The Raven’s Shadow trilogy is a fantasy series by Anthony Ryan. The first book is Blood Song (first published in 2011), followed by Tower Lord (2014) and Queen of Fire (2015). The books chronicle the life of Vaelin Al Sorna, the son of the King’s famed and feared Battle Lord, after he is severed from his family and deposited into the Sixth Order. A religious sect dedicated to transforming children into elite and deadly warriors. They are bound to the tenants of their faith, and famed for their prowess.
The brothers of the Sixth Order are wherever the fighting is the hottest and wherever the deadliest foes threaten the realm. They are trained to show up, outclass, and annihilate foes – then mic-drop on the way out. This series delivers.
Blood Song is the academy book of the series. The formative years. One of the best of its kind. Blood Song delves into the training of Vaelin and his peers as they are moulded into men who will be the vanguard in combat and conflict throughout the realm. It is a coming of age story, and it is a vital book. It forms the foundation, the relationships, and the personalities that prop up and propel the story over the course of the trilogy.
It is amazing. I loved the trilogy, but Blood Song is something special. I’m going to keep this a spoiler free review, as usual, so Blood Song (Book One) will be the book I focus on here. So, what does the synopsis say? Read More »
I’ve read a lot of fantasy. It is my favourite genre. This will be no surprise to anyone. It is also a genre that is filled with some pretty terrible books: formulaic, bland and boring. I love it, though, because it is a treasure trove of rich and rewarding stories. You simply need to sort the good from the bad. Some of the very best fantasy writers spurn the formula and create something new. I’m going to talk about one such author today. Glen Cook, and his Chronicles of the Black Company.Read More »
Dawn of Wonder is the first book in a fantasy series by Jonathan Renshaw called The Wakening. The book follows Aedan, a precocious but damaged boy, in a coming of age story amidst a backdrop of strange events, political threats and turmoil.
It’s notable to mention that Dawn of Wonder is a self-published work. That is nothing new, but Dawn of Wonder belongs to a qualitative batch of polished and compelling books that have emerged in the past few years without the initial backing of a publisher. This is really exciting, as good stories deserve to be told, with or without the approval and support of a traditional publishing house.Read More »
Riyria Revelations is a fantasy trilogy by Michael J. Sullivan. Yes I am reviewing an entire trilogy. The books that comprise the series are Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron and they are incredible. I picked up on a recommendation for this series after really finishing The Shadow of What Was Lost. Thanks to that book I was on a fantasy high and wow am I glad I found mention of Theft of Swords. I read it, bought the next two, and now here we are.Read More »
The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington is a cracking book. The emergence of a new series of this calibre is incredibly exciting. James Islington is an Australian author, which as an Australian myself, makes me immensely proud. There are precious few Australian voices in the international pool of epic fantasy, but Islington is proof that there are incredible fantasy writers out there awaiting discovery. It’s refreshing. Islington is a pioneer. I wish him every success.Read More »
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay is a book that I needed to read. I’ve seen it mentioned on my twitter feed for a while, and now I’m kicking myself because I’ve been deprived of one of the best novels that the horror genre has had to offer in years. You really should read this book too. Read on and let me convince you.Read More »
The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl, published by Gallery Books, is a delight to read. The cover and the blurb drew me in while I was browsing books, so I was expecting something interesting. It was Colin Gigl’s excellent plot, world building and characterisation that kept me reading, though. This book is fantastic. It is thoughtful, complex, frustrating and often hilarious. Gigl delivers on every promise the jacket blurb offers, but he enhances it, elevates it, and ascends the book with his strategic use of emotional highs and lows and an enviable control of conflict. This book, suffused with death, becomes more about the gift that life is; something that really resonated with me.Read More »
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, published by the ever awesome Orbit Books, won the Hugo award this year for best novel. Hype often repels me, I have been disappointed before, but the premise sounded great. So, with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation, I bought a copy and waded in.
So, straight into it. My impression? This book is wonderful. It is beautifully written, with a vivid but light and accessible style. It is utterly unpretentious, and fiercely intelligent. Read More »
Dragon Quest VII is finally here. The adventure begins! The long wait for the pal region release on Nintendo 3DS is over. I’ve been dying for some Dragon Quest in Australia and for a while I honestly thought I’d never see it. Other franchises have always overshadowed it and greedily consumed what market share is available; behemoths like Final Fantasy, for example. This lead to a lack of faith in the franchises ability to sell to western audiences. A view that was compounded by the relatively niche demand for JRPGs here and poor sales in the past. I’ve always loved the game style and the stories of this genre. Square was a nexus point for me as a kid for great RPGs. Back before the prevalence of the Internet and the ability to Google things, seeing the emblem of a publisher on a game case that I knew had released good games, of a certain genre, counted for a lot. Read More »
I’ve been thinking a lot about Dark Souls III recently. The expansion, Ashes of Ariandel, comes out in a little over a month and I’ve been getting hyped. Anyone who is familiar with the series will know that the expansions are something to be excited about. The first game gave us the Artorias of the Abyss DLC which included one of the coolest and most compelling characters of the game’s lore, Artorias, and the chance to explore Oolacile, which no longer exists in the present timeline of the game – however fluid and open the concept of time is in the Dark Souls universe.
Then there were the expansions for Dark Souls II, which fundamentally improved and reinvigorated that game for me. The Scholar of the First Sin bundle of all three expansions shipped as an entirely different game than the vanilla version. The new locations and boss encounters were incredible, and a step up on pretty much everything in the original game’s content. The game was good, but the expansions and optimisations in Scholar made it exemplary.Read More »