Exciting New Releases This Summer

These will be my summer reads.

The Unholy Consult
I have been waiting for the Unholy Consult forever, even held off on reading the Aspect-Emperor books for ages until the release date was certain for TUC. This series is such a magnificent masterpiece of grimdark and epic fantasy, one of the best examples of the fantasy genre in fact. You can read my reviews of all the books in the series here: https://leonahenry.wordpress.com/?s=bakker

 

The Court of Broken Knives

I have beta read a very early version of this book ages ago, I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear about the publishing deal and finally getting a publication date. This will probably be quite a bit different from that very early version I think, can’t wait to read and find out. It’s super grimdark but without a setting mostly covered in puke, piss, rot and other gross things. There is dazzling architecture, grand temples, palaces, beautiful gardens, spiced with utterly savage violence and serious nightmare fuel acts. The characters are so grimdark it’s not even funny!

 

Godblind

 

A friend of mine told me to check this new debut out, and showed me a giveaway page where they had a free sample from the very beginning of the book. I was mighty impressed by the grimdarkness and how Anna Stephens made the characters so memorable in such a short space, I pre-ordered a copy. I heard the book delivers the top notch quality promised by the sample. I can’t wait to read it!

 

 

A Gathering of Ravens

 

Historical fantasy with an Orc protagonist and Norse myths pretty much sold me on that one. Not to mention the grimdark and all of the characters being morally ambiguous. I love books where no one is good or evil. Also I’ve never read any historical fantasy, this should be a good way to begin. It sounds like a pretty solid read judging from the Goodreads reviews.

What are you reading this summer?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

toptentuesday

Top ten tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and this week’s theme is the most unique books.

1. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

The great Silmarillion remains one of a kind to this day, even after gazillions of fantasy books published since. Its format is like a holy scripture and it is not the kind of thing casual fantasy readers could get into, but the stories are captivating. It remains an all time favorite for the cult fans, and for good reason.

2. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

This book was a total shock and awe package for me as a fantasy fan who got the taste of grimdark with A Song of Ice and Fire. Even after reading a number of grimdark books, it still remains unique with the villainous, messed up protagonist who ended up being one of my all time favorites. See my review here.

3. Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

This book is horribly underrated due to its terribly dull cover (it’s not just me, quite a few book blogger friends also found it a total turn off) and it is quite original and unique for fantasy and grimdark. All of the main characters are horrible people, yet still likeable, and the source of magic being delusions makes an original and fresh magic system. See my review here.

4. The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker

A criminally underrated grimdark masterpiece, The Darkness That Comes Before is the first book of an awesome epic fantasy series without any of the tired tropes and cliches of epic fantasy. In other words, this series has Tolkien-Tier worldbuilding without ripping off Tolkien’s races, tropes and quests. Folk think Asoiaf is the revolutionary fresh breath that changed the fantasy genre, but Bakker’s series does the realism without sacrificing the magic and fantasy elements, and without making it 100% human like Asoiaf. I am a huge fan of Asoiaf, don’t get me wrong, but The Second Apocalypse books are nine kinds of awesome and it’s a crime they aren’t selling hundreds of millions and getting a TV show. See my review.

5. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

I discovered this book after SPFBO review and Mark Lawrence’s recommendation, and I must say it is quite a fresh new breath in the genre. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and literary fiction, never seen anything quite like Senlin Ascends. It’s kind of a genre bender blending Steampunk fantasy with magical realism with an amazing literary prose, memorable characters and entirely original and fascinating worldbuilding. See my review.

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I don’t think there is anyone who reads my blog that hasn’t read this one since it was such a huge hit. It was perhaps one of the most unique I have read in any genre: It has no plot at all, no relatable characters and an unreliable narrator, but still makes you turn pages well into the wee hours cause of the interesting adventures, superb worldbuilding and beautiful poetic prose. See my review.

7. Fae – The Wild Hunt by Graham Austin-King

This was one of the few indie books I’ve read and turned out to be surprisingly unique and original. It overturns cliches and features a neat setting with different cultures and shades of grey. Fae appear to be the bad guys at first, but as you read the rest of the trilogy, things turn out to be far more complex than they initially seem. See my review.

Now that I ran out of unique fantasy books (there are sequels to pretty much all of the books I listed so far, but the first ones are always the unique ones you know!) the rest of the list is going to be the books I have read when I was much younger and before I got into fantasy genre.

8. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

This is not a fantasy book. It’s a rather thin, 112 page literary classic and remains as one of the most unique books I have read in my lifetime. Partly because the protagonist and all the characters were seagulls and it wasn’t a children’s book.

9. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais

This one is not a fantasy book either, it is a superb tome of classic early Renaissance literature, first published in the 16th century and caused a huge scandal for brutally satirizing the church, state, law, education, pretty much all aspects of the civilization of its day and featuring vulgar scenes.
The most unique aspect is the unusual, no holds barred use of language, including but not limited to Rabeleis using made up words such as morecrocastebezasteverestegrigeligoscopapopondrillated, the prose is awesome even in translation (if you happen to pick one of the better translations, that is. People who speak French are lucky they can read this masterpiece in its original language. How I envy them!)

The word “gargantuan” originates from the giant protagonist in here, not to mention Aleister Crowley named his occult order after the Temple of Theleme depicted in this awesome book. Crowley also took Rabeleis’s motto “Do What You Will” as the motto of his Thelemic order. The book is in the public domain and can be downloaded free from Project Gutenberg or you can buy it super cheap from the second hand market.

Despite its age of whopping 6 centuries, it remains incredibly entertaining, unique and timeless. Many parts of this book could have been written yesterday, for many issues it satirizes sadly still exist today. Also it is notorious for featuring tons of fart jokes and toilet humor, along with philosophical discourses, booze propaganda and unicorns.

You can read this vulgar, grotesque and hilarious book and look cool & intellectual cause it’s a 16th century classic 🙂

10. The Trial by Franz Kafka

This is a weird, dark, gloomy and disturbing book, it’s nothing like a normal novel. There is no regular plot and nothing much happens, but it is quite obvious that the layers of allegories and metaphors take a snipe at totalitarianism and brutal bureaucracy on the surface, and the society as a whole. It has an abrupt ending which seems to make no sense, but if you sit down and think about it, it does. I’ve read this book as a teenager (when everyone else was reading Dragonlance, Conan and Elric books, this was the sort of stuff I was reading back then!) and this is really not the kind of book teenage girls read, but it kept my ADHD riddled mind turning the pages, and my mother’s then extremely gloomy workplace with the mechanical calculator machines, endless typewriter clicks and shelves full of dusty folders and ancient tomes re-enacted the setting of the book so the effect was highly amplified – as I mostly read it after school at my mom’s office. I highly recommend this book to people who love grimdark, cause Kafka wrote grimdark before grimdark was cool.

What is your top ten? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Spring TBR and here goes mine (though I highly doubt I will manage all of them in spring, it’s more like spring+summer TBR!)

The White Luck Warrior

The Great Ordeal

Ghosts of Tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m planning to finish all of Aspect-Emperor before the next one (The Unholy Consult) comes out in summer. And there’s the grimdark new release from Michael R. Fletcher I will squeeze in, I normally don’t read western fantasy but Fletcher’s Manifest Delusions books were so damn awesome, I will read everything he publishes cause he writes some of the most messed up and complex grimdark characters out there.

 

The Shadow Rising

The Fires of Heaven

Lord of Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m aching to get back to the Wheel of Time world after reading the first 3 books, but some exciting new releases came out and the news of Unholy Consult coming out got me to grab Aspect-Emperor books. I am really dying to read the rest of the WoT!

 

Danse Macabre

The Falcon Throne

Sword of Destiny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course I’m ever the impatient one, which means sometimes I get way too hyped up about certain books and I will grab them before finishing the series I have at hand, no matter how awesome it is. I’m bad like that!

Best Served Cold

 

I have been meaning to read the standalone First Law world books by Abercrombie since The First Law trilogy felt too short and left me with a big book hangover. This is the first of the three standalone First Law world books.

What is in your TBR? Link to your post and let me know!

 

WWW Wednesday: 8 March, 2017

WWW Wednesday weekly blog meme

WWW Wednesday is hosted each week by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

The Judging Eye

The Last Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Wish, Witcher book #1 and The Judging Eye, Aspect-Emperor Book #1. Both are excellent so far.

What have you recently finished reading?

Red Sister

This was one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. Review coming soon!

What are you planning on reading next?

The White Luck Warrior

This is the second book of Aspect-Emperor, I need to catch up by the time The Unholy Consult comes out!

What have you been reading lately?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Most Charismatic Fantasy Characters

toptentuesday

Top ten tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish but they are on a winter break and this week is a freebie. I had a talk with a friend about how I love charismatis characters and how some books would be so much better with such. So I am going to list my top 10 charisma lords & ladies this week.

1. Fëanor from The Silmarillion

One of the earliest ‘grey’ characters with no moral compass whatsoever, he is perhaps one of the most badass characters Tolkien has created. LOTR characters have nothing on this guy, trust me on that one. He made the legendary silmarils that drove everyone into batshit insanity and stood up to Melkor aka Morgoth, the most powerful of the Valar at the time, with a zero fucks given attitude:

‘Get thee gone from my gate, thou jail-crow of Mandos!’ And he shut the doors of his house in the face of the mightiest of all the dwellers in Ea.

He took on an army of Balrogs without fear, not to mention he single-handedly changed the fate of the entire world along with the race of elves. He is the reason elves moved to the Middle Earth in the first place.

2. Jorg Ancrath from The Broken Empire

Not going to lie here, I hated his guts at first, but he became one of my all time favorites by the time I finished Prince of Thorns. Oh boy. That young man racks up serious charisma points where is lacking in the moral compass department. He is a legendary badass in every sense, broken and messed up as he is.

“Dear lady, I killed them from youngest child to oldest woman, and when I was done I blunted three axes dismembering their corpses. I am Jorg of Ancrath–I burned ten thousand in Gelleth and didn’t think it too many.”

This quote may not quite do it on its own, but when you read it in the context of the book, it makes your jaw drop. Seriously. He isn’t all that bad, though. You gotta read the books to see for yourself.

3. Jaqen H’ghar from A Song of Ice and Fire

My friends know he is my biggest book crush along with Fëanor. Now you know, too. He has a very small part in the saga but boy is that man dripping charisma and leaving a trail of it as he walks. Tom Wlaschiha playing him on the TV show naturally added +50 charisma points. He is one of the few characters I fangirl about with my BFF on a constant basis.

4. Nona Grey from Red Sister

If you love Arya Stark, I can say she has serious competition now. Nona is taken from the gallows by Abess Glass of the Sweet Mercy convent when they are about to hang her for the attempted murder and severe maiming of a 7 foot something giant of a pit fighter who happens to be the son of the richest and most powerful nobleman of the empire. And she is nine years old in the beginning of the book, go figure what a little badass she is. Nona gets bullied, beaten within an inch of her life and picked on all the time in her new life, but her inner strength and perseverence is mind-blowing. And her intellect too. She is one of the most charismatic young female characters ever. You think Hermione is great? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

5. Sand dan Glokta from The First War Trilogy

Once a dashing cavalry officer and star fencing champion, Sand dan Glokta is now a hideous, broken cripple working as an Inquisitor for the King’s Inquisition. He tortures criminals and traitors for a living and he has developed an exquisite torture-interrogation style after he has been tortured in the Gurkhul prison and got slowly mutilated into his current crippled form. His sharp intelligence, gallows humor, cynical and bitter attitude and extreme cunning combine into a huge vat of charisma and make him one of the most memorable characters of modern fantasy literature.

6. Alica Kendeth from Red Queen’s War

One of my favorite charismatic female characters, she is a side character in the series but when she makes an appearance, she steals the show. She is one tough cookie whom all the big rough dudes fear and for good reason. She isn’t a tyrannical bully, no. She was a ruthless warrior and kickass strategist in her youth, and she is a charismatic no-nonsense grandma in her old age.

7. Mara from The Empire Trilogy

Mara was my first all time favorite female fantasy character, and she is the epitome of charisma. Her political intrigue skills are second to none. In fact I am missing her so much I can’t wait to re-read these books. She is not a badass shieldmaiden or anything, but boy can she beat everyone with her incredible wits and glib tongue!

8. Drizzt Do’Urden from The Forgotten Realms

R.A. Salvatore’s iconic drow character is featured in a load of books but I linked the first trilogy in the reading order. You must have already noticed I have a thing for morally ambiguous, broken, stone-hearted male characters, but Drizzt as the ultimate good guy with a heart of gold is the exception to the rule here. I’m quite the fangirl always surfing Deviantart for Drizzt fan art and post it around to share with my friends. Drizzt with his dual scimitars and his magical black panther Guenhwyvar will always have a special place in my heart.

9. Arakasi from The Empire Trilogy

Mara’s spymaster is not exactly a grey character, but since I have a thing for well written spies and assassins, I’m a big fan of this dude. He is a creation of Janny Wurts (as she stated in numerous interviews and Reddit AMA’s) and the best spy character I have read in fantasy to date. He is not just a badass spymaster, but also a complex character with a traumatic past and emotional conflicts.

10. Anasûrimbor Kellhus from The Prince of Nothing

A lot of people hate this character, but I find him quite charismatic, even though he is a horrible person. Thing is, you don’t realize he is horrible until much later. He isn’t exactly the type I’d fangirl about, but the charisma is there. Most everyone loved the barbarian Cnaiür dude, but the barbarian killing machines are so not my thing. Kellhus is a heartless bastard but he has superhuman qualities, cold and supreme intellect, and mind-blowing manipulation skills. He is one of the grimdarkest of grimdark characters out there.

Who are your favorite charisma lords? Let me know in the comments!
I hope some of y’all have some common with mine, I want to know I am not alone!

Late 2016 Wrap-Up and Best of 2016

I’m a bit late to the party since I should have done this on December, but life and chronic illness got in the way. I made a Goodreads challenge for reading 25 books, but fell a bit short. Most books I read last year are old school fantasy classics I’ve made a personal goal to catch up with, and only a couple new releases. Btw this is why you shouldn’t ask me to review new releases. Unfortunately I am not one of those people who read 150-200 books a year, my own writing takes a lot of my free time. Here goes my 2016 top ten list:

1. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

The Wheel of Osheim I had been anxiously waiting for this book, since I’m a huge fan of Mark Lawrence, and his was hands down the best book I have read in 2016. See my review.

2. The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher

The Mirror's Truth I had been looking forward to sequel to Beyond Redemption, and it turned out to be more glorious than I expected. Superb characters, excellent prose and a superb grimdark setting, this was definitely the best grimdark I have read in 2016.See my review.

3. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends I picked this one up after it made it to the SPFBO semifinals and Mark Lawrence recommended it. I normally read fantasy in pre-modern settings, but I have been curious about steampunk and Senlin Ascends turned out to be quite an excellent choice. It’s very different from the usual genre fiction, leaning more towards literary fiction/magical realism, but steampunk to the core. I can’t recommend it enough. See my review.

4. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Eye of The World I have been wanting to get into the Wheel of Time and finally managed in 2016. Never too late to read the Eye of the World! I loved it so much I am planning to re-read already after I finish the whole series. See my review.

5. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

The Farseer Trilogy

I will cheat and put the whole trilogy here. I loved these books to death, though it is quite a heavy read and you need to read something funny afterwards to get out of the intense melancholy it gives you. See my reviews for book #1, book #2 and book #3.

6. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt The Eye of the World got me hooked and this book got me addicted to the Wheel of Time. The way Jordan unfolds the world and the characters is truly stellar. The length of the series may be intimidating, but it’s such a great joy to slowly explore the eormous diverse world, you gotta read it to see how awesome it is! See my review here.

7. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

The Dragon Reborn Book #3 of the Wheel of Time distinguished itself with the non-Rand POV’s and the impressive character development while showing the plethora of diverse cultures and lands. Matt’s slow character development reaches the level of awesomeness I have a hard time describing with words and the Aes Sedai world has the supreme dose of magic all epic/high fantasy fans will love. Character development and depth in general is some of the best I have read in fantasy to date. See my review here.

8. Road Brothers – Tales From The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

Road Brothers : Tales from the Broken Empire This indie published collection of short stories from the Broken Empire explores the various side characters in depth and gives a good glimpse to their background stories. I greatly enjoyed this book, it was like meeting old friends again. See my review here.

9. Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings I am a huge fan of the First Law Trilogy and this book made a superb ending with fireworks and lots of twists. See my review here.

10.The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Tombs of Atuan I am glad to read the first two books of the Earthsea Cycle, and liked this book more than A Wizard of Earthsea. Perhaps it was the gritty, melancholy atmosphere, or the awesome female protag, but Earthsea is definitely a must read for all fantasy fans. See my review here.

Congratulations to the SPFBO Finalists

Final Ten has been announced, huge congrats to the finalists!

Announcement on Mark Lawrence’s Blog is here.

Here is the list of the finalists, along with the bloggers and Amazon links to the books:

Bookworm Blues – Fionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma‘ (Brian O’Sullivan)
Elitist Book Reviews – Larcout (K.A. Krantz)
Fantasy-Faction – Paternus (Dyrk Ashton)
Fantasy Book Critic – The Moonlight War (S.K.S. Perry)
Lynn’s Books – Outpost (F.T. McKinstry)
The Qwillery – The Music Box Girl (K.A. Stewart)
Pornokitsch – The Path of Flames (Phil Tucker)
Bibliotropic – The Grey Bastards (Jonathan French)
The Bibliosanctum – Assassin’s Charge (Claire Frank)
Fantasy Literature – The Shadow Soul (Kaitlyn Davis)