Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister
Book of the Ancestor 1
By Mark Lawrence

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices' skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don't truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

512 pages
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
Published on March 27, 2017
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

I purchased this book.

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I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this one. But omg - it was so good!

I have been a fan (of most) of Lawrence's work since 'Prince of Thorns' came out. And while this is very different, his ability to grip your attention, ring your heart with feels AND make it pound with excitement has not changed at all.

I also love the way he build magic systems. From my limited understanding it seems he plays with quantum theory and and eastern philosophy and it rocks.

I made the mistake of not having the second book ready to go when I finished this one so be you don't do the same. You will want book 2 as soon as you finish this one.

And yes, I have ordered book 2!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Weaver's Boy by Chris Rosser

The Weaver's Boy
The Lords of Skeinhold Book 1
By Chris Rosser

A young bard and his master travel to a remote castle in a wild, untamed valley. They uncover a dark secret and set off a chain of events that will alter the fate of two powerful realms.

Owain had waited a year to sing for the Duke of Kas Mendoc. But his master, the renowned Trystan of Langorn, has a change of heart denying him the fame and honour he craves. They journey to Skeinhold Castle in the wild Cae Valley. Bitter and riddled with doubt, Owain wonders if he'll ever emerge from his master’s long shadow.

Yet Skeinhold hides a dark secret known only to a dying lord and his runaway kin. The veil between worlds grows thin and Owain's Dreamsight stirs. Who is the Lady of Skeinhold and why does she possess an artefact thought lost? Can Owain and Trystan discover the truth in time or will Owain succumb to temptation?

72 pages
Published by Chris Rosser Publishing
Published on July 1, 2018
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

I purchased this book.
____

I'm not big on novella's or short stories, this is not because I don't think they are any good but because I prefer epic novels. The type that are the size of door-stops, that I can lose myself in for weeks. I am very glad I didn't let that predilection stop me from picking up The Weaver's Boy by Aussie author Chris Rosser

I really enjoyed it.

The story starts off slowly at first, but the 'simplicity' that Rosser employs soon fades into the background as he unveils a story that introduces a world rich in history, politics, religion and power. My favorite things!

In some ways The Weaver's Boy is akin to the Goethe's The Sorcerer's Apprentice - although there is not a broom or bucket in sight. Rather it tells the tale of Owain, a young apprentice (I thought bard at first, but this is soon revealed to be a bit of a misnomer) on the cusp of manhood.

As is the want of many an apprentice, Owain is eager to race ahead in his training, faster than his master will permit, and feels a restlessness and some small resentment at being 'held back'. So, when the opportunity to learn of the secrets his master keeps him from is presented by a beautiful woman, The Weaver's Boy becomes a story of temptation and a rite of passage.

And as we learn of the world around him, Owain learns the true depth of his gift, and his own worth, crossing the threshold to adulthood and beginnings of wisdom.

The Weaver's Boy is a wonderful introduction to an exciting new Aussie voice in speculative fiction. I am very eager to read the next book and to discover more of this world that Rosser has created - and to follow Owain on his next adventure.

I'm hooked and I highly recommend it! 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

Salvation
The Salvation Sequence 1
By Peter F. Hamilton

Know your enemy - or be defeated

AD 2204
An alien shipwreck is discovered on a planet at the very limits of human expansion – so Security Director Feriton Kayne selects a team to investigate. The ship’s sinister cargo not only raises bewildering questions, but could also foreshadow humanity’s extinction. It will be up to the team to bring back answers, and the consequences of this voyage will change everything.

Back on Earth, we can now make deserts bloom and extend lifespans indefinitely, so humanity seems invulnerable. We therefore welcomed the Olyix to Earth when they contacted us. They needed fuel for their pilgrimage across the galaxy – and in exchange they helped us advance our technology. But were the Olyix a blessing or a curse?

THE FAR FUTURE
Many lightyears from Earth, Dellian and his clan of genetically-engineered soldiers are raised with one goal. They must confront and destroy their ancient adversary. The enemy caused mankind to flee across the galaxy and they hunt us still. If they aren’t stopped, we will be wiped out – and we’re running out of time.

544 pages
Published by Pan Macmillan
Published on September 11, 2018
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
__

Loved it!

When I first read that Hamilton was not returning to the Commonwealth universe in this, his new novel, I was really disappointed. I adore the Commonwealth and the stories he has written within it.

But this new novel is just brilliant.

It truly showcases what a creative genius, Hamilton is. From his ability to pull trends and social movements from our world today and to extrapolate them into what they could become, to his ability to twist plots and give his readers a story that is basically akin to a messed up Rubik's cube - which we then have the sheer joy of watching a master put back together before our eyes, to his understanding of science and its principles and just what could be on our horizon (I think R&D departments of Virgin Space, Tesla, Google, Apple and Samsung etc, need to be going through his work with a fine tooth comb for ideas because his novels are bursting with them).

This book has action, murder, mystery, space, science, far-future tech, human interest and detective work all rolled into one. It is fast paced, insightful and thrilling. An absolute joy to read. And I cannot wait for book.  Or for the audiobook to be released because I will be reading/listening to it again then!

You can buy it here 

Monday, June 4, 2018

On My Radar - June 2018

Working my way through the list of new releases for June, I thought I'd bring your attention to some of the titles on my radar for this month.

So let's get into it! (In no particular order):

The Imager Portfolio #11

Six years have passed since the failed uprising of the High Holders, and Charyn, the rex's heir, has come of age and sets out to educate himself, against his father's wishes, on how to be an effective rex after his father.

When privateers attack the rex's ships, and threats escalate against the rex and his family, Charyn realizes that no one is safe--for an assassin stalks them all.

The future of Solidar rests in Charyn's hands. Will he rise to the challenge or will the kingdom descend into chaos?

The Imager Portfolio
#1 Imager / #2 Imager's Challenge / #3 Imager's Intrigue / #4 Scholar / #5 Princeps / #6 Imager's Battalion / #7 Antiagon Fire / #8 Rex Regis / #9 Madness in Solidar / #10 Treachery's Tools / #11 Assassin's Price

One of my favourite author's Modesitt has captivating style and is a master of world building. Never repeating himself - and he is hugely prolific - Modesitt weaves epic fantasy tales driven by character's facing unique struggles as they learn about the world around them and themselves. Check him out.  

The Green Bone Saga

TWO CRIME FAMILIES, ONE SOURCE OF POWER: JADE.

Jade is the lifeblood of the city of Janloon - a stone that enhances a warrior's natural strength and speed. Jade is mined, traded, stolen and killed for, controlled by the ruthless No Peak and Mountain families.

When a modern drug emerges that allows anyone - even foreigners - to wield jade, simmering tension between the two families erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all in the families, from their grandest patriarch to even the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets.

Jade City is an epic tale of blood, family, honour, and of those who live and die by ancient laws in a changing world.


This is one of those books that caught my attention the very first time I a press release about it. Naturally given my own time restrictions I have not been able to find time to actually read it, however it has been garnering much acclaim and has a spot in my (ever growing) TBR pile... somewhere near the top. This is definitely a refreshing change, so check Fonda out. 

Ravencry
Raven's Mark Book 2
By Ed McDonald

For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets - especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult - or about strange orders from the Nameless - but when Crowfoot's arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he's propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

Ravencry is the second book in the Raven's Mark series, continuing the story that began with the award winning epic fantasy Blackwing.

I loved the first book by McDonald, Blackwing - you can read my review of it here - aand I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one! (Yes, it will likely go to the top of my TBR pile :P ).


Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk… 

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him. 

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity. But in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction. 

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine. 


Jacqueline Carey is an amazing writer. I still remember reading Kushiel's Dart for the first time and it is - to this day - one of my favourite novels. Carey crafts rich, magical tales of grand adventure. Her prose is nothing sort of masterful and her epic fantasy novels offer her readers poignant and evocative stories of vibrant colour and emotion. 

Carey has said of this novel that: The worldbuilding has an element of New Weird. I hope it will draw vivid pictures in readers’ minds that they’ve never seen before. There are gods in the form of a sandstorm, a towering column of flame, a willow tree, a statue. There’s a ship drawn by sea-wyrms. There’s a guy with dragonfly wings. There’s a giant clairvoyant octopus

Also, this is one of those very rare beasts in the fantasy genre - a standalone!

I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

An Echo of Things to Come

An Echo of Things to Come
The Licanius Trilogy Book Two
By James Islington

As shadows rise, a darkness awakes

An amnesty has been declared for all Augurs - finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. 

However, as Davian and his new allies hurry north towards the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.

Meanwhile, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed . . .




608 pages
Published by Oribt
Published on January 30, 2018
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

I purchased this book.
__

An Echo of Things to Come is a big book. Huge. Which is just my cup of tea. Second book in the Licanius Trilogy there were actually times that I felt I was reading the final book because SO MUCH HAPPENS; and Islington moves you at an ever increasing pace towards what feels like a conclusion - and it is, of a sort, but it is more the 'end of act two' and set up for act three.

Islington does a great job of spreading his wings in this novel and clearly puts into play the lessons learned while writing the first book. The story closely follows the main characters of book one, Davien, Wirr, Asha and Caedan, - and if you have not read that you may be a little lost as there is no hand-holding or rehashing of what's gone before here. Islington does a masterful job of keeping the readers interest across all four threads with the stories balancing out in a complex dance of wave-like tension, one thread rising while another lowers.

And while each of these stories has interest and merit, the standout - for me - is Caedan's story.

Caedan's journey to regain his lost memories is simply marvelous. Islington uses flashbacks to allow Caedan and the reader to live the revelations rather than just reciting them to us dryly. It is a great use of the flashback device (one that often annoys me, but not here). In fact is almost 'time travel', given we are looking back over millennia and it deepens the readers understanding of what went before and what is happening now in terms of the current timeline plot.

Davien's, Wirr's and Asha's journeys are no less interesting and serve to anchor the story in the 'now'. Through their POV's we see the plans made by Caedan's alter-ego of the past begin to come to fruition and see firsthand just how the foretelling gift of the Augurs moves players across the story like chess pieces.

The pace really starts to crank up in the final third of the book, all the threads rushing towards their  climax - as I said earlier, it often felt as though we were coming to the end of the final book such was the sense of progression in the story. All in all, Islington has written a stellar novel of epic fantasy that ticks many of the boxes for me. I can only see him getting better as he continues his journey as a writer and I am keen to see where he goes next.

An Echo of Things to Come suffers from none of the middle book syndrome that so many other second volumes in a trilogy do. It is a fast paced tale of magic, mysterious, politics, back stabbing and prophecy as we explore the idea of closely our view of identity is molded by our memories. And while Islington does use many familiar tropes he is also using a very cool device with Caedan (no, not the flashbacks) that I do not believe has been widely used in epic fantasy before and offers a very really feeling of 'something new'. If you are a fan of Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson you will surely love this.


Order it now!