Reviews :: Book Genre :: Dark Fantasy

Review

Grey Sister

Posted: March 15, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Grey Sister

This is another one of those books that got buried a little too deep in my TBR pile last year and got lost. I am ashamed. Thankfully, I have awesome friends that remind me about missing out on books like this and then telling me that I’m running out of time before the sequel is released. You just can’t put a price on friends like that. Because seriously, if you start doing things like that, pretty soon all your friends are six feet under and no one new wants to be your friend anymore because they know what happens to those that happen to say the wrong thing…

Okay, maybe that got a little dark, but after all, what good is a book review about an awesome dark fantasy novel without a little morbid humor to kick us all off in the right direction. 🙂
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Review

The Fever King

Posted: February 5, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Victoria Lee, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult
The Fever King

To borrow a phrase from The Princess Bride, Victoria Lee isn’t writing to the death in THE FEVER KING — she’s writing to the pain. So when I characterize this novel as dark and unsettling, I have to believe that Lee would take that as a complement.
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Review

Season of Storms

Season of Storms

Some series have a definite end while others linger on, bringing joy to their long-time readers and fans. For me, and those who enjoy the seminal series, THE WITCHER, SEASON OF STORMS is both a return to Andrzej Sapkowski’s original 1980s short stories, and at the same time, it is a eulogy for the series, in a certain sense.

SEASON OF STORMS is set, for hardcore fans, after the events of THE LAST WISH, with Geralt broken up with Yennefer (in a long series of makeups and breakups in their legendary relationship…) but before the contract that made him truly famous throughout the world of THE WITCHER.
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Review

The Grey Bastards

The Grey Bastards

There are times that I grow tired of all the profanity and sexual content in books these days. I might have added violence here as well, but there is a part of me that realizes I’ve become fairly inured to it over the years, and as Dave Matthews has said, “I’m still a boy,” and boys do love to see a fight. 🙂 Still, it makes me happy to find a great book that avoids all the potentially offensive content. Now, up front, you should probably understand that this is definitely NOT one of those books. Yeesh no. Not by a long shot. But it was a story that made me think about the concept, because there was just so dang much of it. Now, I know many of you will likely be crying foul right now amidst references to all my “Books We Loved” reviews by authors like Joe Abercrombie and Sam Sykes. What I need to emphasize though is that in those cases it is the author’s ability to tell great story with great characters that I love, and rest of everything only plays second fiddle in comparison. But sometimes, one or two of those second fiddles can become kinda loud.
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Review

The Immortal Throne

Posted: December 22, 2016 by Alan in Books We Love Meta: Stella Gemmell, Dark Fantasy
The Immortal Throne

Stella Gemmell returns with the paraquel-sequel(?) to THE CITY with THE IMMORTAL THRONE. (I had to Google “paraquel” to find out that the term I wanted was paraquel.)

I quite loved THE CITY, even though it’s darker than my normal fare, and I admit I waxed poetic about it. Well, I’m here to wax poetic a second time. THE IMMORTAL THRONE is a worthy successor/precursor(?) to THE CITY even if the timeline of the plot is a little weird.
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Review

Sharp Ends

Posted: August 25, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy
Sharp Ends

It is unsurprising and yet somewhat telling that when I received this book in the mail from Amazon, I was completely surprised not only by the fact that it was a small book but also that it was a collection of short stories. When I’d found out about “Abercrombie’s next book” I instantly pre-ordered the thing and eagerly anticipated the date of its arrival. Unphased in the slightest (though slightly disappointed, if I’m being honest, by the fact that it wasn’t a full novel) I dove into it’s pages and lost myself in the world of the First Law.
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Review

The Burning Isle

Posted: August 19, 2016 by Nickolas in Books We Love Meta: Will Panzo, Dark Fantasy
The Burning Isle

Last week I travelled to Savannah on a business trip and while packing my bag the night before I left I made sure to include the latest ARC I’ve received, THE BURNING ISLE (Amazon) by Will Panzo. My flights were supposed to be short jaunts and I didn’t suspect I’d have much free time to spend reading, but if I’ve learned anything in my 24 years of life it’s this: take a book with you wherever you go because you never know when you’ll be stuck wishing you had one. This maxim came in handy when Delta Airline’s servers went down, sending the whole system into chaos and I spent the next 24 hours in airport limbo. The good news is that I had THE BURNING ISLE on hand and an unexpected surplus of free time to read so that’s what I did. I wound up finishing all 417 pages before I boarded the flight to my final destination.

As bored as a day at the airport has the potential to be any halfway decent book would have been better than nothing at all but fortunately THE BURNING ISLE isn’t just halfway decent — it’s quite good. Like, early contender for debut fantasy of the year good and likely to become a new favorite amongst the grimdark fantasy crowd. Expect to see THE BURNING ISLE on the short list for the Gemmell Morningstar Awards next year.
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Review

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade

Posted: February 5, 2016 by Alan in Books We Love Meta: Den Patrick, Dark Fantasy
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade

I had THE BOY WITH THE PORCELAIN BLADE (Amazon) in my Amazon.com cart forever. Several months. So of course, I had it ordered and bought it from a local Barnes and Noble. I’m a pretty fast reader, and THE BOY is not a very long book at all. I knocked it out in about an hour and a half, including rereading a few chapters.
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Review

The City

Posted: August 28, 2014 by Alan in Books We Love Meta: David Gemmell, Stella Gemmell, Dark Fantasy
The City

Steve knows that my favorite author is David Gemmell, whom I consider the epitome of true heroic fantasy. So when a copy of THE CITY by Stella Gemmell (Amazon) crossed his desk, he knowingly tossed it my way.

First off, I confess that my perception going into this book was colored by my adoration of David Gemmell and I was excited to get back to that style of story. This is not that style of story. This is a dark fantasy story, more akin to a combination of Joe Abercrombie and Guy Gavriel Kay.
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Review

Blood and Iron

Posted: August 12, 2014 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Jon Sprunk, Dark Fantasy
Blood and Iron

I’ve been thinking about the concept that lies at the crux of this review for quite a while now. I’ve come across it a couple times in the recent past–the most recent while watching Disney’s Frozen–and each time my realization as to why I wasn’t enjoying the story as much as I should have been eluded me for quite a while. Hopefully I’ve learned something about this concept after having seen it in action for the third time.
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Review

Veil of the Deserters

Posted: June 17, 2014 by Nickolas in Books We Love Meta: Jeff Salyards, Dark Fantasy
Veil of the Deserters

VEIL OF THE DESERTERS (Amazon) is the sequel to SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER (EBR Review) by Jeff Salyards, a Sword & Sorcery novel that earned a spot in our Best of 2012 lineup. The first book in Bloodsounder’s Arc unexpectedly blew me away (so much so that I read it and reviewed it twice) and I’ve been waiting for the sequel ever since. In the time that has passed I’ve read a lot of books but SCOURGE has managed to remain vivid in my imagination.
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Review

Prince of Fools

Posted: June 13, 2014 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy
Prince of Fools

When I read PRINCE OF THORNS (EBR Review), I was blown away. I know, I know. I’ve said this a time or two. Or twenty. It’s no secret that Mark Lawrence has become one of my favorite authors. His novels are a breath of fresh air, and are an absolute pleasure to read. And so now we come to the start of a new series set in the same world as Lawrence’s other novels. PRINCE OF FOOLS (Amazon).
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Review

Emperor of Thorns

Posted: January 27, 2014 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy
Emperor of Thorns

I think it’s pretty rare for an author to end a series in a strong and convincing manner. Be it ten novels or two, it just seems like I’m nearly always let down once I get to the end. When I first read Mark Lawrence’s PRINCE OF THORNS (EBR Review), you’ll remember that I was completely blown away. In terms of dark and gritty fantasy, it was pretty close to the top of the list. I was worried when KING OF THORNS (EBR Review) arrived in my mailbox. It couldn’t possibly live up to the first book. Except it did. Then I received the final book in the series, EMPEROR OF THORNS. I didn’t even start reading it right away (hence the delay in this review), because, stupidly, I didn’t want to be let down. Again, how often does an author blow it? Pretty frequently.
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Review

The Crimson Pact: Volume 4

The Crimson Pact: Volume 4

Aaaaand here’s another round of Crimson Pact stories for the reading masses. I know most of you by now have probably read over my full disclosure of each of the previous anthologies: Vol 1 (EBR Review), Vol 2 (EBR Review), and Vol 3 (EBR Review). So you already know that our boss here at EBR, Steve Diamond, figures prominently in them. And you know that I’ve promised to stay impartial, like I always try to do, with my reviews. And you know also know that in light of these two facts, I have no qualms whatsoever about reviewing these anthologies. So, I guess I won’t have to give you my normal spiel about the ethics of posting a book review that is so closely connected to our own blog, or anything like that, and– Dang. I guess I did just that, didn’t I? Oh well. So much for being succinct this time around…
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Review

Red Country

Posted: January 18, 2013 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy, Western
Red Country

I love Westerns. LOVE them. I grew up reading Louis L’Amour and watching John Wayne movies. When I got older I found I loved the more mature stories in the genre. You know, Unforgiven and the like. Can you even begin to imagine how excited I was when Joe Abercrombie announced his next novel would have Western themes in it? And it would be called RED COUNTRY? If that doesn’t scream Western-styled violence, I don’t know what does.
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Review

The Crimson Pact: Volume 3

The Crimson Pact: Volume 3

I have an awesome boss.  Well, all of us are pretty cool here at EBR, but Mr. Steve is a class act.  He’s smart, he’s debonaire, he’s… what’s that? Why all the sycophantic flattery?  It doesn’t even sound like I’m talking to you? Dang. Well, here’s the thing.  You might have noticed the title of this book review already, and maybe even more than that you might remember the fact that Mr. Steve was going to have another short story in this anthology. Yeah. Well, his story rocked, but… um… wow, I better just get into it.
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Review

The King of Thorns

Posted: August 6, 2012 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy
The King of Thorns

Once I’d finally managed to get past my irrational dislike of anything with hype attached to it, I gave Mark Lawrence‘s THE PRINCE OF THORNS (EBR Review) a read. You may remember from that review that I was completely and utterly blown away. It was just soooooo good. Then the sequel, THE KING OF THORNS (Amazon) showed up in my mail box.

I may, or may not have wept from the joy I felt. Then I may, or may not have babbled excitedly at my wife while thrusting the book in her face. She may or may not have wondered why she married me.
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Review

Scourge of the Betrayer

Posted: June 29, 2012 by Nickolas in Books We Love Meta: Jeff Salyards, Dark Fantasy
Scourge of the Betrayer

The Sword & Sorcery sub-genre is currently the most important facet of my reading life. This is the sub-genre that got me back into Fantasy after a five year hiatus where I read nothing but Science Fiction. With that in mind, I take the authors and novels of this genre very, very seriously. At first glance SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER by Jeff Salyards (Amazon) failed to catch my eye. I didn’t find the cover immensely appealing (don’t give me that look, we all judge books by their cover) and the synopsis sounded like somewhat standard fantasy fare. At second glance, however, one might notice a quote by an esteemed fantasy author, comparing this novel to the works of Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan. Name dropping of that caliber is the surest way to stroke my curiosity.
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Review

Prince of Thorns

Posted: March 2, 2012 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy
Prince of Thorns

Well. Geez. I know who is getting my vote for the John W. Campbell Award this year. And the David Gemmell Morningstar Award.

I’d heard so much about Mark Lawrence‘s PRINCE OF THORNS (Amazon). In fact, I’d heard so much that I was starting to fall into the “There is so much hype that it is bound to be terrible” camp. I finally caved and went out and bought the novel. And holy crap… wow. Didn’t catch that the first time? Let me restate that. Holy Fraking Crap! This novel was AWESOME!
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Review

The Cold Commands

Posted: January 3, 2012 by Nickolas in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Richard K. Morgan, Dark Fantasy
The Cold Commands

What a truly disappointing task it is to write a mediocre review for a highly anticipated sequel. I finished reading Richard K. Morgan‘s THE STEEL REMAINS (EBR Review) a short time ago. The book had some rough edges that needed some buffering but it was a promising start to series by a well established author. I read the book as quickly as possible so that I could start THE COLD COMMANDS (Amazon) the moment it arrived. Sadly, this is one sequel that left me unfulfilled. This review contains some things readers may consider SPOILERS, so please read at your own risk.
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Review

The Crimson Pact: Volume 2

The Crimson Pact: Volume 2

I had massive reservations about trying to review this one. Yes, I reviewed the first volume, and so it only makes sense that I should review the second… and yet… How does one go about reviewing a short-story anthology that includes the first authorial offering of one’s near-perfect boss? Or even how does one have the audacity to review such an anthology that is so closely connected to the review site itself? I mean it. How do you even start to tackle something like that? To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea. So, I’m just going to tell you what I thought about it–straight up–and hope that it comes across well.
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Review

The Crimson Pact, Volume 1

The Crimson Pact, Volume 1

Short stories. Seems I’ve been getting through my fair share of them lately, between the NEBULA AWARDS SHOWCASE (EBR Review), the Hugo nominees (EBR Review), the most recent Writers of the Future anthology, and more. The hard part with anthologies of short stories is that it’s usually such a mixed bag. There will be some that’ll knock your socks off and others that make you feel like someone’s licking the butter between your toes. It isn’t often we get an anthology that stands really high overall, though sometimes you can find em. Most end up just left or right of middle.
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Review

Black Halo

Posted: May 13, 2011 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Sam Sykes, Dark Fantasy
Black Halo

Sophomore novel. You know the term. And if you don’t, then here. Hmm. That didn’t work very well. Did anyone else know there wasn’t a wiki for the term “Sophomore Novel”? Who’d have thought? Now I have the urge to go write one. Perhaps I will. Oh look. There’s a wiki for haiku. How about a haiku on sophomore novels:

Great debut, I say,
but then this lackluster. Why?
It is the way. [[sigh]]
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Review

The Heroes

Posted: February 7, 2011 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy
The Heroes

The best part about this February? No, it isn’t the manufactured holiday of Valentine’s. No, it isn’t the fact that there are only 28 days in it, thus making this work-month blissfully shorter. The best part of this February is Joe Abercrombie‘s THE HEROES (Amazon).

THE HEROES is about a hill called The Heroes. It is a useless hill that both the armies of the Union and the North want… mainly because the other side wants it. Before you ask why these groups are fighting over this useless hill, there are two things you should know. First, Bayaz is in this novel (if you’ve read the First Law trilogy, you know why this is important). Secondly, this is a Joe Abercrombie novel. People in war make stupid decisions.
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Review

Echo City

Posted: January 21, 2011 by Steven in Books We Like Meta: Tim Lebbon, Dark Fantasy
Echo City

A while back I read and reviewed a collection of short stories titled SWORDS & DARK MAGIC (EBR Review). Hopefully after reading that review you went out and grabbed a copy, because it was fantastic. One of the surprise stories contained in that anthology was The Deification of Dal Bamore by Tim Lebbon. It was a dark, grim and violent tale that impressed me and left me with the desire to read more of Lebbon’s work.

Set in the same created world as Dal Bamore, Lebbon’s new novel, ECHO CITY (Amazon) took some of the interesting concepts from the short story and twisted them even more. The short answer is that ECHO CITY is a great read… for a certain kind of reader.
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Review

The Wolf Age

Posted: October 6, 2010 by Steven in Books We Like Meta: James Enge, Dark Fantasy
The Wolf Age

After reading a ridiculous number of novels, we’ve managed to glean a few morsels of wisdom. The key to reading and enjoying novels of different genres and sub-genres is to know what to expect. With Epic Fantasy you prepare for large novels, and slow-paced sections punctuated by sprawling battles. With Mystery/Thrillers, you expect contrived dialogue, and a mandatory twist. Hard SF? You have a dictionary handy for those unavoidable moments where the author makes you feel completely dumb. When it comes to Heroic Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery, however, you need to be prepared for something completely different.
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Review

Tome of the Undergates

Posted: September 16, 2010 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Sam Sykes, Dark Fantasy
Tome of the Undergates

Holy freaking bottle rockets, people! This book ROCKS!

So let’s get this out of the way. Sam Sykes is awesome. He’s young, he’s hip, he’s soon to be part of the growing Overlord’s Elitist Movement. Let’s forget for just a moment though that he lives in one of the hottest places on earth (Phoenix, AZ), and the fact that he’s obviously named one of his big baddies after Yours Truly (more on that later), and instead do our best to just focus on the book he’s written. Whadd’ya say? You game?
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Review

The Drowning City

Posted: December 22, 2009 by Alan in Books We Like Meta: Amanda Downum, Dark Fantasy
The Drowning City

THE DROWNING CITY by Amanda Downum (Amazon) is the opening act in The Necromancer Chronicles sequence. The plot follows a number of characters, but Isyllt Iskaldur (how do YOU think this is pronounced?) is the main protagonist. She is in the island-city of Symir, in the capacity of a spy/government agent. Her mission, should she choose to accept it? Spread dissent, foment chaos, and generally wreck the status quo. Cool eh? Well, read on…
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Review

Best Served Cold

Posted: August 21, 2009 by Steven in Books We Like Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy
Best Served Cold

We will leave you for the weekend with our review of this stand-alone novel by Joe Abercrombie set in First Law Trilogy universe.

There are few books we have looked forward to more, after finishing THE LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS (Amazon), than Abercrombie’s next. So when we first heard word of BEST SERVED COLD (Amazon) we could barely contain our excitement. In other words, Steve ran around squealing like a 15-year-old girl and clapping excitedly.
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Review

The Steel Remains

Posted: August 18, 2009 by Alan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Richard K. Morgan, Dark Fantasy
The Steel Remains

THE STEEL REMAINS (Amazon) is Richard K. Morgan’s first foray into the fantasy genre, after a strong history in Science Fiction, as well as being a winner of an Arthur C. Clarke Award, Philip K. Dick Award, and a John W. Campbell Award. Obviously, we were interested to see how he would do in his new genre experiment. There was very little that disappointed, though we did give thoughtful pause as to just how good it actually was.

Morgan doesn’t seem to be one for half measures. We are under the impression that he is either 150% or 0% in his writing. In this first entry into a planned trilogy he establishes that he does indeed have what it takes to be an epic fantasy writer. However we wonder whether we can place him on the level of Abercrombie, Martin, and Bakker, and are interested for the series to be finished so we can decide.
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Review

The Judging Eye

Posted: August 10, 2009 by Alan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: R. Scott Bakker, Dark Fantasy
The Judging Eye

It was hard to approach this book without wetting our pants (Amazon) in excitement. R. Scott Bakker is Nick’s favorite author, by far, and owes Steve for introducing him to The Prince of Nothing series.

After reading the book a number of times we have decided how we can proceed on this review. We will make a concession right here and now. As much as we’d like to, it is completely impossible to review this book without comparing it to Bakker’s earlier trilogy set 20 years prior to the events in, this, the beginning of his second trilogy.
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Review

The Blade Itself

Posted: August 1, 2009 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy
The Blade Itself

Welcome to another completely superior review by us guys here at Elitist Book Reviews. The chosen book this time around is THE BLADE ITSELF by Joe Abercrombie (Amazon).

THE BLADE ITSELF is a refreshing first novel in what we would call a dark fantasy trilogy. Abercrombie gives us a cast of characters that that have even more attitude than we do–no easy feat. Included in this cast we have a crippled torturer as a main character. Tell us, how often do we get to see a torturer as a main PoV in epic fantasy now days?

Awesome.
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