Book Review: Faithless by Graham Austin-King

Faithless
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Author info: http://www.grahamaustin-king.com/

This book is as solid and kickass as the cover promises and then some. I loved Riven Wyrde Saga, which is the debut trilogy by Graham Austin-King. I expected high quality from this book, but Faithless exceeded my expectations by far. Riven Wyrde Saga books were great reads, and already on my re-read list (I can afford to re-read very few books given my swamped schedule) but Faithless is at a totally different level. I must give the trigger warning though: There are scenes involving child sexual abuse. Nothing graphic, but might be disturbing for survivors. Read at your own discretion.

The editing is top notch and superior to no small number of mainstream published fantasy books for one. The worldbuilding, realism, characters and action scenes blew me away.

The story is told from the perspective of two main characters, Wynn and Kharios. Both are compelling characters who grow and change through the book. The tale starts with Wynn being sold into slavery at the Temple of Forgefather and dumped into the underground mining city called Aspiration to do hard labor.

The Aspiration is a living nightmare. Law of the jungle, survival of the fittest. Wynn joins the first crew he encounters, it’s impossible to survive in this harsh place alone. Life is hard. The whole town is ruled by vicious tyrant. If you can’t make the tally,you are screwed. Sometimes crews who are unable to meet their tally go around robbing others. It’s the law of the jungle all the way. The place is fascinating to read with all the cool details, and the stark realism of it gives you the feeling of being trapped there along with poor Wynn.

The only way to get out of this hell is to go through difficult tests to become a temple novice. Few can qualify to apply for the test. Out of thousands, less than a handful can make it. But in the Kharios point of view chapters, it seems the temple isn’t so much better. Corruption, degeneracy and tyranny rule supreme, only it’s not filthy like the mines and the living conditions are better. But are they really? A different kind of evil plagues the temple and the bad gut feeling never leaves you.

Faithless is a gritty fantasy story, but it reads like horror in places. The story takes a sharp turn halfway through and the haunting darkness gives way to breathtaking action scenes. It would make such a great movie!

One thing I loved about Faithless is the exquisite detail about the mining work and smithing. Graham Austin-King has done an insane amount of research and it shows. The world is so realistic, not only the hyper-realistic setting but with its myths and religious beliefs, customs, culture and way of life.

The other thing I loved is the male-female friendship without romance. That was a real nice thing to see. I’m sick of every male-female friendship turning into romance, I have been wondering why the fantasy authors can’t take a page from the police procedurals where men and women work together as just colleagues, with absolutely no romantic interest. When I see such things in fantasy, I bounce with joy. Kudos to Graham Austin-King for that nice touch!

The smithing parts, with the touch of magic and religious rituals, were my favorite parts after the kickass action. They had just the right amount of suspense and tension, making the incredibly well detailed forge work so much fun to read.

The ending leaves the door open for a second book, I truly hope there will be a second book!

Faithless is a high quality book with amazing worldbuilding, neat character development, fast-paced action balanced with suspense and a bit of horror, well-written and realistic side characters. A great read overall, I highly recommend it. I think people looking for dark fantasy that isn’t too grimdark, fantasy books without romance, books with underground settings and religion politics.

As far as indie published books go, Faithless belongs to the top shelf with highly engaging storytelling, realistic characters, flawless editing and brilliant setting.

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Book Review: Fae: The Sins of The Wyrde by Graham Austin-King

Fae: The Realm of Twilight
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Series: The Riven Wyrde Saga
Author info: http://www.grahamaustin-king.com/

I received a complimentary copy from the author in return for an honest review. This is the third book of The Riven Wyrde Saga. See my reviews for book 1 and book 2.
This is a spoiler free review and should give a good picture of this book and the whole series, but I highly recommend reading the previous two reviews to get a complete picture.

This book is full of action and thrilling scenes. We get to see the Fae culture and their politics closer, and the Fae character Aerwern takes a bigger part, however the Fae don’t become more human-like and remain as alien as they were in the beginning. This is one of the most impressive things about this book. Fae aren’t just non-human on a cosmetic level, they are strange, dangerous and alien even when you get really close. Even the ‘good’ ones are dangerous and they never let you forget that. Hats off to Austin-King for maintaining the inhuman and enigmatic qualities of the Fae folk.

Selena continues to kick butt and save the day with her incredible wits. She reminded me of Mara from the Empire Trilogy a bit, and quickly became one of my favorite female characters in the fantasy genre. The political intrigue got even more intense and I must say I found those chapters a delight to read as a huge fan of palace intrigue and politics in fantasy. Battle scenes are vivid and well done with amazing details, twists and turns. Both the suspense and action kept me turning the pages into the late hours before sleep.

Erinn is my other favorite character, and I’m a fan of strong female characters whose strength is their intelligence. Erinn is one of those. She makes a huge difference in the battle even though she’s not much of a fighter. I love it when non-warrior characters turn the tide of major wars with their strategy skills and it’s a rather rare thing I read in fantasy books, though there are plenty of examples of it in real history. Yet another reason I love this series. It’s full of fantasy elements and magic, but also very realistic when it comes to the characters and their actions.

The author has done a great job depicting the language barriers, there is no common tongue, people from different cultures rely on translators and have difficulties if they don’t speak the language of the other party ell enough or if the translator is not available. It’s not an easy thing to show it without boring the reader, I must say this book has very realistic scenes of language barrier issues.

Another nice touch is that the whole series starts with Miriam and she takes a big role in the ending, too. The ending is bittersweet, I must say it was well done with such a large cast of characters and so many threads. All in all the whole series was a great read with memorable, realistic characters, dazzling magic and a delightful dark setting.

If you like epic battles, original magic, non-human races who sound very alien, badass female characters, political intrigue, nice worldbuilding with different cultures and languages, seafaring people and maritime scenes, then you will love this series. I think there’s a bit of everything for every fantasy lover. It’s epic fantasy but with a dark and creepy setting, it has gore and violence but it’s not depressing like the typical grimdark literature, there are even some funny moments.

WWW Wednesday 25 November 2015

WWW Wednesday weekly blog meme

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading:

Beyond Redemption by Michael Fletcher.

It’s a batshit crazy world full of batshit crazy people. The lines between delusions and reality are quite blurred, if they exist at all. It’s dark, gritty and full of horrible, amoral characters. Even the little kid isn’t an innocent little angel, if that tells you something. The concept is very original and the characters are compelling. If you are a fan of grimdark, you will definitely love this book.

Beyond Redemption by Micheal J. Fletcher

Recently finished reading:

The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence.

Great book, a work of genius. The first book of the series is called Prince of Fools and this book continues the story there. See my reviews for Prince of Fools and The Liar’s Key.

The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence

I’m planning to read next:

Fae: The Sins of the Wyrde by Graham Austin-King.

I read the first two books and they impressed me a good deal. See my reviews here, Fae: The Wild Hunt and Fae: The Realm of The Twilight.

Before they are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (I read The Blade Itself and totally loved it, see my review here)

Fae: The Sins of the Wyrde by Graham Austin-King Before they are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Fae: The Realm of Twilight by Graham Austin-King

Fae: The Realm of Twilight
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Series: The Riven Wyrde Saga
Author info: http://www.grahamaustin-king.com/

This is the second book of The Riven Wyrde Saga. Review for the first book

Disclaimer: I have received a review copy in exchange of an honest review and I have recently signed with the same publisher. However I read book 1 and started reading this book before I signed with Realmwalker.

This is the second book of the Riven Wyrde Saga series by Graham Austin-King. See the review for the first book, Fae: The Wild Hunt:

This book continues the momentum of action where the first book ended, in a different part of the world. If you have read The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist and loved the thieves guild setting there, you are definitely going to enjoy the opening chapters of The Realm of Twilight featuring the thieves.

Female characters play a large part in this book. Ylsriss and Selena are awesome and I really enjoyed reading their adventures, struggles and character development. The parts set in the Fae realm are the best and the most exciting to read for me. The Fae realm is very magical, alien and creepy to the core. I actually liked it far better than the Fae realm in Rothfuss books. The worldbuilding is phenomenal and the magic is outstanding. If you are a lover of magic systems interesting artifacts, you will definitely love these chapters. I am not easily impressed with the magic in modern fantasy books and I can say the magic in this book is as exciting as the Harry Potter in some parts. The Fae are dark and scary, the horrible things they do makes this book even darker than the first.

Read the full review here: http://grimdarkalliance.com/blog/2015/09/11/fae-the-realm-of-twilight-riven-wyrde-saga-2-by-graham-austin-king/

Book Review: Fae: The Wild Hunt by Graham Austin-King

Fae: The Wild Hunt
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Series: The Riven Wyrde Saga
Author info: http://www.grahamaustin-king.com/

This book was originally indie published, became the Kindle Book Review Award Semi-Finalist and just recently got bought out by Realmwalker Publishing Group. I have received a review copy from the author in exchange of an honest review and I must say this is a very impressive story with intriguing characters, great plot and gets extra points from me for not having the typical fantasy cliches.

What really impressed me is that the point of view characters’ storylines going in parallel, not connected to each other. This made me quite curious and I kept turning the pages, making wild guesses how they will connect to each other. And they eventually do connect with beautiful twists and turns. I have not seen this kind of thing before in any of the books I’ve read. Multiple POV is one thing, but bringing all of those separate storylines together with awesome twists is truly epic in my book.

Read the full review here: http://grimdarkalliance.com/blog/2015/06/24/fae-the-wild-hunt-riven-wyrde-saga-1-by-graham-austin-king/

Summer Reading List: The Most Promising Books from my TBR

I feel like sharing a select few books from my massive TBR I have reserved for my summer reading. The Goodreads reviews, covers and the blurbs are quite promising and I think I will have a great time reading these.

If you like dark, dystopian fantasy or epic fantasy with a dark twist you might want to consider adding them to your reading list.

The Riven Wyrde Saga series by Graham Austin-King is the first in my list. This is a dark faery tale, which is right up my alley. I read plenty of grimdark but this will be the first grimdark fairy tale I will be reading. The first book of the series was the semifinalist for the best Kindle reads award and received plenty of high praise from the Goodreads and Reddit /r/Fantasy folks. The second one has excellent reviews, too, but I just skimmed through them for the fear of spoilers. I will start reading this series as soon as I’m done reading Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (which is a superb read, btw!)

Fae The Wild Hunt

Fae The Realm of Twilight

The 3rd book of the series is not released yet so I should be able to read these two before it’s out.

The next book I’m mighty curious about and dying to read is Peter Newman’s debut novel The Vagrant. It’s fresh off the press, published just a few days ago from Harper Voyager. The cover grabbed my eye when I saw friends sharing it on Facebook. The blurb is quite intriguing and sounds like something I’d totally love. I have a thing for mysterious characters and the main character of this book is as mysterious as they come, judging from the blurb and a couple of reviews.

The Vagrant

The next in my list is the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. My co-bloggers at Grimdark Alliance have reviewed it and I really need to catch up since this excellent series is one of the must-reads of grimdark fantasy.

Assassin's Apprentice

Royal Assassin

Assassin's Quest

The last one in the list the Aspect-Emperor series by R. Scott Bakker. I loved The Prince of Nothing to death and it left me with a major book hangover. I have been holding off on reading its sequel, The Aspect-Emperor, cause its 3rd book is not out yet. I’m dying to know what happens next and what evils the dreaded Consult are stirring, what Achamian is planning to do and whether Kellhus turns out to be a hero or villain.

The Judging Eye

The White Luck Warrior

This pretty much sums up my summer vacation reading list so far. Whether I will get to read all of them before the end of the summer is another question. There’s nothing like the joy of reading grimdark under the mediterranean sun!