Tag Archives: giants

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc A Muddle of Magic – Book 2 of the Fledgling Magic series by Alexandra Rushe

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One of my book blogging buddies was looking forward to this one (sorry – I can’t remember who!) so I nipped across and requested it, not realising – again – that it was the second book in the series.

What’s a nice Southern girl doing in a place like this?
Whisked from humdrum Alabama to the fantastical land of Tandara by a mage who won’t take no for an answer, Raine Stewart finds herself tangled in a muddle of magic. A Dark Wizard is out for her blood, a demonic golem has orders to dispatch her . . . and she stinks at magic. Being a wizard, even a baby wizard, is harder than Raine thought.

This is an amazingly rich, detailed world – and I was a bit more adrift than was ideal, given I hadn’t read the first book. But this portal fantasy adventure was great fun with a wealth of magical beings – there are dragons, giants, a rich variety of trolls and fairies, wizards, seers, ghosts and shape-shifters. I enjoyed Raine’s character and while there were times she was a bit overwhelmed, she mostly coped with the major culture shock extremely well. Since she arrived in this fantasy world, she has managed to make a number of friends with some powerful beings – sufficiently successfully so as to draw down some very unwelcome attention from a powerful dark wizard. So with a huge price on her head, she is also having to be continually guarded – which she finds especially irksome, given that before she was yanked into this portal world, she was an invalid with a poor prognosis.

While the adventure is mostly in Raine’s viewpoint, there were moments when suddenly we would get someone else’s pov, which I found a bit jarring. That niggle aside, I really enjoyed this world. It is very much a classical fantasy adventure in the Tolkien tradition with a rich variety of different creatures and Rushe is deft at giving us plenty of description without holding up the pace too much. I loved her serpent Flame, while the puzzles surrounding a number of the other main characters kept me turning the pages and enlivened a long train journey.

There was plenty of snark and humour thrown in amongst the plots, kidnappings, brutal fights, snooty courtiers and lantern-jawed heroes. My favourite is probably Gertie, the foul-mouthed, drink-loving troll who takes Raine under her protection and is full of smart-mouthed opinions about the outraged courtiers and haughty queen who hates her. And in amongst the banter and nonsense, there are some poignant moments of loss and heartache in the form of unrequited love and a desperately unhappy marriage.

I’m impressed that Rushe has managed to pack so much vividness and detail into a book just shy of 400 pages – she achieves this by also ensuring the pace keeps moving forward as fantastical creatures, magic artefacts and scheming wizards spin through her story. And there might be a muddle of magic – but there is nothing muddled about the storytelling. While I obtained an arc of A Muddle of Magic from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10

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Review of KINDLE Ebook A Plague of Giants – Book 1 of the Seven Kennings series by Kevin Hearne

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I loved Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series – you can check out my review of Hounded. So when I heard that he had embarked on an epic fantasy, I was intrigued.

In the city of Pelemyn, Fintan the bard takes to the stage to tell what really happened the night the giants came . . . From the east came the Bone Giants, from the south, the fire-wielding Hathrim – an invasion that sparked war across the six nations of Teldwen. The kingdom’s only hope is the discovery of a new form of magic that calls the world’s wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind.

What do you do if you wish to portray your epic world through the eyes of eleven protagonists? Well… there is always the George R.R. Martin option, I suppose. But Hearne has gone for a different approach – he has a bard with a magical ability to take the shape and persona of the characters, who then tells their slice of the adventure to a city of refugees caught up in the war. It’s a nifty device to sidestep the problem of trying to get the reader to keep track of exactly who is doing what to whom – especially as at the start of each performance, the bard tells the audience who will be introducing the character who will be taking the stage.

Does Hearne succeed? I’ll be honest – A Plague of Giants took some time to grow on me. Himself immediately was drawn into the world and kept imploring me to keep going, not that I was tempted to DNF it – the writing is too good, for starters. But I was about 20% into the story before the world seeped into my bones and I was reaching for my Kindle with eagerness. Once I was familiar with the cast of characters and the narrative had taken root, I was won over. Because of the structure, this epic fantasy is completely character-driven and I’m a real sucker for character-driven plots.

As we drew closer to the climax, I was holding my breath because we already knew that the giants had very little wriggle-room – they couldn’t return to their homeland due to the volcanic eruption devastating their island. And because a significant number of the giants also wielded fire as their kenning (read magical talent) they were lethal. I also have to warn you that not all the eleven protagonists survive to the end of the story – I was shocked to discover who doesn’t make it and the manner of their death. Inevitably, the story is somewhat fragmented, given it is told piecemeal by a variety of characters – some of them not human. But I grew to really enjoy this world and the diversity of species who are caught up in the conflict caused by the giants’ invasion.

The ending was suitably dramatic and despite the book being 600+ pages, when I got to the end I was genuinely sorry this instalment of the tale was over. While I’m aware that there has been a mixed reception to this one, if you enjoy well-written epic fantasy that gives an insight into the political machinations as well as plenty of action, both military and magical, then go looking for this one. While I can’t guarantee you’ll love it – if it does tick your box, you’ll really, really thank me.
9/10

Sunday Post – 19th November 2017

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

I’m beginning to sound like a cracked record… yes – you’ve guessed it – it was another busy week… Oscar’s party last Sunday evening was delightful – it was lovely watching him discuss all his Lego projects and watch him open his presents and card.

I was teaching Monday and Tuesday – both Creative Writing courses for the Spring term at Northbrook are now full and the Summer term for my Monday course is also full with a waiting list. On Wednesday, as J was also off work, we had lunch at The Arun View with my sister – it was lovely to see her fit enough to go out and about again. On Thursday evening I popped over to do a rehearsal session with a couple of the actors in Tim’s film for a crucial, rather emotional film and then onwards to Writing Group. Though none of us had any writing… Still, it was lovely to catch up with everyone and talk through our various projects, though I’m now wondering why the idiot wearing my body thought it a good idea to bring out Dying for Space this side of Christmas.

On Friday I was teaching again – and then I spent the evening at my sister’s putting the world to rights as she cooked us a delicious meal. On Saturday we were back together again as we went up to The George at Burpham and had a lovely meal with Mum and Dad to celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary – 45 years – what an achievement! Afterwards, I drove over to Lancing to pick up the grandchildren. Oscar is returning home this evening, but as Frances has an INSET day, she will be returning home on Monday evening.

Today, Frances and I have been in the middle of Bognor, filming the final scenes for Tim’s film which we have now finally finished. It’s been great fun, but the sense of relief that the filming phase is now over is huge… I cannot get over the weather today after the cold, rainy Saturday we endured – as with every single filming day we have done, it has been bright and sunny all day.

This week I have read:

A Plague of Giants – Book 1 of the Seven Kennings series by Kevin Hearne
In the city of Pelemyn, Fintan the bard takes to the stage to tell what really happened the night the giants came . . . From the east came the Bone Giants, from the south, the fire-wielding Hathrim – an invasion that sparked war across the six nations of Teldwen. The kingdom’s only hope is the discovery of a new form of magic that calls the world’s wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind.
I really enjoyed this one, once I got used to the unusual structure, where the bard relives the experiences of all eleven protagonists – it’s a nifty way to handle a large cast and mostly worked. I shall be reviewing this one in due course.

The Hidden Face – Book 1 of the Fifth Unmasking series by S.C. Flynn
A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask. Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?
Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.
This intriguing epic fantasy is full of ancient riddles designed to ensure that the powerful secrets surrounding the rite of the Unmasking stays safely away from those who would abuse the power. That’s the theory, anyway. This time around there are a whole bunch of people who will stop at nothing to get hold of those secrets – and only two people who have the correct training to be able to unlock the elaborate codes and puzzles surrounding them…

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 12th November, 2017

Review of Whirligig: Keeping the Promise – Book 1 of Shire’s Union by Richard Buxton

Teaser Tuesday featuring A Plague of Giants – Book 1 of the Seven Kennings series by Kevin Hearne

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring The River Keepers by Michael F. Stewart

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Friday Face-off – Snap! – featuring The Dark Mirror – Book 1 of the Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Artemis by Andy Weir

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Worlds to Visit – https://navigatingworldsblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/worlds-to-visit/ 
This entertaining blog considers various science fiction and fantasy world Mr N would love to vacation at… Has he included your favourites?

Writing Nameless Things: An Interview with Ursula K. LeGuin –  https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/writing-nameless-things-an-interview-with-ursula-k-le-guin/  What a wonderful opportunity to hear the thoughts of one of the legends in the genre…

10 of the Best Poems About Hair – https://interestingliterature.com/2017/11/15/10-of-the-best-poems-about-hair/ And at least one of these isn’t talking about the hair you’d think…

5 New Science Books to Look Out For https://librarystaffpicks.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/5-new-science-books-to-watch-out-for/ Another useful list of books from this award-winning library site

Book Nerds Don’t Get Old… https://powerfulwomenreaders.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/book-nerds-dont-get-old/  And I couldn’t agree more with this nifty quote featuring a stack of books😊

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and may you have a great week.

Teaser Tuesday – 14th November, 2017

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:

A Plague of Giants – Book 1 of the Seven Kennings series by Kevin Hearn

72% The bard ends his completely miserable audience by saying he’ll stay at the Raelech embassy and then tosses out a wish for me to “be well,” which is more alarming than the news of my army’s destruction. People are beginning to notice. To question my health. My sanity! My fitness to rule.

BLURB: In the city of Pelemyn, Fintan the bard takes to the stage to tell what really happened the night the giants came . . .

From the east came the Bone Giants, from the south, the fire-wielding Hathrim – an invasion that sparked war across the six nations of Teldwen. The kingdom’s only hope is the discovery of a new form of magic that calls the world’s wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind.

This epic fantasy has an interesting structure – we learn about the unfolding drama as a volcanic eruption triggers a major and unwelcome migration of a people through a magically enhanced bard. He recites the story of what happens, complete with the resulting political fallout to a bulging city of refugees, taking on the persona of the various key characters through his magical gift, or ‘kenning’. I’m enjoying it – though having to really concentrate to keep track of the eleven protagonists that keep popping up. Himself has raved about this one, so I’m looking forward to a climactic ending…