An Empire in Runes by Jeffrey L.Kohanek

James McStravick reviews An Empire in Runes by Jeffrey L.Kohanek.

A Long Forgotten Magic That Might Save the World…Or Destroy It

Led by a boy named Brock, a small team of teens urgently assembles a force to confront an army of monsters, one that ravages and destroys anyone or anything in its path.

In a race against time, Brock attempts to train a group of recruits to wield the powerful magic known as Chaos, a magic that he himself is still learning to master. All the while, they must remain vigilant against a secret organization within the Ministry that will do anything to prevent the return of Chaos.

As foretold by an ancient prophecy, the human army must face and defeat their ancient enemy on the Tantarri Plains. For if they fail, all will be lost.

An Empire In Runes

“An Empire in Runes” is the final book in Jeffrey L. Kohanek’s The Runes of Issalia trilogy and what a great trilogy it has been.

When I previously read and reviewed the first and second books in the trilogy, The Buried Symbol (here) and The Emblem Throne (here) I spoke highly of them, this book is no exception to that and possibly the best of the lot.

An Empire in Runes takes place shortly after the climactic finish to The Emblem Throne and we quickly get to see not only how the primary characters but the secondary characters are dealing what has happened up to this current point. For the characters in this trilogy what they have been wanting to accomplish has been a long road and I thoroughly enjoyed reading how each character is dealing with the current situation and the lead up to what has happened.

One aspect I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the most is the planning that occurs in the run up to the final battle and how each character has an important role to play in the run up to it so they can ensure they win it. With this aspect in particular we see numerous groups 2 or more characters being sent off in multiple directions and this allows the book to further build the relationship between them in more detail since they have been travelling as a group for quite a while. Two characters in particular I thoroughly enjoyed reading about were Benny and Ashland, as the role they played in the lead up to the epic conclusion gives you a brief glimpse back into where it all started.

But once all the planning has come to a head and the final battle begins we get a battle of epic portions as we see it divided into different areas of the army that has amassed to fight off what has been tearing the country apart. When I read the battle scenes in the previous books I thoroughly enjoyed them and I thought they were done extremely well but this final battle was something like I had never read before in this trilogy as not only was it so well crafted but it showed the consequences of war and what effects it has on places and people.

I think Jeffrey L. Kohanek definitely wraps this series up very nicely as we get to visit some people and places we haven’t seen since the first book and we see a lot of the story threads being either answered or closed off. So as far as I am concerned there no questions left unanswered when I came to finishing the final book in the trilogy.

With all of the above in mind I really enjoyed reading An Empire in Runes as it caused me to lose quite a lot of time on a number of occasion’s due to how deeply I found myself getting absorbed into the world. If you enjoyed The Buried Symbol and The Emblem Throne then I would highly recommend reading this book because not only is it the best book in the trilogy but it is great conclusion to the trilogy as a whole.

Goodreads | Facebook | @JlKohanek

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BLACKWING BY ED MCDONALD (Ravens’ Mark #1)

James McStravick reviews Blackwing by Ed McDonald.

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing

Firstly, a big thank you to Gollancz for sending me an arc copy of this book for review.

When I read the first page of Blackwing I found myself immediately drawn into the world as Ed McDonald not only manages to grip you very quickly but is also able to give you a quick breakdown of whats happening while setting the tone of the world which I find authors sometimes find struggle to do within that first page.

I usually find myself enjoying one or more aspects of a book more over others but with Blackwing I never once found this as I believe Ed McDonald has managed to accomplish the perfect blend of world building, action, mystery and depth. I find it is very rare to encounter a book like Blackwing as the last time I encountered a book like this was when I first read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, I also sometimes found myself thinking that the way he crafted certain scenes reminded of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series.

One thing I found that made the book a lot easier to read was that Ed McDonald never seemed to over extend the length of a scene as I always found the scenes ended very naturally and because of this the chapters were slightly smaller than a lot of books I have read. This of course then lead to my inner voice saying “oh go on one more chapter won’t hurt”, then next thing you know its 2am or 3am and you have to get up for work in a few hours.

With my reviews I always find myself delving into a breakdown about what I loved and disliked about a book as well discussing the world and characters. Over the past few days or so I have thought over how I wanted to write this review and every time I do I just can’t seem to find the words that would do this book justice and show much I enjoyed it.

Is Blackwing the best fantasy book I have ever read? This is quite possibly true but then again I don’t how I would feel about books I read a number of years ago such as The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. One thing I can tell you though is that Blackwing is the best book I have read so far this year and I feel sorry for the books that have to follow it as they are going to have a tough time against it. Blackwing takes all the elements of a great fantasy book and molds them together to create something that is truly awe inspiring and quite possibly perfect.

Ed McDonald | Goodreads | Facebook | @EdMcDonaldTFK

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

 

Tour Schedule

Monday 20th February

Alejandra’s Life

Tuesday 21st February

Fiction Fascination

Wednesday 22nd February

YA Yeah Yeah

Thursday 23rd February

Tales of Yesterday

Friday 24th February

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Big Book Little Book

Saturday 25th February

Teri Polen

Sunday 26th February

The Bandwagon

Monday 27th February

Everything Alyce

Tuesday 28th February

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Grab That Book

Everywhere and Nowhere

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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