Rojan Dizon Trilogy by Francis Knight – Series review

This fantasy trilogy has one of the most original settings I have read. Here is my review of The Rojan Dizon trilogy by Francis Knight.

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Completed

Books in series

Book 1 : Fade to Black

Book 2:  Before the Fall

Book 3 : Last to Rise

Mahala is a vertical city with a complex past with a unique source of power Previously mages ran the city but were overthrown and now pain-magic is banned.  Rojan Dixon has to hide his magic but when he asked by his brother to find a missing child , he may have to come out into the open and in the process expose the truth about Mahala

Another fantasy series I read years ago and absolutely loved.

The world- building in these books was one of the most original at the time I read this, Mahala is city built vertically with poorer people on the lower levels and the powerful on the top levels closer to the sun and light. The reason for its strange construction and the unique source of fuel that powers the city is revealed in the later books of the trilogy. But this strange construction affects the societal hierarchy and the injustice and discrimination some people have to face.

Dixon, the antihero of this trilogy, is an initially unlikeable hero but over the course of the three books his character development and arc is believable particularly with a heart-breaking finish to the trilogy.

The magical system isn’t particularly unique but the way this is demonised and exploited in the books was interesting and different.

I had initially read the second book, Before the Fall, first but this made no difference to my enjoyment of the book or trilogy. Each book has its unique own plot and storyline but interlink perfectly with each other to complete the overall story arc.

There is plenty of action, magic, and romance to satisfy most fantasy fans.

Perfect for fans of

Fans of urban fantasy featuring anti- heroes and strangely built cities.

The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben Winters- Series review

It has been a while since I posted a series review. The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben Winters is one that I still think about even though I read these books  ages ago.

Books in series (completed)

The Last Policeman

Countdown City

World of trouble

Review

Detective Hank Palace just wants to do his job- solve crime but he is hampered by the impeding destruction of earth by an asteroid hurtling to earth.

The books focus on Hank’s obsession to getting the job done particularly in the first book. The Last Policeman features a suicide that Hank is convinced is murder and the book follows a typical murder mystery until we find out why. The other two books focus on Hank trying to find his missing sister- his last case and an asteroid will not get in his way.

The book has an apocalyptic event in the background, rumbling ever closer to the destruction of earth. There are no last-ditch attempts to save earth or escape earth just the total acceptance that this is the end. While the books focus is on Hank’s investigation, there are vivid descriptions of a world on the brink of destruction and how society adapts to this. Hank meets various people – some trying to take advantage of the situation, others bunking down with their families and friends, those who keep going as normal and those who have turned feral.

While the books have dark themes there is sense of optimism particularly in how most people will try to help each other. I have thought back to these books as the pandemic unfolded and it does feel the author has captured how humanity reacts to terrible situations.

Hank is the person holding the stories and books together- a decent cop, a decent brother and friend but most of a decent human being.

There is no magical solution at the end but despite this the end of the series made sense and celebrates all that is good about humanity- I confess to shedding a few tears at the end.

Content warning

Violence,descriptions of suicide

Summary

This trilogy would appeal to anyone who loves a good murder mystery and to those who like a bit apocalyptic doom.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman Book vs TV series review (Spoiler free)

What if Narnia was real and discovered by Magicians. Read my review of the fantasy series, The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Genre: Fantasy

Books in series( complete)

Book 1: The Magicians

Book 2 : The Magician King

Book 3: The Magician’s Land

Book series review

I first read The Magicians almost a decade ago when I saw a tagline- Harry Potter goes to college- and had to read it. I finished the first book and while I didn’t dislike the book, I didn’t love it either and didn’t bother with the sequels until watched the TV show ( more on that later). I reread the first book before reading the sequels but while I enjoyed the first book a lot more as well as the sequels, don’t think this is a series I would read again.

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The Expanse by S.A Corey- Series review

I can’t wait till the last book in The Expanse series by S.A Corey is due to be released in November . This is a series with space battles, political intrigue, alien tech, romance, dystopia, dictators, evil scientists and unique characters like my favourite foul-mouthed politician Chrisjen Avarsala.

Review

Genre: Science fiction

First book: Levithan Rises  

Last book :Tiamat’s wrath

I’m embarrassed to say I started reading the books in this series after watching the first few episodes of the TV series.  I can’t believe I walked past these amazing books in bookshops that started me off reading space operas and harder science fiction.

The Expanse is set in the future where our Earth is overpopulated and Mars has been colonised but over the years the tensions between Mars and  Earth have reached a point where war could break out. The belt which lies between Mars and Earth has been established to service the ships travelling between the two planets but the Belters, the people who have adapted over generations to live in space resent Mars and Earth and are ready to revolt.

Amid all this simmering tension,  the Canterbury, an Icehauling ship is attacked setting off a chain of events and thrusts a crewmember, Holden, into the spotlight and into a hero the universe didn’t know it needed.

Continue reading “The Expanse by S.A Corey- Series review”

The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett- Review of a series that fantasy fans should read ( if they haven’t already).

It’s time for my annual re-read of The Lymond Chronicles, a historical fiction series by Dorothy Dunnett that remains popular despite being first published in 1961. Game of Kings, the first book in the series is one of the hardest and most difficult books I have ever read but while it takes time and effort to read all the books in this series, the reward is well worth it. Francis Crawford of Lymond is a truly unforgettable character that has been much imitated in fantasy fiction.




Books in series
The Game of kings( review here)
Queen’s Play( review here)
The disorderly knights (Review here)
Pawn in Frankincense( Review here)
The ringed castle (Review here)
Checkmate ( review here)

Review ( Spoiler free)

I will be honest, I gave up reading the first book in the series, about 150 pages into the Game of Kings. The first few chaotic chapters with a possibly drunken pig, people speaking in poetry, the splattering of French and other languages takes some getting used to. Dorothy Dunnett makes no allowances for the reader with limited French and no explanations for  Lymond’s rotten behaviour at the start of the book. So, I gave up.

But then, I was on holiday and had finished all my books and had only this partially left book on my kindle as reading material. But this time, I was hooked by the story and the characters especially Francis of Lymond. I ended up reading the entire series in days.

Overriding story arc

The books ( titles based on chess moves ) follows Francis Crawford of Lymond, Master of Culter over a period of ten years in a tumultuous and eventful period of Scottish and English history ( ten years before Elizabeth the first ascends to the throne). Francis in the course of these books plays fugitive, spy, mercenary, courtier, politician, hero and villain. The books cleverly intertwine real history with historical characters into Francis’s story.

Continue reading “The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett- Review of a series that fantasy fans should read ( if they haven’t already).”

The ( Charlie) Parker Series by John Connolly- Series Review

Genre – Crime ,magical realism

First Book Every Dead thing

Number of Books to Date (2021) 18

The Charlie Parker books by John Connolly blend crime with strong supernatural making this a unique and riveting series for both crime ,urban fantasy buffs or anyone looking for a different twist to their crime thrillers.

Review

I first picked up the first Charlie Parker book, Every Dead Thing, in an airport 15 year ago and have enjoyed every harrowing book since then. This series is an indescribable blend of crime, thriller and the supernatural with one of my  favourite fictional characters.

 Charlie Parker is a grizzly, grumpy, loner detective who starts off as a young New York Detective mourning the gruesome murders of his wife and daughter. We see him become a wiser( but still grumpy)private detective who has a group of loyal friends and allies  as very well as a father to a gifted daughter.

The Good

 Each book can be read as a standalone but there are so many recurring themes and characters and you would lose out on the big picture if these books aren’t read in order. Parker is a fascinating character and there is a specialness about him, his past and his family that each book slowly reveals particularly when his second daughter is born. His tenaciousness and unwillingness to give up fighting evil no matter the cost is the core of good and hope that runs through these books. The vast number of secondary characters that recur through the book are interesting in their own right especially Louis and Angel ( who get a book of their own too).

Continue reading “The ( Charlie) Parker Series by John Connolly- Series Review”

Series Review-Anita Blake Vampire Hunter

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series ( with  Spoilers)

Author Laurel Hamilton

Genre : Urban Fantasy

The first book in the series: Guilty Pleasures

I love books in series-. I can’t describe the joy of jumping into a new book but knowing about the main characters  – their strengths and weaknesses, their unique personality quirks, their loves and enemies. I enjoy picking up in a world that is familiar with secondary characters you have grown to love just as much as the hero or heroine over the course of several books. But most of all, I like the fact that I know exactly what I am letting myself in for when I start reading the first chapters- no nasty surprises.

So when I read Book 10, Narcissus in Chains, of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, I thought I had picked up a book from a parallel universe and remains one of the biggest disappointments in my book reading life.

While I understand that a character can’t stand still over a period of a time particularly in a long standing series but a complete change  personality and morality is a little hard to accept.

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Series review:The Tarot Sequence by K.D Edwards

Author: K.D Edwards

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Books in series

The Last Sun

The hanged man

Story arc

The inhabitants of Atalanta have been forced out of their homeland to create a new city called New Atlantis when the humans discovered their existence and, of course, declared war. The city is ruled by the Arcana, based on the tarot cards ( or were the Tarot cards based one on leaders of Atlantis!)  with their own courts and powers. Rune St John is the Last Sun, the sole survivor of the House of Sun after a devasting attack on his father, his father’s court when Rune was fifteen. Rune was left alive but only after surviving a deliberately brutal ordeal. Now Rune, works with the Tower a powerful Aracana  along with his companion Brand, with diminished resources before he takes his place on the Arcana while trying to solve the mystery of why and who attached him and his family twenty years ago

I had lost interest in urban fantasy, as many of the books followed the same old pattern, the snarky main character, sexual tension with the antagonist, well you know the drill but while this series still has the snarky main character, there is so much more that is different. The magic system based on Tarot cards and magic linked to objects is fresh but there are other magical creatures as well, some old and some new. I like books with political intrigue and the second book delivers this with plenty of court drama amongst the action. There is an overlying mystery as to who the person coordinating all the evil including the night of the brutal attack on Rune and the mystery of what  Rune did that night.

The friendship between Brand and Rune is well written and intense with a good explanation as to why it is. There is also a sweet romance between Rune and Addam, a Lord from another Arcana that Rune rescues from peril but this is not the focus of the book which is good as I do lose interest when romance and sexual tension takes centre stage in a non-romance book. The humour is provided by the younger characters- Quinn, Max and later Anna in book two.

The plots in the books race along with the action scenes leaping off the page with a good dose of magic but there are enough quieter scenes that made me care about all the characters

The books are predominantly filled with strong and sensitive diverse male characters of all ages but there are no equivalent female characters particularly in the first book. This is addressed to some degree in the second book and hopefully, we will see more of Lady Death, Anna and Anna’s companion.

Content warning

I found Rune’s flashback to his brutal rape when he was fifteen a bit too graphic and while I can under the need for this scene in the first book to show his motives for revenge, it still made it difficult to  read

Cliffhangers

No, but there is an overriding mystery as to the evil arcana who is pulling the strings causing havoc in Rune’s life.

Perfect for Fans

The Dresden files, Fetch Phillips, Rivers of London or any urban fantasy with a male main character

Summary

Five stars- I can’t wait till to read the next instalment The Hourglass Throne to find out what happens next.

Series review- Mistborn Trilogy

Author Brandon Sanderson

Genre Epic fantasy

Type Trilogy

I have been an obsessed reader of fantasy and sci-fiction for years particularly those books that form part of a series- books with their own worlds, universes and intricate magical systems. But I stayed from a few well-known authors that I thought were a bit too sword and sorcery and this included the famous Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson even though  I loved his Reckoners series. I finally picked up the Final Empire a few weeks and have to agree this is a book ( and trilogy ) that lives up to the hype.

The overriding story arc

This is the story of Vin and Keisler with their dedicated friends whose initial goal is to start a revolution to free the Skaa (an almost slave like population) from the Lord Ruler and the nobility. The Lord Ruler had defeated an evil called the Deepness but keeps his empire under his tight control. He has rewarded his allies and their descendants with magical abilities derived from the ability to burn metals called Alllomancy- people with the ability to burn one metal are called mistlings and the rarest of them all is The Mistborn, someone who can use all metals. Vin is possibly the most powerful Mistborn of them all and possibly the only one who can save the empire from the Lord Ruler and the evil he once defeated.

The good.

I loved the fact the three books had completely different themes. The Final Empire describes what happens when a beloved ruler becomes a tyrant and how to start a revolution. The Well of Ascension describes the aftermath of a just revolution, and how overthrowing an existing order isn’t always the answer and the Hero of Ages describes the sacrifices a leader has to make to keep his people safe.

Vin, a half skaa girl and Mistborn is the main character of all the books and we follow her journey from an abused teenager to a confident, leader. There are several interesting characters and my favourites are Keisler, Spook and Sazed. We also follow Elend, a young noble who dreams of utopia but finds that the reality of power completely different.

The magical system in the Mistborn series is intricate with its own rules and systems. Readers are rewarded in the Hero of Ages,  origins of the system are shared as are the origins of the Kandra, Mistwraiths and Koloss and it makes perfect sense.

I always appreciate authors who reward readers who pay attention to detail and foreshadowing in the first books in a series and then explain why a certain object like a single earing was so important in the last book and this series does this by the bucketful.

The bad

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