Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

In celebration of today’s US release of Traitor’s Blade, I’m reposting my original review with the new cover.

Traitor's Blade

To be honest, you don’t need to look further than the name of the publisher (Jo Fletcher) to know that de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade is an excellent book. Falcio val Mond is First Cantor of the Greatcoats, the now-dead king’s elite justiciars. Since the Dukes usurped the Kingdom of Tristia from King Paelis, the disbanded Greatcoats, mockingly called Trattari, are scant few in numbers and scattered throughout the kingdom. Falcio, alongside his companions and fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, were given one last mission from Paelis before he met his untimely demise. With Falcio’s wit, Kest’s incredible swordsmanship, and Brasti’s unbelievable marksmanship, the three travel in order to complete this final mission.

From the start, it’s pretty easy to see that each of the three are essentially paragons of their aforementioned talents. The book was compared with Dumas’s Three Musketeers, so it’s fairly necessary to begin the book not expecting a serious, grim tale. de Castell did a wonderful job combining humor and seriousness in order to create a fun, fast-paced tale with very few flaws, and Falcio, Kest, and Brasti make the perfect trio.

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The Garden of Stones by Mark T. Barnes

The Garden of StonesThus far, reviews for Mark T. Barnes’s debut, The Garden of Stones have been very divided. Some praise its unique and exotic flair, others grew bored quickly. After a recent slew of favorable reviews, I decided to give it a shot since it was already on my Kindle and cost me nothing but time (although time is becoming increasingly more valuable for me). Upon finishing, I had mixed feelings about the novel as a whole, but there was enough in it to make me want to continue the series.

Corajidin is the rahn, or ruler, of the Great House of Erebus. Due to some mysterious illness, Corajidin’s insides are withering away, and with them, his life. His resident witch tells the dying rahn that he has seen visions of the future – a future where Corajidin will be Asrahn, essentially an elected high king, over the other rahns and the Avan people (a species, not a race) as a whole. Not content with rolling over in the face of this disease, Corajidin’s ambition instead grows  monumentally, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes for these visions to come true. Alongside Corajidin, we see through the eyes of the warrior-mage Indris, member of the rival Great House of Nasarat, who stands in his way. Corajidin’s daughter, the incredibly indecisive Mari, also gets some facetime.

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The Plantagenets by Dan Jones

It was as if Christ and his saints were asleep.

The PlantagenetsThus wrote one of the many authors in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle when describing the dark period in English history known as The Anarchy. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones was actually the first piece of non-fiction that I’ve read for pleasure in quite some time – an issue that will be remedied after finding Jones and several similar authors.

The Plantagenet dynasty began in the middle ages with Geoffrey of Anjou – the Handsome – taking on the name Plantagenet based on his wearing of a blossom of yellow in his hat, of the shrub planta genista in French. Geoffrey’s marriage to Matilda began the rise of one of the most fascinating dynasties in history.  The son of Geoffrey and Matilda, Henry, would go on to become King Henry II and would see England’s territory branch through almost half of France through his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine – an area that would be modernly known as the Angevin Empire.

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Summer Reads!

When I finish a book, I usually spend several days staring at my various collections, musing that I have nothing good to read. Thing is, I have too many good books to read. This list will be an attempt to give me a rough guideline to limit my aimlessness following every book. Do you plan on reading any of them?

Shadows of the Apt – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Heirs of the BladeThe Air WarWar Master's GateSeal of the Worm

(Sorry about the sizes – it claims they’re all equal in size but clearly they’re not)

I can’t tell enough people about Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series. A massive cast of characters done well in a unique world complete with a great magic system and steampunk-style technology. The concluding tenth title, Seal of the Worm, comes out later this summer, and I’m being overly ambitious if I think I can catch up in time (I have the three others pictured to go).

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Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince of FoolsHonorous Jorg Ancr…wait…this isn’t about Jorg. Immediately upon the reveal of the title Prince of Fools, comparisons were drawn between it and Mark Lawrence’s debut, Prince of Thorns. Doubts were cast as to whether Lawrence could write a non-Jorg character or not. Both of them have prince in the title and both feature an eponymous young prince. Surely they must be the same, right? Wrong. The prince in Lawrence’s second series is Jalan Kendeth of the Red March, tenth in line to the throne of his grandmother, the Red Queen. Jalan and Jorg are nothing alike. Where Jorg was an ambitious teenager out for vengeance – and willing to commit all manner of horrors to fulfill his ambition – Jalan is content with boozing, gambling, and womanizing. He’s a man with no ambition of his own, a coward and a lair.

The Red Queen is guided by the unseen (except for few, Jalan included) Silent Sister, and she sees a war looming – an army of undead creatures is on the doorstep of the Red March. Jalan, in his content-with-the-world nature, refuses to believe the rumors, as if doing so would make them untrue. Eventually the truth is forced upon him, and Jalan finds himself attached – bonded even, through dark magic - to Snorri ver Snagason, a massive warrior from the frozen north. Jalan’s cowardly nature has him riding the coattails of Snorri toward the Norseman’s homeland with the hope of breaking the spell that binds them.

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