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Search tags: Sword-and-Sourcery
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review 2019-05-29 22:20
"Kill The Queen - Crown Of Shards #1" by Jennifer Estep
Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep,Lauren Fortgang

"Kill The Queen" is an intrigue-filled, action-packed romp, set in a classic fairy-tale setting, with castles and princesses, except that some of these princesses hold lightning in one hand and sword in the other.

 

In this world, ruthless, magic-wielding royals rule, gladiators fight to the death to entertain the crowds and creatures that morph into beasts, dragons and ogres attend royal courts. This is not a happy ever after kind of place. Here the poisonous politics have deadly consequences and the blood and guts spilt by blade weapons are vividly described.

 

At the centre of the book is a pay-no-attention-to-me minor princess who has spent her orphaned life hiding her power and doing her best to seem harmless but who now finds herself running for her life and seeking revenge for her murdered family. She is a princess we can all cheer for: brave but broken, modest but charismatic, rage-filled and lethal.

 

Although the book starts a little slowly, in order to establish the fairly large cast of characters, it is most fast-paced, lunging from one nail-bitingly tense crisis to the next. I love the way the plot let me guess the next crisis while keeping the Princess blind, which made me feel insightful, yet was complex enough that I couldn't guess how the crisis would be averted, which made me keen to read more.

 

This is the best Jennifer Estep book I've read, I have great hopes for this series.

 

I recommend the audiobook version of "Kill The Queen". Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract.

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/kill-the-queen-by-jennifer-estep
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text 2019-05-17 22:06
Reading progress update: I've read 64%. Wow - this is such an improvement over the "Elemental Assassin" series
Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep,Lauren Fortgang

I read the first few of Jennifer Estep's  "Elemental Assassin" series, carried along by the originality of the ideas and some of the character building. Eventually, I put them aside because there was so much repetition, even within the same book. 

 

I picked up "Kill The Queen", the first book in the "Crown Of Shards" series because it had good reviews, a great cover and I really WANTED to like Jennifer Estep^s books.

 

The start felt a little slow but I think, in retrospect, it was just laying necessary groundwork. Once the action started, I couldn't put this down. The world being imagined here is a sort of fairytale environment except with all the blood and guts split by real weapons and all the poisonous politics of real courts. There's magic and creatures that morph, gladiators who fight to the death and vicious royals. And at the centre of all this is an engaging woman, filled with rage, that we can all cheer for.

 

Part Two of the book tripped my geek switch. It's called Black Swan so I immediately assumed that it was going to be about a statistically unlikely event that has a strong impact and is then rationalised away - yep, that's how geeky I've become) so I was surprised when It turned out that the title referred to: the name of a gladiator troupe, the name of a gladiator, and two actual black swans. Although the other definition does seem to apply.

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review 2018-02-05 22:18
"Third Time Lucky and other stories of the most powerful wizard in the world" by Tanya Huff
Third Time Lucky: And Other Stories of the Most Powerful Wizard in the World - Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff is one of my favourite SF/Fantasy writers.  I loved her trope-twisting "Blood" series with Detective Vicki Nelson encountering everything from Werewolves to Mummies, her "Confederation / Peacekeeper" series where Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr delivers military SF that isn't just about winning and her "Gale Women" series where the world is saved on a regular basis by women who know how to unleash magic.

 

Two of the things I like most about her writing is the way she uses humour and the way she subverts patriarchal power models. Her women are powerful but they use their power in very different ways than their male counterparts and they love pricking pomposity.

 

I jumped at the opportunity to go back to a collection of stories written at the start of her career and see how far these two elements were already present. What I found were some light, fun stories that made me smile both because they are witty in a relaxed, slightly bawdy sort of way and because they disassemble traditional power models with a wink and a cocky smile.

 

Magdelene, the central character of the seven stories in "Third Time Lucky", is the most powerful wizard in the world. Fortunately for everyone concerned, she is also the laziest wizard in the world. She is more interested in living in a climate that requires little by way of clothing and is populated by well-muscled men who know how to sing than she is in world domination.

 

I read the stories in the order they're published in the book, which is the order that Tanya Huff wrote them in, rather than the chronological order of the stories. This, together with the notes from the author at the start of each tale, let me watch how Tanya Huff's idea of Magdelene developed between the first story in 1985 and the last in 2001.

 

They all made me smile and they all made me look again at power models - the one where Magdelene encounters a wizard bureaucracy I found to be particularly cutting.

If you're a Tany Huff fan, take the time to read this collection.

 

If you're not a Tanya Huff fan yet, read this collection for a gentle introduction to someone who sees the world differently and makes you glad to be in her company.

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review 2017-05-27 21:12
"Red Sister" not a review (yet) just a quick thank you to Just One More Chapter
Red Sister - Mark Lawrence

It's rare for me to find a fantasy author that I've never heard of who then makes me go "wow" on a regular basis through nineteen and a half hours of the first book in a series.

 

The book is "Red Sister" and the author is Mark Lawrence.

 

I found them both through a review by Just One More Chapter.

 

That's one of the joys of BookLikes.

 

I'll write my own review once my head has stopped spinning.

 

In the mean time, take a look at the review that set me on this path and see if it gets your imagination running.

 

http://biblioaddict.booklikes.com/post/1562984/a-stabby-angsty-super-young-assassin-nun-in-training-beware-child-animal-abuse-within-but-if-you-can-get-past-that-you-ll-really-enjoy-this-awesome-series-starter

 

 

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review 2015-09-11 12:47
"The Steel Remains - A Land Fit For Heroes Book1" by Richard Morgan: sword and sorcery for grown-ups -nasty, brutal and completely convincing
The Steel Remains - Richard K. Morgan

"The Steel Remains", the first book in Morgan's "A Land Fit For Heroes" series, is sword and sorcery for grown ups: people who can imagine what a broad sword does when it connects with a body and what it does to a man to be standing at the end of a battle, covered in the blood of his enemies, surrounded by the bodies of his friends and to ask himself what it means that he lived (again) and they died; people who are prepared to confront the cruelty, degradation and pain of slavery with no glamorous over-lay; people who want their fiction to embrace sex that is sweat-slick, lust-driven and not in the least romantic; people who are ready to experience violence that is visceral and thrilling and ultimately leaves no outcome but more violence and death.

 

Those who know Morgan's work will find familiar themes here: the brutal alpha male warrior that we would not welcome into civilized society, the abuse of the weak by the powerful, the talon-like grip of religion ripping at the belly of human emotion, the betrayal of those who fight and win by those who manage the politics of peace.

 

They will also find a new world so fully imagined that its scent will still linger in your nostrils after you close the book and a plot that will clearly span several books.

And of course, they will find a fierce male warrior, a leader, a fighter, a man driven by rage and passion, who is openly and vigorously homosexual in a land and time when this is punishable by death through impalement.

 

This is a book that sets the bar for other writers and deserves to have a massive readership.

 

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