Tag Archives: fantasy

Guest Review – The First Law Trilogy

The First Law Trilogy book coversThe First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
Reviewed by Pili Pili

I wrote two reviews for the series, after book 1 and then after book 3. As I put them together now it is interesting to see how my view on the series changed over time.

The Blade Itself  (book 1 of the First Law trilogy)

3.5 stars, out of five. The book’s writing is strong (definitely doesn’t detract). Its best qualities are its pacing and length. I didn’t get bored reading it. That said, I’ve not fallen entirely for any of the characters. They are all flawed in a way that doesn’t quite resonate with me. I can’t see their flaws in myself in a way that would make me endeared to them, but there is intriguing room for growth. The role of women is pretty bad, though.

I’d recommend it for fantasy fans. It isn’t young adult. I’m already reading the next one.

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Before They Are Hanged & Last Arguments of Kings (books 2 & 3 of the “First Law” trilogy)

Having trouble separating books 2 and 3 in my head as I write this review. Truth be told, they didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t drawn in by the darkness the ways others were. Especially in the characters. As I wrote in my review of book 1, no one’s struggles resonated with me. They just seemed like below average human beings. The room-for-growth thing did not materialize as hoped.

Leads include torturer, sibling abuser, serial killer, spoiled/petulant noble teenager, arrogant mage… The women were just terrible too, all portrayed in some victim light (repeatedly violated demon? self-sabotaging, beaten younger sister? lesbian prick? some dude’s daughter who is introduced as a love interest and then killed?). I just had trouble getting behind the characters.

Anyway, if others like it, great. Pace was great. Writing was strong. Action was good.

The Waterfall Traveler Blog Tour

The Waterfall Traveler book coverThe Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

When Ri ventures out into the forest to find some food for her adoptive father, she never imagines that she will be saved by a charming boy and swept up in a battle against an evil that threatens humanity. Filled with adventure, drama, provocative characters and fantasy lore, The Waterfall Traveler is the tale of a girl willing to risk it all to save those she cares about. This novel is a good fantasy read. It moves along at an expeditious pace with an original story and satisfying ending. The writing is above average with descriptive scenery and good word selection. If anything was lacking, I wanted more character growth from the main protagonist, Ri. At times, she felt a little wishy-washy and I think she should have been learning more from the admittedly extraordinary situations she into which she was continually thrust.

*Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this novel with a request for an honest review.*

You can enter to win a signed copy of this book here or purchase a copy here.

Book Review – The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl from Everywhere book coverThe Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix has spent her sixteen years sailing with her father on his ship, The Temptation. She has been across the globe and through the centuries. Her father can sail to any time and place if he has a map from that period. But he has spent Nix’s lifetime looking for one specific map. One that will take him back to Honolulu in 1868; back to before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix has been helping her father obtain various versions of the map even though it could erase her entire existence as she knows it. The premise of The Girl from Everywhere intrigued me right from the start. This book is incredibly creative mixing the time travel with adventure, a modern sensibility with fantasy, and nineteenth-century Hawaiian politics with mythological stories. I found Heidi Heilig’s ability to blend many different themes from addiction to fate to the inevitable love triangle of a YA novel into a cohesive story to be impressive. Her character development is also top-notch. Overall, this novel was refreshing.

Book Review – Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom book coverCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to last year’s novel, Six of Crows. Again, Leigh Bardugo comes through with an engaging, character-driven action story. The story picks up right after the events of Six of Crows with Kaz Brekker and his gang having narrowly escaped their first mission. Now, double-crossed and still dealing with the effects of nearly dying, Kaz must use his mastermind skills to get his friends out of the city. Told in alternating point of view chapters from each of the six characters, Crooked Kingdom takes readers on the same roller coaster ride as its predecessor. And that’s not a bad thing. Having been absolutely taken in by the characters after Six of Crows, I found this novel to be even richer and more captivating. But, beware. Leigh Bardugo is a master of the end-of-chapter cliffhanger! This book is incredibly hard to put down after you get into the heart of the action.

Book Review – A Torch Against the Night

a-torch-against-the-nightA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

The sequel to her bestselling debut, An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night continues the story of the former slave Laia and the former elite soldier of the Empire, Elias, as they flee the wrath of the new Emperor. Laia and Elias head north to the infamous Kauf prison where Laia’s brother has been taken. Amidst a rebellion, ramblings of civil war and being hunted by Elias’ former best friend Helene, Laia and Elias must break into and out of the Empire’s most secure prison. While it was the world-building that drew me into the previous story, in this entry it was the characters, particularly Elias. Ms. Tahir has crafted a truly complex, flawed and yet absolutely sympathetic character. I found myself caring deeply for what happened to Elias and interested in his relationship with Laia. It is going to be a long wait to books three and four!

Book Review – Kings or Pawns

Kings or Pawns Book Tour banner

Kings or PawnsKings or Pawns by J.J. Sherwood

The elven city of Elvorium is rife with corruption. The young prince Hairem ascends to the throne and refuses to allow the political machinations of his council deter him from undoing their corrupt power. But Hairem’s task is difficult with an assassin loose inside the city and the traitorous warlord Saebellus threatening to overcome the elven world’s army. Kings or Pawns is a high fantasy political thriller with the essence of A Game of Thrones. While well-written, I feel that the plot of Kings or Pawns sags under the weight of unnecessarily wordy descriptions. Also, I’m very much in favor of good world-building, but the world of Sevrigel still feels slightly too foreign to be relatable. I could not find much empathy in the world nor most of the characters. This series will certainly find its place amongst the trend of stories about anti-heroes and political intrigue novels in the vein of A Game of Thrones, but it’s not my favorite genre.

*Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this novel with a request for an honest review.*

Win a signed copy of Kings or Pawns or other swag! Enter the giveaway here.

Book Review – All Souls Trilogy

All Souls Trilogy book coversAll Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy centers around witch Diana Bishop and her vampire love Matthew Clairmont. Diana and Matthew meet when a mysterious manuscript finds Diana in the Bodleian Library. Together they must uncover its secrets while fighting forces from all sides trying to keep them apart and get to the powerful manuscript first. Deborah Harkness does a very good job of weaving her story together. I read all three of these 550+ page books back to back to back. Her protagonists are thoroughly engaging and continue to grow and change throughout the story. It also has a satisfying end with enough drama ebbs and flows to hold the reader’s attention till the conclusion. It is easy for me to see why these books have been so popular in recent years.