The seventh book in the Shardlake series, this sequel is set two years after the death of King Henry VIII and focuses on the Kett Rebellion of 1549. Matthew Shardlake is called upon by the Lady Elizabeth to investigate the murder of the wife of a distant relative in Norwich.
I have loved all of the previous books so I had high hopes for this instalment and it did not disappoint. Once again Sansom weaves all the threads of the story together so well. I love that we go through the investigation with Shardlake and we can make judgements along the way with him. As with all the previous books in this series, the progression of the mystery is so well done. It was a little slow to start for me but after a couple of chapters I was completely invested. One thing that may frustrate some readers is that once the rebellion started, it felt as if the book lost a little of it’s purpose. It didn’t know whether it was a account of the Kett rebellion or a murder mystery. The focus shifts from the murder to focus on the rebellion and I have to admit that I was initially a little disappointed because I was so invested in the mystery. Having said that, I did find it really interesting to read about this rebellion as I know very little about it and I did really enjoy the plot of this book, although it is perhaps a little drawn out. Like the previous books in this series, I found this instalment so compelling and once I started reading I didn’t want to put it down.
The character development continues to be a highlight of this series. Shardlake is a fantastic protagonist and it was I particularly loved the growth of Nicholas in this latest instalment. Sansom has also done a great job at developing the relationships between the characters. There were so many interesting new characters introduced in this book and all of them were well written. Moving on to the setting. Once again Sansom has done a great job at transporting the reader back to the 16th Century. Although I know very little about this rebellion, you can still see the research Sansom has done for this book. I cannot comment on the authenticity of the historical story line, but it is vividly written and so interesting to read. As with all the previous books, the writing is fantastic.
Overall I loved this book and I would highly recommend checking this series out. All the books in this series, including this latest one, are so enjoyable to read. I think Sansom plans to bring Shardlake into the reign of Elizabeth I, so there may be more books in the future. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for new books in this series. Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Title / The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice and The High Lord
Author / Trudi Canavan
Publication Date / 2001, 2002 and 2002 (first published)
Overall Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders…and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.
“It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow streets because it is grieved by what it finds there.”
This is one of my all time favourite series so I thought it was about time that I did a series review on it. For me this will always be a fantastic trilogy. I am well aware that it has some flaws but they don’t detract anything for me. Basically this is quite a sentimental favourite. I didn’t have a great time during my teenage years and this is one of the series I would escape to. Anyway let’s get started with the actual review. This is a three book fantasy series set in Kyralia. It is divided up by districts and the capital is Imardin. I would say that this is a fairly traditional fantasy setting, but that is not a bad thing as the world is an interesting one. If you are looking for unique settings though, than you won’t find that here, but if you enjoy fantasy school settings than you may want to check it out. Not only do you get a good grasp of the culture, politics and magic system of the world, but you also get a good idea of the landscape and terrain of the place as well. Everything is well thought out. Personally I think the world is one of the main strengths of this trilogy. The writing is good, although it is a little repetitive at times. These books are very easy to get into and can be quite quick reads. The first half of the first book is definitely quite slow in terms of pacing. It does drag but do bear with it as it does get better and the pacing even outs. Due to this I think the series as a whole could have been shorter overall. I personally think the plot is quite compelling though.
It does rely on the rather overused ‘special’ main character who is more powerful than other people. I think perhaps if I read it for the first time now I would have got a little frustrated with it but at the time it didn’t bother me at all. I think as a whole the characters are well written and you come to really care about them by the end of the trilogy. Sonea is one of my favourite characters, but the secondary characters are just as good – I seriously love Rothen so much. Yes they can probably be seen as quite cliched and stereotypical but I still think they are well written. Perhaps it’s something to be aware of though. The character development through the three books is great and I loved seeing how each of them progressed. I will admit they are quite simply drawn but you’ll still come to care for them. The relationships are good, although some do develop quite quickly. This one is actually quite a tricky one to review. As I’ve mentioned I am well aware of it’s flaws but I still love this trilogy so it’s tricky to come up with a balanced review, if that makes sense.
Overall this is a fantastic trilogy that I have reread a few times. I am well aware it isn’t perfect and has flaws but I still love it. Perhaps if I read it for the first time now as a more critical reader I would have a completely different reaction to it. I don’t know. This trilogy will always be one of my favourites as it helped me through a tricky time. I would definitely recommend checking this out, especially if you love the fantasy genre. Have you guys read this series? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Goodreads synopsis: London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer. In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.
I actually ended up reading it as one of my holiday reads during the family holiday to Crete this year. I had seen the comparisons to C. J. Sansom and his Shardlake series, so I was interested in trying out this historical fiction. While I did end up enjoying this book, it definitely wasn’t perfect and it kind of proves to me once again not to be pulled in by comparison. To me this was a little disappointing after comparing it to that series. Having said that, it is a pretty compelling book. It’s almost 500 pages long but I managed to finish it pretty quickly because it does grip you into the story. Although I still not entirely convinced by the writing, it is good overall and quite easy to get into. I did find the writing dragged out a few scenes and so the book overall could have done with some cutting, however I never felt this adversely affected my overall reading experience. The author does a pretty good job of creating London during the 1600’s – he’s clearly done his research for this book. I personally find the setting an interesting one and he captures the fire really well, although the tension it creates doesn’t last long. I definitely found this quite a light and easy read – perfect holiday reading really. It’s not a profound book that will have you in deep contemplation but I don’t think it was written to be that sort of book – it’s simply an enjoyable historical fiction. One thing that I wasn’t entirely convinced by was the mystery. Without spoiling it, murders start taking place and there is a certain method that the killer has, but there is no given reason why this is. Why these people are murdered in this way… or maybe I missed something. I just didn’t feel that the mystery elements were fully developed and so I found it a little lacking. I think that is a theme for me with this book – it’s just a bit lacking in certain places as I also wanted more tension/suspense. The characters were good but again I wanted more from them. There wasn’t enough development and to be honest I didn’t really care about the characters. If anything I found them a little annoying, especially one of the main characters Cat – I wasn’t a fan of hers and there was many a time where I questioned what she was doing. Some of her actions make absolutely no sense to me. The ending was kind of anti-climactic but I still enjoyed seeing how it all unfolded. Anyway this definitely had potential but as I’ve already said it didn’t work for me. I’ve seen quite a few great reviews though, so don’t let all this dissuade you from trying it out if you are interested in reading it.
Overall this was a compelling and enjoyable read, but I definitely had a few issues with it. I will say I think it’s great holiday reading or it’s great if you want a lighter read. If you enjoy historical fiction and this time period then I would recommend checking this one out. I would say this has quite slow pacing, so if that is not normally your thing then it may be something to be aware of. Have you guys read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Goodreads synopsis: Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
“Don’t trust the fire, for it will burn you.
Don’t trust the ice, for it will freeze you.
Don’t trust the water, for it will drown you.
Don’t trust the air, for it will choke you.
Don’t trust the earth, for it will bury you.
Don’t trust the trees, for they will rip you,
rend you, tear you, kill you dead.”
This is the first book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy. I’ve had my eyes on this book for quite some time before I picked it up. In that time I was debating whether or not to pick it up – I thought it was a YA book and I haven’t had much luck with them recently but I finally decided to give it a go for some holiday reading. I am really glad I did. Firstly, I loved the setting. It is one of my favourite things about this book. The concept of every village, town and city being built on massive tree branches is a really cool idea. I think the idea of spirits is also done really well and the world felt very immersive. World building is so important in fantasy books so I’m happy to say that it’s done well in this book. It is definitely a strength of this series. I liked that it isn’t the traditional medieval setting and appreciated the unique nature of this world. If you are looking for new and unique fantasy settings than I would check this book out. I’ve not read many fantasy books with a similar setting. The only thing I would say is that I imagine that this world took inspiration from Lothlórien from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien, but it is still it’s own world – it’s not a copy. The writing is easy to get into and the plot is compelling. There were quite a few occasions of late night reading while reading this, because I was so engrossed in the story. Certain things I did see coming but there were other things I didn’t. Either way it was still an enjoyable reading experience. It is pretty bloody and nasty at times, but these moments felt well thought out. Sometimes I think nasty moments can be used just to shock you but that isn’t the case with this book – these moments progressed the plot well. Basically I found both the world and the plot immersive, and I’m excited to see where things will go in the next books.
I love that the main character Daleina isn’t the most powerful person in this book, she just works really hard. I think that is quite relatable – for me at least, I don’t know about you guys. It’s nice to see a character in a fantasy book that struggles. I feel like in alot of fantasy books the main character, whether their male or female, is the most powerful magic user and adept at using magic within a short time of finding out they have magic. It’s good to see a character that has to work hard for it. Of the heirs, she is probably the worst and that’s quite refreshing. I’m sure there are many people out there with things that don’t come naturally and so they have to work hard for it – I am definitely one of them. All of the other characters are just as well written. I found the Queen to be a very interesting character due to her position. The Queen is the one person in power and that creates a fascinating look into what that type of power can do to a person. Another aspect I loved is the female friendships in this book. As previously mentioned in the goodreads synopsis, the queen is surrounded by heirs. All of these heirs are women and so they live closely with each other as they train. It’s great to see female friendship where they support each other and are there for each other. One thing I hate to see in any book is girl on girl hate for no other reason than their girls, so it was so nice to see these great friendships. I also really liked that the romance is very much in the background and is not a huge part of the story.
Overall I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I would definitely recommend checking this out, especially if you are a fan of fantasy. Personally, I’ve not read many books like this one and I appreciated that. I am very excited for the second book, The Reluctant Queen, which is already out. I think this is going to be a trilogy, but please correct me if I am wrong. Have you guys read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: In the summer of 9 CE, Publius Varus, the Roman governor of Germania, and Lucius Tullus, a centurion garrisoned on the Rhine, march east with three legions. As they prepare to return to their winter quarters, they are lured off the road and ambushed by German warriors. The Germans are led by Arminius, a chieftain who is a trusted ally of Rome—and a man who has been secretly planning to betray the empire since childhood. Trapping Varus’ legionaries between a hillside and a marsh, and thereby preventing them from forming up or using their artillery, Arminius and his warriors wreak a terrible slaughter. The Roman defeat is overwhelming, but it is not until the third day of the massacre that the scale of Arminius’ victory becomes clear. Three legions, upwards of 14,000 men, have been annihilated, and three treasured Eagle standards have been lost. Just a few hundred legionaries, including Tullus, manage to escape. Nor is the survivors’ ordeal over. Pursued to the last Roman fort east of the Rhine, they are besieged by thousands of bloodthirsty tribesmen. Only the gods can save them now.
I picked up the first book up on a bit of a whim as I wanted to try out more historical fiction. I’m glad I did, although it take me a while to get into the first book. I thought this trilogy was a fantastic military historical fiction depicting the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD (the first book). Now I knew very little about this time period before reading this book, so I can’t so much about the accuracy of the historical elements, but I thought this was a fantastically realised trilogy. Personally, I felt that you could really tell that the author had done his research for these books. The world felt very authentic and from the beginning of the first book I was immersed in this world. The level of detail in this trilogy really lends itself to creating a very vivid world but at the same time it is very readable. It is not bogged down by all of the details. As I have briefly mentioned before, I do not know a lot about this time period, so I cannot comment on its accuracy. I can only say that the world Kane created is a vivid one. After reading this trilogy I am definitely interested in trying more historical fiction set in this time period.
The writing is great and so easy to get into. Kane does a fantastic job at creating tension and the overall atmosphere throughout the trilogy was so well done. It adds so much to the reading experience. This means that even if you know the history behind this time period and battle, you will still enjoy the book, despite knowing what will happen. The narrative does switch between a few perspectives (mainly switches between Arminius and Tullus), all of which are engaging but it’s perhaps something to be aware of if you are not normally a fan of multiple perspectives. The characters are all well written, if a little wooden at times. Having said that, I thought their progression throughout the trilogy was good. I will say that these books are quite battle focused and have a fair amount of violence in them, so if you’re a little squeamish than I would probably avoid this trilogy. The second book didn’t quite have the same intensity as the first and third book, in my opinion. I did still enjoy it, but it felt a little lacking. These books were pretty quick reads for me though, as the plot is engaging. There were a few instances of the plot dragging a little bit but the writing and world meant it was still gripping. Basically I thought this was an enjoyable historical fiction trilogy and I would definitely recommend checking it out.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic military historical fiction trilogy. I didn’t know much about this time period before reading this and I would definitely say you don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy this trilogy. I think these are great reads for any historical fiction fan. I am interested in trying more books by this author. I’m sorry this review is quite short but hopefully it means that it’s concise :). Have you guys read these books? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Hi guys I hope you are all well. It’s time for my first review post for August and surprise, surprise I’m going to be talking about some fantasy books :). Today I thought I would do some mini reviews and talk about some first books in a series, so I have 3 mini reviews for you guys. I don’t know if I’ll continue on with each of these series – one of them I don’t think I will. We have a assassin fantasy book, an urban fantasy and one which I’m just going to call regular fantasy… I don’t really know what else to call it. Anyway let’s get started.
The Sentinel Mage / Emily Gee / ★★★
For the most part I thought this was a sold first book in this trilogy, although it definitely has some flaws. It’s probably somewhere between 2.5/3 star rating. I didn’t know a lot about it before reading it but I ended up quite enjoying it. For the most part, it is pretty predictable and it is nothing new in terms of the fantasy genre, however I still found it to be an engaging and enjoyable read. The romance is entirely predictable and kind of annoying. If you are looking for new and unique fantasy books than this isn’t the book for you. If you still enjoy traditional fantasy than it may be worth a read. It was an easy and quick read that has a magic system that I liked. There could have been more character development but perhaps that will happen more in the next two books. The women especially, I wanted more depth from them. It felt like we were only brushing the surface of each character, which makes it a little trickier to connect with them. I think this book could have been shorten a little bit without removing any important information or enjoyment. Overall I liked it, but it wasn’t perfect – I am interested in continuing with this trilogy at some point but it won’t be a priority for me. So who knows if I’ll actually ever continue with this trilogy…
To be honest this was quite an average read for me. Don’t get me wrong I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away by it and I didn’t love it. It was quite a predictable read to me and I never felt fully invested in the characters or plot. The world building was generally good, but could have maybe done with a bit more depth. I found the characters to be quite inconsistent at times and Aaron kind of bugged me a little bit. There are quite alot of characters to keep track of, which becomes a bit of a chore and it makes it hard to fully understand what is going on. Overall I liked it, but it also fell a little flat for me. At the moment I very much doubt that I’ll continue with this series – it’s a six book series and I just can’t see myself committing to that after not loving the first book. This one just fell quite flat for me. Also if you’re squeamish about anything eye related than maybe avoid this as there is some eye gouging.
I’ve had my eyes on these books for a while as my sister enjoys them and I trust her judgement. I finally decided to pick the first book up recently and I thought this was a great urban fantasy book. I haven’t had much luck with urban fantasy before but this one was really good. The mix of the fantasy genre and the crime/mystery genre was mixed very well. The characters were great, the plot was engaging and it was easy to get into. Overall this was a fun, quick and entertaining read and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are a fan of urban fantasy. I will be continuing on with this series – I think it currently has six books out but I don’t know if more are planned.
That’s all I have to talk about today. I’d love to know if there are any fantasy books you think I should read or any you want a review of. I am always interested in trying out new fantasy books. Have you guys read these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Goodreads synopsis: Enter the mysterious and exotic world of Kelewan…
Mara, the youngest child of the ancient and noble Acoma family, is about to take her pledge of servitude to the goddess Lashima when the ceremony is disrupted by news of her father and brother’s death in battle. Despite her grief, as the only surviving member of her house, Mara must now take up the mantles of Ruling Lady. But she soon discovers betrayal at the heart of her family’s loss, and the Acoma’s enemies have brought her house to the brink of utter destruction. Mara, an inexperienced political player, must draw on all her wit, intelligence and cunning to navigate the ruthless Game of the Council, regain the honour of House Acoma and secure the future of her family. But with assassins waiting around every corner, it might take everything Mara has simply to survive. Daughter of the Empire is the first in Feist and Wurts’ wonderful epic trilogy – one of the most successful fantasy collaborations of all time. The trilogy continues with the second book, Servant of the Empire
I picked this up after searching for some Asian inspired (specifically East Asian) fantasy and this series came up. I didn’t know much about it and had never heard to talked about in the bookish community but I thought I’ d try it out. I am so glad I did as I ended up really enjoying this one. First off the world, this is set in a Japanese style world called Kelawen. The world is one of the main strengths of this book, in my opinion but in many ways it is also a weakness. It is such an interesting world and it has so much potential that wasn’t fully realised. I found it to be quite insular because it focuses very much on the immediate world around Mara, but I would have preferred a broader insight into the world as a whole. It could have used a little more depth (by that I mean I wanted more information) at times – for example a new species is introduced early on and are very important for about a chapter but then we don’t hear from them at all. As I’ve already mentioned, I wanted to know more of the world as a whole, not just the world Mara experiences. Perhaps we will get this in the later books… I hope we do. I think this world is also linked to some of Feist’s of works so maybe there is more information in those… I don’t know for sure on that though. This book would be a good one to read if you like fantasy with little magic in, as it has very little magic in.
I think the characters are all fantastically written. Mara is a great female protagonist, although I think she did suffer a little with the perfect main character trope thing. What I mean is that she seems immediately able to deal with the politics and know what to do – yes she does have some doubt but she slips quick easily into the world it seems. I wanted her to seem more vulnerable and unsure of herself, then again she has grow up in this world and presumably knows what to expect. There were only a few moments of doubt and she’s only supposed to be 17 but I think she felt older to me. Having said all that, I really liked her as the female protagonist. There are many other interesting characters around her too and they are all well written. The only one I felt a bit unsure of was Bunto as I thought his character was inconsistent at times – also he’s just not very nice most of the time. Although there are quite a few characters, it was pretty easy to keep track of them all. In terms of the plot, I think it progresses very well. I’ve seen this described as political fantasy and I would definitely agree with that – it is heavy with politics and intrigue. This means this is quite a slow fantasy books, because it focuses more on the characters and their standing in society, instead of having many action scenes. Personally I really enjoyed this but if you are looking for an action packed fantasy book than this one isn’t for you. There are definitely a few plot holes in this book but I’m not going to go into too much detail with them because… spoilers. There were just a few things that I questioned a little bit but I found that I could look past these and so it didn’t affect my overall reading experience/enjoyment of the book. At times things also seemed to happen a little too neatly, if that makes sense. The thing to note is that if you are not interested in behaviour and manners (from an Asian inspired culture), than this is again probably not for you. There is a lot of writing about the way someone should be referred to, or the hierarchy, or filial piety, or even how low to bow to certain people etc. This all makes up an important part of the culture within the book and so is heavily mentioned – personally I liked this but I don’t think everyone will.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this new series. If you enjoy politics and intrigue, and Asian inspired fantasy, then you should definitely check this book out. It was seriously really good – OK so it wasn’t perfect but I still really enjoyed it. I will definitely be picking up the next book as soon as possible. Maybe I need to read the other Feist books to get a better understanding of the world… if any of you know please let me know :). Have you guys read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.