Book Review: Half a King

Half a King Half A King

By: Joe Abercrombie

Genres: Fantasy

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…

~From Goodreads

High fantasy series can be very hit or miss. Most series have a similar story structure with similar conflicts and similar characters. I like the familiarity of the genre and don’t mind a little repetitiveness so long as the characters are well written and the story is engaging. After the first couple of chapters of Half a King, I thought this series was going to be a dud. Abercrombie’s writing style is a little clunky and the main character was incredibly unlikable. I decided to stick with it until at least halfway through the book and was glad that I did. By chapter 10, the story did a 180, raising the stakes and thrusting the once unlikable character into a conflict that would mold him into a stronger person.

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Book Review: A Feast for Crows

A Feast for CrowsA Feast for Crows

By: George R.R. Martin

Genres: Fantasy

With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making.

After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it’s not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes…and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.”

~From Goodreads

A Feast for Crows is that weird relation at family parties that no one likes to talk about. Although we know it exists and are occasionally forced to make small talk with it when it is dragged by an aunt into a conversation, for the most part we try our best to ignore it. While I liked the book for its own sake, I do have to admit that it is vastly inferior to the first three books in the series largely because the plot is severely lacking.

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING REVIEW FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T THE FIRST THREE BOOKS.

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Book Review: Uprooted

UprootedUprooted

By: Naomi Novik

Genres: Fantasy, Romance

“‘Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.’

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.”

~From Goodreads

I wasn’t properly prepared when I went into this book. I was expecting something light and fluffy, a fairytale retelling of the Beauty and the Beast that would feed my nostalgia and eventually force me to rewatch the Disney adaptation. What I got instead was a roller coaster ride filled with twists and turns that left me dizzy by the last page. I got a beast that sucked me in on page one and then spit me back out again, leaving me to tend to my feelings in my semi-irrational state. I don’t think I properly have the words to describe how much I love this book so please excuse my lunatic ramblings below.

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Book Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of MidnightCrown of Midnight

By: Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

~From Goodreads

I loved this book. And then halfway through, I loathed it with every fiber of my being. Then, miraculously one would say, Maas somehow managed to make me love it again. I’m not sure, even now, if I’ve properly processed these feelings. I’m very confused. Help!

CAUTION: The Section Below Contains Radioactive Spoilers. Continue At Your Own Risk.

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Book Review: A Clash of Kings

A Clash of KingsA Clash of Kings

By: George R.R. Martin

Genres: Fantasy

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon;who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky;a comet the color of blood and flame;six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard;s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

Audacious, inventive, brilliantly imagined, A Clash of Kings is a novel of dazzling beauty and boundless enchantment;a tale of pure excitement you will never forget.”

~From Goodreads

The night is dark and full of terrors. Martin’s second installment in The Song of Ice and Fire series is darker than its predecessor and there are no more innocents left in his sprawling cast of characters, the Stark children most of all. I enjoyed my second sojourn into A Clash of Kings though it did feel like it took me forever to make it through it; although, that’s mostly because I have the attention span of a peanut and not any fault of the book. Martin introduces one of my favorite characters in this installment while my old favorites have to prove their mettle. Again, the knowledge of what’s to come is bittersweet and made reading certain storylines incredibly painful (cough*Theon*cough), but it was still a fun experience.

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Book Review: A Game of Thrones

A Game of ThronesA Game of Thrones

By: George R.R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

~ From Goodreads

Oh, my sweet summer child! I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to reread this series, but it has been a very bittersweet experience for me. For those of you who have read the books or watched the TV series, you know that The Song of Ice and Fire series is essentially a blood bath. As Cersei Lannister so aptly puts in this installment, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground. Yeah, don’t I know it! Despite the burden of precognition, I’ve found that A Game of Thrones still makes for good reading with excellent character development and a rich world full of promise and history.

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Book Review: Throne of Glass

Throne of GlassThrone of Glass

By: Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes      not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

~From Goodreads

 This review has been long in coming. I finished this book several weeks ago and found that I couldn’t properly articulate what I felt about Maas’s work. With some time and distance from Throne of Glass, I’ve come to the conclusion that, while flawed, it is a superb story. I find that much of the Young Adult genre is hit and miss with me, with its greatest offense being that it offers so much potential and ultimately falls flat. Throne of Glass is the first popular novel I’ve read in a long time that truly lives up to its popularity.

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