Django Wexler is a strong new voice in military based fantasy, The Thousand Names follows the story of two very different soldiers facing impossible odds under an eccentric new commander. Captain Marcus d'Ivoire was the senior-most surviving officer after a bloody rebellion forces the Colonial Army into retreat. As a common born graduate of the War College he never imagined being in charge of a regiment so he's relieved that the Royal Army is sending a colonel to take charge. Winter Ihernglass is a Ranker, one of the rank and file. Most of the Colonials were sent there because they were an embarrassment or did something criminal but Winter wanted to go where no one would ask questions because "he" is a "she".
A young mage hidden at birth and raised in anonymity by a lowborn family? Check. A coming of age story with a younf male lead and an obvious love interest? Check. An evil rival that wrongs said love interest? Check. I could keep on going but you get the point. If you have read a lot of fantasy literature then you have read this all before, and while there is nothing terribly wrong with The Blacksmith's Son, there is also very little to make it stand apart from the competition. The five book Mageborn series gets off to a mediocre start with this one.
This book has many things to like about it, and some not to like, which might very well be appropriate as the story revolves around the combination of opposites. There are two main characters in this one - Prince Jalan Kendeth, a womanizer and self proclaimed coward, and Snorri, a Viking warrior out for revenge against those who attacked his homeland. Snorri and Jalan form an odd couple dynamic as fate thrusts them together and sends them out on a suicide mission where they must find a way to get along or they will both end up dead. With their opposing personalities playing off each other they both face obstacles in their own unique way while never really knowing the bigger picture of what is going on.
Having enjoyed all 6 existing books in Joe Abercrombie's First Law series I find myself always craving for more. That is why I picked up Sharp Ends despite the fact that I tend to not like collections of short stories. Add on that Steven Pacey narrated the audiobook and there was no way I could resist this one. The Abercrombie/Pacey audiobook combo is one of the best that I have ever listened to and the two of them just bring out the best in each other. Pacey's narration of these characters is just superb and I highly recommend that you give the entire series a listen even if you have already read it. To my delight many of my favorite characters from the prior books do make an appearance in these short stories including, but not limited to, Glokta, Logen, Dogman, Bethod, Whirrun, and Nicomo Cosca. However, in the end, the short story format left me wanting more and feeling unsatisfied as favorite characters appeared and were gone before I knew it.
The Symphony of the Ages is a long fantasy series about three friends prophesied to save the world. It starts when a boy finds himself a thousand years in the past where he meets and falls in love with Emily. They shared one night together and then he was inexplicably gone. She sets out with a broken heart to find him and in one of the few realistic aspects of the series ended up a prostitute called Rhapsody. She eventually studied to be a Namer, a loremaster who can speak true names which gives them some power, and a musician. While running from a former evil client and his goons she meets The Brother, whom she names Achmed the Snake, and his friend Gunther. An Assassin by trade The Brother was forced to work for one of the evil Fedor because it had his true name. By renaming him Rhapsody has unknowingly freed him and the three flee into the center of the earth, literally walking and crawling from one side of the world to the other. The discover that there is a prophecy about "The Three" who might be able to save the world from destruction by the Fedor. Rhapsody also falls for a guy who might be evil, is half insane, and as a young man got sent back in time for a single night...lots of us make bad relationship decisions.
In the Bitterbynde books the world of Erith is a dangerous place full of wights, both Seelie and Unseelie, and the Faeran themselves are barely a memory. The title character of the Ill-Made Mute has no memory, no voice, and a face that is horribly scarred from paradox ivy poisoning. At night the servants share stories of Seelie and Unseelie wights, how to escape them, and most often about people who died. Although Erith is a fantasy world the author pulled these stories from real tales, mostly from the British Isles. These stories become very important as the Mute journeys in search of a name, her memory, and something to remove the scars left by the poison. Naturally this all turns into a greater quest that will determine the fate of both faeries and humans. The series really stands out due to a poetic writing style that blends well with the tales of Eldritch lore.
"Damn strange" is how one of the characters in Imajica responds when he hears an odd tale recounted to him and that phrase is certainly applicable to Imajica itself. This story is ambitious, complex, and bizarre on many levels. Within this tale our world is known as the fifth dominion and it is the only one of the five dominions that remains unreconciled. For centuries, the Tabula Rasa has kept the powers of the other four dominions at bay but the time for another possible reconciliation approaches. The Tabula Rasa will go to any extreme to prevent such a reconciliation as the other dominions are full of strange and powerful creatures that are not welcome here.
Eye of the Moonrat has its fair share of fantasy tropes and while Cooley's writing style is rather simplistic he has created a complex and interesting world that you want to learn more about. The main character, Justan, is your standard fantasy teen who is struggling to live up to the reputation of his father. He is trying to qualify for entrance into the battle academy and despite putting significant effort into his training he just doesn't seem to have what it takes to get in. However, Justan does have some compelling abilities that make him unique and this book slowly reveals just what he could be capable of. There is more to Justan than meets the eye and some influential individuals have taken notice of him and begun to manipulate his destiny.
As an old school pen & paper RPG player, mostly D&D and AD&D, the story concept presented here really caught my eye. Basically at the start of the book there is a GM running a D&D style game for a group of greedy and belligerent players. The GM has warned his players that the new game system that he is using attempts to be ultra-realistic and they must be extra careful; however, they do not heed his warnings and they find themselves all dead mere minutes into the game. In the game world a local group of NPCs notices that the adventurers are all dead and they fear being blamed for the deaths. So in an effort to protect their small village from the wrath of the king they decide to attempt to fulfill the adventurer's quest themselves. The story then transitions from our world into theirs.
When the 3rd Thomas Covenant series started I was ecstatic. I pre-ordered the hard cover version of the first book, The Runes of the Earth, and upon its arrival I instantly dove right in. Unfortunately, I quickly began to feel like this book was written to take financial advantage of my love for the Land rather than to tell me a good story. The book was full of uber-beings that supposedly always existed in the Land but had never revealed themselves before. These powerful beings had always been there but never surfaced even when the Land was on the brink of annihilation. WTF? My beloved Giants, which were so memorable in the first two series, had now become bland, expendable and boring. The same could be said for the stalwart Haruchai who were now corrupted and uninteresting shadows of themselves. It appeared that Donaldson had done what Lord Foul never could and desecrated the Land. Now I had become the Unbeliever.