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8/10
Review: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Reviews / November 24, 2017

After reading and loving Certain Dark Things, I had no doubt I would read whatever Moreno-Garcia published next. That turned out to be The Beautiful Ones. Just from the synopsis I could tell it would be incredibly different from the vampire underground world created in Certain Dark Things, but I have to confess, I was hoping to still find a bit of that darkness in The Beautiful Ones. Well, I can’t say I found this to be dark like that, and will advise you that you can not read this book looking for world or tone similarities to Certain Dark Things. Moreno-Garcia did create great characters in both, that is the main similarities end. As opposed to most of the books I read, the romance aspect was the strongest plot point in this book. You can also find character growth, and a lesson to embrace who you are, etc. But ultimately, this book was about relationships and romance. I am not stating that as a negative, honestly, sometimes its nice to read a book like that. But I like to know ahead of time so I can save it for when the mood strikes, so keep that in mind if…

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10/10
Review: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Reviews / November 21, 2017

A full five stars to Oathbringer and nothing less. If you’ve read the two previous volumes in the Stormlight Archive, you’d probably already understand; this series is a masterful, meticulous continuation into the journey to explore the mysterious world of Roshar, and once again this third installment is revealing so much more about our characters and their roles in this epic tableau. I find myself speechless, as I often am after reading a Brandon Sanderson novel, because there’s so much to talk about and yet also so much I can’t spoil. I’m also not too articulate when my mind is blown, so trying to put into words my roiling feelings upon finishing Oathbringer will be difficult, but I’ll try my best to convey my thoughts on this work of art. That said, you should still only read this review after you’ve read the first two books (and if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for, anyway!?) just in case. For readers who have made it to this point though, you’ll already know that the world is on the verge of another Desolation, a cataclysmic event that has occurred on a cyclical basis throughout the history of Roshar. The heralds…

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8/10
Review: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Reviews / November 15, 2017

Dogs of War is one of those books that turned into a very happy surprise for me.  I requested a copy of this because I’ve read this author before and liked his style of writing and so whilst the theme worried me a little, because I imagined it was going to maybe be a bit more military style than I would normally attempt, I had faith that Tchaikovsky would win me over.  I wasn’t wrong.  Dogs of War is so much more than I expected, in fact after the first few chapters of action and warfare it turns into a different style of drama completely.  This is a thought provoking story that really packs a punch. Rex is a bioform. I’m not going to try and describe all the mechanics of this but basically he’s a genetically modified dog, part human and with heavy duty warfare installed for good measure.  He’s the controlling unit for a Multi-form Assault Pack, an incredible fighting team that includes the characters Dragon, Honey and Bees.  Each of these have their own unique abilities that I won’t dwell on here but take it from me, this is a deadly team of bioforms that you don’t…

Book cover: Tarnished City - Vic James (a chained hand points down, a Scottish castle in the background)
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8/10
Review: Tarnished City by Vic James
Reviews / November 8, 2017

Tarnished City picks up from the point Gilded Cage left off with barely a backward glance – this isn’t a sequel that makes for a good entry point to Vic James dystopian alternative Britain (or one that can be discussed without raging spoilers for the first book). Luke is in the hands of the sadistic Lord Crovan – and finds that the games the Equal plays with his prisoners are subtler than mere torture in the dungeons of Eilean Dòchais. Greeted by Coira, the untouchable mistress of below-stairs, he finds himself assigned rooms that would do an Equal proud and a smart if ill-fitting suit for dinner. It soon becomes apparent that house guests and servants alike are fellow Condemned, with Crovan running a sort of Stanford prison experiment: the golden collars around each prisoner’s throat prevent servants harming house guests and anyone harming Crovan himself, but the servants are fair game. Luke’s illusions about his fellow humans are quickly dashed, although he persists in a youthful naïveté about just what crimes they previously committed. As with any prison drama, the inmates have alternative facts about how they ended up there, which Luke largely accepts – in spite of the evidence…

Review: Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell
Reviews / October 18, 2017

Kellen of the House of Ke isn’t just a disappointment to his parents and an outcast to his people: he’s a spellslinger on the run with a price on his head. You’d think he’d keep a low profile. Maybe it’s his nature. Maybe it’s the company he keeps. But he just can’t keep himself out of trouble… Shadowblack is the sequel to the riotous joy that was Spellslinger, an unapologetically brash coming-of-age romp – so this review will inevitably be chock-full of spoilers for the first book. While you can pick up the gist by diving straight into Shadowblack, don’t do it – the context will make the second book more rewarding, and Spellslinger is a joy from start to finish. Still here? Right then. Where Spellslinger was set in the ‘most civilised’ city/culture in the world (at least according to its Jan’Tep inhabitants), Shadowblack is in the world’s equivalent of the Wild West: the Seven Sands (some of which are blue. Neat). Ferius – with her smoking reeds and drawling slang – fits right in. Kellen – well-born, well-bred and very, very wet behind the ears – really doesn’t. We rejoin Kellen and his light-fingered, short-tempered familiar Reichis trying to steal something from…

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8/10
Review: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso
Reviews / October 12, 2017

The Tethered Mage was a very enjoyable read with an interesting magic system. Individuals in this world develop a tell tale mage-mark (a ring on their iris) as they develop their magical ability. There are different types of abilities that may manifest and some display at a younger age than others. But regardless of ability, if a child displays the mage-mark, they must be enlisted as a Falcon. A “jess” is put on their arm to control their magic. The person who places the jess on the Falcon becomes their Falconer with the ability to turn on or suppress their magical abilities with a word. While the intent is to help the Falcons maintain control (because once they lose control, there is no turning back, they become consumed in their magic), it can also be seen as a way to control those with magical abilities and use them for the empire’s purposes. They become tools for the military. Naturally, this will create some dissent. The story focuses on a pair of women joined together in an unlikely Falconer/Falcon relationship, something neither of them wanted or expected in their life. Zaira is a fire warlock, one of the most dangerous and…

Review: Blackwing by Ed McDonald
Reviews / October 10, 2017

While it may be a little bloated at times, which unfortunately weighs the story down in its later sections, overall I have to say Blackwing is a pretty solid debut. Writing vividly and originally, Ed McDonald has managed to pull off something few authors have been able to do in recent years—open my eyes to a new way of doing grimdark. In this novel we follow our protagonist Ryhalt Galharrow, who is a bounty hunter and captain for the Blackwing, a mysterious organization which serves one of the powerful ancient entities known as the Nameless. His patron, called Crowfoot, is a ruthless master who communicates through a tattoo on Galharrow’s arm, bursting forth from his skin in a form of a raven whenever he has orders to give. In this way, Galharrow receives his latest mission which takes him and his crew into the Misery, an expansive wasteland created when the Nameless unleashed a devastating weapon called the Engine against their enemies the Deep Kings. As a result, corrupted magic runs rampant in the Misery, along with the forces of the Deep Kings still lurking and waiting to strike at unsuspecting victims. Galharrow now must lead his squad into danger,…

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7/10
Review: An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
Reviews / October 2, 2017

A solid 3.5 star read. Kat Howard enchanted me with her debut Roses and Rot last year, so I was excited to check out An Unkindness of Magicians, her sophomore novel about a hidden world of magic and power. In this “Unseen World”, members of elite magical houses come together every few years to duke it out in a tournament called the Turning, with each family represented by their chosen champion. Ostensibly held to place each house in a hierarchical order based on magical proficiency, the competition may in fact be a front for a more nefarious purpose, as this twisted and snappy tale will soon reveal. Unlike Howard’s first novel which was written in the first person, An Unkindness of Magicians features a larger cast and bounces between multiple third-person perspectives. Our key players include Sydney, a relative unknown who bursts upon the scene with her extraordinary and unmatched talent with magic; Laurent, an outsider who hopes to enter the Turning for a chance to establish his own House; Grey Prospero, Laurent’s best friend who was disinherited from his House as the result of a serious and undisclosed transgression he committed; Harper, an independent magician determined to infiltrate the Unseen…

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7/10
Review: Imposters of Aventil by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Reviews / September 25, 2017

Imposters of Aventil carries forward with the fun and excitement I’ve come to expect from the Maradaine series. The Thorn has a habit of getting himself in compromising positions sometimes, and bending (OK, maybe breaking) the law to suit his end purpose fighting the drug trade. But in this, he finds himself the suspect in cases he has nothing to do with. There is an imposter who is using the guise of the Thorn while stirring up trouble with both the constabulary, but also the gangs. Effate also appears to have made its way onto campus. Both of these things make Veranix’s work as the Thorn considerably more dangerous, but also motivates him. Like he needed more motivation to fight the effate drug trade! Previously I have said that I think Maresca’s series could be read independently and in any order. I mean, I guess you still could, but with this book I would no longer recommend it. This may be the third book in the Maradaine series, but it prominently features Minox and Satrine from the Constabulary series and knowing their background makes this book feel more complete and satisfying. For example, the Constabulary series provides the reader with…

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8/10
Review: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
Reviews / September 6, 2017

One of the largest holes in my fantasy reading repertoire is older works. I’ve been reading the genre for only about 5 years, so I missing practically a lifetime of reading, and I have to confess to being easily distracted by all the new and shiny books as they are released. So when people talk about classics of fantasy, I’m ashamed to admit that I usually don’t have much to contribute. When Tachyon offered a copy of this for review, I jumped on it. I have heard McKillip recommended quite a bit, and this is supposed to be a great starting point to her books. I am glad I decided to go for it. And I have to confess to the extra incentive: I love their cover. I know, I shouldn’t judge, but a gorgeous cover is always a bonus for a book. I found The Forgotten Beasts of Eld to be a nice fairy tale type of story. It centers on a young sorceress who grew up rather isolated. She has had minimal human interaction, but she has a number of creatures to her occupied and provide companionship. But of course, no matter how heart felt her interactions are with…