The Empire trilogy / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Title/   Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire and Mistress of the Empire
Author/ Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts
Publication date/ 1987, 1990 and 1992
Series or standalone/ Trilogy
Rating/ 
This is a collaborative political fantasy trilogy by the American writers Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts. It is also a part of the larger Riftwar series by Feist, although you don’t have to read those books in order to read this trilogy. It begins with Daughter of the Empire; the main character is Mara who is just about to enter into temple service but is called back to her home after the death of her father and her brother to become Lady of Acoma. A power struggle ensues. I won’t go into the plot too much more as I don’t want to spoil it.
The world of Kelewan is one of my favourite things about this trilogy. It is quite reminiscent of medieval Asia with a heavy emphasis on the class system and remaining honourable. In this world there is very clear protocol of how to interact with people of power, which I found to be very interesting. I will say that the constant reminders of these protocols may be a bit grating for some, as we are still being told of etiquette well into the third and final book. Personally I had no issues with this but it may be something to be aware of.  Throughout the three books I thought the details of the politics and class system were very well done. I personally love political fantasy so I very much enjoyed this aspect of it and felt completely immersed in it. However there are times throughout where I wanted more depth and information about the world itself, specifically about the cho-ja and the geography of the world, but overall the world building is great. The focus is very much the immediate surroundings of the main character, as well as the politics of the world, instead of a wider look at the world itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I personally wanted to know a bit more about Kelewan. I think this is a very interesting world which really develops throughout the three books. It is definitely a new favourite of mine.
Moving on to the plot, I will say that if you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed fantasy trilogy then this is not the one for you. This is quite a slow moving story with the occasional skips in time. Due to these skips in time we get to witness a large span of the characters’ lives, which means that we really get to see them change and develop. Despite the slow burn of the plot it was never boring and I never found that it dragged, although I think this may be an issue for some people. There is always a goal in mind or a problem to solve. The writing also does a great job at keeping you engaged even in the slower sections. I always wanted to read more because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, which is a good sign that the plot is engaging. I will say that things are perhaps a little too neatly solved at the end but it is only a minor complaint; I actually really enjoyed the ending.  As previously mentioned this story focuses on court intrigue and the politics of the world, so if that is not your thing then I would avoid this trilogy.
In terms of the characters, we have a fantastic cast within this trilogy. From the book 1 I found Mara to be a very interesting character and a great female protagonist. I briefly mentioned earlier that we get to see years of the characters’ lives and I really love that about this trilogy. It creates fantastic character development and allows the reader to perhaps have a clearer understanding of the characters. Mara’s development throughout is so well done. We get to see the many sides of her, from her calculating side to her kind nature, and we get to witness her style of leadership. Even when she comes across as cold, we understand that she is the product of the society she was raised in, we still root for her. My one small complaint is Mara’s seemingly easy entry to the life of a ruling lady. She is 17 when she is brought back to become Lady of Acoma and although she has grown up in this world as a girl she would not have been in the line of succession, so how did she become so adept at politics? Perhaps it just comes naturally to her and she just understands the world she lives in but it just seems a little unrealistic when she first ascended to power. The other characters we meet throughout the three books are just as well written as the protagonist. Two of my favourites are Arakasi and Lujan. If you like well written characters in your fantasy books then you will find plenty in this trilogy.
Overall I think this is a fantastic trilogy with well written characters, an engaging plot and an interesting world. I knew very little when I started this trilogy but I’m very glad I tried it out as it is a new favourite of mine. If you enjoy political fantasy with slow burning plots then I would highly recommend checking this trilogy out. I am definitely planning to try out more from these authors after loving these books. Have you read these books? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

 

November Wrap Up & December TBR

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time for another monthly wrap up. I had a pretty good reading month in terms of quantity and quality – I read eight books. I’m glad to be back in a reading mood again. Let’s get started.

 

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns / Julie C. Dao / ★★
This book just didn’t work for me. I’m always up for trying East Asian inspired fantasy books but unfortunately I didn’t like this one. The main issue I had was the main character, Xifeng. I found her to be quite inconsistent at times and kind of frustrating. I know that you’re not really supposed to like her anyway but I just really wasn’t a fan and the girl on girl hate is a pet peeve of mine. The story was alright, although it seemed a little to neat and easy for the main character to get what she wants. The writing is good but it doesn’t really make up for the fact that I didn’t find the story very compelling. Overall this was a disappointment for me. It reinforces the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of YA fantasy at the moment.

 

Age of Assassin / R. J. Barker / ★★★
While I did enjoy this one, I didn’t love it. Probably somewhere between a 2.5 and 3 star rating. I thought the writing was good and it flowed nicely, but I found the plot to be a little lacking. To me it didn’t fully translate into a compelling story and there were a few times it dragged a little bit. It was still good for the most part. The characters are good, if a little lacking in depth and development. I don’t really know what else to say other than this one didn’t fully work for me. I probably won’t be continuing on with this series.

 

The Power / Naomi Alderman / ★★★
This one is quite a tricky one to rate. I think the concept of the book is great but it never translated into a compelling story to me. I can’t quite put my finger on why that is but that’s what I thought once I’d finished. The writing is good and this book is definitely full of interesting ideas, but there were times that I felt it was a little underdeveloped in some ways. I have mixed feelings on this book and I don’t really know what else to say. I would still recommend reading this but I definitely didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

 

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The Book of Atrix Wolfe / Patricia A. McKillip / ★★★
I’ve been meaning to read more from this author since reading and loving Forgotten Beasts of Eld, so I decided to pick this one up on a bit of a whim. Her writing is great; I find it so easy to become immersed in her worlds and stories. This book was not an exception, although I didn’t love the plot as much as the previous book I’ve read by her. That’s not to say that the plot of this book wasn’t good though – I did still enjoy it. Overall I thought this was a great book and I’m definitely interested in reading more from this author.

 

The Black Tides of Heaven  and The Red Threads of Fortune / JY Yang / ★★★
I have a full review of this, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. I thought that both of these novellas were great, although lacking a little bit in the world building. The writing is good, the characters are well written and the world is an interesting one. If you’re a fan of fantasy then I would recommend checking these out if you’re interested by them.

 

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To Capture What We Cannot Keep / Beatrice Colin / ★★★.5
This is definitely quite a romance heavy historical fiction but I actually quite enjoyed it. The main thing I enjoyed about this book is that it is set during the construction of the Eiffel Tower – I think this is a great setting. Although it is quite romance heavy, I thought it was done well and it was an enjoyable story to read. I found this to be a quick and easy read, although it is quite a slow burner. If you’re looking for some new historical fiction to try out then I’d recommend checking this out.

 

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The Big Four / Agatha Christie / ★★★.5
It’s kind of funny that this is my fourth Christie book I’ve read considering the title. Anyway this was another great Poirot story with a compelling mystery. I’ve not been reading them in any kind of order but I haven’t been having any trouble reading them like that. Each has a separate mystery. I really enjoyed the story of this one and I find these Poirot mysteries to be so enjoyable to read. I don’t really have anything else to say about these – I’ve enjoyed all the Poirot books I’ve read so far.

 

The Book of Dust / Philip Pullman / ★★★★
This was probably my most anticipated book of this year and it did not disappoint. I was both nervous and excited about the possibility of this book, but it was great to be back in this world. It is quite a slow burning story, however I was never bored or felt that it dragged in any way. Basically I loved it and I’m very excited for the next book in this trilogy.

 

In terms of my December TBR I’m going to keep to simple and not pick a load of books to read as I haven’t really been sticking my TBRs recently. I would love to get to The Makioka Sister by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki – I said I’d pick it up in November but that didn’t happen. Other than that I’m just going to read what I want at the time. What books do you want to get to by the end of the year? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Tensorate novellas / JY Yang

Title / The Black Tide of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune
Author / JY Yang
Publication Date / 2017
Overall Star Rating / ★.5 

 

The Black Tides of Heaven (236 pages) is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune (213 pages).

 

First of all I using two novellas is quite an interesting way to introduce us to this new world. Despite it being a novella though it covers alot of ground. You guys probably know by now that I love good world building and although this definitely lays the foundation of a fantastic world, it doesn’t quite pull through on the delivery. Yang, who identifies as non-binary, has created a unique world where everyone is born genderless and choose their gender later in life. I enjoyed this aspect of this world as it’s not something that I’ve come across in many (if any) fantasy books I’ve read. I think it is so important to see every part of our society reflected in the books we read so I loved this aspect of these novellas, However I think the world itself could have done with more depth. In my opinion it was just used as a back drop, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I prefer more exploration of fantasy worlds. I want to know more about the world and how it operates. You don’t get a good grasp of the world, in my opinion and there is so much potential for it. There were a few times throughout both novellas that I was confused because I didn’t understand the world or the magic system. Both needed more depth. Consequently I found that I couldn’t become fully immersed in the story or world. The focus is definitely set more on the characters, specifically the two twins and their relationship with each other. The sections that focus on this are definitely the most fleshed out. I really enjoyed seeing these characters grow and change, and see their relationship develop. If you like quite character driven fantasy stories, then these novellas may be worth checking out. The characters are generally well written, although I would say that there are perhaps too many characters at times. There are many interesting characters but that’s both a good and a bad thing. Due to the shortness of these novellas you can’t really get a lot of depth from the characters. I especially wanted to know more about Sonami – I thought she was a really intriguing character. I did think that overall the characters were well written and I especially enjoyed the twins relationship develop. The plot was a good but again could have had more depth. It skips time quite a bit and there were quite a few things that could have been explored more but wasn’t due to the size. Basically in some ways I think this may have worked better as a full length book, instead of novella. However I do quite like the idea of using novellas as a way of introducing readers to a new world because it does kind of leave you wanting more.

 

 Overall I thought these two novellas were great. I really liked the concept but I think the execution was perhaps a little lacking. Something just didn’t quite work for me. Part of me thinks that this may have been better if it was a full length novel because then there would be more time to fully explore things. The other part thinks that using novellas is quite an interesting way to introduce us to this world. Right now I am definitely interested in continuing with this series and I would recommend checking these novellas out. Have you guys read these? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

5 Reasons to Read The Hobbit

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s Friday so it’s time for another review and I thought I would do another 5 reasons to read style review. I wasn’t sure what book to talk about so I decided on a classic, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I actually didn’t read it until a couple of years ago (I think). I definitely saw why it is considered a classic. Let’s get started.

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  1. It can be enjoyed by a variety of ages. Originally written for Tolkien’s children, this classic can be loved by children or adults. It is just so good.
  2. The world is vividly drawn with fantastic characters. Middle-Earth is such a wonderful fantasy world and you will become fully invested in the characters.
  3. I think this is a great place to start if you are new to the fantasy genre or if you want to try some of Tolkien’s writing. LOTR is quite dense, so I think reading The Hobbit first is a good idea as it will give you a taste of Tolkien’s writing and it’s not as dense.
  4. Although a little slow to start, the plot is compelling and is so enjoyable to read. I think the atmosphere is also great throughout the book.
  5. If you are a big fantasy genre fan then I think this is well worth a read. It’s fantastic.

 

Basically I think it’s a really great book and I would definitely recommend reading it :). Have you read it? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

October Wrap Up and November TBR

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s time to talk about all the books I read in October… When I say all, I actually only mean 3 books. I had a bit of a slow reading month but I’m pretty pleased that I managed to read some books.

 

The Loving Cup / Winston Graham / ★★★
This was another good book in this series, but it did fall a little flat for me. Maybe because it’s been a while since I read the last book, so it took me a little while to work what was going on again. It was still good though and I will definitely be continuing on with this series.

 

1984 / George Orwell / ★★★.5
I think this is quite a hard one to rate. I thought that the writing was great and the flow of it made it quite easy to become absorbed. The world building was fantastic; you really feel the oppressive nature of this world. It is also definitely a thought provoking book, although perhaps a little dated now. It did drag a little bit at times but it didn’t really affect my reading experience.  I’ve been meaning to read this for ages now, so I’m glad that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. Overall I thought this was a great book and I would recommend reading it.

 

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Time of Dread / John Gwynne / ★★★.5
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
I’ve been aware of this author’s other series for a while, so when I saw he was coming out with a new series I thought I’d give it a go. I thought this was a great introduction to this trilogy, although it did take me a little while to get into (mainly due to my reading slump). I think one of the main strengths of this book were the range of characters; all of which were well written and engaging. This is a book with multiple perspectives, so if that’s not your thing than it’s probably something to be aware of going in, but I thought it was done well. Each perspective was distinctive and compelling. Overall I thought this was great. I will have a full review up closer to the release date (January 11th).

 

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Shadowblack / Sebastien de Castell / ★★★★
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
I thought this was a great continuation of this series. I find this series is so enjoyable and fun to read. Although it did take me a little while to get into (due to the reading slump), I thought the plot was compelling and it was great to be back with these characters. I especially enjoy the character of Reichis. If you’re looking for a new entertaining fantasy series to read, I definitely recommend checking these books out. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

 

Mistress of the Empire / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts / ★★★★
This was a fantastic ending to this trilogy. I was in a bit of a reading slump when I started reading this but after around 100 pages I was hooked. It was so good to be back with these characters and in this world. I think Mara is such a great female protagonist and is one of my favourite things about this trilogy. I also really enjoyed the scope of it – throughout the trilogy we see years of the characters lives and so we really see them grow. The writing is good, the plot is compelling and the characters are so well written. Overall I think this was a fantastic trilogy and I highly recommend checking it out.
I am currently reading The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, so I will definitely be finishing that soon. In November I would also love to read Monstress: Vol 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. Other books I want to get to include The Power by Naomi Alderman, Good People by Hannah Kent and The Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. I think I’m coming out of my reading slump so I hope to read more next month. What was your favourite book you read this month? Mine was definitely Mistress of the Empire. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Child of the Prophecy / Juliet Marillier

Title / Child of the Prophecy 
Author / Juliet Marillier
Publication Date / 2001 (first published)
Overall Star Rating / 

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Goodreads synopsis: The ancient forests of Sevenwaters are the land of lost dreams for Fainne and now she has been sent to destroy it with the magical arts she has learned since she was small.

 

This is the third book in the Sevenwaters series. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this one. Don’t get me wrong it was still a good book, but I personally felt that it wasn’t quite as great as the previous two in this series. I loved the first two so much and I just felt that this one fell a little flat in comparison. Having said that it was still a good book and Juliet Marillier is a fantastic writer. One of the main issues I had with this book was the main character, Fainne. I didn’t find her as compelling as the previous female protagonists and I found her a little frustrating at times. There were a few occasions I was questioning her decisions – they just didn’t make any sense to me. As a result I felt quite disconnected from her character and therefore also disconnected from the story itself as well. Also the love interest was infuriating to me. Throughout the book he is constantly saying that she can’t look after herself and she needs him to look after her. No, stop being a patronising idiot. As you can maybe tell I wasn’t a fan of the love interest. I felt that the plot was also a bit less compelling than the previous two books, maybe due to the characters. Another issue I had was the length. I think this book could definitely be shorted as it dragged a few times. I have to admit that I did skim read some sections. Having said that I think each book in the series have had some issues with the pacing, but this book seemed to drag more. Due to this issues it took me longer to read it than it took me to read the previous two. As expected from Juliet Marillier, the writing was wonderful and I find it so easy to become absorbed into her worlds. Obviously with this one I was slightly less absorbed but it was still good. It’s clear to me that Marillier is a talented writer, but something about this one fell a little flat for me. I just didn’t love it as much as the other two books in the series.

 

Overall this was a good continuation of this series, but for me it is definitely the weakest book so far. I just wasn’t the biggest fan of the protagonist, but Marillier is a fantastic writer.  I did still enjoy it though and would definitely recommend checking out this series. I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series at some point. Have you read any books from this series? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

Daughter of Shadow / Tyler Sehn

Title / Daughter of Shadow
Author / Tyler Sehn
Publication Date / 2015
Page no. / 534 (kindle)
Star Rating / ★★★

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Goodreads synopsis: Born with one foot in light and one in darkness, she is torn between both. Melea is the greatest warrior in the world. In service to the Lord of Light, she uses her abilities to kill for his divine vision. Shadows grow larger as the Light spreads—the world and the forces that define it are changing and Melea is caught in the center. Melea denies being a villain, refuses to be a hero, and would rather slash with the razors edge than walk along it. Fate spins, or so it is said, and Melea is cursed with the luck of the dead.

 

I first read this a similar time last year but decided on a whim to reread it in September. I initially gave it a 2.5 star rating but I bumped it up to 3.5. I will say from the start that this book isn’t perfect but I thought it had a lot of potential. The first thing I want to talk about is the plot. I personally found it to be quite compelling, although there are definitely parts of the story that do drag and are perhaps unnecessary. It is also a little confusing at times.  Due to this it was quite a slow read for me and I consider myself a relatively fast reader. However I never felt bored so it didn’t bother me too much. The relative frequent changes in perspectives wasn’t my favourite thing but I managed to keep track of what was going on with each character. If that is something that you don’t like though, it is probably something to be aware of going in. The writing is easy to get into and although the book is long it is not too dense. I think the action scenes were written well. The world is an interesting one too and I thought overall the world building was well done. There are few instances where I wanted a bit more explanation but perhaps that would come in the sequel. I would love to know more about this world. The first chapter definitely opens this book really well and I was intrigued from the start.

 

While the characters are generally well written, I think they were lacking some depth, especially Melea. I think she had so much potential to be an amazing character but in practice she just doesn’t quite live up to that potential. I think the main issue I had was that she’s frequently referred to as one of the best fighters and a ‘child of death’ but I wanted more proof of this. Yes it is clear she is a good fighter but I don’t think it’s clear that she’s supposed to be one of the best. I wanted more depth to her character. There were a few moments where I did get a little frustrated with her.  Having said that I did still really enjoy her character and I would say she is probably one of my favourite things about this book. I really like that she is not a hero but she’s also not a villain – it’s not black or white with her character. There are a few other quite intriguing characters too. I found each perspective to be engaging, although I definitely preferred Melea chapters.

 

Overall I thought this was a good start to this fantasy series, although I don’t know when or if the second book is going to be released. I would continue on with this series, however since there is no sign of a sequel I may lose interest. Hopefully it will be released soon. It’s still worth checking out if it sounds interesting to you. Sorry this is quite a short review. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa