Can I just say first that I love the cover? Because I really love it. It’s so…lovely. The calligraphy almost seems like Arabic, fitting in with the re...moreCan I just say first that I love the cover? Because I really love it. It’s so…lovely. The calligraphy almost seems like Arabic, fitting in with the rest of the elements of the cover. So kudos to whoever designed it.
Okay, moving on to what we are gathered here to talk about. Mainly, the novel. It starts with a runaway bride. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the fact that she leaves it so late in the game to make the run. You know what I mean? She could run away the night before or two days before or even before she meets the guy but she just decides on a whim that I can scarcely credit to just flee. And flee she does, on a camel no less. I wish I had seen that, I truly do.
And so begins the adventure of a lifetime. (If she manages to survive it.) Ananna is a spunky protagonist but then, you have to be to escape on a camel from a fiancé who is so beautiful that all he does is inspire hate in you. Yeah. The world building was a bit lacking for me because it’s a rich Clarke creates and I would have loved to know more about it. The assassin was awesome and Ananna’s relationship with the assassin was the greatest appeal of the novel. She saves his life and wham, he is cursed to protect her. There is no insta-love for which I am thankful but I wish their relationship had progressed somewhat significantly by the end. It didn’t. I wanted a kiss. I didn’t get it.
Okay. Fine. I gave that away. Sorry. But really, this is an entertaining novel and a great debut. It has lots of interesting and new paranormal creatures, new mythology, a different kind of wizard and magical powers with a slightest taste of the Eastern. There are pirates and punches and this evil, totally distasteful beautiful woman who just should be made to walk the plank. And the assassin’s stupidity for the said beautiful and evil woman. Sheesh. I liked that Ananna doesn’t go bananas for the love interest. I liked that their relationship is a constant push and pull, though not enough pulling where I am concerned. I felt rather dissatisfied at the end because I felt that there was so much more that could have happened, the narrative could have gone in a different direction, I just wanted more, okay?
Which is why I am going to read and in fact, look forward to the sequel. This is an entertaining novel. If you want something light, not fluffy all the time but easy to read. I have to mention at this late time that Ananna killing that person did not sit well with me. I mean, it did not. Really. Not that she had any other choice really but I felt like she should have.
Do I recommend this? Hell yeah. Read it. It comes with my backing.(less)
It was a whim that made me decide to read Champion of the Rose. I had read Host’s dystopian offering and though I hadn’t loved it unequivocally, I had...moreIt was a whim that made me decide to read Champion of the Rose. I had read Host’s dystopian offering and though I hadn’t loved it unequivocally, I had liked it enough to be curious about her epic fantasy work. I strode into the book completely unprepared as I hadn’t even read the synopsis. And in hindsight, I am glad that I went into it as unsuspectingly as I did because the pleasure I received from the novel was intensified by the very fact that I hadn’t been expecting it to be there.
Host builds a vibrant, credible world in 306 pages which any writer will tell you is not an easy feat. Soren is a layered complex character. She was “chosen” for reasons unknown to her by a somewhat sentient spell whose entire purpose is to keep the Rathen line (lineage?) on the throne and protected. She is the “champion” of a Rathen whom the readers believe to be a newborn baby but who turns out to be a fully grown King to be who had been lost in time.
There are court politics and intrigue, colourful characters peopling the narrative and a clear and crisp narrative tone that keeps the plot together and focused.
Political intrigues aside, the sexuality of the people in Darest is very interesting. Homosexuality and bisexuality are normalized and do not elicit any explicit dialogue in the novel. The romance is particularly well done though a bit shocking initially. It is the first time I have read something like the incident that occurs between the two main leads and it threw me for a bit because I didn’t know who to side with.
The King is lovely. Very flawed and spilling over with issues, as anyone who has been displaced centuries would be, but I found Soren and his relationship to be compelling. The hint of a similar relationship between Soren and the other dude was just as interesting and I truly hope the next book shows some more development in that regard.
I loved this book and cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy so I can reread it. I have read many novels in the epic fantasy genre and this one, though slim at 306 pages (compared to other novels in the genre) delivers just as much if not more. If epic fantasy is your thing and you want fantastic prose without compromising the plot and characterization, this book is for you. Strongly recommended.(less)
I’d like to start this review by saying that I loved this novel to bits. Well, okay, not to bits because I have no idea what bits have to do with lovi...moreI’d like to start this review by saying that I loved this novel to bits. Well, okay, not to bits because I have no idea what bits have to do with loving. Or what the bits of a novel are or where that particular phrase comes from. Let me start again.
Defiance proved to be everything I look for in a novel that I read for entertainment. This is not to say that it is perfect and flawless but when you like something despite its flaws, I reckon it’s a good thing. A very very good thing. For me anyway.
I expected Defiance to be straight up fantasy but it surprised me (tricked me!) by having dystopian elements, er, dystoapocalyptic elements to its setting. The settlement in which the story takes place for the larger portion of the narrative came into existence after some grand destructive event tore apart the existing civilization of days long past. Oh and as is more than insanely common to these dystopian novels, the status of women in this new civilization lies somewhere between roadkill and a precious jewel locked up in a vault. (I’m getting remarkably tired of this particular trope if you can’t tell.)
Defiance succeeds for me in its characterizations. Usually character development, while being important, does not constitute as the sole element that determines the success of the novel. But in this case, Redwine’s characters are so compelling and so intriguing, moving beyond the limits of the pages to occupy tangible space in your brain, that you cannot help but read their story and accompany them in their destiny determining journey. As a rule, I dislike novels where the chapters are narrated in alternating perspectives. I find them jarring and disruptive to the rhythm of the novel. Surprisingly though, this was not the case in Defiance. Perhaps it was because the way the novel was written or perhaps it was the way each chapter was constructed but whatever it was, I was never frustrated by perspective change. Logan’s voice was just as engaging as Rachel’s and it was both their voices coming together to create the cohesive story that is Defiance.
Let me take a moment to appreciate the title. It so succinctly describes the entire novel without giving anything away. The villain is not a grey villain, his motivations are not revealed to us, and he doesn’t have a backstory or anything that makes him remotely human. He is black in and out and you know what? I’m fine with that. I am fine with hating him as passionately as the novel calls for because had Redwine taken the modernist approach and given us a Loki, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book as much as I did.
Rachel’s emotions are superbly expressed. Her wit and spunk are juxtaposed with heartbreaking vulnerability and immaturity. Her grief and the expression of it is realistic without resorting to unnecessary pathos. She is a flawed character and they are the best kinds. Her unraveling is convincing and I can’t wait to see how she develops in the next few books. The romance is heartwarming and while there is no overt love triangle throughout the novel, the beginnings of a very intriguing one begin to coalesce at the end.
So let’s see, complex characters facing complex conflicts, a rapid pace and a satisfying plot. Sweet romance that does not take over the primary narrative and a satisfactory conclusion (that whets the appetite for the next book in the series). This book has it all. For a debut, it’s remarkable. Strongly recommended.(less)
I demand that you all go and purchase a copy of Titan Magic and then read it. Seriously, I mean it. Go!
Okay fine, I’ll give you some reasons that wil...moreI demand that you all go and purchase a copy of Titan Magic and then read it. Seriously, I mean it. Go!
Okay fine, I’ll give you some reasons that will perhaps justify my demand.
I don’t usually read self-pubbed novels and even more rarely am I moved to write a review on the ones I do read. This one intrigued me initially because of the description of the main character and then Misty of the Book Rat rated it highly. Titan Magic presents a very new type of heroine (and I will not give away the type she is) and a very different (fresh, new, innovative, attach what adjective you will) mythology. Maddy is one of the more fascinating protagonists that I have come across.
She is a curious mix of spitfire and vulnerable. Her inability to talk does not present as much trouble as I had expected. I liked how Lamm portrays her inhuman-ness. Usually we are told that a main character is not human yet she acts exactly like human teenage girl. Maddy’s confusion about her nature, about the way she feels about certain people, her questions about who she is and what she is form the foundation of the character. Her interactions with the various people are also, interestingly, character building. The way she reacts to the various characters shows who she is. There are a lot of male characters in the novel. I just realized that Maddy is the only girl in the novel. However, it’s just an observation and not a criticism. There is a love triangle which is not really a love triangle. It is really difficult to write a review without giving away one of the main elements of the novel. Suffice it to say that this novel explores themes of self-discovery, courage and desire in a bold new way.
The novel is quite an accomplishment and I really do recommend it to you. There are betrayals, angst, creepy crazy parents, love but not love, love plus self-hate. It’s a smorgasbord of emotions and ambitions. It’s just really really intriguing, you guys and I am really making a mess of my review. But I do not want to spoil the discovery because I feel the discovery is an important aspect of the story.
This was intense. This was good. This was fantastic. And I don’t say this often. Let’s be honest here. In a series, the books can’t all hold your inte...moreThis was intense. This was good. This was fantastic. And I don’t say this often. Let’s be honest here. In a series, the books can’t all hold your interest. Sometimes they are better, sometimes they are worst but truly, after three books, I still love Flora as much as I loved her in the first book. It’s rare for me. The world Wilce has created is so vibrant, so alive and populated with such interesting characters that it rivals the Potter universe in terms of amazingness. We see a lot more of the world Flora lives in in this book and it is all (and more) than I expected it to be.
We are also introduced to new intriguing characters, the most intriguing of them being a bear who brings in romantic entanglements into the playing field. We see Flora raging, making decisions in split seconds, looking for answers in places she thought she wouldn’t have to and meeting the mother she thought she never would. The tension and danger in the novel is exacerbated in this novel as the stakes are much higher. The politics is rife and taut with an impending war that no one will deny is going to happen.
Flora’s relationship with the mother she grew up with goes through a series of metamorphoses and I really like where it ends up. I also liked the decisions Flora makes even though they are not always the smartest. The Bear is an intriguing love interest and though Flora’s vacillations where Udo is concerned is rather vexing, I can’t deny that some of it he brings on to himself. While it is sad how their relationship unravels, it makes me wonder who Flora will end up with considering the whole thing that happens between Udo and her. Maybe her sacrifice will make their relationship better in the end – I don’t know. But I am willing to find out.
This brings me to my other point. The series is being marketed as a trilogy. However, after the last book, I cannot see it as one as there are way too many threads left open, there are too many what-ifs and what-nows for it to have ended. So fingers crossed that the series continues. As for whether I recommend this series, do you really need to ask?(less)
I was surprised that this novel wasn’t more aggressively marketed because it has all the elements necessary for a blockbuster in the book world. I hav...moreI was surprised that this novel wasn’t more aggressively marketed because it has all the elements necessary for a blockbuster in the book world. I have been waiting for this novel for ages and it did not disappoint. Liyana is an extremely likable protagonist and following her journey is exhilarating and thrilling at times. The mythical world created by Durst is also fascinating with its different ecosystems, tribes, arts and religion. The desert is almost a character in its own right and I believe Durst is able to accurately portray the harsh conditions in which people survive in the desert.
The supporting characters are also well hewed with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. All the vessels are unique but perhaps I most felt for the vessel-whose-name-I-can’t-remember and her struggle to live even when her soul is in danger of being consumed by the “God” living in her. The mythology is also very well constructed with things being logical and fantastical (see, it’s possible!). What I found really fascinating was the concept of ritual soul death that led to the emptying of the body (thus vessel) into which the God will pour themselves. Korbyn, the trickster God, is the only one of the Gods who manages to correctly fill his vessel but I don’t think the reader is able to forget at any time that the soul and body are different. Korbyn is intriguing – as Gods are wont to be – and though he is much easier to understand than N. K. Jemisin’s Gods, he is still fey and fickle.
His fascination with Liyana and her reciprocating his feelings has the air of a forbidden romance especially when you consider that Liyana is the vessel for Korbyn’s true love. Then you throw in a young Emperor trying to do his best in the circumstances for the people he rules, a nefarious wizard, magic and burgeoning feelings where there should be none. Yes, it is a rollercoaster journey. I loved the ending. I thought it was sufficiently postmodern and tuned in to contemporary expectations instead of traditional. The only thing that detracted from the novel for me was that a very important character, the prince, could have been developed much more than he was. His interactions with several key characters needed more building and depth. That is just a personal thought and other readers may be quite satisfied by the way that relationship is built. All in all, I heartily recommend this fantasy. It’s very entertaining in all the good ways.(less)
I had been initially super excited about this novel but then my enthusiasm had flagged. Then it somehow revived and I managed to get my hands on a lib...moreI had been initially super excited about this novel but then my enthusiasm had flagged. Then it somehow revived and I managed to get my hands on a library copy and started reading it apprehensively. Because I had loved the first novel so very much, I was afraid that the second one would, as sequels somehow inevitably do, let me down. Fortunately for me, this was not the case. The novel’s protagonist is very religious and she worships a Christian god. However, as I said in a status update, it never feels like the author or even the character is preaching about her religion of choice – it is more about spirituality than religiousity. So rather than alienating the non-Christian reader, the characters and the world somehow accepts the differences of the readers without wanting to change them or having them accept that religion. Do I make sense? I hope I do.
Other than that, I really liked Hector. I had pegged him for the actual love interest in the first novel and I was happy to have my suspicions proved correct. I hadn’t been happy when Humberto was killed off in the first novel and I remember being rather vocal about it. I still don’t think he should have been killed off but eh, if it means that there’s room for Hector, so be it. Their love happened gradually and it was interesting to witness it happening.
Rosario is a pretty awesome character for a kid and the courtly intrigues kept me reading. I just didn’t understand why Elisa didn’t assert herself more where the Quorum and Ximena were concerned. Why couldn’t she speak up and tell them what she wanted and why she wanted what she did? Why didn’t she make her thoughts, opinions and desires clear and make them submit to her? She is the queen and she has the right to rule and there is no reason she should not be secure about that. It is not enough, I think, to be told that she is a weak queen when she doesn’t attempt to be stronger. And the whole quest turned out to be a bit anticlimactic because of the realization she makes at the end.
The ending also felt staged rather than organic but I didn’t care by then because I was so invested in the story and the fates of the characters. So yeah, the novel isn’t perfect. But it entertains and it is does so in a grand manner. The world is strong, the characters likable and I really can’t wait to see what happens in the final book of this trilogy. Strongly recommended.(less)