes throughout all the books in this world is history repeats itself, history is forgotten, and history is rediscovered. Nyphron or someone serving him has largely forgotten the contributions of the humans to help him become the Emperor. Humans are second class citizens while the Instarya largely behave like the Miralyth before them. Nyphron has outlawed magic and many have forgotten about its very existence. There are still embers of the past, of a better way, waiting to be rediscovered by all and rekindled.

I enjoyed Nolyn overall, but I largely feel as though I know too much of the world at this point for these books to have the same emotional impact for me. We've seen the beginning in The Legends of the First Empire and the conclusion of events in Riyria Revelations. Seeing the specific events that put things into place is enjoyable, but not quite as rewarding. The events I'd truly love to see more of is Turin/Malcolm/Rex Uberlin vs Trilos. That's the unknown tale in the midst of the familiar and what I'm most curious about at this point. I also realize their battle largely occurs in the shadows and goes unseen. Bringing it to the forefront may not be likely. I want to find out if Trilos is still the thorn in Turin's side in Riyria Revelations or if he's been dealt with before then.

Nolyn is an interesting history lesson and I'm curious to see what happens next.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Desert Prince

The Desert Prince (The Nightfall Saga, #1)The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifteen years have passed since humanity won the war with demonkind. Many believe demons are extinct and that many of the exploits of the saviors of humanity are purely fiction. Things are peaceful and that's the world Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in. The hardest part for them is being the children of legends. Both struggle with the expectations placed on them and do their best to meet them. However one night when both Olive and Darin step off the greatwards, they learn the demons aren't all gone and the world isn't nearly as safe as they thought.

I'm honestly full of mixed emotions about The Desert Prince. Stepping back into the world of the Demon Cycle so soon after the events of The Core seemed to present challenges for Peter V. Brett and I didn't love the way he handled them all.

The book undoubtedly had some good parts. The theme of the characters learning who they are is a prominent one. Olive was born as an intersex individual and assigned the sex of female because the alagai hora believed it provided her a better chance of survival. Olive has fully visible, and by Leesha's belief, working male and female parts. This presents a challenge as the world has been told Olive is woman. She has to hide her male parts and often must stay away from the eyes of others. It leaves her feeling isolated and unsure of herself. Darin has limited control of his powers and every morning is like fire on his skin as the sun rises. People expect to see the Deliverer Arlen Bales in Darin, but he is quiet and withdrawn. He doesn't like to fight. Both Olive and Darin fear they are disappointments.

Some other strong parts are every prominent Demon Cycle character is mentioned outside of Ragen and Briar. Most are seen if only for a short while. Doing that helped Brett balance making the book accessible to a new reader as well as involving those who read the Demon Cycle. The fighting is intense and crisp. Much more sharusak, hand to hand fighting, is seen than magical attacks.

Unfortunately there were quite a few negatives for me, most prominently being this story is young adult through and through. This was hard for me as I loved the Demon Cycle, so seeing things be handed over to the children was challenging. Still after finishing the book, it's hard to imagine the heroes of the prior series even needing the help of the children to succeed. While the characters learning who they are is a good thing, it's also a significant aspect of young adult stories.

As a reader who read all the Demon Cycle books and novellas multiple times, having the point of view shift to the first person point of view of Olive and Darin was frustrating. It's like seeing the Demon Cycle from the kids table. We are getting a new perspective, but from the young teenage protagonists as they learn about their world. The kids, especially Olive, learned new things that were large aspects of the earlier books. I get it's helpful for the new reader, but I just wanted to skip those parts.

I didn't like the strange mix of passivity and privilege displayed by Darin and Olive. Due to the world being so safe, Darin seems more content to hide in a shady spot than to learn anything about Demon fighting. Olive is being pushed into being a duchess and focused entirely on female things, despite the fact she has a world changing secret hiding in her bido. Olive is largely unprepared for the real world while Darin is running and hiding from it. I don't love either of them as protagonists, but I find Darin slightly more intriguing.

The Desert Prince isn't what I expected, but out of my love for the world I'm sure I'll continue in the series.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

World Serpent Arcanist

World Serpent Arcanist (Frith Chronicles, #5)World Serpent Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Volke is reunited with his friends with the Frith Guild, the Second Ascension are seeking to bond with god creatures. The Frith Guild is determined to locate the person meant to bond with the World Serpent and beat the Second Ascension to it. Meanwhile Volke is training himself, an apprentice arcanist, and preparing for the possibility that the next battle may be his last.

The World Serpent Arcanist was a good book. I was hoping for another book like Plague Arcanist that was truly intense and dropped many of the young adult elements the series has gripped tightly to. Unfortunately that's not the case as young adult romance drama takes up a good bit of time...that and traveling.

Regarding romance; the romance in the book is definitely one of its major drawbacks. The first few books were normal enough for young adult where Volke liked Atty, Illia liked Volke, Zaxis liked Illia, and no one knew who Atty liked. This was all perfectly normal. Now Zaxis and Illia are a couple and things keep getting stranger outside of them. Volke is basically catnip and practically every young woman is a cat. I'd call it a James Bond situation, but Volke is basically helpless and doesn't know what to do. These young women skip past appreciation for Volke's help and nature and go straight to love. From my vantage only one character's affection seems real enough to make it past the honeymoon phase. All the unreal romance makes me cringe and roll my eyes at times.

This book was far more introspective as Volke is concerned with what's most important to him. He's always willing to lay his life on the line for what's right. He sacrifices what could be the easy and happy path in order to protect others.

I felt this book was a bit more crowded and no one character got enough page time. With Volke being reunited with the Frith Guild and the crew of the Sun Chaser being around nearly everyone fell to the wayside. Evianna may have been the next most prominently featured character. Master Zelfree came up often, but Volke's initial team and the Sun Chaser crew felt largely like after thoughts.

The World Serpent Arcanist was interesting and I'm hoping the series gets even better moving forward.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Plague Arcanist

Plague Arcanist (Frith Chronicles, #4)Plague Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Volke Savan finds himself in a place no arcanist would ever choose to be in, infected by the Arcane Plague. Volke has months before the plague changes him into someone unrecognizable and Luthair is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to avoid losing another Arcanist. There is one hope, Theasin Venrover. Theasin bragged that he will cure the plague, but it's not clear where he headed after Thronehold. Volke is forced to leave the Frith Guild on his quest. He is joined by Theasin's son Adelgis, the former pirate Fain, the Doppelganger Arcanist Karna, and the crew of the Sun Chaser. Together they seek Theasin for his cure, before Volke is driven mad.

Plague Arcanist had me hooked. From the moment Volke was infected by the Arcane Plague, I've been desperate to see him recover. The journey to Theasin is long and winding.

Witnessing Volke's character time and time again is one of the strongest parts of the book and series. Volke is a young man who should hate people and only think of himself because of the way the world treated him. Instead he wants to defend the same people who couldn't be bothered with his presence. I appreciate how Karna can't seem to get past Volke's genuine kindness and willingness to help others over himself. It's what draws her to him and makes her want to understand him.

I also appreciated the new characters and the development of the existing ones. Volke's influence has a strong impact on Adelgis, Fain, and Karna primarily. Adelgis is left changed by the near death experience of the Abyssal Leech, but his loyalty to Volke is clear. He's also a bit unnerving with the development of his powers. Fain has gone under quite the transformation. It was only two books ago where he wanted to kill Luthair, but now he stands with Luthair and Volke in their time of need. Karna is quite interesting as she delves to learn more and more about people and their nature. Her favorite subject being Volke.

Plague Arcanist is filled with unexpected twists and turns. I was hooked before I even picked up the book. The last few chapters were truly emotional and excellent. This is my favorite book in the series thus far.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Coliseum Arcanist

Coliseum Arcanist (Frith Chronicles, #3)Coliseum Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Grand Apothecary of Fortuna, Gillie, has developed a way to guard against the Arcane Plague. In order to get the resources needed to put the defense into place, members of the Frith Guild head to Thronehold. Their goal is to beseech the Queen of Thronehold for resources. Unfortunate timing finds that a new sovereign dragon has hatched, which complicates matters for the guild. People flock to Thronehold for the bonding ceremony and a grand tournament that is taking place. Strange events are happening and Volke Savan has taken it upon himself to investigate.

Coliseum Arcanist almost feels like a response to anyone who might have said the first two books in the series felt like young adult. The tone grew darker and the stakes become deadly. While that happened Volke remains the same overly chivalrous individual, doing anything to uphold his values and protect others. I really appreciated the way the world is growing and how the danger is increasing.

Coliseum Arcanist is a true world builder of a book. Volke finds a guide to Eldrin that Adelgis's father wrote. It was a subtle way to expand the knowledge of the world while not feeling like a simple information dump. The tournament and the new environment introduced the reader to different Eldrin and also showed greater details of the strength of familiar ones.

There is so much more I'd like to say about the Coliseum Arcanist, but it feels too spoiler like for my tastes. I'm quite excited to see where the story heads next.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Bloodline

Bloodline (Cradle, #9)Bloodline by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Dreadgod is heading for Sacred Valley. Lindon is determined to save the people from his home at all costs. Unfortunately Lindon and his friends are weakened by Sacred Valley's curse and the people of Sacred Valley are far from trusting.

Bloodline is largely what I expected in a very good way. Lindon is too good for the people of Sacred Valley. I needed to get that off my chest. It may simply be the nature of the Valley, but most of their leaders are absolutely ridiculous. It goes along with the idea that a dishonest man sees a lie in everything. If the majority of the leaders in Sacred Valley were on fire, they wouldn't let anyone outside their clan put them out.

Bloodline is by far the most serious and introspective book in the series. This book is about tragedy and survival more than anything. It just felt heavy. Nothing Lindon could do seemed to be good enough. He goes home to try to save everyone and despite his strength they treat him more like a usurper than someone attempting to help. The crew spend much of their time trying to convince people they needed to flee and avoiding the ambushes of the very people they're trying to save.

Bloodline was a strong book. Many unknown aspects are revealed which was greatly appreciated. I will need to read it again soon to find out what I missed on my first read.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Dread Pirate Arcanist

Dread Pirate Arcanist (Frith Chronicles, #2)Dread Pirate Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Volke, his fellow apprentices, and Master Zelfree are tasked with protecting Griffins before their bonding ceremony. Tragedy strikes in the name of pirates. Not just any pirates, the pirates of the Third Abyss. Their leader Dread Pirate Calisto is the man who killed Illia's parents and cut out her eye. Illia is out for revenge while Volke wants to protect her.


The Dread Pirate Arcanist was a good book. There is a lot of emotional depth as many of the main characters focus on their personal tragedies. It felt more mature overall despite there being a lot of young adult themes throughout.

The magic system is also a way the book excels as the author has developed a solid magic system with Eldrin and their bonding. We also find out there's more to magic than we've learned thus far during a brief encounter between Zelfree, Volke, and another guild member. I hope that continues to expand as the series continues.

Dread Pirate Calisto is a frightening individual. He makes Gregory Ruma seem inconsequential by comparison. He's a prepared and brutal adversary to put it nicely. Not the kind of enemy one would like to make. Though Illia plans to see him dead no matter what.

I personally don't love the young adult aspects of the book, but I think it's likely my age. Kids saving the day don't interest me. Part of me wishes I could see the story from Zelfree's perspective rather than Volke's. Volke does present himself as the least young adult of his fellow apprentices, but teenage drama seems to gravitate around him.

Dread Pirate Arcanist was certainly better than it's predecessor.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Awakened

Awakened (The Quintessence: Crucible #1)Awakened by C.M. Carney
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Humanity was rescued from a dying Earth by the First Ones and brought to Crucible. There humanity trains to harness their Quintessence to help the First Ones battle the Phage.

Awakened was not what I was hoping it was. The most disappointing aspect is that I don't like the main character Aryc Tal Venn. The kid is obnoxious to put it mildly and it's amazing that his family hadn't disowned him by the beginning of the book. It's been a while since I've encountered a main character I just don't care for.

The descriptions of the abilities felt particularly forced. I realized every world has to have an explanation of the aspects of the world, but having the main character simply think things out in detail is disappointing. At times it felt as though there was simply page after page of internal dialogue discussion of the world's abilities.

Awakened in the end unfortunately just wasn't a book for me.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Knightmare Arcanist

Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles, #1)Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Volke has lived a difficult life in his few short years. His parents were criminals who are no longer in his life. Unfortunately for him, he lives in a place where individuals are judged by the deeds of the family. Volke is viewed by those around him as untrustworthy. He was basically orphaned at the age of 5 and adopted by/apprenticed to the gravedigger William. Volke desperately wants to flee that life and become an arcanist. He's studied hard and has a plan. Fortunately for him his adopted sister Illia has a plan as well.

Knightmare Arcanist was a solid book with clear inspirations that the author didn't bother to hide as she lists them in the description. Arcanists are people who bond themselves to magical creatures to share their power. These magical creatures can't grow stronger without bonding with a human. It's an interesting take on the typical coming of age tale. Volke himself is somewhat different as well as he's been punished for crimes his parents committed.

I have to say my biggest issue with this book is the description. I can not believe that the author spoiled the biggest twist in the description. If this point remains hidden it changes the whole feel of the book, but instead I knew the twist before I read the first page. I really am shocked any author would do such a thing. On top of that almost all the significant threads are tied up in one book. There seemed to be aspects worthy of being carried over multiple books. Oh well.

The main characters are largely stereotypes with the misunderstood hero, the damaged youth, the awkward youth, the perfect one, the arrogant one, and the one with rough edges. No real surprises from any of them. The magic carried the day, but it's largely Pokemon mixed with Cradle like power bonding. Throw in some young adult angst and you've got a nice YA book.

Knightmare Arcanist was what I've come to expect from the young adult genre. I just wish it offered more.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Call For Brighter Days

A Call for Brighter Days (The Aeriel Chronicles, #2)A Call for Brighter Days by Nupur Chowdhury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The former Aeriel Queen, Tauheen, was killed. In the wake of her death more turmoil is impacting the world. Some of Tauheen's followers are now working with dangerous criminals called the feather mafia. They hunt and Aeriels for their feathers. Ruban and the IAW are working to stop the Mafia with Shwaan's help. However Shwaan is keeping secrets of his own which may have dire consequences.

A Call for Brighter Days revolves around the aftermath of the first book, mainly the death of Tauheen and Reivaa. Ruban is still working with Ashwin/Shwaan while keeping it secret from Simani, but she's getting suspicious of Ruban.

The story moves quickly and isn't afraid to jump from point to point. While this is a good for pacing, the characters suffer somewhat. Every character was focused on events that most of them don't have the opportunity to truly put their character on display. The point of view characters Ruban and Ashwin do display growth. Kaheen and Janak Nath also get the opportunity to grow and change throughout. Janak and Kaheen are nuanced individuals though Janak is somewhat of a villain for the sake of it.

A Call for Brighter Days was a solid sequel.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Refraction

RefractionRefraction by Wick Welker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A story told in three parts in three different times. In 1986, Timothy Straus hears voices that guide him towards grand scientific achievement. In 2098, Caleb Stanger hears voices that lead him to revolt against the government. In 2155, the only sentient robot on Mars tries to lead the people past fear and a dangerous individual in the shadows into a brighter day. Despite the span on time and space these individuals are connected in unforeseeable ways.

Refraction is a thought provoking book to put it lightly. Many ideas are discussed from scientific, to political, to human nature, and beyond. The characters in the book find themselves fundamentally fighting against human nature along with the apathy of those with plenty.

The three timelines used were done in an excellent fashion. The timelines tease the story out slowly and I would have never imagined the end at the beginning. Some interesting events occurred starting with scientific discovery from Timothy Straus. I wish I could get into more, but any elaboration feels like spoiler territory. The revelations later in the book are well worth the read, even if they do feel heartbreaking.

Refraction is a mystery with tragedy seeping into nearly every aspect of it.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Of Killers and Kings

Of Killers and Kings (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #3)Of Killers and Kings by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Great Elders, humanity's ancient enemy, are always plotting. With a crack in the sky they are ready to move. The Independent Guilds are ready to make peace with the Imperial Guilds to stop the Great Elders from getting what they want, but who knows exactly what any of the Great Elders have planned...

Of Killers and Kings was a good story. I wish, as I have with the entire series, that it didn't go over the same information as it's parallel novel. It just removed too much of the intrigue when so much of what happens has already been told. It doesn't make the books into equals, it makes whichever book you read second into a companion novel that simply fills in gaps.

Shera has been made into the Guild Head of the Consultants against her will and she's bristling at the unwanted promotion. I have to say after Of Darkness and Dawn, I never imagined I could come to like her...but I have. Having her vessels, Bastion and Syphren, voices in her head made her more intriguing. I was happy to see her gain some balance.

I didn't really find any other consultants all that interesting, but the Regents Estyr Six, Jorin Curse Breaker, and Lorelei were great characters. The Emperor's companions were quite the group. Estyr all power and rough edges, Jorin the scientist, and Lorelei the heart. I would have loved more from them.

So this is book 6 of 6 for me in my reading of The Elder Empire. The series had a rocky start for me as I began with Of Darkness and Dawn, but I slowly went back to it. I read all three books of the Sea side because the greater world building elements fascinated me. Then I decided to go back to the Shadow side which I found I enjoyed more than I imagined after book 1. Will Wight created quite the terrifying world and situation along with people who fought to make the world better. I loved the greater view we gained on the Emperor and how we learned despite all his power, at his core he was a man who cared deeply for humanity as a whole. He also lived through a world full of horror that the inhabitants today couldn't relate to which made some of them view him as harsh. The Emperor simply knew what was a stake.

In the end I'm glad that I read the Elder Empire and I'd be happy to revisit it down the line, hopefully without parallel novels. I'd have to call it a tie between the Shadow and Sea side for which trilogy I enjoyed more.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Trouble With Peace

 

The Trouble With Peace (The Age of Madness, #2)The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Union and the North find themselves at peace with their enemies, but what is peace other than a time to prepare once again for war. Tensions are still high and conspiracies are growing to the point of full on treason. Orso has become king even though many of his people think him a buffoon, Rikke struggles with the long eye, Savine is trying to recover from her ordeal in Valbeck, and Leo just wants to be a hero. As the new generation takes over from the old, there are no lack of problems.

The Trouble with Peace is what I've come to expect from Joe Abercrombie, humanity at it's bleakest. I did find one thing I didn't expect however, me being dismayed by what was happening. I don't know if it was living during a pandemic, but the feeling of hopelessness was bumming me out. I worked through it and enjoyed Abercrombie's nihilistic view of the First Law world.

It's hard reading the various knowing the nature of Abercrombie's writing. A group of individuals who are either already broken and jaded or well on their way to it. I'd split the point of view characters into two camps, those being broken down and those already broken. Those being broken down are Orso, Rikke, and Leo, while the already broken are Clover, Vick, and Broad. It's a tragedy in action yet against all reason I still hold out hope for most of them.

If you aren't familiar with the First Law world and you plan on learning more, then don't continue past this point. This will be jammed full of spoilers from the original trilogy.

In the First Law world some things just are: like the sun, the moon, and the First of the Magi Bayaz. He's a force of nature and betting or battling against him would truly be a mistake in the long run.

Bayaz helped create the Union, but he is also the cause of the Union's problems. Valint and Balk, owned by Bayaz, chokes the Union's resources with interest on loans they forced the Union to take. Without that money the Union couldn't come to aid the North when they battle Stour Nightfall. The interest also made the Union ask for an increase of taxes after the North won the war, leading to trouble. Styria wants to end the threat of Bayaz in all it's forms. Valint and Balk's greed also helped create the Breakers and Burners by placing profit above all else and by his example of complete greed impacting the affluent in the Union. Bayaz reaps all the rewards, takes little personal risk, and rarely assists. When he does assist, there are nearly unbreakable strings attached and as far as the books have shown only death can free most people from Bayaz once his hooks are in them. I'm not saying Bayaz is the devil, but he seems as though he may be the closest thing walking on the First Law world's surface.

Many people of the world want to destroy what Bayaz has built. I do wonder as magic leaks from the world, if the Union will be freed from his influence or if he'll continue to guide the world based on his greed.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Of Darkness and Dawn

 

Of Darkness and Dawn (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #2)Of Darkness and Dawn by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The strife between the Imperialist Guilds and the Independent Guilds continues. The Regents have also come under attack from individuals with ties to Shera's past. Meanwhile Shera has become a Soulbound. The only trouble is her vessel has a murderous voice that can't tell the difference between friend and foe. It only wants to kill and steal the power of the powerful.

Of Darkness and Dawn proved me wrong. After of Shadow and Sea, I was convinced Shera was merely a sleepy sociopath, but this book made her so much more. She cares for her friends and humanity as a whole even if something isn't quite right with her. Shera being impacted by Syphren also made things incredibly interesting. Adding Jorin Curse-breaker to the story was a great addition as well. Jorin is a powerful man out of time who still cares for the world.

The flashbacks were excellent in showing the Emperor. The view of the Emperor is quite opposite in the Shadow side of the series than the Sea side. While Calder and his companions see the Emperor as a callous man who behaves like a Great Elder, Shera and her friends see a powerful man who cares for humanity more than his own well being. The Emperor came to life with the flashbacks and I can't help but pity the man.

I still have an issue with how Will Wight chose to split the series up into 6 shorter books rather than 3 longer ones. I absolutely abhor going through lengthy scenes in a different book from a different perspective. That's not exclusive to this series, I don't like it in any book if it's more than a tiny flashback. That being said I really enjoy Will Wight's writing which is the only reason I gave this parallel story a chance. It went well with this book, because outside of one pivotal moment, the book avoids retreading any aspect significantly.

So I'd say Of Darkness and Dawn was better than Of Dawn and Darkness. I'd say after two books the Sea and Shadow are tied. The Sea side of the story was better than it's parallel companion in the first set of stories. I'm looking forward to seeing if I enjoy Of Killers and Kings more than it's parallel story.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension, #1)Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Cadence family live in a land where people gain power from their goddess. They go on trials to gain the mark of power called an attunement. Tristan Cadence went for his trial five years ago and never returned. Now his younger brother Corin is heading for his trials with the goal of not only gaining an attunement, but also finding his brother.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic has more over explaining than any book I've come across in some time. Every thing that happens Corin explains during or afterwards. He doesn't explain it interesting in compelling ways, he just keeps babbling on. It reminds me of my daughter when she's so excited she talks endlessly on a subject even if I'm already familiar with it. Since I'm not a monster, I have to listen to her, but I don't have to be beaten down with this books explanations. Honestly I had expectations for cool advancements and excellent fights, but it was largely just info dump like explanations.

In the end, Sufficiently Advanced Magic just wasn't a book for me.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

It Wasn't Your Fault

 

It Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-CompassionIt Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion by Beverly Engel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't looking for It Wasn't Your Fault, this book found me. As soon as I read the full title I realized I needed to read it and I picked it up at the library later that same day. I wish I didn't need to read this book and I wish no one ever needed to read it. Unfortunately I and many others did need to read it.

On a positive note I found It Wasn't Your Fault particularly helpful as it put a spotlight on some deep-seated internal pain I didn't know existed. At times I feel so alone in my pain and as though no one can understand how I feel. When I read a book like this one, I never cease to be amazed that a book can tell me so much about the hurt I kept quiet for far too many years.

If the full title, It Wasn't Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion, has an undeniable tug on your heart, then I'd recommend you read it to the end and apply whatever you may need.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wintersteel

Wintersteel (Cradle, #8)Wintersteel by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Uncrowned King tournament comes closer to conclusion while a Dreadgod is preparing to rise. Monarchs and their followers scheme and train to see who will claim a power great enough to destroy a Dreadgod.

Wintersteel was a very enjoyable story. It was the longest book in the series and that allowed the author room for a lot of developments to take place. The story begins with Yerin, Mercy, Eithan, and the other uncrowned train for their upcoming matches for a month. Lindon is left out and is grasping for ways to advance on his own. He has caught the attention of Northstrider and Lindon isn't sure if that's a good thing or not.

This book made up for all the political maneuvering that the previous book left out. I wish some of this information would have been shared earlier as it would have provided needed context to Uncrowned. Still better late than never.

I have to say I love to see the ingenuity and training in this series. Characters developing new ways to make themselves powerful is always fun. Some characters made significant jumps which was fun to see.

Wintersteel was really good and perhaps the best thing I learned is the series isn't finished yet. There's at least one more book coming. I'm excited to see where things go from here.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Uncrowned

 

Uncrowned (Cradle, #7)Uncrowned by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every few years the Monarch's gather their strongest young underlords and have them battle in the Uncrowned King Tournament. These fights aren't simply a matter of pride, they determine what happens in each of the Monarch's lands going forward.

Uncrowned was a good book overall, but until the very end it didn't present the same weight to it as the prior books. The importance of the tournament is certainly mentioned, but it's hard to have a true understanding when the full balance of power hasn't been displayed. None of the books have put on display the tension betweens nations outside of the Dreadgod Bleeding Phoenix's attack. We are told the golden dragons are extremely dangerous and we witness a little of that in the book, but not enough to give the tournament the weight that Akura Charity tried to press into Lindon.

While the previous books focused significantly on advancement, this book focused on refinement. It starts early as Eithan and Yerin are sparring. He shocks her with his abilities and says, "People think that the way to improve your power is to push for advancement, but that's not always true. A child and a veteran swordsman, given the same weapon are vastly different opponents." That as much as anything is what pushes the book forward. Characters growing in skill rather than advancing.

Uncrowned while not being what I had anticipated, was still quite good.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Underlord

 

Underlord (Cradle, #6)Underlord by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The great clans of the world often measure themselves by the strength of their youth. Because of this a tournament is coming. The participants will be young Underlords. The Blackflame Empire has been ordered by the Akura Clan to prepare themselves. They have been given the opportunity to train in an Akura family territory that is rich with vital aura, but there is a catch. They will be competing for the training ground's resources and spots in the tournament against the Seishen Kingdom. Each faction must produce young Underlord candidates for the tournament or else. Worst of all, Akura Charity knows what Lindon did in Ghostwater and she's not going to simply let it go.

Underlord was undoubtedly the most sentimental book of the series to date. Some unexpected events hit me right in the feelings while reading this. Lindon, Yerin, and Orthos have grown so much since they were first introduced. Watching them change has been one of the best aspects of the story.

The advancement to Underlord also led to the strength of the story. Other advancements were strictly pushing the current limit to the point of bursting and then moving forward, but Underlord is different. Sacred artists must be at the peak of high gold, but they also have to open their soulspace and know the reason they practice the sacred arts. Not just a nice sounding reason, the reason they do it. It creates quite the challenge as only artists who know themselves can advance to Underlord.

I truly enjoyed Underlord and the depth of the series thus far. I can't wait to see what comes next.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Ghostwater

 

Ghostwater (Cradle, #5)Ghostwater by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lindon, Yerin, and Mercy are once again under the employment of the Skysworn. They are still treated as disposable and as enemies by Skysworn leadership. The team is sent off to investigate the pocket dimension Ghostwater, created by the Monarch Northstrider. The pocket dimension is collapsing due to the rising of the Bleeding Phoenix. Lindon and Orthos find themselves trapped in Ghostwater while Yerin and Mercy struggle to save them.

Ghostwater is the book I've been waiting for. I felt like the story really came together for everyone. Lindon and Orthos are trapped without any clear means of escape. They are forced to rely on each other. Lindon has often been protected by plot armor, but he really grew and developed in this book largely thanks to Orthos. He wasn't reliant on luck in Ghostwater. Orthos really shined in this book. He showed off his physical prowess and took a mentoring role with Lindon. He had his typical lines regarding what dragons do, but he also taught Lindon much more mentally. He also called him on areas he was ignoring in his overall development. Orthos was simply stellar.

"Once, you were weak. That boy is long dead, but his Remnant still haunts you....Your weakness, Lindon, is thinking you are weaker than you are." - Orthos

Yerin and Mercy's story was more straightforward. We learn more about Mercy and Yerin continues to have more memories from her master's remnant.

The world as a whole expanded in this book. We see other factions such as the Akura Clan, the Gold Dragons, Redmoon Hall, The Beast King, and the Monarchs. All their plans are far from clear, but they are all intriguing in their own rights. They of course don't all get along even when they have truces with one another. Each of these factions seem to be stronger than the Blackflame Empire as a whole.

Eithan takes a bit of a back seat and even he gets to show off a bit. It's interesting to know that he doesn't want anyone to know the extent of his abilities, especially considering how powerful he is whenever he demonstrates them. All with a smile on his face. He loves to irritate his opponents.

Ghostwater has a really excellent book and I'm excited to see how the series continues from here.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Of Kings and Killers

Of Kings and Killers (The Elder Empire: Sea, #3)Of Kings and Killers by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We're all locked in the same burning house. It benefits no one to fight while the flames rise.
- Baldezar Kern

The flames in the Aurelian Empire burn high and hot as the Civil War between the Imperialist and Independent Guilds rages on. All the while the Great Elders led by Kellerac plot and hold a crack in the sky wide open. Humanity needs all their defenders, but they're too busy with the semantics of what the Empire should be going forward.

I believed from the beginning that The Elder Empire had a grand story to be told. I've really enjoyed all of Will Wight's stories except for The Elder Empire, but I've finally enjoyed a book in the series with Of Kings and Killers. My interest was peeked with one little quote towards the end of Of Dawn and Darkness. This single quote made everything occuring much more significant and that was just the beginning.

From the beginning I've found the Sea Side ie Calder's crew the more interesting bunch to read about. Shera and her friends are fearsome, but somewhat strange and dull. Calder and his friends had all the aspects of a family. For all Calder's faults, he loves his crew and he'd do whatever he can for them. They prove time and time again that they'd do the same for him. Calder is an interesting yet flawed protagonist just like his crew. The story also did an excellent job cementing Izaria Woodsman's importance to the crew through flashbacks. In many ways it was as though he was still around even after the events in book 1.

The Great Elders are terror incarnate and I feel like it was glazed over too often rather than emphasized until Of Kings and Killers. The reader gets a good look at the hell scape the characters are trapped within. 

I know Will Wight took a few years off between book 2 and 3, but he really brought a strong conclusion to The Elder Empire series with Of Kings and Killers. All the while leaving the door cracked to revisit the world, should he so wish.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Skysworn

Skysworn (Cradle, #4)Skysworn by Will Wight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blackflame Empire fears a user of the black flame path. Because of that the Skysworn imprisoned Lindon. Unfortunately his duel with Jai Long is still looming. Meanwhile Jai Daishou is desperate to find a way to destroy Eithan. He is so desperate that he's willing to risk the destruction of his clan and the empire in the process.

Skysworn felt like a transition book to me. The book begins with Jai Daishou searching for a way to kill Eithan while becoming increasingly desperate. We also see Lindon imprisoned and preparing to face Jai Long. Their duel takes place shortly afterward and then the tale moves on quickly. A new threat emerges that has been hinted at since the start of the series. The rest of the story is wrapped up in dealing with this new threat.

Skysworn does expand the world of the Cradle. We see more factions that make up the Blackflame Empire and learn about more powerful sacred artists nearby. All this raises the stakes and increases the danger. The more the readers learn of the Blackflame Empire, the greater the danger Eithan, Yerin, and Lindon face.

I wish I could get into more without spoiling things, but I don't believe I can. A lot of unexpected events take place as Skysworn prepares us for the future.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Blackflame

 

Blackflame (Cradle, #3)Blackflame by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eithan has offered Lindon all he could want. A powerful family and instruction from a master. Eithan unfortunately also left Lindon in a predicament. In one year's time, he has to fight the Highgold Jai Long. Lindon is prepared to do anything to get strong enough to win, he just may not realize what that means. Eithan once again has dangerous plans for Lindon and he's made sure to include Yerin as well.

Blackflame was a strong sequel. The scene shifts to the home of the Arelius Family, Serpent's Grave. The Serpent's Grave is also the home of The Jai Clan and they have declared a silent war on the Arelius family. Eithan has plans on plans, but the threat of the Jai underlord looms over everything. Eithan is continuing his training of Yerin and Lindon in attempts to maximize their potential. He just has no interest in doing things in a traditional way. As Eithan said in Soulsmith, "Nothing reaches its full potential unless it's threatened." It's a motto he fully adheres to. Lindon will either grow stronger or die under Eithan's tutelage.

Meanwhile Jai Long has his prize, the spear of the ancestors. He intends to use it's power to get stronger and get his revenge. With the help of the Sandvipers and their Truegold leader Gokren, he plans to start his plans for revenge with the clan who discarded he and his sister Jai Chen. Jai Long is a well written character. His motivations are clear and he's ruthless.

One especially enjoyable part of Blackflame was the study of techniques. More are put on display than ever before as Lindon tries to decide what path to follow with his second core. He's restricted because he needs something strong enough to defeat an opponent that will be undoubtedly stronger than him in a year's time. That leads to some unforeseen developments.

The characters were excellent once more. Yerin struggles with her advancement, Eithan's instruction, and trusting Eithan in general. Lindon is desperate to get strong enough to survive his upcoming duel with Jai Long. Eithan is well Eithan, in the best ways possible. He's equal parts flashy and calculating.

The book featured two especially interesting additions, Cassias Arelius and Orthos. Cassias was the former heir of the Arelius family before Eithan arrived 6 years ago. His personality is the opposite of Eithan's in every way and he disagrees with most of Eithan's choices. He also shares the amazing Arelius bloodline awareness ability. Orthos is the descendant of dragons and a majestic turtle indeed. He has the power of blackflame, but he's losing his mind due to it's power. Orthos is haughty, powerful, and hungry. He's often heard munching on anything he wants including stone.

Blackflame was a really enjoyable story and I can't wait to begin the next book in the series.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Soulsmith

 

Soulsmith (Cradle, #2)Soulsmith by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the wilds Yerin and Lindon run into hordes of beasts and remnants. They follow where the beasts are heading to find ancient ruins that contain items of massive power. They also find an alliance of sacred artists who intend to mine it for resources. After what feels like a lifetime, Lindon has finally reached Copper. As Lindon tries to learn the skill of a Soulsmith, he finds himself the prey of a powerful group of Golds.

Soulsmith was a good time. Lindon advances only to realize that in comparison to the world at large, everyone from the Sacred Valley is incredibly weak. Lindon surprisingly finds that encouraging as he's seeking the power to save everything he's known.

The characters really come alive in this book. There is of course Lindon. He stands tall and looks vicious despite his weak skills. Yerin who despite seeming as though she only wishes to fight actually cares for Lindon. There are also some interesting new additions in Jai Long, Fisher Gesha, and the happy yet mysterious Eithan.

Jai Long is the typical angry genius. He has a backstory that makes it wholely justifiable. He's not evil, but he's certainly not good either. Fisher Gesha is a powerful soulsmith who Lindon and Yerin find themself working for. She's the typical gruff old master. Eithan from the start is clearly powerful even though he mostly appears to be looking for fun. These three really stand out among the rest of the new characters.

Soulsmith has me excited to see where the story goes. I really enjoy the way Will Wight crafts his tale and characters.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Of Dawn and Darkness

 

Of Dawn and Darkness (The Elder Empire: Sea, #2)Of Dawn and Darkness by Will Wight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Empire is leaderless, in turmoil, and fracturing in two. The Imperialists hope to hold it together with a new Emperor. Calder Marten is determined to be that man and the Imperialists are ready for Calder to be seated on the throne as soon as possible. The threats to the Empire didn't die with the previous Emperor and humanity needs every weapon it can get to defend itself.

Of Dawn and Darkness was a solid sequel. I made the decision to treat the companion books as two completely separate series since I didn't care for Shera. Whenever I continue I'll head to Of Kings and Killers rather than Of Darkness and Dawn. I may eventually read the other side, but the sleepy sociopath Shera isn't my cup of tea at all.

I find the story somewhat engaging and the characters somewhat interesting, but nothing about this series really grabs me. Bliss is probably the most interesting character, but even she is likely best in small doses. Her lack of understanding would get old if she was around more.

The biggest thought I find myself having is that everyone involved with the guild Civil War is being idiotic. Humanity has an opponent with power that dwarfs their own. Their best fighters have to take the power of the Elders into themselves to even have a chance. I don't understand why the people who want to defend humanity can't come to an agreement outside of murdering one another. They should always be training and inventing new ways to strengthen humanity to face the onslaught. If that means the Empire splits in two, then so be it as long as they vow to come to one another's aid. Everyone is too focused on gaining or keeping their power to have enough foresight to be fully prepared.

Of Dawn and Darkness is just good enough that it makes me want to see how the series ends.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Unsouled

Unsouled (Cradle, #1)Unsouled by Will Wight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The young of the Sacred Valley come twice a year to be tested. Children the ages of 6-8 have the content of their souls evaluated to see what sort of sacred artist they will become in life. It's a test that no one is supposed to fail, but Lindon failed. He was labeled unsouled, powerless and unworthy of teaching in a society that power is as important as honor. Lindon isn't giving up though, he's determined to find a way to become a sacred artist.

Unsouled left me unsure of what to expect. It was clear that young Lindon had been deemed unworthy and would be treated practically as a cripple. It was clear that he'd strive to gain power, but short of that things were very different than I anticipated.

I don't know how anyone couldn't feel for Lindon. He's been deemed to lack the one thing that is valued in his society. He's seen as having no value. An elder, who has known him most of his life, told him to simply stay home. The reason being is, if a stronger member of another clan killed him, Lindon's clan would have to apologize for the inconvenience. As an unsouled Lindon isn't even permitted to marry out of fear he'd pass his defect on. Lindon doesn't quit though most of the world views him as trash. He's clever and hardworking.

Unsouled felt like a long introduction in some ways, but I think it's laying the groundwork for a strong story.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Of Sea and Shadow

Of Sea and Shadow (The Elder Empire: Sea, #1)Of Sea and Shadow by Will Wight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Emperor is dead. Calder Marten and his crew have been hired to transport people to find a powerful relic. This relic can help to raise a second Emperor. Calder Marten has plans of his own along with powerful enemies standing in his way.

Of Sea and Shadow is the first book in the Sea portion of The Elder Empire series. I won't call it a trilogy as 6 books make up the series. 3 books from the prospective of the Sea featuring Calder Marten, his crew, and allies. The other 3 books are from the prospective of Shadow featuring Shera, the Consultants Guild, and her allies. It's all a reasonably complicated way to split what should likely be 3 books into 6 books. The idea is you have to read book 1 of each section, then read book 2 of each section, and so on. I read Of Shadow and Sea first and I was underwhelmed. The characters just felt flat to me.

Of Sea and Shadow fortunately had more enjoyable characters. Calder, Andel, Urzaia, Jyrine, and Bliss were all more interesting to me than Shera and the consultants. Calder has depth and reason for all of his actions. He's a complex character in a good way. I wanted to know more about him and I hoped he'd be ok. The others all seemed to have strong motivations for their actions as well. Bliss may be the most interesting character in the series overall. I was glad to see at least a portion of the story from her perspective.

So the dual novels to tell a single tale is not my idea of a good time. I've seen that sort of thing done on occasion and I've yet to see justification for two separate books going over one story. I will say that a lot of different information was presented between the two parallel stories, but in the pivotal moments I already knew where things stood with Calder from reading Of Shadow and Sea. It sucks some of the excitement right out of tense moments.

Of Sea and Shadow was better than Of Shadow and Sea, but not so much better that I can't wait for the next book. I do think that if I continue, I'll only read the Sea side.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Of Sea and Shadow

 

Of Shadow and Sea (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #1)Of Shadow and Sea by Will Wight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Emperor of the Aurelian Empire ruled for over a thousand years. He saved mankind and brought them together as an Empire. That was before he died. Now a group is attempting to find an artifact of incredible power, the Heart of Nakothi. The groups' goal is to use it to raise a new Emperor. Standing in their way is the Consultant's Guild. They've served the Empire and the Emperor since the beginning of his reign by hunting down any who mean harm to the Empire.

I'm really conflicted by Of Shadow and Sea. I'm a fan of Will Wight and I've really enjoyed his Traveler's Gate trilogy and his Cradle series. Of Shadow and Sea just didn't hold a candle to the other series.

I didn't enjoy Of Shadow and Sea for a few reasons, but first and foremost are the characters. None of the characters really popped off the page or made me care about them. They felt generic to me. First is Shera who is a near emotionless assassin who would rather sleep than do anything else. That's about all there is to her character. She also worked directly for the Emperor and she cares for her former teammate Lucan. Next is Meia who is an assassin who has been alchemically altered with the strength of beasts. She is determined and had a childhood grudge against Shera. That's about it for her personality. Last of the main group is Lucan. Lucan is another former assassin who thinks too much and cares for Shera. Again that basically wraps him up.

The next thing that led to me being disnterested was the story itself. Nothing about it was particularly compelling. Bad guys want to get an item of untold power to defeat the good guys...err the assassins. The power has an evil supernatural element to it, but it's fairly straightforward.

The one thing that did seem interesting was the magic system. The users imprint their intent on items. Anyone is able to do it, but Readers can wield their intent to change, destroy, and strengthen items. I felt like the story just listed the abilities as though the reader was already familiar with them. When I finished the book I noticed a glossary of the abilities which would have been more useful throughout. Every term and ability was so foreign throughout that even by the end I didn't have a clear understanding on how they worked.

The story flips back and forth from the past to the present. The story goes as far back as 15 years to Shera's youth and how she was introduced to the Consultant's Guild. The flashbacks also cover some of her time serving the Empire. It didn't feel as though so many flashbacks were needed to tell the story, but they worked out fairly well.

Of Shadow and Sea was an ok book. Unfortunately I'm not really excited to see where the series continues from here.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Reborn King

 

The Reborn King (The Dragon's Blade #1)The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dragons, Fairies, and Humans face a dire threat in Rectar and his demon forces. They move to extinguish the three races. The Dragons are no longer flying fire breathing beasts. There was a transformation and they now resemble humans albeit faster and stronger. Unfortunately they've scattered as their royalty appeared to be destroyed. A chance remains as the Wizard Brackendon has used a spell to save the life of the dragon prince Darnuir. Brackendon was forced to destroy Darnuir as the world knew him in order to remake him as a baby. He was reborn with no knowledge of his past self. All this was done because the dragons will only follow their king and only the king can use the Dragon's Blade. 20 years later a now grown Darnuir can reclaim the Dragon's Blade and reunite the three races against their demonic foe.

The Reborn King was just ok. I read the book because the idea of forcing the dragon prince to be reborn sounded interesting. It was less interesting and satisfying than I hoped. A small time was spent on Darnuir's upbringing by humans before he was at the age of 20 and the Dragon's Blade returned to him. It largely felt like Darnuir simply had amnesia rather than having his former self destroyed. Once he had the blade dragons followed him no problem.

The Reborn King is definitely for fans of classic fantasy tales. The various races unite to fight a Dark Lord, Rectar in this case, and his minions who happen to be demons and a fallen wizard. I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of that sort of fantasy story. If I had known it was like that I probably would have skipped it. Nothing felt particularly original and there were no fresh takes on this sort of tale. The characters were all largely forgettable as well.

The Reborn King wasn't what I was hoping it would be.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Traveler's Gate Chronicles

The Traveler's Gate Chronicles (Traveler's Gate Chronicles, #1-3)The Traveler's Gate Chronicles by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Traveler's Gate Chronicles are a collection of 9 short stories from various territories of the Traveler's Gate world. They are tied together as an Elysian Book of Virtues telling a story to describe each of the Elysian powers along with their purpose. Some of the stories feature some familiar characters from the main series.

First and foremost I have to comment on when someone should read this book. If you don't want to potentially spoil any aspect of the Traveler's Gate trilogy, you should read this after finishing the City of Light. There are definitely spoilers for anyone who hasn't completed the Traveler's Gate trilogy.

None of these short stories are particularly groundbreaking, but I found myself enjoying the ones that focused on characters readers have already met. The stories that feature prominent characters from the main story are The Feathered Plains, The Steel Labyrinth, The Lightning Wastes, and Ragnarus.

The Feathered Plains features Valinhall Traveler Denner Weeks. I always enjoyed seeing Denner in the main series even though we don't get a lot about him. Here we get to see him being recruited for his speciality and showing off a Valinhall power that wasn't seen in the main series. He's sent on a mission to execute a young traveler who can see the future.

The Steel Labyrinth featured the Wanderer himself Valin. Valin is a young man in this story and Valinhall doesn't yet exist. This story was undoubtedly the most interesting to me because Valin is shown to be working for a prior Damascan Queen. Considering what has been revealed about Valin previously, it truly makes me wonder why he becomes determined to kill Damascan royalty later in life. Valin is sent by Queen Deianira III to Taratarus to assist the travelers with murders occuring in their territory. The story also gives some additional insight into who Valin is as a man and I'd truly love to learn more.

The Lightning Wastes features Queen Leah, Simon, and briefly Indirial. Leah, Simom, and an Endross traveler head into Endross. Their goal is to get the Endross traveler's to return to duty in Damasca. It's told from Leah's perspective which isn't always great. In this instance it's appreciated because it lets the reader see Simon as the world sees him. He doesn't look like much initially, but he's deadly when he starts to fight.

Ragnarus is absolute spoiler territory if you haven't read City of Light. It features Queen Cynara the first and Elysia's Rhalia. This describes the final battle between the two and how Cynara found herself hung under a Hanging Tree. It also opened up a potential mystery. I'm interested in finding out more whenever the sequel trilogy is written.

The Traveler's Gate Chronicles was a good set of short stories with a creative Elysian tie in.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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