Suramya's Book Review Cafe

March 26, 2021

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

Filed under: Young Adult Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:12 pm


This Golden Flame
by Emily Victoria

Description:
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.

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Rating: (4/5)

Review:

This debut novel by Emily Victoria was a great light read. The characters in the book were mostly well defined and the world building in the book was superb. There were a few twists in the story that I wasn’t expecting and they made the story more fun. I did feel that the final battle was over very quickly and it felt rushed. The build up was nice & long and then suddenly the battle is won and it is all over. It kind of felt like the author thought that the book was long enough and wanted to end it. However, that being said it didn’t spoil the book for me so that is good. It would be interesting to read regular book (instead of a Young Adult) based in this universe as I feel it has a lot of scope for those kind of stories.

I will be keeping an eye on her for her next book release.

March 25, 2021

Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon 01) by Saladin Ahmed

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 7:40 pm


Throne of the Crescent Moon
by Saladin Ahmed

Description:
The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “The last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God’s justice. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the Lion-Shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time–and struggle against their own misgivings–to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

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Rating: (4.5/5)

Review:

I found this book via a list online where they had listed books with protagonists who were older and not the usual teens/young people. In the book Dr Adoulla Makhslood, is way past his prime and just wants to rest but since there are no others with his skills and talent he keeps getting pulled into situations that are dangerous and potentially lethal. Aboulla is old and cranky and his joints hurt but he still tries to do the right thing.

What I really liked about this book was the characters, each of them has their own personality and are fully fleshed out, instead of being one dimensional and there just to further the plot. The story was fast moving and is based on the middle-east mythology and of a similar vibe to the stories in Arabian nights. It is good that a lot of authors are basing their stories in places other than Europe/US as there are some amazing stories waiting to be told from the mythologies of other countries.

The book ended at a good place, but left the door open for the next book in the series. I couldn’t find any definite dates on when the next book is being released but you can be sure that I will be keeping an eye out for it.

In all a great read. Highly recommend

March 21, 2021

The Frozen Crown (Warrior Witch 01) by Greta Kelly

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:39 pm


The Frozen Crown
by Greta Kelly

Description:

A princess with a powerful and dangerous secret must find a way to save her country from ruthless invaders in this exciting debut fantasy, the first novel in a thrilling duology packed with heroism, treachery, magic, and war.

Askia became heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh because of her devotion to her people. But her realm is facing a threat she cannot defeat by sheer will alone. The mad emperor of the Roven Empire has unleashed a horde of invading soldiers to enslave her lands. For months, her warriors have waged a valiant, stealth battle, yet they cannot stop the enemy’s advancement. Running out of time, she sets sail for sun-drenched Vishir, the neighboring land to the south, to seek help from its ruler, Emperor Armaan.

A young woman raised in army camps, Askia is ill-equipped to navigate Vishir’s labyrinthine political games. Her every move sinks her deeper into court intrigues which bewilder and repel her, leaving her vulnerable not only to enemies gathering at Vishir’s gates, but to those behind the palace walls.

And in this glittering court, where secrets are worth more than gold, Askia fears that one false step will expose her true nature. For Askia is a witch gifted with magical abilities—knowledge that could destroy not only her life but her people. As her adversaries draw closer, Askia is forced to make an impossible choice—and no matter what she decides, it may not be enough to prevent Seravesh’s fall.

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Rating: (4.5/5)

Review:

This is the first book by the author, and I loved it. The book starts of with the Princess Askia approaching the Vishir empire for help against the invaders who have taken over her kingdom. At first you only get brief glimpses of why she is asking for help but over the course of the story more details are revealed. It is very easy to get this wrong and I have read books in the past where the reader is dropped into the middle of the story but not given much details and they were very confusing. It is difficult to do this in a way that keeps the reader’s attention without giving all the details up front and Kelly grace pulled it off brilliantly.

The characters in the book are detailed, with a lot of grey. There are no easy answers and the character’s motivations actually make sense. They make decisions based on duty, love and quest for power. The best part is that there is no clear demarcation of the good guys and bad guys (except for Radovan who is the invader). Folks who you thought were the bad guys help the main character against Radovan and people who you thought would help hinder her. There is no right answer on how to resolve the issues and the characters take decisions that are not perfect but actually make sense instead of making bad decisions for no reason to advance the plot.

I would have liked the book to go into a bit more detail on the magical structure in this universe and how it works but enough details were given to make sure we are not confused/lost.

I have a feeling that the motivations of Radovan will be explored in more detail in the next book as it was just hinted at in this one. I for one can’t wait for the next book to be released.

March 12, 2021

Jolene (Elemental Masters 15) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 6:47 am


Jolene (Elemental Masters 15)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

The beloved Elemental Masters series moves to America for the first time in a rich retelling of The Queen of the Copper Mountain, set against the backdrop of Tennessee coal country.

Anna May Jones is the daughter of a coal miner, but a sickly constitution has kept her confined to the house for most of her life. Hoping to improve her daughter’s health—and lessen the burden on their family—Anna’s mother sends her to live with her Aunt Jinny, a witchy-woman and an Elemental Master, in a holler outside of Ducktown.

As she settles into her new life, Anna learns new skills at Aunt Jinny’s side and discovers that she, too, has a gift for Elemental magic that Jinny calls “the Glory”. She also receives lessons from a mysterious and bewitching woman named Jolene, who assures her that, with time, Anna could become even more powerful than her aunt.

But with Anna’s increasing power comes increasing notice. Billie McDaran, the foreman of the Ducktown mine, begins to take an interest in Anna and her abilities—even though Anna has already fallen in love with a young man with a talent for stonecarving.

If she wants to preserve the life she has come to love, Anna must use her newfound powers to oppose the foreman and protect those around her.

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Rating: (5/5)

Review:

Mercedes Lackey is one of my all time favorite authors and I usually buy her books immediately when they are released but for some reason I missed the launch of this book. Thankfully I realized my mistake a few days ago and immediately set about rectifying it.

This is the 15th book in her Elemental Masters series and there are very few authors who can keep the stories interesting after so many entries in the series. The book is a standalone book and can be read even if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, but the story will be much richer if you have read the other books in the series as there are subtle references to other books and organizations that would mean a lot more to someone who has read the other books.

The book is based in the America’s and is a retelling of The Queen of the Copper Mountain which is a Russian fairy tale who is the patroness of miners, the protector and owner of hidden underground riches, who can either permit or prevent the mining of stones and metals in certain places. What I really like about these stories is that it introduces you to folktales & stories from other parts of the world. After I read the book, I immediately did a little research on the folktale and found it to be fascinating.

The storyline is quite simple but the way it is told keeps you engrossed till the very end. I really liked how she made serious effort to depict how cruel a life of a miner was in the late 1800’s. The story also touches on the Trail of tears and the civil war but that is mostly tangential to the story. Her calling magic as glory was a bit distracting at first and it was surprising that none of the standard elementary creatures such as salamanders etc make any appearance. Although, we do have references to the Native American magic and creatures from their folklore do make an appearance. There is enough references to real events and folklore to make the story interesting and get people interested in learning more about them. I personally have gone on researching spree’s after reading one of the books in the series to get more details about some of the stuff that she mentions in the book.

Overall a great book, I highly recommend it.

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