#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
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery | Audible

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
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery | Audible

#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

BrizzleLass Does GollanczFest 2017 #GollanczFest @Gollancz

Considering I was in London last week for ComicCon, I must have lost my mind when I booked tickets for GollanczFest, crawling out of bed at 6am to get myself ready… i.e. to not look like the zombie I emerged from bed as was not fun. I don’t do early mornings, never have, never will. After last week’s debacle with the buses (2hrs to get to the train station…longer than the train takes to get to London…I kid you not!) I decided to drive and park at the station, it’s not too busy, especially at the ass crack of dawn.

As I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo I spent the train journey writing and managed to smash through my word target, which I’m a tad proud of given how tired I was. I will probably read through it today and find it’s all nonsense though!

I arrive at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, also known as heaven in the centre of London. Someone, please tell me how I didn’t know the place existed? For those who knew Borders (remember them?) in Bristol, it had 2(?) fairly big floors, and honestly, I thought it was the bee’s knees. I was there almost every week, I had a favourite spot I would curl up with a book before I bought it. Well, this Foyles was like that Borders on speed. It was freaking massive. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I’m really showing myself as a country bumpkin here but honestly so absolutely huge. Over 5 floors and just books everywhere. Now I am down with small and cosy indie stores, I love them. But this place is also my alternative idea of perfection for a bookstore, the Foyles in Bristol is so naff I literally never go there. Anyway, I digress.

When we arrive we get a tote back with some goodies in, some samplers which I will read very soon, and probably end up ordering some new books! The tote itself is going to the top of my tote pile (you know I’m obsessed with tote’s right?)

I managed to get a really good seat and was sat next to some lovely people who had also travelled alone, the four of us actually spent the whole day chatting and talking books, sci-fi, fantasy, and all manner of geekery. Exchanging social media sites before we parted ways to go back to our four corners of the country (literally) at the end of the day.

And so the panels begin… I tried to catch some of my favourite quotes through the day, didn’t want to spend all day writing everything everyone said down, plus the blog post would be HUGE if I’d done that! There were so many laughs through the day, a few political arguments and a few death matches which were taken probably a little too seriously by some!

I’ve taken panel titles/info from the programme for accuracy

Panel 1 – Who You Gonna Call? Ghostwriters
Our panellists discuss the things that go bump in the night.

Featuring
Ben Aaronovitch
Joanne M. Harris
AK Benedict
Catriona Ward
Joe Hill
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commisioning Editor

Discussing why we like ghost stories, why they write ghost stories and what it is about ghost stories that kees us coming back again and again.

Catriona – finds ghost stories weirdly comforting

Joe – ghosts are the only supernatural creature every one in this room knows actually exists.

AK – ghost stories are temporary exorcisms of what is haunting you.

Joanne – ghosts represent what we can’t explain.

Panel 2 – The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades: New Advances in Science (Fiction)
How will life change over the next few decades and how will it feature in science fiction?

Featuring
Justina Robson
Christopher Priest
Gavin Smith
Al Robertson
Tricia Sullivan
Moderator: Richard Edwards (SFX Magazine)

A really interesting discussion around how science affects science fiction and if authors need to be scientific or scientists to write the genre.

Justina – you only have to understand it [science] to the level you want to explain it in your book.

Al – One of the biggest changes is to keep the science out of it.

Gavin – Trying to predict the future is a waste of time.

Tricia – Science Fiction didn’t predict social changes like the pill. How different would this room look if women were still tied to their homes?

Panel 3 – Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Art, Music, Mythology & Magic: The Inspirations Behind It All
Join our panellists as they talk about other books, other art and how they feed into their own ideas

Featuring
Suzanne McLeod
Tom Toner
Tom Lloyd
Bradley Beaulieu
Mark Barrowcliffe
Moderator: Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director

The panel talked about where they find inspiration, what it means to get ideas and write genre fiction.

Bradley – The muse doesn’t come you have to write

Tom T – Two cups of coffee and stand in the shower…loads of ideas

Mark – It’s really odd when a character pops out and says no this is my book

Tom T – I just wanna describe cool planets and cool stuff and monsters on the planet…characters get in the way

Gillian asks: What’s the worst thing your character has ever done to you…in Tom’s case I guess it’s exist?
Tom responded: ….They just get in the way

Panel 4 – The Utopian Ideal: Writing The Future You’d Like To Live In
Our panellists discuss why every utopia isn’t always a dystopa, and how SF can explore the future optimistically as well as realistically.

Featuring
Antonia Honeywell
Stephen Deas
Adam Roberts
Jaine Fenn
Edward Cox
Moderator: Mark Stay, Online Sales Manager

I will admit that I don’t think I’ve read anything from the Utopia genre, this was a really interesting panel and I was super impressed with Antonia who not only talked eloquently about her own book but was passionate about politics and the state of our world and I agreed with everything she had to say, so I bought her book so that it’s the first(?) book I read in this genre.

Antonia – You can only create that ideal world by having one to get away from.

Edward – Trump saw Threads and thought there you go there’s a model for office.

Panel 5 – Choose Your Weapons Wisely: The Best Way To Defeat Your Demons
Our panellists debate (mostly non-violently) weapons in fantasy.

Featuring
Elizabeth May
Chris Wooding
Ed McDonald
Aliette de Bodard
Kristen Ciccarelli
Moderator: Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director

Author Death Match time, pick a weapon, any weapon then battle it out, there can only be one winner!

There were landmines, seven bells, a flamethrower, a battle spaceship, and a cursed horseshoe! You can imagine how it went down!

Panel 6 – Enduring Science Fiction: How Do Stories Survice When Science Catches Up With Fiction
Our authors discuss what it’s like to write in a world progressing faster than the world you’re reading right now

Featuring
Simon Morden
Pat Cadigan
Paul McAuley
Alastair Reynolds
Ian McDonald
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commissioning Editor

Fantastic discussion around how science fiction ages, what happens when people have written about things that do end up happening and what happens when predictions are way off the mark.

Pat – I always like playing chicken with the future

Paul – You don’t have to make up anything any more

Ian – Science Fiction is to Science what truthiness is to truth

Simon – [having chosen Farenheit 451 as a lasting book] …the idea that word’s in books are dangerous.
Pat – No they’re Fake News.

Panel 7 – The Monster Mash: Four Monsters, Four Authors, One Winner…You Decide
Yes, exactly what it sounds like.

Featuring
Joe Hill
Joanne M. Harris
Kristen Ciccarelli
Jon Wallace
Moderator: Rachel Winterbottom, Commissioning EditorJennifer McMenemy, Marketing Manager

Jon picks – the Babadook
Joanne picks – the Boggart
Kristen picks – a Dragon

Joe – Good choices, I wonder which will come in Second

Joe picks – The Thing

And so begins the fight. Joe was hilarious and I’m fairly sure he was in debate club in high school. The others fought hard and had excellent arguments, well all except one who didn’t do well convincing the audience, when the vote was cast that particular author had one person vote for them. I will let you guess who won… 😉 I’ll maybe tell you in my next weekly update.

I bought some more books, some I’ve already read in ebook and just wanted to get signed copies of others I wanted to pick up to add to that groaning TBR! I’m particularly fond of the crow that Ed McDonald drew in my copy of Blackwing…thanks Ed!

So that’s it. I made friends, got a pile of books that I have nowhere to put, and spent an awful lot of the day laughing. Next year is definitely going to be in the diary!

#Review The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

A huge thanks to my blog readers who chose this book as my TBR Topple choice for July, apologies for the delay in getting the review up, I’m really behind with reviews at the moment, as you can tell! Remember, you can still vote for the TBR Topple book I read this month here!

Description

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed.

For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear while the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, a divinely invincible leader. Hope is long lost, until a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa in the depths of the most hellish prison and discovered he has the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, Kelsier will turn his talents to the ultimate caper: one with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Only he’s not just planning the greatest heist in history, he’s plotting the overthrow of a divine despot.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks like a long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

Review

It’s difficult to sum up my thoughts about this book without giving too much away but I’m going to try. Brandon Sanderson has woven a world where the rich and the poor have a very definite division. The rich are living a high life, some of them are blessed with powers which raise them up and give them positions of importance within the Lord Ruler’s court, the best of these, the Mistborn are rare and highly regarded. For the poor, the Skaa, life is hard, a life of slavery, of servitude. Serving the whims of the rich and the Lord Ruler, struggling for food and a roof over their head in slums.

The world building is divine, you are transported into the locations and can’t help but feel a part of each building and street as the characters move around. It’s easy to see the transition between rich and poor and there is no confusion between locations and which areas characters are in.

The characters themselves are wonderful, far too many to talk about here, but the two main protagonists Vin and Kel were superb.

Kel is in his thirties, heartbroken after losing his wife, he’s quite vengeful, but also very intelligent and not one to jump in both feet first. He has a very clever plan and he is a natural leader, speaking strongly and confidently in a way that appeals to the people around him. His charisma oozes from him and there are few who can resist him.

Vin is a young girl, only fifteen/sixteen, she’s still coming into her powers as a mistborn, but she is exceptionally gifted. We see her fall in love for the first time and put everything at risk for that. She’s very strong but struggles with trust, given she’s been abandoned by everyone she has trusted in the past, that’s hardly a surprise.

Seeing the magic use and how it’s described in the book is clever to say the use, the way the elements are pushed and pulled to make them work, at first I was a little confused but it quickly becomes easy to work out what is happening and how they are working. During the fight scenes it was beautiful, like a dance and I was mesmerised reading page after page of these wonderful interactions.

This book was absolutely fantastic, I’m very much looking forward to getting my teeth into the next book in the series.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Final Empire
SeriesMistborn #1
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 1 October 2009
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 676
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery

#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
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