Mini Review: 2 Series

 

Series title / Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
Title of book 1/ Wolf Brother
Author / Michelle Paver
No. of books / 6
Star Rating / ★★★
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world. Only one boy can stop it—12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it.

 

This is probably one of my favourite all time series. It’s probably classed as middle grade. I say probably because I don’y really know what middle grade is as someone from the UK. I first read it years ago and I’ve reread quite a few times now. The first thing I love about this series is the setting. The author clearly did a whole lot of research for this series and it’s resulted in a wonderfully vivid world. The world building is one of the main strengths of this series. The characters are just as well written. Through the six books you really become invested in them, however I will say that their development could have been better. Wolf is, of course, one of my favourite characters. I will say that these are quite light fantasy reads, so if your looking for denser fantasy worlds than you probably won’t enjoy this one. Having said that these are great, fun reads. The plot is compelling throughout the six books, although perhaps a little simplistic. The pacing is also slightly off at times but it doesn’t detract too much from the overall reading experience. I was hooked very early on and I flew through each book pretty quickly. If you enjoy middle grade, than you definitely need to check out this series. Overall I think this is a great series with one of my favourite settings.

 

 

Series title / Bartimaeus series
Title of book 1 / The Amulet of Samarkand
Author / Jonathan Stroud
No. of books / 3
Star Rating / ★★★
Goodreads synopsis of book 1: Nathaniel is a magician’s apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hot-shot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of his elders, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who’s boss. With revenge on his mind, he summons the powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace’s greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion.

 

I think this is such an underrated series as I haven’t seen it around the bookish community at all. This trilogy was actually one of the first I read and so I always will think it’s great. It has a compelling story, well written characters and good writing. The world building is also great. If you are looking for a fast-paced, entertaining adventure than you should definitely check these books out. I will say that this book does rely on footnotes to give more information so if that’s not your thing than you may want to avoid this book. I personally find that they worked quite well and add a better understanding of the world and characters – it never felt bogged down. One of my favourite things about this book is Bartimaeus. He is so snarky and it’s amazing. The relationship between Nathaniel and Bartimaeus is great and the development throughout the three books is a pleasure to read. Nathaniel can be kind of irritating at times but I was still invested in his character. I will say that I think this trilogy is aimed at younger readers but it can still be enjoyed by a variety of ages. To me these are quick, fun reads that I’ve really enjoyed reading on multiple occasions. There is also a prequel (The Ring of Soloman) which is also great.

 

Both of these series are great so I thought it was about time to review and recommend them to you guys. My favourite of the two is probably the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series but I love both. Have you guys read either of these? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

It’s Monday… What are you reading?

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

 

I have to admit that I haven’t read alot at all so far this month. I think partly because I’m not in the best head space right now so I don’t have the motivation to read. I have started two books though and I hope to get into a reading mood soon. The two books I’m currently reading are 1984 by George Orwell and Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny, which is the third and final book in the Empire trilogy. I am so excited to see how this trilogy concludes and I’ve been meaning to read 1984 for a while now.

 

I’m sorry that this is such a short post but I don’t have a lot to say really. I hope that’s okay with you guys – I don’t want to disappoint anyone with my blog. Anyway what are you guys currently reading? I’d love to know. I hope you are all having wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

The Shadow Of What Was Lost / James Islington

Title / The Shadow Of What Was Lost 
Author / James Islington
Publication Date / 2016
Star Rating / ★★★.5
Goodreads synopsis: As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought – and lost – before he was born. Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows that there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests. But when Davian discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything. To the north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…
This is the first book in the Licanius trilogy and is the author’s debut book. I thought this was a solid introduction to this trilogy, although it wasn’t perfect. It took me a little while to get into it but after a couple of chapters I was invested in the story. The world is well crafted with an interesting magic system, although I did want more detail on certain things throughout the book. I wanted a bit more on the different cultures of this world specifically.  Overall though the world is rich in detail. There are two types of magic users in this world – Gifted, who are able to tap into the Essence, and Augurs, who were once viewed as almost Gods. There is a school for those who can tap into the Essence and if you fail to graduate from this school you become a Shadow, a second rate citizen. I really liked this world. It is clearly well thought out and has a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing how it is expanded on in the future books. I will admit to the characters being a little generic, but they are still well written. You’ve probably seen similar characters in other fantasy books but Islington still manages to keep them compelling. The character development is also well done. However I think some of the minor characters were a little flat. This book does have quite a few characters to follow but they are all distinctive. If you are not normally a fan of multiple perspective, than it is perhaps something to be aware of. Personally I think it worked quite well this time and grants the reader a larger scale of the events of the book. I know it can sometimes be quite jarring to switch perspectives but that wasn’t the case this time. I would also say that this is quite a character driven fantasy, so that’s probably something to be aware of too. The pacing is a little uneven at times but the plot is generally compelling throughout. At it’s very core this is a coming of age story with quite a few twists and turns along the way. Intrigue plays a part as well, which I am a big fan of. There is a few instances of the plot dragging, especially during some of the travelling scenes. Overall it was kind of long winded. One thing I got a little frustrated with was that characters would be told to do something and told how important it is, but there is very little explanation as to why. They just kind of accept it and go. Maybe that was just me. Having said all that I think this book shows great potential and I definitely excited to see how things progress in the next two books. There was just something about this one that I didn’t love it but it’s still a good read.
Overall this was a good book and a solid introduction to this new world. It does have a lot of traditional fantasy elements/tropes but it is still an enjoyable story. Although it’s quite a hefty fantasy I think it was pretty accessible and so could be a good place to start if you are new to the fantasy genre. I will definitely be checking out the sequel, An Echo of Things to Come, when it comes out in paperback early next year – the hardback is out now. I would recommend checking this out, if you are interested by the synopsis. I also just want to mention how great the covers are – definitely some new favourites. Have you guys read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.
Pippa

The Black Magicians trilogy / Trudi Canavan

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.

 

Pippa

 

 

Favourite Fictional Places Part 2

Hi guys, how are you all? I hope you are all well. Today I thought I would share some more of my favourite fictional places. There are some incredible worlds out there and I love talking about some of my favourites. I’ve done one of these post before, which you can check out here. Let’s get started with four more fictional worlds I love.

 

Renthia / the Queens of Renthia series / Sarah Beth Durst
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.

 

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Sevenwaters / the Sevenwaters series / Juliet Marillier
Goodreads synopsis: Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.
When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

 

Sharakhai / Songs of the Shattered Sand series / Bradley P. Beaulieu
Goodreads synopsis: Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings—cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens, and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.
Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power…if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.

 

Dara / the Dandelion Dynasty trilogy / Ken Liu
Goodreads synopsis: Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

 

All of these worlds are absolutely amazing and quite unique. I love that in Renthia everything is built in trees, and that Sharakhai is so different from your typical fantasy setting. Sevenwaters sounds like such a magical place, and I would love to be able to explore Dara. How amazing would it be if you could visit these places? Obviously I know that’s impossible though :). What is one of your favourite fictional places? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Stranger of Tempest / Tom Lloyd

Title / Stranger of Tempest
Author / Tom Lloyd
Publication Date / 2001 (first published)
Standalone or series? / Book 1 of the God’s Fragment series
Star Rating / 

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Goodreads synopsis: Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Shattered Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent’s principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. It might never bring a man fame or wealth, but he’s not forced to rely on others or kill without cause. Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won’t turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough; the mercenaries less stupid and vicious than most he’s met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.

 

You guys are probably aware by now that I am always up for trying new fantasy books and this one sounded like something I’d enjoy. Unfortunately this was very much a case of it’s not you it’s me, if that makes sense. This was just one of those books that didn’t work for me. It definitely has potential to be a good fantasy series though but I personally had a few small complaints and one bigger complaint.  Let’s start with the smaller ones. I wasn’t invested in the characters at all and felt that they lacked a little depth. Having said that, they were still well written. I think Lynx was the most well rounded character but I didn’t feel like I understood him. I couldn’t get a grasp on his motives or his personality, which makes it a little tricky to become invested. The other characters lacked depth and I didn’t really care about any of them. Maybe we’ll get more background in later books. As I say though this is only a minor issue – it didn’t detract too much from my overall reading experience. The other small complaint was the pacing, although this really goes together with my main issue. To me the pacing was off and so didn’t help me become invested in the book, if that makes sense. My main complaint was the plot. It just felt very aimless to me. Basically this is your standard mercenary group plot with quite a bit of walking through tunnels in the middle of the book. I read this book over a couple of weeks because I had very little motivation to read it – the plot hadn’t drawn me in. I’ve said before in previous reviews that I don’t mind slower plots but this felt like it was going nowhere. It dragged quite a bit and I will admit to skim reading a few small sections. The fact that I couldn’t get a grasp on characters motives didn’t help me understand what was going on. I also think the second half let the book down overall. Something else that was missing for me was the atmosphere. There was very little to no suspense. This lack of atmosphere also contributed to me not becoming immersed in this book as I never had a true sense of extreme danger. Maybe I missed something, I don’t know. The narrative switches between now and then, which I wasn’t a huge fan of but I didn’t find it too jarring. I think because it wasn’t constantly changing between the two. On a more positive note, I thought it was well written, although it is overly descriptive so if that is not your thing than I would probably avoid this book. I think the dialogue was a bit mixed at times. Sometimes it was quite well done, other times a little fumbled. I can say that the world building was pretty good and there were some good action scenes too. The last thing I’ll mention is that this felt more like a standalone book than a first book in a series. By the end of this book things were wrapped up quite nicely and so I didn’t feel like there was a bigger picture or underlying threat to explore in the next book – maybe I just missed something. I don’t want to put anyone off trying this book though, as there are many great reviews of it on Goodreads.

 

Overall this book had a lot of potential and I think a lot of people will enjoy it, unfortunately I wasn’t one of them. I am not going to enjoy every book I read, so I would still recommend checking this out if the synopsis sounds appealing to you, as I think this was a good book. Although I didn’t love it I still think this was a good introduction to this series. I won’t be continuing on with this series though. Have you read this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

TTT: Hidden Gems in the Fantasy Genre

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It is that time of the week for another Top Ten Tuesday. It is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This weeks topic is hidden gem books in the fantasy genre. No surprise that I choose to talk about fantasy this week :). I’m going to be sharing some books that I feel are a bit underrated and deserve more love. Quite a few of these have under 1,000 Goodreads rating, others I just don’t really see alot of in the bookish community. I have eight books to share with you guys today. Let’s get started.
  1. Fudoki / Kij Johnson / Standalone – fantastic mix of fantasy and historical fiction
  2. The Ninth Rain / Jen Williams / 3 books planned, 1 currently out – I thought this was an amazing start to this trilogy.
  3.  Echoes of the Fall series / Adrian Tchaikovsky / 2 books currently out – one of my new favourite settings, as well as great characters and plot
  4. The Songs of Shattered Sands series / Bradley Beaulieu / 6 books planned, 2 currently released – unique setting and fantastic plot, if a little slow to start
  5. The Tale of Shikanoko series / Lian Hearn / Depending on what editions you get this will either be in two books or four books – great fantasy set in a mythical Japanese world
  6. The Dandelion Dynasty trilogy / Ken Liu / 3 books planned, 2 currently out – the first two books were amazing, although the first book is quite dense
  7. Daughter of the Empire / Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts / Trilogy, originally published in the 80’s. I thought this was a fantastic introduction to this trilogy. This is a must read if you like fantasy with a lot of intrigue/politics
  8. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series / Michelle Paver / 6 book series (all released) – these books are definitely aimed at younger readers but they can still be enjoyed by a range of ages. I thought this series was great
That’s all I have for you guys today. I highly recommend checking out all of these books, as I really think they deserve more love. Do you guys have any hidden gem books? I’d love to know which books you think deserve more love. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa