Tag: high fantasy

Book Review: The First Binding – R.R. Virdi

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s review of the most epic of epic fantasy novels, The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. Advertised as The Name of the Wind meets City of Brass, this book appealed to me instantly and I added it to my TBR back at the beginning of the year. As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss and his The Name of the Wind series as a teenager, this book was full of promise… and a little touch of nostalgia.

And I got that from this book. The narrative style is just what I was looking for, and there’s even the odd little Easter egg that relates to the series if you can spot it.

I’m excited to share today’s review with you, which is just ahead of the publication of the book (18th August if you’d like to get yourself a copy). Before I get into sharing my thoughts on this book, I like to say a massive thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a copy of the book so I could read it and tell you all about it today. All the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and shared voluntarily. 

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

 

My Thoughts

Ari, known as The Storyteller, recounts his youth and introduction to the ten bindings all men must know. Written in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, fans of the series by Patrick Rothfuss will recognise and enjoy the narrative style. This is one of the primary reasons that I wanted to pick up this book for myself, and in every aspect, it didn’t disappoint!

Ari, aka ‘The Storyteller’ does not shy away from the dramatic. An expert narrator, he teases his audience and dabbles in anticipation to his audience. Slowly, his stories unravel in a way that steadily builds to a grand crescendo – it appeals to the audience. And with the very same craft and skill does R.R. Virdi tease Ari’s narrative across 800+ pages.

Capturing our attention from the opening lines, we go back to the very beginnings of Ari’s life as an abandoned child. From there we watch Ari advance in years and in his desire to learn about where he came from. Along the way, he encounters a vast array of characters. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are kind to him. Through sheer grit and determination, and with a few friendly faces to help him along, Ari struggles to find himself and his place in the world. He has no foundations from which to build, and so he is determined to make his own.

Epic in scope, and full of adventure, magic, and misdeeds, we reminisce on Ari’s early years. And the best thing is that this is just the beginning of the story. Of his story.

The First Binding is very well written. Full of in-depth and detailed world-building, with its own history and myths/legends, The First Binding is every bit as well developed as other popular and well-known fantasy series. In particular, I really enjoyed how the last chapter plays out, as we are almost taken back to the beginning. Almost. We have enjoyed this expansive journey with Ari, and yet the setting reminds us of where we humbly began. Consequently, it also inevitably leaves us wondering, what happens next?

Another point that really sold this book for me is how I enjoy magic systems in fantasy that have rules relating to the physical world. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson are favourites of mine because he also does the same thing.

This is also true to an extent in The First Binding. When magic takes place, things don’t just appear and disappear at will. The magic alters them in such a way that it changes their state, or where something is, for example. It is these same rules, rooted in science, that make the magic seem more plausible. They have limitations, meaning that any inconvenient plot point cannot just be made ‘right’ with magic. It must be a lot more difficult to employ a magic system that has such constraints, so I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to incorporate this, and well, and make the magic all the more believable!

Every good storyteller knows how to construct a cliffhanger, and R.R Virdi has done just that in The First Binding! I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens next. Inevitably, there are still unresolved plot points that have not yet been explored in full detail (such as the ten bindings themselves – we only know eight of them). Some of these I expect to span over multiple books. As a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy this depth and the promise of what is yet to come! 

Undeniably, The Fist Binding is one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I hope I have convinced you to pick this book up for yourself!

 

Author Bio

http://rrvirdi.com/about/

Sunday Summary – 14th August 2022

Happy Sunday evening everybody! If you are in the UK or British Isles, I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the lovely weather this weekend. It has been very warm even here, so I sympathise with everybody who’s had it hotter this weekend!

This week has been a good, productive one. I’ve been sticking to my goal of scheduling blog posts in advance, which I’m pleased about. I’ve finally managed to nail down a routine and a way of getting myself organised so I know exactly what I’m doing and when. And all it has taken is a week-to-week planner.

This week I have shared two posts with you. On Tuesday, I shared my 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post. In the post, I talk about six books published in 2022 that I’m keen to pick up for myself. One of those books I’ve been reading this week. If you are interested or looking for something new to pick up for yourself, check out this post.

On Friday it was the turn of my regular First Lines Friday feature. In that post, I decided to feature this week‘s current read, and a book I feel passionately about. So much so the weekend isn’t even over yet and I’ve read half the book already!

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was just over halfway through The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. If you follow my blog or have been following my recent posts, you will know that I have an upcoming blog tour post to share. In this post, I’ll be sharing my review of this book. Naturally, finishing reading it has been my number one priority for the week!

I’m pleased to say that I finished this epic fantasy on Friday night. I immediately started making some notes for my post, as this is going live tomorrow. The First Binding is one of my favourite reads of this year so far. Very epic in scope, the book is strongly reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind series.

I personally really enjoyed this as a teenager, and the narrative style of The First Binding is very like it. The thing that excites me the most, however, is that The First Binding is just the beginning of Ari‘s story. I already can’t wait to pick up the sequel and the first book isn’t even technically out yet!

This weekend, I have been reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. I originally wanted to read this book last month, however I swapped in favour of Pandora’s Jar instead. As glad as I am that did that, I’m also happy that I have now picked up this book. I’ve only been reading it for a couple of days, and I’m already 170 pages in. I also plan to be making more progress with the book tonight, so I expect to finish this shortly.

What this book is very good at doing is exposing ways in which women are unwittingly disadvantaged. You would naturally think decisions are made based on gender-neutral data. More often than not, that is not the case. Any women who have used voice recognition technology have probably encountered difficulties using it. Men, on the other hand, experience significantly fewer problems.

You would think that all the background data used to build the technology would be neutral. But, data suggests that samples the technology learns from are biased 70% in favour of male voices compared to women. This is just one example, (and one that affects me every time I write a blog post, as I dictate them). There are many more examples in this book, and far more serious as opposed to just inconvenient.

I’ve really enjoyed the first half of this book so far and I’m looking forward to reading the rest imminently.

Lastly, I started listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn this week. I didn’t overly love reading the Duke and I, so I’ve decided to try this second book in audiobook format to see if it’s any easier.

I have already listened to just under 25% of the book this week. Whilst it still has its moments that induce serious eye-rolling on my part, I’m finding it easier to get through because I don’t have time to dwell on the parts that make me cringe. It is definitely working out more palatable so far, so I hope to make further progress with this book next week!

 

Books Discovered

I confess I have added one book to my reading list this week. I re-tweeted a post with a number of book recommendations that another reader has put together, as I really liked the idea.

One of those recommendations, based on the love of mythology, is The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. Again, if you have been reading my blog of late, you will know that I have picked up Norse Mythology recently. I’ve had a bit of a rocky relationship with Neil Gaiman, but that’s a topic for another day. Despite this, I really enjoyed Norse Mythology and the snippets of stories included, with its vast array of characters.

One of the best known is the trickster Loki, and The Witch’s Heart is based significantly around the characters Angrboda and Loki, and their monstrous children.

I’m obviously really enjoying mythology at the moment, as I’ve also been picking up Greek mythology of late.

 

Coming Up…

Tomorrow I have my blog tour review of The First Binding by R.R. Virdi going live. I’ve been putting in a lot of effort into reading a book ahead of schedule, and I spent a good deal of time putting my thoughts together for that post. I really hope you can check it out and if you like the sound of the book, that it encourages you to get a copy for yourself. It was a really enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel!

Later in the week, I am back with another Shelf Control feature on Friday. The next book on my TBR, featured in that post, is a book cowritten by a well-known author of his genre (horror), together with his son.

It also falls into a little bit of feminism, which is something I’ve been reading a bit around lately (I’m even reading about it now!). If you have heard of, or already read this book, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. Otherwise, please check out that post on Friday so you can discover what it is!

And, as always, I’ll be back next Sunday with another Sunday Summary update post. I’ll discuss the books I’ve been reading, any I’ve added to my reading list, and lastly, let you know what’s coming up in the next week.

That’s all from me in Sunday Summary post. I’ve tried to get this drafted and live as soon as possible this evening. We have a slim chance of thunderstorms tonight. Whilst I would like to say I’m been noble in making sure you’re not missing out on my post, the truth is if we do get storms, I want to watch! My plan is to get more reading of Invisible Women done tonight, but if there are storms then productivity is going out of the window!

What have you read lately? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

 

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Sunday Summary – 7th August 2022

It’s Sunday night again and that can only mean one thing… it’s time for a Sunday Summary update! Have you had a good week? This week I’ve pushed the boat out and shared three posts with you as opposed to my usual two.

Earlier in the week, I shared my Monthly Wrap-Up for July. I had prepared most of this post last week, but I promptly added the last reading updates on Monday night, ready for this post to be published on Tuesday.

On Thursday I shared an additional post. I signed up to review A Feast of Phantoms by Kat Ross, and Thursday was my deadline for the review. I prepared it a little bit in advance and I had already shared my review on Goodreads and Amazon. However, Thursday was the day it went live on my blog.

On Friday, I shared my August TBR with you. I’m really excited to be taking part in a readathon for the very first time, and I have set myself an ambitious list for this month. It features two 800+ fantasy books, another Greek mythology retelling, as well as non-fiction, a dystopian science-fiction novel and lastly, a romance audiobook. If you’re interested in what I’m reading this month, you can check out that post using the link above.

 

Books Read

I have only had one reading goal this week, and that is to get through as much of The First Binding as possible.

I am really enjoying this epic fantasy. Other readers are not lying when they say it is very heavily influenced by Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. I loved that book/series as a teenager, and so going back to that narrative style is working really well for me.

I started the book at the beginning of this week, and I am just over 500 pages into this 817-page epic. As mentioned in my August TBR post, I am reviewing this book very soon as part of the publication tour. Understandably, that is why this is the first book on my list, and also my top priority at the moment. I’m well on track to finish this book this week with time to spare to draft my review. I am really enjoying it so far, and I can’t wait to share my full review with you the week after next.

 

Books Discovered

I confess that I have added three books to my TBR this week.

The first book I have added is one that I am expecting a physical copy of in the near future. I recently signed up for the Illumicrate book-only subscription box, and the book I am due to receive is Babel by R. F. Kuang. Another reader who I trust has recently read and adored Babel, so I’m looking forward to receiving my copy soon.

Inspired by my upcoming 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post, I have added two Greek mythology retelling books to my list. One of these books features on the 2022 post, however the other is a slightly older book by the same author that I can’t wait to pick up! Ariadne and Elektra are well-known books in the genre. Having recently read and enjoyed Pandora’s Jar, I am enjoying picking up books of this nature. Much like Pandora’s Jar, these stories focus on female characters of Greek Mythology. It’s a perspective I am really enjoying and want to read more of.

 

Coming Up…

I have prepared a couple of blog posts ready for you next week, in addition to my usual Sunday Summary update.

At the beginning of the week, I am sharing the previously mentioned 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post. In that post, I discuss six new releases, published this year, that I can’t wait to read. I already own copies of some of these books (and I might just be reading one of them right now). The books featured are from a wide variety of genres, so if you’re looking for your next new release to read, check out my post on Tuesday.

Later in the week, I am going back to my regular First Lines Friday feature. In that post, I’m talking about a book I plan to read later this month. With any luck, I have a lot to learn from this book and can go on to raise awareness of the issues it highlights.

I had planned to read this book last month, but ended up setting aside in favour of Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I hope you like the sound of it based on the introduction.

And, as always, I’ll be back next Sunday to share all my reading updates with you.

That’s all from me in Sunday Summary post. What have you read lately? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

 

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Book Review: A Feast of Phantoms – Kat Ross

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s book review of A Feast of Phantoms by Kat Ross. If you like books that are an eclectic range of genres, then this book is for you! With an underpinning western theme and elements of steampunk, this fantasy has a lot going on in a nice, concise page count that is approachable to read.

Full disclosure, I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All of the opinions shared in this post are my own.

 

A Feast of Phantoms – Kat Ross

Book cover of A Feast of PhantomsGenre: Fantasy

Pages: 270

Audience: New Adult

Publisher: Acorn

Publication Date: 17 Mar 2020

Rating: ***

 

Goodreads – A Feast of Phantoms

THE JOB

It was supposed to be simple.

Help Marshal Sebastian Hardin escort his prisoner one stop on the railway to Charter Oak.

Just one stop.

But when that prisoner is a savant who talks to ghosts, even the simplest plans have a way of falling apart.

THE LAW

Sheriff’s Deputy Ruth Cortez always does the right thing. Lucky Boy is a company town, dependent on the rich and powerful Carnarvon family. Besides which, the charismatic Sebastian Hardin isn’t an easy man to say no to. When his transport derails in the middle of the prairie, Ruth begins a relentless manhunt that leads straight into the dark heart of the Carnarvon empire.

THE FUGITIVE

Lee Merriweather favors sharp suits and fast trains – especially when he’s stealing them. At the ripe old age of 18, he’s managed to become the most wanted criminal in three territories. Lee can’t resist playing cat and mouse with a small-town deputy, but what starts as a game becomes deadly serious.

THE FIXER

Sebastian Hardin is the Carnarvons’ right hand, loyal to the death and willing to keep any secret to protect the family. They want Lee alive, but with the young savant’s disturbing abilities it won’t be an easy proposition. Whoever catches Lee gets the keys to the kingdom and the Carnarvons aren’t the only ones hunting him down. Sebastian has enough problems without falling for Deputy Cortez – but you can’t always choose who you love.

THE PHANTOMS

They terrorized the settlers until Calindra Carnarvon learned to speak their language. Her empire relies on controlling their telekinetic powers, but Lee Merriweather could destroy it all. And not even Lee suspects the shocking truth of the phantoms’ real nature.

 

My Thoughts…

If you like the crossover of genres in the likes of Stephen king’s The Dark Tower or Brandon Sanderson‘s second Mistborn trilogy, A Feast of Phantoms has a similar vibe. It is also set in a western type setting. The incorporation of steampunk elements reminded me of the technological advancements we see between the first and second Mistborn trilogy, which is why I have likened this book to that.

Ruth is a small-town girl happy with her quiet life as a deputy in the town of Lucky Boy. Life is fairly rudimentary, but it’s all she’s ever known. When she is conscripted to help the secret services transport a prisoner for trial, she doesn’t have much choice but to accept. From here on, Ruth world opens up to magic, intrigue, and danger that she couldn’t foresee.

I really liked Ruth as a character. I love that she has very strong, good morals. In a world that is clearly corrupt, Ruth is a breath of fresh air. She is also very headstrong, and despite her youth, she is able to make a decision and act upon it. Quite often characters of this age can be a bit wishy-washy or uncertain. A lot of the plot conflict derives around that issue.

That’s not the case in A Feast of Phantoms, however. Instead, Ruth is decisive and more often than not, it is this that gets her into more trouble… Despite her good intentions.

A Feast of Phantoms has a fast pace plot. Once the story has been set up, we are whisked upon the mission to escort Lee Merriweather to his fate, and all the drama and turmoil that unfolds thereafter., In true fashion, all is not as it seems. Hardly to be expected, given that the secret services are involved. Instead, Ruth finds herself dragged into a conflict she could never have imagined and is far away from her hometown.

A Feast of Phantoms is also a short read, and very easy to pick up. I managed to read this book in just a couple of days. The narrative style is easy to follow and get lost in. Reading this book was effortless, and the story keeps you hanging on to read just one more chapter… over and over again.

The good news for fans of this book is that it is the first of a trilogy. This first instalment leaves us on a cliffhanger that will have us picking up the next one to know what happens next!

What are your thoughts on this book? As always, let me know in the comments or on social media. Get in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or of my new blog posts as and when they go live!

Until next time,

 

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Sunday Summary – 31st July 2022

Hello readers – welcome back to another Sunday Summary update from me. As always, I hope you’ve had a good week.

This week I have shared a couple of blog posts with you. On Tuesday, I shared a review of The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor. This was the second book I read by this author; I enjoyed this one. As I read the book about a year ago, I felt it was time I finally committed my thoughts and shared them with you.

Later in the week, I shared a Shelf Control post. In that post, I had a look at a non-fiction true crime book that I am excited to read. The opening line of this book is intriguing, and I haven’t heard about this incident before. If you want to find out more, you can find a link to this post here.

 

Books Read

I have finished a couple of books this week.

I originally started the week by continuing my read of Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb. As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was approximately halfway through this book. I started to make further progress, before picking up another book that had a more immediate review deadline.

I started reading A Feast of Phantoms around midweek, and I finished this book within a few days. The review deadline for this book is coming up next week, and so I needed to finish the book in time to prepare my review.

It was a really quick interesting read. If you enjoy fantasy books in a Western setting, or elements of steampunk, this is a book you should get on with. I enjoyed this combination and the plot line was action-packed and easy to read.

After finishing A Feast of Phantoms, I returned to Royal Assassin to finish the book by the end of this month. I finished the last 32 pages of the book just now and I loved the ending! As for the resolution, I had no idea what I was expecting, but it is so cleverly written and I cannot wait to see what happens next! I already own the last book of this trilogy, so I may just be picking this up before too long.

I am rapidly becoming a huge fan of Robin Hobb. She has already built an interesting epic fantasy, and I have only read two books out of about sixteen in total. One of the things I enjoy about her writing is that she is not delicate with her characters. The ending of this book proves this!

 

Books Discovered

Given that I have added enough books to my TBR of late, I’m pleased to say that I haven’t added anything new this week.

 

Coming Up…

This week has been an interesting one in terms of preparing my blog posts in advance. I have done what I can with some posts, however, I found I was able to start them, but not finish them. At least at first.

My first post of the week will be going live on Tuesday, and that is going to be my monthly wrap-up. For obvious reasons, I’ve not been able to finish writing that post as my reading progress up to today needs to be included. A few days ago, I drafted what progress I could. Tomorrow I will finish off the post with the last updates and it will be with you on Tuesday.

Next, I started drafting my review post for A Feast of Phantoms. When I first started drafting this post, I was still reading the book. So, I ended up doing a lot of setup and left the section for my review blank. In the end, I filled this in on Friday after finishing the book, and I have scheduled the post to go live on Thursday next week.

I am sharing an additional post this week. As it is the beginning of a brand-new month, I’m going to be sharing my planned TBR. This is the one post that I haven’t drafted as yet, but I have set myself a list and I will be drafting this post tomorrow ready to be shared on Friday.

And then last, but not least, I will be back with another Sunday Summary update this time next week. You can expect all my reading updates as usual.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Sunday Summary post. Have you been reading anything good lately? Do you have any book recommendations for me?

 

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Sunday Summary – 24th July 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post. With the exception of the weekend’s washout weather, we’ve had a pretty good week here. I hope you have too?

Both of this week’s blog posts were prepared in advance for the first time in a long time. I am glad I was able to take the opportunity to get ahead, and I’ll be continuing this going forward.

This week, I scheduled a Top Ten Tuesday post as I had complete discretion over the topic. Having looked back at what has been popular on my blog in the past, I have a lot of views for posts featuring favourite book quotes, as well as my review of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Naturally, I decided to combine the two topics together, and shared my top ten quotes from the Game of Thrones series (so far!)

Later this week I shared a First Lines Friday post. In this post, I decided to pick up a book that has been on my TBR for a very long time. This is to get me excited about the book because I intend to read it soon! I have owned my copy of this book since 2016 at the latest, although realistically, I purchased it earlier than that. I’ve talked about it a couple of times on my blog recently; you may be able to guess what it is if you read another Top Ten Tuesday post I shared in the last month or two.

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was 179 pages into The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. This particular book was loaned to me by my sister’s boyfriend. Since they were both over visiting this week, I wanted to finish it and return his copy before they left.

I’m pleased to say that I managed to finish this book with a full day to spare! The book itself is about 425 pages long. That sounds like a lot, but the font is a lot larger than I’m used to and I flew through it!

The story is compelling as well, which made it very easy for me to read large sections at a time. Dare I say it, but I think I actually preferred The Man Who Died Twice over The Thursday Murder Club. Both are good books, but for me the sequel just pipped it. As with the first book of the series, Richard Osman manages to weave in a topic that is quite serious in nature but wrapped up in a humorous book with cracking characters. At least this one didn’t make me cry!

Next, I picked up my current read, Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb. Where The Man Who Died Twice was not too long and printed with very large text, Royal Assassin is the complete opposite. My paperback copy has over 600 pages, and the text is significantly smaller! At least there is no time pressure for me to read this book. It’s not a bad thing either because I love dense, detailed fantasy books! They are my go-to comfort read. 

Despite it’s length, I’m still doing really well with my reading progress. I only started this book mid-week, but I’m already 329 pages in, which equates to about 50% read. I’m really enjoying the story so far, and it picks up well from the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice. I only read this first book of the series very recently, so reading Royal Assassin has been easy as I’m familiar with what has gone before.

One of the main things I like about Robin Hobb’s books so far is that she’s not particularly kind to her characters. That might sound like a weird comment, but when you know the author is going to ‘protect’ the main character, it doesn’t feel realistic. Already, FitzChivalry has endured far more than a teenager should, and we know damn well that he is only at the beginning. 

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to keep up the good pace with this book and finish this within the next few days!

 

Books Discovered

On the back of last week’s Sunday Summary post, in which I shared that I had read Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes, I was recommended another book by Happy Panda.

A Thousand Ships, also written by Natalie Haynes, is a book that once again features the stories of several female characters in Greek myth affected by the Trojan war. Such stories are often dominated by the tales of heroic men, but as with Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes seeks to highlight a largely unwritten perspective – that of the women.

 

Coming Up…

I’ve been keeping up with scheduling my blog posts ahead of time and I’m excited to share what I have scheduled for you next week!

On Tuesday I am sharing a book review. Just over a year ago, I finished my read of my second book by C.J. Tudor, The Taking of Annie Thorne. I really enjoyed this creepy mystery/psychological thriller/horror novel, and I think readers who are fans of these genres will too! I hope you can check out my post on Tuesday, and that my post will persuade you to pick up the book for yourself!

On Friday I will be publishing my next Shelf Control post. Having taken a look at the next book on my TBR, I share why I’m looking forward to picking up a non-fiction novel with a very sinister opening line:- 

“On the Saturday morning of January 9, 1993, while Jean Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting…”.

If the opening line to this true crime novel has drawn you in as much as it does me, check out my post on Friday and I’ll tell you all the reasons why I’m excited to read it!

That’s a wrap for this week’s Sunday Summary update. Have you got any current reads you would like to share or any recommendations for me?

 

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First Lines Friday – 22/07/2022

Hello everyone – happy Friday and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular (typically fortnightly) series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love. They might be books I am interested in and/or are on my TBR. Equally, I can even just experiment with something new in these posts! I make the rules! 

For this week‘s First Lines Friday post I wanted to feature a book I have owned for a very long time and have every intention to pick up soon! I have featured this book in a few posts of late (in my Top Ten Tuesday – Books I was SO EXCITED to get but haven’t read, for example), and it’s playing on my mind how long I’ve had this one. Looking for material for today’s post, I decided to take a look at the opening lines and I was pulled in immediately. I can’t wait to pick up this fantasy novel in the coming months!

Let’s jump into today’s intro!

 

Forest litter crunched under Evnis’ feet, his breath misting as he whispered a curse. He swallowed, his mouth dry.

He was scared, he had to admit, but who would not be? What he was doing this night would make him traitor to his king. And worse.

He paused and looked back. Beyond the forest’s edge he could still see the stone circle, behind it the walls of Badun, his home, its outline silvered in the moonlight. It would be so easy to turn back, to go home and choose another path for his life. He felt a moment of vertigo, as if standing on the edge of a great chasm, and the world seem to slow, waiting on the outcome of his decision. I have come this far, I will see it through. He looked up at the forest, a wall of impenetrable shadow; he pulled his cloak tighter and walked into the darkness.

 

 

Malice – John Gwynne

Genre: Epic fantasy

Pages: 628

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 1 Dec 2012

 

 

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle. An uneasy peace reigns, but now giants stir once more, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of gigantic worms. Those who can still read the signs see a prophecy realised: sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield.

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors and yearns to join them, determined that he will make his family proud. It is only when everything he knows is threatened that he discovers the true cost of becoming a man.

As the Kings look to their borders, and priests beg answers from the Gods, only a chosen few know that the fate of the world will be decided between two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. And with their coming will be a war to end all wars.

 

My Thoughts…

Malice has been on my TBR since at least 2016 – but realistically longer. That’s the earliest I can recall owning this book. It pre-dates having my blog so I have no means of going back to work out when I obtained my copy of this book.

I did start reading this book, but only very casually. I had picked it up prior to 2016; I distinctly remember packing up the book as part of my things when I left a job in February that year. The book had a paperclip in it as a means of marking the page. To this day you can see the indent of where the paperclip sat for so long, at the beginning of chapter 3 on page 29.

That tells you how far I got!

I have heard so many good things about John Gwynne, and I’ve seen all the books of his that I want to read. Naturally, it makes sense that I start with reading the book I physically own first. Not only that, but Malice is his debut novel and it comes highly recommended! As an epic fantasy with over 600 pages, it is right up my alley!

I plan on reading this book within the next couple of months, and I can’t wait to dive in and tell you what I think. I am really hoping to love this book, because as I said, there are others of his that I want to pick up. But, more importantly in the short term, this is the first part of his The Faithful and the Fallen series. If I go on to love this book as much as I hope, then I have another new series that I can enjoy.

Have you read Malice, or any other books by John Gwynne? Would you recommend them?

 

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First Lines Friday – 20/05/2022

Welcome to my First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular (typically fortnightly) series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

I knew I wanted to set myself another challenge for this post. Sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom of choice to be able to pick up anything at random and feature it. However, I do relish a challenge. I was in the mood to set one for myself when I drafted my last Sunday Summary post… so here we are! The challenge I set for myself in today’s post is to feature a book I plan on reading sometime this year. It’s a fun topic because it gives me a way of getting excited for the book in advance, but the best thing about it is that I get to share some of my reading plans with you!

But, before we jump right into the spoilers, shall we check out today’s intro and see if you can guess what it is?

 

A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers. A complete telling would reach back beyond the founding of the first Duchy, and if search names were remembered, would you tell us of Outislanders raiding from the sea, visiting as pirates a shore more temperate and gentler than the icy beaches of the Out Islands. But we do not know the names of these earliest forebears.

And of the first real king, little more than his name and some extravagant legends remain. Taker his name was, quite simply, and perhaps with that naming began the tradition that daughters and sons of his lineage would be given names that would shape their lives and beings. Folk beliefs claim that such names were sealed to the newborn babes by magic, and that these royal offspring were incapable of betraying the virtues whose names they bore. Passed through fire and plunged through salt water and offered to the winds of the air; thus were names sealed to these chosen children. So we are told. A pretty fancy, and perhaps once there was such a ritual, but history shows us that this was not always sufficient to bind the child to the virtue that named it…

 

 

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Goodreads – Assassin’s Apprentice

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

 

My Thoughts…

If you know your fantasy books, then you may have picked up a hint from the first sentence of today’s extract, even if you don’t recognise it in its entirety. The keyword was Farseers. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is the first book in the Farseers trilogy and I am finally going to start it this year!

I’ve sampled reading this book a couple of times – the first on my phone years ago and another time I think I started reading it on an iPad. But here’s the thing, I don’t read that way. I think I wanted to try the book out, to sample it and see what I thought. I was excited enough about it to go out of my way to try it, but it never quite made it to be my current read. It’s my own fault. I was always trying it at a time when I was reading something else, and it wasn’t really a priority.

But I’m going to make it a priority.

I love fantasy and I have great hopes for this series and this author. One of my friends with whom I have a similar reading taste is a fan of Robin Hobb and she has recommended these books to me in the past. I really liked what I’ve seen based on the first of chapter or two I’ve tried, and this year I swear I’m going to start in earnest.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a book series that makes it onto my bookshelves. My copy of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book, is currently on kindle, and I will read it that way for the moment. If I love it as much as I think I’m going to, then I’ll end up buying a paperback copy and purchasing the rest of the series that way as well!

I can’t wait to invest time into this properly. It’s full of potential and I am looking for a new fantasy series and author to dive into! I feel like this is going to be the right time to give this a go!

 

This has been quite a long First Lines Friday post, but I hope you can tell how excited I am for this book! Have you read Assassin’s Apprentice, the rest of the trilogy or even any of the other books also written by Robin Hobb? I’d be really interested to see how you feel about the books and her writing, so please drop me a comment below and let me know what you think!

 

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Shelf Control #44 – 11/03/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my Shelf Control post! Shelf Control is a fortnightly feature here on my blog and is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it.

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

After knocking 5 books off my TBR, I decided today’s feature is a fantasy novel I clapped eyes on back in 2017; it caught my attention immediately! The author is new to me, but I read some fantastic reviews not long after publication and so I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

So, do you want to find out what today’s book is?

 

A Plague of Giants – Kevin Hearne

Goodreads – A Plague of Giants

MOTHER AND WARRIOR

Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons—all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY

Dervan is a historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.

REBEL AND HERO

Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all—if it doesn’t destroy him first.

Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine—and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

 

My Thoughts…

Highly rated epic fantasy books will always end up on my TBR if my attention is brought to them. I remember seeing quite a few posts about this book around the time it was published in 2017. However, it’s the review of a trusted blogger that persuaded me to add this to my TBR. I’ve linked that review below so you can check it out for yourself. I trust Drew‘s opinion on books as I think we have similar taste!

https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/a-plague-of-giants-seven-kennings-1-by-kevin-hearne-book-review/

I am a sucker for fantasy and the fact that it’s written by an author I haven’t read before doesn’t scare me off. I am always looking to try new authors and potentially find a new favourite. George RR Martin and Brandon Sanderson will take some knocking off the pedestal, but I won’t rule out that someone could do it!

I like the diversity of the characters alluded to in the synopsis. There’s going to be somebody for everyone to root for, depending on what attributes you like in people. As a reader I also like to interpret a narrative from different perspectives. You know how much I love A Game of Thrones; that tale has chapters written from 20+ characters in the books to date. I appreciate the scope on A Game of Thrones is a much larger than this book, but I’m still excited for the principal all the same! They’re always going to be characters you like more than others and I’m interested to see who falls into what category here!

Did you enjoy today’s Shelf Control feature? Have you read A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne, or anything like it? Let me know in the comments!

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First Lines Friday – 28/01/2022

Hello and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series in which I take the opportunity to share the opening introductions of a multitude of books. These may be books I’ve already read, are looking to read, or even just a little bit intrigued about.

For today’s post I set myself the challenge of featuring a book I read before I started my blog. I started blogging back in 2017, so most of the reads that fall into this bracket are those as I picked up as a teenager. Today’s featured book is the first in a series that I adored completely and utterly.

Can you guess what today’s featured book is from the intro?

Azoth squatted in the alley, cold mud squishing through his bare toes. He stared at the narrow space beneath the wall, trying to get his nerve up. The sun wouldn’t come up for hours, and the tavern was empty. Most taverns in the city had dirt floors, but this part of the Warrens had been built over marshland, and not even drunks wanted to drink standing ankle-deep in mud, so the tavern had been raised a few inches on stilts and floored with stout bamboo poles.

Coins sometimes dropped through the gaps in the bamboo, and the crawlspace was too small for most people to go after them. The guild’s bigs were too big and the littles were too scared to squeeze into the suffocating darkness shared with spiders and cockroaches and rats and the wicked half-wild tomcat the owner kept. Worst was the pressure of the bamboo against your back, flattening you every time a patron walked overhead. It had been Azoth’s favourite spot for a year, but he wasn’t a small as he used to be. Last time, he got stuck and spent hours panicking until it rained and the ground softened beneath him enough that he could dig himself out.

 

The Way of Shadows – Brent Weeks

Goodreads – The Way of Shadows

From New York Times Bestselling author Brent Weeks…

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

 

My Thoughts…

As a young adult I was really taken with the synopsis of this book, and my previous read of this series sticks with me because I pretty much binge-read it! I loved it so much! Back then I pretty much read fantasy books exclusively. There was the odd exception, but it was rare. For a book to stand out amongst all other fantasy books I read around the same time, I think it says something!

I read these books back in 2014 and I would love to go back to them again. The synopsis even appeals to me now; I have every confidence I could read them again as I really got on with the writing style and the flow of action. The first book alone is around 650 pages long, so on the one hand it’s not for the faint-hearted, but equally I found it so easy to read. It’s one of those things where if you’re really into it, you’re into it.

I since went on to read another book of his, The Black Prism, in 2017 but I only gave that a 3 star rating. It was a perfectly acceptable read, but I haven’t gone on to continue with the series. Another reason I’d like to go back to The Way of Shadows is to see how the two books compare. It’s been a long time since I read this series and I have read a lot of books since then. I want to see if my new perspective is consistent with my original experience or whether my reading tastes have changed.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post! Have you read The Way of Shadows, or any of the other books in the series? Let me know in the comments!

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