Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

POWER IS A LIGHTNING ROD FOR PERIL. AND A STORM IS BREWING.

ARRAM DRAPER IS ON THE PATH TO becoming the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial Univeristy of Carthank, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness — and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “left-over prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms.

As Arram’s education continues, he discovers a disturbing dark side of the Carthaki Empire — one that not even his powerful masters at the university can protect him from. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realises that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Series: The Numair Chronicles 1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Childrens' Books (6th February 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

Tamora Pierce returns to the realm of Tortall with Tempests and Slaughter, the first book in The Numair Chronicles a prequel of sorts to her Wild Magic series. The book follows Arram Draper during his first year at the Imperial University of Carthak. He is one of the youngest students attending the university, but his powerful Gift places him in some very difficult classes. Being friends with Varice and Ozorne, a younger prince in the Imperial Gamily, allows Arram some protection and access to influential people within the Imperial Court, which brings its own brand of trouble. Readers of the Wild Magic series can expect the return of more than a few familiar faces.

I went into this book with high expectations. To be honest, they were probably too high. I found Tempests and Slaughter an uncomfortable read, not because of the storyline or the book itself but because I recognised a LOT of the characters and knew things that influenced my feelings. I knew going in that I would probably have this issue, but honestly I was not expecting how much it unsettled me and consequently it took me a long time to finish the book. Having said that, I did actually like reading it and I found the plot of the book interesting and I enjoyed getting to see a new side to familiar faces. Pierce also manages to sneak in a couple of surprises.

Tempests and Slaughter allows us our first real glimpse into Carthak from a resident’s point of view. The story is primarily set within the Imperial University, though we do get to explore a few other places. This is very much has a boarding school feel to it; we see Arram and his friends attend classes, deal with their teachers and other students. But we also get a glimpse of some of the members of the Imperial family, which I found quite interesting and there were definitely overtones of empire and colonialism. Carthak is a more brutal country than Tortall and it really shows in this book. I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Gift in a more structured setting.

The book focuses Arram’s first year at the Imperial University, but Pierce weaves a few subplots throughout the story. Some of these subplots are dealt with in more detail than others, and I think that is because this is the first book in the series so Pierce is setting up for events to come. I did find it a bit frustrating, but honestly it’s also made me curious about the next book. This book also deals with the onset of puberty, and what that means for Arram. There is a lot of potentially good set-up for later books, but at the same time not a lot really happens in this book. Tempests and Slaughter was both what I was expecting and something else entirely, so I’m looking forward to what the next book will reveal.

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (UK edition), with bookcover from Illumicrate.

ON THE DARKEST NIGHT, THE STARS STILL SHINE.

Feyre’s first Winter Solstice as High Lady is drawing near. With it will come a hard-earned rest from the work she. Rhys and their friends have done to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond. Yet the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows from looming. Even as her own heart heals, she finds that those dearest to her have wounds that go deeper than she knew.

AND THE SCARS OF THE PAST WILL TOUCH HER COURT IN TIMES TO COME.

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses 3.1
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: BLOOMSBURY YA (1st May 2018)
Source: Illumicrate - The Starfall Edition.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a companion tale set in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses universe. It follows after the events of the third book A Court of Wings and Ruin and it is set around the Winter Solstice. It is the first Winter Solstice since Feyre became High Lady, and she is nervous about what to expect. The Night Court is rebuilding itself, but it has meant a lot of work for Feyre and her family. Despite then festive atmosphere shadows are hanging over Feyre and her family, as they try and cope after the war.

A Court of Frost and Starlight was one of the books I was most anticipating in 2018, curious about what story Maas wanted to tell. At over two hundred pages A Court of Frost and Starlight is considerably shorter than the three main novels in the series. It is therefore quite a quick read, and one I really enjoyed perhaps more because of the brevity of it. I went into the story without any real knowledge of what to expect apart from the blurb, which I think worked well. I fell straight back into the world of Prythian without feeling lost at any point.

There is, in my opinion, not a lot going on in A Court of Frost and Starlight in terms of the plot. If you are looking for something as filled with plot as the main novels of the series, then I think you will be disappointed. In the two hundred plus pages not a lot happens. But that is for me the cleverness of A Court of Frost and Starlight. Instead of plot Maas focuses on the characters; on Feyre and her family, and how they are coping with the fallout from the events in the previous books in the series now they have had time to take stock.

Seeing more of Feyre and her family and learning more about them was really interesting. I enjoyed how realistic the different ways everyone was coping were, and how the different narrators really helped to illustrate this. I also enjoyed getting to see how Feyre was settling into her role as High Lady without the threat of war looming over her. I would have liked to read more about how everyone was settling in, but even with that A Court of Frost and Starlight does feel like a complete story: Maas does a good job with leaving me wanting more, helped along by the sneak peek of the next novel at the end of the book.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses will not be disappointed by the addition of the companion tale A Court of Frost and Starlight. It may not add much to the overall story arc of the series in terms of plot, but it does add extra dimension to the characters and allow you to get to know them a little more. It has left me looking forward to getting my hands on the fourth book in the series, as if the hints in this book is anything to go by it will be a great read.

Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands, 2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Faber and Faber (1st February 2018)
Blurb:

Once, there was a desert under siege, and no one to defend it . . .

The rebels are crushed: most are captured, burned out or dead. Except Amani, and it’s up to her to protect the survivors.

But how can one girl save a whole rebellion?

Then foreign armies begin advancing across the desert plains and the Sultan stars hunting the rebels through the streets of Izman.

Now Amani must prove that she’s not  just a  desert girl any more, that she’s learned a few tricks since then. . .

Here begins the final battle for the throne. Who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

All heroes are mortal in the end . . .

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

HERO AT THE FALL brings Alwyn Hamilton’s fantastic Rebel of the Sands trilogy to a spectacular close. It continues the story of Amani and the Rebellion after what looks like the end of their uprising: their story is not over yet. Amani must work out how to save the rebellion, and in doing so prove that she is more than just a desert girl as the final battle for the throne begins. There is more than just the Sultan to be wary of, as foreign armies have begun advancing across the desert as the realm appears up for the picking.

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Review: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Picture of the cover of the UK hardback edition of Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff.

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (UK edition)

Title: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles, 2)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager (7th September 2017)
Blurb:

From the bestselling author, Jay Kristoff, comes the second book in the Nevernight Chronicle.

Mia Corvere, destroyer of empires, has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry do not believe she has earned it.

Her position is precarious, and she’s still no closer to exacting revenge for the brutal death of her family. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it is announced the Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself into slavery for a chance to fulfill the promise she made on the day she lost everything.

Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold, secrets are revealed and the body count rises within the collegium walls, Mia will be forced to choose between her loyalties and her revenge.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

GODSGRAVE is the second book in Jay Kristoff’s wonderful Nevernight Chronicles. It continues Mia Corvere’s story as she seeks revenge on those who slaughtered her family, when she was a child. After the events of the first book, NEVERNIGHT, Mia’s place within the Red Church is precarious; accepted not because of her skill, but because after the slaughter of their members they have need of her. After a confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to fear that there is more going on than she is aware of. After discovering an opportunity to gain her revenge on the men who killed her family, she decides to defy the Red Church.

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Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, 3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (2nd May 2017)
Blurb:

FEYRE WILL BRING VENGEANCE.

She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

BUT WHILE WAR RAGES, IT IS HER HEART THAT WILL FACE THE GREATEST BATTLE.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

In A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN Sarah J. Maas brings the events that have unfolded in her previous two books to a head. This book starts several weeks after the events of A COURT OF MIST AND RUIN and continues Feyre’s story. The return of the King of Hybern threatens to bring Prythian to its knees; to reignite an old war that has already seen lands split. With everyone she loves threatened Feyre must find out what this king is planning, and discover if any of the High Lords are trustworthy and willing to stand with her against such power.

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Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (UK edition)

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, 2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (3rd May 2016)
Blurb:

FEYRE IS IMMORTAL.

After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people – nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand’s dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.

SHE MUST SURRENDER HER HEART TO HEAL A WORLD TORN IN TWO.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY is the stunning sequel to Sarah J. Maas’s brilliant A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. Rescuing Tamlin from Amarantha, the wicked Faerie Queen, came at a terrible price. Feyre returned to the Spring Court with the man she loves, changed by the events. Feyre did terrible, horrible, unforgivable things in order to gain the freedom of Tamlin and his people; things she cannot, will not, forget even in the beauty and peace of the Spring Court. Then, of course, there is the matter of the bargain she made with Rhysland, High Lord of the Night Court.

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (UK edition).

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, 1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (5th May 2015)
Blurb:

FEYRE IS A HUNTRESS.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price . . .

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feelings for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been hold about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

FEYRE MUST FIND A WAY TO BREAK THE SPELL, OR LOSE HER HEART FOREVER.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas is the first book in the series of the same name. The book follows Feyre; she is the youngest of three daughters, and her family has fallen on hard times. With her father injured and neither of her elder sisters willing to, Feyre is forced to hunt to bring in a supply of food and coin for her family. Whilst out hunting for food desperate Feyre slaughters a wolf to gain its prey, so she can feed her family. But it is not just a wolf she kills, and taking the life of a magical creature comes with a hefty price.

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Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (UK edition)

Title: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands, 2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Faber and Faber (2nd February 2017)
Blurb:

This is not about blood, or love. This is about treason.

Amani has always been more gunpowder than girl. But as the Blue-Eyed Bandit her powers have gone from strength to strength – as has the rebellion she risks her life for.

Then a brutal kidnapping leads her straight to the Sultan’s palace, and she is forced to return to her desert-girl’s instincts for survival. Betrayal, cunning and espionage are a way of life here – and Amani finds she fits right in.

But with the ghosts of her past swirling all around her, Amani’d greatest fight may be to keep her own secret heart and desires under control . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

TRAITOR TO THE THRONE is Alwyn Hamilton’s stunning sequel to REBEL OF THE SANDS, and the second instalment of the trilogy. Amani escaped Dustwalk and found the rebellion in the first book. Known as the Blue-Eyed Bandit to some, she helps the rebellion rescue those persecuted under Sultan Oman’s rule. Then she is brutally kidnapped and ends up in the Sultan’s palace, where she gains not only his attention but also that of his heir. Betrayal, cunning and espionage are the only way to survive, so Amani finds herself returning to her roots – the desert-girl’s instincts of survival that she honed growing up may just serve her well.

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Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (UK edition)

Title: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns 1)
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (22nd September 2016)
Blurb:

IN EVERY GENERATION ON THE ISLAND OF FENNBIRN A SET OF TRIPLETS IS BORN: THREE QUEENS, ALL EQUAL HEIRS TO THE CROWN, ALL POSSESSED OF A COVETED MAGIC.

MIRABELLA, a fierce elemental, can spark hungry flames with the click of a finger.

KATHARINE, a poisoner, is known to be resistant to the deadliest of snake bites.

ARSINOE, a naturalist, is rumoured to have the ability to bloom the reddest of roses.

But becoming the Queen Crowned is not just a matter of royal birth. These three sisters must fight to the death for the throne, and on the night they turn sixteen the battle begins. Only one queen can inherit the crown.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

THREE DARK CROWNS is the first novel in Kendare Blake’s latest series. The book tells the story of a set of triplets born on the island of Fennbirn. These triplets are all considered queens, and all three of them have an equal claim to the crown. All three of them possess a coveted magic, though that is where their similarities end. Mirabella can control the elements; Katharine is a poisoner, known to be resistant to the most deadly or toxins; and Arsinoe is a naturalist who can make flowers bloom and call animals to her. Only one of them can claim the crown, and the winner must kill her sisters.

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Review: Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Goldenhand by Garth Nix (UK edition)

Goldenhand by Garth Nix (UK edition)

Title: Goldenhand (The Old Kingdom Series, 5)
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books (4th October 2016)
Blurb:

Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind.

When Lirael saves Nicholas Sayre after he is left unconscious by an attack from a hideous Free Magic creature, she finds he is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Lirael must seek help for him at the Clayr’s Glacier, her childhood home.

But even as she returns to the Clayr, a messenger is trying to reach Lirael with a dire warning from her long-dead mother, Arielle, about the Witch With No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?

Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and must be forestalled not only in the living world, but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Goldenhand is the long-awaited fifth instalment of Garth Nix’s New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

GOLDENHAND is the fifth book in Garth Nix’s sprawling young adult fantasy Old Kingdom series. This book continues the story from ABHORSEN, so there will be some spoilers from previous books in this review. When the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Lirael, gets called to deal with a Free Magic creature that is the Wall she discovers Nicholas Sayre unconscious and deeply tainted with Free Magic. Unsure what is going on, or how to help him Lirael decides to seek help at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier. Meanwhile, a messenger is searching for Lirael with a warning from her mother about the Witch With No Face.

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