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Review

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

If you’re reading this review, the odds are good it’s because at some point you read a book with a dragon in it–and realized that most subjects could benefit from dragons, such as: endless political machinations, the Napoleonic Wars, and yes even tacos.

Everything’s better with dragons.

And now that list includes Russian history.

“The dragons were harrowing the provinces again. They did that whenever the Tsar was upset with the Jews.” Jane Yolen wasn’t planning on writing more dragon stories but when these lines popped into her head, the image of leathery wings in dark northern skies wouldn’t leave her. We should be grateful for the whims of creative fate because THE LAST TSAR’S DRAGONS (Amazon) is a well-written, clever novella that’s worth your time.
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Review

The Red-Stained Wings

Posted: May 21, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Elizabeth Bear, Epic Fantasy
The Red-Stained Wings

Once upon a time, the Alchemical Emperor created an empire among the ruins of former kingdoms. With his own magic he created a palace like no other. Now his posterity fight over the fractured lands inherited by his children. Two ranji queens rule the sister Sarathi palaces, but their two male cousins (each cursed with the inability to procreate their own heirs), attempt to take power for themselves via subterfuge or outright war.
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Review

Amnesty

Posted: May 9, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Lara Elena Donnelly, Fantasy
Amnesty

AMNESTY (Amazon) is the final book in the AMBERLOUGH DOSSIER and if you’ve read my earlier reviews for AMBERLOUGH (EBR Review) and ARMISTICE (EBR Review) you know that I love a good character driven, unrelentingly grim novel. If that isn’t your scene, I recommend browsing through some of our other reviews because AMNESTY follows closely in the same vein as the first two novels in the series both in attention to characters and level of grimness.
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Review

Scythe

Posted: April 16, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Neal Shusterman, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Scythe

In a world where immortality means death is no longer natural, scythes are employed to keep the population under control. Rowan is a typical middle child in a big family whose life flies under the radar. Until the Honorable Scythe Faraday notices him and asks him to become his apprentice. Citra excels at school and when a scythe comes to their house just to have a meal with them, she can’t help but question his behavior. They both — reluctantly — end up as apprentices to the same scythe and are dropped into a world of death, pain, grief. They must learn how to kill, but also be compassionate. Scythe Faraday believes that a scythe shouldn’t enjoy killing.

But Scythe Faraday is old school, and there are newer scythes who think that there are too many restrictions, that there are better interpretations of the scythe 10 Commandments. When conclave arrives and Citra and Rowan must take their first tests of their apprenticeship, events go poorly and they learn the hard way that death has become a political battlefield.
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Review

Windwitch

Posted: April 11, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Susan Dennard, Fantasy, Young Adult
Windwitch

It’s been a while since I read the first book of The Witchlands, TRUTHWITCH, so I was a little bit lost when starting WINDWITCH; fortunately I already have book three, BLOODWITCH, ready to read soon, so I won’t suffer quite so much. This might be the kind of series that would be easier to read in quick succession so you aren’t lost. So much happens over the series that if you do go a while between books, a refresher would be in order, since Dennard starts the story back up where she left off, without much reminders.

WINDWITCH easily improves on TRUTHWITCH, despite our heroines being separated at the end of TRUTHWITCH. Dennard builds on everything that went before, on the characterization, on the story, on the magic, on the world–all toward creating a world with more depth, which I rather like seeing in a YA series.
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Review

Seven Blades in Black

Posted: April 9, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Sam Sykes, Fantasy
Seven Blades in Black

SEVEN BLADES IN BLACK (Amazon) is Sam Sykes’ newest novel and the start of a new series, THE GRAVE OF EMPIRES. I’ve seen it described as “action fantasy,” which I guess is fantasy but with more punching? While there’s plenty of punching (and shooting and eviscerating) in SEVEN BLADES, what makes it memorable is that at every turn Sykes seems to be asking “how could this be even more awesome?” and then delivering. The result is break-neck chase scenes on ostriches, riverboats full of assassins, unspeakable monsters, souped-up magical fights, and a lot of poor decision making.

You could call it action fantasy.

Or you could call it a lot of fun.
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Review

Holy Sister

Posted: April 4, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Holy Sister

Endings are hard. In a way, endings can make or break a story, whether that’s referring to a chapter, a book, or even an entire series. Unlike some, I’m not one that ascribes to the opinion that the ending of a book will largely determine your opinion of a book. I’ve read plenty of great books with weak endings that I still enjoyed overall, and no matter how “awesome” an ending is, if the story up to that point is drawn out and boring… the ending won’t make up for the fact that everything else was drawn out and boring. But endings are still important. This book gave me a chance to not only finish consuming my first “Mark Lawrence” series, but also to look back on the series as a whole and decide what I thought about it. Honestly, I was a little surprised at what I found. As such, if you haven’t read the first two books in the series, you should probably do that instead of proceeding any further.
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Review

No Country for Old Gnomes

Posted: April 2, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Delilah S. Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Fantasy, Humor
No Country for Old Gnomes

In KILL THE FARM BOY (EBR Review) we are introduced to the demesne of Pell (hah! see what I did there?…ok if you haven’t read it then you’re lost already, sorry), with Worstly, his talking goat Gustave, Dark Lord Toby, and the gang as they trek across the land in search of their quest. Or something. It’s much more complicated than that, but basically if you haven’t read it and want a good laugh, go read it and then come back for details about book two.
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Review

The Dream Peddler

Posted: March 28, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Martine Fournier Watson, Fantasy
The Dream Peddler

One cold winter morning in the early hours, a young boy leaves his home to follow the moon — but then disappears.

Not many hours later a peddler walks into town pulling his cart of wares and finds himself in the midst of a search for the boy and volunteers to help — until the boy’s body is found in the river and he instead finds himself in a grieving town.

The traveling salesman turns out not to be your average peddler: this one sells dreams, made to order, satisfaction guaranteed.Read the rest of this review »

Review

Wrath of Empire

Posted: March 5, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Brian McClellan, Epic Fantasy
Wrath of Empire

Here’s another one of those late reviews that totally should have been up last year, but that I just didn’t make it to. On the whole I’ve kind of been a late-comer to the Powder Mage world. What I found in this series was fun, and interesting, and engaging to say the least. Was hoping to find more of the same, when diving into this one. Especially after mentioning that we expected goodness from the short list of missed reviews in 2018 and being so disappointed in the first one of those books that I got to.

Thankfully, I found that this book was just as good as I had expected.
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