Book Review: Shiang (Empire of Salt #2) by C. F. Iggulden

Name:  Shiang (Empire of Salt #2)
Author:  
C. F. Iggulden
Number of Pages:
368 (Hardback)
Published:
September 6th 2018 by Michael Joseph
Genre:  Fantasy

Goodreads

IF THESE STONES COULD SPEAK . . . THEY WOULD CALL FOR WAR.
In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat.
Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.
Far to the west, four Shiang masters approach the city walls of Darien. The sword saint and his companions have crossed a continent to bring an old man home for punishment. They will not be denied, even if the whole city stands in their way.
TWO ANCIENT CITIES. ONE FINAL WAR.


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Following on from Darien, Shiang continues the story of the Empire of Salt. The story begins in a new city, Shiang, far removed from Darien and the characters we came to know first time around.

Shiang introduces us to new main characters; a group of swordsmen sent by the king to bring home his uncle who has been located in none other than Darien, and another group who also set out on the long road to Darien.
Both these groups are interesting, from Masters Hondo, Bosin, and twins Hi and Je, the Mazer swordsmen tasked with escorting the king’s uncle back to Shiang, to the dangerous group who, via the power of one of the magical stones, manage to return from a grey land and occupy other bodies. Gabriel becomes the leader of this group when he realises just how much power he has and decides he wants to take first Shiang and later Darien.

All roads eventually lead to Darien where some of the characters from the first book make an appearance, most notably Tellius and Lady Sallet. Vic Deeds makes a brief appearance too.

Once the two groups completed their perilous journey and reached Darien I thought the pace really picked up and I found it difficult to put the book down, especially as the families of Darien unite and bring their magical artefacts out to defend the city against the threat of these powerful soldier-mages determined to take control of the city. The magic and the stones and their various powers made it exciting reading, especially when pitted against enemies who wield great power drawn from another stone.

The final book in the trilogy, The Sword Saint, had just been published by the time I picked up Shiang, and so I’m continuing the adventure of the Empire of Salt, to see what lies ahead for Darien and these characters I’ve followed for two books.

 

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Readers Imbibing Peril XIV – #RIPXIV

The days are growing cooler and the nights are beginning to draw in, which can mean only one thing – Autumn is on its way! I love this time of year, so what better way to mark the changing seasons than by participating in a suitably eerie Readathon? Two whole months of reading to enjoy. Want to know more about RIPXIV? Here you go…

Welcome to the FOURTEENTH year of Readers Imbibing Peril, or RIP, as it is affectionately called. The challenge runs from 1st September to 31st October. You can find full info by visiting the Readers Imbibing Peril blog.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Dark Fantasy
Gothic
Horror
Supernatural

The goals are simple.

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

Multiple perils await you. You can participate in just one, or participate in them all. Check out the Readers Imbibing Peril  blog and pick your particular peril.

As a starting point I’ll aim for…

Peril the Second:

Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the challenge categories.

Peril on the Screen:

This is for those of us who like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows, or your favorite film.

Hopefully by the end of the event I’ll have managed…

Peril the First:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (our very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson or Tananarive Due…or anyone in between.

A Potential TBR List

I don’t have a definite reading/viewing plan at the moment, but glancing through my TBR pile/list, a few books have caught my attention, so I may read a selection from the following:

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie
Bone China by Laura Purcell
The Institute by Stephen King
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker
Something by Shirley Jackson
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt

Progress


I’m really looking forward to one of my favourite reading events during my favourite season. Are you tempted to join in with #RIPXIV?

Booking Ahead: September 2019

Booking Ahead is an opportunity to glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

It’s time to take a glance at the TBR pile and select some reads for the coming month. Readers Imbibing Peril (#RIPXIV) begins in September and runs through to the end of October, so I’ll be selecting at least some potential reads for the reading challenge.

Here’s a selection of what I’m hoping to read over the next month…

New Books

The Sword Saint by C. F. Iggulden – This is the final instalment in the Empire of Salt trilogy. Last month I finally picked up Shiang and I’d like to carry on with the story and see how it all ends.

The Institute by Stephen King – What better than a brand new Stephen King novel for a reading challenge choice?

Bone China by Laura Purcell – I’m really looking forward to this one having enjoyed both of Laura Purcell’s other books.

Books from the Backlist

A couple of suitably themed reads to hopefully count towards the reading challenge…

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill


What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.

Bout of Books 26 (August 2019) – Final Summary

Another edition of Bout of Books has ended. Doesn’t the read-a-thon week just fly by?

I had a decent day of reading, and managed another 50 pages in total, which brings my total to…

Number of pages I’ve read today:  50

Total number of pages I’ve read:  290

I set some goals for the read-a-thon (Original goals posted HERE).

I managed to finish one book, and read another too.
I enjoyed being around on my blog (almost) daily.

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog during Bout of Books. I hope everyone had a great week of reading.

The Week’s Progress Revisited…

Continue reading

Bout of Books 26 (August 2019) Goals and Daily Progress Updates

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, Twitter chats, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 26 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team


It’s time for a week of read-a-thon-ing! I’m looking forward to the latest Bout of Books as I’ve hopefully chosen some good books and I enjoy the daily reading updates on my blog.

As always I’ll be using this blog for updates during the read-a-thon.

Time Devoted to Reading

Hopefully at least half an hour each day, but ideally more…

My Goals

  • To finish one book and start another.
  • To keep track of my reading progress via daily updates
  • To visit other blogs and comment regularly

Books to Read

  • Shiang by C. F. Iggulden
  • The Sword Saint by C. F. Iggulden
  • A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Updates

Monday

It’s Bout of Books time! Hopefully I’ll manage to make a good start so there’ll be something to mention in the way of progress tomorrow.

Tuesday (Monday’s Progress)

So, how was your first day of the read-a-thon?
I started Shiang and managed to read the first 50 pages. It’s a while since I read the first book in the series, Darien, but so far I’m really enjoying this one. I can’t believe it took so long for me to pick this up, and I already have the following book, The Sword Saint, just waiting for my reading attention.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  50
Total number of pages I’ve read:  50

Wednesday (Tuesday’s progress)

More progress on Shiang. I’m enjoying this book so far. If I do manage to finish it during this Bout of Books I’ll probably move straight on to the next in the series.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  65
Total number of pages I’ve read:  115

Thursday (Wednesday’s progress)

No reading progress to report today.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  0
Total number of pages I’ve read:  115

Friday (Thursday’s progress)

After a day of no reading I made better progress. I’ve finished A Head Full of Ghosts. I’ll probably post more on this book once Bout of Books is over.
For now, it’s back to reading Shiang.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  75
Total number of pages I’ve read:  190

Saturday (Friday’s progress)

Another day with no reading. Not good.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  0
Total number of pages I’ve read:  190

Sunday (Saturday’s progress)

Another 50 pages read. Not sure whether I’ll finish my latest read before the read-a-thon ends but I’ll have a go.

Number of pages I’ve read today:  50
Total number of pages I’ve read:  240

Monday (Sunday’s progress and final thoughts)

Final Summary posted HERE.

 

Book Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Name:  The Escape Room
Author:  
Megan Goldin
Number of Pages:
368 (Paperback)
Published:
August 8th 2019 by Trapeze (first published July 30th 2019)
Genre:  Thriller

Goodreads

‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

In The Escape Room four colleagues are trapped in an elevator for the duration. And what a bunch they are; I don’t think I’ve encountered such a wholly unlikable group in a novel for quite a while. When I first started reading there was a moment I was hesitant. I decided to read on a little further, and suddenly, something just hooked me.

There are two narratives. In the current setting a group of four colleagues from Stanhope and Sons have been lured to a ‘meeting’ which becomes an apparent escape room challenge.
They’re all highly successful, ruthless, competitive and in danger of losing the lucrative jobs that keep them in such high-flying lifestyles.
When the clues to their escape start to become increasingly personal, their survival instincts kick in and the tension mounts as their hopes of rescue begin to fade.

The other narrative follows the rise of new recruit Sara Hall, who joins Stanhope with good intentions; she hopes to be able to support her parents with part of her salary. Over time Sarah admits she has become more used to the ruthless attitude the company encourages and of her fellow employees.  She’s not particularly comfortable with some of her choices though, and forms a friendship with another colleague, the brilliant Lucy, whom the team tolerate mostly for her financial acumen.

The chapters go back and forth between the two narratives and leave you wondering just what happened to the two more likable characters of Sara and Lucy, and which of the elevator group, if any, will make it to the end of their ordeal as secrets and betrayals finally come to light and the truth about why they were selected for the escape room is revealed.

The Escape Room is fast paced, compulsive reading, a tale of bad behaviour, endless ambition and the desire for revenge, of secrets exposed and wrongs righted in an elaborate way. If you’re looking for an entertaining read to see you through these last days of summer then The Escape Room might be one to try.

 

Book Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Name:  Good Omens
Author:  
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Number of Pages:
384 (Paperback)
Published:
March 5th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre:  Fantasy

Goodreads

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Apparently 2019 is the year of my discovering new-to-me authors whose works have been around for a while and then wondering how on earth I’ve missed out on them for so long.
I picked up Good Omens after watching the new tv series; I wanted to see if I would enjoy the book as much as I’d liked each colourful, bizarre, entertaining episode of the show, and it turns out… I did!

Would I have picked this one up had I not watched the series first? In all honestly, possibly not, the story may have sounded a bit too bizarre, but once I started reading, I found it difficult to tear myself away from the world of Crowley and Aziraphale. So, how to describe Good Omens?

The end is nigh, but years previously there was a mix-up involving a group of chattering nuns and a certain demon which resulted in an epic mistake… the Antichrist is missing. It’s a problem because the demon in question, Crowley, and his heavenly counterpart Aziraphale, have come to enjoy their existence on Earth and their Arrangement which sees neither good or evil triumph completely and keeps things ticking over quite nicely so they can enjoy all this world has to offer and each other’s company at the same time – unlikely as it may seem, the angel and the demon have formed a solid friendship over the many years of their existence.
So, neither of them really want the upcoming apocalypse to begin, and set out to locate the Antichrist and see if they can put a stop to it all.

I love these two central characters and their companionship. They’re so different yet they work so well together and balance each other out. I enjoyed every page of them together, whether it be trying to discover the location of the missing Antichrist, or planning to go for lunch at the Ritz.

There were so many little moments in Good Omens that made me smile, so it’s probably the first impending-apocalypse novel to achieve that. It’s a quirky, fun, bizarre caper of a novel with all manner of randomness – aliens, a 30-ft-tower of fish on the M6, the Bikers of the Apocalypse, a unique approach to team building exercises and Crowley’s poor Bentley, eventually willed on by nothing more than his own imagination. I laughed a lot throughout this book.

The characters, aside from the angel and the demon at the heart of the story, are so varied. There’s Anathema Device, descendant of the witch/creator of the Nice and Accurate Prophecies… and Newton Pulsifer, descendant of the Witchfinder Major behind Agnes’ eventual demise, and a group of kids, the Them, who live in the idyllic Tadfield, growing up alongside Adam, who is more than he realises. Oh, and a hellhound called Dog.
And that’s before I get to Shadwell and Madam Tracy, who make an unlikely team and get involved in averting the end of the world as we know it.

Good Omens is certainly one of the most unique books I’ve read recently, and I doubt I would ever have picked it up had I not checked out the tv series first. What a treat I’d have missed. Plots, sub-plots, random moments of laugh-out-loud humour, colourful characters and imaginative situations, Good Omens has all this going for it. Can’t wait to check out other books by these authors in the future.