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review 2018-06-20 03:17
Song by Jesse Teller Book Review

Read this review on Wordpress-The Bookworm Daydreamer-Song Book Review


Title: Song
Series: The Manhunters (Book #1)
Author: Jesse Teller
Rating: 4/5 stars


Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him


I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Rebekah and Jesse Teller!


Song is a grimdark epic fantasy whose short length doesn't make it any less epic. It follows Rayph Ivoryfist, a thousands of years old wizard who was once the warden of Mending Keep and court wizard of Lorinth, and Konnon, a bounty hunter. The story is told in dual perspectives, with their paths starting to cross more towards the end until their connection to each other is revealed.


There is a lot going on in this book. So much that I didn't really feel like it was short. It was packed to the brim with action, lore, and worldbuilding- so much of which that it made my head spin at times and reread some passages to make sure I understood everything. Was it enjoyable? Yes! Do you need to pay attention? Also yes. As I said there is a lot of worldbuilding here. There are ancient wizards, gods, spirits, monsters, other races, and more. Overall, the worldbuilding is quite good and I liked it.


The characters were distinctive and if not exactly likable, then interesting to read about. Rayph Ivoryfist, for example, has lived for at least ten thousand years at the beginning of the book. The novel deftly incorporates parts of his past throughout the narrative which I appreciate. He himself is also interesting with regards to how he became a pariah and wanted man in the king's court. Despite all that, he remains loyal to the crown and wanted to see the boy prince grow up and be crowned, despite his blustering, weak, and cowardly father. The other character is Konnon. He is a bounty hunter whose name is quite well-known and seems to be regarded as a "monster" by some. Still, he is shown to us in a deeply human way- as a father desperately searching for a way for his sick daughter to survive. As with Rayph, the novel also gives us a lot regarding Konnon's background.


The tone is decidedly grimdark. The worldbuilding, the lore, the writing, and the pacing are all mixed together to create a dark, oppressive feel that hung through the book. All the gloom were still balanced by the hope that we see towards the end. The opening chapters involving Rayph feel a bit like vignettes, introducing us to the people who would come to form The Manhunters, with the action ramping up halfway through. That is not to say the entirety of the book is not filled with action. It is. There are a lot of fight scenes which I thought were well executed.


Overall, Song is a good grimdark epic fantasy. I can recommend it for fans of the subgenre and people who want to try out the subgenre.

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review 2018-02-06 20:53
The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark - My Thoughts
The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust) - Anna Smith Spark

This book was so damned dark and bleak...  Grimdark?  Oh my GAWD, it was freaking grim and dark to the nth degree!

Now I have no problem with grimdark fantasy.  I like characters with flaws and who aren't goodie-goodies.  This post on Fantasy Hive by Cameron Johnston, published just yesterday, reflects many of my own thoughts on the genre.  Needless to say, I don't believe that The Court of Broken Knives succeeds in any of it. There is nothing of hope, of love, of humour, or of anything other than death, blood, violence, sadness and hate.  Nothing redeeming at all!  I couldn't help but think that the author must have a couple of hundred tons of demons to work out on the page. 

Now, the writing is a bit different, it's somewhat odd.  For instance, there are a couple of 1st person POV chapters thrown into the 60 chapters of the book.  Why?  I'm not sure, but it didn't bother me.  It must have worked on whatever level the author was hoping it would.  And that's just one instance of something 'different' in the writing style.  I appreciated the difference though.  Wasn't a problem one bit. In fact it's one of the reasons I was able to finish the book, I think.  That, and the fact that it was a Christmas present and I always want to finish those.

But the characters... OMG... the characters.... not a single one left standing that I cared for.  And all the ones I thought I might get to like... eviscerated, burned up, squished, beheaded... you name it... 

So in the end... far too dark and irredeemable for me.  Depressing.  Not a story that enthralled me - it more appalled me.  

Not a fan. 

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review 2017-12-13 08:56
Kings of Paradise- Richard Nell


Using stars, if books can ever be fairly classified in such a blunt way, this book requires five.

The first thing to note is that there isn’t much paradise here, even in the relatively mild climatic conditions of the south. Secondly, there are kings, legions of princes and princesses, and every kind of human ogre, and all have very tough lives, many characters hardly rising above the shitpits of crude existence. Generally, this is a story about the brutish nature of humanity, seen in the evil waves of real history and not just in these dystopian pages. The knife cuts every bit as deeply, with just as much pain, as in any human conflict. Little of it is truly fantastical, though we get a glimpse of fantasy spells in the final chapters, though nothing as far-fetched as fire breathing dragons in the first long tome of this eventual trilogy. The overall tone of the book is a plausible if dark read, and not at all one I recognise as fantasy genre. In fact, when fantasy elements crept in they didn’t seem to fit well at all. The balance of reality and wizardry is not my biggest problem here though, that being the overall weight of words.

There are two excellent 80,000 word stories in this long volume, plus 40,000 words of material to save for later. The quality of the writing easily sustained this reader, but as two books in a series, one about the south and one about the north, what is good reading could have been brilliant. The two main stories might be better weaved separately in the proposed series of books, rather than threading separately around each section by section. A minor grievance, as is often the case with indie authors, is that the editing isn’t always quite up to the quality of the descriptive writing, but all in all the production is very good. Some sections of the book, which may have faced late rewrites, are certainly less well chiselled.

I can see one reason for putting all this into one book, that being because the story of Ruka is just too bleak even for the dark side of grimdark, however that could be lightened considerably without losing the terror in his character. The story of the priestesses could easily be written lightly enough to act as a counterfoil, which to some degree it is anyway. I have to admit that a book focused simply on Ruka would have many readers reaching into their drug cabinet.

As mentioned, the book moves further from a classic dystopian genre towards fantasy as the abilities of Kale ‘mature’. In my view the ‘game of thrones’ feel of the script is strong enough without superpowers, and certainly Nell writes great storylines that really don’t need the escapology of supernatural talents. Exaggerated human skills, even out of body experiences, fit the foundations of the book’s world very well, but the creeping in abilities of Nordic gods, in my opinion, don’t.

My interested was sustained, I really wanted to get to the conclusion. However, when the end came we had already passed several far more powerful climaxes. That was certainly a disappointment, if one that isn’t uncommon in planned trilogies. Authors need to hold back some storylines of course, but the biggest ‘bang’ in every book in a series should be in its final chapters.

Would I read more by this author? Yes, for sure. But also note that I already feel I’ve read at least two of his books.



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review 2017-10-20 17:34
Non-Standard Fantasy: “The Blade Itself” by Joe Abercrombie
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie

I "discovered" Abercrombie in 2012 when I was actually looking for some fantasy novels that "weren't Dragonlance-level shit". Back in 2012 I started off by reading “The Heroes” first. Only in 2013 I got to reading the First Law from the beginning.


Abercrombie does not sugar-coat his narrative. That’s for sure. That’s the first indication you’re not reading your running-of-the-mill fantasy:  it’s disturbing because it skews closer to real life than we are used to or comfortable with fantasy-wise. Protagonists fail, start things but don’t finish them, have their plans changed in mid-stride and generally push through as if they were making it up as the narrative progresses. While reading “The Blade Itself” I kept expecting conventional fantasy storytelling to assert itself and bring the characters back around to the “right” path, despite evidence to the contrary. I’m not that well versed in fantasy lore, but I think this first novel in Abercrombie’s fantasy milieu sets up a precedent for an ending that just isn’t what you expect, but I still kept waiting for that tide to turn back and give me a the usual happy ending cropping up in a lot of fantasy nowadays.  What I found most unsettling is that there IS a happy ending – it’s just the last person in the entire book you’d expect gets everything he wants. It was one of those endings, and one of those books, that sits with you for a very long time.



If you're into SF of the Grimdark variety, read on.

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review 2017-07-20 10:55
Nur ein Wort: Grimdark
King of Thorns - Mark Lawrence

Habt ihr schon mal den Begriff Grimdark gehört und euch gefragt, was das nun wieder ist? Grimdark ist ein Subgenre der Fantasy: die Charaktere sind zwielichtiger, ihre Entscheidungen fragwürdiger, ihre Handlungen gewalttätiger. Alles ist etwas extremer, härter, blutiger, kompromissloser. So würde ich Grimdark erklären, denn bisher scheint es keine einheitliche Definition zu geben. Mein persönlicher Favorit ist die Beschreibung des Autors Adam Roberts, der Grimdark ganz simpel als „Anti-Tolkien“ bezeichnet – obwohl ich nicht glaube, dass dieses Subgenre zwangläufig eine Definition braucht. Ich halte es für eine intuitive Kategorie, die lediglich eine bestimmte Atmosphäre vermitteln und eine gewisse emotionale Resonanz erzeugen sollte.
„King of Thorns“, der zweite Band der Trilogie „The Broken Empire“ von Mark Lawrence, qualifiziert sich nach meinen Maßstäben spielend als Grimdark.


Als Jorg Ancrath schwor, er würde im Alter von 14 Jahren König sein, wurde er verspottet und belächelt. Er bewies, dass er niemals leere Reden schwingt, strafte seinen Onkel für den Verrat an seiner Mutter und seinem Bruder und entriss ihm sein Königreich. Heute ist Jorg 18 Jahre alt, herrscht seit vier Jahren über das Gebirgsland Renar und befindet sich in einer deprimierend aussichtslosen Lage. Vor den Toren seiner Burg versammelt sich eine gewaltige Streitmacht, die Jorgs Truppen zahlenmäßig weit überlegen ist. Der Prinz der Pfeile ist entschlossen, Renar zu erobern, denn er will zum Imperator ernannt werden, um den Krieg der Hundert ein für alle Mal zu beenden. Jorgs Chancen, ihm zu trotzen, sind gering. Jedenfalls in einem fairen Kampf. Vor vier Jahren entdeckte der junge König während einer Reise Artefakte der Erbauer von unsäglicher Macht. Niemand hat behauptet, Jorg würde fair kämpfen, richtig?


Ich hatte vor der Lektüre keinen blassen Schimmer, was mich im zweiten Band der „The Broken Empire“ – Trilogie, „King of Thorns“, erwarten würden. Es ist unheimlich schwierig, vorauszusagen, wie Mark Lawrence seinen Protagonisten Jorg handeln lassen wird, weil Unberechenbarkeit ein dominanter Zug seiner Persönlichkeit ist. Ich schlug das Buch auf und wäre beinahe rückwärts vom Stuhl gekippt – über dem ersten Kapitel steht in dicken Lettern „Wedding Day“. Hochzeitstag? Wer heiratet? Jorg etwa? Nicht möglich! Oder doch? Seit „Prince of Thorns“ vergingen vier Jahre, vielleicht hat er sich ja tatsächlich weiterentwickelt, ist gereift und ruht nun in sich selbst? Klingt das in euren Ohren genauso lächerlich wie in meinen, verstehen wir uns. Nein, darüber hätte ich mir wirklich keine Gedanken machen müssen, Jorg ist noch immer derselbe, beängstigende, bis in den Kern verrottete, von Hass, Rache und giftigem Ehrgeiz getriebene junge Mann, der er schon mit 14 war. Selbstverständlich verrät Mark Lawrence seinen Leser_innen, was er in den letzten Jahren getrieben hat. Erneut unterteilt er die Handlung aus Jorgs Ich-Perspektive heraus in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart und veranschaulicht auf diese Weise geschickt, dass sich die aktuelle Situation bereits vor vier Jahren abzeichnete. Vor vier Jahren begegnete Jorg dem Prinzen der Pfeile das erste Mal. Seit dieser schicksalhaften Begegnung wusste er, dass der Konflikt zwischen ihnen eines Tages unvermeidlich eskalieren würde. Nun, Jorg wäre nicht Jorg, hätte er nicht sofort Gegenmaßnahmen ergriffen. Er bereitete sich auf eben diesen Angriff der Gegenwart vor, zeigt in der Hitze der unausweichlichen, mitreißenden Schlacht eine überraschend kühle, militärisch-strategische Gewandtheit und spuckt der Ausweglosigkeit der Umstände frech ins Gesicht. Er würde lieber brennen, als sich einem Rivalen zu unterwerfen. Aus seiner Sicht begehrt der Prinz der Pfeile, was rechtmäßig ihm zusteht: den Thron des Imperators. Er will diesen Titel, also hat er ein Anrecht darauf, basta. Diese Einstellung illustriert Jorgs verdorbenen Charakter haargenau und unmissverständlich. Wer noch Hoffnung für ihn hegte, wird schonungslos desillusioniert. Sein schwarzes Herz verfolgt ihn auch auf seiner Reise, immer wieder wird er mit seinen Sünden konfrontiert, weil die wahren Puppenspieler des Krieges der Hundert glauben, ihn so kontrollieren zu können. Ich fand es beeindruckend, wie ausgeklügelt Mark Lawrence permanent eine unterschwellige Spannung aufrechterhält, indem er die verborgenen Akteure seines brutalen Universums langsam und widerwillig identifiziert. Dadurch bleibt stets ein Gefühl der Neugier bestehen. Manchmal war diese Neugier das einzige, das mich zum Weiterlesen bewog, denn ich kann nicht leugnen, dass „King of Thorns“ hin und wieder reichlich zäh ist. Die Lektüre war anstrengend, weil Mark Lawrence viele bedeutsame Details lediglich andeutet. Dadurch erfordert das Buch ein hohes Maß an Aufmerksamkeit. Eine Sekunde nicht aufgepasst und schwupps – schon ging ein wichtiges Informationskrümelchen verloren.


„King of Thorns“ ist eine würdige Fortsetzung der Trilogie „The Broken Empire“ und steht dem Auftakt „Prince of Thorns“ in nichts nach. Noch immer bin ich vollkommen fasziniert vom Protagonisten Jorg, sodass es mir teilweise sogar schwerfällt, mich auf die Handlung zu konzentrieren, obwohl diese äußerst feinsinnig und intelligent konstruiert ist. All die Fäden, die Mark Lawrence mit gewissenhafter Autorität spinnt, verknüpfen sich erst ganz am Ende des Buches, ergeben dann aber ein überzeugendes Gewebe. Für mich wiegt es nicht allzu schwer, dass Lawrence zur Geheimniskrämerei neigt, weil er dadurch das eine oder andere Ass im Ärmel behält, das wunderbares Material für überraschende Wendungen bietet. Die Unberechenbarkeit von Autor, Handlung und Protagonist, die schiere Ahnungslosigkeit, die ich beim Lesen empfand, vermischen sich mit der unbequemen, düsteren, gewaltgeschwängerten Atmosphäre zu einer besonderen Lektüre, für die es vermutlich tatsächlich nur eine passende Beschreibung gibt: Grimdark.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/mark-lawrence-king-of-thorns
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