I am a big fan of ancient historical fiction. Some of my favorite historical fiction books are the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell mainly because it helps me feel like I am learning about a time long forgotten and being supremely entertained at the same time—don’t yell at me, I know historical fiction is Fiction with that capital “F” and lots of liberties are being taken, but a good historical fiction will inspire you, me, and maybe your mom too, to go out and then learn more about that time, or at least Google it for the next two days. That’s what “The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland” did for me. You see, I was 0% familiar with “La Chanson de Roland”, the epic poem/story this novel is based on. It’s the story of the most honorable of knights in the Christian Frank Kingdom as he protects his king and country from the Emir of Saragossa. Who is Roland’s king that he becomes the champion for? That he’ll stand against countless waves of enemies for, and uncover murder plots for? Oh, just the guy who later becomes known as Charlemagne, maybe you’ve heard of him?
We’ve all heard the tale of King Arthur. How his Knights of the Round Table fought against Morgana le Fey and her army of darkness. Arthur eventually perished, becoming a legend of what chivalry was supposed to look like, how knights were to behave, and the romanticized version of Camelot was born. Now meet Judy Avery: an incredibly young—as in 19 years-old—PhD candidate who has based her dissertation on the fact that the fairy tale has some truth to it. Watch as she presents this dissertation to her own father, who is a scientist to the core, who uses—you guessed it—science to dispel things like Arthur and his Camelot. Judy faces disappointment, is told she needs to rethink her direction, and as a kind of weird joke, is sent to the place where Camelot is meant to be, but is now a cheesy tourist trap. Cue that it’s anything but, and Judy is in for a big surprise. I really love Arthurian fantasy retellings, I love that this was a gender reversal for who is “king”, but I had a hard time connecting to Judy.
If you haven’t read “Shadow and Bone” yet then, 1. I don’t know why you are reading reviews for “Siege and Storm” and 2. Stop reading this review now because, while I’ll do my best to avoid all the spoilers, inevitably there will be some in here that will pertain to the first book in the trilogy, but not this book in particular. So, if you’ve read the first book, then I welcome you! Come, sit next to me while I tell you my thoughts on this dark YA fantasy. So, book 2 starts pretty much right where the first book left off, with Mal and Alina on the run, trying to find safety in far off shores, away from Ravka, and the Grisha and the Darkling who Alina abandoned to the Fold. But within the first few chapters, the safety Alina thinks she has is shattered, and she’s plunged back to where she was before, struggling to free herself of the Darkling’s physical and mental hold on her, and to save Ravka from the tide of darkness the Darkling will bring with him. But, in order to do that, Alina will need more power, and that makes Mal pout CONSTANTLY. Like, seriously, can we be done with Mal yet?
This book has Jason Bourne vibes all over it: the best “gun for hire” out there suddenly finds himself on the other side of the sniper’s scope. He doesn’t know who put the contract out on him or for what offense—he’s a legend in his field, so the list of people who want our main character dead is pretty long. If Eidolon—also known as John, which, admittedly, is less intimidating—wants to stay alive, he has to figure out who put the contract out on him, and make them remove the hit, and hopefully before the people who have unexpectedly gotten close to him get hurt. This is a killer with some morals, after all. And, ultimately, if you like military action books with a Bourne and a sort of spy vs. spy vibe, then this is going to be a fast paced, fun read for you. But there are some trigger warnings!
I haven’t really read a YA fantasy that is written in an experimental present tense narrative before. It makes “Curses of Scale” read a bit like a dreamscape, or like a stream of consciousness, especially as it’s also a bit of a reverse timeline. Allow me to explain: the main character is Niena, or Squirrel, but we don’t meet her until about 14% into the book. That first part of the book is spent on her future husband as he races toward saving Neina from her destiny, 15 years in the future. Then, we get snapped back to our MC and her grandfather and see that she really just wants to learn how to be a bard. Then a dragon shows up and things go from bad to worse pretty quickly, especially when a meddling fairy brings Neina’s husband to the past. Why the dragon shows up and what it’s after isn’t really clear until just past the 70% mark, unless you go back and read the synopsis. Then you know that Neina is cursed to become the dragon if she kills it, but will lose those she loves if she doesn’t. It’s an interesting premise that is dark and harrowing because of the stakes and all the action that takes place, but is hampered by the narrative style.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!