#Review Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

Description

Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson’s first collection of short fiction.

These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella ‘The Emperor’s Soul’, an excerpt from the graphic novel ‘White Sand’, and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella ‘Edgedancer’.

The collection will include nine works in all:
‘Edgedancer’ (Stormlight Archive)
‘The Hope of Elantris’ (Elantris)
‘The Eleventh Metal’ (Mistborn)
‘The Emperor’s Soul’ (Elantris)
‘Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania’ (excerpt; Mistborn)
‘White Sand’ (excerpt; Taldain)
‘Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell’ (Threnody)
‘Sixth of Dusk’ (First of the Sun)
‘Mistborn: Secret History’ (Mistborn)

This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.

Review

Arcanum Unbounded is the first short story collection from Brandon Sanderson, centred around the Cosmere, the universe that Sanderson has built his worlds upon you get a real feel for how each world relates to each other with this book a sense of just how big his worldview is and yet how small it is as well.

These short stories take you on journies, introduce you to new characters in familiar worlds, new worlds, new magic and in some cases bring us back to familiar faces and familiar places bringing a sense of homecoming.

Each story has a small note to inform of which novels it relates to and if there are spoilers so that you can skip those stories that may be an issue. There were a couple that I skipped because I’m behind on a couple of the series but I’ve marked the stories to return to them later.

It wasn’t really a surprise that the two stories I connected with the most were linked with novels I had loved the most. Firstly The Emperor’s Soul which was an Elantris story, to this day Elantris remains my all-time favourite Sanderson novel, and The Eleventh Metal which is a Mistborn story and sees us following a favourite character.

These stories given their short length are complex and detailed, they draw you in and as you would expect from Sanderson have plenty of twists and drama. This is a definite must-have for any Sanderson fans bookshelf.

I must thank Gollancz and Brandon Sanderson for the review copy of this book so that I could provide my honest opinion.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleArcanum Unbounded
SeriesThe Stormlight Archive 2.5
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Short Stories | Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 24 November 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 672
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#Review: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams @sennydreadful @headlinepg

If you missed my review for book one in this trilogy The Ninth Rain…check it out today.

Description

 

The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.

Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.

The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists – a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.

But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.

Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.

Review

I have been anxiously awaiting The Bitter Twins, desperately wanting to know what happens next in the story that Jen Williams so masterfully started weaving in The Ninth Rain. At the beginning of The Bitter Twins, Williams catches us up on where everybody is successfully without needing to do a recap chapter which I really like about the way she writes.

We move around the characters in this novel who are mostly separated fighting different battles, investigating different avenues, and discovering new things to help in the fight against the Jure’lia. Then of course we have Hestillion who is now with the enemy, will she fight back or will she cross over? I didn’t like her much in The Ninth Rain but her personality develops wonderfully through The Bitter Twins to become one of my favourite characters this time around.

We meet new characters, some fleeting and some more permanent members, one of those that really dug a hole into my heart Eri, an Eboran teenager, by which he was a few hundred years old, you know how those Eborans are! The way he starts in the book then integrates into the group is incredible and again a testament to Williams writing that a brand new character can become so important to you by the end of the book when there is already such a vast cast to choose from.

The existing cast are bonding with their war beasts and we definitely start to bond with them as well, they have very individual personalities of their own and their were some I loved more than others. I found myself more connected to Noon and Tor, they are a pair who need a good kick up the backside most of the time but there is something incredibly special about them and as they investigate the origins of the Eborans before the war really kicks off I had a lot of lump in throat moments.

Aldasair and Bern are so special and would make everybody coo over them in our world.  Funnily Vintage who was by far my favourite character in The Ninth Rain, irritated me in this book, I’m not sure what changed but I just didn’t connect with her this time around.

Overall, the world building continued to blow my mind, the battle scenes for the most part moved to the sky in this novel and were incredibly vivid, my brain was creating them as I was reading and it was epic. The Bitter Twins has shocking twists that leave you gasping; with love, betrayal, friendship, and The Ninth Rain war really kicking off.

A huge thanks to Jen Williams and Headline for the eARC of this book in return for my honest review.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Bitter Twins
SeriesThe Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2
Author: Jen Williams
Genre: Fantasy | Magic | Epic Fantasy | Dragons | Sword & Sorcery
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 8 March 2018
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Pages: 624
BuyAmazon UK | Amazon US | WaterstonesFoyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Made in the Image of the Goddess by Chantelle Griffin @Legacy_Zyanthia

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

I was so pleased to see this one appear, Made in the Image of the Goddess is a self-published fantasy by Australian author Chantelle Griffin and the first in the Zyanthia series, my review was published 27 July. I have the next two books in the series to read and I will get to them soon I hope as this first one was fantastic!

Description

Saranon glanced up at the dragons as they flew overhead. The hour of darkness covered them as she watched on. She waited as Pennie examined the stone. It formed part of the shield locking them inside the camp. Shouts rang out on the other side. ‘Is that Galven?’ Pennie asked.

She nodded in reply. A twig broke on the muddy ground. ‘We have company,’ she said.

A lone sorcerer. Just one, but that was enough to give them away. Pennie ran for fear of being caught, while Tasha stood gazing out into the distance, ‘One day that will be us.’

Enter an epic tale of sword and sorcery. More than two hundred years ago a powerful sorceress freed her people then vanished. As time passed truth turned into myth and myth became legend. The time has come again. Saranon must claim her rightful place before Zyanthia falls.

Review

The first book in the Legends of Zyanthia series, Made in the Image of the Goddess see’s Saranaon take on the powers of the Angeon a powerful sorceror. But at just 15 and having been a captive most of her life she struggles at managing the power and now she is exiled from her home and away from her friends and so she needs to find someone to train her and somewhere to call home.

Her quest see’s her crossing borders meeting new people, and running from and to wizards.

Saranon was a wonderful blend of powerful sorcerer and confused teenager. Chantelle Griffin found the balance between the two so that she didn’t become this cocky powerful kid like can sometimes happen in this novel. She was unsure of herself but over time came into her powers and learned what she needed to do.

Different characters came and went through the book and sometimes I felt some were so fleeting that I hope in future books they come back as I really connected with some of them. Anthony and Jedd were two such characters, they both offered Saranon a lot of help at different points in the story and I felt so connected to them and would love to see them again and see their characters develop further.

Pennie and Jacob are childhood friends of Saranon who I think are destined to play a larger role in her story, Pennie especially seems to have her own motives and these don’t necessarily run parallel to Saranon’s but she is an interesting character and I feel like there is a bigger story surrounding Jacob and his involvement with them both.

Mitch is a wizard, a human who can do magic, and he becomes accidentally bonded to Saranon. but it’s not all sweetness and light and he is a few years older than her.  I really liked Mitch and I’m looking forward to learning more about him, I feel like he has a lot of hidden depths and could be the one person who can do the best job at helping Saranon achieve her potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the fighting, the magic, the dragons it all came together in a wonderful introduction to this world and I am really looking forward to what comes next.

A huge thank you to Chantelle Griffin for my signed copy of this novel so that I could read and honestly review it. I will be treasuring it!

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleMade in the Image of the Goddess
Series: The Legacy of Zyanthia #1
Author: Chantelle Griffin
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic | Dragons
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 17 March 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other FormatseBook | Hardcover
Pages:  226
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley @BrianStaveley @UKTor

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

Today, Skullsworn by Brian Staveley is making an appearance. I posted this on 6 May and to this day thinking about it can send me into emotional turmoil. It has all of the elements I look for in a fantastic epic fantasy with the addition of a some exceptional emotion strings that just ripped me apart.

Description

For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking . . .

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.

Review

I don’t even know where to start with this review, I don’t think a book has affected me so deeply, has got right into my heart and torn it out the way this has in years. I felt completely broken by this book by the time I finished it. Was a mess of tears trying to battle my way through the final pages not quite believing the direction the book had taken and how it was ending.

Skullsworn is a standalone novel connected to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series, which having now read this I am deeply ashamed to have not started, and will be rectifying at the first opportunity I get. Our main protagonist is Pyrre, a trainee Priestess of Ananshael, the God of Death. These Priests and Priestess’ are known as the Skullsworn more commonly outside of their order, although Pyrre makes it very clear this is not a term of endearment in her eyes and it doesn’t fully represent just how her devotion to the Ananshael works.

She’s at the end of her training and must complete a trial to become a full Priestess, kill seven very particular types of people and nobody else within a two week window, this is not something she has an issue with, she is a trained assassin. But the final person is an issue, it is must be someone she loves, except she has never loved anyone. So travelling to the city she was born in Dombâng, with her Witnesses Kossal and Ela, she pursues the only man she has ever come close to loving in the hope she can rekindle their relationship.

Ruc Lan Lac once a professional fighter and now Leader of the Greenshirts is the man Pyrre intends to pursue and kill once she falls in love.

Now this book had the set up for everything a girl like me who loves fantasy and romance could possibly want, a beautifully in depth fantasy world with some of the best world building I’ve encountered in a long time, I could smell the different parts of the town as I read (and honestly didn’t want to some of the time, nope really didn’t want to) I could perfectly see the areas travelled to they were so perfectly described. And yet the characterisation wasn’t let down at all for this. The characters were given ample time to build their stories, with the romance element worked on the way I love although in true fantasy fashion nothing went the way I would expect it to!

Some of this book was funny, some of it was sad, some of it was heartbreaking, some of it was beautiful. There were many life lessons, some we definitely shouldn’t bring into our world! I love Ela who was the Priestess who aside from being a Witness to Pyrre was also a guide to her and she spent a lot of time talking and offering her advise much like a big sister would.

The fighting wasn’t cut down on because of the more unusual angle of the story, there was the expected amount of swordplay, blood and carnage throughout the book with it starting very early on. Pyrre accidentally triggers a rebellion with horrendous consequences in her quest to fulfil her trial which is thrilling.

I recommend this book highly, as highly as I possibly can. Now I’m still piecing myself together so I need to find those pieces of my soul if you please.

A huge thanks to Brian Staveley and Tor UK for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleSkullsworn
SeriesChronicle of the Unhewn Throne #0
Author: Brian Staveley
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: Tor UK
Publication Date: 20 April 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 320
BuyAmazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen

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

#Review The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

If you missed my review of Book One: The Final Empire check it out here.

Description

The impossible has happened. The Lord Ruler is dead has been vanquished. But so too is Kelsier the man who masterminded the triumph. The awesome task of rebuilding the world has been left to his protege Vin; a one-time street urchin, now the most powerful Mistborn in the land.

Worryingly for her Vin has become the focus of a new religion, a development that leaves her intensely uneasy. More worryingly still the mists have become unpredictable since the Lord Ruler died and a strage vaprous entity is stalking Vin.

As the siege of Luthadel intensifies the ancient legend of the Well of Ascension offers the only glimmer of hope. But no-one knows where it is or what it can do.

Review

Vin, Elend and the remains of Kelsier’s crew are left managing the remains of Luthadel after the events of The Final Empire this sounds simple but there are armies descending on them from all sides wanting to take control of the city in addition to weird goings on in the mists which mean this unlikely bunch have to be stronger than ever to overcome everything being sent their way.

Yet again Brandon Sanderson presents a tome with a solid epic fantasy, this is not a quick read but there is so much going on all the time that you can delve in for hours at a time. The allomantic play by the mistborns is wonderful to read, so vivid that you can see them dancing around on the page clearly, pushing and pulling bouncing around on rooftops. We meet a new mistborn in this novel, Zane, and I very much liked his character and the way he connected with Vin.

There are a lot battles in this novel, some brutal, and the way Sanderson has written them from multi-POV’s and over multiple chapters to really bring you as a reader into the depth of the battle is just how I like it. I love Sanderson’s knack of writing plenty of detail, of reeling you in so that you can see, hear, smell everything, exactly how I like to read my fantasy. The worldbuilding in these books has been stellar and I have such a perfect picture in my head of every location, every building, every outfit and every person.

I’m really looking forward to delving into the next book in this series. Lucky it’s on my bookshelf already!

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Well of Ascension
SeriesMistborn #2
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 10 December 2009
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 800
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#Review: Seventh Decimate by Stephen Donaldson @Gollancz

Description

The war between Amika and Belleger has raged for generations. Its roots lie in the distant past, beyond memory. Sorcerers from both sides rain destruction down on the battlefield, wielding the six deadly Decimates of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, and pestilence.

Prince Bifalt hopes that Belleger’s new weapons technology, the rifle, will provide a decisive advantage. But when Belleger’s sorcerers are mysteriously deprived of their magical abilities, leaving them unable to defend against Amika, he must set aside his own deep hatred of sorcery and work to solve this new enigma.

Grasping at any chance to save his beloved homeland, Prince Bifalt of Belleger sets out on a hazardous journey across the unmapped wastelands to the east. With Elgart, his last comrade, Bifalt pursues the long-hidden trail of the one object that might be able to turn the tide of the endless war – a book entitled The Seventh Decimate.

The events that unfold force Prince Bifalt to weigh his stubbornness, his patriotism, and his hatred for sorcerers against his sense of loyalty and of what he knows to be right. And as he learns, Amika and Belleger may simply be pawns within an even larger struggle…

Review

It’s fair to see the return of Stephen Donaldson is something to be excited about, I was particularly fond of The King’s Justice novels which I highly recommend. I had high expectations for Seventh Decimate and this is maybe where I fell down a little, because when you set your expectations that high can anything truly live up to them?

Two Kingdoms have been at war for as long as anybody can remember, Amika and Belleger, are tearing each other apart, Prince Bifalt son of the King of Belleger is sent on a quest by his Father to to acquire a book which could give them the upper hand, the mysterious Seventh Decimate. He leaves with a travelling party but as a series of unfortunate mishaps befall them he spends a large chunk of his journey alone.

The story is told in third person, and unusually not told in chapters but in five parts split into sections. The way it’s told made me feel I was slightly disconnected from Bifalt which made it hard for me as I progressed through the book. I really wanted to connect to this character who I felt had a lot to offer. On the surface he was strong and loyal, completely dedicated to his kingdom, his father, his people. But there was also a lot of depth to him and as the book progresses he becomes more paranoid rightly or wrongly and reads threats into everything which is said or done by others quite often to his own detriment. But through all this I don’t feel any emotion from him and that is what I missed most from the book just feeling that I was going through the motions.

I also felt that there was a lack of strong female characters something I really leap on these days and love to see. There is a female assassin but we don’t see much of her in action, otherwise the female characters are few and far between, just bit characters that don’t really stand out.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book, but it lacked a few elements that I was hoping to see that would have raised it to the next level for me.

Huge thanks to Stephen Donaldson and Gollancz for providing me with an ARC so that I could read and review this novel honestly.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleSeventh Decimate
Series: The Great God’s War #1
Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 16 November 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other FormatseBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery