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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