Review: Vincalis the Agitator by Holly Lisle

Vincalis the Agitator by Holly Lisle is the prequel to The Secret Texts trilogy, consisting of Diplomacy of Wolves, Vengeance of Dragons and Courage of Falcons. It’s been a while since I read the trilogy, but I remember I enjoyed it, and Vincalis the Agitator had been on my TBR list for a while.

Plot:

Two boys from very different backgrounds meet and become friends. Unbeknown to them, their friendship will change the very world they inhabit, which can be felt even 1000 years in the future. Their names? Wraith and Solander.  One is immune to magic, and one has the ambition to become the ruling authority on magic. Together they set forth to do good, but trigger something much bigger than themselves.

Opinion:

This book was an entertaining one; I was never forcing myself to read it, but there was something missing for me. Maybe it felt like that because the writing is a bit aloof, distant. Although we are always in the heads of the characters, good and bad, we aren’t in their hearts. We understand their feelings, but don’t feel their feelings. Still, it didn’t keep me from reading it.

Wraith and Solander are both compelling characters, and I like how Holly never forgets how they met and why Solander decides to let Wraith into his life. He has a use for him, and even when they forge their strong bond, that is always in the background. Solander is always studying Wraith, and Wraith lets him. Wraith has lofty dreams of freeing the Warreners, who are being kept as literal fuel for the magic of the Dragons. The ruling class of the Empire, to which Solander and egotistical Luercas both belong. Even when they were growing apart, I could still imagine them coming through for each other. And they did, in more ways than one.

Jess was….well…at first I disliked her infatuation with Wraith a lot. I mean, I never came around to her LOVE for him, but she did try, at least when she was older, to be a good friend to him. And I like that she had a period of growth, that she came to see his dream of saving the Warreners as not just a pipe dream, but a necessity. Velyn on the other hand, man. I liked her at first, but as soon as she showed more and more of her real self, I couldn’t help but want her to disappear of the stage. Not dying or something like that, because I did feel some empathy for her plight – suffering abuse in a marriage you can’t escape – but just going into hiding for all eternity or something. She got on my nerves the way she just kept blaming Wraith for all the bad things in her life when it’s literally all her own damn fault.

The Hars Empire was a good reflection of what would happen when society decides that comfort and security are more important than the lives of “undesirables”. To use not just innocent people’s bodies, but also their souls, to power magic to keep your subjects’ lives comfortable? It evoked the painful history of our world, in which certain peoples were seen as lesser, as subhuman, as not worthy of life itself. Hell, there are still people who believe that about others who don’t look, sound or think like them.

This prequel can be read as a standalone; you need no previous knowledge of The Secret Texts trilogy. But because I missed a certain spark, I don’t rate this book as highly as I might’ve otherwise. There were times where I almost didn’t dare read on, because I didn’t think there was going to be a good ending, but it kept calling me back. So it’s not a bad book. Just not as good as I hoped it would be. Either way, it was still an entertaining read.

Rating:

7.8/10 

Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Lies Sleeping is the seventh instalment of the PC Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch.

Plot:

The Faceless Man has been murdering, sacrificing, committing fraud, and done even more heinous things, but the police and the Folly know his identity now and they’ve got him on the run. Peter Grant, now Detective Constable, is one of the key figures in the operation to bring him down once and for all. But a cornered animal is at its most dangerous, and cornered magicians even more so. The Faceless Man isn’t going down without a fight and a show, and is in the midst of completing one final mission. If he were to succeed, London will be forever changed. It’s up to Peter, and his colleagues, to stop him before he does. If they can.

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Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames


Kings of the Wyld is Nicholas Eames‘ debut novel and the first book in The Band series. I’d heard a lot of good things about it on r/fantasy, so I decided to buy it.

Plot:

Clay Cooper was once a member of the most famous mercenary band this side of the Heartwyld; Saga. But those days are long behind them. He’s got a wife and a daughter, and vague plans for an inn one day. He’s grown old and spends his days away from the glory of older days. He is content. Then his ex-band mate shows up on his door one night, pleading for Clay’s help. His daughter is trapped in a city that is surrounded by a monstrous horde, and he needs to save her. Clay knows it’s a suicide mission, but as a father he knows his friend’s pain all too well. It’s time to get the band back together. One last time. Continue reading

Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine

I’m just going to come out and say it: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is my favourite game of all the games I’ve played so far since I got my PS4. I have the strange penchant to start with the third installment of game series (God of War, Diablo, Dragon Age), and this time it was no different. I never played the previous games, but I owned The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski, and I read that immediately after starting up the game. I bought this game at the end of 2015, beginning of 2016, and though I finished the main quest of Wild Hunt somewhere in 2017, it wasn’t until yesterday that I finished the last of the two DLC.

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Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I absolutely loved the Studio Ghibli version of Howl’s Moving Castle, but I wanted to read the original by Diana Wynne Jones and see which things were different and which were the same. The r/fantasy bingo gave me the excuse I needed to buy it.

Plot:

Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three, and therefore knows that she is destined to be unsuccessful; everyone in the town of Market Chipping knows that the eldest fails horribly when leaving home to seek their fate. While her younger sisters Lettie and Martha leave home, she works in the hat shop of her late father and stepmother. But then the Witch of the Waste curses Sophie for reasons unknown to her, and turns her into an old lady. To break the curse, Sophie must deal with the heartless wizard Howl who lives in a moving castle, a fire demon and their magical antics.

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Review: Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

Lady of the Lake is the last book in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’ve heard that there’s another book, Season of Storms, which will come out (translated in English) in 2018, but I think that one’s a short story collection.

Plot:

Ciri escaped the torturing arms of her pursuer, and fled into the Tower of Swallows. It transported her to a world of Elves, but not the Elves she knows. She is a prisoner, and they will only let her go if she agrees to do one thing. One terrible thing. Meanwhile Geralt is looking for Ciri back in their world with his companions, trying to save her from those who wish to harm her, or control her. Yennefer has been put in chains, and tortured, by people who want to get their hands on her surrogate daughter. And the Emperor of Nilfgaard too has his eye on the prize.

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Review: Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts

I initially bought Master of Whitestorm because I’m trying to read more female fantasy authors, and on r/fantasy Janny Wurts came highly recommended. Rather than jump into a series, I decided to try one of her standalones first. Coincidentally, this book also qualifies for the r/fantasy Underrated square, so that’s two birds caught with one stone!

Plot:

Korendir, Master of Whitestorm, is no ordinary man. Enslaved by the Murghai as a boy, now grown into a man he frees himself and Haldeth, his partner on the oars of the slave ship. But if Haldeth thinks Korendir will live out his days in relative safety, peace and freedom, he is sorely mistaken. For Korendir has other plans.

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Review: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Foxglove Summer is the fifth book in the PC Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch, and I believe the first book in which Peter spends the majority of his time not in London.

Plot:

As the events of the last book have left Peter shaken, he jumps at the chance to spend some time outside of London. Unfortunately, the case he’s assisting on is a dark one: two pre-teen girls have gone missing in rural Herefordshire. There’s no indication that there might be magic involved, but that doesn’t stop for Peter from worrying. Time is running out.

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Review: Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Broken Homes is book number four in Ben Aaronovitch’s PC Peter Grant series. This book differs from the previous three in structure; Peter is working on several cases at once, and they’re not all related. In fact, there’s only two that are truly related to the magical parts of London.

Plot:

PC Peter Grant is called in when the cops find blood they can’t account for at a traffic accident. Their prime suspect is one Robert Weil, one of the apprentices of the original Faceless Man. There’s blood, but where’s the body? A man jumps in front of a train, but the circumstances are odd. Jaget Kumar shows Peter the footage, and they agree there was magical interference. Meanwhile, a stolen book on magic turns up, but hasn’t been reported stolen. It used to belong to Erik Stomberg, a German architect who happened to design one of the most infamous landmarks in London people have been trying to demolish for years. A grandfather injures himself during his granddaughter’s birthday party, while trying to create a werelight. Very few of these cases seem to be related, yet Peter can’t help but feel the Faceless Man has come back into play.

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Review: The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

The Castle of Llyr is the third book in the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

Plot:

Princess Eilonwy travels to the Isle of Mona, where she will be fostered by the kind king and queen of Mona, with Taran and Gurgi to see her off. She must learn what it means to be a lady, even though she doesn’t want to. But when they get to Mona, it is revealed to Taran that Eilonwy is in danger. For the evil enchantress Achren is after her, and her talents. Continue reading