Review: Faithless by Graham Austin-King

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I wasn’t much of a fan of Fae: The Wild Hunt, the author’s other book I read, but I decided to give Faithless a try for this year’s Bingo challenge, after a sale, quite a few friends’ recommendations, and a nudge from the Random Number God. Absolutely no regrets.

The decision came easily. Perhaps every betrayal does. In the end, they all begin with a lie. The small ones we tell ourselves to make what we do bearable.

It’s not your fault.
There is no real alternative.
Anyone would do the same thing in your place.

I often complain about a lack of protagonists who have more ordinary professions – a lack of fantasy books about healers, farmers, tailors, cooks, and, yes, why not miners? Well, first two thirds or so of Faithless has this in spades. We follow Wynn, a farmer’s son sold to the temple by his father and forced to work as a miner, and Kharios, a novice priest who seemingly gets a second chance to prove himself. A lot of it is mundane, learning about how things in Aspiration work, mining, forging, interacting with the miner crew or other priests. And I loved it.

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Review: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (Founders #1)

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I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Crown) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

(also, this is my first ARC)

A lovechild of Sanderson, Lynch, and Gladstone as I have heard it described would be an apt comparison indeed.

What a fucking book. This one will make it big, mark my words. It has something for everyone. Fans of high-paced, action fantasy? Check. Those looking for likable characters? Check. Magic system enthusiasts, those who want (mild) social critique, those looking for heist books, female characters with agency (who are not all fighters!)…there’s so much to love.

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Review: Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft (The Books of Babel #2)

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I grabbed a paperback of this book as soon as I heard that the series got picked up by a publisher, just for the sake of having a matching pair. Suffice to say, it’s been sitting on my shelf unread for a while, for no real reason. Well, two days ago I finally picked it up. And read it. Partially in a tree.

“Books are traps.“ But how are they so, and whom do they trap: the author or the reader? Perhaps they are just the boasts of vainglorious minds, and what we hold up as literature is in fact a cult of unlikable characters. I hate to think they are like a fishing weir to the swimming mind, a trap easily swum into but rarely escaped: a neurosis, a dogma, a dream.

No, no, I must no be so cynical!  If books are traps, then let them be like terrariums: sealed up and still living miniatures of the world.

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June 2018 Monthly Wrap-up

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  • Illusion by Paula Volsky (2/5): The month did not start on a good note. I had high hopes for this book (I mean…revolutions!), and it’s far from bad from the technical standpoint, but the brattiness of most of the characters made it impossible to enjoy. I persisted out of hope for some character development but it…didn’t really go into a direction I would be satisfied with.
  • An Ill-Fated Sky by Darrell Drake (3/5): An improvement upon A Star-Reckoner’s Lot, but I can’t say much about it because almost everything would be a spoiler.
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMasted Bujold (4/5): No Cazaril in this one (unfortunately), but still good. Ista is wonderful.
  • Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier: DNF, no review or rating. Potentially good book, horrible timing. I started it shortly after starting WoK and halfway through just…stalled completely. It had a nice, gloomy sense of atmosphere and a slow burn romance (even if he could be annoyingly overprotective) but I got so bored. May come back to it some day.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (4/5): Good enough, but not amazing, though the weaknesses didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would. More worldbuilding than story, but the ending was good.
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (4.5/5): Short and sweet. I was excited to learn more about Jack and Jill. Great palate cleanser, too.

r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 15/50 (30%)

Books read this year: 31

Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

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A short review for a short book.

It can be easy, in the end, to forget that children are people, and that people will do what people will do, the consequences be damned.

Forced into roles since they were born by perfectionist parents, Jack and Jill were never allowed much choice in their lives…until a door opens and adventures begin. They were the two characters I was the most curious about in Every Heart a Doorway and was very excited to learn more about them. It did not disappoint.

It suffes a bit from its length – I wish we got to spend more time in the Moors and that most of their life there wasn’t as glossed over – and gets a little heavy on its message sometimes, but the prose is as amazing as in the first book and fairytale atmosphere, the worldbuilding, and the illustrations(!!!) are all great. I also liked the complexity of their relationship.

It’s a quick, delightful read and a perfect palate cleanser between longer books.

Enjoyment: 5/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: those who wanted to learn more about Jack and Jill, fairytale enthusiasts
Not recommended to: people who like less message-heavy books

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #1)

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I went into this book quite wary because of the combination of the incredible amount of hype and my disappointment with most of the other Sanderson books I read. I’m far from new to the genre. In fact, I did not plan to start the series until at least book 4 came out at all. But my friends insisted and I did not regret it.

Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.

It is, at its core, fairly classic epic fantasy. The protagonists are mostly noble, the antagonists are mostly bad, and the world needs saving. It’s also pretty damn good at what it does.

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Review: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (World of the Five Gods #2)

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Hopeful and pretty damn enjoyable.

Foolish beyond hope to send a middle-aged former madwoman running down the roads of Chalion to fetch up here, and for what? Failed saint, failed sorceress, failed royina, wife, mother, daughter, failed … well, lover was not a role she’d ever attempted.

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Review: A Star-Reckoner’s Lot and An Ill-Fated Sky by Darrell Drake (A Star-Reckoner’s Legacy #1 and #2)

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Well, this was a mixed bag.

Positives first: I loved the setting. Sasanian Iran is something I haven’t seen used before and it seems well-researched – and interesting enough that I want to do some research of my own. Really, if you want me to get interested in a place or topic, just include it in a fantasy book. As far as the characters go, Waray the half-div stole the show completely. She’s blood-thirsty and a bit crazy and a prankster and šo-fun to read about. The highlight of the book for sure. Oh, and I almost forgot: the creative insults and the stupid puns. A nice addition if you’re into that.

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Review: Illusion by Paula Volsky

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Even though it’s a well-written book, I have found it very hard to enjoy. So I apologise if this comes across as less of a review and more of a vent – it’s been a long, long time since I read a book as frustrating and full of pet peeves as this. In general, I’d probably still recommend it, but not without a massive warning.

The blurb and recommendations seemed to promise many things I wanted. A revolution plot! Lower classes rising against their masters! Riches to rags! Character development! Some vague rumours about a guilliotine-like character! I was looking forward to it a lot. It seemed like I’d love it and fuck, I wanted so badto love it. Revolutionary fantasy is seriously lacking. But even a good concept can’t always save a book.

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Review: Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

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He wondered whether this Lundish war was any different from the three dozen or so he’d seen before, whether these Truehard veins ran hotter and truer; whether he might finally find a cause he could rally behind, to blunt his chore of wreaking carnage. To do some good.

Technically speaking, this is an excellent book. The characters are likable and complex, the relationships between the main cast are great (and often adorable). The writing style is polished and quotable, with none of the clunkiness you sometimes see in indie books. The exploration of golem psychology, learning to care about centuries of not caring, also interesting.

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