Pyramids, a review

A very late post from me today to review Pyramids by Terry Pratchett, which is the 7th book in the Discworld series, but it can also be read as a standalone. It follows the son of the Pharaoh of a country that is clearly inspired by Egypt. He is sent to school in Ankh-Morpork to learn to be an assassin, and comes back a changed boy.

This is definitely a really fun book in the series, and one I think you could start with if you’re approaching Discworld for the first time. There are little pieces of information which will mean more if you’ve read the previous six books, but nothing essential. I enjoyed how the Gods were portrayed in this one, and how they were mixed into the events of the book itself.

It’s filled with all of Pratchett’s usual ridiculousness, with sneaky but surprisingly meaningful jokes littered throughout whilst discussing the state of the world, politics, and the people they impact. All in a short and hilarious bundle.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 8, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 8 giving an average of 7.86 and a 4* rating.

This is yet another great book from Pratchett which shows his impressive skills as a writer and I’m glad that I have finally delved back into Discworld! Let’s just hope it doesn’t take me quite so long to read book 8.

Have you read any Discworld novels? Do you like them? Let me know!

Smiler’s Fair, a review

Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene has been on my tbr since 2016, when I picked it up for 20p from a charity shop. And now I’m mad at myself because this book was fantastic! And somehow less than 1000 people have marked this as read on Goodreads? Ridiculous!!

This is a multi-POV fantasy book set in a world where a King had his son killed after a prophecy that he would overwhelm him. But his Queen saved their son’s life by sacrificing hers and one day he will be back to claim his birth right.

We have LGBTQ+ rep from some of our main characters, magic, death, found family, and more! Our POVs are all so different too, a cut throat, a male prostitute, a goat herder, a noble’s daughter, and somehow they’re all going to be connected to this travelling fair. When we start out these characters seem barely connected, and that’s partly what kept me reading! I loved seeing how Levene brought all of these people together.

There is a magic system in this book, and I really enjoyed learning more about it as the story developed. I’m hoping that we’ll get a lot more of that in the next book(s). And I also adored the character development through this novel. Some of our characters learn more about themselves and become stronger, some change their directions, and some become murderers. I love that not everyone is on the “good guy” trajectory.

I also really loved the worldbuilding throughout this one. We have really interesting concepts of the nobles living on constantly moving houses/castles, which are called ships even though they’re on land (and the nobles are then called shipborn). We have fascinating creatures that I’m super excited to learn more about. We have the cultures of the tribes and how they are so different to the nobles. Levene has created such an in depth world!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 8, which gives a score of 7.43 and a 4* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: rape, child abuse, child death, torture, death, murder.

I am 100% going to be picking up book 2 (and I’ve already bought a signed limited edition of book 3, don’t judge me) and I really do recommend picking up this adult fantasy if it sounds up your street because it’s done so well and I really want more people to pick up this series! Let me know if you’ll consider reading these!

Do I still love Priory?

A year ago today I reviewed Priory of the Orange Tree! You can check out my original post here. I absolutely adored this book and ended up doing a standalone video review for it too!! Not something I do all that often! (you can watch that here)

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So, do my thoughts hold up?

Well I have to admit, I’ve not re-read the book yet. At 800 pages it’s a bit big and I still have so many other big books on my tbr that I’ve not read yet! I think the glamour has worn off slightly, in that I’m separated from the story. So without my infatuation would I still rate this highly? Yes! I love the world that Samantha Shannon built. I still adore Ead and Sabran, and Tane is such an interesting character to read about along with all of the dragon lore.

This might be a tome but I still definitely recommend it to fantasy lovers!!

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – a review

The wonderful Kari from Kari-ng for Books gifted me a copy of Nevernight and it sat on my shelves a while. But after putting it on my (failed) A-Z tbr for August, I felt motivated to pick it up. And damn am I glad I did!! This book packs a damn punch and I’m so excited to get to the rest of the books in the series!!

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There are two things I want to say from the start. One is: this is an adult book, and it has swearing in it. This review will do too. Two is: Jay Kristoff has done some problematic things, it’s something that I’m aware of but that I need to research more as I currently don’t know enough about it. But I felt you should know.

Now. Onto the book.

FUCK this book is amazing!!! What I find most interesting about my experience reading this book is that it was a really slow one, a maximum of around 50 pages a day and that was taking me at least an hour to read (I usually read 100 pages an hour). Often when a book is that slow it really de-motivates me. But in this case? Shit I was so into this story! I couldn’t get enough! I wasn’t even mad that it was slow going because I was just enjoying the story so much!!

I adore every aspect of this book, the worldbuilding, the characters, the twists and the turns. The way that punches aren’t pulled and the magic of the world is revealed, the way that Kristoff makes you care so deeply for so many of these characters despite them being hugely flawed individuals? Fucking hell it’s amazing. Mia Corvere and Mr Kindly are some of my favourite characters now, and I can’t wait to read more from them!

This is a school/training environment within this book, and I found myself really enjoying that. It’s not something I’ve read in a while so I’m really glad that I know I can still enjoy it! There is a large influx of characters who aren’t really introduced in any depth, but there are also a lot of deaths so it doesn’t feel like it matters too much. You get to know them as much as Mia did before they disappeared out of her life.

The narrator is another beautiful aspect to this book. It’s done so well that in some parts you forget that they’re there at all and in others they’re key to your understanding. I also adored all of the footnotes present. I know some people skimmed over them in order to stay within the story but for me they added so much background and depth! It is quite a deep world, and I feel like the choice to read those footnotes or not could help those who don’t like high fantasy with intense worldbuilding as much to still enjoy the book. They’re extra bits you can read if you like, and can skip if you don’t care about the background of the world.

There are some sexy scenes in this book, and I expected to just be… fine? with them. But I really liked them! I liked that they walked the line very carefully and that it isn’t the main focus of the book but more of an extra look into the background of the characters lives. They also intertwine into the story in a realistic way, which I really liked. They weren’t completely separate from the plot but they also weren’t integral to it.

Towards the end of the book there is a little bit of interesting formatting. Nothing on the level of Illuminae (which Kristoff was a co-author of) but just a wee sprinkling, and it fit so perfectly with the plot. It was a beautiful artistic choice and I loved it!

If you like high fantasy books and are up for a bit of fucking, a bit of murder, and a damn good time, then this is 100% a book to pick up. I need to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy and I can’t wait to read them and fall in love!!! This is a world that has definitely went on my favourites and that I need to re-read in the future!!

Dragons, fighting and feminism, what else could you ask for?!

Samantha Shannon’s latest book, The Priory of the Orange Tree, comes in at a whopping 804 pages and that’s not including the section at the end which gives you a timeline, a glossary and an explanation of characters. This is a BIG book. And it’s amazing. I gave it 5 stars and it is 100% a new favourite of mine!

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Sadly this took me far longer than I wanted to get through it, for a variety of reasons that boiled down to being nervous about its size. If you’re the same I can tell you right now that if you sit and read 100 pages of this book each day, not only will you finish it in just over a week but you’ll be completely and utterly absorbed into the story.

Let’s start not with the story itself but with what Samantha Shannon included within her book. First things first, this is a f/f novel, this romance is written with such care and emotion that I was routing for it from the moment its possibility was conceived. In the interests of staying spoiler free I won’t mention who the ladies are, but I immediately routed for them as individuals and this really translated beautifully into routing for their romantic relationship. It flows naturally and you can tell that the two of them were always supposed to be together.

Keeping with the diverse theme, there is also a genuinely healthy mix of races in this book. Of course this is a fantasy world, but this is something that is sadly not as prevelant as it should be amongst fantasy. So many authors, often unconciously due to their own internal biases will include 90% (or more) white characters within their fantasy books. Not here! With the POV switching to people from various places around this world, as well as having multiple races living in one realm, we read from the POV of white, Black and Asian people with what I took to be complete equality (but I recommend taking this with a grain of salt as I am white myself and therefore live with inherent biases that I am still working to overcome).

Lastly in the amazing diversity that has been written in this book is the feminism. Now many books will have strong female characters, that thankfully is nothing new. But not only do we have strong women from every race (which is sadly still something of note) but these women have power. They are respected. In this fantasy realm, they are treated as equals. I thought I had read books like that before. No. I had multiple jolts as I read through this book where a leader of a Guard (or another similar position) turns out to be female and I had assumed they were male. One of the elder characters mentions his old tutor at one point. I didn’t realise I was automatically assuming they were male until he said “she”. This is all through the book and has really made me think about how women are portrayed in fiction. Even when they’re the “strong female character” they are often the exception, in many books men are still the teachers, the leaders, the ones with power. This book has really opened my eyes to what I was accepting from other books as equality, and how it really really wasn’t.

Now. Onto the actual book! This is a beautiful slow burner of a fantasy that follows various regions of this world as an ancient enemy awakens and threatens them all. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep. Samantha Shannon has described this as a feminist retelling of Saint George and the Dragon, and although I hadn’t seen that until after I had read the book, it does mean that I can say I 100% agree!

All of these regions and realms have beautiful world building around them, really fleshing them out and I was left feeling like I had an intimate knowledge of them all, whilst wanting to know more! When these different groups interacted with each other I really got to feel like I understood the political tension and the reason for each groups actions. Whilst I had my favourite narrators and locations I found myself never really agreeing with one side over another, their reasoning and way of life was explained so beautifully that I had complete empathy with all the variations.

By the time I was reaching the end of this book, I was wishing there were more pages! And I really did not expect that from an 800+ page tome that I had originally struggled to get through! I’ve found myself really sad that this is a standalone work and I do hope for at least some titbits from Samantha Shannon in the future about this beautiful world she has created. This is a new favourite book, one I recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy. It will be sticking with me in my thoughts for a long time yet.

Game of Thrones! I finally read it!

So I’ve finally read it, Game of Thrones. Years after I started watching the show, I actually picked up the 800+ page book and finished it. You guys know, as a massive bookworm I 99.9% of the time prefer to read the book first, before diving into a screen adaptation of anything. However, I had tried to read the book and just really struggled to get into it. I then struggled to get through the first season of the TV show (with Dany being the only thing pulling me through) but got much more into the show as the seasons progressed.

Having already watched the show helped me so much in this instance, which is odd for me to say. However, I already care about the characters and feel invested in them (something that I definitely didn’t in season 1 or when I attempted to read this the first time) which helped me to carry on through sections that I wasn’t as interested in and kept me going for certain characters and events.

I will say that I’m not sure yet why I wasn’t overly keen on this. I don’t know if it was that I didn’t feel invested enough in each character or if maybe it was simply because it’s my first adult high fantasy and I’m not quite there yet with my comprehension. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect that as I have always managed very well with fantasy reads but I’ll be reserving judgment until I have read more in the genre, and also within the series. I will definitely be carrying on and I hope that my enjoyment increases overtime within the books in the same way as it did within the TV series.

King of the Seven Lakes, a glowing review!

The second book in the Legends of the Godkissed Continent series by A. B. Endacott and oh boy did I love it just as much as the first one or what! This book continues to follow Elen-ai and Gidyon, if you haven’t read the beauty that is Queendom of the Seven Lakes I don’t want to spoil you! Click here to see my review of Queendom and come back once you’ve read it! There will be spoilers for the first book ahead!

Now that Gid is to be the King of this Queendom, some of the families have taken up stances against this. There are various allegiances forming across the different high-born families of the Seven Lakes who either believe that a man should not be in power or they want to take the power for themselves. Some think that Gidyon is not educated enough to rule, but Elen-ai is confident that he shall make a great King.

I was very happy as I read through to confirm that there is still no romance between Elen-ai and Gidyon. I personally wouldn’t mind them getting together, but this is either a non-existent or incredibly slow romance which is a very nice change from so many insta-loves we get in books.

The likelihood of an outbreak of a civil war starts to become a reality as we continue through the novel and this weighs heavily on all of our characters shoulders. There is also a personal battle that Elen-ai is facing as she cannot be an assassin of the Family at the same time as being a friend and advisor to the King. She has to choose between two worlds, her best friend, or her family.

Yet again Alice’s writing is absolutely gorgeous and engaging, I was fully absorbed into this world and the events happening within it that I was able to sit and read this in the living room as my parents watched TV and completely ignore the programme that was on! I am so excited for this book to get more hype behind it and have a much larger reader base as more people find this amazing series! This high fantasy book with a badass female lead and interesting political action could be great for both Young Adult readers and those that read more within the “adult” genre.

I am really looking forward to reading The Ruthless Land (the 3rd book in the series), although I won’t lie, I’m a little sad that it won’t be following Elen-ai and Gid and is instead based elsewhere in the Continent! I’m sure I’ll love it just as much, but I have definitely become very invested in these characters and I really hope that we come back to them again in the future and have Elen-ai as our PoV once again. However, damn am I excited to be seeing another part of this world! So much has been hinted at within the first two books but coming into this third one there is so much potential and so much scope for what could happen here.

Essentially, get on this bandwagon now! You’ll definitely regret it if you don’t!

Adding to the world of Pellinor

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I was so worried about starting this book, the four main novels from the series are my favourite books and I didn’t want to knock down my love for them. I have re-read The Gift (The Naming in the US) more than 50 times and the book is literally falling apart with pages loose and the cover tattered. Luckily, I ended up really enjoying this book! For me personally, it wasn’t as good as the original “The Gift” but it is still a great addition to the series and I loved being plunged back into the world.  The book delves further into Cadvan’s background, and also shows us more about Nelac and Dernhil and their own backgrounds and character development, and shows the relationships between many of the characters which had previously been developed before the time the other books are set in which then gives us a deeper understanding of the events in the original four books. Definitely a good read for anybody who either loved the original Pellinor series or for those who love high fantasy, and I’m very glad I finally got round to it. I need to re-read the series this year!!