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review 2015-06-14 00:00
The Gray Wolf Throne
The Gray Wolf Throne - Cinda Williams Chima

The Seven Realms series continues in this third installment, however this has to be my least favourite so far. A major plot point was revealed in the blurb and it really took away from the reading experience and the moment it happened. It is true that you could see it was going to happen anyway, but I still would have preferred to go in blind. I recommend that you avoid reading the blurb when going into this one. All you need to know is that the story picks up right where The Exiled Queen left off. Raisa is on the run, Han is searching for her, and there are enemies everywhere.

 

The dual point of view is still in effect here, but this book focuses more on Raisa than Han, an aspect I thought I would enjoy as I greatly prefer her character. But it turned out Han’s struggles were much more interesting than Raisa’s so I was left unsatisfied. The Gray Wolf Throne is very character driven, even more so than The Exiled Queen.

 

It was sad to see the end of Oden’s Ford, as I really enjoyed the setting, and there wasn’t really any firm setting here. They moved around a lot and unlike in The Demon King, it didn’t work.

 

The first half of the novel was the best. It was pretty intense, with both Han and Raisa on the same path, yet separated. It was action packed, and I felt it had a good balance with the slower scenes. The plot was engaging and constantly moving forward (although pretty slowly it seemed) yet it didn’t have any strong build up or climax. This definitely was more of a bridge book to set up for the sequel. While I enjoyed the read, it was disappointing. There are still some fantastic moments, and if you have liked the first two books then you should definitely pick this one up. I’m hoping that this is all build up to an explosive finale! And if you haven’t tried this series yet, go ahead and give The Demon King a chance. It’s an excellent, refreshing young adult fantasy!

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review 2015-05-31 00:00
Fairest
Fairest - Marissa Meyer

I loved this insight into Levana's character. I feel like now I fully understand where she's coming from and how twisted her mind actually is. I was often full on cringing reading this, because her idea of what was happening was so wrong. She really does think she is a good queen, although she is incredibly selfish and vain. Seeing the horrible things she had to go through as a young girl doesn't redeem her, but it does give her great development as a character and a villain. Before this book, she was just a faceless evil, not an actual person. This book has added much needed layers to the character, which I hope will come into play in the final installment of the series.

As for the plot of this book, it wasn't very exciting. This was more of a character study then anything. It had a nice build up to Winter, and I loved the inclusion of characters who will play an important role in that book.

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review 2015-05-06 00:00
The Final Empire
The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson

I feel very conflicted about this book.
I think Brandon Sanderson is an excellent writer but there was just some things missing in The Final Empire.
First of all, it took me waaaay to long to finish it. It was due back at the library so I had to wait a while to pick it up again.
Sanderson is obviously very good at writing action scenes - the climax was just. Wow. Leading up to it, I found the plot very slow moving. The world building and character development were pretty on point but it just felt...stale. Maybe because I've also read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, and a lot of aspects were the same.
I finished the book feeling confused, mind-blown, and relieved that I was finally done.
All in all - I liked this book...?
I'm not sure I've ever felt so conflicted. I like the way it wrapped up, but I am curious about those loose threads. I think I'll have to give the next book a chance.

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review 2015-04-07 00:00
The Exiled Queen
The Exiled Queen - Cinda Williams Chima

Overall this was a great book and an excellent continuation of the series. I love how Raisa's character is developing and I found Han's inner struggles especially interesting.
It does well furthering both Han and Raisa's story lines, but I felt the wider story was somewhat at a halt. There was considerably less action than The Demon King, and the plot seemed to flow nicely until they reached their destination. From there it slowed down.
If you liked The Demon King, chances are you will with this too. It can drag at times, but the writing is once again beautiful and captivating. I'm looking forward to continuing the series!

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review 2013-04-07 19:37
Engrossing dark epic fantasy novel
Storm Dancer (Dark Epic Fantasy) - Rayne Hall

Book CoverI actually first saw this book in a stack at my mother-in-laws. I loved the cover and read the back blurb, finding myself intrigued. The story line lingered in my mind long enough that when I ran into Ms. Hall on Twitter, finding Storm Dancer tantalizing me once again, I knew I’d read it. 

 

What drew me to this novel was the setting: a fantasy story set in the desert. Plus, I was intrigued by the main character of Dahoud being both the hero and the villain, a man plagued by inner evil that he seeks to control. As a writer, I had to see how Ms. Hall pulled that off. She does it brilliantly.

 

The setting of a harsh desert country beset by drought, during a time equivalent to our bronze age, is rich and well written. Neighboring counties are a threat, even when it is assistance they send rather than war. Merida is such a beneficial ambassador, sent to help a land considered primitive by her refined homeland. The plotting of a corrupt government quickly entangles Merida far from home and without aid. She has only her wits and ability to call rain to keep her somewhat safe. 

 

There are many great characters in the novel and each are unique in their failings and strengths. The interweaving stories along with what would seem to be inconsequential details thread together to impact the ending - a feature I admire in a story and author. The twists in the plot left me surprised. I never really knew where the story would go next, which was lovely. 

 

As others have written, the novel is graphic with both torture and rape. Oddly though, I agree with others in that I think one of the few failings in the novel is that it could have been darker yet. The one time that Dahoud’s djinn wins its battle of lust and conquest, the scene is quickly glossed over. Most of the time, Dahoud wins over his demon with only hints of the time in his life where it had ruled. I would have loved a larger moment or at least a longer after effect of guilt when Dahoud succumbs to his inner evil. 

 

I would have also loved some insight to Merida’s thoughts at the end of the novel, especially when she makes the final choice she does in the story. The ending to me was very believable as she changes during the course of the story, but I would have liked to hear that final epiphany from her.

 

Lastly, I would have loved a map to visualize the world, though directions and landmarks were consistent enough that I felt familiar with the landscape and cities. But a map to look at while reading would have enhanced my experience.

 

I will read this novel again in the future. I am a very fast reader, so the story length was great for me (it took more than a day, yeah!). However, it pulled me in so tightly, I raced through it finding it hard to put down. I want to go back without that need to see what the next page or chapter holds and really enjoy the setting and story! 

 

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