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Tag Archives: dark fantasy

The City Stained Red – Sam Sykes

Synopsis:

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.

And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

“Your world is breaking around you,” He Who Makes says, “let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.”

Review:

Everything I had read about The City Stained Red, stated that this series could be read apart from Sykes’s original seires. My advice… Don’t. There are things that will be quite confusing at first. They do get fleshed out later on, but I do wish I had taken the time to read some of the one or two star reviews. Then, I would have known this. I disagreee with the one and two star reviews, but they do mention that.

I first heard of Sam Sykes via Twitter. After following him for almost a month, I couldn’t wait to pick up something he’d written. I was not disappointed. His quick wit and humor come across well in his novels. I enjoyed having serious moments broken up by slapstick.

His characters are quite the rag-tag bunch. I enjoyed getting to know them all individually. However, I do wish there would have been mention of perspective change, i.e. chapter titles with new perspective’s name. It broke pace when the first thing written was “she” coming out of a male perspective.

It was interesting seeing a male character driven by motivations mainly left to female characters in the past. Lenk is a hopeless romantic in many ways. His desire to see his world changed and his motivations for doing so were all centered around his lady-love, Kataria. When they are apart, he morns the loss, literally.

I also enjoyed the many and diverse battles going on within the city. It seemed very human to have so much going on. Not one major battle (as is the case with most novels/stories) but many small interspersing prejudices and bigotries. Humans don’t like oids, the different factions of the city don’t get along, the many faith’s argue over their differences. It is a “city stained red” in so many ways.

Quotes:

“A pair of the shirtless men drew back the curtains to expose what appeared to be something between a man, a grub, and a pillow that couldn’t quite make up its mind.”

-Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red

“It’s a demon, Dread. What the hell are you hoping to do to it?’

He closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath.

‘Oh, you know.’

When he opened them, they were alive with bright red light.

‘Stuff.”

– Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red

“And a certain level of nonchalance was required ot the woman who may or may not have just inadvertently started a war.”

– Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red

Recommendations:

Black Wolves – Kate Elliot

Beyond Redemption – Michael R. Fletcher

Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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In the Company of the Dead – Ciara Ballintyne

Synopsis:

Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.

Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

Copied from Goodreads.

Review:

So, let me start this review by saying, I do not like when a romance takes over the plot of a fantasy novel. It drives me crazy. I feel like, if this is the case, it should at least be in the synopsis so I don’t waste my time. However, this novel gave me enough action to keep going.

I absolutely loved Lyram’s story. His exile, the betrayal, the political intrigue, all were done quite well. I also loved his character. He is everything you expect of a military man, duty, honor, sacrifice. He is kind and loyal. He does let past hurts (and that’s putting it lightly) get in the way of his motivations at times, but he remains just in doing so.

I adore a strong female character, but Ellaeva fell a bit short for me. While she endures many hardships, there were times I couldn’t even feel sorry for her. She became a product of circumstance and that made her less than heroic. At times I began to feel as if she were a petulant adolescent. Or, simply, a stereotypical female. That being said, I did like her, just not as much as I had hoped. 

The one thing that stood above all else in this story (and may have brought a tear, or two, to my eye) was the profound relationships between Lyram and his advisors. These men knew the army commander and the exile and still they followed him without hesitation. They adored him and he them. 

While the entirety of this novel lays on the plot of one siege, the story flows well and has enough background to keep the reader immersed. She fleshes out the characters through examination of circumstance. I enjoyed learning about the character’s pasts while the story played out.

No Quotes, NetGalley ARC

Recommendations:

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

Dark Witch – Nora Roberts

Lord of Snow and Shadows – Sara Ash

Daughter of the Blood – Anne Bishop


 
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Posted by on June 17, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Snakewood – Adrian Selby

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Synopsis:

Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through cunning, alchemical brews, and cold steel. Whoever met their price won.
Now, their glory days behind them, scattered to the wind, and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated one by one. 
A lifetime of enemies has its own price. 
Adrian Selby brings us into an unforgettable new world filled with magic, mystery, intrigue, bloodshed and betrayal.

Review:

OH. THE. DISAPPOINTMENT.

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. I was super thrilled when I received an ARC through NetGalley. I couldn’t wait to jump right in. However, the excitement was quickly overtaken by sheer confusion. The book didn’t make any sense. Who are these people? What’s going on? Why do I care? These were my thoughts through most of the book and by the time I figured out the answer to my first two questions, I really didn’t care. The book is so haphazard, no real plot structure, no real story, no characters to love or love to hate…

No quotes, due to the fact that this was an ARC.

Recommendations:

The Night Angel Trilogy – Brent Weeks

The Mistborn Trilogy – Brandon Sanderson

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Authors I Love – Jeanne Kalogridis

Take a walk on the dark side with me.

I am a huge fan of the darker characters that Jeanne Kalogridis  takes on. I love how deeply she delves into the history of a person and it blows my mind every time.

I will warn you, her books are not for the faint of heart, they are not for the prude, and the are not for the easily offended. Her dark characters do dark things and her plot lines twist and the people she writes about border on the insane.

dracul

Covenant with the Vampire (The Diaries of the Family Dracul #1) by Jeanne Kalogridis

This is one of my favorite vampire series’. It is undeniably dark and sucks you in from the very beginning.
A sensual, terrifying, incredibly accomplished first novel, this fascinating prequel to the classic and most popular horror novel of all time, Dracula, focuses on Dracula’s great-nephew, who inherits the job of managing his great-uncle’s estate…and his appetite. Written in diary form as Draculais, this compulsively readable book has revelations that will shock and delight readers of the original. More erotic than Anne Rice, Kalogridis is a major new voice in vampire fiction. The first chilling tale in an exciting new trilogy is a rich and terrifying historical novel set fifty years before the opening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. At the castle of Prince Vlad Tsepesh, also known as Dracula, Vald’s great-nephew Arkady is honored to care for his beloved though strange great-uncle…until he beings to realize what is expected of him in his new role. It seems that either he provides his great-uncle with unsuspecting victims to satisfy his needs, or Vlad will kill those Arkady loves. He is trapped into becoming party to murder and sadistic torture. And it is in his blood. When Arkady learns that his newborn son is being groomed one day to follow in his footsteps, he knows that he must fight Dracula, even if it means death.
*Copied from Goodreads.
borgia

The Borgia Bride byJeanne Kalogridis

Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. Surrounded by the city’s opulence and political corruption, she befriends her glamorous and deceitful sister-in-law, Lucrezia, whose jealousy is as legendary as her beauty. Some say Lucrezia has poisoned her rivals, particularly those to whom her handsome brother, Cesare, has given his heart. So when Sancha falls under Cesare’s irresistible spell, she must hide her secret or lose her life. Caught in the Borgias’ sinister web, she summons her courage and uses her cunning to outwit them at their own game. Vividly interweaving historical detail with fiction, The Borgia Bride is a richly compelling tale of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, loyalty, and drama. *Copied from Goodreads.

monalisa

The handsome Giuliano de’ Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence’s magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa.

More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths. Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano’s nephew and namesake. But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life.

Set against the drama of 15th Century Florence, I, Mona Lisa is painted in many layers of fact and fiction, with each intricately drawn twist told through the captivating voice of Mona Lisa herself. *Copied from Goodreads.

burning
And this is my all time favorite of hers.
Mother Marie Francoise, born Sybille, is a midwife with a precocious gift for magic — a gift that makes her a prime target for persecution at the hands of the Church. She flees her village and takes refuge in a Franciscan sisterhood. Before long, Sybille’s unusual powers bring her under the scrutiny of the Inquisition. Michel, a pious and compassionate monk sent to hear her confession, finds himself drawn more intimately into Sybille’s life and destiny than either of them could have imagined.
Like a magician herself, Jeanne Kalogridis weaves a tale of star-crossed love, of faith and heresy, of mysticism and witchcraft, against a fascinating historical backdrop — the Black Death, the Hundred Years’ War, and the catastrophic defeat of France at the hands of the English. The result is a page-turning novel about one of the most intriguing periods in history. *Copied from Goodreads.
These aren’t all of her works, just my favorite. Feel free to click on her name to see her Goodreads profile and explore her works further.
 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence

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Synopsis:

Prince Jorg has seen all too much in his short years. Having witnessed the rape and murder of his mother and young brother, while going through his own torture, something inside the young boy has snapped and since a child he has had nothing on his mind but revenge.

Review:

I want to start off this review by saying that I truly wanted to love this book. I had heard so many great things about it but it fell a little short for me. I liked it but I couldn’t say it would make any favorites list, all I can truly hope for is that the following books get better.

Issue number one, I could not connect or even care for (either love or hate) the main character Prince Jorg. I honestly felt nothing for him the entire book. It was almost like Lawrence made me feel as if I was the sociopath. I knew this kid was doing things that were evil but I also knew there was something so broken about him that he honestly didn’t care. I almost wish he would have enjoyed the things he was doing so I could hate him but it all seemed to be a means to an end.

Second issue, so I couldn’t connect with the main character, usually there is at least one character that I can say, “I like her” or “I like him”… or, in the case of Joe Abercrombie “I hate you all and you all are pieces of crap”. I just wish there were some kind of emotional response to the book. But it left me going “Meh…”

Third and largest issue, there seemed to be no real motivation for anything done in the novel. Jorg’s whims being apeesed? A spoiled prince always getting his way no matter the outcome? I just didn’t get that his revenge could carry him as far as it did. Maybe I missed something but it just didn’t pan out in the end for me.

But enough ranting, I liked it, I will read the rest of the series but I do hope these issues are addressed in the next book…

Favorite Quotes:

“Tell me, tutor,’ I said. ‘Is revenge a science, or an art?”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“Most men have at least one redeeming feature. Finding one for Brother Rike requires a stretch. Is ‘big’ a redeeming feature?”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“Anything that you cannot sacrifice pins you. Makes you predictable, makes you weak.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“Lucifer spoke thus. Pride took him from heaven, though he sat at God’s right hand.’ Her voice grew faint, the hint of a whisper. ‘In the end pride is the only evil, the root of all sins.’
‘Pride is all I have.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“You got responsibilities when you’re a leader. You got a responsibility not to kill too many of your men. Or who’re you going to lead?”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“The way to break the cycle is to kill every single one of the bastards that fucked you over. Every last one of them. Kill them all. Kill their mother, kill their brothers, kill their children, kill their dog.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“I think maybe we die every day. Maybe we’re born new each dawn, a little changed, a little further on our own road. When enough days stand between you and the person you were, you’re strangers. Maybe that’s what growing up is. Maybe I have grown up.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.” I looked into my own darkness. I knew what it was to be trapped, and to watch ruination. “Each day the memories weigh a little heavier. Each day they drag you down that bit further. You wind them around you, a single thread at a time, and you weave your own shroud, you build a cocoon, and in it madness grows.” The lights pulsed beneath my fingers, ebbing and flowing to the beat of my voice. “You sit here with your yesterdays queuing at your shoulder. You listen to their reproach and curse those that gave you life.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“It never pays to walk blindly. Especially not in your own castle where familiarity hides so much – even when we have the eyes to see.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“It was a defeat, resorting to crude threats in a game of subtlety, but sometimes one must sacrifice a battle to win the war.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“She gave me a smile that left me wondering if I wanted to slap it off her, or kiss it.”
― Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

Recommendations:

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

The Night Angel Trilogy – Brent Weeks

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

The Warded Man – Peter V. Brett

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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