Sometimes, I worry that I’m not the hero everyone thinks I am. . . .First line in The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
May has been a bit of a tough one for me. I was extremely busy at work for the last half of the month, so I often felt too tired to read when I got home. However, what I managed to read was quite amazing. I ended on a total of 5 books. All fantasy. All sequels (beware of spoilers for the previous books in the synopsis). Let’s talk about them.
The King of Attolia (Book 3 in The Queen’s Thief)
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Genre: YA Fantasy
My rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis: (SPOILERS for the first two books in the series) By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.
Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides (Goodreads).
I adore Eugenides. That’s it. Well, I love other aspects of the series as well but mainly Eugenides. He’s such a layered character and I feel like each book in the series adds to his complexity. In this third book, he’s not the POV character but we get to observe him through another. It’s an interesting idea but I think that might have been what hindered my enjoyment of the book. We sort of start over with a completely new character, Costis, and I found that I didn’t really connect with him. He became too much of an observer and lacked some personality in my opinion.
The plot that he observes, however, is just as great as in The Queen of Attolia (my favorite in the series). The political scheming is elaborate and so well hidden that you can’t possibly figure it out. Not that you don’t get hints, but Turner writes them so well in between the lines that you think you know, but you don’t. I will continue with the series.
The Obelisk Gate (Book 2 in The Broken Earth)
Author: N. K. Jemisin
My rating: 3 stars
Synopsis: The season of endings grows darker as
civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman,
world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor,
Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.
It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken (Goodreads).
Let me start by saying that I’m not positive this series is for me. I think the plot is quite interesting and there are many thought-provoking statements in there that are relevant to our real world. The world is vast and detailed which I appreciate. I enjoy reading worlds and feeling like the author has thought of everything which is the case in The Broken Earth.
My main critique of the series is the writing style. It just really puts me off to be reading from a second-person perspective. Sometimes, it was also very confusing to me whose perspective I was actually reading from and it prevented me from being immersed in the story. On top of that, the magic system is a bit difficult to understand so I spent a lot of time being frustrated by it.
So, my problems with this book are mainly of a personal preference so I wouldn’t call it a bad book. I would still recommend people to read the series if they find the synopsis interesting.
Before the Devil Breaks You (Book 3 in The Diviners)
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: YA historical fantasy
My rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: After battling a sleeping sickness, The Diviners are up against a group of new and malevolent foes–ghosts! Out in Ward’s Island sits a mental hospital full of lost souls from people long forgotten. Ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the Man in the Stovepipe Hat also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over New York City, the Diviners must band together and brave the ghosts haunting the asylum to bring down the King of Crows (Goodreads).
I listened to this as an audiobook and let me tell you: I’m NOT an audiobook person. Somehow though, this really worked for me. I normally have difficulties staying focused on the audiobook as my mind tend to wander. Before the Devil Breaks You managed to keep my attention because the narrator was really good and also because the writing just kept me interested. Bray manages to create suspense and an eerie atmosphere in such a unique way, especially through her chapters from non-main-characters. The setting being in the 1920’s is just a genius move and she literally makes you feel like you’re actually there. The only thing I disliked has to do with the characters. All the characters are amazing and so well thought out and developed but there are a lot of them. There isn’t time to follow everyone and in this book it’s especially obvious how some characters take a backseat and are just there when they are needed by the others. Over all though, it’s a book and a series that I really enjoy reading and I need the fourth book right this second.
A Dance with Dragons (Book 5 in A Song of Ice and Fire)
Author: George R. R. Martin
My rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all (Goodreads).
This book is a step up from the previous book, A Feast for Crows, which I really didn’t care for. The stakes seem higher in this one although not a lot of action happens. It’s a slow build-up and development of these exceptionally gray characters and I love it. Even the characters that I don’t really like, I love as characters. Martin can also make me care immensely about even minor characters through a single chapter while keeping it relevant to the plot. In short, his character work gets a 5 star rating.
I’m still not a huge fan of his writing style which is why I haven’t given any of the books in the series 5 stars. It’s very dense and (unnecessarily) detailed. However, I’m a fan of everything else about these books and I will keep reading them.
Red Seas under Red Skies (Book 2 in Gentleman Bastard)
Author: Scott Lynch
My rating: 4.5 stars
Synopsis: After a brutal battle with the underworld, Locke and his sidekick, Jean, fled to the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But they are soon back to what they do best–stealing from the rich and pocketing the proceeds. Now, however, they have targeted the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the world’s most exclusive, most heavily guarded gambling house. But there is one cardinal rule: it is death to cheat at any game.
Brazenly undeterred, Locke and Jean have orchestrated an elaborate plan to lie, trick, and swindle their way straight to the Sinspire’s teeming vault. But someone knows the duo’s secret–and has every intention of making them pay for their sins (Goodreads).
THIS FRIENDSHIP! I can’t express how much I appreciate the friendship between Locke and Jean. It’s tender. It’s caring. It’s something I’ve never seen in books between two male friends. To other authors: please copy this.
While Locke and Jean are the highlights for me in this book, the plot is almost equally amazing. It’s so complex and just keeps you hooked because you want to know how it all resolves. Sprinkled through it all are lessons in piracy and moments of humor. I personally appreciated the role of cats in this book. It literally made me laugh out loud several times.
I had a minor problem with the writing. It appears very important to Lynch to describe every outfit of every character in great detail. I understand that it adds to the atmosphere and environment they are in, but I often caught myself thinking: “Okay I get it. Can we move on now?”
It’s a small thing so I still absolutely adore these books and everyone who likes fantasy should read them.
Those were all the books I read in May. Have you read any of them? Or maybe intended to read them?
Hope you’re having a perfect day. I’ll be back again with another post very soon.