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Book Review: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.

But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was. Goodreads

Overall, this series has become one of my favorites. The world of political intrigue, corruption, and the magical veins running beneath the surface far exceeded any expectations I had when I first picked it up. That being said, my feelings towards the final book were not quite as strong as the first two.

The story started out promising – Fitz just came back from the freaking dead! – and for the most part, I enjoyed it. As always, the storytelling and details are so stunning that it’s hard not to get sucked in. Poor Fitz, he’s gotten his second chance at life and, once again, he’s sucked in the middle of a political and familial shit show. The personal turmoil and reflections in this book definitely showed how much Fitz had grown since the first book. And how much he has lost.

Despite all the horrible things he’s witnessed and the arduous journey he embarks on, there is one thing that remains constant in his life: Nighteyes. Oh Nighteyes. I adore Nighteyes. He is, hands down, the best character in this entire series and even if this book had turned out to be horrible, I would have read it anyway because of Nighteyes. The relationship that Fitz has with his Wit companion is more touching than any other relationship in the series. Or any other book, period. The new characters we were introduced to kept things interesting, although I can’t say that I was particularly attached to any of them. (By the end, Kettle got on my nerves.) I loved that we got to see more of the Fool and learn about his role in Fitz’s life.

I appreciated this book for all it’s details and intricacies, but was left feeling a little disappointed with the last quarter of it. Without wanting to give too much away, I will say that there was a lot of big and important things going on. Unfortunately, I felt the explanations of these things were glossed over. Of the explanations we did get, they hardly scratched the surface. I kept itching for more and coming up with a million more questions that never went fully answered.

I felt like the ending was a bit bittersweet, although I’m not sure if that was intended or not. It definitely didn’t go in the direction I expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Despite the few things that bothered me about this one, I still really enjoyed it and would read it again in a heartbeat, if not for Nighteyes alone. ❤

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: The Hod King

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fearing an uprising, the Sphinx sends Senlin to investigate a plot that has taken hold in the ringdom of Pelphia. Alone in the city, Senlin infiltrates a bloody arena where hods battle for the public’s entertainment. But his investigation is quickly derailed by a gruesome crime and an unexpected reunion.

Posing as a noble lady and her handmaid, Voleta and Iren attempt to reach Marya, who is isolated by her fame. Edith, now captain of the Sphinx’s fierce flagship, joins forces with a fellow wakeman to investigate the disappearance of a beloved friend.

As Senlin and his crew become further dragged in to the conspiracies of the Tower, everything falls to one question: Who is The Hod King?

Every book in the Books of Babel series is completely different than the last, but, once again, Josiah Bancroft hits the nail right on the head. The structure of The Hod King is different than the previous two books. Each chunk of the book follows a different member of Senlin’s former crew and chronicles their misadventures in Pelphia.

I really appreciated the character development in The Arm of the Sphinx. This time around, the characters we’ve come to know and love throw some unexpected surprises at us. Of all the characters in the story, I think I was most impressed with Voleta in this book and how different she is now than she was when we first met her. Even Iren, who didn’t do much for me previously, has finally found a place in my heart now that we got to see things from her perspective.

Pelphia is quite strange. It’s definitely one of my favorite ringdoms we’ve gotten to experience so far, even though most of the people there are quite ghastly. Even after reading book three, I am still in awe of the incredibly unique and richly detailed world of the Tower that Bancroft has created. The story only gets better and better as it goes along and I already know that I never want it to end.

I want to say so much more about this book, but I don’t even know how to begin critiquing perfection.

Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft

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The Tower of Babel is proving to be as difficult to reenter as it was to break out of. Forced into a life of piracy, Senlin and his eclectic crew are struggling to survive aboard their stolen airship as the hunt to rescue Senlin’s lost wife continues.
Hopeless and desolate, they turn to a legend of the Tower, the mysterious Sphinx. But help from the Sphinx never comes cheaply, and as Senlin knows, debts aren’t always what they seem in the Tower of Babel.
Time is running out, and now Senlin must choose between his friends, his freedom, and his wife.
Does anyone truly escape the Tower?

Allow me to start off this review with a confession: I almost didn’t pick this book up. I enjoyed Senlin Ascends when I read it last year, but I couldn’t decide if I liked it enough to rush to read the second book. After seeing all the glittering reviews of the third book, The Hod King, recently, I realized that I might be missing out on something.

I was.

The Sphinx’s Arm has a different feel to it than the first book. It’s faster paced, grittier, and a bit more complex. (As if the Tower needed to be more complex!) Senlin and his friends aren’t just on the lam anymore; they’re pirates! They’re still trying to find Senlin’s wife, all while trying to avoid detection by Commissioner Pound. Everywhere they turn, the Tower, with all it’s political corruption and steampunk wonders, is doing its best to thwart them.

The story is rich with amazing (and sometimes terrible) characters, both new and old. The relationship  between Senlin and his crew has deepens and grows more complex with every misadventure they get themselves tangled in. Despite all their flaws and demons, the camaraderie between them is admirable. Senlin is quite different than he was in the first book. He’s not just the lost, desperate tourist searching for his wife anymore. He’s a leader and a friend, trying to do best by his crew. He’s smarter, bolder, and, although he fumbles a lot, you can’t help but love him. I really enjoyed the new characters introduced, as well, especially the mysterious Spinx and his lackey, Byron.

I want to share all the other details I loved about this book, but I don’t want to give too much away. I know we’re only two months into the year, but I already predict that this will be one of the best books I read in 2019.

*Potential spoiler*  (Was anyone else really hoping the Sphinx was actually going to be a spoon?)

Adult · Books · Fantasy · Young Adult

Series I Still Need to Finish

I took a look at my bookshelves the other day and had a slight moment of panic when I realized how many series I started last year and have yet to finish. Typically, when I find a series I like I binge my way through it, but there were just too many good books to read last year that I couldn’t squeeze them all in. #bookwormproblems

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The Books of Babel series by Josiah Bancroft – I’ve already purchased my copy of Arm of the Sphinx (the second book) and will probably be reading it next. At least I’m getting close…

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The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – I’m not going to lie, I’ve had mixed feelings about finishing this one. I really enjoyed the first three books in the series, but after reading the fourth I’m wondering if this one should have remained a trilogy. The fourth book felt more like a spin off to me than a continuation of the story I had come to know. That being said, I’m still somewhat curious to know what happens, so I’m probably going to finish this one.

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The Monsters of Verity duo by Victoria Schwab – No Schwab book/series must go unfinished!

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The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb – Oh Fitz, I need to know if at least one good thing finally happens to you. After the ending of the second book I almost went out and immediately purchased the final book in the series, Assassin’s Quest. I have enough other books that I should probably get to first though…*whispers* for now.

Adult · Books · Fantasy

First Impression Friday: The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

First Impression Friday is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know. Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld. Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.

Having read nothing but positive reviews of this one, The Gutter Prayer was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019.

Right off the bat I was intrigued by the story – the world that it takes place in is one quote different than the human world as we know it. There are men made of wax, alchemical rivalries, men turned to living stone, and all sorts of creatures you wouldn’t want to encounter down a dark alley.

The farther into the book I get I am starting to lose interest. I’m not feeling any sort of connection to the characters, despite the interesting concept of them. I also feel like I was just plopped into the middle of a story and am struggling to make sense of it all. For now I’m trying to keep trudging along, in the hopes that things will pick up a little bit and I can get more into it.

 

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Book Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

In an Absent Dream was one of my most ( if not the most) anticipated reads for this year. After devouring it last weekend, I am pleased to say that it most certainly did not disappoint.

The world of the Goblin Market is one of the strangest and most complex worlds that McGuire has created for the series. It is both beautiful and terrifying, putting emphasis on the importance of rules and the consequences of breaking them. Through the market’s rules force its inhabitants learn to be better people and give fair value to the world around them.

Before Lundy finds her door she’s a quiet child, keeping her head down and trying to figure out what it means to blend in. She’s already accepted that her life is going to be mundane and like everyone else’s. Her visits to the Goblin Market help her figure out who she really is and who she really wants to be. Through the rules and her friendship with Moon, Lundy finds a place she belongs and a sense of family that she never experienced before.

This was an absolutely stunning and heartbreaking tale. I wanted to cry when it was over because I was not ready for it to end yet. This might be my favorite book in the series, so far.

Adult · Books · Fantasy

First Impression Friday: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a First Impression Friday post. I was going to write one last week when I  started re-reading The Hobbit but decided against it because it felt like I was cheating, since I already read it years ago and knew what was going to happen.

(For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.)

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This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

Just like the previous Wayward Children books, you immediately become immersed in the story’s main character. I love the way the author makes you feel like you already know and understand her characters right off the bat.

The Goblin Market is an intriguing one. The rules and nuances are rather unique compared to the previous worlds she has written about. For that reason, I am interested to see what kind of trouble Lundy gets in. Because you just know she’s going to break the rules at some point. Perhaps she will get in trouble with the Goblin ruler, if there is such a character.

Whatever happens, I already know it’s going to be beautiful and heart-breaking.

(Check out my reviews for the other books in the Wayward Children series: here)