Velant is a penal colony hidden away in the frozen wastes of Edgeland, an inhospitable location on the edge of the world where the King of Donderath sends the convicted of his domain. Those banished to Velant never return, so it is a fate just short of death to be sent there, and for many it turns into a death sentence. The prison is ruled by an oppressive governor who uses his warden mages to keep the prisoners in line and ensure they continue working in the ruby mines. Those prisoners fortunate enough to survive their sentence of servitude in the mines still don't get to return home when they are done, instead they earn a ticket of leave which makes them a colonist in a small town near the prison that remains under the rule of the Governor. This town barely survives at the best of times and during the 6 month long dark season it must rely on the regular supply ships from Donderath to keep everyone alive. However, it seems that those ships have stopped arriving for an unknown reason, and the long dark is approaching...
The framework is purposely familiar but the unique setting makes this Arthurian based fantasy stand out. There's no evil half siblings and incestuous children here, only quality writing focused on combat mechanics, how the "magical" element works, and the value of self acceptance. Pal is an idealistic young man who dreams of becoming a Champion and performing heroic deeds. He is also a Maker, one who can mentally enter artifacts left from the Ancients and sometimes rebuild them with the necessary minerals. With his homemade Shield, based upon an umbrella, and Weapon, probably a mining drill, he sets off from the rural node of Breune for the capitol of Dun Add to join the Champions with his dog Buck. There has never been a Champion who is also a Maker but he sees that as no obstacle.
I don't ordinarily review books available that are available only in audio format, but since this one is offered up free direct from the Michael J. Sullivan's website, it seems worthy of being mentioned. The Riyria series of books is great Fantasy story telling and the audiobook versions are even better than the written word because Tim Gerard Reynolds does the narration. This short story may only be an hour long but it will certainly give you a taste of what this combination of author and narrator is capable of.
Royce and Hadrian are back and this time Royce's past actions result in a unique opportunity for the duo that is sure to put them at odds. The wealthy merchant Gabriel Winter has tracked down Royce (no easy task) because many years ago he experienced the "Year of Fear" when Royce terrorized his home city of Colnora. He has sought out Royce because he believes that his daughter is dead at the hands of her noble husband and he seeks retribution. He wants those responsible to pay in blood and offers up coin for every body that Royce produces; however, if it it turns out that she is alive then he is also offering a fixed sum for her safe return.
Brandon Sanderson finally delivered Oathbringer, the highly anticipated third entry in the Stormlight Archive, and amazingly this volume is even bigger than the first two. As the books get bigger so does the scope of the story being told and that is almost hard to believe. Each of these books would be an entire series for many other authors and the truly amazing part is that Sanderson has 7 more entries planned before he is done. This book focuses on Dalinar Kholin and the events throughout his past that shaped the man he has become. Dalinar bears the nickname Blackthorn and it is time to learn why that is.
Daniel Abraham does not disappoint as he delivers an excellent finish to his epic fantasy series The Dagger and the Coin. The war has raged on for 4 books and it is finally time for it to end, one way or the other. The spider priests have led Antea to the brink of destruction and their ability to manipulate the truth has most everyone in the kingdom blind to that fact. As the armies of Antea's enemies close in seeking retribution, Cithrin devises a desperate plan to save the day but it may be too late to pull it off. This one is full of build up that leads to one final gambit with the future of the kingdom of Antea at stake and Daniel Abraham delivers a clever and satisfying conclusion when it all finally plays out.
Daniel Abraham continues to deliver an engaging story as war rages on for Antea. As readers of the series will have guessed by the title, Clara comes to the forefront in this book and house Callium becomes the focal point. Clara has lost her husband to Lord Regent Geder's wrath, one of her sons to Geder's banishment, and a second son to the spider priesthood. The bottom line is that she has had enough and decides to take action to prevent Geder from ruining what little she has left. Underestimate Clara at your own peril.
Book 3 of The Dagger and the Coin series continues the war against the spider goddess with all the main characters back and advancing their storylines as you would expect. The power of the spider goddess priests to always detect when someone is lying is central to the story and this ability takes on new meaning as one starts to realize that the actual truth can take many forms. This fact muddies the water and many of the characters have to adapt their understanding of what the real struggle is. This book is all about those changing perspectives as the "war" is fought in many different ways.
Daniel Abraham really steps it up in book two of The Dagger and the Coin series and he provides the payoff for all of the foundation work that he did in the first book, The Dragon's Path. All of the main characters return and with their background's now firmly established, their storylines all move forward in significant ways. When their paths finally begin to cross then the story really picks up steam as the kingdom of Antea finds itself the likely victim of an ancient prophecy come to life. The spider goddess is finally making her return to the world and she plans to make Antea her new home.
Daniel Abraham, one of the two authors that write The Expanse series under the name James S. A. Corey, offers up an epic fantasy series featuring a rich, complex world worthy of your attention. Unfortunately, it might not seem that way at first. The opening chapters jump around from character to character and right when you start to get your bearings then a new chapter starts and you find yourself completely lost all over again. This feeling of confusion is compounded by the fact that there are a myriad of different humanoid races and you are exposed to the history of the world along with the present day. This is a lot to absorb all at the same time which makes it easy to lose track of things, especially when you don't know what is important and what is not. Luckily it is all worth the effort in the end because The Dagger and the Coin is an excellent series once you get settled into it.