Tag Archives: Review

Review: The Witchwood Crown

The Witchwood Crown

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Once again, Tad Williams brings us back into Osten Ard. Over three decades have passed since the climatic battle at Green Angel Tower and the defeat of the Storm King. King Simon and Queen Miriamele have ruled the High King’s Ward to the best of their abilities. In their fifties now, they face the greatest challenge to their rule as slowly, bit by bit, a new darkness creeps in, subtle, stealing away their allies, and making new enemies beneath their very noses.

Their heir and grandson, Prince Morgan, would rather drink in taverns and bed whatever accommodating girl he can than learn statescraft. Unable to please his grandparents and haunted by memories of his own dead father, he will have to find himself if he has any chance of facing the growing darkness that seeks to engulf Osten Ard once again.

Because Uttuku, Queen of the Norns, has emerged from her decades long coma. And she hasn’t forgotten her hatred of mortals.

The Witchwood Crown is a dense story, with dozens of characters spanning across the world. From familiar characters grown old like Simon and Miriamele, to new characters, Tad Williams breathes new life into his world, building on the fallout of the last trilogy to set the stage for this new one. From politics to action, he weaves it all together wonderfully.

And it is both a treat and a sadness to revisit the world, seeing our characters grown older, some who’ve died over the years, or vanished without a trace. Other times it’s a wonderful reunion, like meeting old friends you haven’t seen in so long, catching up with them, seeing how they’ve changed in someways and how they’ve stayed the same in others. If you’re a fan of Tad Williams work, then you have to read this series.

And if you’ve never read any one of his books, he provides enough background information for you to understand this series and enjoy it. His prose flows, his characters are entertaining, and the tension that courses through the books, simmering in the background, keeps you going as it builds and builds towards its finish!

You can buy The Witchwood Crown from Amazon!

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Review: The Heart of What Was Lost

The Heart of What Was Lost

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Storm King has fallen. The Norns have been defeated. And now Duke Isgrimnur, under the commands of the newly crowned King Seomon and Queen Miramele, seeks to end the threat of the dark and immortal race of fairies once and for all. After the misery they and their Queen caused to Osten Ard in the events of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy. With them travels two Predurinese mercenaries, men far from home and thrust back into another war.

Viyeki is a Norn builder, fleeing north with the remnant of his people who survived the battle at the Hayholt. Hunted by Duke Isgrimnur’s army, seeing little hope for survival, they prepare to defend their people’s mountain fastness against the mortals. But the Norns stand at a crossroads: do they die in a hopeless standa against the mortals, or do they find a way to survive?

And will the mortals even let them?

The fate of an immortal race hangs in the balance as they pay the price for the crimes of their Queen. The Heart of What Was Lost is a fascinating story, diving into the culture of the “evil” race from the original trilogy, showing their character, the arrogance that has led to their disdain of humans, the scores of vengeance they remember inflicted upon them by men long dead, and their obsession with the past. With what was lost.

Like most fantasy series, Tad Williams ended his with the Norns defeated and assumed by the readers to be finished. But by returning to them, he has a chance of showing us a side to his enemies, to give them a chance to grow and change and learn from their mistakes. Or to cling to the past and fall into extinction.

Fans of Williams work, especially his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, need to read this book. I have a feeling it sets up his new sequel series just debuting wonderfully. It is a great Fantasy read about the clash of cultures and the weariness of war upon the soul.

You can buy The Heart of What Was Lost from Amazon!

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Review: The Unholy Consult

The Unholy Consult (The Aspect-Emperor Book 4)

by R. Scott Bakker

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The close to the Aspect-Emperor series is upon us. The Second of the three series that makes up the greater Second Apocalypse series. Act Two is over, and what a powerful part it was. The Great Ordeal must deal with the consequences of eating Srancs as they make the final march to Golgotterath to save the world, led by Proyas. Achamian and Mimara race to join the Holy War so the Judging Eye may finally gaze on the Aspect-Emperor himself, Anasûrimbor Kellhus.

The fate of the world hangs in the balance, resting on the shoulders of one man. But is he truly the prophet he claims to be that will save the world, or will he doom it and side with the Unholy Consult itself, trading the fate of all for freedom from Damnation.

For Bakker fans who’ve followed the books since the Prince of Nothing, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. What will the Dûnyain do when he reaches Golgotterath and stares into the Inverse Fire. Will he betray the world to save himself or to embrace the Logos? Will he agree with the Consult’s plan to close the world from the gods and end damnation by exterminating life.

This book is tense and visceral. It hurtles you forward towards the climax with breathless anticipation. The characters we’ve followed for seven books collide together at the end. Reunions, betrayals, and more abound. Bakker keeps you on the toes. I’ve never read a Fantasy series where you felt the world could actual end.

Where you truly feared that the man destined to save it would ultimately be its destroyer.

Bakker must be praised for bringing about this dark and powerful tale and leaves you breathless for more. (And there is more coming, confirmed by the author that he’s already working on the third series). While the ending is shocking and leaves you wanting more, there is so much to this book to digest, to mull over, and ponder as we wait for more.

Once again, Bakker reminds us why he’s one of the best writing fantasy today.

You can buy The Unholy Consult from Amazon!

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Review: The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing 2)

The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing 2)

by R. Scott Bakker

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Warrior Prophet picks up where the Darkness that Comes Before ended. Bakker expands on the world of his story as the Holy War marches south towards Fanim lands with Cnaiür urs Skiötha advising the Great Lords on how to prosecute the war. And with Cnaiür marches Kellhus, the Prince of Nothing, a man on a mission to kill his father. To accomplish that he must seize the Holy War as his instrument, defeat the Fanim, and wipe out the Cisharuim whom Kellhus deduces his father must be a member of.

With Kellhus travels Achamian who falls into his favorite role as teacher. Still reeling from discovering the Consult’s skinspies, abominations who can take a person’s appearance and pose as them, Achamian is unsure what to do about Kellhus. He is the harbinger of the Second Apocalypse. The world is at stake and yet Achamian cannot bring himself to tell his fellow Mandate wizards. He knows they would seize Kellhus.

And Achamian, like almost all who meet Kellhus, has grown fond of him. He cannot betray his genius pupil. He has been seduced into believing exactly what Kellhus wants. For Kellhus is Dunyain, bred to an intellect beyond normal men. To him, emotions are merely the yoke he enslaves those around him.

To possess the Holy War, Kellhus must become a prophet. Through lies, truths, and manipulation, Kellhus sets about manufacturing the circumstances of his new role. But the powerful take note from the Consult to Conphas, and intrigue and danger swirls about Kellhus and his companions.

The Warrior Prophet continues the level of intrigue, politics, complex characters, and philosophy of the first book, adding to it the brutalities of war. The Holy War is holy in name only as its fighters commit atrocities on their long-hated enemies. Bakker captures the full swath of human nature, the good, the bad, and the ugly, exposing it with an unflinching eye.

You can buy The Warrior Prophet from Amazon!

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Review: Queen of the Night Guild

Queen of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves 3)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Fire has stolen everything Illanna has left to live for. The thief of the Night Guild, a brutal criminal organization, thought her freedom was at hand only to have the hungry flames destroy everything. Now all she wants is revenge.

She wants to find who in the Night Guild betrayed her to their rivals, the Bloody Hand. She will do anything to stop them, even if it means saving what she hates. Illanna has been driven to her limits. A woman with nothing to lose is a very dangerous thing.

Peloquin brings to a close his trilogy with an explosion. The pace never lets up from beginning to end as Illanna reels from one catastrophe to another as she struggles to piece together what is going on, trying to save what friends remain to her, and to get revenge upon those who have destroyed what she cares most for. The brutal world Peloquin created does not let up here in this final stage.

If you’re a fan of fantasy with great world building and mature themes, then you need to read Pelonquin’s writing. He delves into the dark reaches of the human soul to illuminate what glitter can be found shrouded by shadows of greed, depravity, and despair.

If you read the first books in this series, then you will not be disappointed by the ending. And if you haven’t read Pelonquin’s books, then you need to delve into this amazing Indie fantasy author!

You can buy Queen of the Night Guild form Amazon!

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Review: A New Goddess

A New Goddess

by Autumn M Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bek’kana is drive to do anything to free his people, the Ashanti, from the Goddess Myrrah’s curse. Mad with ambition, he will do anything to cross over into the Spirit World and gain his people, and himself, the power long denied them.

It’s up to our heroes to find stop him from entering the Spirit Gate, the last of the five gates still open. And they can’t close it. To do so would end all life on their world. Somehow they have to find the strength to fight back. And to do that, the need the Ring of Valian.

But the Ring was last seen heading into the Spirit Realm. It is a dangerous place for the living. Lavinia, Darag, Niri, Ria, and their friends will have to risk everything on a gamble that they can find the Ring and stop Bek’kana’s mad ambition.

If they can’t, the Ashanti will enslave their own people. Bek’kana will punish their people with his own race’s curse.

Autumn Brit weaves the thread she’s laid out in her first trilogy and the first two books of this series towards the climax. Everything has changed. Old enemies are now friends, once allies are now bitter enemies. The peoples of the world will all have to work together to bring an end to Bek’kana’s thirst for power.

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 A New Goddess from Amazon!

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Review: The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar Book 1)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After so many years living on Earth, he’s grown bitter, disillusioned, going through the motions in the never ending contest between Heaven and Hell.

When a soul comes up missing on his watch, everything changes. Never has a soul been lost, and Bobby Dollar has to figure out what’s going on before he takes the fall. Has Hell stolen the soul out from under heaven’s nose or is something even worse going on? And worse off, the new guy is asking questions. With the help of Sam, Bobby’s best friend and fellow angel, and a cast of colorful characters, Bobby will have to ask the right questions to figure out what is going on.

Bobby Dollar will have to dodge ancient demons, sultry femme fatales, and angry Lords of Hell to uncover the secret that may shake the foundation of Heaven and Hell.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a classic Noir detective story. You have our bitter, borderline alcoholic protagonist in Bobby, people who should be on his side but he can’t quite trust, bad buys who may or may not be out to kill him, women who can’t be trusted, a macguffin to recover, and a conspiracy to unravel. And all set in the sunny streets of San Jude in the bay area. A modern take on the noir story complete with a fantasy patina.

Williams has created a rich mythology for his war between Heaven and Hell. It is clearly thought out with plenty of new revelations to come on how it all works and the secret war being waged beneath the noses of regular mortals. The same care he puts into his other works is on display here. Form the noir to the urban fantasy elements, Williams balance them all perfectly to make an exciting tale keeping the pages turning and you wanting to find out what’s next.

If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, Noir, and good writing, then you need to check out this series!

You can buy The Dirty Streets of Heaven from Amazon.

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Review: The Crown of Stones: Magic-Bourne

The Crown of Stones: Magic-Bourne

by C.L. Schneider

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Ian Troy has is the only one who can stop his father from creating a magical empire. DdD Reth plans on enslaving all to his will. He will free his people, the Shinree, from one set of chains into another while dominating the entire lands of Mirra’kelan

To stop his father, Troy will have to destroy the Crown of Stones. But to do that, he needs to understand its origins and that of his people. Delving into the past of the Shinree, Troy shall uncover truths lost over the centuries of slavery and catastrophe. But will it be enough to let him defeat his father?

Or will Jem Reth dominate all the lands of Mirra’kelan and usher in his grand ambition to be Emperor.

Everything the trilogy has been building for reaches its peak in this book. Schneider reveals all the secrets of the Shinree past, pulling back the mysteries and giving Troy a choice. The book is packed with action, danger, and suspense. The first person narrative once again propels the book with a sense of immediacy, placing you in the action.

With a bittersweet ending, Magic-Bourne is a satisfactory closing to the trilogy, building towards its climax with a breathtaking intensity. The plot twists and turns but Schneider doesn’t lose her way and guides you to its ending.

This is an amazing series. If you’re a fan of Fantasy, then you should read this book. Plenty of action, plot, drama, and more to satisfy your craving. One last time, we plunge into the world of Mirra’kelan!

You can buy Crown of Stone-Magic Bourne from Amazon!

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Review: Dragon Lightning

Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer 2)

by J.S. Burke

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01ma1zoj6-01-lzzzzzzzDrakor falls injured onto the ice flow, hurt in an earthquake as he investigated the volcano near his people’s home. The ice dragon realizes that he their home is about to be destroyed. The volcano is nearing its eruption.

Only problem, he’s too wounded to get back to them, drifting on the ice, facing death.

Arak, the dragon dreamer, is excited. Sailing with his fellow gold dragons and his octopodes friends, Scree and Orm, he is on a quest to find the legendary ice dragons, the kin of his people. They live in the cold north and as his skiff sails through ice floes, he realizes he’s on the right track.

But the ice dragons are not what he’s expected and a threat looms that will impact not only the ice dragons but the gold dragons and octopodes. The same volcano that threatens the ice dragons is part of a chain leading south. And the undersea volcano near the gold dragons and the octopodes reef may also be on the verge of erupting.

Arak, his companions, and a new friend will have to uncover the truth of the volcanoes and find a way to protect their people. But those aren’t the only problems facing them. They will have to work together to overcome their goals.

Or they might all perish.

Burke continues her excellent series about dragons and octopodes in her sequel to Dragon Dreamer. The book, written towards elementary students, not only has great characters and life lessons, but is full of real-world scientific knowledge about octopodes, underwater life, herbal medicines, and other facts that enrich her series.

With its focus on community, friendship, and forgiveness, Dragon Lightning is another excellent book for young readers, an adventure story to keep them enthralled and kindle the love of reading in a new generation. If you’ve read Dragon Dreamer (and if you haven’t, why?) then you will love Dragon Lightning.

You can buy Dragon Lightning from Amazon!

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Review: The Darkness That Comes Before

The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing 1)

by R. Scott Bakker

Reviewed by JMD Reid

darkness-that-comes-beforeThe Darkness that Comes Before is the start of R. Scott Bakker’s metaseries The Second Apocalypse. Here he unfolds the rich, grimy world of the Three Seas and beyond. I was hooked with this series right from the beginning reading about refugees fleeing the end of the world and the founding of the Dûnyain. I was intrigued by the history teased before me and glad I found this book in the SeaTac Airport’s Borders.

What follows is a Fatnasy series unlike any I had read. Its roots are firmly in the heroic fantasy that developed over the twentieth century, including Tolkein. There are many illusions and parallels to the Lord of the Rings, but make no mistake, Bakker isn’t copying, he’s twisting, bending, creating a world that is grimy, filthy, myriad in the perversity of human lust, greed, envy, and religious fervor.

When a young man name Kellhus, who unknowingly carries the blood of ancient kings sets out on a quest inot the greater world, it is a familiar story. But Kellhus is a product of two thousand years of breeding by his secretive group the Dûnyain. His intellect is beyond normal men. He has been trained to understand the source of men’s passions. To us world-born, we are but children before him. With cold logic, Kellhus will do anything to accomplish his mission—even dominating an entire Holy War.

In the average Fantasy, Kellhus would be our protagonist. But he’s not. That is Achamian, the middle-aged sorcerer and spy, an overweight man prone to drink, drugs, and prostitutes. A man whose decades working as a spy has made him cynical of the world. He has drunk with kings and beggars and realizes not much separates them. He is on another mission for the Mandate, his order of sorcerers, to discover if the Consult has any role in the Holy War called by the new Shriah (Pope). Achamian will return to the holy city of Sumna, and to Esmenet the Whore, perhaps the only person who truly knows him.

Politics and maneuvering dominate this book. While there is warfare and action, much of the book is a contest between men seeking to dominate their circumstances, from Emperor Ikurie Xerius who plans to harness the Holy War to restore the glory of his waning Empire to Cnaiür urs Skiötha who seeks to prove himself the best of his nomadic people. And at the heart, Kellhus, the Prince of Nothing and harbinger of the Apocalypse, arriving out of the wastelands. He is one of the conditioned and all will yield before him.

Intrigue, politics, cryptic prophecies declaring the end of the world, philosophy, faith, sin, sorcererous battles, warfare and the battered souls who strive to make sense of their world. The Darkness that Comes Before is both sweeping and historical at the same time is it deeply personal as R. Scott Bakker delves into human nature in all its vagaries, the good and the ill. This series has a rich cast of flawed characters.

You can buy The Darkness that Comes Before on Amazon!

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