Tag Archives: Review

Review: Rhoda: A Black Diamond Origin Story

Rhoda: A Black Diamond Origin Story

by Poppy Kuroki

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Before she was one of the Black Diamond Assassins, Rhoda was a young woman about to marry Lord Drew Fiscal. An arranged marriage, but one she’s eager for. A handsome and dashing man who will give her a beautiful daughter to be the next empress.

But her dream marriage is about to become a nightmare.

A drunk and abuser, her first night and all those after are not what she expected. A thing sold to him by her parents, she drowns in despair. Her only victory is every month when her period comes, denying her husband his heir.

But that isn’t an escape from her pain. That can only come from one place.

Rhoda is a sad story of a young woman locked in abuse and her journey to escape it. Her steps into a world of darkness. As always, Kuroki peers into the darkness and takes you on a journey with her characters.

The world-building continues, standing on what Oaths created. If you haven’t read Oaths, you don’t need to have because this story, though short, takes you on a journey. You will cheer on Rhonda as she seeks to escape the prison of her life.

The prose is fantastic, the imagery clear, and the story pulls you along. A great afternoon read.

You can buy Rhoda from Amazon.

Review of The One Who Could Not Fly

The One Who Could Not Fly (The Wing Cycle 1)

by E.G. Stone

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Ravenna is born different from all the other sylphs. Not only does she not have the same skin or wing coloring, but her wings are stunted. She’ll never fly like the others. She’ll have no place in their society, always looked down on as an outsider.

Try as she might, she just can’t overcome her birth defect. All she can do is help her people in other ways. By being a scholar. When she’s sent out on a mapping mission, she comes across something out of legends: Humans.

Thinking her an angel, they capture Ravenna and haul her across the sea to their lands to sell her as a slave. Thus starts the cruel journey of Ravenna as she learns just what she is capable of as she has to use all her wits to survive.

As she suffers as a slave, Prince Davorin has just murdered his brother, heir to the Empire. A bid for power, he thinks he is the only one that can save it. But he’ll have to face the machinations of a power-hungry sister and the uncaring apathy of a father who loved only one of his sons.

And that one is now dead.

Stone’s book was a great read. From the question of how Prince Davorin’s scheming would connect to Ravenna’s capture and enslavement, the book keeps you reading. It flows well, making for a fast and engaging flow. It’s well-paced and Ravenna is a charming character.

She has quite the journey from naïve outcast to slave survivor. She’s put into the crucible and has to use all her knowledge to survive. The story has some great suspense and well-done action. All in all, it was a great read and left me hungry for more.

If you’re looking for a fantasy book with a great female character who strives and struggles for everything, then check out The One Who Could Not Fly!

You can buy Oath from Amazon.

Review: Oath: A Black Diamond Novel

Oath: A Black Diamond Novel

by Poppy Kuroki

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Colette, growing up on the streets, wants something different. She needs to get away. Travel the world. Find a better life.

She finds that with a group of assassins. Colette has found a home. A place. A skill to develop. But she’s not universally loved. Jealousy simmers, and her new life may not be as peaceful as she hoped.

Oath is a phenomenal book. I had trouble putting it down when I read it. Colette is an endearing character that you can’t help root for. From her time on the streets to her journey to find a new life to her yearning to have a family and home.

Kuroki has created a rich and wonderful world. Her characters are vibrant and you can’t help but root for them. There are some shocking twists and some powerful moments. This is a book willing to punch you in the guts when needed.

This is a story that comes from passion! It shows!

Kuroki does a masterful job of telling Colette’s story. This is a must-read fantasy novel!

You can buy Oath from Amazon.

REVIEW: Born to Darkness

Born to Darkness

by Autumn M Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Raiann is the twin sister of the heir to the Black Throne. And that’s a problem. Rumors persist that she is the firstborn not her brother. Realizing that her father will do something drastic to ensure his son inherits the throne, she has no choice but to flee.

Her flight doesn’t go as plan. She finds herself in trouble. But a wandering mercenary named Orxy comes to her rescue. He’s a satyr, one of the light blood races while she’s a djinn, dark blood. He promises to teach her to fight and to use the magic brimming in her blood. Djinn have passion pumping through their veins, and he’s going to prove it.

Raiann finds a new life that excites her blood. A mercenary.

Born to Darkness was a great read. It’s fast and flows. It has some great twists and turns and goes into some dark places. Raiann has an interesting path that’s powerful to read. Brit has outdone herself with this one. I’m a fan of her previous fantasy series, and this one showed her growing strength as an author.

I want to read more of this interesting world and the character of Raiann. While I wished she’d made a different decision at the end of the novel, she’s not a perfect character. She’s flawed and struggling to find peace in a world that’s cruel and unfair.

If you’re a fan of powerful and character-driven fantasy, you need to check out Born to Darkness!

You can buy Born to Darkness from Amazon!

Review: Empire of Grass

Empire of Grass

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

When we last left off, Prince Morgan, the grandson of Simon and Miramele, is fleeing into Aldheorte Forest fleeing the attack at his camp. At the Hayholt, Simon is struggling to hold the High Ward together as their deadly enemies, the fey-like Norns, are planning to attack and resume the war that ended thirty years ago. His wife, Queen Miramele, sells into the viper’s nest of Nabban to bring peace to two feuding power. In the grasslands, Unvar declares himself the Shan of Shan of the nomadic Thrithings and promises to drive back the foreigners encroaching on their grassland.

And behind much of this misfortune, Simon’s trusted adviser, Parcelleus, plots Simon and Miramele’s deaths and the end of their rule.

The characters are thrust into new danger. Everything is in upheaval. The past of the last three decades is crumbling. Treachery and betrayal are undoing everything Simon and Miramele had achieved in their youths while the Queen of the Norns has reawakened after the wounds she took at the end of the war. Competing interests clash and clatter. Events are spiraling out of everyone’s control.

Chaos threatens to destroy all.

It’s a great followup to the Witchwood Crown. It’s full of twists and turns, misfortune and misunderstanding sparking new conflicts, disrupting plans on both sides. The plot is engaging, keeping you reading to find if Simon and Miramele can hold their life’s work together and protect their grandchildren.

Will Prince Morgan survive being lost in the forest? Will Parcelleus treachery lead to Miramele’s death in the chaos of Nabban? What will happen to Count Eolair as he surrenders to the men who attacked and butchered his men? The Norn are descending on the world of men while they’re torn apart by petty conflicts.

Williams prose and story structure are engaging. The cast of characters is engaging, especially the trolls. They again are a favorite of mine. His plot has more pieces going than the original series, but he’s keeping it going so far.

Things have never seen bleaker. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

You can buy Empire of Grass from Amazon!

Review: The Thousandfold Thoughts (The Prince of Nothing Book 3)

The Thousandfold Thoughts (The Prince of Nothing Book 3)

by R. Scott Bakker

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Holy War has bent knee before Kellhus, proclaiming him the Warrior-Prophet. Thanks to their renewed fanaticism, the siege of Caraskand has been broken. Nothing stands between them and their final march on Shimeh.

Achamian has to adjust to the new reality. His wife, Esmenet, is now Kellhus’s. After thinking he died, she was seduced by the Dûnyain and is pregnant with his child. Believing Kellhus is the Harbinger, the only hope for humanity against the Consult and the threat of the return of the No-God, he swallows his hatred and tries to fight his desire to reclaim his wife.

Conphas is the only great name that still defies Kellhus. He is forced to surrender his legion’s weapons and be interred at Joktha under the brutal watch of Cnaiur. The Scylvendi barbarian knows the truth about Kellhus and realizes he has been put into a trap. If he doesn’t kill Conphas, the Nansur prince will plot and scheme, but if Cnaiur does kill the man, he’ll lose his own life in the backlash of Conphas’s loyal legions.

Around them all, the Consult studies, struggling to understand just who this Kellhus is and what to do about him. They see one tool that will be useful. One tool that can help them destroy the Warrior-Prophet once and for all.

Kellhus’s father awaits him near Shimeh. The Dûnyain’s original mission still needs to be completed. What will happen when father and son reunite? Will Kellhus discover he’s merely a pawn in a greater scheme himself, or will his trials prove too much for even one of his conditioning?

The Thousandfold Thought is the conclusion of the first series in Bakker’s ambitions Second Apocalypse Megaseries. The book does not hold your hand. Bakker philosophy abounds, unveiled on every page mixed in with the poetry of his pose. The entire series has been building towards the moment when Kellhus and Moenghus meets. The fate of the world pivots on the relationship between father and son.

Characters are tested. Some are broken while others finds strength in them they never knew they had. Passions clash. Betrayals and mistakes lead to devastation while chance and misfortune afflict others. No one comes out of the crucible of the Holy War and Kellhus’s manipulation unchanged. The story is gripping. The stakes are high. Bakker has shown himself not adverse to maiming, breaking, and killing characters.

None are safe. The tension has never been higher as the assault on Shimeh begins. Love, religion, vengeance, and more clash and swirl in the conclusion of The Prince of Nothing.

When you finish this book, you’ll want more. You’ll want to know what happen next. You’ll be eager to plunge into the Judging Eye. Bakker’s writing is engaging, enthralling, and enlightening in turns. It will leave you in awe, keep you at the edge of the seat, and have you weeping.

The human soul is laid bare in Bakker’s epic fantasy story!

You can buy Thousandfold Thoughts from Amazon.

Review: Untold Stories from the World of Myrrah Volume 1

Untold Stories from the World of Myrrah Volume 1

by Autumn M Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

A collection of short stories set in her delightful World of Myrrah. Fleshing out the world surrounding her two fantasy series Rise of the Firth Order and Games of Fire. They involve many of her main characters from before the first series and between the two. Stories of love and guilt, stories of growth and pain.

These were a fascinating collection of stories. Some are short and sweet, others have some real depths, and others full of action and suspense. The writing holds all of Brit’s charm. The stories reveal new facets of her characters and shows the events that shaped them.

Her world has so many corners to explore, and I was glad to enjoy it. If you’ve read Brit’s fantasy series, you have to read this. If you’re a fan of imaginative and exciting fantasy stories, there is plenty in here even for newbies to her writing (though the last few will spoil Rise of the Fifth Order).

I was glad to pick this up and thoroughly enjoyed returning to Brit’s World of Myrahh. I can’t wait for volume 2!

This book peels back more of her world and reveals the underlining pinning of it. This is such a fast-paced and fun book to read. The stakes have never been higher, and the emotions have never been stronger. If you haven’t started reading Brit, then you need to pick up Born of Water and start reading this amazing series!

Fans of fantasy will fall in love with the writing of Autumn Brit! I can’t wait to see what new and imaginative worlds she’ll create next.

You can buy Untold Stories from the World of Myrrah Volume 1 from Amazon!

Review: The Final Redemption (Mageborn Book Five)

The Final Redemption (Mageborn Book Five)

by Michael G. Manning

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Six months after Mordecai died, his body wakes up. In the final moment of his life, he had defeated the deranged undead. Unfortunately, he took his place. Now an uncaring shadow of his former self, he has to find a way to save a world that he can hardly care for and protect a family who feasr what he has become.

Meanwhile, Penny, Mordecai’s widow, still grieves. She struggles to hold her family together while the threat of the dark god looms on the horizon. Her friends and family want to help her move on. For political reasons, she’ll have to remarry soon.

How can she when she still mourns for Mort?

As Mordecai struggles to find a way to not only save the world but end his miserable existence, a plot simmers in the capital that will threaten his family and friends. With his death, King James’s position has become precarious. His enemies salivate.

The finale of Mageborn is here and it is a wild read. Manning is a bold author. He isn’t afraid to put his characters is perils positions. And what’s more perilous than your main character on the verge of becoming more a danger to the world than anyone else? Over the series, we’ve come to learn what it means to be like Mordecai. His very touch drains life. He desires to reunite with his wife, twisted to feed on her life so he can feel emotions again.

He’s become a drug addict who needs to drain way life to get his rush. It’s a powerful story. It delves into the past and why our dark god wants to destroy everything. Understanding his motive is the key to his defeat.

Can Mordecai do it? Can he keep from destroying those he loves before he can save them?

This book was hard to put down. I’ve enjoyed this series and want to read more in this world!

You can buy The Final Redemption from Amazon.

Review: Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen 3)

Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen 3)

by Steven Erikson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

In Genbackis, in the aftermath of Pale and Darijistan, Dujek One-Arm and his Malazan army have gone renegade against the Empress. They need allies now to deal with a rising threat in the south, the Pannion Seer and his cannibalistic empire.

They must reach out to their enemies, Caladan Brood and his alliance against the Malazans. They have to parley with him and hammer out an alliance between dispirited groups, including the revelation that the child Silverfox contains the souls of two Malazan sorceresses reborn into a new entity.

Paran, now commanding the Bridgeburners, has to grapple with his new powers growing in him mixed with his lingering affection for Tattersail, one of the souls forming the child Silverfox. He needs to deal with the growing incursion of the Crippled God interfering in the world. This growing threat may be behind many dark events rippling across the world.

In Capustan, the Gray Shields have been hired to defend the city from the approaching army of the Pannion Seer. A religious, mercenary group dedicated to the God Fener who suffered mishap on the far side of the world. As the Pannion Seer approaches, they face the impossible task of saving the city from the cannibal horde and the demonic undead about to tear them apart.

Lastly, the T’lan Imass gather, summoned by Silverfox. The undead’s 100,000-year long war may finally be coming to an end if Silverfox grants them what they crave: freedom from the mistake they made all those eons ago.

And that’s just some of the storylines found in this book.

War, death, love, guilt, forgiveness, and grief fill the pages of Memories of Ice. A powerful novel with dozens of compelling character all vying for their own goals, trying to overcome the danger of the Panion Seer and fix the wrongs that happened in the distant past.

This story is epic and dark, full of brief moments of joy amid that dark depths of humanity. Erikson shows us how the human spirit can be wrapped and mangled, how entire civilizations can go mad and descended into barbarity. Erikson never finches from the worst aspects of humanity. Despite that, his characters fight for themselves, for those they love, for strangers that they never met but are united against the same fight against the horrors of war and genocide.

Memories of Ice is one of the most compelling fantasy books I’d ever read.

You can buy Memories of Ice from Amazon!

Review: Deadhouse Gate (Malazan Book of the Fallen 2)

Deadhouse Gate (Malazan Book of the Fallen 2)

by Steven Erikson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

The Seven Cities Continent, conquered by the Malazan empire a few decades back, simmers with rebellion. The desert tribes and the discontented townsfolk are all waiting for Dryjdna, the Goddess of the Apocalypse, and her priestess Shike to declare the rebellion has begun. Knives are sharpened. Plans are made.

Coltain, the Wickan war chief, has come to Seven Cities to take command of the 7th Army. The former tribal leader turned general for the Empire will bring his own discipline to the 7th. He doesn’t have much time to whip them in shape before rebellion explodes. When it comes, the 7th will have to battle their way across the entire continent to reach aid.

In Malaz City, the Empire’s capital, the nobility is being purged. Young Felisin, the sister of Paran from Gardens of the Moon, has been sacrificed by her Tavore. Chained with the other prisoners, including an ex-priest of Fener named Heboric, she finds herself dragged through the mob-filled streets on her way to the prison ship to the mines near Seven Cities. To survive, she’s going to have to shed her innocence.

Will it destroy her?

Crokus is traveling with Apsalar, freed from her possession by the God of Assassins, with Kalam and Fiddler. The young lad is suspicious of Kalam and Fiddler’s motivation and he’s soon found correct when he learns the pair harbor their own mission to assassinate Empress Laseen for her betrayal of the Bridgeburners. To do so, they have to cross the continent about to be torn apart by rebellion and reach the mythical Deadhouse in the heart of the holy desert.

Will Kalam and Fiddler’s desire for revenge prevent Apsalar from returning safely home?

In the Holy Desert of Raraku, convergence happens. Relationships are forged and shattered. Revelations are unveiled. Deadhouse Gate is Erikson through and through. Dozens of storylines, diverse characters with all their own motivations clashing endlessly together, insane magic, climactic battles, and tragedy.

Pathos drips across the pages of Deadhouse Gates. Erikson doesn’t flinch from the darker aspects of humanity. From the atrocities that break out in war and rebellion. No one’s hands are clean in the trenches.

Erikson has a unique style of storytelling that draws you in. It’s masterful and stunning in the breadth and depth of his characters. If you are looking for good fantasy, then you have to check out Malazan Book of the Fallen. This is an amazing series that all fans of fantasy should read!

You can buy Deadhouse Gates from Amazon!