Review: ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab

Over at Booknest.eu I posted a new review of ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab, a book everyone has already read it seems.

Two unlikable characters.  Stupid, completely avoidable mistakes.  I would be hard pressed to think of darker-shade-of-magicanother book where this combination would work but A Darker Shade of Magic pulls it off and is therefore a rare book that lives up to its reputation.

It works because Schwab deliberately built her story around two characters who have to live down their own mistakes.  And because in the process she built a London (and a London, and a London, and yet another London) that is impossible to look away from.  Oh, and also because she put two of the best villains on page into the mix to stir the plot and do their best to cause general havoc and mayhem.  All of it adds up to a damn entertaining read.

Please head over and give it a read!

Review: ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden

bear-and-nightingaleOver at Booknest.eu I posted my review of The Bear and the Nightingale, a very strong debut by Katherine Arden

“A new take on an old tale…  Scratch that.   A new take on a lot of old tales.  Cold winters are a fertile ground for stories to be told around the fire.  And even as the people in Pyotr’s village practice Christianity they still take heed of the old stories.  It is into this life that young Vasha is born; her birth the dying wish of her enigmatic mother.  She grows up on the stories and has no need to believe in them because she can see the truth on her own.  Vasha is a wild girl, beloved by her family but never quite understood. “

Please head over and check it out!

Arising from the Ashes

I am reviewing again, though this won’t be the place to read them.  Most of my reviews are currently being seen at Booknest.eu.  I also contribute to The Speculative Herald.  Both are wonderful sites and I hope any old readers who find me add both to their feed immediately.  When I have a new review I will cross post it here so people wanting to find all my stuff in one place can.  Please visit the sites and comments are always both welcome and helpful to rebuilding my ‘brand’ on these sites. Continue reading

Final Tough Travels – Tricksters

tough-traveling

Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

Yes my friends it is time.  I am very proud of Tough Travels and where it went but it is time to say good bye to it.  I had planned on running it out until the end of the year but the quality of it is slipping due to my lack of involvement so the cord is being cut today.

At its peak Tough Travels had 24 blogs doing it weekly.  We have had 52 separate blogs participate at some time or another (Looking back at link ups there are a lot of blogs that disappeared and I had forgot about).  For a very genre specific meme I found this incredible.  I know I found many blogs for the first time just because they linked up; I hope others had the same success and bonding with it.

Quite often I saw our lists linked to other sites such as Reddit.  I have had authors link to it when it includes their books.  All in all, I am glad I did it.  But as my time in to it slipped to nothing so did interest.  This was a meme that took work; from me and from other participants.  And I am sorry to say I am no longer willing to put that work in.

So thank you all so very much.  It would have been just another feature without all of you who participated, added suggestions, and just took the time to scroll through the link up.  Tough Travels is probably the single thing I am most proud of from blogging and most of it is due to my fellow travellers.

If, by chance, there is someone who doesn’t want it to die just let me know. I will make an announcement if someone else wants to revive it and start hosting the link up on their own site.  We have strip mined the original Tough Guide source by now but it has been going for almost two years so starting it anew probably would lead to all kinds of responses we didn’t get the first time around.

With that, below is the final link up.  Thank you all.

This week’s topic is Tricksters

A great prank is always amusing.  Many an adventure start with a well placed trick.  They are even more amusing when performed by those with god like powers.

Tough Travels – Peace at Last

tough-traveling

Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is PEACE AT LAST

Life in Fantasyland is often hard but even the hardest fought battles can come to an end.  The good guys win, the quest is over, evil is gone.  Yes, the land can finally know peace when the protagonist reach their goal.

Admit it fellow travelers, you love these topics that are open ended.

Nothing from me this week I am afraid.  I shall try again next week.

Join us next week as we look at TRICKSTERS

A great prank is always amusing.  Many an adventure start with a well placed trick.  They are even more amusing when performed by those with god like powers.

If you have a topic you want to see us cover, or if you have an entry for next week’s post but don’t have your own blog to put it on, please head over to the main Tough Traveling page and fill out the form at the bottom.  For a list of upcoming topics just keep heading back to this post.

As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!

Fantasy review: ‘The Death of Dulgath’ by Michael J Sullivan

Yippee! A new Royce and Hadrian story! I was lucky enough to get this before the official release by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign. For fans of the boys, this is the third story in the Riyria Chronicles series, which was written after the Riyria Revelations trilogy, but precedes it in the story’s timeline. It’s possible to read either first, but personally I think it makes more sense to read the trilogy first, and then move on to the prequels.

The plot is straightforward: the new Countess of Dulgath has been the subject of several assassination attempts. Royce and Hadrian are called in as consultants to advise her courtiers on likely methods of future attempts and suggest ways to circumvent them. And you don’t have to be as cynical as Royce to smell a rat, and suspect that they haven’t been summoned to the far end of the continent just for their advice.

The plot unfolds in the usual devious way, with innumerable twists and turns. Some were predictable and some took me by surprise, but either is fine. Like a murder mystery, working it out ahead of time makes the reader feels smugly clever, but failing that, one can admire the author’s cleverness instead.

But the plot isn’t as compelling here as the characters. Sherwood the painter, Scarlett the entertainer at the inn and, most of all, the quiet centre of the story, the Countess herself, are all deeply intriguing, as well as the familar duo of Royce and Hadrian. Their double act is well-known now, but somehow it never gets old – Hadrian the innocent who sees good in everyone, and Royce his darker counterpart, the cynic who sees nothing but selfishness and greed. And who’s to say which of them is wrong?

I loved every minute of this book. The humour, the camaraderie, the unexpected moments of fun or sadness, the how-will-they-get-out-of-this twistiness, and an ending that was both inevitable, yet also had a surprise hidden away. Very neat. Five stars. Mr Sullivan can write as many of these as he wishes.

Tough Travels- Military Geniuses

tough-traveling

Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is MILITARY GENIUS

Let’s face it.  Fantasy life is often a life of war.  One can only hope to serve under a commander who has some clue what they are doing.

General TacticusDiscworld – Just look at the name, how could he not be great?  He drops dimes of great advice in an old book that Vimes is given by a certain bipedal librarian in Jingo.

“What to Do When One Army Occupies a Well-Fortified Fortress on Superior Ground and the Other Does Not?”  Obviously the answer is ‘Endeavor to be on the other side.’

Tacticus was so successful at conquering Anhk-Morpork sent him away just to make him stop (at which point he declared war on Anhk-Morpork).

Janus bet VhalnichThe Thousand Names by Django Wexler – Ok.  So I need to do a series reread here but I know damn well Janus is not only a genius but also damn ambitious.  Also, I really need to read book three this month.

CorfeMonarchies of God by Paul Kearney– Might as well include him, by the end of book five the series was nothing more than his story.   Worth reading, but man this one had so much more potential than played out.

Join us next week as we look at PEACE AT LAST

Life in Fantasyland is often hard but even the hardest fought battles can come to an end.  The good guys win, the quest is over, evil is gone.  Yes, the land can finally know peace when the protagonist reach their goal.

If you have a topic you want to see us cover, or if you have an entry for next week’s post but don’t have your own blog to put it on, please head over to the main Tough Traveling page and fill out the form at the bottom.  For a list of upcoming topics just keep heading back to this post.

As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!