Back on the scene

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I have been silent since October 2015. Back then, my second born wasn't even one year old and blogging had become an issue.  I haven't stopped reading but I have to admit that I have slowed quite a bit, for a time... My reading sessions were back to a simpler reading for pleasure time but every now and then, I still had the habit of taking notes on my reader.

I missed contributing in small parts to the blogosphere and had a hard time of keeping track of the releases I looked forward to, the Fantasy maps, the covers, the news and all the rest. While I still don't have an infinite amount of time to give to my blog, I think that I can share my experience and contribute for those looking for Epic Fantasy tidbits.

The posts I'll write will probably be very similar in style to what I wrote from 2009 to 2015 but I have a new idea for review. It's not a revolution but I'll try to give a more straightforward opinion to help you choose the books you could pick instead of going into an intricate break down.

So, what have I been reading or listening to in the past year and a half? I'll write another post with the list and some comments about the books.

What else? I'll change the blog template, the map index need a good update and isn't the Game of Thrones series still amazing!

October releases

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What will you read this month? To help you in your search for Fantasy novels worth a read (maybe...) in October, here's my spotlight.


The Empire Ascendant
Worldbreaker Saga book 2
Kameron Hurley
October 6th
Every two thousand years, parallel dimensions collide on the world called Raisa, bringing a tide of death and destruction to all worlds but one. Multiple worlds battle their dopplegangers for dominance, and those who survive must contend with friends and enemies newly imbued with violent powers.  
Now the pacifist country of Dhai's only hope for survival lies in the hands of an illegitimate ruler and a scullery maid with a powerful – but unpredictable –magic. As their dopplegangers spread across the world like a disease, a former ally takes up her Empress’s sword again to unseat her, and two enslaved scholars begin a treacherous journey home with a long-lost secret that they hope is the key to the other worlds' undoing. 
But when the enemy shares your own face, who can be trusted?

Shadows of Self 
Mistborn book 5
Brandon Sanderson
October 6th

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.


The Dread Wyrm
The Traitor Son Cycle book 3
Miles Cameron
October 15th



The Red Knight has stood against soldiers, against armies and against the might of an empire without flinching. He's fought on real and on magical battlefields alike, and now he's facing one of the greatest challenges yet. 

A tournament. 

A joyous spring event, the flower of the nobility will present arms and ride against each other for royal favour and acclaim. It's a political contest - and one which the Red Knight has the skill to win. But the stakes may be higher than he thinks. The court of Alba has been infiltrated by a dangerous faction of warlike knights, led by the greatest knight in the world: Jean de Vrailly - and the prize he's fighting for isn't royal favour, but the throne of Alba itself. 

Where there is competition there is opportunity; the question is, will the Red Knight take it? Or will the creatures of the Wild seize their chance instead . . .

The Paladin Caper
Rogues of the Republic book 3
Patrick Weekes
October 27th
A thief’s good deeds are never done. 
Loch and her crew are determined to stop the ancients from returning to reclaim the world they once ruled, but a kidnapped friend throws their plans awry. When a desperate rescue turns into a shocking reunion, the ancients return and seize power. Determined to stop them, Loch and the crew look for a way to close the gate to the ancients’ world, but this time, they find themselves up against an enemy that has insinuated itself into the highest ranks of the Republic. Cruel, cunning, and connected, the ancients target the crew’s families and histories, threatening to tear friendships apart. 
If that weren’t bad enough, Loch must deal with her treacherous assassin sister, her turncoat ancient friend, and a daemon who has sworn to hunt her to the ends of the earth. In order to save the Republic and pull off her largest con ever, Loch will need her friends…and maybe her enemies too.

a small hiatus

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm doing some thinking about my blogging and I should be back soon with a decision.

Meanwhile, I just finished Half the World by Joe Abercrombie and I'm nearing the end of The Witcher 3, one of the most amazing game ever, even more so when you have read Sapkowski's novels.

Hope to return soon.

UPDATE: after a month o f giving thoughts to my blogging, I decided to keep going. We'll see in a couple of months if I can keep up...

September releases

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September brings back a larger list of Fantasy books for my release spotlight after a quiet summer.

Also note that Unholy War, the Moontide Quartet book 3 by David Hair is released in the US.


Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
 The Song of the Shattered Sands book 1
Bradley P. Beaulieu
September 1st
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother. 
As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools—they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

The Dragon Engine
Blood Dragon Empire book 1
Andy Remic
September 1st
Five noble war heroes of Vagandrak get drunk one night and sign a contract – to journey to the Karamakkos in search of the Five Havens where, it is written, there is untold, abandoned wealth and, more importantly, the three Dragon Heads – jewels claimed to give unspeakable power and everlasting life to those who wield them.
But the Dragon Heads aren’t what they think, and the world has not encountered their like in generations!
Think Smaug was fierce? You ain’t seen nothing!

Sunset Mantle
Alter S. Reiss
September 15th
With a single blow, Cete won both honor and exile from his last commander. Since then he has wandered, looking for a place to call home. The distant holdings of the Reach Antach offer shelter, but that promise has a price. 
The Reach Antach is doomed. 
Barbarians, traitors, and scheming investors conspire to destroy the burgeoning settlement. A wise man would move on, but Cete has found reason to stay. A blind weaver-woman and the beautiful sunset mantle lure the warrior to wager everything he has left on one final chance to turn back the hungry tides of war.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant
Seth Dickinson
September 15th
In Seth Dickinson's highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy. 
Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul. 
When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire's civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free. 
Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it's on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize. 
But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

Battlemage trilogy book 1
Stephen Aryan
September 22th
'I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,' Balfruss growled. 'It's dangerous to meddle with things you don't understand.' 
BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.
VARGUS is a common soldier - while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade. 
TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all. 
Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent.

Reign of Iron
Age of Iron book 3
Angus Watson
September 29th
Caesar's soldiers have murdered, massacred and pillaged their way through Gaul and loom on the far side of the sea, ready to descend upon Britain - with them are an unstoppable legion of men twisted by dark magic. Somehow Queen Lowa must repel the invasion, although her best general is dead and her young druid powerless. She faces impossible odds, but when the alternative is death or slavery, a warrior queen will do whatever it takes to save her people.  

The Shadow Throne review

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Shadow Throne is Django Wexler's second novel in the Shadow Campaigns series and was released last year. The first book in the flintlock and military Fantasy series, and Wexler's debut, The Thousand Names, was released back in 2013. The author made a good name for himself and I think he presented a solid debut creating higher hopes for the future. The Price of Valour (book 3 out of a planned 5) was released this summer.
Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin’s bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne. 
The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries—and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom. 
And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy. 
Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself—and her country—out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass. 
As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence—at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise.
One small aggravating factor for my rating of Wexler's first novel (I still gave the novel three and a half stars out of five) was the long march the heroes of Vordanai had to go through. Even if the focus of the book was mostly military, a plot worthy of a good Fantasy novel was brewing underneath the flintlock emphasis, magic and demons included. Still, the valiant efforts of the author to put his characters in situations where only a stroke of cleverness could save them weren't always effective. With that to work on to some degree, the path is marked out for an improved follow-up.

Speaking of cleverness, this is the trademark of Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, the leader of the expeditionary forces who is the first to return triumphant to the capital of Vordan (Ohnlei) with only Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass and her Captain from the first book, Marcus d'Ivoire, in tow. Alas, from there his whereabouts are significantly reduced. However, in Shadow Throne, the Colonel's enemies are now well known and given short points of view (an improvement). One of them, the most prominent in the novel, is the last Duke, Orlanko, Minister of Information and the secret police. For the better part of the book, the man seems like the mighty opponent built since the first book but it doesn't stand up to the end (I'll come back to this later) and he can play the stereotypical part when he wants to.

Newly come to the story is Raesinia, the princess of Vordan. I have to give credits to Wexler for his strong, compelling and persuasive female protagonists. The only drawback is her bodyguard who is out of balance in this tale and comes up exclusively to save the day, almost miraculously. The young heir, with her cabal of scholars and insurgents, is slowly starting a revolution amidst her own people. With her addition and role in the story, Shadow Throne takes a turn from the military focus of the The Thousand Names to venture into political intrigue ground. This means less action sequences for the two thirds of the book and for me, a more interesting setup and continuation to support the narrative. However, it may coerce the fans of "military fantasy and skillfully rendered battles" (quote from my review of TTN) who favored the first opus into straying from the book.

Back to Raesinia. She's also gifted with a special ability giving her extra possibilities for more endeavors than the inception of a complicated but controlled revolt. Her thread is a fair substitute for the lack of camaraderie found originally in the motley Colonial forces. Moreover, she's not alone with a special skill. She eventually stumbles upon a charismatic and eloquent speaker, slightly inspired by the French revolution, aptly named Danton. They will both become the center of attention and his collaboration will put Raesinia on par with both Orlanko and Vhalnich in the battle for power. The author has a knack for creating powerful protagonists, a real player and even if I still liked Marcus parts of the story better, she's become more interesting than Winter.

Speaking of the incognito soldier, she doesn't seem to be given her due as a character. For her, the build-up was based on her lost lover. As you can gather, there's a reunion, that's not really a spoiler. I think that my problem with her thread isn't really the object of her desires, apprehension and both dreams and torment, it's the way she acts when she's around.  Maybe it's the fact that she becomes more vulnerable, but for me, it felt like a downgrade in term of development and her progress from the first book were thrown out the window.  As far as she's concerned, her particular status linking her to The Thousand Names is on hiatus and even if the book is far from having bridging novels problems, quite the contrary, she was a letdown. Jane though is another strong willed woman.

On the other hand, there's Marcus. In the first book, he really grew on me and now, he's got a new position giving him the opportunity to reminisce and find out more about the hurtful events of his past. Mix that up with a hand in the rebellion from the side of the 'police', a couple of interventions with Vhalnich and a significant part to play in the more important incidents and you get a nice thrilling ride seen from the conflicted, resolute mind of a resilient fighter, a protagonist with more depth than meets the eye. He grounds the story exactly to the needed extent.

When every thread collides, the pace picks up and things take on a more global approach. Action shifts to the next gear and while everyone's getting ready, the whole plot of Wexler reveals its true colors and they are rich.  The final battle itself isn't as mesmerizing, vivid or exiting as the ones from The Thousand Names and it's there that Orlando shows some silliness and carelessness out of character. Granting all this, the whole resolution of the affair is satisfactory even if I again, I thought that the talents of perception of Vhalnich are not outstanding.

Beyond the shadow (see what I did there!) of a doubt for me, I feel that The Shadow Throne is a better novel than its predecessor. The setting and plot is more tightly woven and more interesting than the story of The Thousand Names. The author is showing better skills with this type of account and succeeds in driving expectations forward. Magic and unnatural prowesses are not fully explained so there's room for a great finale with everything that has happened so far.

Cover:  The UK cover (the one at the top) looks much better.
Release date: July 3rd 2014
Map: A nice but not so useful map of Vordan is included (the action takes place only in Ohnlei)
Number of pages: 512 pages hardcover edition
Acquisition method: My own audiobook purchase
Other: No...

I liked...Was disappointed by...
The new charactersWinter's thread
The focus on political intrigue instead of warfareDuke Orlanko's inconstancy
The strong women charactersVhalnich staying in the shadows

The Shadow Throne review rating :

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