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Adam Weller profile

Place of birth: New Jersey, USA
Now living: Philadelphia, USA

3 favourite authors

3 favourite books

3 favourite films

Adam Weller's 136 reviews

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

One of the fondest memories of my youth was wandering around the video store. I grew up in a small town without much to do, so my options were limited: spend all night being a pain in the ass to the wait staff at the diner, driving around looking for haunted landmarks from Weird New Jersey magazine, or watch horror movies unti...

8.0/10

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Catalyst Gate by Megan E O Keefe (The Protectorate)

There’s a lot of things that makes this series great, but what stands out most is its balancing act. I usually prefer a character-first story, with the plot and world-building backing that up. Megan O’Keefe has hit the sweet spot with Catalyst Gate – and the entire Protectorate trilogy, really – by delivering equal amount...

9.0/10

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The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan (The Black Iron Legacy)

There was a section of Gareth Hanrahan’s The Broken God, the third book in the The Black Iron Legacy series, that I didn’t want to end. The reader is led through a land ravaged by the Godswar, where anything is possible, and Hanrahan’s creativity and imagination shines the brightest. It reminded me Ed McDonald’s ...

6.5/10

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Priest of Gallows by Peter McLean (War for the Rose Throne)

We're in a state of regression. In addition to the pandemic crippling our economies, the world's collective mindset seems to be facing backward, leaning into the old behaviors that divide us. While social injustice, disgraceful political leadership, and basic intolerance of our neighbors continue to plague us, we are once again on the ro...

8.0/10

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Idols Fall by Mike Shel (Iconoclasts)

"We would wish you godspeed, but that seems ill-suited for your endeavor. So instead, we wish you success and a safe return, without appeal to any gods. We are all of us toppling idols. They have already fallen in the hearts and minds of those who are privy to your dark revelation. But you, you will bring them crashing down before y...

9.0/10

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The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (The Burning Kingdom)

Like the characters of this story, The Jasmine Throne is a book with many faces. It's about women who experience tragedy, and rather to succumbing to its effects, they sharpen themselves from it. It's about trust in the name of survival, and how love can screw it all up. It's about a conquered nation who is systema...

8.3/10

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The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence (The Book of the Ice)

I originally gave this five stars after the immediate post-book glow, but after sitting on it for a while, I'm bumping it down to four. The reading experience alone is fun and exciting and certainly a page turner, but I don't think it works quite as well as a book on its own. There is a big shift in the story at exactly the halfway point...

8.0/10

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The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter (The Five Penalties)

The Helm of Midnight is an entertaining and suspenseful fantasy thriller. There’s more than enough cool, innovative ideas and surprising events that kept me coming back for more each night.Connecting with some characters was a bit of an issue for me, but overall this is an exciting start to a new series that raises some int...

8.0/10

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The Black Coast by Mike Brooks (The God King Chronicles)

When a story ends with a great battle, I'm sometimes left with an hollow feeling. While it's fulfilling to read a climactic payoff after so long a buildup,, I find myself wishing to know what happens after the battle. How is the new government going to rule? What is the temperment of the people? Can two hated countries put long-ingrained...

9.0/10

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Pawn's Gambit by Rob Hayes (The Mortal Techniques)

“I mean, what is a kingdom but a collection of people who don’t need to be ruled by a person who has no idea how.”In Pawn’s Gambit, a.k.a. Never Die 2: Never Stop Never Dying (Not a sequel to Never Die), Rob Hayes takes us back into the world of his Mortal Techniques seri...

8.0/10

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The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie (The Age of Madness)

It doesn’t last, sure, but the titular argument of Abercrombie’s latest takes a stab at determining why. The grim conclusion is that taking sides in governing a nation – even if it’s crystal clear that one is trying to ‘do the right thing’ – is that it’s going to lead to dangerous division and pote...

9.8/10

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Master Artificer by Justin Call (The Silent Gods)

The first thing that jumped out at me about Master Artificer was the color of its cover. Black, I thought. Interesting choice. This was only the second book of a planned tetralogy, and there’s rumblings of twelve full books in mind for the series. Master of Sorrows was the introduction to the saga of Ann...

9.3/10

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A Darkness Beckons by Todd Herzman (Hollow Fate)

A fun, addictive and blood-fueled adventure, featuring a family of kickass mage-warriors doing their damndest to prevent the apocalypse.The story picks up several months after the world-changing events at the end of book one. While A Dark Inheritance started small and eased the readers into the bigger picture, ...

7.5/10

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The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

I’ve struggled with how to start this review of Christopher Buehlman’s The Blacktongue Thief because I want to give it the recognition it deserves. So I’ll just go with this: it’s damn fine reading. I loved it.Kinch Na Shannack is a thief-in-training with a couple of tricks up his sleeve, which might not m...

9.7/10

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A Dark Inheritance by Todd Herzman (Hollow Fate)

What sparked my interest right away about this book is Herzman’s approach to the story itself. This is a sprawling world, with multiple continents, oceans, islands, rulers, and lots of history. But when we start the book, we know nothing about any of that. And it stays like that for some time.We see the world through three sibl...

8.0/10

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Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen (The Graven)

‘Author, swordswoman, and falconer. Sound designer for SFF films at Skywalker Sound, with credits in movies such as Doctor Strange and Avengers: Endgame,’ reads Essa Hansen’s Meet the Author page. With such a varied resume, it’s small wonder that her debut novel Nophek Gloss crackles with fresh,...

9.3/10

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Kept From Cages by Phil Williams (Ikiri)

Deep South jazz band criminals.Sold yet?Ok, let's continue. Because they're only half the story.We meet the crew in a Resevoir Dogs-style, post-heist car accident as they make their way toward an isolated farm house for help. What they find inside triggers a series of otherworldly events,...

7.5/10

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Kings of Heaven by Richard Nell (Ash and Sand)

“A man fails in only two ways. He quits, or he dies.”I didn’t know it at the time, but 2017’s Kings of Paradise marked an important moment in my reading career. Before reading Nell’s work, my mind was clear and carefree, unaware of the existence of Ruka, son of Beyla, brother of Buka...

9.2/10

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The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

“That’s all magic is, really: the space between what you have and what you need.”We are all witches.In The Once and Future Witches, Harrow argues that we have the means to tap into a reservoir of power to achieve wonderous and needful things. All that witchery requires are the words of execution,...

10.0/10

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Chaos Vector by Megan E O Keefe (The Protectorate)

I loved Velocity Weapon, but since a decent part of the entertainment factor of the first book was having my jaw hit the floor with each successive reveal, I did have to wonder whether that format would be used again and whether it could work as well the second time around. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried. What Megan O’Keefe did i...

9.0/10

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The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (The Drowning Empire)

This was a great book, up there with The Unspoken Name as my favorite debut of 2020.One question, a central theme to the story, kept popping up: what the value of a human life? Can it be measured by degree of importance, intelligence, or skill? Is a person worth less in a society when their trade becomes obsolete?...

9.0/10

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From Cold Ashes Risen by Rob J Hayes (The War Eternal)

From Cold Ashes Risen is the unsettling, vengeance-fueled conclusion to Eskara Helsene’s story that successfully fulfills all the foreshadowed promises of the earlier books while landing many new surprises. Although its slower-paced start stretches longer than necessary, we delve deep into Eska's psyche as she suffer...

8.8/10

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Black Stone Heart by Michael R Fletcher (The Obsidian Path)

I was originally introduced to Khraen in Fletcher's short story collection, released last year (among his twelve thousand other releases as of late). Khraen had several stories scattered throughout the book, each picking up at a different point in Khraen's second life. Fletcher prefaced these stories with an explanation that it is all ba...

8.0/10

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The Obsidian Psalm by Clayton Snyder

I've been turning this book around in my head for over a week, and I don't feel any closer to writing a coherent review than I did after finishing it. It's not that I don't have things to say about it. Quite the opposite. There are things to say, like how the book goes there and twists your stomac...

8.7/10

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The Lessons Never Learned by Rob J Hayes (The War Eternal)

“Opinions are like children. Those who have them want them to be special, rarely realizing they are just as dumb as ugly as all the others.”I had some trepidations going into book two. Although Along the Razor’s Edge was the start of the trilogy, it could have worked as an entirely self-contained story. ...

9.2/10

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The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

TJ Klune’s The House on the Cerulean Sea is a beautiful story. Not in an attractive or alluring sense, although those adjectives, too, are accurate, but in the way that it explores true beauty in the most unlikely of places. Klune explores the fear and prejudice that bubbles at the surface of society but delivers a message of hope...

9.5/10

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Stormblood by Jeremy Szal (The Common)

It's not about winning. It's about how you win.Stormblood, the impressive debut novel by Jeremy Szal, is a military science fiction about super soldiers infused with alien DNA that gives them preternatural strength, agility and healing. It also causes the soldiers to crave adrenal...

8.0/10

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The Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (Chosen Ones)

"Nobody ever prepared me for what came after. They just assumed I would never find out."The Chosen Ones is Veronica Roth’s first novel that targets an adult audience, as it digs deep into themes that her Divergent series of novels casually explored. It is a Chicago-based urban ...

8.0/10

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Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett (Founders)

“What a critical and crushing thing, perspective is …”Robert Jackson Bennett is in both an enviable and a difficult situation. He’s one of the most imaginative writers in fantasy today, but that carries a sky-high level of expectation that can be difficult to meet. His latest book, Shoref...

9.2/10

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Borderlands Act 1 by Charles Gull (Borderlands)

Charles Gull continues his series of loosely interrelated novellas centering on a war between the monster-fueled Realm of Chaos and humankind, with the war taking place on the Borderlands battlegrounds separating the two lands. These military fantasy stories each tell a different story, and so far, there are no characters that appear in multiple...

6.5/10

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The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan (The Black Iron Legacy)

Hanrahan takes a new approach in this follow-up to The Gutter Prayer, which was one of my favorite reads from 2019. While The Gutter Prayer had a nice mix of world-building, action, and character development, The Shadow Saint changed focus and spent about half the book on politics. Guerdon's leadership is in ruins ...

8.7/10

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Along the Razor's Edge by Rob J Hayes (The War Eternal)

"Are we all just monsters waiting for the opportunity to show it?"This book is going to make you mad. And that’s a good thing.Meet Eskara Helsene. Ripped from her family as a toddler, educated through torture, conscripted for war, and forced to murder, all before the age of fifte...

9.5/10

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Vox Machina Origins by Matthew Mercer

I'm just starting to dip my toes into Critical Role, the three-billion hours long D&D video podacst (slight exaggeration) adored by hundreds of thousands of fans (no exaggeration). They seem like a good bunch, and I've heard great things about it -- how could you not, with a fan base that giant -- and a recent Kickstarter campaign to...

8.0/10

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The Shadow King by Alec Hutson (The Raveling)

Alec Hutson concludes his sprawling, epic fantasy trilogy with The Shadow King. This is epic fantasy in a classic vein written for modern audiences. It’s excellent. The characters come alive, and we cheer for their successes and mourn for their failures. The world building continues to be phenomenal, and the plot rushes to a superb conclus...

9.0/10

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Starsight by Brandon Sanderson (Skyward)

Is there any period in life more difficult to navigate than adolescence? Worrying about school, figuring out which hottie you want to smooch, and finding new ways to act rebellious can be exhausting. Then there’s the aliens. The screaming stars. The mysterious AI, and your cytonic powers of understanding faster-than-light radio signals. It...

9.4/10

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The Millennial Manifesto by Michael R Fletcher

Millennials these days, right? Strutting around with their avocado toast and their bedazzled flip phones. But this generation has it rough. The boomers complain that they don’t want to work, and they’re blamed for ‘ruining everything.’ But look at the state of the nation that is being turned over to them: livable wages ar...

8.0/10

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The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan (The Fall of the Gods)

Ryan Van Loan's The Sin in the Steel is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure about a wicked-smahht, pissed-off, teenage revolutionary and her damaged soldier friend who are hired by a massive trading corporation to find out why their ships are disappearing along an important trade route. Could it be mad mages? Pirates? Asshole...

8.0/10

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The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

The way that Zen Cho's new novella The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water began was a major feint. It seemed like it was going to lean into an action-oriented saga of black magic and banditry, bounty hunting and showdowns. Instead, it throws a massive curveball and tells a powerful story of identity and how it evolves across...

8.0/10

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Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (A Sky-Ship Adventure)

Brightstorm is a wonderfully paced, absorbing read that delivers a special feeling of adventure reserved for stories that you just cannot put down. The story focuses on twin siblings who are searching for answers about their missing father, a famous lost explorer who went down with his airship under mysterious circumstances. After ...

8.8/10

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River of Thieves by Clayton Snyder (Thieves' Lyric)

Clayton Snyder’s River of Thieves is a hell of a funny book. The humor isn’t going to be everyone’s brand of bourbon, so if you’re unsure of what you’re getting into you can glance at the table of contents and preview some of the chapter titles. “Pirates are just Thieves with more Syphilis,” &ld...

8.5/10

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Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence (Impossible Times)

I told (her) that this had been the time I was going to allocate to catching up on all those great fantasy books I never managed to get round to reading. She told me that they were still publishing great fantasy books, with more coming out each week than I could read in a year. I told her to shut up.---“Every magic t...

9.1/10

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Legacy of Ghosts by Alicia Wanstall Burke (The Coraidic Sagas)

Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s Legacy of Ghosts, the second entry in The Coraidic Sagas trilogy, is a thrilling addition to Lidan and Ran’s stories and elevates all the material that came before it. While Blood of Heirs set the table for what was to come, its sequel devours the meal and kicks the table over in style. In ...

8.7/10

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Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall Burke (The Coraidic Sagas)

When loyalty to your family, community, and your own interests are at odds, every choice you make might not ever feel like the right choice. This predicament often rings true in positions of power. If you are an heir born to a family of import such as the ruling family of a tribe or the royal family of a kingdom, you are groomed for a leadership...

7.5/10

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The Unspoken Name by A K Larkwood (The Serpent Gates)

A. K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name is among the most creative, exciting, and brilliantly-told epic fantasy novels I’ve read. It is an immersive experience that grabbed my attention early on, then grew at a staggering rate until I found myself being launched through fantastic worlds, meeting wonderful characters, and caught i...

10.0/10

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Smoke and Stone by Michael R Fletcher (City of Sacrifice)

“Humanity brought itself to the brink of utter destruction and the gods built this bastion, took in the few survivors, and sheltered them from the world they’d killed.”Twenty-five thousand years has passed since the walled city of Bastion was created. The whole of mankind lives within this city of stone ...

9.0/10

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Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick (Darkstar)

When someone is infected with the travel bug, it seeps into their pores at an early age and lasts throughout their lifetime. Speaking from experience, I have always craved adventure; there is nothing quite like the thrill of traveling with no set itinerary and seeing where the wind takes you. I believe it was the Dalai Lama, or perhaps Brandon S...

9.0/10

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The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence (The Book of the Ice)

Abeth, a frozen ice planet. Many years ago, a home to Nona and the sisters of the Sweet Mercy convent. Now home to nothing but wandering ice tribes, struggling to survive in the harshest conditions imaginable.To survive is to sacrifice. Outliers must be culled. Whether you are weak and lag behind, or if you’re too big or strong and ...

9.5/10

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The Valley of the Gods by Phil Tucker (The Godsblood Trilogy)

We all make mistakes. ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine’, or so they say. But what's so great about divinity, anyway? There's constant pressure to do the right thing, or perhaps the power will go to your head. Do you address your followers, or fall silent to their praise and let their faith guide them? What is ...

8.0/10

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The True Bastards by Jonathan French (The Lot Lands)

There are many ways to die, but only one way to survive: just keep going. Is starvation decimating your ranks, with food a constant scarcity? Just keep going. Is there a new, ancient threat that leads a terrifying race of creatures to hunt in ways never seen before? Just keep going. Has your lover and protector deserted your clan, have you sent ...

9.0/10

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Deviant Rising by Barnes and Preiman (The Amarantah Chronicles)

Note: I received an eARC of this book on Reedsy Discovery. You can view it, and other self-published works like it, here:https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/the-amaranth-chronicles-deviant-rising-alexander-barnes...

6.5/10

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Wrath of Storms by Steven McKinnon (The Raincatcher's Ballad)

How do you describe Steve McKinnon’s Wrath of Storms, the sequel to FantasyBookReview’s SPFBO4 finalist Symphony of the Wind? I’ve tried comparing it to everything from “a fantasy Die Hard” to “Indiana Jones with airships, siege battles, and psychic powers,” and all the comparisons I us...

8.9/10

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The 10,000 Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

It is a rare thing to relate to a book’s character in such a way that similar situations evoke empathy across your lives. Enough parallels can be drawn to feel almost as if the book is catered specifically toward you in some existential way. I have not read much portal fantasy, but I have always felt a feeling of smothered repression throu...

10.0/10

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Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren

A strange and compelling novella that plays with the reader's expectations, bending the narrative and its themes until its thought-provoking final page. Dora has lost everything a mother and wife could lose. She blames herself for these tragedies, and her low self-esteem and lack of confidence has turned her into a shell of ...

8.0/10

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Zed by Joanna Kavenna

Joanna Kavenna’s Zed is a pitch-dark comedy about an Orwellian future where Big Brother is not only watching but controls every aspect of society. Imagine if Google merged with the NSA, CIA, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, as well as owned almost every media channel and newspaper in the country. This is Beetle. Everyth...

8.0/10

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The Girl with No Face by M H Boroson (The Daoishi Chronicles)

Note: ARC provided by Edelweiss. This ARC is also available in the Read Now section of NetGalley within the U.S. This book will be released on October 1, 2019.“How could we hope to heal from the traumas of the past, when those traumas shape who we are and how we act in the present?”A few months...

9.1/10

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The God King's Legacy by Richard Nell

I reviewed both novellas when they were released individually many moons ago. They have just been re-released as a collection with a stupid-sick new cover by Shawn King, so I've merged the reviews below.  Rebellion of the Black MilitiaIn all my years reading speculative fiction, I ha...

8.7/10

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Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio (Sun Eater)

This book. This book. I’m not sure if I’ve ever struggled so much in scoring a book as this one. On one hand, Christopher Ruocchio’s Empire of Silence is just what the critics say and so much more: a heady mix of Name of the Wind and Dune featuring a vast political climate, an incredibly soph...

7.0/10

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Sin Eater by Mike Shel (Iconoclasts)

Have you ever sat down to watch “The Wizard of Oz,” but wished that Dorothy was a Holy BladesWoman and instead of visiting a wizard, they’re off to murder an evil trickster god? If so, have I got a book for you! Mike Shel’s, um, iconic Iconoclasts trilogy continues with his second entry, Sin Eater, an impressive ...

8.9/10

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff (The Nevernight Chronicle)

“See my shadow changing,Stretching up and over me.Soften this old armor.Hoping I can clear the wayBy stepping through my shadow,Coming out the other side.Step into the shadow.Forty-six and two just ahead of me.”- Maynard James KeenanGather round...

9.2/10

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Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade (The Shroud of Prophecy)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a small-town boy from a remote village learns that he is the Chosen One, destined to fulfill The Prophecy and save the world from encroaching evil. Sound familiar? Fans of classic epic fantasy from authors Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and even J.K. Rowling have spun their own versions o...

8.3/10

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The Dragon Republic by R F Kuang (The Poppy War)

The mindset that any one person is fundamentally inferior to another is infuriating. The sheer arrogance of such a notion is one of the most abhorrent qualities a human can possess. Whether it’s due to a slightly different shade of skin pigmentation, or a preference of which obscure mythical book passage to follow, or which side of an imag...

9.3/10

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Legends of the Exiles by Jesse Teller

Jesse Teller’s Legends of the Exiles consists of four intertwining novellas that occur during the same decade, give or take a few years. Each novella focuses on a different female “legend” who is at some point driven from her homeland and forced to adapt to new people and a new environment. Although we might know how s...

7.5/10

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Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence (Impossible Times)

Limited Wish, book two of the Impossible Times trilogy, is a highly-enjoyable and heady sci-fi adventure with heavy emotional beats. Although this book takes a bit longer than One Word Kill to have its full scope be revealed, the mind-bending paths that we’re being led through becomes a twisty and challenging pu...

8.3/10

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The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss (The Gods of Men)

The pairing of music and magic has always fascinated me. I believe that there is a type of magic in music, as it can stir emotions and inspire imaginations like nothing else can. When I learned that Barbara Kloss’ The Gods of Men featured a music-based magic system, I set my expectations high. Although music didn’t have quit...

8.0/10

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The Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett (The Divine Cities trilogy)

It’s a rare occasion when I’m introduced to a new author and completely floored by their talents. This is one of those occasions.Robert Jackson Bennett has had a prolific career over the past decade: a two-time winner of the Shirley Jackson award for Best Novel, and various nominations for the Locus, World Fantasy, British Fan...

9.5/10

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Priest of Lies by Peter McLean (War for the Rose Throne)

It’s been six months and Ellinburg is a changed place. But not enough and not where it counts. The Godsday butcher’s bill had been far too high, the war wasn't even won. And Tomas Piety is starting to realise that it might never be, especially while ensnared in the political machinations of the Queen’s Men. He’s trapp...

9.1/10

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Becoming Superman by J Michael Straczynski

If there is anything remarkable about my life, it is that I did not come out the other side a serial killer.When I review a book, I’ll highlight passages I’ll want to refer to after I complete it. By the end of chapter two of J. Michael Straczynski’s autobiography Becoming Superman I had already...

9.0/10

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Breaking Chaos by Ben Galley (Chasing Graves)

One of the signs of knowing that you’re reading good series is realizing how much your perception of it has changed over time. Chasing Graves introduced me to a world without hope, where the rich dine on the poor, and where death is no escape from an eternity of torture and indentured service. Grim Solace offered a shred ...

8.7/10

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The Sword of Kaigen by M L Wang

“Wholeness, she had learned, was not the absence of pain but the ability to hold it.”M.L Wang’s The Sword of Kaigen is a book that is full of surprises. It initially appears to be set in a 19th century east-Asian society, but there are chapter 1 references to video games, holographic cell phone ...

9.1/10

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A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

“We like to believe, or pretend, we know what we are doing in our lives. It can be a lie. Winds blow, waves carry us, rain drenches a man caught in the open at night, lightning shatters the sky and sometimes his heart, thunder crashes into him bringing the awareness he will die. We stand up, as best we can under that. We move forwa...

10.0/10

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Master of Sorrows by Justin Call (The Silent Gods)

A lot can happen in a few days. Just ask Ainnevog (just call him Annev), a deacon acolyte in the tiny, remote village of Chaenbalu. One minute, Annev is juggling duties at the Church with his mentor while training for his final shot at passing the grueling Avatar test. The next minute, he discovers he’s being hunted by a fallen evil god be...

9.0/10

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We Lie with Death by Devin Madson (The Reborn Empire)

Devin Madson’s We Ride the Storm was one of the most welcome surprises of 2018. By now, Madson has firmly established herself as an Aurealis Award-winning epic fantasy mogul, but it wasn’t until WRtS started catching fire among a few fellow bloggers that I decided to give this series a shot. This turned out to be a ...

8.3/10

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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc (The Immortal Vagabond Healer)

I’ll come right out and say that Patrick LeClerc’s urban fantasy Out of Nowhere was not a book I enjoyed. Although LeClerc is a skilled writer and there are a few aspects of the book I liked, there were several narrative decisions and character depictions that ranged from questionable to frustrating and offensive.The ...

4.8/10

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The Anointed by Keith Ward (Red Proxy)

I have some mixed feelings about Keith Ward’s The Anointed, a standalone entry to the Red Proxy series, and a SPFBO4 semi-finalist. There are some aspects of the story that I enjoyed, but had difficulty coming to terms with some of its major plot points and character decisions. The world-building and rules of magic are intere...

6.0/10

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Radio Dark by Shane Hinton

I have conflicted feelings over Shane Hinton’s Radio Dark. There are some aspects I appreciated but have been confused or frustrated with some of its choices. On the surface, this story is about society’s descent into the apocalypse: all of humankind are catching some kind of ‘condition’ where they fall into...

5.5/10

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The Glass Dagger by M D Presley (Sol's Harvest)

Note: I’ll be discussing light plot elements of the first two books in this series.Life can be defined by its purpose. For those who dedicate themselves to a singular cause, their life’s trajectory can be traced back to the original goals they’ve set for themselves. But what if that defining purpose was not unde...

8.8/10

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Son of a Liche by J Zachary Pike (The Dark Profit Saga)

Despite giving J. Zachary Pike’s Orconomics a high rating, there was one part of my review that has been stuck in my head. I expressed that until the very end, the story was secondary to the many clever and humorous attacks on capitalis...

9.2/10

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Faycalibur by Liam Perrin (Less Valued Knights)

There are certain books that, when mentioned, trigger an immediate emotion that has stayed with you since first reading it. Liam Perrin’s Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights is one of those books, evoking feelings of wit, earnestness, and warmth that’s rare to find. It was one of the most welcome sur...

8.5/10

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Grim Solace by Ben Galley (Chasing Graves)

There’s been a lot of talk about grimdark in recent years: how to define it, what its qualifications are, and what value these stories offer. I think grimdark works best when it presents a harsh environment with morally ambiguous characters fighting for some aspect of hope – an endgame that aims to improve a given situation, or the w...

8.0/10

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Kings of Ash by Richard Nell (Ash and Sand)

We all should be familiar with the old saying, “time heals all wounds.” Speaking from personal experience, that’s not always true. Physical wounds leave scars, and emotional wounds linger in the mind. And although some details might fade over time, the pain doesn’t ever really disappear – you just learn to manage it...

9.4/10

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Never Die by Rob J Hayes

This story is pure adrenaline. From the very first line through its twisty conclusion, Never Die showcases Rob Hayes’ talent in creating interesting and memorable characters while placing them in ever-escalating life-or-death situations. This is a story of vengeance and honor, delivered with the style and speed of an expert katana...

8.7/10

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Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence (Book of the Ancestor)

"The sound of a battle can be described as a roar, and sometimes it truly is. When a thousand warriors charge, a roar precedes them and swallows up all other noise. But in between charge and counter-charge there is the screaming of those too wounded to hold their peace and not yet close enough to crossing the Path that they fall silent. The...

9.6/10

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Orconomics by J Zachary Pike (The Dark Profit Saga)

On the surface, J. Zachary Pike’s Orconomics follows a group of unlikely heroes, pulled together by a questionable prophet, to fulfill a destiny to eventually save the land. Sound familiar? Well, it’s not that important, because this is not an on-the-surface book. It is a scathing satire that attacks the tenets of ...

8.5/10

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (Skyward)

We all have favourite books. We have favourite books, favourite authors, favourite series. My favourites include The Lord of the Rings, The Night Circus,...

9.6/10

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The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan (The Black Iron Legacy)

I received an uncorrected bound proof copy of The Gutter Prayer in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Gareth Hanrahan and Orbit Books for the opportunity.Hanrahan's highly anticipated fantasy debut is a real breath of fresh air. We follow three thieves who are affiliated with the underground Brotherhood. The gang'...

8.6/10

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The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft (The Books of Babel)

Have you heard of the podcast Crit Faced? It’s the one where five fantasy authors record themselves playing Dungeons and Dragons each week. Josiah Bancroft is one of them. His character, Jean Mallerme, is a bard – one of the more challenging occupations to role play, but one of great versatility. Through Bancroft’s ful...

9.6/10

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Skin by Peter Fugazzotto

Peter Fugazzoto's Skin is a short, neat little horror story that borrows heavily from John Carpenter's "The Thing" in which a creature-in-human-disguise haunts an isolated location in the snowy wilds. Instead of Antarctica, the story takes place in a keep, buried in the mountains near a seldom-used border. A few s...

6.0/10

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The Silver Sorceress by Alec Hutson (The Raveling)

I have a special place in my heart for Alec Hutson’s The Crimson Queen. Almost two years and a hundred books ago, this was the first self-published novel from an unknown (to me) author that I decided to check out. Thanks to the reddit fantasy board and other social media communities, The Crimson Queen garnered a strong en...

8.0/10

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The Endless Ocean by Toby Bennett (The Inner Sea Cycle)

Simply put, Toby Bennett’s The Endless Ocean (The Inner Sea Cycle Book 1) is one of the most welcome surprises I’ve read in quite some time. I first heard about it when it was assigned to me as part of the fourth annual self-published fantasy blog-off (#SPFBO4) contest. Looking at the book’s Amazo...

8.3/10

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Killer Dungeon by Phil Tucker (Euphoria Online)

Killer Dungeon is a surprisingly emotional and philosophically ambitious conclusion to Phil Tucker’s “Euphoria Online” LitRPG trilogy. On the surface, we are introduced to new LitRPG elements such castle management and guild support, as well as some fantastic new ideas (think The Very Hungry Caterpillar, ...

8.8/10

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Chasing Graves by Ben Galley (Chasing Graves)

Although I haven’t read many works by Ben Galley, his previous SPFBO entry Heart of Stone is one of my favorite standalone novels I’ve read this year. It presented a world ravaged by war, with an enslaved golem bound to serve ...

7.3/10

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Bloodwitch by Timandra Whitecastle

“What is history, but lessons not learned?”-- Chris Wooding, The Ember BladeThe Bloodwitch novella was my introduction into Timandra Whitecastle’s “Living Blade” world, and it serves as backstory to one of the series’ supporting characters. If this is the level of high-s...

8.0/10

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Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (Founders)

This book was so much goddamn fun, I can't even describe it...But I will try.Sancia Grado is about to take on the biggest job of her life. The details: steal a small box, contents unknown, from a safe in the warehouse on the Tevanni waterfront guarded by the Waterwatch, return it to her fence, Sark, and get paid serio...

8.8/10

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Angel of Destruction by Virgil Debique

Virgil Debique’s Angel of Destruction opens with a familiar premise: a tortured man with little memory of his past is hell bent on revenge against the one who is responsible for everything that went wrong in his life. But a layer of intrigue is added when we find out that the culprit is none other than an immortal Angel who lives ...

5.0/10

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Nightmare Keep by Phil Tucker (Euphoria Online)

A thrilling and satisfying sequel that improves on its predecessor Death March in nearly every way. The overarching story of what Euphoria Online is, why it was built, and where it is going is one of the more enticing mysteries that this book brings into the spotlight. Tucker once again does an excellent job balanc...

8.6/10

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Revenant Winds by Mitchell Hogan (The Tainted Cabal)

There’s an old Yiddish saying, “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” that translates to “Man Plans, and God Laughs.” It warns that life is full of surprises. In one moment, you may think you have a solid grasp on who you are, where you’re going, and your value in society. Then you find out that everything you’ve ...

7.9/10

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One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence (Impossible Times)

"Ugliness multiplies, and hurt spills over into hurt, and sometimes good things are just the fuel for evil's fire"I received an uncorrected proof copy of One Word Kill in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Mark Lawrence and 47North for approaching me to read this early. On the 8...

9.2/10

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The Wandering Inn by pirateaba

Well.What started as a curiosity quickly turned into an addiction. This is only volume 1 of a web serial, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I've already spent an hour copying and pasting and building my own ebook of volume 2.This is Erin's story, a young white woman who finds herself in a foreign medieval fantasy lan...

8.0/10

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Servant of Rage by A Z Anthony

Note: This book is part of the SPFBO 4 competition, and its score might change over time as our team discusses which selections will move on to future rounds.Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a well-established adage that has proven itself time and again throughout history and literature, politics and war. Alth...

7.3/10

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Scrooge and Marley (Deceased): A Haunted Man by Jonathan Green

Note: This book is part of the SPFBO 4 competition. Please note that this score might change over time as our team discusses which selections will move on to future rounds.I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first laid eyes on the cover of Jonathan Green’s Scrooge and Marley (Deceased): A Haunted Man. The art...

6.5/10

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Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon (The Raincatcher's Ballad)

Dalthea is recovering from the war with the Idari, parts of the city still closed off due to the horrifyingly destructive power of an ignogen fusion bomb, dropped on what will be known forevermore as the Night of the Amberfire, when thousands died and the Dalthean fleet was destroyed. Even now, the threat of the Idari’s return feeds the po...

9.0/10

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Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (The Band)

I received an advanced review copy of the well sought after Bloody Rose from Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Nicholas Eames and Nazia.Even Eames himself said that the success of Kings of the Wyld was like a guillotine to his neck. Metaphorically of course. With an exceptional, original award-winning debut there ...

9.3/10

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City of Shards by Steve Rodgers (Spellgiver)

Note: This book is part of the SPFBO 4 competition, and its score has been graded on a different set of rules than the usual. This score might change over time as our team discusses which selections will move on to future rounds.Steve Rodgers’ City of Shards, book one in the “Spellgiver&rdquo...

7.5/10

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Hero Forged by Josh Erikson (Ethereal Earth)

Imagine you’re living a normal (ish) life, conning people and stealing stuff, when you take the wrong job and end up in a creepy basement in the middle of some kind of supernatural ritual involving body snatching and death and the crossing of worlds. Some bad day, huh? Gabriel Delling is just that unlucky. Except it’s even worse than...

8.3/10

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A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White (Salvagers)

What do you get when you combine futuristic car racing, intergalactic treasure hunting, evil government conspiracies, renegade space pirates, and universe-spanning glyph magic? You get Alex White’s incredibly fun and engaging A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, the first book of the “Salvagers” ser...

7.0/10

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The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding (The Darkwater Legacy)

773 pages. 2 days to read. 1 review to write.On a day that changes his life forever, Aren sees his father knifed to death in the dining room of their own home by a watchman of the Iron Hand, inquisitors who deal with only the gravest threats to the Krodan Empire. Removed to a prison mine with his best friend, Cade, his conviction tha...

9.6/10

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We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson (The Reborn Empire)

Note: This is a personal review, and does not reflect the final rating that this blog may give for the SPFBO contest. FantasyBookReview.co.uk will notify readers of their official SPFBO-submitted scores when appropriate.I was unaware of Devin Madson’s previous work until early reviews of We Ride the Storm started p...

8.2/10

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Satan's Salesman by Matthew Davenport

Many of us are familiar with the story of Faust, who made a deal with the Devil by trading his soul for knowledge and pleasure. While Faust would live a charmed life for the remainder of his days, his soul would burn in Hell for eternity after he died. Faust’s story poses the question if getting want you want is worth the ultimate cost, or...

7.2/10

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Klondaeg the Monster Hunter by Steve Thomas

Writing an engaging story that combines comedy and fantasy can be tricky. These themes share some common traits: there’s an unknown variable in magic that prepares the reader to be mystified, which is has a similar structure to setting up a humorous scene for a surprise punchline. But the themes don’t always mix well. While reading a...

7.0/10

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Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

In a near-future, unnamed part of the world, an alien race has visited the Earth... only they had no interest in establishing any contact with humans. They came, they stayed a short while, and left almost immediately. Perhaps they didn’t view humans as worthy of interaction. Perhaps their decision was far beyond our psychological capacity ...

9.5/10

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The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

Imagine, if you will, a scenario where an unprecedented weapon turns the tides of war. There are many instances over the course of our history where this is evident: a longbow, gunpowder, and the atomic bomb have all been instrumental in providing the decisive blow. But what if this weapon had a conscience? A name, a soul? Meet Task, a 400-year-...

7.7/10

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The Imbued Lockblade by M D Presley (Sol's Harvest)

Note: This review will be discussing minor plot events from The Woven Ring, book one of the “Sol’s Harvest” tetralogy.There are bonds that feel familiar throughout all genres literature because they resonate true with the audience. These bonds serve as motivators to help push stories forward, and we can...

8.6/10

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The Woven Ring by M D Presley (Sol's Harvest)

Fighting for your ideals is a noble cause, an honorable path in which to dedicate your life. But what if those ideals are corrupted, and everything you know and love is ripped away from you--what would you become? M.D. Presley attempts to answer these questions in the remarkable The Woven Ring, book one of the planned fo...

8.7/10

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Blackwood Marauders by K S Villoso

One of the more interesting themes raised in K.S. Villoso’s surprising and fun Blackwood Marauders is how a person responds to the hand they’re dealt, regardless of their circumstances. It takes an uncommon strength to break free from the mold that has been cast for you, and the two main charac...

8.0/10

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Ravencry by Ed McDonald (The Raven’s Mark)

Faith is a powerful motivator. When the chips are down, belief in an uncertainty can serve as sufficient inspiration to rise to a task of near-impossibility. Faith might stem from a fervent adherence to religious beliefs, or devotion to a sovereign figure, or even from love itself. Ed Donald’s Ravencry&nb...

8.5/10

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Rebellion of the Black Militia by Richard Nell

In all my years reading speculative fiction, I haven’t dipped my toes in the “flintlock fantasy” genre until picking up Richard Nell’s “Rebellion of the Black Militia” novella. I first became aware of Richard Nell having recently finished the remarkable “Kings of Paradise,” so I was eager to explor...

8.5/10

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Death March by Phil Tucker (Euphoria Online)

I was lucky enough to read a beta version of this trilogy, so thank you to Phil Tucker for providing me with early access. This review is of the final product. This was my first foray into the LitRPG (literary role-playing-game) subgenre, and I'm glad I waited. Phil's books are a pleasure to read because t...

8.4/10

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Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor (Binti)

I enjoyed the Nebula and Hugo award-winning Binti very much and thought the sequel, Binti: Home, was even better. There were many reasons to look forward to the conclusion of this trilogy: we were left with an exciting cliffhanger, some new revelations about the nature of Binti’s past, plenty of forward momentum on some of the bi...

5.0/10

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Chaos Trims my Beard by Brett Herman

Brett Herman’s “Chaos Trims My Beard” is one of the ten finalists in the 2017 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off contest. To view the status of all finalists, please visit this site.The mashing up of two genres can be a high-risk, high...

6.2/10

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Aching God by Mike Shel (Iconoclasts)

Playing role-playing games is one of my fondest memories of childhood. Most of the details from those D&D campaigns have faded, but the feeling of anticipation, discovery, and camaraderie still lingers to this day. There was nothing better than getting together with a group of friends and adventuring into the unknown for countless hours...

8.1/10

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The Poppy War by R F Kuang (The Poppy War)

I received an advanced reader copy of The Poppy War from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank R. F. Kuang and Harper Voyager for this opportunity. Rin is a war orphan who works at her foster parents' shop and their main income is created by dealing drugs. Only just into her teenage years, Rin is o...

9.4/10

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Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor (Binti)

A tentacle-haired, genius teenager decides to spend spring break at home, so she leaves Planet Math School to fly back to Africa on a living, pregnant spaceship, accompanied by her terrorist-turned-best-friend: a giant, gaseous jellyfish monster. And thus begins chapter one of Binti: Home. While t...

7.9/10

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Song by Jesse Teller (The Manhunters)

“Nothing is just what it’s made of (…) Everything is more than its parts.”Jesse Teller’s “Song,” book one of the Manhunters series, has all the ingredients of an exciting, dark fantasy epic: ancient and powerful mages, deadly and vengeful enemies, familial strife, malevolent poli...

6.1/10

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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Binti)

We prefer to explore the universe by travelling inward, as opposed to outward.Binti is a curious science-fiction novella, presenting themes on leaving home, what it means to hold onto tradition, and how that affects you when adaptation becomes a necessity. The eponymous Binti, a sixt...

7.8/10

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The Nation of Madness by Jeffrey Hall (The Welkin Duology)

A good road story is often times more about the journey inward as it is about the journey itself.  (“Journey before destination.” Hmm, someone should write that down.)  It is uncommon to read a story that treats both types of journeys with enough care that both the characters and the reader experience an enlightened pe...

8.6/10

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The City of a Thousand Faces by Jeffrey Hall (The Welkin Duology)

One of the most exhilarating aspects of experiencing the fantasy genre is to immerse oneself in a new environment that is unique to an author’s vision. The possibilities for design are only limited by the scope of one’s imagination. Even so, a substantial percentage of fantasy novels are set in a quasi-medieval European countryside, ...

8.2/10

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We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

"What possible treatment plan could there be for people who’d seen the truth? Because most of all what we didn’t trust was the world."Daryl Gregory’s “We Are All Completely Fine” is a stunning, genre-bending st...

8.4/10

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Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights by Liam Perrin (Less Valued Knights)

When a hero saves the town or rescues the princess, the accolades come from far and wide. The hero's name is recorded in the annals of history, and his namesake is revered for generations to come. But what about the other men or women behind the scenes that have risked life and limb to ensure the hero's victories? In many cases, they mig...

8.2/10

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Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence (Book of the Ancestor)

I received an advance reading copy of Grey Sister in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Mark Lawrence and Ace Books for this opportunity. The second entry within the Book of the Ancestor trilogy picks up events approximately two years after the exceptional and breathtaking finale of Red Sister. Nona Grey: the black-...

9.5/10

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The Mirror's Truth by Michael R Fletcher (Manifest Delusions)

War isn’t insanity, it’s the base state for all reality. Plants war for sunlight. Animals war for food and water. Wolves battle to decide who leads the pack. All life is struggle. Peace, now that is insanity.The hard-boiled crime author Jim Thompson was best known for writing novels in which his...

8.8/10

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The Empire of the Dead by Phil Tucker (The Godsblood Trilogy)

I greatly enjoyed and appreciated Tucker's excellent and recently completed Chronicles of the Black Gate saga. I have been looking forward to exploring a new series of his in a different setting since then. After finishing the first entry of the Godsblood trilogy late last night, it's safe to say that the author has impressed me once aga...

8.0/10

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The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French (The Lot Lands)

Jonathan French's The Grey Bastards is an emotional, exciting, and unique story told from the viewpoint of half-orcs, living in the badlands with their fellow 'hoof' members, defending their desecrated colony by riding their war pigs into crossbow-and-javelin battles. The "biker gang" analogy is smartly developed, as h...

9.0/10

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The Armored Saint by Myke Cole (The Sacred Throne)

Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint is a 200-page novella that introduces The Sacred Throne trilogy and has all the makings of a solid grimdark fantasy epic. It features an oppressed people, religious crusaders who overstep their power, a rebellious teenager, forbidden love, unlawful magic, and even an engine-powered mech suit! The cover grabbed...

6.5/10

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Beyond Redemption by Michael R Fletcher (Manifest Delusions)

"We are, each and every one of us, addicted to chaos. Gorgeous, devouring, chaos. Every visceral pleasure comes from the moment when we truly lose control. That moment when our minds white out and thought vanishes, when the fire within us devours all rationality." The world...

9.0/10

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Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell (Ash and Sand)

I recently learned that Richard Nell will be submitting Kings of Paradise, the first book in the Ash and Sand trilogy, into next year's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off competition. In my mind, there’s no question of whether it will be a finalist or not. In fact, I will be shocked if it doesn’t outright win the whole contest....

9.2/10

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Faithless by Graham Austin King

I received a free copy of Faithless in exchange for an honest review and would like to thank Graham Austin-King for this opportunity.Faithless is set in a dark and claustrophobic subterranean environment. The action mainly takes place within the temples, the underground cities, or within the literal darkness of the mines. Everyone within ...

8.7/10

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