On My Radar

The Mercenary Code
The Shattering of Kingdoms, Book 1
By Emmet Moss

Break the Code. Shatter the World.

Centuries ago, the murder of a beloved king tore apart the Kingdom of Caledun. The land was plunged into chaos and thousands perished in the aftermath. A new order was established in an attempt to return Caledun to its former glory. It failed, but in its place rose the beginnings of the Code.

During this same period, the mystical caretakers of the Great Wood retreated from the world of Kal Maran, their disappearance an ominous harbinger of the suffering that was to follow. The Great Wood now grows out of control. Cities, towns, and villages have fallen before the relentless march of the forest. Without the former guardians to keep her tame, the wood has become a place of peril, and dark creatures of legend now hunt beneath its leaves.

The summer season is now a time of armed conflict. The fall of the old monarchy has brought about a ceaseless cycle of combat. Grievances are settled by the strict tenets of a binding Mercenary Code and the men who would die to preserve its honour.

However, change is in the air. Political rivalries have escalated, and dire rumblings of a revolution abound. Thrust to the forefront of the shattered land’s politics, a mercenary fights for more than just riches. In the north, a borderland soldier wrestles with his own demons and looks to find his true purpose. And in the shadow of the Great Wood, a young man’s chance encounter with a strange visitor gives hope to a land divided.

This book has been on my radar for a while and is the next (e)book I plan on reading.

I’ve been following Emmet on twitter for a while now, he’s an awesome guy and has foolishly agreed to answer Ten Terrifying Questions – mwhahahahaha!

Stay tuned!

Game of Thrones

No spoilers.

For all of the problems I had with some of the execution of this final season, I am satisfied with the ending.

I am once again looking forward to reading it in the novels – and I haven’t been interested in those since the show overtook them.

Dragon Hunters

Dragon Hunters
Chronicles of the Exile
By Marc Turner

Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass into the Sabian Sea. There, it will be hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles.

Emira Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure as leader of the Storm Lords, but she has no intention of standing down graciously. As part of her plot to hold onto power, she instructs an order of priests known as the Chameleons to sabotage the Dragon Gate. There’s just one problem: that will require them to infiltrate an impregnable citadel that houses the gate’s mechanism a feat that has never been accomplished before.

But Imerle is not the only one intent on destroying the Storm Lord dynasty. As the Storm Lords assemble in answer to a mysterious summons, they become the targets of assassins working for an unknown enemy. And when Imerle sets her scheme in motion, that enemy uses the ensuing chaos to play its hand.

559 pages
Published by Titan Books
Published on February 9th, 2016
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

I purchased this book.

Those of you who have read the preceding volume in this series – When the Heavens Fall – would be forgiven for wondering why this books has none of the characters from book one in it. The only connection between books one and two is the shadowy background presence of the emperor of Erin Elal, a character from the Guardians (like Luker in book one) and one scene with the Goddess known as the Spider.

So if you haven’t read book one you can start here and go back. Or just keep moving forward.

I’ve read some reviews that When the Heaven Fall as more ‘traditional fantasy and Dragon Hunters as more grimdark fantasy. I don’t see that at all. In my opinion Turner is writing neither traditional or grimdark fantasy, but it certainly epic fantasy.

Anyone who has read Steven Erickson’s Malazan Books of the Fallen – or has wanted to but been unable to get past Erickson’s steep learning curve – could easily find a home reading Turner’s work, which I find to be incredibly similar to the Malazan books but much more accessible. Don’t get me wrong, Turner is not copying Erickson – his story is very different and his world almost feels more like Essos, with some Westeros thrown in (Game of Thrones), but has a lot more magic and a meddlesome, greek-like pantheon of gods.

It also has a huge scope. There is a lot floating around in the background. This doesn’t detract from the main story, which focuses very much on the characters and their struggles and ambitions, but rather adds weight to realms and political machinations that are stage the tale is set upon. Also it is at the end of this novel that you finally get an idea of just what the series title ‘The Chronicles of the Exile‘ might be referring to – and I am eager to jump into book 3 to find out more!

Epic in scope and history, Turner writes books filled with characters who jump of the page and has a scene of pace and world-building that ranks him amongst the best fantasy writers around today in my books. This perfect for readers of Erickson, Martin and Staveley.

To Ride Hell’s Chasm

To Ride Hells Chasm
By Janny Wurts

A stand-alone novel – written by Wurts while taking a break from the mammoth Wars of Light and Shadow series – this roller-coaster of intrigue and mystery is not a book you could call a ‘light read’. Set over the period of one week, so much happens in this novel that you question just how much you can fit into one day!

The Kingdom of Sessalie is a land-locked mountain Kingdom that longs for an outlet to the sea. To this end, its King and Chancellor have arranged a marriage for Princess Anja with the High Prince of Devall, which will give Sessalie access to Devall’s seaport, as well as offer a Royal Alliance between the realms. As Devall’s High Prince arrives for his upcoming nuptials, the city opens its arms in welcome and wild celebration. But when Princess Anja suddenly disappears before her betrothal banquet, King Isendon assigns the task of recovering his missing daughter to two men – and for them to determine if she has been kidnapped or has simply run off.

The warriors charged with recovering the kingdom’s beloved daughter are Taskin, Commander of the Royal Guard, and Mykkael, Captain of the Garrison. As the Crown’s right-hand man, Taskin’s competence and lifelong record of service to the Kingdom has earned him the respect and support of the court. Mykkael, though, is a stranger. He is unproven and new to the post of Captain and to the Kingdom itself; though he is a veteran soldier with a legendary reputation in the field of combat, his foreign breeding is held in suspicion by court society.

As the princess’s trail vanishes outside the citadel’s gates, anxiety and tension escalate. Wurts’ masterful use of language, rhythm and pace grabs hold of the reader and doesn’t let go. Mykkael’s investigations lead him to a radical explanation for the mystery, but he finds himself under suspicion from the court factions. It remains to be seen whether Commander Taskin’s famous fair-mindedness will be enough to unravel the truth behind the garrison captainís dramatic theory (that the resourceful, high-spirited princess was not taken by force, but rather fled the palace to escape a demonic evil?).

Wurts’ writing is always multi-layered. On the surface, you have the intriguing mystery and the engaging adventure, as well as vivid descriptions and superb characterisation that create a real world and believable characters. Every character you encounter has their own insight and vision. Limited or experienced, their passionate views and choices are woven seamlessly into the tale, with high-stakes action and more than survival set on the outcome. Below the surface of this high fantasy adventure, there is the opportunity for the reader to explore – in as little or as much depth as they wish – larger questions that are as pertinent to our own society today as they are in this medieval fantasy setting: Where does the right and true course of the warrior lie, when the man bearing both sword and responsible knowledge must tread a collision course between the ethics of human justice and law, when not all things are as they appear and the disappearance of a young princess catapults a small kingdom into a crisis beyond precedent?

This book is a fantastic read. Each time I re-read it, I pick up more. It is also the perfect place for anyone new to Wurts’ writing to jump on board. Enjoy the ride!

Holy Sister

Holy Sister
Book of the Ancestor, Book 3
By Mark Lawrence

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

I love, love, love Mark Lawrence and have since the first day I read Prince of Thorns in 2010. This trilogy cements that for me – which some of you might find strange as it is not a ‘doorstop’ sized epic. But it is – and that might be a lesson for me – because even though the Trade Paperback edition only came in at just over 330 pages, it was packed full of battles and revelations as Lawrence confidently directs his reader through the last book of Nona’s journey.

Part sci-fi, part fantasy (much like The Broken Empire trilogy/setting) Lawrence hints at so much history and back story that he could very well have written a book twice the size and a story that lasted many volumes more. But as he has noted in the past, that’s not the type of writer he wants to be – and props to him for that (although he does write doorstops if the story warrants it) regardless of my own preferences – but he doesn’t have to.

Lawrence has a style that grips your attention utterly and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think the story is going one way, he shifts direction and you drags you along another thread. His magic systems are brilliant and I love how he binds them with science – unlike some writers who do this, it is not a magic by numbers offering, but leans on the more ‘mystical’ theories of quantum mechanics offering something truly unique yet oh so familiar.

Holy Sister is a satisfying conclusion to the Book of the Ancestor trilogy (if trilogy it is, his next book from HarperCollins looks to be set in the same world) and one you are sure to devour. I enjoyed every second in this world and would love to spend more time in the corridor and the amongst the twisting politics of the noble Sis.

Still waters run deep

From the #wip

The Merlai are a seafaring folk. Their ships are the fastest amongst all of the Nine Realms of the Broken Continent.

But the Nine Realms, whose mercantile interests they assist, only know a fraction of the true power of the Merlai.

Founded in the Age of Chaos, after the Sundering that ended the War of the Summoner, the Merlai Islands were formed when the land their forebears lived on became cut off from the rest of Ath’may by rising oceans.

But there are many races on Sobia, and not all of them breath the air of the surface. The ancestors of today’s Merlai found assistance from, and in some aces refuge with, the evay of the oceans. This enabled them to survive when they likely would have perished. These sea evay also taught them how to build the ships they still use today, making them the faster, human, riders of the waves in Ath’may.