Tag Archives: Fantasy

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

2 Stars

Tea is a bone witch.  Feared and ostracized even in a world of magic, her power of necromancy is something that is reviled, especially when her power reveals itself when she brought her brother, Fox, back from the dead.   Her power is discovered by another Bone Witch and she is taken under her wing to learn the art of her craft, one that comes at a price.

The story is told from two viewpoints.  We get the story of Tea’s early life directly from her memories and recollections.  She takes us through her life and the changes that came with it after she was discovered to have the gift of necromancy.  We watch her grow into her power and watch the interaction between her and her mentor and also her and her brother.  The relationship between Tea and Fox is definitely worth more than 2 stars.  The second viewpoint is from a bard that is telling her story from an interview with her.  The switch between the viewpoints can be jarring at times.  You finally get into a piece of the story only to be violently taken out of it to hear about something from the other viewpoint.  It was disconcerting and disconnecting.

The world is expansive and immersive.  But it comes at a price.  It’s very easy to get lost.  There is a glossary at the end, but it makes it very cumbersome to try and remember what leader goes where and what country is what.  It doesn’t really help with some of the other things like new words.  There’s so much to learn about this new realm that it really comes at a cost to the overall story.  It’s just so easy to get lost and bogged down in the beautiful prose.

This will probably appeal greatly to a lot of fantasy readers, but this one just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Review: The King’s Traitor by Jeff Wheeler

4 Stars

This is the third installment in the Kingfountain series and picks up seven years after The Thief’s Daughter.  Owen has gone from a frightened child, cowering in the kitchen to one of the most trusted confidants of King Severn Augustine.  He has watched his King grow ever more ruthless and mad with power.  Owen knows that it’s just a matter of time the King will fail, someone will come to topple this man he has loyally served yet come to fear and revile.  This man who has taken so much from Owen and still demands more.

Owen is ordered by his King to incite war with a neighboring kingdom.  His appetite for power has taken over his reason, Owen sees this but feels he has no choice but to obey.  Or at least appear to do so.  It seems that Owen has an agenda of his own.  It seems that there is a limit to Owen’s loyalty.  He’s been robbed of everything that he has held dear.  His protector, his mentor, his safe haven and his true love.  As Owen’s understanding of his fountain-blessed powers grows, he begins to understand the role that he must play.

Watching Owen grow over these three books has been a treat.  He has gone from a scared little boy into one of the most formidable men in the realm.  His presence and power is only enhanced by his humanity and his internal struggle with what is truly right and what is wrong.  He is taken through a gauntlet of trials and tests, each one harder than the one before.  You spend much of the book wondering if Owen will truly do the right thing or will he fall into the same trap that his King fell into before him.  Will he take the power for himself or will he allow it to transfer to its rightful owner?

There is even more magic in this book and while we are only introduced to a couple new characters, they have a huge impact on Owen and the story as a whole.  There are times where the prophesy and the powers of the fountain threaten to take over the entire narrative, but the author skillfully brings everything back together again as the story runs its course.

I was dreading the end of the book, but only because I didn’t want the story to end.  I didn’t want to leave Owen and his world.  It was bittersweet to see the story end.  I was happy and sad at the same time.  I truly enjoyed how the saga unfolded and how it concluded.  But all the same, I would really love to see Owen and his friends again.

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Review: The Thief’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler

3 1/2 Stars

This is the second installment of the Kingfountain series, the sequel to The Queen’s Poisoner.  To get the most out of this book, you will want to read the series in order or much of the plot will not make any sense and you will not get a full scope of the setting and the machinations in place.

It is now nine years later and Owen Kiskaddon has grown from a shy and nearly mute hostage into a strapping young knight, one of King Severn’s most trusted advisors.  He has been living in the North, being trained by the Duke of Horwath and growing up along side his best friend and granddaughter of the Duke.  Owen and Evie have deepened their friendship into something more.  The future that Owen and Evie see for each other seems bound to be destroyed by the machinations of their King, a man who demands loyalty above all else.

A test of that loyalty comes in the most unexpected way.  A challenger has appeared to try and take the crown from King Severn.  A pretender who is claiming to be one of the King’s nephews, who were believed to have been killed if not by the King, then by his command.  This threat is taken seriously by the King, are  man who has lived under the shadow of these rumors for the entirety of his reign.  King Severn charges Evie and Ow en with securing an alliance with their neighbors, the very country that has been harboring the man who claims to be one of King Severn’s “lost nephews”.

There is also the appearance of a new poisoner, trained by Mancini, who is now the head of the Espion, the spy network.  She becomes a very pivotal character throughout this book and her loyalty is inspiring as is Owen’s struggle to be loyal to his King without betraying his own heart.  There are many twists and turns and a lot of action and intrigue packed into this book.  There is also more focus on the Fountain and the magic that comes from the Fountain.  We get to see how not only Owen uses this magic, but how it grows and manifests itself and how others use it as well.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this book and it was nice to see Owen as an adult rather than an eight year old child, scared of his own shadow.  He’s turned out to be a very strong young man.  The conflict between his heart and the loyalty he feels toward his King is an amazing struggle and you really do feel for Owen as he struggles to find the right path.  I didn’t always agree with the path that the characters did end up taking, but they were well thought out and well written.

I did get tired of the whole loyalty thing, it was the whole reason that I dropped half a star.  I understand the strong ties that are formed and wanting to be loyal to your leaders and those you admire or even fear.  But it’s harder to take when the person you are giving your loyalty to doesn’t deserve it.  Time and again, King Severn has proved himself unworthy of the loyalty that Owen, Evie and others show to him.  But time and again, they ignore their reservations and their own feelings to keep an increasingly unstable leader happy.  At this point, it’s become blind loyalty and I don’t think that does any favors to a character as strong as Owen.  We’ll see what happens in the next installment.

Again, the author is using historical context and figures to draw the world in which Owen lives.  He has re-imagined what the world would have been like had King Richard III survived the Battle of Bosworth.  The similarities are very clear for anyone who has ever looked into the history of King Richard III and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.  A fantasy novel with real historical context, pretty cool if you ask me.

 

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Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

4 Stars

My boss has been pestering me to read this book for nearly a year now.  I think every time he’s seen me with my Kindle or with a book, his immediate question was, “Have you read Ready Player One yet?!”  I finally caved in and pushed my TBR pile aside and made time for his recommendation.  Being a geek and a book lover too, I figured he wouldn’t steer me wrong…and I was right.

A lot of people have described this book as nostalgia porn.  Yep.  It is.  Especially for those of us who grew up in the 80’s.  You don’t have to be a geek, gamer or a child of the 80’s to enjoy the book, but it does help.  Without at least a little bit of geek knowledge, you might get a little bit lost during the beginning.  There is a LOT of reference to old games, movies, TV shows, music and other cultural phenomenon that made the 80’s such a kick-ass decade.

The book takes place in 2044 and reality sucks.  The economy went into the toilet due to an energy crisis, public schools are closing down, no one can find a job and life is just generally horrible.  But there’s still OASIS.  The virtual utopia that the world’s population plugs into to escape their sad and depressing lives.  The economy in OASIS is more stable than any real-world economy and even the virtual schools perform better than their real-world counterparts.  This is the world that Wade Watts lives.  He attends school inside OASIS and he feels more alive when he’s plugged into this virtual world than he ever has.  He’s spent the last several years trying to solve the ultimate puzzle, to win the fortune of the late creator of OASIS and control of his universe.

The creator was a recluse video game genius with an obsession with all things 80’s and in his will, he decided to leave his fortune to the winner of the ultimate treasure hunt.  Somewhere in his vast universe he’s hidden three keys.  To find these keys, you have to solve his riddles.  And of course you have to stay alive while trying.  With a prize this big, people are willing to lie, cheat, steal and kill to get ahead.  This is what Wade has to deal with when he stumbles upon the first clue that leads him to the first key.  Suddenly his life is in danger and he will have to confront the real world, the one he’s spent his entire life escaping.

It took me awhile to get into the book, but once I got in, I was hooked.  I had a blast living through some of the funnest moments of my own life through the eyes of Wade and his friends.  It brought back a ton of memories and I was laughing by the time I finished the book.  Definitely an awesome read for anyone who has a little bit of geek in them.

 

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Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

4 1/2 Stars

This book landed on one of my recommendation lists, and I decided to give it a shot.  The plot sounded interesting and I’m a sucker for a good fantasy novel.  I can definitely say I wasn’t disappointed and this is one series I’m looking forward continuing.  Despite its title, The Final Empire is the first book in the Mistborn series.

For a thousand years the world has been ruled by the God-like Lord Ruler.  His dominance has kept the population separated by class.  The noblemen are the ruling class, high in their keeps.  The skaa make up pretty much everyone else.  They are the ones who work the barren land, the mines, the shops.  They are treated worse than animals.  Beaten at a whim.  Killed when they no longer serve a purpose.  They are conditioned from birth that they are lesser beings, they were made to serve.  Rebellions come and go, but no one has been able to throw off the chains and rise up against the Lord Ruler and his Ministry.  But somehow hope survives.

Hope is what brings our heroes together.  They are very unlikely heroes too, they are thieves.  Thieves with a secret.  They have as their leader the Survivor of Hathsin.  Kelsier was once imprisoned by the Lord Ruler deep in the mines of Hathsin, made to crawl daily to harvest the precious metal beneath the craggy ground.  But he escaped and found his former crew and presented them with a nearly impossible job.  Overthrow the Final Empire and dethrone the Lord Ruler and make themselves incredibly rich in the process.  What begins as a heist becomes so much more as they are tested at every turn, always on the bring of being discovered by the Steel Inquisitors where a grisly death will follow soon after.

The true hero of the story is a young thief named Vin.  She was abandoned by the only family she remembers, her brother.  He taught her to never trust anyone.  Everyone always betrays you.  For sixteen years she has lived those words.  Always keeping to the shadows, never trusting, never believing.  She had to rely on herself and this burgeoning power that she’s only beginning to understand.  She seems to have the power to make people do what she wants, but can only do it for a little bit at a time.  During a job for her crew, she comes to the attention of Kelsier and his crew because of her abilities.  She soon finds that she has more power than she ever believed possible.  She is a Mistborn.  A half-breed from the union of a skaa and nobleman.  She has the power of Allomancy, the power to use metals to do amazing feats.  And while there are others who are able to use metals themselves, most can only use one metal.  But Vin is able to use them all and her natural ability sets her above nearly everyone else.

Can this crew of thieves with a conscience really make a difference?  Can they change a thousand years of fear and oppression?  Can you put this book down once you get into it?

I really did enjoy this book.  It did take a bit for me to get into it because the author really just jumps into it and doesn’t start with backstory or being overly descriptive.  You just get thrown right into the story and are left to wonder what are skaa?  Why is the sun red?  Why are there mists that come at night that no one will wander out into?   But you are swept along as the story picks up pace nearly immediately and you are tossed and turned along the way.  There are twists that you don’t expect and outcomes that are surprising.  The characters are strong, interesting and amazing to get to know throughout the book.

If you are a fan of a good fantasy novel with a good plot and amazing characters, pick this one up, you will not be disappointed.

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Review: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

4 Stars

This is the third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.  Definitely start with the first two books, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City before even thinking about picking up Library of Souls.  You can’t read this book as a stand alone novel.  And I highly recommend that you read all three.  While highly enjoyable, I couldn’t rate this as a 5 star book no matter how much I liked the series, there were just some things that didn’t sit well with me.

Library of Souls picks up almost exactly where Hollow City leaves off.  You are once again with Jacob Portman and Emma Bloom, peculiar children on a mission to save their friends and all of pecuilardom from not only the monsters who have been preying on them, but on the person who has been behind all of these evil machinations.  Along with Addison, a dog with a nose for sniffing out peculiar children, they will travel from the present day to the Victorian era slums of Devil’s Acre to save their friends and their very existence.

Once again, the story is engrossing and there is action at every turn.  You think you know who your friends and who your enemies are only to have the tables turned on you more than once.  Jacob and Emma rely on themselves more often than not and you watch as Jacob comes into his own peculiar abilities as well as growing in confidence throughout the journey.  The story is also told around old photographs and without the photographs, I don’t think any of the books in the series would have quite the same impact.

There were a few things that just didn’t jive for me this time around.  The start of the story seemed to take quite awhile to get itself established again and this was surprising considering that it picked up right where the previous novel left off.  It seemed to take a very long time to get to the climax and there were several beginnings of stories and backstories that were never fleshed out and explained and this hurt the story in ways because as the climax came closer, they became more important but since they weren’t well explained, it led to some confusion.  And the ending…no.  The ending actually took away from the story.  While it did make me happy on some levels, it was so abrupt and left so many questions, I just couldn’t like how it ended.

Maybe that means that the peculiar children aren’t quite done yet?

I know that this series gets tagged a lot as a YA novel, but I definitely don’t think that it is purely for the YA audience.  There are definitely adult themes and some of the action is quite graphic and would not really be appropriate for many young readers.  But I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a good story, interesting characters and a little bit of fantasy in their lives.

 

 

 

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