Review: King of Ashes

May 22, 2018 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, High Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: King of Ashes King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist
Series: The Firemane Saga #1
Published by Harper Voyager on 5th April 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as "the Firemane" for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.
As a Free Lord, Baron Daylon Dumarch owes allegiance to no king. When an abandoned infant is found hidden in Daylon’s pavilion, he realizes that the child must be the missing heir of the slain Steveren. The boy is valuable—and vulnerable. A cunning and patient man, Daylon decides to keep the baby’s existence secret, and sends him to be raised on the Island of Coaltachin, home of the so-called Kingdom of Night, where the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the "Hidden Warriors," legendary assassins and spies, are trained.

Years later, another orphan of mysterious provenance, a young man named Declan, earns his Masters rank as a weapons smith. Blessed with intelligence and skill, he unlocks the secret to forging King’s Steel, the apex of a weapon maker’s trade known by very few. Yet this precious knowledge is also deadly, and Declan is forced to leave his home to safeguard his life. Landing in Lord Daylon’s provinces, he hopes to start anew.

Soon, the two young men—an unknowing rightful heir to a throne and a brilliantly talented young swordsmith—will discover that their fates, and that of Garn, are entwined. The legendary, long-ago War of Betrayal has never truly ended . . . and they must discover the secret of who truly threatens their world.

A few years ago I read and enjoyed Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar Saga and have been meaning to read more of his work ever since. So I was delighted to get the chance to read the first novel in his latest series, The Firemane Saga, King of Ashes.

The book opens to the aftermath of a battle where Steveren Langene (aka Firemane), King of Ithrace, one of the five Great Kingdoms of Garn has been betrayed and defeated. He, along with his family, is put to death to ensure the destruction of Ithrace, Kingdom of Flames.

Baron Daylon Dumarch was one of the men to betray his friend, Steveren Langene. So when a baby who is said to be the last remaining Firemane is brought to him in secret, Baron Daylon ensures the child’s safety by sending him to the legendary “Invisible Nation” of Coaltachin, where is to be raised until he comes to manhood.

We then fast forward some 16 years or so and the story largely follows two characters, the first of whom is Declan, an orphan who has been raised and trained by Edvalt, former Master Blacksmith to Baron Daylon. The second character being Hatushaly, or ‘Hatu’, a student of one of the nameless schools of Coaltachin, a nation renowned for producing the finest spies and assassins in the world.

I’m not going to tell you any more about the plot than that!

Raymond E Feist’s world building is incredible. He weaves such detail into the narrative of his story that we feel ourselves transported to Garn.

Admittedly, I was initially somewhat concerned about being overwhelmed by all the names and nations but it didn’t take long for me to get up to speed.

Feist’s characters are so well-formed. Years on, and I still think of Pug from the Riftwar Saga,  if this isn’t the sign of a good character then I don’t know what is. I just know I’m going to feel the same about Declan and Hatu.

This is a thoroughly entertaining read, filled with action and never a dull moment. It is beautifully poised for the continuation of this series and I cannot wait to see where book two takes us.

If you are looking for an accessible, entertaining fantasy, then you can’t go amiss with Feist’s King of Ashes. I’m just sorry to have to wait for book two.


Review: Words of Radiance

June 5, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, High Fantasy

Review: Words of Radiance Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #2
Published by Gollancz Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.
Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.
Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable


From the moment I finished The Way of Kings I couldn’t wait to delve back into the world of Roshar. I held off until the books came out in paperback though – I am completely incapable of managing one of those large hardbacks. In holding off I was slightly concerned that I may have forgotten some of the finer details of the first book. Thankfully I found this wee ten minute recap which helped to fill in the gaps – I definitely recommend checking this out if you’re in a similar situation. Obviously, if you haven’t read The Way of Kings then stop reading this and go and pick up a copy… NOW!

I don’t say this lightly but, I think I enjoyed Words of Radiance even more than The Way of Kings. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did…and I loved The Way of Kings so that’s saying something. I felt The Way of Kings was in many respects scene-setting; introducing us to the world, the characters, the creatures, the wars etc. Whereas from the very start of Words of Radiance I felt “ready to go”, already invested in the characters and eager to carry on this epic journey.

At the end of The Way of Kings I felt that everything was coming together nicely, it seemed that perhaps we might find our protagonists all in the same geographic location eventually. Indeed, this is something that happens in Words of Radiance, and is something that I really liked. The separate lives of the main characters in book one gradually start to intertwine. We get some back story Shallan too which is really useful in learning more about her character – these flashbacks are a nice tangent to the main storyline.

As with The Way of Kings we also find Interludes with seemingly completely random characters. Having become accustomed to these interludes in book one, I really enjoyed these and Sanderson uses them to great effect in expanding the story.

Once more the world that Sanderson has created left me in awe. His concepts are terrific and the way he winds his story through his main characters is second to none.

Quite simply, I adored this book. I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait a while longer to take my next trip in Roshar – book three, Skybreaker is rumoured for publication in July 2016. I wish my husband would hurry up and read Words of Radiance so I can discuss it with him!!


Review: Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene

February 13, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, High Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levene
Series: The Hollow Gods #1
Published by Hodder Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Yron the moon God died, but now he's reborn in the false king's son. His human father wanted to kill him, but his mother sacrificed her life to save him. He'll return one day to claim his birthright. He'll change your life.

He'll change everything.

Smiler's Fair: the great moving carnival where any pleasure can be had, if you're willing to pay the price. They say all paths cross at Smiler's Fair. They say it'll change your life. And five people will discover how true that is.

Nethmi, the orphaned daughter of a murdered nobleman, who in desperation commits an act that will haunt her forever. Dae Hyo, the skilled warrior, who discovers that a lifetime of bravery cannot make up for a single mistake. Marvan, the master swordsman, who takes more pleasure from killing than he should. Eric, who follows his heart only to learn that love can exact a terrible price. And Krish, the humble goatherd, with a destiny he hardly understands and can never accept.

In a land where unimaginable horror lurks in the shadows, where the very sun and moon are at war, these people must discover who they are - and who they're willing to become.


Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene; it’s awesome, just awesome. End of review.

Ok, a bit more depth. Things started well when I opened up the book to find a map. I do love books with maps. Apart from their obvious gorgeousness, I tend to feel like it’s a reflection upon the depth of the world the author has created. Does that make sense?

Anyway, it’s a few days now since I finished reading Smiler’s Fair and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Levene’s writing style had me hooked from the outset, an eight page prologue that left me thoroughly intrigued and very excited to read the rest of the book.

Smiler’s Fair is a great moving carnival city where it is said that any pleasures can be found, if you are willing to pay the price. The fair creates a sort of backbone to the book. It’s not all set there; in fact a lot of it isn’t, but it’s the glue that binds the five characters we follow in this multi-stranded fantasy.

Written from multiple viewpoints, the story follows five main characters. In my opinion it takes an extremely talented writer to be able to “pull off” a novel with multiple viewpoints, and clearly Rebecca Levene is one such author! Not only does she create a world which will blow your socks off but she also creates well-rounded, whole characters. The personality of each of the main characters shines through and although we may only read about them in a chapter, or even half chapter at one time these characters become so alive and real.

I mentioned the world; the world is incredible. I honestly don’t know how Levene manages to cram so much detail into just 404 pages (paperback version). The depth of this world is stunning, and some of the concepts are just brilliant. Honestly, this world will not disappoint you. In fact just when you think you’ve got to grips with the scope and substance of the world BAM there’s a new introduction! This isn’t just a book about Smiler’s Fair, it’s far more than that. It’s a book that encompasses a whole world and within that world a variety of peoples and histories, of creatures and Gods, as well as the plights, hopes and dreams of our main characters.

I love the way this book tells the story from the perspectives of the various characters, as well as the way Levene intricately weaves their histories and lives together in ways I certainly didn’t foresee.

This is such a fast paced, action packed novel. It’s full of surprises, and packed with detail. I genuinely don’t know how Levene has created such depth and substance in just 404 pages. All I know is that I can’t wait to get back into this world – I miss it already!


Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

September 8, 2014 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, High Fantasy

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive #1
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.


When it comes to selecting books to read I tend to trust my favourite bloggers, booktubers and friends on Goodreads for recommendations. I also go on the advice of friends. There’s one friend in particular who has never given me a bad recommendation (no pressure Craig). He was the one that introduced me to George R R Martin and Raymond E Feist. His latest recommendation was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and so I plunged into the first book in the Stormlight Archive series, and yes, he was right again!

the way of kings

Written from the perspective of numerous characters, we are introduced to the world of Roshar. It’s a world where light-eyed humans rule and fill the upper echelon. A world where dark-eyes are common, and Parshmen are slaves.

Truthfully it took me a wee while to get into this book. I enjoyed what I was reading but I had no idea what it was all about! Slowly but surely my understanding of the world evolved and before long I didn’t bat an eyelid at chulls, spren and shardblades. So stick with it, it’s worth it!

While I really want to go into detail about this book, I also don’t want this post to be too long or to spoil anything for you. Having never read any of Sanderson’s work prior to this I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had heard great things. Wow, this guy has an incredible imagination! He has created a world that is very different from any I’ve encountered before. His attention to detail is incredible. There are so many fantastic concepts in this book, and they are all relevant. Where in other works of fantasy I’ve found myself a bit distracted by detail that isn’t relevant to the plot, Sanderson’s detail enhances every part of his plot. He even goes so far as to include hand drawn illustrations which, personally, I loved.

As I mentioned earlier we follow the story through multiple characters. The danger with this is that you learn a little about all of them but they lack in depth. This certainly isn’t the case with this book. Although I feel like I ‘know’ a couple of the characters better than others, I still feel Sanderson has provided us with a good balance.

There was a while when I really didn’t understand where this book was going. I felt like I was being told separate stories and couldn’t see how they related to one another. To be honest though, this didn’t really bother me as I was enjoying each of the character’s individual stories. However I can assure you that they do start to make more sense as a whole.

As if multiple storylines, detail and drawings weren’t enough, Sanderson even throws in some interludes which offer us a peek into the lives of other characters, seemingly completely separate from the main plot. Again, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but I really did! It helped to build my picture of Roshar.

I did have a favourite character in this book. To me, Kaladin is a fantastic character and it’s really impossible not to like him! The son of a surgeon, life has taken him from a small village through war and slavery to life as a bridgeman, whose lives many of the light-eyes see as expendable. Battling to stay alive, and to protect his Bridge team, his turbulent journey is not yet over.

Split over two parts, this book, from the outside, may seem excessively long but I assure you every page is worth it. The second book in the series, Words of Radiance, was published earlier this year. I can’t wait to read it, although I think I’m going to wait for the paperback version. 1088 pages in a hardback is going to be too hard for me to hold!

Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s work? Should I venture into his other series?

We just wanted to share this book with you! All opinions expressed are, as always, completely honest and entirely our own.