Week in Review – 4 February 2018

It’s been another rough week for me, I’m really struggling with my bipolar right now, not sleeping, hearing voices, and balancing on the edge of a cliff where if I fall I’m in full-blown mania. My meds have been adjusted and dealing with those side effects are just as bad as the illness itself. But I’m getting through and I just have to keep reminding myself that it will end.

I do have things I want to talk about but I just don’t have it in me right now so I’ll just go with the update and hopefully, by next week I will have more wits about me…

Book of the Month

January has come to an end so it’s time to pick a book of the month, and straight away I just can’t pick one, it’s been a stellar month for books…I see my top 10 at the end of the year being impossible!

The Bitter Twins is the latest from Jen Williams, book two in The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. This book was everything I expect from Williams and more. Firmly cementing her position at the top of my fantasy author tree. My review can be found here.

The Dragon’s Wing and The Tiger’s Ambush are books two and three in the Kit Davenport series by Tate James and I’m classing them as a two for one here. While this is pegged as a reverse harem series, the paranormal/urban fantasy elements are absolutely fantastic and have me completely hooked. Anybody who loves paranormal/urban fantasy and is curious about reverse harem this is the series to start with because it is just perfectly executed and for me, the fantasy elements are far more prominent, although the romance is hot and heavy when it gets going.

Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis is a surprise entry, the author had approached another blogger who reviews crime and she had tagged me and a couple of other fantasy loving bloggers. I was hooked by the description so despite not wanting to take on new books right now I said I would review it and I have no regrets, it was gripping, funny, and had some of the best battle scenes I’ve read in a while. Just so friggin good. Here is my review.

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Pre-Orders

eARCs

Reviews

This week I have reviewed:

Five Star: A Week To Be Wild by J.C. Harroway, and Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis.
Four Star: Hunted by Mila Young, and Silver Moon by Nikki Landis
Three Star: Spirited by C.M. Stunich

Other Posts

2Cellos were featured on Music Monday. The new TBR Topple post has gone up so check it out and vote on which book I@m going to read from my TBR this month. Lainy from Always Reading took part in The Bookshelf this week.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

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Top 10 Books of 2017

It’s that time of the year again where I have to condense all of my reading into a list of ten. This has been a painful chore and I have agonised over the decisions made here, at the time of writing this I’ve read 203 books this year so narrowing this list to just 10 books is a painful endeavour. I could easily do ten books per genre I read!

There are books I’ve loved that I’ve had to leave off just because I only had ten spaces. Some of these have appeared in my most popular reviews over the last week which I think speaks for how they’ve appealed to a wider audience and that they have not just spoken to me individually. It would have been easy for me to only pick fantasy novels for this list because I find them so memorable, but I forced myself to look at the other genres I’ve read and picked my favourites from those as well. The Top 10 aren’t in a preference order, actually, I’ve put them in alphabetical order to keep things fair 😉

Allison’s Adventures in Underland by C.M. Stunich

This was a real last minute entry as I only read it roughly ten days ago, but it blew me away, it’s also one of two C.M. Stunich books which made it into this list. I have read more of her books this year than any other author so I guess it was inevitable that she would make a double appearance. Underland is a dark, warped, and very sexy shadow of the Wonderland we know from the childhood fairytale. This was basically my perfect retelling, I normally hate retellings, sometimes I think they are OK, but this one nailed it for me giving me all the dark and twisted ideas that run through my own head plus so many more. Stunich surprised me, wowed me, and teased me from cover to cover. I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t even contemplate putting it down and leaving these character and this world for even a minute.

My original review.

Blackwing by Ed McDonald

This is an epic book, the main character in this book, Ryhalt is definitely more of an anti-hero. He’s not attractive, he’s an alcoholic, he swears too much, he fights too much and he leads a band of misfits. But my God, did I love this man. He may like to think of himself as going against the grain but he probably had the most attuned moral compass in the whole book. The worldbuilding in this book was vivid and sent you to some dark and lonely places. This was not a world you would want to end up in. You know how sometimes you can imagine living in a fantasy world, despite the wars and evil monsters? This was not one of them! I flew through this book, I loved it and I’m so pleased the story will be continuing with another book.

My original review.

Godblind by Anna Stephens

Wow, what can I say about this book, it’s dark, it’s bloody, it’s pretty much fantasy at it’s gruesome finest. Told from aprx 10 points of view (sorry can’t remember the exact number) we get to know the characters in this book intimately, and not just the good guys. Anna Stephens gets us closer to the bad guys as well, my favourite character in the book was one of the evilest characters and I’m literally chomping at the bit to see how his character develops in the next book. Not only does the book cause pain and suffering to almost every character on every page, with one of the most brutal torture scenes I’ve ever read, but THAT ENDING! Christ, it was one of the most epic cliffhangers I’ve ever read, it would take something huge to beat that I sat flicking my kindle into oblivion looking for more pages that just weren’t there, before I dissolved into fits of WTF, followed by distraughtly messaging Anna Stephens to make sure there was going to be a second book! (N.B. I’ve since met Anna in person and had a good chat with her and she now knows I’m not a complete loon…I think!)

My original review.

Groupie by C.M. Stunich

This was my introduction to C.M. Stunich and reverse harem under the guise of reverse harem (I had read them before I just had never heard the term before). So much in this book touched home for me, I’m a rock chick, I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with bands (I used to do freelance music journalism), and I’ve got a lot of baggage in my past that screws with my head. As I started reading Lilith just got under my skin and I fell in love with her, her vulnerability her tenacity and also her free spirit. Then the guys in the band, each one of them an individual but together beautiful and strong. Her and them together it was just meant to be and the way that Stunich wrote it was just stunning, this is a book I will re-read over and over again. I was so deeply connected to these characters, their trauma, their pain, their longing, their love. This book touched me deep at my core and it’s not one I will ever forget.

My original review.

Raising Fire by James Bennett

Everybody needs to read this series, it’s as simple as that. If you like dragons, urban fantasy, and/or magic you just can’t afford to miss this series. Raising Fire is book two in the Ben Garston series, it was probably second in my list of most anticipated novels of the year, I was chomping at the bit to read it and bought it the day it was released. I was not disappointed, in fact it was far better than Chasing Embers because we got to see so much more of Ben’s vulnerabilities and that for me made his character grow and get under my skin even more (and if you’ve been following the saga you will know I’m completely in love with Ben Garston)! There is a lot of violence in this book, new characters, betrayal and some really interesting chinese mythology woven in.

My original review.

 

Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

Skullsworn is the first Brian Staveley novel I’ve read, I had no idea what to expect going in but to be gutted from the inside out was not it. Brian Staveley wove together a deeply harrowing fantasy novel which also drew on all those elements I love about romance novels and then left me a quivering wreck at the end. I don’t remember a fantasy novel ever leaving me feeling so emotionally broken before, the writing was exquisite, the world building had me living in the world with the characters and even now six months after reading it I think about that novel and the characters constantly. I will be fitting in some catch-up sessions for Brian Staveley’s back catalogue because I have definitely been depriving myself of this man’s work.

My original review.

The Lost Sentinel by Suzanne Rogerson

I had high hopes for The Lost Sentinel, actually, I had set my hopes unreasonably and unfairly high. It wasn’t possible for poor Suzanne Rogerson to meet what I was expecting from her second self-published work. Except she did. I sat down to read The Lost Sentinel and she blew my freakin’ mind! What appears on the surface to be straightforward quest fantasy is anything but. Suzanne Rogerson has woven a complex world of magic, treachory, and war. Yes, there is a quest, but there is so much more to this fantasy I got pulled in and became completely absorbed, tears running down my face as beloved characters are killed off and the unexpected just keeps happening. Suzanne Rogerson is masterful when it comes to sculpting a fantasy novel and waiting for the second book in this series is painful!

My original review.

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

The Ninth Rain is the first part in a new series by Jen Williams and it didn’t disappoint. Giving us a new world, new characters, new creatures, and even aliens this book was everything I hoped for from Jen Williams and more. I finished and felt that lead weight of “oh hell now I have to wait a year for book two” because all I wanted was to pick up book two then and there. (I’ve just finished reading the ARC of book two and it was so worth waiting for 😉 review to follow in the new year.) I’ve said it before, I will say it again, my collection of Jen Williams books will continue to grow but her writing is addictive, you just want more of it. I would happily read her work 24/7, I love the pace, the flow, the style. It’s emotive and the worldbuilding blows my mind every single time. There is a reason this lady is my favourite Fantasy author, I just can’t get enough of her work!

My original review.

The Vixen’s Lead by Tate James

Tate James came out of nowhere and knocked me on my ass. The Vixen’s Lead is a stunning paranormal/urban fantasy reverse harem and it has every single thing I would want from one of these novels. A kick-ass heroine in the form of Kit Davenport, student by day, master-thief known only as The Fox by night. Then there are her men, an unlikely group of ally’s who save her life and then step in to work with her. They include brothers and a geek (who I’m particularly fond of). The best thing is this is really slow burn so in this first book very little happens in terms of the romance side of things, the main story is being set up, there’s plenty of action and we get to know Kit. This is such a solid story and I was gutted when the book ended, I was just glad that I was a little late to the party so could download the second book straight away (which would have made it onto this list if I’d had space) and pre-order the third and fourth books…yes I may be a bit addicted!

My original review.

Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

It’s always hard to review a book by a friend, there’s that risk you won’t like it then you have to tell your friend you didn’t like their book (yeah I’ve been there), then you read one like Watching Glass Shatter and you finish it and think “how do I know somebody who can write something like this?” It’s awe-inspiring. Watching Glass Shatter is about a family facing grief, and their own secrets, five brothers and a mother trying to decide what to do with a devastating secret told to her in a letter in her husband’s will. As the secrets her sons hold unravel she has to decide what to do for the best of her sons and the family as a whole. I can’t remember a book affecting me like this one did. I sobbed for two hours solid as I finished the book, got through an entire box of tissues, and I felt as though each and every member of that family was connected to me. I loved them thoroughly, I felt their pain, their joy, and their grief.

My original review.

So that’s it…what are your top books of the year?

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Blackwing by Ed McDonald @EdMcDonaldTFK @gollancz

Over the next five days, I will share the five most popular posts this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly the authors I’ve featured.

First up is Blackwing by Ed McDonald, this review was posted as part of the blog tour on 25 July. I’ve been lucky enough since reading the book and publishing the review to meet Ed and he’s a fantastic bloke. This book has a sequel coming in 2018 which I’m very excited about.

Description

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet . . .

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.

My Review

I’m rarely completely speechless after finishing a book, I normally have a lot to say good or bad, but Blackwing left me utterly gobsmacked. It’s taken me a week to digest the book and work out how to even start writing this review. This is not a bad thing, Blackwing is an epic novel that grips you from the first page and is thoroughly extraordinary throughout.

Told as a first person narrative by Ryhalt Galharrow, we learn about his world and the people in it. It’s a harsh and desperate world with cities built around a dank and desperate desert like land called the Misery. The Misery is not somewhere you would want to go willingly, it conjures hallucinations, there are creatures that even your nightmares couldn’t conjure up and it’s the land of the Deep Kings.

The Deep Kings are all powerful, almost god-like magicians that can raise men from the dead, the drudge, these are their killing machines, their army and they are lethal. They have mage-like beings called Darlings (I love these names) which are scary as anything, and then there are the Brides, women that capture men under their spell with strong pheremones then swell up into gargantuan beasts (ick I feel sick again).

The Deep Kings want to capture the Cities from the Nameless. The Nameless are also god-like magicians, who created the Misery by the way, and who help protect the humans although they have their own selfish agendas and the humans can certainly become collateral damage. To protect the humans and the cities surrounding the Misery from The Deep Kings they’ve built a huge contraption called Nall’s Engine, and so we get to the grit of the story because a woman Galharrow knew as a boy, Ezabeth, reappears in his life with a theory about hall the Engine is broken and so begins a fight to unravel a tightly held political conspiracy with him on the wrong side.

The world building in this novel is outstanding, you feel like you are completely immersed in the world at all times and the imagery is vivid and so beautifully real, even when it’s not at all beautiful which lets face it is most of the time! The characters although always told from the one point of view are still described with a clarity which is bewitching and it’s easy to pick out favourites.

I’ve seen this book described as Grimdark but I just didn’t feel comfortable popping it into that pigeon hole myself. It’s pretty grim at times and it’s pretty dark yes but I felt like there was a lot of hope and that there was something far more epic fantasy about the way it flowed and pushed through. (I’ll get 50 comments disagreeing with me now)!

Nenn is Galharrow’s right hand man, except she’s a woman, a tough cookie, I actually imagined her a lot like Brienne of Tarth except tougher, yep I said tougher! She is loyal and straight talking, but can also fight tough and hard. I really liked Nenn and the way she fought unashamedly.

Galharrow’s other close ally on his team is Tnota, he does all of his navigating in the Misery, and is probably a bit too old for the fighting but he is just too damn good not to have on your team. A much more pleasant person to have around than Nenn, it’s like they are both the sugar and spice in Galharrow’s team.

Ezabeth and Galharrow were meant to be married as youngsters before life went pearshaped and they went their separate ways. Ezabeth is now a spinner, essentially a mage and she is powerful. I’m not going to say much more because talking about her gives too much away. But I do want to say how much I liked her, she is such a strong clever character. Ed McDonald has really written some epic women in this book I really loved how strong they were, they were equal to the men, could fight as well as the men, and I loved this.

And Galharrow, oh Galharrow, I did it again folks, I loved him so much, he was such a nice bloke! A true antihero who captured my heart the more I read. A troubled alcoholic, who would give his left leg if it would help someone he cared for. He is loyal to a bloody fault especially to Crowfoot, the Nameless who is in charge of the Blackwing. He has love in his heart, but also hate and sadness and bitterness. He is tortured and angry. He is strong, and weak. He is human.

Ed McDonald has definitely pulled out all the stops with this book and it lives up to all expectations. This is a book for all fantasy fans and should not be missed.

Sending a huge thanks to Ed McDonald and Stevie at Gollancz for the ARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleBlackwing
SeriesRavens Mark #1
Author: Ed McDonald
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 27 July 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery

Week in Review – 1 October 2017

Great week this week (hooray!) Monday was all about the books! I went to the Fantasy Faction Grim Gathering in Bath which turned out to be a blast, big up to Marc at Fantasy Faction for putting on a great event. On the panel was Peter V. Brett, Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, Peter Newman, and Anna Stephens. A pretty epic line up I have to say. Having just read and reviewed both Anna and Mark’s releases I was keen to get them signed and say Hi to them both.

The panel discussion was great, lots of talk around, what is grimdark, are their books actually grimdark and what does hope contribute to these books. It was a really interesting discussion and the authors were charismatic and funny. It was also interesting to see the breadth of answers between authors, especially around planning where some plan meticulously where others wing it and just write and see where the writing takes them.

Something quite random did happen, I got myself seated for the panel discussion, and someone came along and asked if they could get into the seat next to me. He got seated and started chatting with the guy on the other side and I thought to myself “he looks familiar” and I heard him mention his publisher to the guy he was talking to. So my head is spinning, thinking he can’t be who I think he looks like surely? Once the panel had finished I started talking to him and shock he was Ed McDonald and the guy he was talking to was sci-fi author Tom Toner.

We all ended up around the corner in a local pub and I had a great night chatting with everyone, there were some absolutely hilarious moments and lots of book talk. I got to meet seven authors, and hung out with four of them properly over drinks so an absolutely great night.

On Friday, I  joined a few friends at a rock and metal club night. I used to go to this every Friday night back when I was a wee whipper snapper. This is the first time I’ve been out to a club since I stopped drinking so it was an interesting test of the sobriety. Turns out I had a fantastic time, lots of dancing, laughing, singing and drinking far too much lemonade. I was on quite the sugar high when I got home! I think the plan is for us to go to the next one they run just before Halloween which should be good, I might even dress up!

Here’s the bookish update for this week…

Book of the Month

Raising Fire - James BennettThis month’s winner is a no-brainer, I reviewed it this week but my love of the lead character and the fact I’ve been chomping at the bit to read it for almost a full year meant that it was almost guaranteed a slot in book of the month short of it being a complete flop! Raising Fire by James Bennett was actually better than I expected, completely propelling the main character on from the first book and taking the story onto a new level. An absolutely fantastic read!

My review can be found here.

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

I’ve actually been reasonably well behaved this week…patting myself on the back!

Bought / Freebies

ARCs

Reviews

This week started with a review of The Sullivans Box Set by Bella Andre. I then reviewed Raising Fire by James Bennett, Thousands of Candles by Tani Hanes, Wicked Grind by J. Kenner, and The Christmas Holiday by Maxine Morrey.

Other Posts

I had Lacuna Coil featured on Music Monday this week. I featured an excerpt of By Blood Sworn by Janice Jones. I did a review of Paperless Post this week as something a bit different. Jackie from Never Imitate Blog joined me for The Bookshelf this week.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

Week in Review – 6 August 2017

Is anyone else sick of all this rain or is it just me? I mean, seriously, it’s supposed to be summer!

So my Sister and Niece arrived from Lincolnshire this week! I love having them in Bristol, I won’t see too much of them as I’m away from the end of next week and I have a busy week coming up but I will squeeze the time I have. I’m going to Lincolnshire at the end of the month to spend a week with them aswell so we can have some fun then!

Next week the blog will go quiet for a bit, I’m heading to Bloodstock Festival for some heavy metal! If you follow my social media I’m sure you will see lots of hilarity as I update with me in the mosh pits and other such nonsense! I’ll have the blog back on track the middle of the following week once I’ve recovered my hearing and my bruises have gone down!

The writing is going well, I’ve hit a few snags, but I’m working through them, I’m getting a good flow out so I’m pleased with that. I’m going to make a few changes around here over the coming weeks though as it’s all proving too much keeping up with my blog schedule, my life commitments and the time I want to put into writing.

Right, here is my bookish update for this week!

Book of the Month

So it’s that time again to pick another winning book, I swear I’m reading some amazing books this year and it just keeps getting harder to pick my top books. I’m dreading having to do the Top 10 in December!

Blackwing - Ed McDonaldBlackwing by EdMcDonald
When I thought about my book of the month this was the first book that came to my mind, it took me a week to even begin to think about how to put my thoughts into words, this was such an astounding piece of fiction. It has everything any fantasy fan could look for from a novel and is just so damn good. I’m not alone in thinking this either, every single review I have read for this book has been absolutely glowing.

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

Definitely seeing a drop with everything I’m doing at the moment, although The Final Empire is quite a tome so I can’t complain at managing that and four other books!

New Books

Bought / Freebies

eARCs

Reviews

My most recent reviews are: Twice in a Lifetime by Kierney Scott, Before the Tempest by Tani Hanes, The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal, and Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown.

Other Posts

This week I shared an excerpt as part of The Sullivans Boxed Set Book Blitz, and excerpts from the Myths & Magic collection and The Little Cottage in the Country. A new month means a new TBR Topple poll, don’t miss out on voting! The Bookshelf this week featured blogger Kate from Bibliophile Book Club.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

This is over the next couple of weeks until there will be another review post.

Week in Review – 30 July 2017

I’ve done a lot of writing this week, it’s been really productive and I’m very pleased as I was really struggling, but I started a new project and I’ve been really inspired with it so Yay!

Today I’m volunteering at a charity football match all day, with ex-players from my favourite club so I’m not going to be star struck or ogling or acting like a child at all..nope, not me!

I also hit a huge weight loss target this week, I’ve now managed to lose 34kgs/6st since I started this journey in November 2015! It’s been a long journey and so hard at times! I’ve also found out this week I’ve been shortlisted to be an Ambassador for This Girl Can in Bristol, which is really cool.

Right, here is my bookish update for this week…I’m gonna toddle off and find me some football players!

Currently Reading

What I’ve Read

New Books

Bought / Freebies

Book Post

eARCs

Reviews

My most recent reviews are: Ranger Heat Series, Blackwing, Made in the Image of the Goddess and Cocktails and Dreams

Other Posts

This week I was on the book blitz for Simple Man where I shared the authors playlist, book blitzes for Sins of the Heart and Not his Werewolf, the blog tour for Second Snowfall where I interviewed author Sarah Fischer. On The Bookshelf this week was author C H Clepitt.

Next Week on BrizzleLass Books

#BlogTour: Blackwing by Ed McDonald @EdMcDonaldTFK @gollancz #Review #Blackwing

Oh I am so pleased to be a part of this tour. There are some damn good bloggers I really respect on this one, however, when I finished the book knowing I had to write this review my initial reaction was quite simply “Oh Fuck” because I just had no idea how I was going to put my thoughts into words. I think I’ve managed to pull it together but this book really just has to be read to be believed!

Description

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet . . .

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.

Blackwing - Tour Banner

Review

I’m rarely completely speechless after finishing a book, I normally have a lot to say good or bad, but Blackwing left me utterly gobsmacked. It’s taken me a week to digest the book and work out how to even start writing this review. This is not a bad thing, Blackwing is an epic novel that grips you from the first page and is thoroughly extraordinary throughout.

Told as a first person narrative by Ryhalt Galharrow, we learn about his world and the people in it. It’s a harsh and desperate world with cities built around a dank and desperate desert like land called the Misery. The Misery is not somewhere you would want to go willingly, it conjures hallucinations, there are creatures that even your nightmares couldn’t conjure up and it’s the land of the Deep Kings.

The Deep Kings are all powerful, almost god-like magicians that can raise men from the dead, the drudge, these are their killing machines, their army and they are lethal. They have mage-like beings called Darlings (I love these names) which are scary as anything, and then there are the Brides, women that capture men under their spell with strong pheremones then swell up into gargantuan beasts (ick I feel sick again).

The Deep Kings want to capture the Cities from the Nameless. The Nameless are also god-like magicians, who created the Misery by the way, and who help protect the humans although they have their own selfish agendas and the humans can certainly become collateral damage. To protect the humans and the cities surrounding the Misery from The Deep Kings they’ve built a huge contraption called Nall’s Engine, and so we get to the grit of the story because a woman Galharrow knew as a boy, Ezabeth, reappears in his life with a theory about hall the Engine is broken and so begins a fight to unravel a tightly held political conspiracy with him on the wrong side.

The world building in this novel is outstanding, you feel like you are completely immersed in the world at all times and the imagery is vivid and so beautifully real, even when it’s not at all beautiful which lets face it is most of the time! The characters although always told from the one point of view are still described with a clarity which is bewitching and it’s easy to pick out favourites.

I’ve seen this book described as Grimdark but I just didn’t feel comfortable popping it into that pigeon hole myself. It’s pretty grim at times and it’s pretty dark yes but I felt like there was a lot of hope and that there was something far more epic fantasy about the way it flowed and pushed through. (I’ll get 50 comments disagreeing with me now)!

Nenn is Galharrow’s right hand man, except she’s a woman, a tough cookie, I actually imagined her a lot like Brienne of Tarth except tougher, yep I said tougher! She is loyal and straight talking, but can also fight tough and hard. I really liked Nenn and the way she fought unashamedly.

Galharrow’s other close ally on his team is Tnota, he does all of his navigating in the Misery, and is probably a bit too old for the fighting but he is just too damn good not to have on your team. A much more pleasant person to have around than Nenn, it’s like they are both the sugar and spice in Galharrow’s team.

Ezabeth and Galharrow were meant to be married as youngsters before life went pearshaped and they went their separate ways. Ezabeth is now a spinner, essentially a mage and she is powerful. I’m not going to say much more because talking about her gives too much away. But I do want to say how much I liked her, she is such a strong clever character. Ed McDonald has really written some epic women in this book I really loved how strong they were, they were equal to the men, could fight as well as the men, and I loved this.

And Galharrow, oh Galharrow, I did it again folks, I loved him so much, he was such a nice bloke! A true antihero who captured my heart the more I read. A troubled alcoholic, who would give his left leg if it would help someone he cared for. He is loyal to a bloody fault especially to Crowfoot, the Nameless who is in charge of the Blackwing. He has love in his heart, but also hate and sadness and bitterness. He is tortured and angry. He is strong, and weak. He is human.

Ed McDonald has definitely pulled out all the stops with this book and it lives up to all expectations. This is a book for all fantasy fans and should not be missed.

Sending a huge thanks to Ed McDonald and Stevie at Gollancz for the ARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

About Ed McDonald

Ed McDonald has spent many years dancing between different professions, cities and countries, but the only thing any of them share in common is that they have allowed him enough free time to write. He currently lives with his wife in London, a city that provides him with constant inspiration, where he works as a university lecturer. When he’s not grading essays or wrangling with misbehaving plot lines he can usually be found fencing with longswords, rapiers and pollaxes.

Book & Buy Links

TitleBlackwing
SeriesRavens Mark #1
Author: Ed McDonald
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 27 July 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery