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.
This article will briefly introduce five of the must read fantasy novels out this year that we at Sentient Ink are particularly excited about. The five we have chosen are not in any particular order, and this isn’t an exhaustive list, but we think you’ll agree they’re all going to be awesome.
The Shepherd’s Crown, by Terry Pratchett (Out August 27, 2015 in the UK, September 1 in the USA)
So far we have reviewed the Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett’s first novel in the Discworld series, and Night Watch, the first in The City Watch sequence. With Terry Pratchett’s sad passing, The Shepherd’s Crown will bring an end to the epic, thirty two year old fantasy series.
The Shepherd’s Crown is the fifth Discworld novel to follow Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training who has grown up throughout the four novels in which she has starred, being just nine years old in The Wee Free Men, up to almost nineteen in I Shall Wear Midnight. Not much has been revealed about The Shepherd’s Crown, but with Tiffany’s fiery character and Pratchett’s famous literary bombardment of adventure, magic and humour, it is sure to be a wonderful, and very emotional, farewell to the Discworld and its creator.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
By Andy Wright
First 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.