I don’t know where to begin with this book. I was unprepared in the best way possible. You see all these blurbs and quotes about lesbian necromancers in space and you think “that sounds neat”, and then you meet Gideon Nav of the Ninth House and her necromancer, Harrowhark and see them try to kill each other in like, the first two chapters and then get summoned by the Undying Emperor to earn a place at his side, and Gideon smuggles sunglasses to this undying party, and suddenly, the things I thought I knew going into this story were decimated by Gideon’s glorious biceps. I was utterly blown away by this book, and the incredible writing. Seriously, everything about this novel is goals.
It’s been a little bit since I re-entered R.M. Garino’s epic fantasy series, Chaos of Souls, but man, starting “Angels of Perdition” reminded me just how much I loved Garino’s writing. The immense world he’s crafted, and the complex political and familial intrigues he weaves into his stories, alongside some really wonderful action sequences, are just as well-crafted as I remember from the first book. This book is a chunky boy, but I never felt like it was undeserving of its length, like the author was unnecessarily waxing poetic. In fact, this book could have been another 50-100 pages longer and I wouldn’t have minded (and, in fact, would have welcomed it). But as this is the second book in the series, don’t read this review if you haven’t at least read the first book, as there are bound to be mild spoilers, but really, don’t let the size of these books keep you at arm’s length. This is a beautiful, epic NA fantasy that I still full-heartedly recommend to everyone and anyone who loves a good multiple POV, and intriguing fantasy series.
“Anti-Hero” picks up shortly after where “Alter Ego” leaves off, with Mary’s secret identity in shambles and on the run, hunting down those responsible for taking her parents away, and dismantling the lies she held as truth for most of her life. So, don’t read this review if you haven’t read Alter Ego yet (and you should read that, by the way) because there will be mild spoilers for the first book in the series in this review. But in this middle book of the trilogy, Swed does a wonderful job of both answering lingering questions, giving more background on the vigilantes now that the world building is done, while still surprising the reader with new characters, new revelations, and one hell of a twist at the end.
“Blood Calls” (this was the books previous title) is the story of a man-child, Corbin, and his sarcastic dragon, Blood. Both face prejudice because of their outsider status, and thus use drinking and a healthy dose of withering sarcasm to survive. And they aren’t afraid to fight back against bullies. Which means that Corbin’s war hero uncle can only protect Corbin for so long before his antics and womanizing cause more trouble than his uncle can fix. He ships his nephew off to a sleepy country as the nation’s junior ambassador, where Corbin doesn’t necessarily abandon his drinking, but at least the people there don’t automatically hate him and his red dragon, either. While there, Corbin is able to make friends for the first time in his life, and stand up for what’s right when his adopted country gets invaded, rather than just standing up for himself. He and Blood are able to show that the abilities they have, while considered evil, in the “right” hands, aren’t any more monstrous than any other weapon of war. Don’t let this book’s cover fool you, underneath is a really fun and funny story that never takes itself too seriously, even with the serious topics it tackles. Plus, who doesn’t love a telepathic, sarcastic dragon?
“Perfect Imperfection” has flavors of Ready Player One meets The Matrix and James Bond with its virtual worlds, mind-machine interfaces, smart AI, and all the sophisticated tech and toys the people in PI get to use. Our main character is no one important when he is alive, but when an accident leaves Billings on the brink of death, he is offered the chance of a lifetime: to “live” in a virtually created world dedicated to benevolence and helping society. The group of PI are virtual super heroes, righting wrongs and anonymously helping law enforcement. The creator of PI has brought together the brightest minds, all agreeing to dwell in this virtual world, advancing and studying in their fields, all while making sure no one finds out about their virtual paradise. That is until a hacker starts seeing the patterns of PI and gets it into his mind that this benevolent organization is going to be his next pay day. Hacker stories are tough because it can be a lot of technical nuance that can be stale to read, and while this was book was easy to understand and it had the potential to be exciting, I struggled to get through the story for the vast majority of the book.
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