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Book Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Title: The Waking Fire

Author: Anthony Ryan

Series: The Draconis Memoria #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders. -Goodreads

The Review: 

Have you ever read a book that felt like it was written just for you? That’s how The Waking Fire made me feel. It had everything I love in fantasy novels and then some. And it was also one of the best dragon books I’ve ever read – nice!

The Waking Fire was a cool merge of dragon-centric high fantasy and 1920s era steampunk. It was filled with an abundance of exotic settings – everything from the high seas to ancient ruins deep in the jungle. It took a while before dragons really became the champions of the story, but they were definitely integral to the plot from the very beginning. The entire novel revolves around dragon blood and how each type can provide magical properties to a handful of gifted humans. It read very much like Sanderson’s Mistborn saga (where metals provide these properties rather than dragon blood), which is why I think fans of that series would most definitely enjoyed this one (and vice versa).

The Waking Fire is a multiple POV story, and I’d have a hard time telling you which perspective I enjoyed the most – they were all good! One thing I’ve always appreciated about Ryan’s work is that his female characters are always strong harbingers of change equal to his male characters. I wouldn’t say I found any of the women in The Waking Fire particularly relatable, but they were all equally kickass and interesting.

This book is one amazing armchair adventure that will give you one surprise after another. There were many passages I reread because the content was so dang cool, especially near the end. This book will punch you in the gut the entire way through and make you love every moment.

Overall, with the combination of dragons, exotic settings, amazing characters, great writing, and surprising plot, The Waking Fire is officially one of my new favorite books. I highly recommend it to fantasy fans, especially if you loved Blood Song – the first book in Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow Trilogy.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

 

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Mini Book Review: Gauntlgrym by R.A. Salvatore

gauntlgrymTitle: Gauntlgrym

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Series: Neverwinter #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The OverviewDrizzt joins Bruenor on his quest for the fabled dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym: ruins said to be rich with ancient treasure and arcane lore. But before they even get close, another drow and dwarf pair stumbles across it first: Jarlaxle and Athrogate. In their search for treasure and magic, Jarlaxle and Athrogate inadvertently set into motion a catastrophe that could spell disaster for the unsuspecting people of the city of Neverwinter–a catastrophe big enough to lure even the mercenary Jarlaxle into risking his own coin and skin to stop it. Unfortunately, the more they uncover about the secret of Gauntlgrym, the more it looks like they can’t stop it on their own. They’ll need help, and from the last people they ever thought to fight alongside again: Drizzt and Bruenor. -Goodreads

The Mini Review: 

Salvatore strikes again! I took a little break from this saga after The Ghost King (which ripped out my heart), but picking up Gauntlgrym after all that time felt like coming home.

Salvatore is known for his detailed hand-to-hand combat scenes, which pack a lot of excitement into his books. I have to say, after 20 or so novels of the same back-and-forth swordplay, I started to get a little… bored isn’t the right word, but let’s just say it lacks a bit of the thrill it once had for me. That said, I can’t imagine a Drizzt book without intricate fight scenes, so you really can’t win with me. ;P

Gauntlgrym’s storyline required an unusual passage of time compared to others in the series, which was a cool change of pace that kept me interested throughout. I also loved the mix of new and old characters – the elf woman (cover image), among my new favorites.

Overall, Gauntlgrym (I am proud to say that I can finally spell it without having to look it up– go me!) was a fun installment and excellent continuation of the series. Although it was nowhere near my favorite of the saga, I’m still excited to start Neverwinter sometime soon.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

 

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemison Image

Book Review: The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemison

Title: The Obelisk Gate

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Series: The Broken Earth #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever. It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy. It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last. The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken. -Goodreads

The Review:

The Broken Earth series is an experience. It’s so off the beaten path of typical fantasy novels that I feel like I’m getting a special treat every time I pick one up.

Jemisin gets major kudos for originality, creating one of the most unique stories I’ve ever read. Her world building and overall concept for the story was delivered with a shadowed, almost creepy atmosphere that will stick with you long after you put it down. The real brilliance lies in the writing. In the Fifth Season, Jemisin wove her story through three different perspectives, the most compelling of which was told in second person (which utilizes the “you” pronoun – “You walk to the edge of the cliff. You don’t much like heights.”) It’s a writing style you don’t see very often because it’s difficult to pull off. The Obelisk Gate was told with two POVs, the primay of which also utilizes second person. The way Jemisin wove all of those POVs into a braided plot was phenomenal.

Obelisk Gate was a strong sequel, keeping all of the amazing attributes from The Fifth Season (for the most part). There weren’t quite as many moving parts, as the story narrowed its focus, but it still had a cool atmosphere, interesting POV’s, and loads of great world building. And answers. A lot of mysteries were introduced in The Fifth Season without really being expanded on. Many events that happened started to make a lot more sense in hindsight after the revelations revealed in Obelisk Gate. What’s more, it set up new questions that promise an epic conclusion with The Stone Sky, currently slotted for release on August 15, 2017.

While reading The Broken Earth trilogy, I constantly marveled at how brilliant I think it is – five stars across the board. When finished, however, I always seem to look back on it fondly, but with a slight pit in my stomach. Some of the scenes are so profound that I doubt I’ll ever forget them, which is a mark of a truly exceptional writer. But it’s that pit that makes me constantly question my rating. I’m not used to books throwing me into such turmoil long after I put them down. I change my mind about the rating for this series on a daily basis, bouncing back and forth between 4 and 5 stars. I’ve landed on a solid 4.5 stars, but regardless of the exact number, just know if you decide to give this series a try, you’re in for a stellar read.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Academ’s Furey by Jim Butcher

Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher

Title: Academ’s Furey

Author: Jim Butcher

Series: The Codex Alera #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: For centuries, the people of Alera have relied on the power of the furies to protect them from outside invaders. But the gravest threat might be closer than they think. Tavi has escaped the Calderon Valley and the mysterious attack of the Marat on his homeland. But he is far from safe, as trying to keep up the illusion of being a student while secretly training as one of the First Lord’s spies is a dangerous game. And he has not yet learned to use the furies, making him especially vulnerable. When the attack comes it’s on two fronts. A sudden strike threatens the First Lord’s life and threatens to plunge the land into civil war. While in the Calderon Valley, the threat faced from the Marat is dwarfed by an ancient menace. And Tavi must learn to harness the furies if he has any chance of fighting the greatest threat Alera has ever known . . .   -Goodreads

The Mini Review:

I liked Furies of Calderon (the first book in the Codex Alera series) but thought it was pretty average compared to other works in the genre. Academ’s Furey, on the other hand, was AMAZING!!!

Seriously – I couldn’t put it down! It delivered on every promise made in the first book and completely blew me away with its stellar pacing, fantastic battle scenes, exceptional characters, and overall creativity. I felt like my heart was ripped out a few times while reading it and I love it when a book can make me feel that engaged. I already liked Jim Butcher, but this book launched him forward a few more notches in my book.

If I had any criticisms, it’s that the main character was sometimes more suave and resourceful in difficult situations than I thought believable… but it did make for some excellent and memorable moments, so I won’t complain too much. :-)

Overall, if you are on the fence with whether to start the series or continue on after the first book (like I was), take it from me – totally worth it!

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Death’s Mistress by Terry Goodkind

January 10, 2017

Title: Death’s Mistress

Author: Terry Goodkind

Series: Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: January 10, 2017

The Overview: Onetime lieutenant of the evil Emperor Jagang, known as “Death’s Mistress” and the “Slave Queen”, the deadly Nicci captured Richard Rahl in order to convince him that the Imperial Order stood for the greater good. But it was Richard who converted Nicci instead, and for years thereafter she served Richard and Kahlan as one of their closest friends–and one of their most lethal defenders. Now, with the reign of Richard and Kahlan finally stablized, Nicci has set out on her own for new adventures. Her first job being to keep the unworldly prophet Nathan out of trouble… –Goodreads

Nik’s Notes:

No. Goodkind can’t do this to me after I finally made peace with DNFing Omen Machine. Now he has to come out with a new series from Nicci’s point of view? As soon as I found out about this, I started agonizing whether or not I really wanted to read it. After all, I DNFed Omen Machine for a reason (it was as if all of his bad habits of repetition and redundancy were back with a vengeance… I found the entire thing unbearably self-indulgent). Death’s Mistress means I’ll either have to catch up with the storyline (I don’t wanna), start it out of order (OCD WARNING: SYSTEM FAILURE!), Or ignore it. I’m both looking forward to and dreading its release in January.

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Novella Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Series: The Kingkiller Chronicles #2.5

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows… -Goodreads

Novella Review:

There were several aspects of the Kingkiller Chronicles that fascinated me, but none more so than Auri – the urchin who dwells under the Academy. She was such an enigma, and I was incredibly excited to learn more about her as the series continued (which, obviously, has resulted in a ridiculously long wait). So, when Rothfuss announced the release of this novella, focusing solely on Auri, I was stoked.

Unfortunately, it left a lot to be desired.

While I learned a little more about how her brain ticks, I didn’t get any of the background tidbits I’d been hoping for. In fact, I didn’t get much at all. The entire thing read like a writing exercise. It was incredibly self-indulgent, and I felt Rothfuss didn’t give a shit about his audience (even admitting as much in the prologue). As a fan, my first impulse is to defend him, but at the end of the day I feel let down by his attitude about this novella (and his willingness to finish the series in general).

Overall, I’d recommend passing on this one, especially if you’re a fan of the series – it won’t satisfy any cravings you might have for a continuation. I ended up giving it a 2 star rating because at least the writing was lyrical, but that’s about it. 

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes