I’m hoping that if you’re reading this, that you’ve read the first book in the Primal Patterns series, because “The Goblin Rebellion” isn’t going to make sense unless you do. The story picks up pretty much where the first book left off with only a brief recap that doesn’t help if you haven’t read book one, because you won’t understand the complexities of the world Jameson has created, and it’s seriously complicated. This is a dark epic fantasy meets hard science fiction tale with a little bit of a creation myth retelling thrown in—all these elements are present in the first book except the creation myth bit. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, but I will say that some of my problems with the first installment were addressed appropriately, but other problems remained, and others—that were present—became all the more overt in “The Goblin Rebellion”.
“Soul In Ashes” was originally created as four short novellas, but what I read was the first four “seasons”, and I must say, it’s much better to read these stories together instead of as short one off episodes. But, given the structure of how this book was crafted from these stories all revolving around one character and her struggles with an evil magic and vengeful / ignorant populace, it makes it an instant page turner. The reader follows along as Alswyn attempts to rebuild her life. Crippled after renouncing her evil ash magic and exiled by her people, she seeks sanctuary with a group of peaceful healers who have forsaken all violence. Only in their protective embrace can Alswyn heal, but there are bigger forces at play, forces that draw Alswyn back to the magic she has forsaken, the people who abandoned her, and the king of the rival country she grew up hating. It’s a compelling story, one that doesn’t start out with the goal of saving the world, but instead healing one princess, but that one good deed sets up a fun adventure all the way through each episode.
“Six of Crows” is a story you’ve heard before—a group of thieves on a high stakes heist in order to win an insane amount of money and do, well, whatever they want with the winnings? Yeah, it’s pretty much every Ocean’s 11 and Mission Impossible movie/book you’ve ever read with a sprinkling of magic because this is a YA fantasy, after all. But. This. Is. So. Good! And why is a plotline that’s, let’s face it, not unique so good? Character’s people, it’s all about the characters. Honestly, this review is going to suck for two reasons: 1. I’m going to avoid spoilers at all costs so you will read this book, so this review will be rather vague and 2. There’s not much I can say beyond praise and that gets tiresome after a while. Side note: how sad is it that people have more fun reading the gripes even in highly rated books or movies? Anyway, read this book.
“Borne” is my first foray into the work of Mr. Vandermeer. I didn’t get this book because I had heard anything about him, or his popular series, or the movie that’s being made of one of his books. I was at a bookstore and this cover grabbed me and I have no regrets about that. But being unfamiliar with the author’s other work, I can’t say if “Borne” is the best he has to offer, or if his other series are his shining achievement. I will say that this book has some incredible prose, made me rethink how scary bears should (or shouldn’t) be, and just where the line should be for science-fiction, science-fantasy, or just plain fantasy.
Reading “Steel, Blood & Fire” has made me realize just how much I love dark fantasy. I’ve read all the Game of Thrones books available, enjoy the grey and bleak world in The Mistborn series, I loved the desolate feeling that books like “Inheritance of Ashes” present, but never really thought much about it other than I liked those books a lot. Then Batchelder presented me with his novel, and Tarmun Vykers. There is no reason to like Vykers. The man is an unstoppable killing machine who has killed a whole populace just for an insult. The guy is a bastard, but I loved him! How Batchelder wrote his main protagonists, as well as the handful of supporting characters who evolved over the course of the book to become just as vital as our anti-hero, was done masterfully well in its subtly (which is something longer reads can pull off really well). This was a fun read, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
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