Book Review: The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

Name: The Magicians’ Guild
Author:
Trudi Canavan
Number of Pages:
470 (Paperback)
Published:
2010 by Orbit
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

The old magician paused. ‘If this young woman is a natural, we should expect her to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician.’
Each year, the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no ordinary lowlife can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as imprenetrable as they think.
Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, throws a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. She is amazed when it sails unrestricted through the barrier and knocks a magician unconscious.
The Guild’s worst fear has been realised. There is an untrained magician loose in Imardin who must be found before her uncontrolled powers can destroy herself and the city.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

 My Thoughts:

I’ve just finished The Magician’s Guild and it turned out to be a really good read. I’m glad I persevered through a fairly slow beginning. I read on, hoping the story was going to get going, on the basis of a recommendation.
And I’m really glad I did.

In the first part of the tale we meet Sonea, a girl who suddenly finds herself the sole focus of the entire Magicians’ Guild after wielding power she never knew she had in a very public setting. To the casual onlooker, it may look as if she attacked a magician, and the punishment for that would be severe so she goes all out to avoid capture by the magicians who start to hunt for her.
However, it becomes imperative that she is found, because without training her powers will overtake her and destroy her.
The Guild searches in vain, as Sonea and her friends have found protection with the Thieves, who will shelter her until she controls her powers, with the implication that she will help them out later on.
This hiding and evasion section started to drag after a while. It established Sonea and Cery and their friendship, and the world in which they live, but I wish it had been shorter, because at times, if it hadn’t been for that recommendation, I was tempted to stop reading.
Things take a turn as Sonea starts to lose control of her powers. Destruction and danger mount, and Sonea clearly needs help, at this point, something really clicked for me. The stakes were raised, the magicians were closing in as Sonea’s magic made her detectable, and suddenly her whole world is changed.

Part 2 sees Sonea go to the Guild and under the guidance of Lord Rothen she begins to master her powers and gain Control. Learning about the Guild and the various powers the different magicians have was fascinating, and the rivalries and friendships between certain magicians made for great conflict.

Lord Rothen wants to become Sonea’s guardian, someone to look after her once she begins lessons in the Guild, but another magician, Fergun believes he has a counter-claim to this right, and to ensure Sonea herself will back up his claim he takes extra measures to guarantee her support. He has his own agenda in taking her under his wing, and there’s little doubt that it’s not really for her benefit at all.

I really enjoyed the growing respect and friendship between Sonea and Rothen.  Initially she has no love for the Magicians’ Guild, and certainly doesn’t trust magicians, but gradually she comes to believe that Rothen is a decent and honourable man, and someone she can trust, which makes Fergun’s scheming and meddling all the more interesting.
And then there’s the head of the Guild, the High Lord. I don’t want to give anything away but I think he may prove to be an intriguing character later on in this series and I can’t wait to find out more about him.

The last few chapters of the book contain enough revelations, schemes and secrets to have left me wanting to get on with book 2, The Novice, fairly quickly. I can’t wait to return to the Magicians’ Guild and see Sonea learning to use her powers. I’m definitely glad I stuck with this book.

Book Review: The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey

Name: The Boy on the Bridge
Author:
M. R. Carey
Number of Pages:
392 (Hardback)
Published:
2nd May 2017 by Orbit
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Zombie

Goodreads

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Welcome, or welcome back for those who read The Girl With All The Gifts (please say you did, or that you will very soon if you haven’t already, it’s great!), to a bleak, grim, decimated, post-apocalyptic Great Britain, in which a crew of soldiers and scientists take a post-apocalyptic road trip in a giant armoured lab/tank/home from home called the Rosalind Franklin, Rosie for short, in order to search for a real chance to beat the plague that has turned humanity into a hoard of mindless zombies, or hungries as they’re called in Carey’s beautifully bleak world.
This is a prequel to The Girl With all The Gifts, with events taking place around 10 years before Melanie et al ventured out into the wilds.

Rosie and her crew depart from Beacon, hailed as humanity’s main hope in the search for a treatment or cure. They venture off towards Scotland, following in the wake of an earlier (failed) expedition, retrieving samples collected previously and taking their own new caches.

Personality clashes abound, which is not good when faced with constant life or death scenarios and being closed in in such a confined space whilst travelling.
The decisions made by some of the characters at various points are almost as shocking as the prospect of being bitten by a hungry and turned into a walking fungus to linger for forever or until the body finally gives out.
Also frightening – no one actually knows whether within these once-human shells some manner of consciousness may still reside, even if it no longer has any control, because the fungus is in charge. What a horrifying thought.
So you see, the stakes are high. Everything hinges on the team working well together, communicating properly and being united.
You just know this crew is heading for trouble.

There are some big characters within the team.
The colonel is so well known he has the nickname the Fireman, although the name and the actions that inspired it are things he would willingly cast off.
Lieutenant McQueen is efficient, a solider through and through, but he doesn’t seem to like many of his team members, and holds several of them in contempt for different reasons.
Then there’s Dr Fournier, the civilian commander of the expedition. He’s so exasperating, especially towards the end. He doggedly sticks to orders despite so much evidence (death/destruction/a fearsome enemy in relentless pursuit) that he shouldn’t, and it takes a stand from one of the other characters to snap him out of this mentality.

These characters are so real and well developed. The way certain characters’ behaviour seems justified in their own mind gives insight into why they’re doing what they’re doing, even when you really wish they would stop. There were many moments I found myself thinking ‘I cannot believe he/she just did that/is not going to say anything about this/is hiding such a massive secret.’

Which brings me on to the characters at the heart of the novel, Dr. Samrina Khan and her young charge Stephen Greaves. Samrina is not Stephen’s mother; his parents were killed years previously and Rina has taken him very much under her wing, almost insisting that he accompany her on this perilous journey.
For Stephen is clever, very clever. He invented the e-blocker which makes it difficult for hungries to catch human scent, and his mind is well and truly set on finding a cure, or at least a treatment to slow down the progression of the fungus in the human body.
But poor Stephen unwittingly helps to bring disaster down upon the heads of the crew by concealing certain discoveries, and taking action which leads to all manner of unwanted consequences.
Showing his thoughts as he goes along, it all seems reasonable enough, he’s only working towards the much-needed end of finding a treatment, but so many times you’re thinking please just TELL THEM.
I can’t remember the last time I was so invested in a group of fictional characters and their actions.

Rina makes a discovery of her own early on – she’s pregnant. Not ideal given the situation and the hostile environment in which she finds herself. Also, totally against regulations and protocol, although that’s the least of it, for only if the group survive long enough to return to Beacon could anyone take her to task over it, and by then it would be one item added to a long list of charges of questionable behaviour by virtually every other member of the crew. I may have already mentioned there are personality clashes aboard Rosie.

Small deceptions or omissions mount up to create big problems. In a world where you would imagine the biggest threat came from the undead, it’s not always hungries who present the most danger. They’re present, of course, as are the feral children, neither human nor mindless hungry, but quite often it’s more human dangers lurking – junkers, rivalries within the team, political machinations going on back at Beacon, and conspiracies which may reach all the way to the Rosalind Franklin no matter how far away from base she travels.

All this makes for great reading, and the last 100 or so pages just flew by as the crew tried to find their way home. The Boy on the Bridge was one of those books I couldn’t put down but I really didn’t want it to end because bleak as it was, I didn’t want to leave that world behind. And the ending… Ah, the ending… No, I’m saying NOTHING.

So, go read this book, and if you haven’t already, definitely read The Girl With All The Gifts. Could you read this one first, and as a standalone? Yes, I think so, but why miss out on meeting Melanie and Miss Justineau, and even Dr. Caldwell? Read The Girl…, then go on a journey with The Boy…

Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Name: See What I Have Done
Author:
Sarah Schmidt
Number of Pages:
336 (Paperback)
Published:
2nd May 2017 by Tinder Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.
On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.
As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

See What I Have Done is based on a real life double murder. In 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were killed in their own home in Massachusetts. Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was tried for the crime and acquitted. I know this as I became so fascinated once I’d started reading this book that I had to find out more, because somehow this piece of history had passed me by. This in no way took away anything from my reading of this dark and beautifully written tale, which vividly imagines life surrounding 92 Second Street and the inhabitants of that place during the time leading up to the fateful day, and in the days to come. At the end of the book there is a timeline of events, which I found interesting, and also excerpts from the wills of both Emma and Lizzie, which I thought was a good little insight.
So, on to the story…

The story unfolds from a variety of viewpoints including that of Lizzie herself, her older sister Emma, the maid Bridget, and Benjamin, a man with a dark past who is enlisted by Lizzie and Emma’s uncle John in some ill-meaning scheme.
I love the different viewpoints, the way they shift back and forth between the time just prior to the murders and days or years later. It really makes you think, especially at the crucial moment, ‘now where was this person? Could that person have seen something? Was it Lizzie? Was it someone else entirely?’ Certain things are undisputed, Lizzie’s father and stepmother were murdered. Everything else, well, that’s a real guessing game, and it makes for fascinating reading.

All the characters are so alive, (at least until they’re not, in some cases) and you get a real sense of them, especially the three girls, Lizzie, Emma, and Bridget, the Irish maid who reluctantly stays on with the Bordens even as she dreams of escape and home.
Lizzie herself is a wonderfully dark and childlike character by turn. The way she clinically observes her father in the opening pages, and marvels at the lack of steadiness of the crime scene photographer, musing that she herself could take a perfect set of photos of the murder scene, is pretty startling. She’s quite frightening in those moments, and it’s not impossible to imagine that she could of course have done it, but then she’s so innocent and childlike in other moments that you end up wondering whether this woman could possibly have committed these crimes. Mean and spiteful, then caring and innocent, Schmidt’s Lizzie is truly an enigma, which adds to the mystery all the more.

The tale is atmospheric and claustrophobic, with the constant tick tick of the mantelpiece clock, the ominous cracking sounds of the house, the heat that makes Bridget sweat so uncomfortably, and the way these people seem closed in and under each other’s feet despite it being apparent that they don’t always get on. Some of the exchanges between Lizzie and her father, or Lizzie and her stepmother, and the spitefulness there makes this apparent.
There’s a sense that they’re all trapped, including Emma, even though she isn’t actually present at the beginning of the novel, having found the opportunity to visit a friend and have a much-needed break from everyday life. Emma is devoted to Lizzie, having taken to protecting her after their mother died when they were young. And even there, there’s tension between the two sisters, which builds towards the conclusion of the novel, as Emma repeatedly wonders exactly what Lizzie saw on that day.

The imagery is fantastic, something innocuous suddenly becomes ugly or stomach churning – the texture or smell of meat and reheated mutton broth (urgh! No wonder everyone is being sick), the pigeons that Lizzie keeps as pets, the locked doors, the smells pervading the house and the constant presence of pears from the arbour. It isn’t only the murder scene, it’s the everyday that comes across as somehow awful too. There’s a real sense of wrongness, even before the murders are discovered.

There are shocks along the way, and you may think the story is going one way only for it to go somewhere else entirely. I can’t say more on that because it would be getting close to spoilers, which wouldn’t be fair. So, I’ll end by saying See What I Have Done was by turn unsettling and fascinating, and the writing really brings the tale to life. Definitely one to read.

 

Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Name: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
Author:
Jim Butcher
Number of Pages:
630 (Paperback)
Published:
29th September 2015 by Orbit
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

Jim Butcher, the number one bestselling author of the Dresden Files, begins a new series set in a gloriously imagined world of noble families, marvellous technology and magic-wielding warriors.
Since time immemorial, humanity has lived inside the Spires, habitats towering for miles over the dangerous, monster-infested surface of the world. Captain Grimm of the merchant airship Predator was dismissed from Spire Albion’s military in disgrace – now his ship and crew are all he has, and he’s fiercely loyal to both. When the Predator is severely damaged in combat, Grimm is offered a choice – take on a clandestine mission for Albion’s leaders, or stay grounded for good.
And even as Grimm undertakes this perilous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I’ve been sitting here for a while now, looking at a blank screen wondering, how on earth do I review this book? Where to start? There’s so much to say.

The story takes place around Spire Albion, and delivers action right from the first page.
People have lived on spires for years, since the surface became uninhabitable. The spires have several Habbles, and Habble Morning comes under attack from the forces of Spire Aurora, a rival Spire. The attack is planned with precision, which leads to the belief that an enemy may be within.
And so the Spirearch of Albion assembles a group to venture out to Habble Landing to try and find out more about the enemy.

The group at the heart of this story is an interesting mix.

Captain Grimm finds himself grounded after a skirmish with an enemy ship. Predator, his airship, needs vast amounts of repair, more costly than Grimm could possibly afford, so he finds himself with little choice than to accept the mission of the Spirearch, who offers to replace the power crystals that Predator so desperately needs.
Grimm is reluctant as he has a history with the Fleet that saw him discharged for cowardice. There’s clearly more to it, but Grimm doesn’t talk about his past, and doesn’t particularly want to get involved with serving again. He’s enjoyed his freedom as a privateer. Once he accepts the mission however, he’s fully on board, and willingly joins battle to protect those he is travelling with. These characters include…

Gwendolyn Lancaster, the only daughter of one of the most powerful Houses, who wants to join the Spirearch’s Guard. She’s pretty no-nonsense, and the type to shoot first and consider the consequences later. She’s proper and ladylike but doesn’t back away from a challenge or a fight, regardless who the opponent is.

Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster is Gwen’s Warriorborn cousin. The Warriorborn are great,  slightly feline in appearance (they have catlike eyes) and with great strength and agility. Benedict is a little older and more experienced in working for the Guard, and accompanies the group to Habble Landing in order to protect Master Ferus.

Ferus is an etherealist, and some say he is half-mad, but he’s also highly perceptive of the world around him and the nature of the Enemy, even if he does have great trouble with doorknobs. He has an apprentice, Folly, a young girl learning her skills and powers. Folly is charmingly odd, talking to her small jars of crystals rather than directly to other people. I loved her quirkiness and when her powers start to show, well, you wouldn’t want to mess with young Folly. She is also apparently able to glimpse future events, which is scary as her dreams show great destruction.
The etherealists have great powers, which some choose to use for less than honourable purposes whilst maintaining a highly respectable and socially graceful façade.

Also part of the team who travel to Habble Landing is Bridget Tagwynn, a young woman who reluctantly leaves her father behind in order to serve, and initially has little wish to go. She is mentored by Benedict and the two of them become close.
And I cannot mention Bridget with out mentioning…

Rowl. A cat. A… talking cat.
I was totally charmed by Rowl of House Silent Paws, who even has viewpoint chapters and clearly regards himself and the whole of cat-kind as far more intelligent and brave than any human. He calls Bridget ‘Littlemouse’, and they converse together as Bridget can speak Cat. For all the conflict between the humans, there is equally as much going on in the cat world.

I love the mix in this story. Airships of the Fleet go to war with cannons and muskets, which feels quite historical, but then there are crystals of power loaded into the weapons cannons, shrouds to shield the ships from enemy fire, ethersilk armour, and gauntlets containing crystals with destructive power.

There’s scheming and intrigue, and threats from both humans and creatures, as things from the surface are apparently finding their way into the spire. A silkweaver sounds like an innocent little thing, right? Um, possibly not…
The villain here really is something of a smiling assassin, and there are also greater powers at work, which I hope will be revealed a little more in further books.
I’ll definitely be looking out for the next Cinder Spires book.

Book Review: Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

Name: Sins of Empire
Author:
Brian McClellan
Number of Pages:
604 (Paperback)
Published:
9th March 2017 by Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Goodreads

An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

If you’re visited my blog recently you probably saw my review of The Autumn Republic, the final book in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy. I loved those books, so there was absolutely no doubt that I would have to read Sins of Empire. It is, after all, set in the same world I came to love over the course of the Powder Mage trilogy.

But, it’s a totally different part of that world. There are some great maps at the start of the book (I love a good map or two), so it’s clear to see that the action this time has moved across a vast sea to the land of Fatrasta. Events are set around ten years later too. I mention this as a character from Powder Mage has one of the main narratives in this tale.

Vlora takes centre stage here, having maintained a military career and become head of the Riflejack Mercenary Company, alongside Colonel Olem. She is now Lady Vlora Flint, and after sorting out trouble in the Frontier land, Vlora finds her company called back to the city of Landfall to deal with the problem of Mama Palo, an unknown figure inspiring the local Palo population to rise in rebellion against the Lady Chancellor’s rule. Their mission will take them into Greenfire Depths in search of this enigmatic figure.

There are two other main characters and my only problem is deciding which one I like more.

Colonel Ben Styke, or Mad Ben Styke as legend calls him, or Convict 10642 (as soon as I saw that I thought of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables) is a war hero but also apparent war criminal who has been presumed dead for the last ten years. He has, in fact, been imprisoned in a labour camp, from which someone is determined he should not be released. Someone else has other ideas, and Styke finds himself out in the world again, with a young girl named Celine in his care after her own father died in the labour camp. (I can’t help but see Valjean and Cosette in this, although I doubt Cosette ever went thieving at the local market, but you never know).
Styke is fierce, and hard to kill, having faced a firing squad and survived. He’s not a man to cross, and his devotion to young Celine is great.
Hired by the enigmatic lawyer Tampo, Styke presents himself to General Flint to gain a place in the Riflejacks, although he doesn’t know why Tampo wants him there.
Styke has a score to settle with Fidelis Jes, the Grand Master of the Fatrastan police force, a formidable figure who has a standing invitation for morning duels with any willing opponent.

Then there’s Michel Bravis, a member of the Fatrastan secret police, the Blackhats. Bland and forgettable by design, Michel adapts to his surroundings, picking up information and using this to further his career within the government. Michel is a Silver Rose, a middle ranking position, but when an opportunity presents itself to attain his Gold Rose, and earn more money to help support his mother, he goes for the chance, despite fearing the task may prove near impossible. He is to track down the source of a pamphlet, Sins of Empire, which criticises the Lady Chancellor and her government of Fatrasta.

There are other schemes at work in Fatrastra, and other players and possible enemies who come to light along the way. Ancient artefacts with the power to cause madness, lethal fighters known as Dragonmen, and the Dynize, a powerful and mysterious nation who haven’t left their home nation for hundreds of years are rumoured to be around. There’s so much going on, and the story grabs you right from the prologue, during which a powerful artefact is unearthed.

Sins of Empire is engrossing from the very first page, and every bit as good as the Powder Mage books. Even without the presence of Field Marshall Tamas, who I loved, there are plenty of complex, fascinating characters, and the story gets going quickly, providing enough introduction to the magic and the world for new readers, without becoming repetitive for anyone who has read McClellan’s books before.
There are some great surprises along the way, and plenty of twists and revelations which I never saw coming. The battle scenes and confrontations between certain characters are as exciting as ever.

If you asked me to choose a favourite now between this story and the Powder Mage books I would find it tough. In fact, it’s something you’d have to give me time to think about, because I honestly couldn’t choose. One thing I do know, I’ll definitely be back for the next instalment in this great new series.

Book Review: The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

Name: The Autumn Republic
Author:
Brian McClellan
Number of Pages:
577 (Paperback)
Published:
5th January 2016 by Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Goodreads

The capital has fallen…
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.
An army divided…
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.
All hope rests with one…
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…
THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed the Powder Mage books right from the first page of Promise of Blood, so I was looking forward to starting the final book of the trilogy, although I wanted to read slowly as I knew it was the last time I would be with these characters and I had that feeling of ‘are my favourite characters going to make it through this alive?’.
As this is the final book in the series I don’t know if I’ll make it through my review without giving spoilers from previous books.

The Autumn Republic is a great conclusion to an exciting trilogy.
Events pick up right after the conclusion of The Crimson Campaign. Adro is still facing unrest, and Lord Claremonte, with the backing and might of his Brudanian Trading Company, is residing in Adopest. The Kez are still a threat and the war isn’t completely over. So, there’s plenty going on right from the start.

There are battles, betrayals, schemes and plots. The magic is as brilliant as ever, especially as seen through Nila, the young woman who started out as a laundress and is now on track to become one of the most powerful Privileged ever. I loved reading her experiences as she learns to wield her greatest strength, a deadly fire capable of massive destruction.
I enjoyed reading of her friendship with Bo, who becomes her mentor as she tries to channel her powers. Nila and Bo take quite a central role in this book, and became new favourites for me.

Elsewhere Adamat, having made an awful discovery about his missing son, decides to keep out of the action to keep his family safe, but it’s not long before he’s drawn back into things as he tries to assist his friend Ricard Tumblar in his campaign to become First Minister of Adro.
It’s a dangerous campaign as other people have their sights on that post too, and Adamat and Fell become involved in an investigation to discover the identity of an unknown enemy.
I really like Fell. She’s quite mysterious, always there at the centre of the fighting, more than capable of taking down any threat before her. I’d love a whole book devoted to her back story, and how she came to be such an efficient assistant/bodyguard/assassin.
I also loved Adamat’s plot; as a contrast to the fighting on the battlefield there’s scheming of a more shadowy nature, and the variation made this a great read.

And of course, at the heart of this whole long-running war is Field Marshall Tamas. I liked him from the outset and nothing changed throughout the trilogy. He was the main character I really hoped would survive the trilogy. I’m not giving anything away about where his dream to form a republic will lead him. He’s a character I won’t forget for a while.
He is driven and determined, willing to tackle any enemy to reclaim his lands and see his dream realised. He may be the ‘old man’, but that won’t stop him doing what needs to be done. He leads his men into battle, even when his closest allies implore him to stay back. He’s a real leader.

Taniel, Ka-Poel, Olem and Vlora all feature in this final book too, and there are revelations about certain other characters. One in particular was a wonderful surprise.
As a minor character, I loved General Arbor, the old guy who kept taking out his false teeth when he was talking to Tamas. Such a random detail but it was funny – during such perilous times this old battler just goes about his business minus his false teeth.

The ending… well, I can’t say too much and risk spoiling a wonderful conclusion, so I’ll just say the action built up to a wonderful final battle and I may have shed a tear or two at certain moments. That’s all…

So, it looks like it’s time for me to stop writing about the Powder Mages and their great story, but it’s not time to leave this world behind entirely. My next read is going to be Sins of Empire, which I believe takes place in this same world and features some characters from this series. I really can’t wait to get started, because if it’s as good as this book then I’m in for a real treat.

If you’ve not read Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign and The Autumn Republic then you’re in for a great experience should you pick these books up. The series has a lot to offer and I definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Name: Uprooted
Author:
Naomi Novik
Number of Pages:
448 (Paperback)
Published:
12th May 2016 by Pan Macmillan
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.     – from Goodreads

My Rating:

4halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

Just like Uprooted heroine Agnieszka, at the moment I feel as though I’m emerging from a deep, dark forest, but actually it’s a place I don’t want to leave. I’ve finished reading a great story and I need to tell you about it.

Agnieszka lives in the valley. The people are protected by a wizard known as the Dragon, but there is a price; he takes a valley girl into his service for ten years. No one knows exactly why, or what happens at the Dragon’s tower, but the girls are changed, and always leave their beloved valley behind once their ten years is up.
Agnieszka fears her best friend Kasia will be taken, but it will come as no surprise  that this isn’t what happens at all, and Kasia meets a very different fate while Agnieszka is chosen to go with the Dragon.

I became invested in this story almost from the first moment. The way it’s written and the atmosphere it creates hits just the right tone for a great read – a determined young woman, a mysterious wizard with untold powers, an almost fairytale setting in the Dragon’s tower, and more magic than you could wish for.  The magic is quite unusual, and I loved the descriptions of the way Agnieszka and the Dragon wove their different varieties of magic together.

This doesn’t usually happen for me when reading, but from the very first moment Agnieszka literally fell into the Dragon’s arms I really wanted them to get together. He was just so rattled by her presence, she put him off guard and I loved the dynamic between them. It’s definitely a slow burn, and starts out as more of a love/hate type situation.

The world building is wonderful, from the tower to the menacing darkness of the all-consuming Wood, a place literally alive with an evil that stretches way beyond the boundary of the Wood itself; sometimes it sends the people it has taken back out into the real world, looking perfectly normal, but hiding the deep corruption which ends in devastating consequences.
The Wood creeps over the land, enveloping villages and people, there is nothing it won’t claim, and that makes the force driving the Wood a formidable enemy for Agnieszka and the Dragon.

Uprooted features a great cast of characters, but to reveal too much would be to spoil the surprises in store if you read this book, so I’ll just say you definitely won’t be disappointed.  A wonderful mix of magic, fantasy, romance, Uprooted was a great read, and I would love to find out there’s going to be a sequel.