Mini Reviews: Burning Roses, Kalpa Imperial, Briarley, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

And once again I read enough novellas (and one anthology) that I have enough for a mini review post! This time, it has been a rather mixed batch. 

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Review: Lifelode by Jo Walton

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I have wanted to read this book since at least 2015. It seemed like exactly that sort of small-scale book I might be into. Unfortunately, it was completely impossible to get – available either from a small press that did not ship to my country, or used for insane prices – until very recently when an ebook finally became available.

Worth the wait? Absolutely.

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Review: The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (Magic of the Lost #1)

THE UNBROKEN by C. L. Clark - Orbit Books

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ARC received from the publisher (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review.

This has been, hands down, one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I’ve been looking for books with messy, complicated relationships lately, so that sounded fantastic, plus being promised critique of colonialism on top and that cover? With those arms? 😍

Unfortunately, while it’s a good book, I have to admit I found it something of a struggle, even if it was no fault of its own.

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Review: Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

Amazon.fr - Skyward Inn - Whiteley, Aliya - Livres

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ARC received from the publisher (Solaris) in exchange for an honest review.

We burn history down, over and over, as an act of remembrance. When there are no answers, there is recollection, and repetition.

I’m always on the lookout for more SFF slice of life. Especially weird literary SFF slice of life. So when Fabienne brought this book to my attention, I knew I’d have to read it. And it turned out to be one of the most unique things I’ve found in a while – at the same time somehow a seamless blend of super chill sci-fi slice of life (slight Becky Chambers vibes anyone?) and something altogether more unsettling.

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Review: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar (Olondria #1)

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It is dangerous to build. Once you have built something – something that takes all your passion and will – it becomes more precious to you than your own happiness. You don’t realize that, while you are building it. That you are creating a martyrdom – something, which, later, will make you suffer.

And with this, I am done with the 2020 r/Fantasy Bingo!

The Winged Histories is one of my all-time favourites, so I was incredibly curious how would the first book in the series (really, the two can be read in any order) compare. I’m all for literary fantasy with lovely prose, so that I would like it to at least some extent was pretty much a given, but I still far prefer its sequel.

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Review: Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky (After the War #1)

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What happens after the Dark Lord has been defeated?

“For that thing only, for the most selfish of reasons, I regret we killed him. We fought and we hurt and some of us died, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being a hero. I knew I was doing the right thing. I knew I was alive. And now he’s dead and we’re…lost. It’s like the world expected us to die with him, and doesn’t know what to do with us.”

I have been looking for books dealing with consequences of war and upheaval for a long, long time. I find the questions of what happens after the big bad is gone – how do they rebuild, how do they deal with what the war cost them, what has changed, what happens to the heroes and the leftovers of the big bad’s minions now – much more interesting than the standard epic fantasy plot of the events leading up to that. But few books ever touch upon that. Redemption’s Blade seemed perfect for scratching that particular itch.

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Review: Seducing the Sedgwicks series by Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks #1-3)

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I know, this is historical romance, not SFF, and that this is supposed to be a SFF blog. But screw it, my blog, my rules, and when I find a perfect book, damn right I’m going to yell about it. It all started when I heard about Two Rogues Make a Right from Sara back in April – I have some extremely specific romance preferences, and when a book satisfies one of them, that’s usually plenty. This one seemed to tick off the whole damn list. Of course I had to. The only issue was that it was the last book of a series, but whatever, the other two can’t be bad – and indeed they were not.

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Review: Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman

The Breath of the Sun eBook: Rachel Fellman: Amazon.com.au: Kindle ...

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It is thrilling, to be so far up. The very quality of the air is different; it conducts less of the sound of your voice, and its shallowness, its thinness, infects you. It is a small spike in your cold throat. In that narrow air, looking down over the misty land in the last few minutes of sunlight, you hear your own heart like a slow bass drum, and feel the anticipation of a good song beginning, somewhere in your bones, the percussion of the joints and the slur of the blood.

The Breath of the Sun is another confirmation that an instinct that a book will be great is never to be ignored. I have waited over a year to be able to get my hands on the paperback and in the end, it was absolutely worth it.

With its gorgeous prose, unique concept, experimental structure, queerness, and complex relationships, it shot straight to my favourites and I’d even put it on the same level as The Gray House or The Winged Histories. I can’t praise it enough. If you’re looking for literary fantasy that’s unlike any other you’ve read before: that’s the book for you.

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DNF: The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar: Vows and Honor #1)

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This was technically a reread, but I remembered so little of what happened it might as well been a first time read. And unfortunately, it was not to be. It aged so, so badly and I couldn’t bring myself to reread the whole thing. And it almost soured me on Valdemar in general.

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Review: Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar)

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Unfortunately, I found myself in a reading slump again and not up to reading anything difficult or heavy. Then Valdemar got mentioned and it seemed perfect. I have read about seven or eight books as a teenager (the Arrows trilogy, The Last Herald Mage, some of Vows and Honor) and am slowly rereading them. This, however, was a first time read. I wasn’t very worried whether it would hold up – most of what I reread did just fine, I knew what to expect, and Take a Thief has a pretty decent reputation.

And sometimes, you just need fluff featuring magical horses and found families.

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