Book cover: Shadowblack - Sebastien de Castell (a blue playing card, with a young man on the top half and a blindfolded young woman on the bottom half)
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…

Review: Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell
Reviews / June 12, 2017

It is no exaggeration when I say that a series like the Greatcoats only comes once in a lifetime, and now that it has come to an end, I am filled with a mixture of complicated emotions. On the one hand, I am extremely pleased with the conclusion, with our heroes and heroines getting the satisfying sendoff they deserved. On the other, I no longer know what to do with myself. Like many goodbyes, this one was bittersweet, and if it hadn’t been for the final words of the author’s postscript, I would be having a much harder time right now. Picking up not long after the events of the previous book, Tyrant’s Throne sees Falcio val Mond and his allies continuing their efforts to put King Paelis’ daughter Aline on the throne of Tristia. To do so, he would need the support of the dukes, but unfortunately most of them would forsake their kingdom than to be ruled by a young girl. To make matters even more dire, talk of war is also brewing in the mountains. More and more, the penniless and starving common folk in the northern duchies are fleeing into neighboring Avares for their salvation, and…

Review: Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Reviews / May 11, 2017

Kellen is 15, the astonishingly untalented son of the Jan’Tep’s greatest mage. Struggling to cast even the simplest spells, he’s the butt of jokes and school yard bullying. Worse, if he can’t pass his mage trials before he turns 16, he’ll be relegated to the Sha’Tep servant class – reliant on his obnoxious little sister’s charity if he’s lucky, sent down the mines if he’s not. Kellen is bright and resourceful, never one to back away from a fight he can’t win if he believes he can think his way through it. When a nice bit of trickery – or cheating, depending on your point of view – sees him through his first trial, the stage is set for Trouble. It’s not a good time for an unpopular outsider to befriend a confrontational foreigner with some unusual tricks of her own. But common sense is almost as alien as magic to headstrong young Kellen… I was a bit sceptical about how much I would enjoy a book with a teen boy protagonist. I needn’t have worried – Spellslinger is a riot from start to finish. The narrative has considerably more confidence and control than its protagonist; de Castell never misses…

Upcoming Releases: June 5 – 11, 2016
Upcoming Releases / June 4, 2016

Here’s a rundown of the books we think you should look out for in coming in the week. See any that you are really looking forward to? Find any you had not heard of yet? Know of books we missed? We know we don’t have everything and would love to hear what you feel we may have overlooked.   FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR   FANTASY               URBAN FANTASY         SCIENCE FICTION         HORROR       FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR   Saint’s Blood (US) Sebastien de Castell 6/7/2016 Jo Fletcher The Root Na’amen Gobert Tilahun 6/7/2016 Night Shade Books Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s Bargain Pratt, Tim 6/7/2016 Tor Books Infomocracy Older, Malka 6/7/2016 The Wheel of Osheim Lawrence, Mark 6/7/2016 Ace Last Call at the Night Shade Lounge Paul Krueger 6/7/2016 Quirk An Affinity for Steel Sam Sykes 6/7/2016 Orbit Spear of Light Brenda Cooper 6/7/2016 Pyr A Green and Ancient Light Frederic S. Durbin 6/7/2016 Saga Dr. DOA Simon…

Review: Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell
Reviews / April 25, 2016

  Talk about your emotional roller coasters. I started out clutching the side of my e-reader with anticipatory glee, loving the sheer excitement of each new development . . .  until I hit the point where I wanted to hurl it across the room as I cursed the name Sebastien de Castell . . . before I found myself holding it in shaky hands as I bravely tried to deny that a book was on the verge of making a grown man cry.   “Time to stick the pointy end through the bad man’s heart.”   If you thought the first two books were great (and Knight’s Shadow was one of my favorite books last year) then be prepared to have the bar raised impossibly high with Saint’s Blood. Falcio suffers more here than any other hero in recent memory – and that’s saying something, considering what he endured with the Greatcoat’s Lament last time around. He’s still suffering from that torture as the book begins, haunted day and night by his seemingly endless torment . . . and his anguish just gets deeper. He’s a man both physically exhausted and emotionally broken, kept alive by nothing more than the slender threads of love and devotion. Even that’s not enough,…

Upcoming Releases: April 3 – 9, 2016
Upcoming Releases / April 2, 2016

Here’s a rundown of the books we think you should look out for in coming in the week. See any that you are really looking forward to? Find any you had not heard of yet? Know of books we missed? We know we don’t have everything and would love to hear what you feel we may have overlooked.   FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR     FANTASY                   FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR   URBAN FANTASY       FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR SCIENCE FICTION                   FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR   HORROR                 FANTASY          URBAN FANTASY           SCIENCE FICTION           HORROR     Visitor Cherryh, C. J. 4/5/2016 DAW The Demonists Sniegoski, Thomas…

The Speculative Herald’s Best of 2015
Book List / December 5, 2015

  One of the perks I’ve found with working with several bloggers is that we can cover more books than we have time to read on our own. So, when it came time to make our Best of 2015 list, I decided to ask each of the contributors to submit a ranked list of their favorite books (yep, I’m mean like that. Choosing favorites can be hard, ranking is even harder). I then used a scaled points system to calculate an over all list. So, the end result features a variety of books that either several of us agreed belong in the top 10, or books that perhaps just one reviewer read, but placed in their high on their ranked choices of the year. With so many great choices we had to expand our collaborative list past just 10 books to 25. Since our blog started late in the year, many of these books do not currently have reviews here. But we do plan on adding them, so keep your eye out. So here it is, Speculative Herald’s list of our absolute favorite books from 2015! And because I like to get straight to the good stuff, I am listing them in order starting with…