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!

Book Review: Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft

Arm of the Sphinx
Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk/Magical Realism
Series: Books of Babel
Author info: http://www.thebooksofbabel.com

This is the second book of Books of babel, here is my review for the first book, Senlin Ascends.

Thomas Senlin’s desperate search for his wife Marya continues and the exciting adventure picks right up where it left off in Senlin Ascends. Now we get to discover the dark side of the tower and get inklings on what kind of purpose it may be serving, more facts of the complex political intrigue and the wars between the ringdoms.

Bancroft takes us to more ringdoms in this book, and they get more bizarre and alien as we climb. Worldbuilding shines here as it does in Senlin Ascends. Each ringdom has its own strange rules, machinations and political schemes, each one a new world if its own.

Arm of the Sphinx features non-Senlin POV’s and we get to see quite a lot from the eyes of the other characters. Getting a whole different perspective of Iren after seeing her as the invincible brute from Senlin’s eyes was great. Voleta’s POV chapters were quite entertaining to read and her relationship with her little pet is adorable.

Many of the mysteries from Senlin Ascends get solved and new mysteries emerge, and we get to meet some enigmatic new characters along the way.

One of my favorite things about this book was the little snippets in the beginning of each chapter, just like Senlin Ascends, and they make some of the best quotes from the book.

All in all, this book is a Steampunk wonder of high literary quality, featuring incredible adventures, top notch character development, beautiful scenes, entrancing imagination and, I must mention, supplemented with marvelous artwork on the author’s site and Instagram account. I highly recommend clicking the author web site and checking out the artwork. I am very much looking forward to the release of the third book, The Hod King. I can’t recommend this series enough, it’s one of the best indie gems that came out of Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) contest and I must thank the bloggers and Mark Lawrence for bringing this awesome series to the spotlight.

Waiting on Wednesday: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

new-wow
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine.
I am waiting for Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, to be released on April 4, 2017.

Red Sister

Here is the blurb:

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

I’m looking forward to this one because:

I’m a huge fan of Mark Lawrence and I’m reading the e-ARC at the moment. It’s totally different from the other books he has written and it’s truly glorious. Even though I have the e-ARC, it would be real nice to have the hardcover copy on my shelf.

What new release are you looking forward to? Share your post in the comments below!

Book Review: Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends
Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk/Magical Realism
Series: Books of Babel
Author info: http://www.thebooksofbabel.com

I picked this book up on recommendation from Mark Lawrence and the SPFBO buzz when it made to the semifinals. It didn’t sound like my cup of tea at first (since I prefer pre-modern fantasy settings with lots of magic and epic battles) but I picked it up anyway -interrupting my Wheel of Time marathon- and loved it to death.

Senlin Ascends is a fresh new breath in the genre fiction. If I quote The Wert Zone, “In another universe, Senlin Ascends, which was originally published in 2013, would have already won the Campbell, Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Award.” and I agree with this statement. Senlin Ascends has a steampunk setting, with early modern pistols, airships, goggles and what have you. Steampunk lovers will become fans of it and the sequel, The Arm of the Sphinx.

I think Breaking Bad lovers will also greatly enjoy this book, since the main character is a school headmaster who is trying to survive in a hostile environment full of villains and criminals. He doesn’t become an epic bad guy like Walter White, but there are certain parallels.

The story starts with Senlin and his wife going to the Tower of Babel on their honeymoon trip, only to discover chaos reigns there and Senlin ends up losing his wife Marya in the crowd. He proceeds into the Tower to find her, but discovers the Tower is nothing like what he read in the tourist guides. Each level is a new ringdom, which is a realm with its own rules and unique environment. Some of them are run down, some are pretty and pleasant on the surface but with a dark side. Out of the numerous ringdoms of the Tower, we get to see four in Senlin Ascends and there will be more uncovered in The Arm of the Sphinx. I must say the worldbuilding is amazing and the alien qualities of the ringdoms shows great creativity.

The characters are brilliantly rendered and the prose is exceptional even for the mainstream published books, let alone an indie. The setting was so vivid and the prose so beautiful, I didn’t care the least bit about the lack of magic and fantasy elements. I have given harsh critique to other fantasy books for lacking fantasy stuff, but the steampunk here is so awesome I didn’t miss the high fantasy and magic at all. There are plenty of dark and creepy scenes in this book, which I greatly enjoyed as a grimdark fan. It’s not exactly grimdark, but has a dark atmosphere, with a bit of humor and uplifting moments spicing it up.

Senlin Ascends leans more towards magical realism than genre fiction, with high literary quality, but it’s a compelling page turner with plenty of adventures and intrigue. Josiah Bancroft is a genius for writing a book of incredible literary merit without making it boring for the genre fiction readers. I love Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, but most of my bookworm friends found it boring, including a couple of literary snobs. But no one can say Senlin Ascends is the least bit boring or dragging. If they do, they are smoking crack.

I can’t recommend this book enough, all the hype is 100% accurate and the most reputable reviewers of the fantasy scene loved it for good reason.

Josiah Bancroft does fantastic chalk art of his characters, you can check them out on his web site: http://www.thebooksofbabel.com/new-gallery/

Book Review: The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Tombs of Atuan
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Earthsea Cycle
Author info: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/

This is the second book of the great classic Earthsea Cycle. See my review for the first book here.

A Wizard of Earthsea was about Ged’s journey to become a sorcerer and his struggle with the evil shadow, this book tells the story of Tenar, a young girl taken away from her family at the tender age of five to be raised as the priestess of the Nameless gods.She is forced to shed her identity and they call her Arha in her new life.

It starts a story of loneliness and continues as a story of courage. Tenar is incredibly lonely despite the high position she holds, a position which is more symbolic than one of real power. She has no close friends other than the eunuch guardian, and learning the ways of the dark labyrinths where no light is allowed is a daunting task.

This is not your typical epic fantasy full of action, but a beautiful tale nonetheless. Ursula K. Le Guin’s prose is amazing and the imagery is vivid. This book explores the limits of faith, loyalty, trust and tradition. The stark contrast between the unyielding religious devotion and the doubts hacking away the faith, the religious authorities bending the faith to their agenda or lacking it altogether, the courage to question everything you have been taught and break through the dogma is brilliantly depicted.

As it is mentioned in the blurb,Ged shows up later as a secondary character, and the relationship between Tenar and Ged starting with suspicion and turnign into mutual admiration and trust is fascinating to read. Tenar’s character development is stellar.

This is a great book. I think even the people who found a Wizard of Earthsea boring will like this book. I liked it a lot, it’s different from most fantasy books I read and I loved both the worldbuilding and the philosophical aspects. Earthsea books are leaning more towards literary fiction than genre fiction, but I highly recommend this book and its prequel, A Wizard of Earthsea, to fantasy lovers out there.