Godblind by Anna Stephens

James McStravick reviews Godblind by Anna Stephens.

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

Godblind

Firstly, a big thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC copy of this book for review. Up until a couple of months ago I didn’t know anything about the release of Godblind, but as soon as I read the synopsis for it I knew I would thoroughly enjoy it.

Upon reading the first chapter, I was immensely  blown away by the world and characters I was reading about, as Anna Stephens’ writing style and the world she has crafted naturally just draws you in and makes you want to keep reading more and more.

One aspect I found a double-edged sword is the amount of characters you are introduced to throughout the book (13 was my final count), and the final character doesn’t get introduced until approximately the page 130 mark. Due to this I initially found it quite difficult to remember all the characters, but once I started to learn more about them and their own personality quirks/ traits, I quickly came to recognise who I was reading about.

The reason why I said it was a double-edged sword is because even though I found it initially difficult to remember who a character was, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about them and I don’t think there was a single character that I didn’t like. Anna Stephens’ concept of characterization is truly inspiring and she constantly keeps you invested in what is happening to them and world around them. Out of all of the characters, my favourite would be either Rillirin or Dom. There are an increasingly number of authors whose books involve strong female characters and Godblind is definitely a pure joy to read from a female perspective, as they don’t stick to the traditional trope, and it is for this reason that why Rillirin is one of my favourite characters.

From the first moment you dive into the world of Rilpor you are quickly dropped into a very important scene in the book, and for me I don’t believe there was a single scene that was unnecessary or slow paced. I have read many authors that have a hard time finding that perfect balance between having necessary scenes and keeping a consistent pace throughout the course of the book. This I believe is one this book’s greatest strengths, because you never want to put the book down as you are always wanting to know more. When it comes to a fight scene you are truly gripped, as they written in a very natural and progressive aspect as a real life battle would be. As I mentioned above coming to grips with the amount of characters can be difficult at first but the story and the short chapters make it very easy read the book and get yourself lost in the world.

The interest in grimdark books is consistently climbing and Godblind fits perfectly within that genre and all the great authors. It is a true joy to read and Anna Stephens is truly a fantastic writer and one to watch. If you are looking for a new grimdark or even a new fantasy book to read then I would highly recommend that you read Godblind as it is a fantastic book that will not let you go from the moment you read that first chapter.

Anna Stephens | Goodreads | Facebook | @AnnaSmithWrites

Blood Upon The Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu

James McStravick reviews Blood Upon The Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu.

Çeda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim—that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will—but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, chaining them to her, she feels their pain as if her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but with the power of the gods compelling them, they find the yokes around their necks unbreakable.

Çeda could become the champion they’ve been waiting for, but the need to tread carefully has never been greater. After the victory won by the Moonless Host in the Wandering King’s palace, the kings are hungry for blood. They scour the city, ruthless in their quest for revenge. Unrest spreads like a plague, a thing Emre and his new allies in the Moonless Host hope to exploit, but with the kings and their god-given powers, and the Maidens and their deadly ebon blades, there is little hope of doing so.

When Çeda and Emre are drawn into a plot of the blood mage, Hamzakiir, they sail across the desert to learn the truth, and a devastating secret is revealed, one that may very well shatter the power of the hated kings. They plot quickly to take advantage of it, but it may all be undone if Çeda cannot learn to navigate the shifting tides of power in Sharakhai and control the growing anger of the asirim that threatens to overwhelm her. 

Blood Upon The Sand

Blood Upon The Sand is the highly anticipated sequel of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. When I read and reviewed Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, I thoroughly enjoyed it and sung its praises. If you want to read my review you can find it here.

Before I started reading Blood Upon The Sand I unfortunately found myself in a very heavy reading slump, but as soon as I started reading this I found my slump was almost instantaneous gone. But enough about me, lets get this review under way.

Blood Upon The Sand picks right where we left off at the end of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and I found it so easy to get back into the world. Just as I was quickly drawn into the world when I read the first book, I found myself getting drawn back into the world again due to the beautiful and fascinating world Beaulieu has created.

Beaulieu has also taken the elements of what made the first book so good and emphasises and draws upon these strengths to a whole new level. One aspect I found that made the book a lot more in interesting is that we now not only learn more about Ceda, but also the other people that were secondary characters in the first book now have their own POV’s, and this only goes towards heightening the depth and feel of the world.

When it comes to second books in a series I usually find my interest in the series wanes slightly due to the amount of development that occurs, this can sometimes slow down the pace of the book due to the amount of detailed required to progress the book, or it doesn’t have the same pace you loved in the first. Blood Upon The Sand does this in no such way because from when I first picked this book up I quickly found myself becoming enthralled with the same world that I found in the first book, and even from the start the pace does not let up and I found this particularly stunning due to there being new POV’s being introduced.

If you have been reading my reviews for a while now you may have found that if I really enjoyed a book then I will quickly devour that book due to my intense enjoyment, but what really surprised me with Blood Upon The Sand was that I actually wanted to slow down my reading pace so I could absorb myself much more in the book than normal and this was something completely new for me.

In my opinion I believe Beaulieu has created one of the most intense, fascinating, and enjoyable worlds I have experienced over the last number of years, because for me it is a completely unique story and setting. He is fast becoming one of my favourite authors because his writing on seems to be getting stronger and stronger.

If you are a fan of fantasy books and haven’t yet read Twelve Kings in Sharakhai or Blood Upon The Sand then I highly recommend you rectify this because you are missing out on amazing book.

The Dragon’s Blade: Veiled Intentions by Michael R. Miller

James McStravick reviews The Dragon’s Blade: Veiled Intentions by Michael R. Miller.

Rectar has always had his sights set on conquering the human lands. His demonic invasion of the west is gaining momentum – an unrelenting horde unhindered by food or sleep. Now, only the undermanned Splintering Isles lie between the demons and the human kingdom of Brevia. If the islands fall, the rest of Tenalp will soon follow.

The Three Races must work together if they are to survive, but they have another problem – Castallan. The traitorous wizard has raised a deadly rebellion and declared himself King of Humans. He believes himself safe in the bowels of his impenetrable Bastion fortress, but Darnuir, now King of Dragons, intends to break those walls at all costs.

To face these threats, all dragons, humans and fairies must truly unite; yet old prejudices may undermine Darnuir’s efforts once again. And as the true intentions of all are revealed, so too is a secret that may change the entire world.

veiled-intentions

Veiled Intentions is the highly anticipated sequel of The Reborn King. When I read and reviewed The Reborn King last year, I thoroughly enjoyed it and sung its praises. If you want to read my review you can find it here.

When I was offered a copy of Veiled Intentions I quickly jumped at the opportunity, due to how much I liked The Reborn King. Before I delve into my review all I will say is that this book certainly does not disappoint.

Veiled Intentions picks right up where The Reborn King left off. I really like it when authors pick up a story right where the previous book finished almost as if you are resuming from a natural point. That’s not to say that I don’t like it when authors do a time jump or pick up shortly because sometimes I find depending on an authors style of writing, skill or the pacing of the book this can be with variant levels of success. Personally though I think no matter what Miller chose to do, he would he do it brilliantly.

Veiled Intentions takes the writing, story, world, and characters, and makes them all better in so many ways. Not only do we learn more about the characters we read about in The Reborn King, but the author has now included some new POV’s and I think these were a breath of fresh air to the book as it allows us to learn more about the world as a whole and gives us a better understanding of everyone’s feelings towards whats happening. I’m not going tell you the names of the new POV’s characters as I think that will spoil some of the fun of reading this book, but one of the them has certainly become a firm favorite of mine.

With new characters being introduced that opens us up to a whole part of the world that we had never explored before, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about these uncharted areas. This sequel also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the world and its inhabitants, as well as how the war was affecting the wider world. This helped bring a whole new aspect to the world building and this made just love the world it encompassed so much more.

I felt overall the flow of the story and the pacing was done very well; I think the author did the flow and pacing of the book very well. I was extremely excited to start reading Veiled Intentions but also a bit worried, as sometimes sequels don’t always live up to the quality of the first book or to your own hype. But I was glad to see that Veiled Intentions lived up to my expectations and more. If you are a fan of fantasy and you haven’t yet read anything by Michael R. Miller, then I highly recommend you check him out.

 Goodreads | Facebook | @MMDragons_Blade

Spotlight: Never Forget by Richard Davis

Saul Marshall Series
by Richard Davis

The Bandwagon supports author Richard Davis, whose second novel Never Forget is due out soon! You can read James McStravick’s review of False Prophet here.


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A psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him

When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.

As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.

But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?

As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

Title: False Prophet (Saul Marshall #1)

Author: Richard Davis

Release Date: 25th January 2016

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Canelo

Format: ebook

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28492501-false-prophet

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/False-Prophet-Marshall-thriller-Thriller-ebook/dp/B019M18AG8/

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Saul Marshall is on the run.

As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.

He soon discovers some of the webs’ most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised…

And that’s before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it’s too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.

 

Title: Never Again (Saul Marshall #2)

Author: Richard Davis

Release Date: 20th February 2017

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Canelo

Format: ebook

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34315196-never-forget

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Forget-Saul-Marshall-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01MV5TT5T

 

About The Author rd

Richard Davis graduated from University College London in 2011 and Cambridge University in 2012. The Saul Marshall series was born from Davis’s extensive travels around the United States and his long-standing obsession with thriller fiction. He lives in North London, UK, with his girlfriend.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RichardDavisAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DickDavisDavis

 

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Empire of The Saviours by A J Dalton

James McStravick reviews Empire Of The Saviours by A J Dalton.

In the Empire of the Saviours, the People are forced to live in fortified towns. Their walls are guarded by an army of Heroes, whose task is to keep marauding pagans out as much as it is to keep the People inside. Several times a year, living Saints visit the towns to exact the Saviours’ tithe from all those coming of age – a tithe often paid in blood. When a young boy, Jillan, unleashes pagan magicks in an accident, his whole town turns against him. He goes on the run, but what hope can there be when the Saviours and the entire Empire decide he must be caught? Jillan is initially hunted by just the soldiers of the Saint of his region, but others soon begin to hear of his increasing power and seek to use him for their own ends. Some want Jillan to join the fight against the Empire, others wish to steal his power for themselves and others still want Jillan to lead them to the Geas, the source of all life and power in the world. There are very few Jillan can trust, except for a ragtag group of outcasts. His parents threatened, his life in tatters, his beliefs shaken to the core, Jillan must decide which side he is on, and whether to fight or run. 

empire-of-the-saviours

People say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when you see a cover like Empire of the Saviours, it’s hard not to imagine a great dark and gripping fantasy novel. Sometimes letting your initial judgement of a book be determined by the cover is not a good idea because the book may not meet your expectations, but I was glad to see this wasn’t case with Empire of the Saviours.

When I first picked up Empire of the Saviours, I found it a bit difficult to get into due to the start of it focusing a lot around the locals and their beliefs. I sometimes find it difficult reading books with this kind of environment, but as the story developed we quickly discover all is not what it seems and the pace of the book quickly picks up.

The one aspect that impressed me the most was Dalton’s focus on characterisation and the details we find out about each character. Some people find books with heavy focus on characterisation hard to read due to the amount of information involved, but Dalton’s style of writing and the story he moulds around the characters make it a lot easier to read. The character I enjoyed reading about the most is Jillan because throughout the book we see him experience numerous different emotions due to different situations, and how he dealt with him made his a great character.

If when you first read Empire of the Saviours like myself you find it difficult to get into I highly suggest you push past this because what you will discover is a world that will grip and intrigue you. Not only that but the book has some great actions scenes in it and these were the scenes that I loved devouring the most due to their intensity and great flow. I don’t want to discuss these too much as I feel the battle scenes are one of the books true aces and are a pleasure to read.

Even with all of these great things to say about the book there were definitely some points were I felt that certain scenes dragged on a bit or the pacing slowed down but thankfully there weren’t too many moments of these throughout the course of the book. The one negative about the book I did find hard to deal with the most was when a POV switch occurred, there were no font change or formatting to indicate this was going to occur. So unfortunately there were occasions where I suddenly found myself reading a different POV and sometimes I didn’t discover right away. I feel if a font change or formatting was added to allude to this then the book would become much easier to read.

Other than the small negatives I mentioned above I still thoroughly enjoyed reading Empire of the Saviours, it is a well crafted book with great writing and a thoroughly enjoyable story. I would highly recommend it to any fan of the fantasy book genre.

A J Dalton | Goodreads | Facebook | @AJDalton1

Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson

Originally published on Tor.com and other websites, or published by the author, these wonderful tales convey the expanse of the Shardworlds and tell exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, including the Hugo Award-winning novella, “The Emperor’s Soul.”

arcanum-unbounded

For many years I read very little fantasy books, until one day a friend recommended The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. From that day on not only did I rediscover my love for fantasy, but I have also loved everything I have read by Brandon Sanderson, and this book was no exception to that.

Arcanum Unbounded is a collection of short stories and novellas set in the different worlds of the Cosmere. Below is a list of the books contents and what world they pertain to:

  • “The Emperor’s Soul” (Elantris)
  • “The Hope of Elantris” (Elantris)
  • “The Eleventh Metal” (Mistborn)
  • “Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Epsiodes 28 through 30” (Mistborn)
  • “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Threnody)
  • “Mistborn: Secret History” (Mistborn)
  • “White Sand”
  • “Sixth of Dusk” (First of the Sun)
  • “Edgedancer” (Stormlight Archives)

If you haven’t read any of Brandon Sanderson’s books set in the worlds of Mistborn, Elantris, or Stormlight Archives, then you are going to find it difficult to read much in this book without spoiling the other series. If however this doesn’t bother you and still want to pick it up then I would highly recommend reading “The Emperors Soul”, “The Eleventh Metal”, “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell”, “White Sand” and “Sixth Dusk”. While reading this I myself choose not to read Mistborn: Secret History as it contains spoilers for one of the later Mistborn books, Bands of Mourning, and unfortunately I haven’t read that yet.

If however you have read all of the main books set in the worlds of Mistborn, Elantris, or Stormlight Archives, then be prepared to be blown away by an amazing set of novellas and short stories. Even with these being shorter than what Brandon usually writes, you will still find yourself gripped, enthralled, and completely drawn into their worlds.

With this being a short story and novella collection I thought it would be good to tell you some of my personal favourites in this collection. I certainly didn’t have an easy time deciding upon this as I found them all amazing to read, but after some serious thought below are the ones I have come up with:

  • “The Emperor’s Soul” (Elantris)
    • If I’m not mistaken I believe this was the was the first novel Brandon ever got published by TOR, and this itself truly shows how great a writer Brandon is, because it shows that even from his first published book he was a fantastic and prolific writer. “The Emperor’s Soul” is a very gripping and intriguing read. The characterisation within this book is second to none, and for something that short in comparison to Brandon’s other work he still manages to give the same depth and feel.
  • “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Threnody)
    • I think out of all the short stories and novellas I read within this book I found this the most intriguing as the world and characters within it are darker than what I have found with Brandon’s other work. For me it’s hard to describe the depth, characterization, and emotions this book provides in a novella. I was completely blown away by it, and as of right now I think I could safely safe this was my overall favourite in this book.
  • “White Sand”
    • This is a small sample of the “White Sand” graphic novel. For me the world in which “White Sand” resides is completely new to me as I haven’t read the graphic novel. I absolutely loved the world and the magic system Brandon has built for it. One aspect I really loved about it is that the protagonist doesn’t have the same capabilities with his powers as everyone else, but he is still determined and still manages the feats he does. For me this proves that although some people around you may be better at certain aspects, that certainly doesn’t mean that they are necessarily better overall.
  • “Edgedancer” (Stormlight Archives)
    • The world of the Stormlight Archives is a massive world (so too are the books) and for me Edgedancer is a fantastic addition to the already amazing world Brandon has crafted. I found “Edgedancer” to be more of a lighthearted journey through the world of the Stormlight Archives and I thoroughly enjoyed this about it. Not only that but we also get to experience the world through the eyes of one of the Stormlight Archives smaller characters “Lift” and this made it very intriguing to read as we got to experience the world as she does.

With all of the above in mind, if you are a massive fan of Brandon Sanderson like myself or new to him then I would highly recommend picking up this book because, regardless of what you can and can’t read due to spoilers, you will still thoroughly enjoy it. Also if you do enjoy it and decide pick up his other work set in Mistborn, Elantris, or Stormlight Archives, then all the better as you will have this book waiting for me when you caught up to each one.

Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads | Facebook | @BrandSanderson

The Emblem Throne by Jeffrey L. Kohanek

James McStravick reviews The Emblem Throne by Jeffrey L. Kohanek.

Journey on a magical quest to save the world…

As they strive to become Masters within the Ministry, Brock and his friends resume their training at the Academy, an institution founded on magic, science, knowledge, law, and combat. They soon discover an expansive web of conspiracies and deceit within the Ministry, hidden behind a veil of benevolence and piety. The exposure of one of those secrets forces Brock and his friends to flee the institution with their lives in the balance.

Joined by a fierce Tantarri warrior, the group embarks on a quest to locate a mysterious throne that has been lost for centuries. Guided by the cryptic words of an ancient prophecy, and backed by a forbidden magic that they are still learning to wield, they journey across the continent to save humanity from extinction.

the-emblem-throne

Back in July of this year, I read and reviewed The Buried Symbol by Jeffrey L. Kohanek, and I really enjoyed it. If you haven’t already done so, you can read my review here. When it comes to second books in a series, I am always wary whether they are going to live up to the first book. I am glad to say that The Emblem Throne very much lives up the expectations set out by The Buried Symbol.

The Emblem Throne picks up shortly after the end of The Buried Symbol, and we are quickly drawn back into the story as the characters discuss and think on what happened at the end of The Buried Symbol. I found this extremely useful because there have been many times when I have read a previous book in a series months before reading the current one, and I find it hard to remember certain elements and consequences. This method not only shows us the characters processing what happened, but is also used as a way of helping the reader remember what occurred.

One aspect of the book I thoroughly enjoyed was being able to delve deeper into each characters’ background. I don’t want to discuss this too much as I think these scenes were a joy to read, and I don’t want to give out spoilers. What I will say though is that the interactions that occur not only help you discover why a certain character acts the way they do, but ait lso helps you understand their reasons for wanting to join the academy.

The aspect that intrigued me the most is that we learn more about a particular rune, its source and what its capable of. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it because this was one aspect I wanted to see more of in “The Buried Symbol”. The characters wanting to learn more about it also naturally helps progress the story and the characters themselves because we see the lengths the are willing to go to find more information.

The only slight issue I had with the book was that there were certain scenes I felt were rushed, and, due to this, I had one or two occasions where I felt that maybe I had missed some information or a particular scene due to something occurring so quickly. I think if these scenes were drawn out a bit more or more information was given, then it would go towards strengthening an already great book. Thankfully though  this only happened once or twice, and I don’t think it derailed the general flow of the book.

All said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was really excited to get back into its world. I think the book flows very well. If you enjoyed the first book then I would highly recommend you pick up this one as well, as it gives you a lot more information on certain elements from the first book and improves on them. If you haven’t yet read The Buried Symbol, then I would highly recommend you do so.

Jeffrey L. Kohanek | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook