#Review: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams @sennydreadful @headlinepg

If you missed my review for book one in this trilogy The Ninth Rain…check it out today.

Description

 

The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.

Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.

The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists – a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.

But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.

Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.

Review

I have been anxiously awaiting The Bitter Twins, desperately wanting to know what happens next in the story that Jen Williams so masterfully started weaving in The Ninth Rain. At the beginning of The Bitter Twins, Williams catches us up on where everybody is successfully without needing to do a recap chapter which I really like about the way she writes.

We move around the characters in this novel who are mostly separated fighting different battles, investigating different avenues, and discovering new things to help in the fight against the Jure’lia. Then of course we have Hestillion who is now with the enemy, will she fight back or will she cross over? I didn’t like her much in The Ninth Rain but her personality develops wonderfully through The Bitter Twins to become one of my favourite characters this time around.

We meet new characters, some fleeting and some more permanent members, one of those that really dug a hole into my heart Eri, an Eboran teenager, by which he was a few hundred years old, you know how those Eborans are! The way he starts in the book then integrates into the group is incredible and again a testament to Williams writing that a brand new character can become so important to you by the end of the book when there is already such a vast cast to choose from.

The existing cast are bonding with their war beasts and we definitely start to bond with them as well, they have very individual personalities of their own and their were some I loved more than others. I found myself more connected to Noon and Tor, they are a pair who need a good kick up the backside most of the time but there is something incredibly special about them and as they investigate the origins of the Eborans before the war really kicks off I had a lot of lump in throat moments.

Aldasair and Bern are so special and would make everybody coo over them in our world.  Funnily Vintage who was by far my favourite character in The Ninth Rain, irritated me in this book, I’m not sure what changed but I just didn’t connect with her this time around.

Overall, the world building continued to blow my mind, the battle scenes for the most part moved to the sky in this novel and were incredibly vivid, my brain was creating them as I was reading and it was epic. The Bitter Twins has shocking twists that leave you gasping; with love, betrayal, friendship, and The Ninth Rain war really kicking off.

A huge thanks to Jen Williams and Headline for the eARC of this book in return for my honest review.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Bitter Twins
SeriesThe Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2
Author: Jen Williams
Genre: Fantasy | Magic | Epic Fantasy | Dragons | Sword & Sorcery
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 8 March 2018
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Pages: 624
BuyAmazon UK | Amazon US | WaterstonesFoyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Made in the Image of the Goddess by Chantelle Griffin @Legacy_Zyanthia

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

I was so pleased to see this one appear, Made in the Image of the Goddess is a self-published fantasy by Australian author Chantelle Griffin and the first in the Zyanthia series, my review was published 27 July. I have the next two books in the series to read and I will get to them soon I hope as this first one was fantastic!

Description

Saranon glanced up at the dragons as they flew overhead. The hour of darkness covered them as she watched on. She waited as Pennie examined the stone. It formed part of the shield locking them inside the camp. Shouts rang out on the other side. ‘Is that Galven?’ Pennie asked.

She nodded in reply. A twig broke on the muddy ground. ‘We have company,’ she said.

A lone sorcerer. Just one, but that was enough to give them away. Pennie ran for fear of being caught, while Tasha stood gazing out into the distance, ‘One day that will be us.’

Enter an epic tale of sword and sorcery. More than two hundred years ago a powerful sorceress freed her people then vanished. As time passed truth turned into myth and myth became legend. The time has come again. Saranon must claim her rightful place before Zyanthia falls.

Review

The first book in the Legends of Zyanthia series, Made in the Image of the Goddess see’s Saranaon take on the powers of the Angeon a powerful sorceror. But at just 15 and having been a captive most of her life she struggles at managing the power and now she is exiled from her home and away from her friends and so she needs to find someone to train her and somewhere to call home.

Her quest see’s her crossing borders meeting new people, and running from and to wizards.

Saranon was a wonderful blend of powerful sorcerer and confused teenager. Chantelle Griffin found the balance between the two so that she didn’t become this cocky powerful kid like can sometimes happen in this novel. She was unsure of herself but over time came into her powers and learned what she needed to do.

Different characters came and went through the book and sometimes I felt some were so fleeting that I hope in future books they come back as I really connected with some of them. Anthony and Jedd were two such characters, they both offered Saranon a lot of help at different points in the story and I felt so connected to them and would love to see them again and see their characters develop further.

Pennie and Jacob are childhood friends of Saranon who I think are destined to play a larger role in her story, Pennie especially seems to have her own motives and these don’t necessarily run parallel to Saranon’s but she is an interesting character and I feel like there is a bigger story surrounding Jacob and his involvement with them both.

Mitch is a wizard, a human who can do magic, and he becomes accidentally bonded to Saranon. but it’s not all sweetness and light and he is a few years older than her.  I really liked Mitch and I’m looking forward to learning more about him, I feel like he has a lot of hidden depths and could be the one person who can do the best job at helping Saranon achieve her potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the fighting, the magic, the dragons it all came together in a wonderful introduction to this world and I am really looking forward to what comes next.

A huge thank you to Chantelle Griffin for my signed copy of this novel so that I could read and honestly review it. I will be treasuring it!

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleMade in the Image of the Goddess
Series: The Legacy of Zyanthia #1
Author: Chantelle Griffin
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic | Dragons
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 17 March 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other FormatseBook | Hardcover
Pages:  226
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Blackwing by Ed McDonald @EdMcDonaldTFK @gollancz

Over the next five days, I will share the five most popular posts this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly the authors I’ve featured.

First up is Blackwing by Ed McDonald, this review was posted as part of the blog tour on 25 July. I’ve been lucky enough since reading the book and publishing the review to meet Ed and he’s a fantastic bloke. This book has a sequel coming in 2018 which I’m very excited about.

Description

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet . . .

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.

My Review

I’m rarely completely speechless after finishing a book, I normally have a lot to say good or bad, but Blackwing left me utterly gobsmacked. It’s taken me a week to digest the book and work out how to even start writing this review. This is not a bad thing, Blackwing is an epic novel that grips you from the first page and is thoroughly extraordinary throughout.

Told as a first person narrative by Ryhalt Galharrow, we learn about his world and the people in it. It’s a harsh and desperate world with cities built around a dank and desperate desert like land called the Misery. The Misery is not somewhere you would want to go willingly, it conjures hallucinations, there are creatures that even your nightmares couldn’t conjure up and it’s the land of the Deep Kings.

The Deep Kings are all powerful, almost god-like magicians that can raise men from the dead, the drudge, these are their killing machines, their army and they are lethal. They have mage-like beings called Darlings (I love these names) which are scary as anything, and then there are the Brides, women that capture men under their spell with strong pheremones then swell up into gargantuan beasts (ick I feel sick again).

The Deep Kings want to capture the Cities from the Nameless. The Nameless are also god-like magicians, who created the Misery by the way, and who help protect the humans although they have their own selfish agendas and the humans can certainly become collateral damage. To protect the humans and the cities surrounding the Misery from The Deep Kings they’ve built a huge contraption called Nall’s Engine, and so we get to the grit of the story because a woman Galharrow knew as a boy, Ezabeth, reappears in his life with a theory about hall the Engine is broken and so begins a fight to unravel a tightly held political conspiracy with him on the wrong side.

The world building in this novel is outstanding, you feel like you are completely immersed in the world at all times and the imagery is vivid and so beautifully real, even when it’s not at all beautiful which lets face it is most of the time! The characters although always told from the one point of view are still described with a clarity which is bewitching and it’s easy to pick out favourites.

I’ve seen this book described as Grimdark but I just didn’t feel comfortable popping it into that pigeon hole myself. It’s pretty grim at times and it’s pretty dark yes but I felt like there was a lot of hope and that there was something far more epic fantasy about the way it flowed and pushed through. (I’ll get 50 comments disagreeing with me now)!

Nenn is Galharrow’s right hand man, except she’s a woman, a tough cookie, I actually imagined her a lot like Brienne of Tarth except tougher, yep I said tougher! She is loyal and straight talking, but can also fight tough and hard. I really liked Nenn and the way she fought unashamedly.

Galharrow’s other close ally on his team is Tnota, he does all of his navigating in the Misery, and is probably a bit too old for the fighting but he is just too damn good not to have on your team. A much more pleasant person to have around than Nenn, it’s like they are both the sugar and spice in Galharrow’s team.

Ezabeth and Galharrow were meant to be married as youngsters before life went pearshaped and they went their separate ways. Ezabeth is now a spinner, essentially a mage and she is powerful. I’m not going to say much more because talking about her gives too much away. But I do want to say how much I liked her, she is such a strong clever character. Ed McDonald has really written some epic women in this book I really loved how strong they were, they were equal to the men, could fight as well as the men, and I loved this.

And Galharrow, oh Galharrow, I did it again folks, I loved him so much, he was such a nice bloke! A true antihero who captured my heart the more I read. A troubled alcoholic, who would give his left leg if it would help someone he cared for. He is loyal to a bloody fault especially to Crowfoot, the Nameless who is in charge of the Blackwing. He has love in his heart, but also hate and sadness and bitterness. He is tortured and angry. He is strong, and weak. He is human.

Ed McDonald has definitely pulled out all the stops with this book and it lives up to all expectations. This is a book for all fantasy fans and should not be missed.

Sending a huge thanks to Ed McDonald and Stevie at Gollancz for the ARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleBlackwing
SeriesRavens Mark #1
Author: Ed McDonald
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 27 July 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery

#Spotlight: The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal @ErrinKrystal #Excerpt

Good morning lovely people! Today I have a treat for you, it’s release day for The Last Dragon Rider so I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt. This excerpt is from one of my favourite scenes from the book. It really tells you a lot about these characters so I hope you enjoy it!

I also have to draw your attention to the artwork which accompanies it. Errin Krystal has some fabulous artwork which I’ve been in awe of quite honestly, it has been done by an artist named Ryuutsu and you can check out more here.

If you missed my review of this amazing fantasy novel last week, you can catch up with it here. In September Errin will share more about her reading habits on The Bookshelf!

Description

Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?

Excerpt

“So where is this book?”

 

She avoided his gaze, glancing about the room, scarlet bloomed upon her cheeks.

 

“Sivath would not take me down.”

 

Flintathriël could not stop the laughter that rumbled up from his chest. “The great hulking dragon was afraid to enter a haunted marsh!”

 

“Please, Flint, na’vahla, we must go.”

 

His laughter died in his throat. She wanted him to take her into that gods forsaken marsh. The place the gods had literally forsaken.

 

“Do not be daft, woman.” He held up his hand when she made to protest.

 

“No! You will stay here. I will go, you, na’vahleth, will stay here where it is safe.”

 

Her golden eyes narrowed, and she leaned back against her desk, her fingers drumming an irritated tune against the polished oak. “Stay behind? You must be joking?”

 

Flintathriël shrugged, tossed the papers on her bed, and stepped away from the bedpost. It was worth a try even though he knew she would never agree to stay behind. He stopped before her, and her features softened as he cupped her face between his palms, brushing away the dried blood smeared across her skin.

 

“Flint, I am careful. I did not go charging into Gahl-Raëlön unprepared.” She always saw straight through to that part of him that worried, that feared the day all warriors in the darkest reaches of their soul did. The last day. She always saw.

 

He pressed his brow to hers and closed his eyes, inhaling the intoxicating scent of her. Wildflowers and sweat and blood. Flintathriël reached for a loose strand of coppery hair, letting the silky strands slip between his fingertips, feeling the flecks of dirt brush across his skin.

 

“Saira—”

 

She felt the tension in his body as he leaned against her, his breath warm against her cheek, his eyes still tightly closed. “If anything were to happen to you—”

 

Sairalindë reached up and brushed the silver-white veil from his face. He slid one hand up the back of her neck, gently tracing the contours of her cheekbone with the other before sliding his fingers down to work the fastenings of her riding armor.

 

“You are my everything.”

 

About Errin Krystal

Errin Krystal - Author ImageErrin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

    

 

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Last Dragon Rider
Series: The Wild Realms of Véneanár #1
Author: Errin Krystal
Genre: Fantasy | High Fantasy | Swords & Sorcery | Dragons
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 9 August 2017
Review Format: N/A
Other Formats: eBook
Pages: 100
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US

#BlogTour: The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal @ErrinKrystal @shanannigans81 #Review #Giveaway

I’m so pleased to be part of this blog tour, I’ve been reading Errin Krystal’s blog for some time and seeing her process as she develops these characters and knowing I wanted to read her book as soon as possible so being able to read an advanced copy for the tour was pretty exciting, not to mention it met all my expectations! As an added bonus I’m going to be featuring an excerpt from the book on release day and Errin is going to be taking part in The Bookshelf in September so keep your eyes peeled!

Description

Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?

The Last Dragon Rider - Tour Banner

Review

So, let’s just start with the obvious, dragons! Yes there are dragons, beautiful powerful dragons. And elves, who ride the dragons. Not everyone can ride the dragons it takes a special person to bond with a dragon and become a dragon rider. Oh can you imagine? Sorry, you lost me to the land of dreams again!

Sairalindë is a dragon rider, she is also a powerful mage. Strong and beautiful she’s a wonderful character to behold she is betrothed to our protagonist Flintathriël (and seriously, how does Errin come up with these names they are fabulous?). Flintathriël is a Nuvien fighter and heir to the Elven thrown, he has hair as white as ash and is nicknamed whitey because of it. He is quite a joker and I found myself laughing at much of his antics. He doesn’t take life to seriously but he is a strong fighter and understands the threats facing his people.

Flintathriël’s sister Faëlwyn is also a fighter, in love with their commander Theron she is willful and wants to be at the centre of the action. She is more serious than her brother and more open with her feelings.

This happy family of elves are threatened by Mnuvae, she considers herself the rightful heir to the throne, she will do whatever it takes including total destruction to take it. I will be honest there were moments I felt complete sadness and affinity for Mnuvae, I felt like she deserved the throne, that she had been hard done by and that even Flintathriël was quite mean towards her.

This book has everything, there are some beautifully romantic scenes but much of this book is a full on battle and it’s quite heart breaking to see what these characters go through in such a short time. Seeing where Flintathriël starts and where he ends was devastating and I desperately wanted to rewind and see something change.

This is just the first book in this series and I absolutely cannot wait to see what Errin Krystal produces next because this was high fantasy at it’s absolute best, completely riveting with characters that attach themselves to you and won’t let go.

Sending a huge thanks to Errin Krystal and R&R Book Tours for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Tour Schedule

July 31st
Reads & Reels (Promo)
Nesie’s Place (Promo)
Didi Oviatt (Review)

August 1st
WeeBitWordy (Review)

August 2nd
Darling Bear Reviews (Review)

August 3rd
Tranquil Dreams (Review)
Thoughts All Sorts (Review)
Brizzle Lass Books (Review)

August 4th
The Most Sublime (Promo)

August 7th
Literary Dust (Promo)
Brickley Jules Blog (Promo)

August 8th
The Protagonist Speaks (Character Interview)

About Errin Krystal

Errin Krystal - Author ImageErrin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.

    

Giveaway

 

Giveaway Button

5x eCopies of The Last Dragon Rider.

(Tour-Wide Giveaway)

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Last Dragon Rider
Series: The Wild Realms of Véneanár #1
Author: Errin Krystal
Genre: Fantasy | High Fantasy | Swords & Sorcery | Dragons
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 9 August 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: N/A
Pages: 100
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US

#Review: Made in the Image of the Goddess by Chantelle Griffin @Legacy_Zyanthia

Description

Saranon glanced up at the dragons as they flew overhead. The hour of darkness covered them as she watched on. She waited as Pennie examined the stone. It formed part of the shield locking them inside the camp. Shouts rang out on the other side. ‘Is that Galven?’ Pennie asked.

She nodded in reply. A twig broke on the muddy ground. ‘We have company,’ she said.

A lone sorcerer. Just one, but that was enough to give them away. Pennie ran for fear of being caught, while Tasha stood gazing out into the distance, ‘One day that will be us.’

Enter an epic tale of sword and sorcery. More than two hundred years ago a powerful sorceress freed her people then vanished. As time passed truth turned into myth and myth became legend. The time has come again. Saranon must claim her rightful place before Zyanthia falls.

Review

The first book in the Legends of Zyanthia series, Made in the Image of the Goddess see’s Saranaon take on the powers of the Angeon a powerful sorceror. But at just 15 and having been a captive most of her life she struggles at managing the power and now she is exiled from her home and away from her friends and so she needs to find someone to train her and somewhere to call home.

Her quest see’s her crossing borders meeting new people, and running from and to wizards.

Saranon was a wonderful blend of powerful sorcerer and confused teenager. Chantelle Griffin found the balance between the two so that she didn’t become this cocky powerful kid like can sometimes happen in this novel. She was unsure of herself but over time came into her powers and learned what she needed to do.

Different characters came and went through the book and sometimes I felt some were so fleeting that I hope in future books they come back as I really connected with some of them. Anthony and Jedd were two such characters, they both offered Saranon a lot of help at different points in the story and I felt so connected to them and would love to see them again and see their characters develop further.

Pennie and Jacob are childhood friends of Saranon who I think are destined to play a larger role in her story, Pennie especially seems to have her own motives and these don’t necessarily run parallel to Saranon’s but she is an interesting character and I feel like there is a bigger story surrounding Jacob and his involvement with them both.

Mitch is a wizard, a human who can do magic, and he becomes accidentally bonded to Saranon. but it’s not all sweetness and light and he is a few years older than her.  I really liked Mitch and I’m looking forward to learning more about him, I feel like he has a lot of hidden depths and could be the one person who can do the best job at helping Saranon achieve her potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the fighting, the magic, the dragons it all came together in a wonderful introduction to this world and I am really looking forward to what comes next.

A huge thank you to Chantelle Griffin for my signed copy of this novel so that I could read and honestly review it. I will be treasuring it!

Rating

About Chantelle Griffin

Chantelle Griffin - Author ImageTales of sword and sorcery captivated Chantelle from a young age. Reading until all hours of the night to find out what would happen to the characters. There was just one problem the story would finish far too soon. Hidden away in the distant past the life of a fantasy writer began. The real life struggles have been a saga all of their own for author. Chantelle was born in Tasmania, Australia. Her dreams haunted her from an early age. Vivid tumultuous dreams carrying adventure and danger. It took the author into a fantasy world filled with sorcery and treachery. The story continues to captivate her writing.

 

Book & Buy Links

TitleMade in the Image of the Goddess
Series: The Legacy of Zyanthia #1
Author: Chantelle Griffin
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic | Dragons
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 17 March 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other FormatseBook | Hardcover
Pages:  226
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery

#BlogTour: Blackwing by Ed McDonald @EdMcDonaldTFK @gollancz #Review #Blackwing

Oh I am so pleased to be a part of this tour. There are some damn good bloggers I really respect on this one, however, when I finished the book knowing I had to write this review my initial reaction was quite simply “Oh Fuck” because I just had no idea how I was going to put my thoughts into words. I think I’ve managed to pull it together but this book really just has to be read to be believed!

Description

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet . . .

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.

Blackwing - Tour Banner

Review

I’m rarely completely speechless after finishing a book, I normally have a lot to say good or bad, but Blackwing left me utterly gobsmacked. It’s taken me a week to digest the book and work out how to even start writing this review. This is not a bad thing, Blackwing is an epic novel that grips you from the first page and is thoroughly extraordinary throughout.

Told as a first person narrative by Ryhalt Galharrow, we learn about his world and the people in it. It’s a harsh and desperate world with cities built around a dank and desperate desert like land called the Misery. The Misery is not somewhere you would want to go willingly, it conjures hallucinations, there are creatures that even your nightmares couldn’t conjure up and it’s the land of the Deep Kings.

The Deep Kings are all powerful, almost god-like magicians that can raise men from the dead, the drudge, these are their killing machines, their army and they are lethal. They have mage-like beings called Darlings (I love these names) which are scary as anything, and then there are the Brides, women that capture men under their spell with strong pheremones then swell up into gargantuan beasts (ick I feel sick again).

The Deep Kings want to capture the Cities from the Nameless. The Nameless are also god-like magicians, who created the Misery by the way, and who help protect the humans although they have their own selfish agendas and the humans can certainly become collateral damage. To protect the humans and the cities surrounding the Misery from The Deep Kings they’ve built a huge contraption called Nall’s Engine, and so we get to the grit of the story because a woman Galharrow knew as a boy, Ezabeth, reappears in his life with a theory about hall the Engine is broken and so begins a fight to unravel a tightly held political conspiracy with him on the wrong side.

The world building in this novel is outstanding, you feel like you are completely immersed in the world at all times and the imagery is vivid and so beautifully real, even when it’s not at all beautiful which lets face it is most of the time! The characters although always told from the one point of view are still described with a clarity which is bewitching and it’s easy to pick out favourites.

I’ve seen this book described as Grimdark but I just didn’t feel comfortable popping it into that pigeon hole myself. It’s pretty grim at times and it’s pretty dark yes but I felt like there was a lot of hope and that there was something far more epic fantasy about the way it flowed and pushed through. (I’ll get 50 comments disagreeing with me now)!

Nenn is Galharrow’s right hand man, except she’s a woman, a tough cookie, I actually imagined her a lot like Brienne of Tarth except tougher, yep I said tougher! She is loyal and straight talking, but can also fight tough and hard. I really liked Nenn and the way she fought unashamedly.

Galharrow’s other close ally on his team is Tnota, he does all of his navigating in the Misery, and is probably a bit too old for the fighting but he is just too damn good not to have on your team. A much more pleasant person to have around than Nenn, it’s like they are both the sugar and spice in Galharrow’s team.

Ezabeth and Galharrow were meant to be married as youngsters before life went pearshaped and they went their separate ways. Ezabeth is now a spinner, essentially a mage and she is powerful. I’m not going to say much more because talking about her gives too much away. But I do want to say how much I liked her, she is such a strong clever character. Ed McDonald has really written some epic women in this book I really loved how strong they were, they were equal to the men, could fight as well as the men, and I loved this.

And Galharrow, oh Galharrow, I did it again folks, I loved him so much, he was such a nice bloke! A true antihero who captured my heart the more I read. A troubled alcoholic, who would give his left leg if it would help someone he cared for. He is loyal to a bloody fault especially to Crowfoot, the Nameless who is in charge of the Blackwing. He has love in his heart, but also hate and sadness and bitterness. He is tortured and angry. He is strong, and weak. He is human.

Ed McDonald has definitely pulled out all the stops with this book and it lives up to all expectations. This is a book for all fantasy fans and should not be missed.

Sending a huge thanks to Ed McDonald and Stevie at Gollancz for the ARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

About Ed McDonald

Ed McDonald has spent many years dancing between different professions, cities and countries, but the only thing any of them share in common is that they have allowed him enough free time to write. He currently lives with his wife in London, a city that provides him with constant inspiration, where he works as a university lecturer. When he’s not grading essays or wrangling with misbehaving plot lines he can usually be found fencing with longswords, rapiers and pollaxes.

Book & Buy Links

TitleBlackwing
SeriesRavens Mark #1
Author: Ed McDonald
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 27 July 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover
Pages: 384
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