The Wheel of Time – Is It Worth Reading?

The Wheel of Time is epic fantasy like no other. It divides opinion, and it’s hugely variable in quality as the series progresses. It is though, one of the great pieces of art of our generation and it would be a shame not to at least give it a shot.

The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time The first book in the Wheel of Time (The Eye of the World) was published in 1990, the 14th and last book (A Memory of Light) was published in 2013.  Close to a full 23 years between the two books (it was 22 years, 11 months and 24 days).  If you include the short story / prequel ‘New Spring’, then there are 15 books, totalling 4.4 million words, and almost 12,000 paperback pages (all data from Wikipedia).

I can’t really remember when I read the first book.  I guess I might be able to find out if I dredged enough Internet history or e-mail, but if I had to take a stab, it would likely be between 1993 and 1995.  That feels right, and puts me around Fires of Heaven or Lord of Chaos as the last one published at the time I was reading them.  I probably had to wait therefore for either A Crown of Swords or The Path of Daggers, maybe both.

Waiting for new books isn’t anything new, and anyone who’s read a ‘live’ series will know the experience.  Waiting for a Wheel of Time book though, became a lottery.  It killed a lot of fans, because the ‘middle’ books were so slow, and made so little progress.  Some people didn’t mind, and obviously, it didn’t kill the series, but many, many people were put off and couldn’t go on.

I was one of them.

Waiting a few years to find out what your favourite characters were up to, only to find out they weren’t in the book because there wasn’t room, despite the 300,000 words, and you had to wait another two years was hard.  Finding out the main plot didn’t advance, but new characters and threads and complexity turned up, was hard.  Finding out that you didn’t find anything out was hard.  So I stopped reading them.  My wife still bought them, but even she gave up in the end.  I read some on-line summaries for one or two of the books and then put them out of my mind.

Sadly, Robert Jordan fell ill and passed away in 2007.  At that stage, I pretty much gave up hope of finding out how the story ended, which against the loss of another person’s life is a tiny inconvenience.

Eventually, news started to circulate that Robert and his wife Harriet had picked someone to continue and in fact complete the series after he passed away – Brandon Sanderson.  I’d never read anything of his, and I wondered honestly, how much of my problem with The Wheel of Time was Jordan and how much was just the source material.

Then more news – the single book was going to be three, the first one due in 2009 and the last one, well, sometime after that.  I refused to end up waiting to read another Wheel of Time book and I pretty much forgot all about them (or pretended to).

I made the occasional blog post, threatening to go back and read them all, and be ready for the new ones, or go back and read them all when the new ones were out, but I wasn’t reading fantasy really.  Or much at all.  So those plans never came to fruition.

Then, a few months into 2014, a friend on Facebook mentioned having just finishing listening to the series on audio-book and that the boring stretches weren’t as bad as he remembered.  Either audio book made them better, or the pain had eased with time.  I resolved then to re-read the whole series.  The final book was out, it had come out in 2013, so there was nothing stopping me reading them end-to-end and finally getting some answers.

It started out okay, like greeting old friends.  The Jordanisms weren’t too bad, and the first three books were enjoyable.  Then the rot set in.  Oh, not straight away, there are still some good moments after book 3, and in fact, some very good books by Jordan after book 3.  Knife of Dreams, the last he completed on his own is excellent in fact.  Sadly though, many of the middle books are dire in parts or their totality.

This is obviously my personal opinion, and different people will have different views about the books.  For me however, Jordan was too interested in telling us how the world looked, smelled, sounded and felt, and not interested enough in telling us what was going on and making progress.  Major plot threads stalled and vanished for entire books, we spent a lot of time being told what people were wearing and why it was or wasn’t appropriate, how men and women just couldn’t get along, with all men being stupid selfish children and all women being bitchy hags at heart.

It grated and it dragged.

But I knew there was some light ahead, because I knew no matter what happened, there would be a final battle and the good guys would win.  As I said in the review for A Memory of Light, the truth of epic fantasy is that the good guys always win, the only question is the cost.  So I knew Rand would beat the Dark One, somehow, and that the Wheel would continue to turn.  What I wanted to learn along the way, were the answers to questions Jordan had posed early on, and the cost of that victory.

All I had to do, was to keep reading.

Then something odd happened.  Book eleven, Knife of Dreams, was really quite good.  Jordan had recaptured the magic.  He drove the story forward, he wrote emotional character pieces.  He answered some questions, sure he posed a bunch more, as normal, but he actually answered a few.  I really enjoyed Knife of Dreams, and that made me even more angry.  Robert Jordan can write superb fantasy.  He can put down complex and detailed plot threads, weave lots of ideas together, deliver complex political and military situations, and make us feel like we know people through limited PoV writing.

He proved it in book eleven.  So where the hell was he in book 10, or the other dire books?

Anyway, with book eleven behind me, I read the first of the Brandon Sanderson books, and it was also excellent.  Book thirteen was good, and the finale, book fourteen, A Memory of Light is as good as you can expect given the constraints.

Books 12 and 14 were particularly emotional in parts.  Book 13 slightly less so for me, due to the nature of what is going on, but none-the-less it was very enjoyable.

I’d done it, in just over a month I managed to read all fourteen books, I’d pushed through the hard times and got my reward at the end.

Was it worth it?  Is it worth it?  I’ve you’ve tried before, or never read them, should you pick them up from book one and give them a shot?

My answer is, maybe.

A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time They’re very long books.  They’re very, very slow in places, even the good ones, and they have a lot of characters.  Despite his best efforts, Sanderson can’t close down every thread properly, and some are left hanging.  There’s no grand epilogue telling you how everything works out at the end (something I felt I might have enjoyed), and so you’re going to need to fill in some blanks if you get there.  Some of the characters are irritating beyond recognition, your gender may affect which you find more irritating.

Sometimes the characters are stupid.  Sometimes you wish they’d just sit down and tell each other what they were thinking or doing and everything would be a lot easier.  Sometimes you wish they would just jump off a cliff and let the Dark One win.

But.

You can’t deny the genius of Jordan at times.  The complexity of some of the plot threads, the groundwork laid down in early books come to fruition in later ones.  The complexity of the world, the colour, the depth of vision, and the varying political landscapes.  Despite their annoyances, the characters are often engaging and interesting.  Some are just superb, Lan for example.  It’s fantasy on a truly epic scale.  Sure, it draws on a lot of sources, but it blends them into a unique and ultimately engaging story.

I’m happier for having finished them, and if I had never read them at all, I’d be poorer for it.

The Wheel of Time is epic fantasy like no other.  It divides opinion, and it’s hugely variable in quality as the series progresses.  It is though, one of the great pieces of art of our generation and it would be a shame not to at least give it a shot.  There is an end in sight, you just have to keep your head above the water during the choppy bits and keep going.  I did it, you can too.


My reviews of the books (reviews are spoiler free, but the sections below the reviews are not, reviews for later books may spoil books before them).

  1. The Eye of the World
  2. The Great Hunt
  3. The Dragon Reborn
  4. The Shadow Rising
  5. The Fires of Heaven
  6. Lord of Chaos
  7. A Crown of Swords
  8. The Path of Daggers
  9. Winter’s Heart
  10. Crossroads of Twilight
  11. Knife of Dreams
  12. The Gathering Storm
  13. Towers of Midnight
  14. A Memory of Light

Age of Iron

Age of Iron (The Iron Age Trilogy) LEGENDS AREN’T BORN. THEY’RE FORGED.

Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar’s army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.

First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar’s most fearsome warriors, who’s vowed revenge on the king for her sister’s execution.

Now Dug’s on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join ­- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that’s going to get them all killed . . .

 It’s a glorious day to die.

Age of Iron was a surprise win for me, all the more so because it wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought I was going to get sweeping epic descriptions of crafts, language, landscape with equally epic drama thrown in.  What I actually got was something that, in terms of genre, kind of fits into the historical fantasy niche, but it is also something that is entirely its own.  The story takes place just before the Roman Occupation of Britain and Angus Watson offers his own take on what happened.  Age of Iron is also very charming, dramatic, evocative and often extremely funny.

The characters are the main draw for this book with the history almost in the background (although it is, of course, partially what drives the characters).  Dug Sealskinner is probably one of my favourite types of character – grumpy, getting on a bit, reluctant to get involved and curses a lot and in the most inventive of ways (and slightly obsessed with badgers).  I wouldn’t even say he’s a reluctant hero – more an accidental hero that ends up doing the logical thing.  That doesn’t mean it’s always the nice thing, but I adore him anyway.

Lowa Flynn is an extremely gifted archer but she took a bit of warming up to because of where she starts from, but she eventually became a character I definitely wanted to root for.  She’s feisty, sarcastic and practical, even when slightly unhinged with her need for vengeance.  An Amazon with wit and attitude.

Spring makes up the major cast, a young girl whose age seems to vary depending on who you ask and who both is precocious and strange.  She could so easily have been a major stumbling block for this book but Watson manages to make her intriguing, appealing and funny. Yes, she has her frustrating moments, but there is usually a good reason why.

The bad guys – Zadar, Felix and the 50 – were pretty much very bad.  It goes along with the gory side of the book and you learn very quickly that there is nothing redeeming about them, even if Zadar thinks he is right.  One of that side I do have to mention is Weylin.  Poor, poor Weylin.  If there was a more unlucky fellow who just tries to do the bad thing, I don’t know of him.  He’s horrible though so you can’t like him but… poor Weylin.

There is magic present and the druids who use it are a rather interesting bunch.  Felix is a completely evil psychopath, whereas Drustan seems to be on the right side…  Ragnall is naive and a bit dodgy (but that might be because he’s a bit young) and the rest of the druids seem to be raving lunatics… perhaps too many herbs?

The plot is very simple but that simplicity doesn’t take away anything from the enjoyment of Age of Iron, if anything it enhances it.  The pace of the story unfolds very well and I think it’s well judged, flowing nicely without mad rushes and then periods of not much happening.

All in all Age of Iron is a compelling, entertaining and funny read but with enough gore and sombreness to balance it out.  Trust me, this book is not what you expect – and that is a very good thing!

Age of Iron by Angus Watson (Orbit) is now available as a paperback and eBook.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Angus Watson
  • Series: The Iron Age Trilogy (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

What do I want from The Wheel of Time?

I’m six books through The Wheel of Time.  I’ve already read something like 8 or 9 books in the series before (I’m kind of vague on exactly which book I gave up on while they were being first published), so this is a sort of re-read followed by new read for the the last few books.

You can follow my reviews and retrospectives of the books as they get published, by checking the ‘The Wheel of Time‘ tag.  Before I embark on book 7, I thought I’d spend a bit of time reflecting on what I hope the last 8 books in the series deliver, and what questions they answer.

For all I know, some of these could have been answered in the books I’ve already read beyond this point, some may get answered later in books I’ve not read, and some may never be resolved, but I thought I’d write them down anyway.  I’ve turned off comments on this post, so that no one is tempted to try and comment with any spoilers for book 7 onwards.  However, be warned, there are spoilers for everything up to and including book 6 below.

When asking these, I’m assuming the Dark One doesn’t win at the end, with the only issue will be how much do the good guys lose in order to win.  As it goes, this is pretty much a boring list of stuff, but when I’ve finished the series I might come back and tick off the ones that get resolved.  So, here goes (don’t forget, spoilers)

  • Does Moiraine survive, who rescues her if she does (does she rescue herself)?
  • What did Moiraine see in Rhuidean, and how much of that is ever revealed to us?
  • Mat – just everything about Mat.  What does he end up doing, does he end up using the Horn? Does his death mean he’s no longer linked to it? Does anyone else realise that?
  • Who is Olver, and is he Gaidal Cain?
  • What is the taint on Saidin?  Does it ever get explained?
  • Just exactly what is going on with the seals?
  • How important was Herid Fel and which of the Forsaken did him in?
  • What is going on with Lews Therin inside Rand’s head.  Are they really talking to each other?  Does Lews hear Rand in his own timeline?
  • What happens in general to the Aiel after it’s all done.
  • Do the Tinkers ever find the song?
  • Do the Tinkers and the Aiel ever forgive each other?
  • Do Moiraine and Thom end up together?
  • Does Elayne ever work out Mat’s fox-head medallion and does that play any role later?
  • Do they ever relearn the art of healing without having to use energy from the patient (i.e. can they heal with just the One Power, like in the Age of Legends)?
  • Just what the hell is Verin really up to?  Who is she, how old is she, and how long has she known about the events leading up to where we are in the books?
  • Does Elayne ever work out how to make angreal and sa’angreal?
  • Does someone, anyone, finally realise that if you don’t just talk openly and honestly with your allies, you don’t get anywhere?
  • Does someone, anyone, finally realise men and women must work together and trust each other to succeed both in the battle and in life afterwards?
  • What happens with Lan’s heritage, and does it play any role?
  • Do the Ways ever get cleansed?
  • Does the taint get removed from Saidin (I’m cheating, I know the answer to this one already, one of the few things I remember from later books)?
  • What’s going on with Moridin (again, cheating, I’m not sure he’s been introduced yet)?
  • Are some of the characters meant to be stupid for a reason?
  • Is it ever explained that the ability to channel is genetic and hence killing male channellers before they have kids is the reason why fewer people in general can use the One Power, or is it only ever alluded to?
  • Does someone chop Nynaeve’s braid off to save us all from ourselves?
  • Does Elayne ever take up the Throne of Andor?
  • Does Rand end up with all three girls or does that dream ever get abandoned / explained?
  • Does Perrin hold out and remain human?
  • Does the Tower become whole? Do they stop using the Oath Rod? Is that ever fully explained?
  • Padan Fain – what happens to him?
  • Who does and doesn’t survive the last battle (people, nations, structures, cities, etc.)
  • Does Rand fully seal the prison, so that it looks like the bore never existed, is this the age in which that happens, or is it just another patch?

That’ll do for now.  I’ll come back and edit this, perhaps after each book going forward to see which questions are answered, and which new questions are posed and need answering.

Update 1: 25th August

Have now finished book 7.  The following questions come to mind (spoilers for book 7).

  • Once again, who’s Moridin?
  • Who’s in the second mindtrap?
  • What was going on with Liah in Shadar Logoth?  How did she survive so long?
  • Do we ever know what happened when the two balefire beams touch?

Malice

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen) A black sun is rising … Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

It can sometimes be hard to get into a story that starts being so spread out and includes multiple characters; especially when each chapter is often named for a different character and from their point of view.  There are six focal characters, the main one being Corban, and this structure continues for the whole book.  However, if you can get past that, the pay-off is so worth it!

John Gwynne manages to intricately weave a story that is essentially about good vs. evil.  A favoured fantasy trope to be sure but it’s the delivery and the writing that makes it stand out. There is so much here that makes fantasy great – epic battles, heroism, magic, betrayal and love.  Not to mention characters like Corban that you love, those that you love to hate and some that just plain make you cry, it’s all here in this wonderfully engaging first book.

I don’t think I could explain the plot if I tried, there is just so much and I find myself wanting to point out specific bits and go ‘See what I mean?’  The battle scenes were very well realised, gritty and visceral and my emotional response to some of the things that happened were audible and a few were downright teary.

Gwynne’s writing is very crisp and clean, and I loved the language style he used.  Not ye olde worlde, but not totally modern either, and it just fit the story perfectly.

The pace sometimes felt a little jerky due to the way the point of view switches.  There were also some short time skips but they didn’t affect my enjoyment, instead they allowed time in the story for some things to occur naturally, rather than being forced into the narrative.

The world is extremely well realised and steeped in history, and you learn most of it from a diary entry at the start.  The delivery made it more interesting and gave you a sense of how things came to be in a very short space of time.  The map also lets you envision it even further – who doesn’t love a good fantasy map.

I feel John Gwynne pays homage to several amazing authors; David Eddings, David Gemmell, Raymond E. Feist and George R.R. Martin, spring most to mind, but I also feel he doesn’t attempt to emulate them.

Reading Malice is like watching a finely balanced chess game being played out and I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Malice is on the long lists for all three categories in the 2013 David Gemmell Legend Awards.  The long list poll is open until the 31st July.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen (1)
  • Genre: Fantasy
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The Painted Man

The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1) There is a rush of excitement I feel when I start reading a book by an author I’ve not read before, and that sensation is doubled when I discover that there is something very special within.  I love a story that sinks its teeth into you and doesn’t let go until the last page, leaving you hanging on every word.  That’s how the Painted Man made me feel, and it felt good!

We get to meet a lot of people but the three main characters were outstanding well written for me.  Arlen, the poor boy, but what a man it makes him.  He knew what he wanted and he went after it, possibly costing him a normal life but even though he thinks the opposite, he is totally my hero! Leesha is sweet and caring, fearless in her own way and I admired her for not wanting to go with the flow as her skills were meant for much more in my mind. Rojer endures more than any child should, and is brash, funny and stubborn as hell.  I couldn’t help wanting to look after him though.

The magic system is quite brilliant and unique.  Not spells but wards and the uses for them range from the mundane to the fantastic.  The world Brett built for his story was just as interesting as the characters and magic, and provided a solid background for the story.  The history is rich and fascinating and yet terrifying as well.  The demons were well crafted and I thought they were pretty scary, given what the different types in the story can do.  The hint of personality some of them display was really well done and made their horror seem more visceral.

Peter V. Brett is a fearless author in that no character is safe, not even ones you come to love in a short time, and that is where the skill in his writing lies.  A cleverly worded paragraph can communicate so much about a character that you feel like you’ve known them a lot longer.  There are plenty of characters you love to hate and as in life, sometimes the bad guys get away with it.

The pacing of the story was very good and the switching between the characters never felt laboured or meandering.  The action scenes were fast, brutal and realistically written.  Brett’s blending of that with the magic created some intriguing fights.

There was one question I had that seemed to go unanswered until quite late in the book – who was the Painted Man from the title?  Maybe it should have been obvious to me but when I realised, I actually went ‘ohhh’ out loud.  Thankfully my husband is used to this and I didn’t have to explain!

I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next book in the series, The Desert Spear.  The first one didn’t end quite where I thought it would and an additional piece at the end had me reaching for the sequel immediately.  I had to force myself to stop and write this review so it would be fresh and not influenced by the next one.  If I didn’t have it to read… Oh my goodness I would have been antsy!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Peter V. Brett
  • Series: The Demon Cycle (1)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Dragon’s Path

The Dragon's Path: Book 1 of The Dagger and the Coin The Dragon’s Path is the first instalment in The Dagger and the Coin epic fantasy series. It’s immensely rich in its own history, with a multitude of races and flawed but wonderful characters.  Just my cup of tea!

I was intrigued from the start, with an introduction to an apostate escaping from an ancient temple with a scary truth.  We don’t know who he is, but as the book progressed I started to have suspicions, but each time I thought I knew the truth I was cleverly deflected by Daniel Abraham.  In most fantasy settings, you often find one or two other races that are ‘typical’ but for this series, Abraham has created twelve and an extremely clever reason behind them (I mentioned the rich history already!)

It’s also a multi-faceted tale about people trying to do the best thing in the worst of circumstances and that means not always doing the right thing.  The major cast were brilliant. Marcus, Yardem, Cithrin and Master Kit were all characters that I really warmed to, even if I didn’t always agree with their choices. Geder, I felt for but wanted to shake and Basrahip… well, I don’t think there is a boot big enough to stomp on him!  Along with them are quite a few other characters, some you love and some you hate but they all felt extremely well fleshed out and very real.  I have to note the friendship and interplay between Marcus and Yardem, the first time they appear, made me laugh out loud and I knew I was hooked.  Daniel Abraham has quite the talent for creating his characters.

The plot can be quite complicated but not too hard to follow.  Explaining it however is another matter and I’m not even going to try.  I shall say instead that it is completely engaging and if you like a good epic fantasy that isn’t going to run to twelve books (I believe there is five in this series) then this will be right up your street.

The pace was good and I never felt it dragged, even when the characters themselves were being put through long journeys.  The action scenes were brutal and a couple of times I was open mouthed in shock but at the end of the day, that is not what the book is about.  The characters are what make it shine.

A great start to an epic fantasy series and I am eager to dive into the second book – The King’s Blood.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

The City

The City The City is a fantasy tale of intrigue, deceit, hate and revenge, and yet it cloaks all of that beneath a layer of honour, loyalty and love.  The eponymous City is a vast and ancient state.  More than merely a single construct it covers many leagues, and it is at war.  Beneath the City, where the story starts, live the Dwellers, people who make what life they can living in the sewers, and it is here we meet the first characters in the story that is about to unfold.

I am challenged by stories which have many characters, especially when the story is then spread across them.  I prefer a small number of characters on which I can focus and understand in detail.  The City has a dozen or so characters of importance, and early on I struggled with my usual challenge, knowing who to like, who to root for, and who to hate.  Not because it isn’t always obvious what’s going on, but because the story has eight or nine people who could be considered the main protagonists.  The actual tale however is compelling, and that helped me work through my issue and I’m glad I did.  The story moves from character to character, or group to group, each progressing the narrative and revealing a little bit more of the history of The City, or the underlying war and rebellion in which everyone appears to be embroiled.  There are some leaps where things I felt were important happened ‘off page’, and I was sad for that, because Stella’s words are so graceful that I would have preferred to read them first hand, rather than hear them second hand through another character.

Stella’s prose is fluid, interesting and engaging.  Her touch is delicate, and her descriptions are vivid and long lasting.  I am left with a strong visual image of The City in my mind; it’s sprawling landscape and sewer system as much a character in the story as any of the people.  The pace throughout the whole story is even and measured, with only a gentle increase towards the end.  In some ways, I struggled with that, always expecting the story to explode and be driven forward at pace, and always being pulled back.  On reflection, I think it’s intentional, playing back the behaviour of some of the characters, and in particular a game in the story referred to as urquat in which great patience is required.

The City is not a riotous novel of warfare and combat.  There are certainly moments of action, vividly described, but the story is more subtle than that, a deeper reflection of the motivations of the characters, and a slow reveal of the people who inhabit The City and those who wish them toppled.  The characters throughout the story are well rounded, real and solid.  There are touching moments between two specific characters that brought tears to my eyes every time.

Although this is a fantasy novel, there is little magic, and the small amount is revealed slowly over time.  The magic is sinister, and woven in carefully to make sure we know it is powerful, closely guarded and mostly reviled.

Stella’s first solo novel is intelligent, compelling fantasy fiction, with enjoyable characters, and moments of true emotion.  If I could have one thing it would be to have spent longer with some of the characters, to have enjoyed more of the emotional moments with them.  But it is a small desire amongst an otherwise entertaining and enjoyable read.

I find myself left wanting to know more about world, the people, the magic and the Serafim.  The City is like a dance viewed from the outside, where many dancers move in beautiful and unexpected patterns, eventually settling into a final position that is both satisfying and mysterious at the same time.

Caveat emptor: I personally know Stella Gemmell.  My copy of The City was purchased from Amazon.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Stella Gemmell
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Killing Moon

The Killing Moon: Dreamblood: Book 1 Gujaareh is a nation at peace.  The streets are safe, the people ruled fairly and wisely by the un-corrupt.  There is no sickness or poverty and the old die in dignity.  Ehiru brother, a priest of Hananja, is also at peace.  His job is to administer the holy laws that protect the virtues of the great city.

Too good to be true?  Follow Ehiru and his faithful apprentice as they uncover the truth behind Gujaareen power and the hand they unwittingly play in it, and then decide.

In The Killing Moon N.K. Jemisin introduces an intriguing new concept; the art of Narcromancy (not to be confused with necromancy).  Furthermore, she conjures a society based on euthanasia that somehow feels both just and civilised.  This alone makes for a good and interesting tale.

Add to the mix an adequately visualised setting, a clever calendar system and key characters that are both engaging and spinning in emotional turmoil, and you have here a jolly good read.  If I have one small criticism it is that the book lacks that little something in the ending that causes you to mourn its passing and wanting more, more, more.

PS.  The writer provides a glossary at the back of the book.  Why the back?  Best you know that before you start eh!  For me a map (at the front) would have been more useful.  I do so love a good map!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: N. K. Jemisin
  • Series: Dreamblood (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Promise of Blood

Promise of Blood: Book 1 in the Powder Mage trilogy I will hold my hand up and say I was less than enthusiastic about this book based purely on a brief read of the cover blurb.  However, since I was still enjoying being on a fantasy kick and wanting something new to sink my teeth into I picked it up.

It was actually the strapline on the cover that rescued the book for me – “The Age of Kings is dead… and I have killed it.” I loved it, both powerful and intriguing and that alone was enough to turn the first page.

I’ve never been happier to have been proved wrong.  I was pleasantly surprised by the plot – while it might have seemed like a common fantasy trope at first glance, Brian McClellan managed to turn it on its head and shake it around.  The result is an amazing debut that entertained and engaged me, while giving me that tingle of discovering something good and very special.

The writing was descriptive without being too wordy.  I could clearly envisage the scenes in my head, even without extra padding and that made for easy reading that flowed right to the end.

The characters were superbly envisioned and no one was clearly cut out as good or evil, just varying shades of grey.  Believing you are doing the right thing is a powerful force even in the face of evidence to the contrary.  As the plot unfolded, my allegiances changed, time and time again and while I have to confess my favourites were Taniel and Adamat, both were very different characters but there was something special about them that really touched me.

The magic system McClellan conjured was just as intriguing as the story.  Magic is very common but in the majority of the Knacked population it’s very minor and often no more than a help to do their job.  The more powerful Marked are pretty dangerous and the top ranking Privileged are utterly lethal.  Then there are powder mages, those who can use gunpowder to augment their abilities, often making them unbeatable in a fight.  Of course that’s a very simplistic description of something integral to the story so I can only suggest you read and find out the intricacies for yourself!

The ending of Promise of Blood was nicely done even and sets things up solidly for the next book. As an aside, I really liked the fact that while I really want to read the next one, I’m not left feeling desperate due to a cliffhanger.  It was no less powerful an ending because of that either.

Definitely an author to watch and highly recommended for any fantasy fan.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian McClellan
  • Series: Powder Mage Trilogy (1)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Books we can’t wait for this year!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of releases this year, just ones we are particularly looking forwards to.  I’m sure there are others we’ve forgotten and new authors that we will discover along the way.  As you can see, between Tracey and I, we have a pretty eclectic taste in books 😉

January

A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time: 14/14 A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time Book #14)
Don’t Want to Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell
Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dark Legacy #2)
Ice Forged by Gail Z Martin (Ascendant Kindoms Saga #1)
Angel’s Flight by Nalini Singh (A Guild Hunter Collection)
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah Maclean (The Rules of Scoundrels #2)
The Zombie Whisperer by Jessie Petersen (Living with the Dead #4)
Ever After by Kim Harrison (The Hollows #11)
Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops #2)

February

A French Affair by Katie Fforde
The Daylight War by Peter V Brett (The Demon Cycle #3)
Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #36)
Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian (Midnight Breed #11)
The Queen is Dead  by Kate Locke (Immortal Empire #2)
Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas
Devil’s Due by Rachel Caine (Red Letter Days #2)
Hellhole Awakening by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert (Hellhole #2)
Forged in Flame by Michael R Hicks (In Her Name: The First Empress #2)
Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #5)
Cloak & Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #5.5, unconfirmed release date)
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #3)
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis (The Milkweed Triptych #2)

March

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb (The Rain Wild Chronicles #4)
And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens (Cynster Sisters #4)
Lover at Last: Number 11 in series (Black Dagger Brotherhood) Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau Vampires #18)
Poppet by Mo Hayder (Jack Caffery #6)
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #7)
Shadow of Freedom by David Weber (Honor Harrington #18)
Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh (A Psy/Changeling Collection)
Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #11)
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #12)
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (A Novel of the Others)

April

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rising #3)
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick #4)
Whisky Beach by Nora Roberts
Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis (Milkweed Triptych #3)
Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #2)

May

Once Upon A Tower By Eloisa James (Happy Ever After #5)
Forever by Jacquelyn Frank (World of Nightwalkers #2)
Fall of Night by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #14)
Abaddon's Gate (Expanse) Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey (Expanse #3)
Leopard’s Prey by Christine Feehan (Leopard People #6)
Eternal Demon by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #5)
The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #3)
Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist (Riftwar Cycle)

June

The Sum of all Kisses by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith #3)
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London #4)
Darkness Unmasked by Keri Arthur (Dark Angels #5)
The City by Stella Gemmell

July

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens (Cynster Sisters #5)
My Notorious Gentleman: Number 6 in series (Inferno Club) My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #6)
Rise of the Gryphon by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love (Belador #4)
Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #3)
Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #5)

August

Omens by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #1)
Terminated by Rachel Caine (Revivalist #3)
Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter #18)
Posession by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #8)

September

Kitty Rocks the House (Kitty Norville) Chosen by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #4)
Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #37)

October

The Arrangement by Mary Balogh (Survivor’s Club #2)
Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance (Cassie Palmer #6)
Bound by Night by Larissa Ione
Cold Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #3)

November

Daylighters by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #15)
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Eternal Sin by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #6)

December

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #6)

Phew!  It’s going to be a busy and entertaining year 😀