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

Introducing: Powerful – Tome 1: The Realm of Harcilor by S. N. Lemoing

The Bandwagon introduces indie author S.N. Lemoing, a fresh feminist voice in the fantasy world.

From the author:

“Several years ago, I wrote this novel to bring some subjects to the fore, such as diverse and powerful female characters, ecology, different families (single parents, large families, poor and rich backgrounds), and diversity of body types. The characters are never totally as they seem to be. The reader can feel a lot of emotions; the story is like a roller-coaster.

About the characters, we have ingenious children and teenagers, a biracial rebel princess and a maimed female warrior, among others. Politics, treason, magical powers, epic battle scenes, a little bit of romance – these are the themes you can find in this story.”

COVER POWERFUL EBOOK small

For twelve years, the power has been usurped at the Realm of Harcilor. Cyr, an erudite, and his adopted son, Kaaz, have formed a secret school.

Indeed, in this world, some people were born endowed with magical abilities: the Silarens.

However, it is not that easy to detect your own powers. They will soon be joined by a mysterious young woman who will provide them with valuable information.

When Litar – the most powerful being of the realm – goes away for two months, they finally foresee the opportunity to act.

Can they win their freedom back? Will they make the right choices?

Grab your copy on Amazon now, or find it on Goodreads. You can keep up to date with the latest book news on the Facebook page.

About The Author

S. N. Lemoing was born in 1987 near Paris, France. S N Lemoing

She graduated in Cinematography and English, studied philosophy, literature and lately, at University, she had the chance to follow classes about the Image of Women in the Media as well as the Female Gaze: Women directors. She then worked as a PA for films and TV, and also wrote, directed and produced episodes for 3 webseries and short films.

The will to write without boundaries led her to become an independent author. Her first novel is POWERFUL – T1: The Realm of Harcilor, a fantasy novel acclaimed by more than 85 French literary bloggers.

Her second book is a sassy chick-lit ‘Mes 7 ex’ (My seven exes), and the 3rd one ‘SHEWOLF’, urban fantasy genre, has been read by 1200+ readers and stayed on the Amazon’s Supernatural top 15 for 5 months.

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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

Ask The Author: K. M. Baginski

Author K. M. Baginski drops by The Bandwagon to talk about her writing process.

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Kisa Baginski is a middle school science teacher and author of the Windstalker Series. Rehumanized Drew (May 7, 2017) is a spinoff novella from Baginski’s debut novel, Windstalker: Awareness, and follows the plight of a man in his early 20s, Drew Royce. After turning into a “Windstalker”—a Nephilim subspecies who can transform into air/wind in order to feed on human organs for survival—Drew has managed to become human again, which forces him into hiding. Haunted by his disturbing actions as a Windstalker, Drew must decide between causing more harm to the human world or hiding out until death finds him.

What inspired you to start writing?

I just realized one day I loved stories enough to contribute in any way I could. I cherish so many sci-fi, mystery, horror and dark fantasy stories about the multifaceted nature of humanity. There are also what I consider “many rooms” in my own imagination that I hope may help entertain more than just my family.

What do you wish you’d known about the publishing process?

If anything, I wish I understood more about the art of editing. Finding a great editor is like finding a lifeline. My editor for Rehumanized Drew taught me so much about good storytelling. I felt I had a mentor in her, that I wouldn’t have to guess at conveying meaning as much as I did when writing my first book. Also marketing is its own universe. I wish I understood the value of launching with a complete marketing plan and team of amazing professionals, before releasing the first book.

Tell us more about your book.

In Rehumanized Drew, Drew Royce is a criminal, kept ward by an Evolved Nephilim race (Windstalkers) and used as a weapon against their enemy. But the victims he’s left behind have a way of finding him and make living, in the meantime, a nightmare.

This book is a spin off of my developing Windstalker series. Windstalkers are a supernatural Evolved Nephilim species which survives by feasting on human energy. Drew Royce is a key character from Windstalker: Awareness. Rehumanized Drew picks up exactly where Awareness left him.

RehumanizedDrewCover

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

At risk of blurting a cliche, anyone who loves stories should probably just write one! Or more. I don’t think you could ever make a mistake investing time and energy when you’re doing what you love.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing the next Windstalker novel, Windstalker: Prophecy, the actual sequel in the Windstalker series. What’s interesting about Prophecy (book 2 of the series) is it also picks up right where the first book, Awareness, leaves the readers. But instead of following Drew, it follows the lives of the other characters just after a major event (Drew’s re-humanization procedure, returning he and the girl he sired to human again).

What are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading a great epic fantasy/drama called Phoenix 2.0 by Daccari Buchelli. It boasts lyrical prose, a powerful tale of magic and betrayal on the scale of the Golden Compass and Royal territories known as the Four Realms call forth George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Its quite the filling bedtime story!

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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.

A new adventure in Ben Aaronovitch’s bestselling PC Grant series, for September 2017

Gollancz is delighted to announce the acquisition of THE FURTHEST STATION, a brand new novella in the bestselling PC Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch, for publication in September 2017.

Publishing Director Gillian Redfearn acquired world rights (excluding the USA, France and Germany, which are represented by agent) from John Berlyne of the Zeno Literary Agency.

THE FURTHEST STATION is Ben Aaronovitch’s first PC Grant novella . . . and there’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line. And when commuters start reporting encounters with ghosts up and down the track – encounters which they forget entirely within minutes – Peter Grant gets a call to investigate. And the very first interview leads to a ghost-hunting expedition  . . .

The unabridged audio edition – read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith – and ebook edition will be published simultaneously with the hardback.

Ben Aaronovitch said: ‘This is my first novella and I suddenly understood the appeal of the form to both writers and readers. Novellas allow you to tell a story in a very elegant, streamlined fashion. Something you can read quickly but without feeling cheated at the end. I may write more.’

Gillian Redfearn said: ‘THE FURTHEST STATION is brilliant. Powered by a gripping mystery, brought to life by Ben Aaronovitch’s wit and wisdom, it’s a story of modern London and modern families – as well as a future bestseller’

John Berlyne said: ‘Readers far and wide have enjoyed Ben’s work thanks to Gollancz’s brilliant publishing. This wonderful novella will delight each and every one of them’

THE FURTHEST STATION | BEN AARONOVITCH | 21 SEPTEMBER 2017

£12.99 | B–Format HB | 9781473222427

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Ben Aaronovitch grew up as part of a famously engaged and lively North London family. He has written for many TV series including Doctor Who, and worked as a bookseller for Waterstones. All six of his Peter Grant novels have been Sunday Times and Audible bestsellers, and are sold in twenty territories around the world, and he now writes full time in addition to being actively involved in charity work. He still lives in London, the city he likes to refer to as ‘the capital of the world’.

gollancz

Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, the imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF and Fantasy Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz has one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world.