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June Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

cartoon-style landscape with a bridge in the foreground and small white figures swordfighting in the backgroundThe Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – B I’ve had the ebook of The Thief on my TBR for ages as the entire series comes highly recommended. I was warned that this first book in the series had a slightly different tone to the later books and that it wasn’t as strong a story. But I like to start at the beginning. The entire series has recently been re-released on audio with a highly rated narrator, Steve West.

It is the story of Gen, a young thief who begins the book in the prison of Soonis. The Magus of Soonis offers Gen a chance to get out of jail. There is a stone, called “Hermiathes’ Gift”, said to bestow immortality on whoever it is given to. The Magus needs a thief to steal the stone and then to give it to the Magus so the Magus can “give” the stone to the King of Soonis, thus strengthening his suit with the Queen of Eddis. Gen, the Magus and his two apprentices set off on a covert mission across Soonis, through Eddis and into Attolia to seek the stone.

Review at Dear Author

I’m over at Dear Author with a review of A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet. Book 1 in the Kingmaker Chronicles, this is not the complete story so don’t expect everything to be resolved at the end. However, there are no cliffhangers and there’s a lot to like. It has a whiff of Kate Daniels and a more than a smidge of Captive Prince while being unique and different.

A brown-skinned woman with long dark hair holding a flaming sword

Eidolon by Grace Draven

Eidolon Grace DravenWhy I read it:  I enjoyed Radiance and bought the sequel as soon as I knew it was out.  (Actually, I remember Radiance much more fondly with hindsight. It’s a book, I have decided, which gets better the more one thinks about it. If I were to grade it now, it would be far closer to an A than the B I originally awarded it.)

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis has unleashed a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness and on the brink of war. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to secure his throne.

Three enemy kingdoms must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king must raise an army of the dead to defeat an army of the damned.

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

Note: Spoilers for Radiance follow. Eidolon is not a stand-alone book. It is necessary to read Radiance first to understand what’s going on.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Strangely enough, when I started this book, I wanted to immediately stop and then go back and re-read Radiance (I still may do that actually). Seeing Brishen and Ildiko on the page again reminded me about how much I loved reading their romance. I  said about Radiance that it had little by way of internal conflict, which is true. But it also meant that they had an instant connection and basically were fairly sympatico right the way through the story. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed watching their love blossom.  Once the news of the events at the palace in Haradis reaches Saggara, there is both internal and external conflict galore. If Brishen is the king, he will need heirs of his body. Ildiko cannot give him those heirs, being a different species to her husband. Further, it is unlikely the Kai would accept her as queen in any event. Bastardy is a stain on one’s honour and the Kai do not have polygamy. If Brishen is king and if the king is to do his duty, then he and Ildiko must surely part, mustn’t they?

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

UprootedWhy I read it:  It was a gift. Lucky me!

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  It’s difficult to describe this book. Part of the joy of it is watching the plot unfold and go in unexpected directions. The blurb doesn’t give much away but one really doesn’t need to know much more to dive in.  For those who might need a little more, I’ll talk about the plot a bit further however.

Agnieszka is at first completely confused as to why she was chosen by the Dragon. It doesn’t appear the Dragon is very happy about it and she has no idea what to expect. To find out that she has magic is an absolute surprise. What is not a surprise to her however, is that her magic doesn’t work in the same way as other magic users. Agnieszka is always untidy and clumsy. She can walk from one room to the other and rip her dress, stain her hem and spill something on the carpet, all without trying. She’s messy and untidy and terrible at simple spells.  However, when The Wood mounts a concerted attack against Polnya and her beloved valley, she is forced to learn how her magic works very quickly and the Dragon finds unexpected help. When the Dragon is called away and her best friend Kasia is taken, reckless, impulsive, fierce and loyal Agnieszka risks herself for her friend. As The Wood’s corrupt influence grows, Agnieszka finds herself in increasingly desperate straits and things very definitely get worse before they get better.

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