Prince of Fools, by Mark Lawrence – Book Review

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If fools really do rush in where angels fear to tread, then Prince Jalan Kendeth is the least foolhardy man you’re ever likely to meet. If he’s rushing anywhere, then it’s out: out of money, out of luck, out of the way of those angry men wielding swords.

Prince of Fools is the first book of Mark Lawrence’s The Red Queen’s War trilogy, set in the same world, and at the same time, as The Broken Empire series, which we reviewed not too long ago. But it is glimpses of familiarity we get, rather than a re-treading of old stories and characters.

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Half a War, by Joe Abercrombie – Book Review

Shattered Sea, Joe Abercrombie, Half a War, Half the World, Half a King

It has come. The final novel of the Shattered Sea trilogy is here. A tale of oaths, lies, war and love has reached its explosive end. We have been through Yarvi’s toils in Half a King, seen war brew and love blossom with Thorn and Brand in Half the World, and now we see Half a War through the eyes of a young, anxious, but fiery queen; a truculent warmonger whose starting to feel the weight of his regrets; and an aspiring minister with a torturous dilemma. But how did they do narrating the end of the Shattered Sea trilogy?

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Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett – Review

Since my last review of men wielding swords, albeit in a slightly more familiar land, I have read three books, all of which were from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy series and, more precisely, from The City Watch sequence. Because I have a little bit of a bad habit of judging a book by its cover, I started with book six (Night Watch), before moving on to book five (The Fifth Elephant), then book seven (Thud!). I am currently reading book one (Guards! Guards!).

Though I do mildly regret starting with Night Watch, as the time travelling element would have been more enjoyable had I known the older versions of the characters, one of the beauties of the Discworld series is the ease with which you can pick it up from anywhere in the series. This is the message I hope to convey most of all in this review: do not be intimidated by the long list of books in front of you. All of the books I have read so far are more than accessible to a new reader, even if you do miss some nods and winks (and the occasional elbow nudge).

The reason I first picked up Night Watch is because I read that it was a detective fantasy novel involving a policeman travelling to his own past along with a murderer, set in the back drop of a revolution. If this doesn’t make you want to read it then I’m sorry but we can’t be friends.

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Mr Mercedes, by Stephen King – Review

Not many things can successfully intervene my current binge on fantasy novels. One author that can, and always will, is Stephen King. Before reading anything that doesn’t contain a sprinkle of fantasy or a touch of the paranormal, I often get a shudder of scepticism, trying to convince myself last minute that I can always grab something else. But no – a varied reading list is as important as a varied diet. Picking up Mr Mercedes however, this shudder was notably absent, as I have learned to trust King unconditionally to delivering me a thrilling story. And Mr Mercedes is no exception.

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The Ice Dragon, by George R. R. Martin – Review

This is a short story by the author of the masterful, sensational, beautiful A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, made even more popular by the very much worthy A Game of Thrones television series on HBO and Sky Atlantic. Following the dramatic conclusion of Season 5 with the episode Mother’s Mercy, I have decided to review the short and delightful story Martin wrote for younger viewers (though oddly there’s still people burnt to cinders and with limbs hewn off). Though I must stress this is not a companion to A Song of Ice and Fire (though set in ‘Westeros’ it is in fact a different fantasy world).

The story is very short and simple, but also very elegant and sweet. In it, we follow a girl called Adara through the early years of her life.

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The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell – Review

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell was my second foray into the world of historical fiction, the first being Death of Kings, a book from later on in the same series because it has a cool title and I’m an idiot.

George R.R. Martin has crowned Bernard Cornwell as writing “the best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present.” This praise is well earned. His battles feel both vast and personal. There is also a sense of realism that is absent from many series, yet they are still exhilarating. It is no small feat to chronicle the growing up of a young warrior but it is very well paced and never seems slow or rushed. The political intrigue maybe a way off Game of Thrones but Uhtred’s split loyalty between the warring Danes and Saxons is plenty enough to keep you turning the page, even if you have an unnatural aversion to well written action. Continue reading

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss – Review

A short opening chapter describes only the silence of a room – Boring, right? (And only seventeen million words to go) It’s quite the opposite, actually. I have never read a book that is so long that is never boring, and this opening chapter, less than a page long, is my favourite ever beginning to a novel. It is gripping, poetic and mysterious, and that is how I would describe The Name of the Wind as a whole.

The opening of the book sees Kvothe, our, somewhat rumour-distorted, hero, who has set up retirement in hiding as an innkeeper. What lures the reader this early is the smooth and flawless writing style of Rothfuss, who can seemingly write about anything, adding flare, wit, poetry and meaning to the otherwise latent, bland and passive.

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Half the World, by Joe Abercrombie – Review

Within minutes of writing my review of Half a King (the first novel in Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea Trilogy), I leapt to my bookshelf and tore Half the World from it, eager to find out what happens next in this fantasy adventure.

Don’t worry, no Half a King spoilers here, but it was clear to the end of the first instalment that a war was brewing. In Half the World we see old friends and new journey far beyond the regions of the first book to recruit allies for the inevitable conflict with the High King, Grandmother Wexen and their One God.

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Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie – Review

The first instalment of the Shattered Sea trilogy is very direct. You are thrown into the life of an unlikely, and unlucky, ‘hero’, and a world full of betrayal and revenge. Yarvi is an unusual protagonist – a boy with no fighting skill and a crippled hand, a quick mind and a quicker tongue. You won’t agree with all his decisions and he’s not necessarily ‘likeable’, but as you read his story you admire him no matter what he does or how he acts. Because of this, he is a great character, and through him this sensational story begins.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch – Review

By Andy Wright

Locke-Lamora-UKFirst off, I feel it should be noted that all of the reviews we have written so far have been ones of glowing praise. The simple reason for this is that we have chosen to start the reviews with our favourite books, both of our recent reads and of all time. On top of this it is much more enjoyable for us to write about books we love. That being said, here is another novel that I adore.

I did a rare thing recently: I reread a book. I know, I know, it’s crazy. Here I sit, with thousands of great stories, magical worlds and fascinating characters a few clicks away and yet I pick up a book I have already read. But hopefully you will curtail your angry tirade when I tell you that the book was the ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’; the story of a master thief and his gang, who are the most gentlemanly of bastards.

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