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September 15, 2020

Bared Blade (Fallen Blade 02) by Kelly McCullough

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 5:44 PM

Bared Blade (Fallen Blade 02)
by Kelly McCullough


Former temple assassin Aral Kingslayer has a price on his head and a mark on his soul. After his goddess was murdered, Aral found refuge in the shadow jack business, fixing problems for those on the fringes of Tien’s underworld. It’s a long step down from working for the Goddess of Justice, but it gives Aral and Triss—the living shadow who is his secret partner—a reason to get up in the morning.

When two women hit a rough spot in the tavern Aral uses for an office, he and Triss decide to lend a helping hand–only to find themselves in the middle of a three-way battle to find an artifact that just might be the key to preventing a war. And with so many factions on their trail, Aral and Triss are attracting a lot more attention than anyone featured on ten thousand wanted posters can afford…

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Bared Blade picks up about a year after the events of Broken Blade where Aral is no longer trying to drown himself in Alcohol and is trying to help people achieve Justice (not the black/white version he used to believe in when his Goddess was still alive but his own take on it. He has made some friends and seems to be doing ok for himself. While he is having dinner, two women get into trouble while he is there and he helps them out at some risk to himself. This decision starts off the story and embroils him in the intrigue involving the Others, Hand of God, Stingers etc.

The story is quick moving and is a lot more twists and turns than the previous book in the series. The book explores the affects of addiction from Aral’s perspective and makes it more realistic by not hand waving it away. Aral was a functioning alcoholic and even a year later he has urges to go back to drinking especially when things are hard and he doesn’t have good solutions. Which is what happens in the real world as well from what I have read. There is a major twist about 3/4th of the way through which creates a lot of drama for the team and it becomes even more important in the next book of the series.

The book can be read as a standalone novel if you want but reading the previous book will give you additional context for some of the decisions and actions taken by the characters.

Final Review: Good read. Check it out if you like the previous book in the series.

September 12, 2020

Broken Blade (Fallen Blade 01) by Kelly McCullough

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 11:13 AM

Broken Blade (Fallen Blade 01)
by Kelly McCullough


Once a fabled Blade of Namara, Aral Kingslayer fought for justice and his goddess alongside his familiar, a living shadow called Triss. Now with their goddess murdered and her temple destroyed, they are among the last of their kind. Surviving on the fringes of society, Aral becomes a drunken, broken, and wanted man, working whatever shadowy deal comes his way. Until a mysterious woman hires him to deliver a secret message-one that can either redeem him or doom him.

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Rating: (4/5)


The Broken blade is the first book in the Fallen Blade series and it’s very different from his Webmage series. Its a little bit more darker with a more damaged & cynical hero rather than a wisecracking one. The book starts off with the main character Aral, getting drunk in a bar, and a lady walks in looking to hire him. This is a straight ripoff of all detective stories where the Damsel seeks out the hero for help. However we quickly find out that this is not the typical detective story and there is more to the damsel that we initially thought.

The characters in the book are very well written. A lot of Aral’s backstory is only hinted at for the initial part of the book, its only later in the book we get to know more about his story as a series of flashbacks. Kelly does a great job of showing the pain Aral is going through due to the murder of his goddess and his constant struggle with alcohol addiction. Some of the supporting characters could have been fleshed out more but it wasn’t bad enough to be distracting. The book is a light read and doesn’t require you to spend a lot of energy remembering plot points.

The epilogue of the book was a little bit unsatisfying for me as his decision didn’t really make sense from my perspective but looking at it from the perspective of someone who has lost everything and had been trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol it makes a certain amount of sense.

Great book. Looking forward to rereading the next book in the series.

August 27, 2020

The Empire of Gold (Daevabad 03) by S A Chakraborty

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 4:55 PM

The Empire of Gold (Daevabad 03)

by S A Chakraborty


The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the death of his people and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. Though Nahri is finding peace in the rhythms of her old home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior, are at the mercy of a new tyrant.

Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved…and take a stand for those they once hurt.

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Rating: (4/5)


The is the final book in the Daevabad Trilogy and picks up just a few hours after the 2nd book ended. Nahid leader Banu Manizheh has succeeded in her conquest of Daevabad. Nahri and Ali are in Cario but don’t know how they got there and how to get back, and to make things even more dire magic has stopped working for everyone except Dara who is struggling with the guilt of the deaths caused by their conquest while trying to hold the tatters of the city together and prevent a decent into anarchy.

The characters are well written and their motivations make sense, there is no clear cut ‘bad guy’ in the book as both sides have committed acts that they are ashamed of and are trying to get past to rebuild their city. The descriptions of Cairo and the daily lives of people living there are realistic and even the supporting characters have a purpose and are not cardboard cut-outs there to further the plot. I especially liked the fact that book is based out of the Middle East and not in the western world since a majority of Fantasy/Scifi books are based in the US or in EU. It gives me a chance to learn more about a culture not normally depicted in popular books.

However there is a small part of the script that I didn’t quite understand/like mainly because there was no buildup to it, even though it solved a major problem for Nahri & Ali it felt contrived just because it came out of the blue especially since the folks helping had been identified as people who don’t interfere in mortal affairs. I can’t give more details without revealing a major plot twist.

Another minor detail that was a bit annoying was the author’s tendency of switching from a character’s first name to last name and back multiple times in a chapter for no particular reason. It made the book a bit confusing in the begining as I thought they were two different characters not realizing they were both the same person.

However, all said and done the book was beautifully written and I highly recommend you check it out.

– Suramya

July 5, 2010

The Destined Queen (Umbria Book 03) by Deborah Hale

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy,Reviews-Romance — Suramya @ 9:17 PM

The Destined Queen (Umbria Book 02)
by Deborah Hale


Can the Queen who has once done the impossible ever be free?

After awakening the “Waiting King” — the one destined to free her country from the long occupation of the Han — Maura Woodbury thinks her duty to her country completed. But Maura’s task has only just begun. Rath, once a notorious outlaw, has no magic, and thus no power to expel the invaders from their kingdom. Yet the people expect a miracle. And so Maura, still new to using life-magic, is their only hope . . .

Maura must journey into the unknown, searching for a magical staff — one that will grant the awakened king one grand wish. But separation from her consort breeds jealousies, devastating secrets and ties to an intimate enemy. Stricken by doubt, Maura and Rath are tempted to ignore the call of fate — but what will happen to the country if they do?

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Review:The waiting king has been found but he doesn’t seem to have any special powers or magical weapons. So how does a former outlaw and a wizard’s ward defeat an entire nation’s army?

This is the question Maura and Rath have to answer. Luckily for them they have help from an unexpected source. However they soon learn that nothing is easy even with magic assisting them. So Maura sets out to find a legendary magical staff while Rath battles the Han on the battlefield.

The characters and plots that we saw in the first book are further enhanced in the second book and a lot of things from the first book start making even more sense that they did in the first book.

The plot was a bit more complex than the first book but still relatively simple compared to some of the other fantasy novels out there in the market.

The characters are even better defined than the first book and the author really captures their hopes, desires and doubts in the book.

Final Recommendation: An excellent read

July 4, 2010

The Wizard’s Ward (Umbria Book 01) by Deborah Hale

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy,Reviews-Romance — Suramya @ 9:14 PM

The Wizard’s Ward (Umbria Book 01)
by Deborah Hale


They were as different as night and day — an innocent sorceress and a notorious outlaw — but now all Maura and Rath have is each other. After Maura’s guardian, an old wizard named Langbard, is brutally murdered, the two are thrown together on a quest to find a legendary king and restore a conquered nation.

Umbria has long been under the yoke of the ruthless Han. So long, in fact, that many Umbrians have forgotten the Elderways — the magic, myths, and belief systems that once gave the country its strength. Langbard is one of the few who still remember the old ways, and he has diligently passed his wisdom on to his ward, a sheltered orphan named Maura. When Langbard informs her that she is the Destined Queen who must find and waken the Waiting King to overthrow the Han, she doesn’t accept her task — until Langbard is killed by Han death-mages.

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Review:What would you do if you were told that you were the legendary destined queen who would wake up the waiting king and free your people from the Han who have oppressed them for generations?

This the question that Maura had to answer when her guardian told her that she was the destined queen. Unfortunately for her he was killed soon after so the only person she could depend on was Rath, an outlaw who had promised to guide her to the person who would point her in the correct direction.

The plot is relatively simple and the obstacles that they both face sort of seem contrived at first but as you read along you realize that all of them have a deeper link to the story and each of them furthered the story in some way. Although the main ‘twist’ was something I had expected from pretty much the start, knowing it didn’t spoil the book.

The main strength of the book is the character development which was excellent. Some of the side characters could have been a bit more defined but the main characters were pretty well defined.

Final Recommendation: A great read

June 14, 2010

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic Book 01) by Patricia C Wrede

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy,Reviews-Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya @ 8:54 PM

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic Book 01)
by Patricia C Wrede


Eff Rothmer is the twin sister of a seventh son of a seventh son, growing up on the edge of the “safe” settled area of the U.S. in the 1850s (though history has not gone quite the way it did in our world-the Civil War, for instance, happened in 1832, and Lewis and Clark never came back…)

This is the first book of a fantasy trilogy about settling the West in a world where magic works and the New World was not settled until modern magic (of Columbus’ day) made it
possible to fend off the dangerous wildlife (which includes both imaginary beasts like steam dragons and spectral bears, and real-life post-ice-age creatures like wooly mammoths).

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Review:This is a book that I had been waiting to read for a long time. It took forever for the store to deliver it to me but now that I have read it, it was worth the wait to get it.

The book has been written for young adults and stars Eff who is the 13th child in her family and because of that is expected to bring bad luck to everyone around her. The only people who don’t believe her are her immediate family and her twin brother.

The book starts when Eff is quite young and then covers her life till she turns 18. During this period she learns more about herself and the world around her and how even though she is the 13th child that doesn’t mean that she would bring doom to everyone around her.

Its a very nicely written coming of age story that takes place in an alternate universe where magic is real and the wild west is actually wild and the frontiermen have to deal with both magical and mundane threats.

Final Recommendation: A great read. If you know teens who might be interested in reading Fantasy then I recommend that you suggest this book to them.

May 16, 2010

Gryphon’s Quest (Tales of the Order Book 01) by Candace Sams

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 7:06 PM

Gryphon’s Quest (Tales of the Order Book 01)
by Candace Sams


Druid Warrior, Gryphon O’Connor must retrieve the Rune Stones of the Tuatha De Danan, which were stolen from an ancient Irish burial site and will allow a person to shape shift. By the time he gets to New York where the stones have been taken, they’ve been used to commit a hideous murder. At the Manhattan Museum of Antiquities, Heather Green is an Acquisitions Assistant. To find the stones within the cavernous museum, Gryphon approaches her for help. His story about stolen rune stones is just too unbelievable, and Gryphon isn’t the kind of man Heather can trust. But if Gryphon reveals too many of his secrets it will cost him and Heather their lives.

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Review:Gryphon’s Quest is the first novel in the Tales of the Order series and also happens to be the first book by the author that I have read. So far I am quite impressed by her writing style and I really liked the book.

The characters were quite well defined and even though the plot wasn’t too involved and was a bit simplistic, the way she told the story covered all of that up and made the book into an engrossing story.

Since its the first book in the series it sets the stage for the next books in the series but thankfully doesn’t do it with a cliff-hanger or by leaving threads untied. I think this series is going to be a set of stories that happen to be set in the same universe rather than a continuing story line.

Final Recommendation: A good read.

May 5, 2010

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate Book 02) by Gail Carriger

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 4:31 PM

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate Book 02)
by Gail Carriger


Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears – leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

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Review:In the second book in the Parasol Protectorate the ‘Soulless’ Alexia Maccon, Lady Woolsey is investigating the cause of all the supernatural people in an area becoming human and follows her husband to Scotland while trying to solve the case.

The book is written in a decidedly cheeky fashion with Alexia using her wit, biting civility and her trusty parasol to get answers. I loved the main character who in-spite of being a woman in the 1800’s is a person with brains and has a surprising lack of the ability to have vapors.

The book was quite fast paced and the plot was streamlined so at no point in the book did I get distracted or wanted to stop.

Though Alexia’s sister was a character that I could have done without as she apparently was only there to annoy her sister and keep making idiotic snippy comments.

Final recommendation: A great read

May 1, 2010

Storm Breaking (Valdemar: Mage Storms Book 03) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 4:18 PM

Storm Breaking (Valdemar: Mage Storms Book 03)
by Mercedes Lackey


Storm Breaking is the third book in the Mage Storm Trilogy.

As mysterious, magical onslaughts ravage Valdemar and the kingdoms of the West, the western allies have traveled far to locate the ruins of the Tower of Urtho, Mage of Silence, and excavate his legendary Vault, hidden stronghold of some of the most powerful magical weapons ever devised. They now know that the mage storms are an ‘echo’ through time of the prehistoric Cataclysm which permanently warped their world more than two thousand years ago. If they don’t find a way to stop these magical vibrations they will culminate in another Cataclysm- this time destroying their world for good.

But Urtho’s Vault is not the only thing buried below the Dorisha Plains, and camped in the ruins of what was once the workplace of the most ingenious mage their world has ever known, the desperate allies soon realize that their solution may lie beneath their feet. The saving of their world just might be accomplished by the work of a man who has been dead for millennia!

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Review:Storm Breaking is the Third and final book in the Mage Storms trilogy. Things are coming to head in this book with the Mage Storm slowly increasing in magnitude to the point that the temporary solution implemented in the previous book is no longer effective. Karal and the rest are still in Urtho’s tower trying to reach a solution while Elspeth and Darkwind are with Duke Tremane trying to solve the problem from that end.

This book gives us a lot broader view of the Eastern Empire and some of it residents who had been mere hints in the previous books. We learn a lot more about life in the empire and the way the storms affected it.

A few surprises were there when the nature of Iftel’s barrier is revealed and another piece of the puzzle drops into place showing us a broader image of what happened after the Mage wars.

The book was faster paced than the previous books in the trilogy and was more action than introspection. A minor thing that annoyed me and stood out was the way the Imperials used the term ’40 little Gods’ in the first book when referring to their Gods but in the second and third book they started using ‘100 little Gods’ . Not a major issue but something that should have been caught by the copy-editor and/or proof-reader.

Other than that the book was a great read.

Final Recommendation: A great read.

April 30, 2010

Storm Rising (Valdemar: Mage Storm Book 02) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Reviews-Fantasy — Suramya @ 4:16 PM

Storm Rising (Valdemar: Mage Storm Book 02)
by Mercedes Lackey


Storm Rising is the second book in the Mage Storm Trilogy.

The dire threat of war with the powerful, sorcerous, Eastern Empire has forced the kingdom of Valdemar into an uneasy coalition with its traditional enemy, the neighboring kingdom of Karse.

But now, mysterious mage-storms are wreaking havoc on both Valdemar and Karse, plaguing these lands not only with disastrous earthquakes, monsoons, and ice storms, but also with venomous magical constructs- terrifying creatures out of nightmare.

As Valdemar’s Herald and Karse’s Sun-Priests struggle to marshal their combined magical resources to protect their realms from these devastating, spell-fueled onslaughts, the still fragile alliance between these long-hostile lands begins to fray. Only the personal intervention of Solaris, the High Priestess and ruler of Karse, can defuse what is rapidly becoming a dangerously explosive situation.

But Solaris also confirms the worst fears of the Heralds- that these storms come from a mysterious, unknown source. And unless Valdemar and Karse can locate and destroy the elusive and enigmatic cause of these storms, they will see their entire world demolished in a final magical holocaust.

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Review:Storm Rising is the second book in the Mage Storms trilogy and continues the story from where the previous book ended. Karal is now the official envoy from Karse in Valdemar and he is facing a lot of opposition from other members of the council thanks to his youth.

A lot of members of the council are under the impression that the breakwater created in the previous book is a permanent solution for the Mage storms and are not happy when told otherwise.

An’desha comes to terms with his memories and realizes that he is not the same person as Falconsbane which causes a rift between him and Firesong. Who feels that he is being neglected by the rest of the characters.

A temporary truce is declared between the Imperial soldiers in Hardorn and the Alliance and between them they manage to create another stopgap measure for the storms.

The book focuses a bit more on the emotional and physiological aspects of the situations the characters deal with instead of just plain tactical aspects. But it doesn’t get to the point where you just want to put a character out of his/her misery.

Final Recommendation: A great read.

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