William's Reviews
William's Reviews

William's Reviews (21)

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence - Book Review
14, Nov

Red Sister is the first instalment in the Book of the Ancestor series. And it is just incredible! Character arcs are intricate and wonderful, the plot is  unguessable, and the prose is incredible.

"A book is as dangerous as any journey you might take. The person who closes the back cover may not be the same one that opened the front one. Treat them with respect."

I read this series a few months ago and absolutely loved it! Red Sister was the first book I read by Mark Lawrence, and he instantly arose to being one of my favourite authors. It is a brilliant book, filled with action and intrigue, and warrior nuns, and a training school. What else could you ask for?

It has a consistency fast pace with a constantly developing plot and a well balanced spread of character building and plot. 

The prose of Mark Lawrence is fluid and easy to read. While being compatible for all readers, there is a poetic edge to it that is brief and beautiful. Definitely one of my favourite writing styles that I have encountered.

Each character is unique with an interesting and diverse personality which disallowed any dull moment, varying from Abbess Glass, the cunning leader of the Sweet Mercy Convent. To Nona Grey, the young girl who features as the main character of Red Sister. I girl with mysteries and questions following her to the last page. 

"Trust is the most insidious of poisons. Trust sidesteps all of your precautions."

Red Sister was a definite five star rating for me due to the combination of every fantastic aspect that immersed me into this fascinating world with incredible characters and stunning prose. I found that my mind kept wondering to the plot when I was parted from the book, and for me, that is the mark of a great book.

I assure you that Grey Sister and Holy Sister are as good as if not better than this introduction to the series. Any lover of fantasy should read this series!

5/5 STARS

 

 

The Wolf's Call (Raven's Blade #1) by Anthony Ryan - Book Review
21, Oct

The Wolf's Call marks a fantastic return to the magnificent character Vaelin AL Sorna. A riveting journey with amazing battles and an immersive world.

"Mercy requires strength, compassion demands courage and wisdom compels truth."

The Wolf's Call is the first book in the Raven's Blade series, a new book back into the life of Vaelin Al Sorna, one of my favourite characters of all time!

I love that Anthony Ryan has returned to a 1 PoV that stuck with Vaelin, as you just can't get better than the warrior himself. His character is so developed now. His honourable nature conflicts with the haunts of his past, especially when he finds that one of his few loved ones are in imminent and potentially fatal danger. 

Ryan's prose is great as usual, straight to the point with a fast pace that was constantly enjoyable and made a lot happen in this 400 page novel. Not only were there masterfully written battles, but the political aspects were intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable as well.

This series travels to a different continent of the world that has a completely different culture, where nomadic hordes pose the main threat. Ryan efficiently depicted this new land and made this novel very different to his former books. 

"Betrayal is always the worst sin."

This was a very strong opening novel to a new series, with great action, and one of my favourite duels that I have ever read! The large scale conflict was brilliantly described and formed a vivid picture in my mind. 

I would recommend that you read Blood Song, and possibly Tower Lord in the previous series to enjoy this book to its optimum level. I did not read Queen of Fire, and did not feel like I was missing out particularly on any major aspect. 

I look forward to the next book coming out, it will be a frustrating wait until then. I shall wait for Vaelin to return!

4.25/5 STARS

 

The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden - Book Review
30, Sep

"Your gold buys my service, pleasure of seeing Spartans in battle. It is a rare gift and worth more than mere coins. After all, most men see it only once and never again."

I have finished The Falcon of Sparta and am very satisfied as I close the book in front of me.

It was a great novel with an interesting historical retelling of a great adventure set around 400BC. It is based in the heart of the Persian Empire, with the reign of the old ruler drawing to a close and a new era starting, although it is not clear who will emerge victorious and on the throne...

Every aspect of this novel was well executed. The characters had a great depth, the plot was interesting, and the concepts and main themes were fascinating! Especially the Spartans who Iggulden portrayed so brilliantly. They were epic! But the magical touch that turns a book into a magical read and 5-stars sadly wasn't there. I cannot put my finger on what was slightly lacking, as there was no weakness or part that was specifically lacking. But it was still a great and fun read that was written with Iggulden's usual smooth prose, and filled to the brim with wonderful bits of historical knowledge that brought the story to life and made the world flourish.

The battles varied from minuscule skirmishes to huge battle conflicts involving over 1-million combatants. So a lot of diversity. But each one was written brilliantly and vividly, creating some of the best scenes of the book. They were both simple enough for a reader to understand, and still chaotic as battles truly are and were.

I would recommend this to any who enjoys historical fiction or those who have read and enjoyed previous work by this author. Also if you have an interest in Persian or Ancient Greek history, this is a novel for your consumption. If you have read this and enjoyed Conn Iggulden's style, I would highly recommend his Conqueror secures, which is utterly brilliant! About Genghis Khan. Definitely try it!

 

 4.25/5 STARS

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri - Book Review
25, Sep

Empire of Sand is a wonderfully unique story with an immersive world and relatable characters that carries you on a rollercoaster of emotions!

Empire of Sand was a great debut by Tasha Sure that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has definitely ensured that I will read its sequel, Realm of Ash, and I am glad I gave it a try despite it not residing within my usual reading material.

The world building was efficiently depicted, and something I easily understood although I have not read many books with the influence of Indian culture. This was pleasantly surprising as it overcame what I thought would be a barrier to me and became one of my favourite aspects of the story.

The main character was someone who I really enjoyed following as a PoV because they were believable and had such an intriguing plot-line that intertwined with the other aspects of the story excellently. Within this, the main character battled contemporary issues such as social class, race divides, gender expectations and persecution. Mehr was a likeable person with faults that made her 3-dimensional and allowed me to empathise with her, furthering the bond constructed. The villains were also cleverly portrayed and rich in nature as so much was revealed about them in every encounter and interaction without it being wooden or annoyingly obvious

The plot-line was unguessable so I never had a clue what would happen in the next chapter. To such an extent I sometimes paused a moment to comprehend what just happened, as it completely defied my expectations. This was very refreshing as it can be easy to discern the plot in many novels.

The only thing I wanted more of was action. While there were always events unfolding and twists occurring, it felt a bit repetitive in the middle with the political aspect, but that was only for a small portion of the story. So while there was not as much action as I am used to, I still really enjoyed it, and that testifies how good this book was.

So Empire of Sand was very unique for me as it varied from any read of mine prior to this. It focuses on character building and has an interesting world. I am certainly looking forward to reading Realm of Ash that is published in a few months, and will purchase it when the opportunity arises.

4.25/5 STARS

 

 

 

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy - Book Review
11, Sep


"How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?"

No Country for Old Men is a masterfully told standalone novel by Cormac McCarthy that is rife with symbolism and contemporary issues. Greed, government law, and morals are depicted differently by each character according to their perspective and as such allows the reader to reach their own conclusion.


The characters are brilliant, one of my favourite aspects of this book. Each is unique and the three PoV’s each bring unique aspects to the book. Sheriff Bell represents an older generation that is grappling to come to terms with modern culture. He was the character I liked most, as he was genuinely unselfish, and consistently placed his morals and duty in front of his life. Another is Moss. With him, the saying “Live by the sword, die by the sword” comes to mind. He enters a criminal world after an act of greed and has to face the consequences, while attempting to survive along the way. The last PoV was Chigurh, an amoral murderer tasked with catching Moss. He has no qualms about murdering innocents, fore he cares about no one. A truly terrifying villain.

“People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they don't deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things”

The prose was brilliant, with the writing of McCarthy being so unique and phrased realistically, carrying on in a style relatable to that of the trail of thought. It was some of my favourite prose that I have ever had the pleasure to read, but is hard to describe to those who have not yet encountered his style.

The actual storyline adopted a quick pace as well, with some extremely tense interactions and events between characters. This author toys with your expectations and flips them over so it appears as a realistic story, not as a romanticised novel where the good guys will all win, and order will be restored. That was so interesting as a reader and I hope to see more of it in the future.

“It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.”

No Country for Old Men has made me a fan of this author, so I will definitely be going onto The Road when I have a chance. It is a five star rating, because of the lack of a weakness, and brilliance in every aspect. It was symbolic, but not to the extent that it took away from the story, so I will be contemplating the events that took place in these pages for a long while to come.

5/5 STARS

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb - Book Review
21, Aug

Assassin's Apprentice is a wonderful start to the incredible Farseer Trilogy bt Robin Hobb. In an intricate story with beautiful prose and fantastic characters, Hobb cemented this book as one of my favourites of all time.

"Very little worth knowing is taught by fear"

I read Assassin's Apprentice late last year, and I am so glad that I did. This is the book that introduced me to my now second favourite author ever. I blitzed through three trilogies in this world in less than a month! That is how obsessed I became. 

Hobb's characters are just a pure masterclass. Each has a rare depth, where every action revealed something about them, forming a vivid and interesting cast that deepened my love and connection to this book and series. FitzChivalry Farseer quickly established himself as one of my top five favourite fictional characters. I think that explains part of my adoration for this book.

The plot revolved around Fitz as he grew from a young child to a teenager. It is the first step in his incredible journey where he makes critical decisions that will change his life forever, and haunt him for the rest of his life. The storyline was executed perfectly, with effective world building that immersed me into this book, and intricate plots weaving in and out of focus, leaving me wanting to discover more, and unable to guess what would happen next.

"When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead."

The prose is more descriptive-heavy than dialogue, but still has a fair amount of speech that strikes a great balance. The interactions between characters are written fantastically and on the whole, the prose is poetic and smooth and flawless. It is a literary genius in action.

If you have not read this book, or any Hobb, that needs to change! I cannot stress enough how magnificent this story is. It is a journey that will stay with me for many years, and one I shall read many times over.

5/5 STARS

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) by Evan Winter - Book Review
14, Aug

The Rage of Dragons is one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is a heart-wrenching, mind-blowing tale of love and hatred, of sacrifice and inspiration. But most of all, this is an epic story of vengeance.

"On the days you do not improve, you open yourself to the blade that will gut you, the knife that will enter your heart, and the hatchet or spear that will take your life."

I finished reading The Rage of Dragons this weekend, and the fact that I read this in two days is testimony to how much I loved it!

I have never read an African-inspired fantasy novel before, so was not sure what to expect. Well, I was wrong to doubt. Winter paints the culture in a magnificent manner, quickly creating a depth to the world that I rarely encounter, and then just continued to get better and better.

Evan Winter's prose as masterful. It was an engaging, stripped back style that created a fast-paced story for over 500 pages. The subtle construction of the world and culture did not obstruct the pace or plot at all, but added an extra layer I always hope for in the novels I read.

"For it's in the crucible of hard days that potential becomes power."

Rage of Dragons is a thought provoking story that tackles issues of social hierarchy, attitude to lower classes, and the effects of war on the mind. Whenever I could not hide away to read, I found myself constantly thinking about this novel. About the challenges the characters faced, how they would cope, and what they would do next. That is the sign of a great book!

I have always loved coming-of-age stories, especially when they involve a weapons school, like Blood Song, or Red Sister, it is just awesome. Rage of Dragons has both, and executes it perfectly. The camaraderie between the members of this school was amazing, hilarious and epic!

"Life is nothing more than moments in time. To achieve greatness, you have to give up those moments. You have to give your life to your goal."

One of the greatest aspects of this novel were the battle scenes. They were vivid, immersive and fluid. I felt like I was witnessing the horror of war, and I got goosebumps during the small scale skirmishes that brought to mind the team fights in Gladiator.

The characters are brilliantly written. Within a few pages Winter managed to form a bond between me and some of the characters. He steadily built on this to make me truly love or despise them, through just a few scenes accompanying them. I do not doubt that I shall remember these characters for many years to come.

I have tried to explain my love for this book, and hope I did. It is a must read! I loved every part of it, from the first page to the last. From the prose, to characters, to plot. Just wonderful. I will struggle to wait for the sequel to be released, but I consider myself fortunate that I got to read this magnificent book.

5/5 STARS

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky - Book Review
08, Aug

"That is the problem with ignorance. You can never truly know the extent of what you are ignorant about."

Children of Time is my first delving into the genre of science fiction, and it served as a great introduction. When I began, I found it a bit mind-boggling because of the technical space language and sophisticated technology. But as the story progressed, I soon acclimatised to this aspect and it did not become as demanding or distracting as I first thought.

There were some wonderfully unique aspects to this book, which I have been told cannot be compared to any other sci-fi, because of how different it is. One such idea is exploring evolution, and following the journey of this natural progression with different animals, in this case a number of insect species... It was so fun and novel that it cemented itself as my favourite part of the book.

"Humanity is overated'

It took a while to get into the human PoV, who was on a spaceship that carries the survivors of humanity. This was partly due to the technical part that I mentioned earlier, and also there was not much action to begin with. But when the plot started rolling, this storyline was also fantastic, because of the cultural challenges presented, the fantastic prose, the unique ideas, and many other reasons.

There is a very small cast of characters, which is extremely different to the large scale war band worthy cast. But it served well to strengthen the bonds with the characters that were present, and added another level of depth as more page time was dedicated to these people.

"A life lived entirely at the whim of another is no life at all."

Tchaikovsky's prose is very clever, as it changes depending on what PoV he is with and the characteristics of the person whose perspective he is following. The writing with the spiders is masterful as they become more intelligent due to evolution along with the prose.

The plot cleverly intertwines and separates the PoV's with a steady development that consistently increases the tension until the pivotal climax that was completely unguessable! It was clever, made sense, was intriguing, and had many different aspects. Cannot ask for much more than that really.

So once again, Children of Time was a great introduction to the genre, and I am sure that I will continue onto its sequel at some point, along with other science fiction. So, thank you Adrian!

4.5/5 Stars

Excalibur (The Warlord Chronicles #3) by Bernard Cornwell - Book Review
04, Aug

Excalibur is a magical finale to this Arthurian tale, infused with heroism and tragedy. It swept me from one emotion to the next.

"Tell your father" I said, "That I loved him to the end."

Excalibur is the third and final book in The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It brings about the conclusion of the best Arthurian novels I have ever had the privilege to read.

"This tale of Arthur, my Lord, my friend and the deliverer of Britain."

Excalibur was utterly brilliant, just like its predecessors. It is the finale of a story that has immersed me into the lives of the characters and sent me on an emotional rollercoaster, from euphoria to misery.

This book contained the largest scale conflicts of the trilogy, with numerous wars taking place and great battles deciding the fate of the country. One of the best duels I have had the pleasure to read was in this, as I am sure any previous reader will remember! It was mesmerising, the tension and description moulding together to make the scene truly incredible. I will remember this duel for many years to come.

Cornwell's prose, as expected, was as marvellous in this instalment. It just glides perfectly from one scene to the next, painting a vivid representation in his flawless manner. His humour is witty and perfectly used with Merlin, who makes dry and sharp comments that made me laugh out loud.

"Only a fool wants war, but once a war starts then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy, and it is that savage joy that inspires our bards to write their greatest songs about love and war."

So many acts of heroism were performed that had me physically grinning. And then there were the despicable actions that had me weeping as characters I have grown to love were mistreated by those whose ambitions were insatiable. Some of my most loved and hated characters in fiction are in this book! I will genuinely miss Derfel and Arthur.

While Excalibur had its fair share of tragedy to say the least, it was also made complete with moments of bitter satisfaction and heroic deeds that softened the blow, but not enough to stem the tears and state of mourning that ensued. This antithesis of emotions formed a truly unique reading journey that has placed Excalibur as one of my top ten books of all time.

"So, in the morning light, where they flapped in the drying wind, the bear and the star defied the Saxons."

Excalibur and the series on the whole was a wonderful, brutal, heart-wrecnhing, beautiful story about friendship and loyalty. I wept at multiple points and was left in shock at how much my emotions were manipulated during this read.

But now I must say farewell to this novel and all its contents. So goodbye to Derfel and his inspiring loyalty, Merlin and his wisdom, Galahad and his kindness, and of course, Arthur, the Lord and saviour of Britain.

5/5 STARS

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss - Book Review
30, Jul

The Name of the Wind was a mesmerising journey that was utterly enjoyable!

 

"When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind."

 

This was my first time reading The Name of the Wind, and I had high expectations when I started. Wow, were those hopes reached and surpassed!

The impressive aspects of this book are countless. From unique characters, to interesting plot and fantastic world building. There was no weakness or piece that was lacking. This was a masterpiece!

 

The Name of the Wind is a large novel that numbered over 700 pages in the edition I read. But despite its size, there was no dull moment for me. There was constantly something happening. Be it character development, or a plot twist, or historical content. I was left wishing the book was even longer, so do not let the size phase you!

 

"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts."

 

When I started reading this book, I was instantly struck by the incredible prose of Rothfuss. His style of writing is so smooth, and fluid, and poetic. It was wonderful to read and glide from page to page with the constant enjoyment I received from his writing.

 

One of the strongest aspects of the book was the characters. It follows the story of one character who is reminiscing about his past, Kvothe. So there is a lot of time and development dedicated to him, which quickly established him as one of my favourite characters of the fantasy genre. The rest of the cast was also great with a wide range of personalities, from the crazy but hilarious Master Elodin, to Simmon, one of Kvothe's friends.

 

It's like everyone tells a story about themselves in their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

 

The plot was interlined with major and minor events that created a great balance, allowing the tension to build as character development took place and I became more and more intrigued. This was another marvellous part of the story that was never weak and was always leading onto something better.

The Name of the Wind is one of my favourite books of all time. It has one of the best writing styles I have encountered. Had excellent characters throughout. An immersive plot. What more could you ask for? I would change nothing in this book!

 

5/5 STARS

 

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