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Place of birth: Scarborough, UK
Now living: Durham, UK

3 favourite authors

3 favourite books

3 favourite films

Dark's 173 reviews

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers)

When you read a book's cover blurb, and it's clearly just a variation on an author's previous work, your first impulse is usually to groan. Even if you enjoy that author, knowing that you're in for essentially a repeat performance will likely lower your expectations. With Becky Chambers however, having a good idea of what we'...

7.7/10

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The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat OShea

Like many people, I tend to find I still enjoy the books I enjoyed as a child now. Of course, that's partly because of sweet sweet nostalgia, however, I also often discover aspects of childhood favourites, such as Roald Dahl's word play and warped sense of humour, or Susan Cooper's poetic darkness, which I can still appreciate as an ...

9.8/10

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern's first novel, The Night Circus, had been a pretty unforgettable experience, so when my lady informed me her second book involved writing which was just as gorgeous, but exchanged the fantastical circus attractions for an exploration of stories and other worlds, my interest was definitely peaked.Zachary Ezra Rawlins o...

8.8/10

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A Sudden Wild Magic by Diana Wynne Jones

In the early nineties, adults apparently didn't read teen or children's literature without a sense of shame. Throwing a bone to her adult readers, Diana Wynne Jones took all of the things she liked putting in books for children, magic, multiple universes, complex plots with colourful characters and attempted to put them into a book with ...

8.5/10

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Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Dark Orbit was a book that literally had my name on it. Having grown up on big, philosophical science fiction, from Asimov, Aldiss and Clarke, to Le Guin and Pohl, it was certainly a concept that would've caught my attention, quite aside from the book having some definite personal resonances for me.In the distant future universe of th...

6.0/10

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The Taking by Dean Koontz

Having just finished a rather large fantasy epic, I was looking for something short, stand alone, and in a different genre. So, given how much I'd enjoyed Phantoms, I decided it was time to try another book by Dean Koontz. I'll admit I was a little surprised to find apocalyptic science fiction, when I was expecting a more typical horror,...

6.9/10

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A Man Rides Through by Stephen Donaldson (Mordant's Need)

With The Mirror of Her Dreams not so much concluding as stopping mid-way through, it's not surprising that I moved on to the second volume so quickly. What is surprising, is just how excellent the second volume of this duology is, probably the best thing of Donaldson's I've ever read.Never before has Terisa so much wanted to d...

9.5/10

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Mirror of Her Dreams by Stephen Donaldson (Mordant's Need)

I've always had something of a love/hate relationship with the works of Stephen R. Donaldson, and have at times found his books beautiful, baffling, poetic, pretentious, irritating and awesome in equal measure. However, one thing they certainly aren't is run of the mill fantasy, so wanting to explore a different world, I thought it was t...

8.2/10

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No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron (Heartstrikers)

After some heavy-going science fiction, I was looking for something light, but perhaps not too fluffy, something pacey and exciting to get stuck into which would thoroughly grab my attention.Whilst the second Heartstrikers book had been as colourful as the first, it had raised the stakes, increased the tension and graduated from popcorn i...

5.6/10

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Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (The Sevenwaters Trilogy: Book 2)

Given how good the first two books were, it should be no surprise that my lady and I started Child of the Prophecy so quickly. After all, the titular prophecy has been a looming presence right from the start, not to mention the vengeful sorceress Lady Oonagh, and while each of the previous stories had been complete in itself, it was obvious that...

9.3/10

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By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey (Kerowyn's Tale)

Having enjoyed Brightly Burning, and being in the mood for an easy going bit of fantasy, I decided it was finally time to get back to Valdemar, and what’s more, conclude the story of the war with the horrid prince of Hardorn from Arrow’s fall. Unfortunately, looking at the background material which began Mage Winds, the book that fol...

4.7/10

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The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (Magids)

Diana Wynne Jones has an odd way of writing sequels. Far from carrying on a story in a new volume, or even providing more adventures for her previous protagonists, her sequels are usually told from the perspective of entirely different people, take place in different parts of the world, or even entirely different worlds, and have little or nothi...

8.0/10

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Neverness by David Zindell (The Neverness Cycle)

One book which had an incredibly dramatic effect on me as a teenager, was Terry Carr's Best SF of the Year Volume 15; oddly enough the only one of the series I could access in audio. Carr himself called it "a book of epics", noting how often a short story or novella can capture more horror, wonder or beauty than many a novel, and h...

7.5/10

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games)

 For both my lady and me, the hype surrounding The Hunger Games trilogy slightly put us off reading it. For my part, I only bothered when I was busy with an intensive singing course and needed some light distraction, which is what I believed The Hunger Games would be; something low on serious characters or ideas, and high on action a...

9.4/10

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The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

A quick look at the dates of the books I've reviewed will show that I don't care too much when something is published. Since I chiefly choose my reading matter based on recommendations from people I trust; especially my lady, I don't tend to bother with what the latest big thing in the fiction world is. Indeed, when so often I see bo...

8.6/10

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Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier (The Sevenwaters Trilogy)

Daughter of the Forest could easily have been a standalone novel. The fairy tale it told was finished, the characters journeys complete, there was even as close to a happily ever after as might be possible in such a realistic world. Yet, there were still loose ends hanging , in particular the marked absence of a certain evil sorceress, and a ver...

8.9/10

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Dreamsnake by Vonda N McIntyre

Vonda N McIntyre’s 1973 short story, the evocatively titled Of Mist and Grass and Sand, was truly beautiful, tragic and compelling, so, when I needed a break from high tension fantasy and wanted something a bit more poetic, I decided to read the novel based on that short story, a story which; since it features a rather unique take on the m...

8.7/10

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Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Pet Sematary was apparently my lady's first run in with Stephen King at the age of twelve. It scared her so badly, she woke her friend with a terrified 2 am phone call! She was also so captivated, she then proceeded to read every Stephen King she could for the next few years. I on the other hand read Pet Sematary at about fourteen (my own in...

9.6/10

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Black House by Stephen King (Talisman)

Black House is another book I’ve waited quite a while to read. Back in 2001, when 19 year old me befriended a fellow Stephen King fan at university, who lent me Hearts in Atlantis on audio cassette), he happened to mention he was reading the really awesome new book which King had co-written with Peter Straub, sequel to their previous colla...

8.7/10

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Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (The Sevenwaters Trilogy)

Like many books I’ve read, Daughter of the Forest was a recommendation from my lady. Indeed, I first read it in 2015, just a few days before flying to America to spend Christmas with her family where I got engaged. I was so obviously distracted, I wasn’t really in a state to write a review, which, given how good Daughter of the Fores...

9.1/10

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Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (The Tearling Trilogy)

Invasion of the Tearling left me pretty much in the same state as its predecessor, admitting that the book had its issues, but still forced by the cliff-hanger ending and driving style to continue to see what happened. Also, with the second book improving upon the first, there was reason to expect an upswing in quality and an epic conclusion. Un...

3.9/10

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Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (The Tearling Trilogy)

While I was slightly ambivalent about Queen of the Tearling, something I absolutely cannot deny is that the book was extremely compelling, and that it left major questions to which I wanted answers. So, on that basis it isn’t too surprising that I returned to the series so quickly.Kelsea has assumed the Tearling throne and put a sto...

6.8/10

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The Shining by Stephen King

I first read The Shining in 2010; an isolated dip into King's writing between my period reading his books as a teen and young adult, and my rediscovery (and indeed further exploration), of King with my lady since 2015.Though it was Under the Dome which ...

9.4/10

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Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones (Magids)

Diana Wynne Jones is an author I really wish I’d been able to read more of while growing up, but was unfortunately unable to due to the ever present ogre of my childhood: lack of availability in audio. Happily now that I am grown up (or so people tell me), and said ogre has been metaphorically slain thanks to modern technology, I can not o...

8.3/10

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One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron (Heartstrikers)

As with Brightly Burning, I will freely admit that part of the reason I started back into Rachel Aaron’s saga of the world’s nicest dragon was because I wanted something light and fluffy in a time of fairly heavy darkness. Yet, once again I found myself getting rather more than I bargained for.This has been the happiest month ...

8.1/10

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Burn by Julianna Baggott (Pure Trilogy)

With the second book improving upon the first, and a potentially explosive setup for the final conclusion, obviously seeing how things; well Burn, in the last book was something I very much wanted to do.Before getting into my thoughts about Burn, be aware that I'll necessarily have to mention a couple of spoilers for Pure and Fuse, so...

6.8/10

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Duma Key by Stephen King

For some reason, Duma Key is another of Stephen King’s books which tends to get pushed to the side. Unlike Rose Madder, it doesn’t seem this is because it’s disliked, or even ignored, most reviews I’ve seen are positive, though perhaps not as ...

8.2/10

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Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey (The Heralds of Valdemar)

As I was fancying a fantasy novel, and for once was not quite in the mood for something dark, heavy or long, a short standalone trip to Valdemar seemed just the thing.Though set a few centuries after the time of herald mage Vanyel, brightly burning also recounts the tale of a legendary hero Talia read about in Arrows of the Queen.S...

7.8/10

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Ancient, Strange, and Lovely by Susan Fletcher (The Dragon Chronicles)

Whatever issues I have had with Susan Fletcher's Dragon Chronicles trilogy in the past, the one element which has always been absolutely solid has been the dragons! Majestic and beautiful adult dragons with their overwhelming presence, and of course the antics of exasperating, endearing draclings. So seeking for something relaxing to read in...

6.1/10

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Imago by Octavia Butler (Lilith's Brood)

I always expected the third in Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy to be a difficult book, as the first two were, which is why I took such a long time between Adulthood Rights and Imago. I did not expect Imago to leave me feeling as deeply disturbed as it has done, or that my reaction to the book would be this visceral.In ...

4.6/10

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Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Only a glance at my previous reviews will show that the October Daye series is one which varies in quality quite a bit. While there have been some incredibly good entries, and some merely good entries, sometimes the series has been passable at best and on one occasion (The Winter Long), down right bad. The previous book however, The Brightest Fe...

4.3/10

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Bag of Bones by Stephen King

I have been rediscovering Stephen King over the past few years, and often I find I appreciate his books even more as an adult with a bit of reading and life experience, than I did when I first ran across them as a teenager. This is particularly true of Bag of Bones, which I do remember enjoying, but which didn’t make half as much impressio...

8.9/10

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Fuse by Julianna Baggott (Pure Trilogy)

You might think that with the state of the world right now, reading dystopia apocalypse fiction; (hey look, I made a word!), would be the last thing I’d want to do. Oddly though, it was the fast action, immediacy, and sheer cinematic thrill ride that I remember from Pure, which recommended Fuse to me at this point, since there’s noth...

7.6/10

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To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

When my lady and I were looking for a cooperative reading venture to balance the avalanche of grimness currently sweeping the world, Becky Chambers seemed a very obvious choice. After all, we’d both loved her Wayfarer trilogy, particularly the way they managed to be deeply uplifting and positive without wallowing in sugar, so there was eve...

6.9/10

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The Cold Moons by Aeron Clement

I have always enjoyed exploring alternative viewpoints and alien worlds; even when these worlds are right here on earth under our very noses. Stories like Tad Williams' Tailchaser's Song or Richard Adams' Watership Down, posseting the idea that animals, whilst still being animals, also have their own society, language and concerns. W...

5.0/10

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Pure by Julianna Baggott (Pure Trilogy)

I've generally found the recent YA dystopia boom to be something of a mixed bag. Sometimes as in The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner we end up with something truly dark and compelling full of interesting characters, at others however we simply wind up with a paint by numbers teen romance set at a 1984 costume party. Even before starting Pure...

7.5/10

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Blitzcat by Robert Westall

I first encountered blitzcat as a teenager, working my way through all of my school library's books on tape. I've never been a huge fan of war stories, but there was something compelling about Robert Westall's book, and of course though I'm probably rather more canine than feline inclined, I do enjoy books about animals, especial...

8.6/10

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Magnificat by Julian May (Galactic Milieu Trilogy: Book 2)

Magnificat is a somewhat strange entry to finish the series on. Though chronologically last in the Galactic Milieu trilogy, it also serves as the final prequel before Julian May's Pleistocene Exile series, making it both at one and the same time Return of the Jedi, and Revenge of the Sith, both an ending and a beginning, a triumph and a trag...

8.9/10

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The Talisman by Stephen King (Talisman)

I was first recommended The Talisman way back in 2001 by a King loving friend. Despite being a collaboration between King and Straub, I assumed, like Under the Dome and The Green Mile,The Talisman was one of the books in the King canon that I’d not yet read, but was well known by King fanatics like my friend.Oddly though, it seems t...

9.0/10

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Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler (Lilith's Brood)

I can’t exactly say I was “looking forward” to reading the second Lilith’s Brood book. Dawn had been compelling, rich and unique, and also at times incredibly uncomfortable, disturbing and full of hard questions, and so it’s sequel wasn’t the sort of thing you exactly “look forward” to. It was howe...

8.5/10

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Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron (Heartstrikers)

As I have mentioned before, I am a bit of a dracophile (which really should be a word), that is to say, I love dragons. I’m also keen on books with protagonists who are simply nice people trying their best, so the title and premise of this one grabbed my attention right away. I was a wee bit surprised when I found out I was reading a hodge...

6.9/10

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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I’m honestly amazed I never heard of Flowers for Algernon earlier, especially considering the work I did in ethics regarding people with learning disabilities. Reading through one of the collections of Nebula Award winners, I ran across Daniel Keyes on account of how he came to write the story, the ideas he had and how Charlie himself was ...

9.1/10

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Diamond Mask by Julian May (Galactic Milieu Trilogy)

With especially complex series, it never pays to wait too long between instalments, and though Jack the Bodiless had been thoroughly enjoyable, there is no denying that it wasn’t exactly an easy book to get into, especially given the rather sad lack of convenient plot details available online. Indeed, a bit of internet sifting indicates th...

8.9/10

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The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

I first ran across Beowulf at about four; a fantastically dark and gory version in Robert Nye’s book three tales. So, when an invocation of the god of random numbers landed on The Boneless Mercies, a version of the story featuring lady assassins, I was cautiously interested, particularly since I was in the mood for some epic battles and my...

8.2/10

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Dawn by Octavia Butler (Lilith's Brood)

As I’ve said before in reviews, one of my absolute loves in science fiction is exploring very alien aliens, beings who do not just look different, but think, react and relate to each other in a truly inhuman way. Therefore Lilith’s Brood was obviously a trilogy I needed to read, as it contains some of the strangest aliens ever writte...

9.1/10

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The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Despite a rousing success in Chimes at Midnight, the October Daye series has been a little disappointing lately. With an eighth book that was simply bad, a ninth book which was at best a pleasant interlude, and a tenth book which was barely passable, as well as no real hints of an overall series plot, as I said in my last review my lady and I we...

8.5/10

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The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey (The Dragon Rider's Saga)

Reading the Dragon Riders Series in order is not always easy, especially with The White Dragon. Though McCaffery was at work on the sequel to Dragonquest in the mid-seventies, she took time out to publish the first two books concerning Menolly, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Just to make things even more confusing, Dragondrumbs, though nominally a...

6.5/10

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Jack the Bodiless by Julian May (Galactic Milieu Trilogy)

Like David Brin, Julian May is a science fiction author I managed to miss out on due to the sketchiness of audio availability, an oversight which my lady is thankfully now able to correct. Indeed, also like Brin’s Uplift Saga, May’s Galactic Milieu trilogy is one of my lady’s favourite series, so it was definitely something we&...

8.4/10

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Gerald's Game by Stephen King

Gerald’s game was a book I consciously avoided as a teenager, even going as far as returning it back to the library unread. Partly this was because the premise sounded disturbingly like Misery, my least favourite King novel, and partly it was because I was suffering extreme genophobia (fear of sex), at the time and the very premise Gerald&...

8.1/10

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Hammerfall by C J Cherryh (Gene Wars)

Despite a previous good experience with her book Serpent’s Reach, due to an almost total lack of availability in audio while I was growing up, I’d largely missed out on C J Cherryh, a rich and complex science fiction author so well respected she recently had an asteroid named after her. With my liking for journey stories and explorin...

8.5/10

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An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

Given how awesome Roses and Rot was, it was only a matter of time before I tried out Kat Howard’s next full length novel, a book built on a truly intriguing premise.There is an unseen world hidden among New York’s wealthy elite, a world where old established houses of magicians manoeuvre for power and status. Every twenty year...

6.0/10

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson is an author with quite a reputation. Favourite of writers such as Stephen King, Harlan Ellison and Niel Gaimen, and author of several landmark stories in the history of horror and weird psychological fiction, despite having passed away sixty years ago her legacy just seems to keep on growing. Indeed, it’s nice to think a l...

9.3/10

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Dragondrums by Anne McCaffery (The Dragon Rider's Saga)

Dragondrums was a new experience for me. While as a teenager I’d read a fair few of the Dragonriders series, thanks to the fickle nature of audio tape availability and the lack of anywhere to look up a reading order I’d somehow missed Dragondrums. So on the one hand, it was my first new McCaffery novel in about nineteen years. On the...

7.7/10

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The Face of the Waters by Robert Silverberg

It is rather sad that from being one of the late twentieth century’s most prolific sf authors and editors, Robert Silverberg seems to have slightly fallen off the map these days. Even when other notable past masters like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke are remembered, people either do not remember Silverberg at all, or dismiss his materia...

8.7/10

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Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers)

In my review of Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, I agreed with Michelle Herbert’s assessment of the book as like a hug from a close friend. So when Record of a Spaceborn Few came up, it was as if we’d opened the front door to find that close friend standing outside, suitcase in hand, casually explaining that he was in the area and w...

9.4/10

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Once Broken Faith by Seanon McGuire (October Daye)

October Daye has generally been great fun, both the series and the Fae detective for whom it’s named. While some more recent books haven’t quite been up to scratch, McGuire certainly had built up enough good will for my lady and me to hope matters were going to improve, especially given that Once Broken Faith would be carrying on dir...

5.0/10

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This Alien Shore by Celia Friedman

Celia Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy was recommended to me by a friend in 2015, I liked them, even if I did find their romantic elements a bit overblown. Not long after that my entire life was full of overblown romantic elements thanks to that same friend; who is now my wife, so it’s rather interesting returning to Friedman now once aga...

8.2/10

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Shadowborn by Alison Sinclair (Darkborn Trilogy)

The third volume of any trilogy always has a lot to live up to, especially when that trilogy is a single ongoing story spread over three books, and even more especially when the very title of that volume promises the appearance of a menacing enemy which has been waiting in the wings since the beginning.While in Minhorne Telmaine negotiate...

7.9/10

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Possibly due to growing up with Doctor Who, possibly due to just me being a fairly eclectic individual, I’ve never cared too much about genre boundaries. Oh, there are times I might fancy a change of setting, and might swap modern day horror for dystopia, or exchange some traditional space sf for a bit of high fantasy, but that is just ano...

9.0/10

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Lightborn by Alison Sinclair (Darkborn Trilogy)

As I said at the end of the previous review, given how Darkborn ended; or rather didn’t, I literally picked up Lightborn the second I finished reviewing the last book. Fortunately, I was not at all disappointed.With her husband Balthasar and the mage Ishmael di Studier off to investigate the threat in the borderlands, Telmaine Hearn...

8.9/10

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Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey (Last Herald-Mage Trilogy)

Between Talia’s reading legends of the last herald mage Vanyel’s heroic final battle in Arrows of the Queen, and Vanyel’s own ominous and prophetic dreams in Magic’s Pawn, the third volume in this trilogy had quite a lot to live up to even before it started.As the book opens, Vanyel has taken on a large amount of t...

5.5/10

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Darkborn by Alison Sinclair (Darkborn Trilogy)

One of the first questions my lady asked me when we began discussing fantasy literature, was whether I’d read Alison Sinclair’s Darkborn trilogy, especially when I revealed how fond I was of very alien worlds with very human characters. After a run of more traditional sf and fantasy therefore when I was looking for a slightly differe...

8.9/10

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Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

Like most people, I probably heard of Shahrazad’s tales long before being aware of the lady herself, since I doubt many children’s retellings of Alibaba and the forty thieves, Sinbad the sailor or Aladdin happened to mention that they were being narrated by the wife to a psychotic sultan who would murder her if the story wasn’t...

7.7/10

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The Chimes by Anna Smaill

It’s very rare that I start a book, have to stop and then need to go back and try it again later, yet this is exactly what happened with The Chimes. Beginning the book whilst I was up against the final time crunch deadline for my PhD, I found I was just not engaging with the story. I loved the writing as poetry, but completely missing nuan...

9.6/10

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Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey (Last Herald-Mage Trilogy)

There is very little good to be said about having a rotten cold, especially when said cold comes with a sore throat that makes it difficult to say anything at all. Fortunately, one of the bonuses of being married to a lady who shares both the same reading tastes and the same cold viruses as you is that you can at least catch up on your fantasy, ...

7.4/10

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Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey (Last Herald-Mage Trilogy)

One problem with long running series, is that authors don’t always write them in chronological order, interspersing books set at one time period with books set earlier on, then confusing matters by including details from the later earlier books in the later later ones.Thus even though the conflict against Hardorn at the end of Arrow...

6.9/10

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The Long Walk by Stephen King

After generations have grown up with Stephen King as a byword for horror and fantasy fiction, it seems incredible to think that there was a time when he wasn’t famous. Yet, eight years before the story of a telekinetic teenager would Carrie him to the heady heights of the best seller list, Stephen King was just a young man studying creativ...

9.1/10

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Watchers by Dean Koontz

One thing I notice when I read other people’s book reviews, is that there is so much polarisation. For every review where the reviewer carefully notes what they thought was good or bad in a book and gives a considered opinion, there are usually ten others that declare a book is the best thing ever! Or the worst thing ever! With some books ...

7.0/10

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The Association by Bentley Little

I don’t usually bother with book jacket information, not the least because I do all of my reading in audio. Flicking through the info for The Association while I waited for another audiobook to download however, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book summation quite as strange or compelling, or one which immediately grabbed my att...

8.2/10

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A Red Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

I confess, given the disappointing showing of The Winter Long, my lady and I were not as eager to get back to October’s adventures as we have been in the past. Nevertheless, this has been a series which has delivered far more than it has disappointed, so we were willing to give McGuire another chance, especially as the plot to A Red Rose C...

7.4/10

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Heaven's Reach by David Brin (The Uplift Saga)

Heaven’s Reach is the huge, bombastic and epic conclusion not just to the new Uplift trilogy which began in Brightness Reef, but also to the saga of all six Uplift books. Finally, it brings to an end the tale of the ill-fated Streaker and her long chase across the five galaxies protecting data about the mysterious Progenitor’s, the f...

8.9/10

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The Healer's War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Growing up in England and not having any particular interest in military fiction, my acquaintance with the American/Vietnam war has been casual at best, confined pretty much just to the musical Miss Saigon and Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam, as well as the odd aside in books like Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis or Pat Conroy&rsqu...

9.3/10

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Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey (The Dragon Rider's Saga)

Some books we read are indelibly associated with the time and place in which we first read them. However often we may reread them in the future, we still cannot quite rid ourselves of the memories of where we were and what we were doing first time around. Thus, when rereading Dragonsinger, I cannot quite forget being nineteen, approaching the en...

8.9/10

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Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

While super powers have never been a favourite plot device of mine, I have always been up for a bit of space opera and dystopia, and the idea of a novel set on a prison in space with one of its guards as a protagonist was certainly one that got my attention.The story is told entirely from the first person perspective of 17 year old Kenzie...

5.3/10

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Desperation by Stephen King

Despite me reading a fair amount of King as a teen and young adult, Desperation was one that pretty much passed me by. Since however it continues on the story of Cynthia Smith, one of the most appealing secondary characters from Rose Madder, and since my lady and I wa...

8.8/10

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Infinity's Shore by David Brin (The Uplift Saga)

It’s usual to end a series first volume with a cliffhanger. Brightness Reef however takes that tendency to extremes, ending some plots with dire or game changing new twists, and simply cutting others off in their prime.It isn’t surprising therefore that my lady and I weren’t slow about starting Infinity’s Shore aft...

8.6/10

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Mort(e) by Robert Repino

Trying out new authors is never a bad thing. After all, every familiar and well loved favourite author was new to us once, and whilst recommendations from trusted friends (or even from strange people who write long winded internet reviews), are all very well, sometimes you just want to strike out on your own, crack open the mystery box and see w...

2.2/10

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Brightness Reef by David Brin (The Uplift Saga)

Brightness Reef has been a treat my lady and I have been saving, since as a brief glance at my previous reviews will show, we’re both quite the fans of David Brin, even reading through The Uplift War on our honeymoon.Brin has remarked that he’s not usually one for writing trilogies, yet in Brightness Reef he was forced to spli...

9.5/10

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Floating Dragon by Peter Straub

Oddly enough, my decision to read Floating Dragon was not born out of my love of all things draconic, but rather because I’ve been busy with fantasy and science fiction and needed a change of setting, and because my recent rediscovery of Stephen King prompted me to try one of his contemporaries and friends, also (as anyone familiar with my...

9.2/10

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The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

There were several reasons why my lady and I were particularly looking forward to The Winter Long. Chimes at Midnight (as you’ll gather if you’ve seen my review), had been a rousing success and high point for the series, one in which McGuire herself said a major plot arc had set sail. Furthermore, even a glance at the blurb for The W...

4.7/10

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Prince On A White Horse by Tanith Lee

Like Graham Dunstan Martin’s Feydom duology, I discovered Prince on a White Horse when I was rather beyond the recommended age for it. Also like Feydom however, it was a book I really enjoyed, though for slightly different reasons, and reading it again enjoyed it no less.Though sometimes packaged with Tanith Lee’s skewed fairy...

7.6/10

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Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

The Fae have been subjects for fiction for at least a thousand years, if not longer, though like vampires and wizards, the boom in urban fantasy literature has bought them into far greater prominence, with portrayals ranging from Eoin Colfer’s techno magical bond villains, to Laurel K Hamilton’s erotic detective stories. One of the u...

9.4/10

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A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers)

It’s incredibly rare for my lady and me to go straight on to the second in a series the moment we finish the first, especially if I need to be writing a review of the first book. Furthermore, on the rare occasions it has happened, it’s usually with authors like Robin Hobb, authors who leave their protagonists hanging off a particular...

9.0/10

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Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I first encountered Joanne Harris novel in the early 2000’s, not due to the film with Judi Dench (which I still have not seen), but due to finding the first chapter in a pamphlet of extracts of fantasy novels handed out by a library service I belonged to. Even beside the eclectically weird selection of extracts, which ran the gamut from Ph...

4.4/10

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Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey (The Dragon Rider's Saga)

You might be wondering why, given my less than glowing reviews of the first two Dragonriders books I remember this series so fondly.The best answer I can give is to point to Dragonsong. McCaffrey apparently was hard at work on the sequel to Dragonquest in the mid-seventies, when an editor asked her to put together a book which might encou...

8.6/10

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Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey (The Dragon Rider's Saga)

Dragonquest was the first Dragonriders book I ever ran across, albeit not the first I ever read since only a glance at the introduction showed thirteen year old me that the book was part of a series. Though I did then read Dragonflight, due to the vagaries of library services it was actually a few Pern books later that I got back to Dragonquest....

5.8/10

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Rose Madder by Stephen King

Whereas some of Stephen King’s works like The Stand, It and Under the Dome seem to have earned if not quite universal, at least intergalactic acclaim, opinion seems oddly polarised about Rose Madder. Some people love it, but many do not. Many regard it simply with that dismissive middle of the road “meh it was okay” which is al...

9.0/10

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Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

As anyone who has read these past reviews might gather, The October Daye series is one which my lady and I read together, swapping theories, opinions and sometimes engaging in stimulating disagreements along the way. Interestingly enough, Chimes at Midnight was the first book in the series she read unaware it was book seven, and the book that th...

8.3/10

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Throy by Jack Vance (Cadwal Chronicles)

One of the nicest things when going into a concluding volume of a trilogy is not to know what to expect. Where the usual trilogy format (exemplified by Star Wars), is to end the second book on the darkest note and pull things together in the third, Ecce and Old Earth had ended with the charter in the hands of Glawen and Wayness, thus frustrating...

4.0/10

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Ecce and Old Earth by Jack Vance (Cadwal Chronicles)

Following the sixteen year hiatus in reading the Cadwal Chronicles, after reacquainting myself with the events of Araminta Station it was finally time to break some new ground. Needless to say, if you’ve not yet read the first book, don’t continue with this review since I will be freely discussing Araminta Station spoilers.I&r...

8.2/10

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Araminta Station by Jack Vance (Cadwal Chronicles)

I have been looking forward to reading Jack Vance’s Araminta Station for quite a while now. I first read the book in 2002 and absolutely loved it, the only problem is the book ends in the most cliff-hangeriest way possible and at the time I couldn’t get the rest of the trilogy which caused me endless amounts of frustration! Fortunate...

8.6/10

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Ashes of Honour by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Despite a slight disappointment with One Salt Sea, McGuire has certainly hit the mark far more often than she’s missed in the October Daye series, so diving into the next book for my lady and me was inevitable.Before leaping into my thoughts on Ashes of Honour, be aware that as with any reviews I write for successive series entries,...

7.0/10

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One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series has been a favourite of my lady and me for a good while now, so it seemed only right to celebrate our new house warming with a book about kidnap, mayhem, potential war and of course lots of nice cold ocean water. The fifth October Daye novel, One Salt Sea returns to the Kingdom of the Mists and the stra...

5.9/10

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Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Late Eclipses is the fourth book in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, featuring changeling and private eye October Daye, and the mysterious and unearthly world of the hidden Fae.Toby’s life has settled down since she defeated the first born Blind Michael, she’s even getting used to having her own fetch and omen of de...

8.0/10

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Before I began on Heartless, I got the pleasure of experiencing my lady’s reactions at second hand. These opened with a rather resigned “well this is rather fluffy, even for a YA book”, progressed to “I am getting really annoyed with the main character!”, and finally descended into the rather dire tempo of “I ...

8.5/10

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Sundiver by David Brin (The Uplift Saga)

Though written first of all the Uplift Saga, Sundiver actually serves more as a prequal than an opening book in its own right. The story is set in the mid-23rd century, a good 150 years before the rest of the series, only a few decades after humanity’s first contact with galactic civilization and shortly after the establishment of a branch...

8.0/10

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

As a lifelong Whovian I am of course extremely fond of and familiar with time travel stories. Romance however has been something I’ve been generally less keen on, which is why when a friend lent me Niffenegger’s book in 2010 I returned it to her unread. Since I am now however manifestly in more of a position to appreciate books with ...

4.8/10

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

We are all familiar with books which become beloved old friends because something in their tone, style, plot or characters so much resonates with where we happen to be in our lives when we read them. I am fairly sure that part of my strong attraction to the world of Harry Potter began with the fact that when I read it I too was coming out of som...

9.4/10

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Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings (The Belgariad)

I have so many memories of the time I spent reading David and Leigh Eddings’ books as a teenager that I was almost afraid to go back to them as an adult. Still more as an adult whom chance (or some other more benevolent agency), has furnished with a dog called Riva, and (in a fulfilment of my oddest teenaged crush), a wonderful, tiny wife ...

7.1/10

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Sign of the Dove by Susan Fletcher (The Dragon Chronicles)

While I had been slightly disappointed with Flight of the Dragon Kyn, I had higher hopes of Sign of the Dove. After all it was a sequel not a prequel, featured the return of some characters we remembered from Dragon’s Milk, and above all apparently included the sort of adorable, exasperating dracling antics  which had made the first v...

6.9/10

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The Influence by Bentley Little

Despite having read a great deal of authors like James Herbert, Graham Masterton and of course Stephen King in the past, for some reason I find myself picking up pure horror novels far less often than other types of speculative fiction. This is actually rather a shame, since once I get into a good horror I do enjoy them (if enjoy is the right wo...

7.7/10

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Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (The Dragon Rider's Saga)

I remember very well the last time in my life I read an Anne McCaffrey novel. In the end of my first term at university as an undergrad, I started a new McCaffrey I'd not read before and found that I was able to predict who would be the book's love interest just from their physical description. I'd read and enjoyed a...

6.1/10

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A Plague of Angels by Sheri S Tepper (Plague of Angels)

Anyone who has read my previous reviews will know that my choice of reading matter is often influenced by recommendations from my lady. A Plague of Angels has been one of her most frequent recommendations, so when the chance came I of course weighed straight in. Whether I myself would recommend it quite as stringently despite many exceptional qu...

7.5/10

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An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

After finding A Local Habitation a slight step downwards from the series opening, I wasn’t perhaps as eager to get back to the world of October Daye as I might have been. However, when I ran across a review which criticised the book as being a little too dark my interest was piqued, indeed you could say from that point the book had my name...

8.4/10

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Iron Council by China Mieville (New Crobuzon)

China Mieville is not an author whose books I undertake lightly. Despite loving Perdido Street Station and quite enjoying The Scar (if enjoying is the right term), I had to work myself up to taking a third trip into the dark, fantastical world of Bas-Lag, since I knew it would be an intensive emotional roller-coaster ride and I was not wrong....

9.0/10

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Flight of the Dragon Kyn by Susan Fletcher (The Dragon Chronicles)

I will admit I was a little apprehensive about Flight of the Dragon Kyn. After all as a general rule prequels don't tend to be as good as their originals and I was tempted to go straight on to the third book, Sign of the Dove which is a direct sequel to Dragon’s Milk.Ultimately what tipped the balance was the fact that Fletcher ...

5.9/10

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A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

I first encountered A Tale of Time City back in 1990 at the age of eight. While I absolutely loved the book (so much in fact I managed to severely offend my best friend when he visited by running off and reading rather than spending time with him), it was a rather odd introduction to Wynne Jones, being (to my knowledge), her only pure science fi...

9.0/10

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Needful Things by Stephen King

After receiving some very grim news, my lady and I knew we’d need something distracting, something truly engrossing and unputdownable which we could lose ourselves in. Our readings together have spanned some pretty amazing authors, however, looking for that specific “keep going or else!” quality, of course we thought of the nam...

9.5/10

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Lear's Daughters by Marjorie B Kellogg

Marjorie B Kellogg is an author I'd literally never heard of until my lady was completely captivated by Lear's Daughters, and as with many books that captivate my lady this made it a must read for me. I suspect due both to the fact that originally her books were published under the name of M Bradley Kellogg, and the fact that she shares ...

9.6/10

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Interworld by Neil Gaiman (Interworld)

Neil Gaiman has been a favourite author of mine ever since I ran into Neverwhere; both the novel and tv series as a teenager, his sideways take on reality, surreal humour and ironic poetry have always very much appealed to me. While I've only ever read one book by Michael Reaves, Shadow Hunter, it was one of the very few novels based on Star...

7.4/10

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A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Since my lady and I had both enjoyed Rosemary and Rue, we decided to try A Local Habitation as one of our cooperative reading ventures, returning to the world of October Daye, Private Investigator and Changeling, and her life lived somewhere between modern day California and the shifting political courts, magical creatures and strange politics o...

6.5/10

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Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (Oxford Time Travel)

Being Christmas, I decided to read a Christmas themed novel, and me being the decidedly morbid person that I am, I decided to celebrate the festive season with a novel all about plague and pestilence, but (more appropriately for Christmas), a story of courage, suffering and very human frailty, one of my lady's favourites.Doomsday book...

9.4/10

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Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones

When for our next cooperative reading venture Mrs. Dark suggested reading a book that was new to both of us, Dogsbody was an obvious choice. After all, we're both hard core dog lovers, each of us having a "big black furry thing" (as my lady puts it), and I have always loved Diana Wynne Jones, although Dogsbody was one of hers I'...

8.5/10

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Midnight by Dean Koontz

Despite my dislike of the taste of cloying sugariness which Koontz’ Odd Thomas had previously given me, on Mrs. Dark's recommendations last year I tried, and subsequently greatly enjoyed Phantoms. So, as I began Midnight, my expectations were for the most part positive. Sure enough, as the book opens I wasn't disappointed, since no...

5.8/10

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Catchfire by Graham Dunstan Martin (Feydom)

As I said in my review of Giftwish, Martin's first novel was definitely a fairly familiar structure for a fantasy story. A handsome young peasant with a magical sword is sent off on a quest by a wizard to slay an evil necromancer and become king. One of the most interesting points about Catchfire I noticed right from the get go therefore, wa...

8.0/10

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

So many fantasy books these days follow the same formulaic themes, plot, and character tropes that it is easy to get cynical when a new book comes along claiming to be something totally different and fresh. I simply cannot count the number of times I have cracked open a book advertised as “not your typical fantasy” and then after 100...

8.3/10

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Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (October Daye)

Despite my recent introduction to the joys of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I have never come across an urban fantasy book that really struck me as exceptional. Fun most certainly, but never anything that specifically stayed with me, or made me really care about its world or characters when I stopped reading. Of course there have been plenty of book...

7.7/10

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Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher (The Dragon Chronicles)

I like dragons! Whether the haughty, poison spewing Robin Hobb variety, or the myriad and diverse range seen in Cressida Cowell's books, or the classic Anne McCaffrey friendly thread burners, not to mention wicked old Smaug, I freely confess I have a bit of a thing for dragons.So when my lady recommended me a book which involved the s...

6.3/10

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Startide Rising by David Brin (The Uplift Saga)

After The Uplift War, it was natural for my lady and I to read Startide Rising, particularly since the mentions of Neodolphins very much intrigued me, and of course because Brin's Uplift universe, where one sentient race "uplifts" another to be an intelligent species in their turn, thus forming "clans" or collections of p...

9.1/10

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The BFG by Roald Dahl

Before seeing the new film adaptation I decided it was time to revisit one of Roald Dahl's classics. The BFG, which is worryingly now exactly as old as I am, was probably my favourite of the Dahl books as a child, as well as paradoxically being the one that scared me most.There is something intrinsically frightening about giants, espe...

9.9/10

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Giftwish by Graham Dunstan Martin (Feydom)

I can honestly say that when I first ran across Giftwish at the age of 16 or 17, I started with a sense of mild disappointment. Though I knew the book was categorized as YA or at least children's, I didn't expect quite as traditional an opening for the story. Ewan, a peasant from a small fishing village is unexpectedly told he has fulfil...

7.5/10

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Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg

There are some stories which stay with you due to their gut wrenching plot twists, memorable characters, witty dialogue or complex emotional dynamics. Silverberg's Sailing to Byzantium, a short novella based partly on Yeat's poem which received a Nebula Award in 1986 is one of the most compelling short sf pieces I've ever read, and y...

9.2/10

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (Harry PotterHarry Potter Companion)

From a nineteen year old captivated by Stephen Fry's complete reading of Philosopher's Stone on New Year's Day of 2001, to a Potter obsessed undergraduate making a wand out of a twig and shoe polish for a Harry Potter party, to a slightly more jaded post grad getting together with an old friend to finish the series with a spectacular...

8.0/10

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The Uplift War by David Brin (The Uplift Saga)

During our honeymoon, one thing my lady and I did was begin reading David Brin's The Uplift War, one of her favourite science fiction books, and one which, she assured me, I'd definitely like. It bodes well for our future married life that my wife obviously knows me extremely well, since undoubtedly like it I did.One thing I reall...

9.0/10

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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (The Passage Trilogy)

Justin Cronin was an author I ran into by accident. One day in 2011 I was looking around for something to read and decided I ought to make an inroad on the huge pile of books I'd picked up at random on a whim from authors I'd not tried before. "A fun zombocalypse" was what I thought I was going to get, however if you're rea...

9.7/10

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Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Red Rising Trilogy)

Morning Star by Pierce Brown is the third and final book of the Red Rising trilogy, a book that was hyped beyond belief given how good Golden Son was. And in my opinion Morning Star lived up to that hype, though it did not exceed the lofty standard set by Golden Son.The story commences some time after the events of Golden Son, with Darrow...

6.9/10

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Arrow's Fall by Mercedes Lackey (The Heralds of Valdemar)

As Arrow's Fall started, I was really not sure where things were going or how Lackey would resolve Talia's story given that there wasn't much that required resolving from Arrow's Flight at that point.On the one hand, the start of the book, Talia's return to haven and the Collegium did see a step up in tension, presenti...

8.0/10

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Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey (The Heralds of Valdemar)

While I was pleasantly surprised that Arrows of the Queen managed to make a compelling story out of a nearly conflict free fairy tale, I was looking forward in Arrow's flight to having things grow a little darker and more serious. Arrows of the Queen after all had taken a shy, mistreated child through her time at the Collegium, where she tra...

6.9/10

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Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (The Heralds of Valdemar)

My lady was rather shocked that this site has no listing for Mercedes Lackey, a prolific and sensitive author and definitely one of the fantasy old guard whose works are usually regarded as cornerstones of the genre.Since I'd previously only read her twisted take on superheroes, the online podcast series Secret World chronicle, I was ...

7.3/10

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Phantoms by Dean Koontz

When, in a discussion of horror fiction , the soon to be Mrs. Dark recommended Dean Koontz to me, I was frankly sceptical. The first two books I'd read by Koontz I'd found horrifying only in their overwhelming concentration of small town sugary American niceness, with every character a cutesy stereotype of one sort or another (really I w...

8.4/10

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The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

As anyone who’s seen my previous reviews will know, my absolute ideal in speculative fiction is decency in adversity. Throwing a character that does not have special powers or super human abilities out into an unknown and unfriendly world and seeing how they cope. Finding The Goblin Emperor in a list of books which highlight everyday nice ...

9.0/10

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The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A Heinlein

One wonderful thing about my lady, one of the many wonderful things, one of the facts about my lady who is herself wonderful, is that since we both have a love of speculative fiction we can exchange book recommendations.Robert Heinlein is an author with whom I've had an odd relationship. I've only read four or five of his books, t...

5.5/10

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Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb (The Rain Wild Chronicles)

In Blenheim Palace there is a huge, 15th century tapestry showing the then Duke of Marlborough looking extremely grandiose, sitting on a horse leading the British Army. The tapestry is perhaps 20 feet long by 10 feet high and...

8.8/10

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The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers)

This was one book I approached knowing I’d probably enjoy it. Even from the book’s description I could see that The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet was a tick list of some of my favourite things. Good old space faring sf, a journey story, alien aliens, and a heavy emphasis on very ordinary characters in an extraordinary situation. I...

9.8/10

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Red Dwarf: Better Than Life by Grant Naylor

The first thing to say about the second Red Dwarf novel is that although (like it's predecessor) it tells a story completely independent of the cult TV series that spawned it, on no account should anyone consider reading this bo...

9.5/10

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Crown of Shadows by Celia Friedman (Coldfire Trilogy)

With the explosive and tense conclusion to the previous book, I started Crown of Shadows with high hopes of a gripping finale to the trilogy. Friedman seemed to have largely surpassed her tendency to rather overwrought prose and with the revelation of both the unnamed, the dark powers who hold Tarrant's contract for immortality and the threa...

6.4/10

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Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor (Red Dwarf Trilogy)

When a film or TV series is based on a novel, I am always very eager to read that novel. When however the reverse is true, and something which started on screen is then novelized I tend to be less enthusiastic.This is because I've often found that where film directors are always ready to make changes to an author's work to fit it ...

8.7/10

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When True Night Falls‏ by Celia Friedman (Coldfire Trilogy)

Given some of the issues I'd had with the previous book, I approached When True Night Falls with a little trepidation. Right from the beginning however, it became clear that I was in for a very different experience.This can be seen in the prologues of the two books. While Black Sun Rising began with a badly drawn attempt at tragedy th...

7.5/10

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Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator‏ by Roald Dahl

I have a very soft spot for Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator since it was hearing the old Rainbow Theatre dramatization on audio tape (wonder if anyone remembers those) that began both my love of the works of Roald Dahl - at the age of three or four - and my intensive dislike of reading a series out of order. Fortunately, my dad remedied the...

9.0/10

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Tiger Tiger by Alfred Bester

Tiger Tiger, first published in the United States in 1956 under the rather more impressive title "The Stars My Destination" is one of the two best known works of science fiction writer Alfred Bester. Bester is a name which likely most people will first associate with the slimy Psi Cop from the Babylon 5 TV series, who was in fact named...

6.0/10

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

The first thing that interested me about Bird Box (despite some reservations over the scope of the apocalypse setting) was its premise. Like Wyndham's classic Day of the Triffids and several subsequent works Bird Box is an apocalypse with a theme of sight, but one taken in a slightly unusual direction.The story begins with Malorie, wh...

6.0/10

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Black Sun Rising by Celia Friedman (Coldfire Trilogy)

I was recommended CS Friedman by a friend, and when I learnt the premise and setting of Black Sun Rising I was more than eager to explore its world. Like Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders or Robert Silverberg's Majipoor, Black Sun Rising is a book which really defies classification as fantasy or science fiction.The book takes place f...

6.7/10

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Golden Son by Pierce Brown (Red Rising Trilogy)

You might wonder why after not exactly enjoying Red Rising I decided to read Golden Son. The first, and probably least important reason is that a book deprived childhood and a generally stubborn streak have left me with an inability to stop series mid way through, however more importantly, I have certainly come across authors whose first books a...

7.5/10

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Red Rising Trilogy)

I was quite eager to try Red Rising, partly because of Ryan's review, and partly because I loved the idea of combining dystopian fiction with a science fiction setting, particularly a setting with some rather interesting and colourful themes, (colourful in more sense than one). The setting indeed is one of the book's strongest points, si...

5.4/10

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The Priests of Ferris by Maurice Gee (The O Trilogy)

The Priests of Ferris in some ways strongly resembles Lewis's Prince Caspian. In one year of human time a century has passed on O, and the exploits of Nick and Susan have become a legend. A boy, Limpy, arrives from O howe...

6.5/10

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Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee (The O Trilogy)

...

7.0/10

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The Twits by Roald Dahl

The Twits is one of the shorter books in the Dahl canon, and rather unique as it focuses almost exclusively upon its two principle villains, the totally vile Mr. and Mrs. Twit.The book begins with a protracted description of both nasty pieces of work, from Mr. Twit's truly disgusterous beard, to the fact that Mrs. Twit made herself ug...

8.5/10

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

It feels highly appropriate that I am now writing a review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, since 27 years ago, when I was roughly four years old, my dad sat down and read my brother and I the whole thing over several successive evenings.I have heard some people say that when they reread a childhood favourite, they find it smaller an...

9.0/10

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Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl

Dirty Beasts is Roald Dahl's second collection of poetry, publish in 1983, three years after Revolting Rhymes. Whereas his first collection involved a uniquely grotesque Dahl slant on several traditional fairy tales, Dirty Beasts contains nine poems which detail the exploits of various creatures and children, from a lion who explains his fav...

8.5/10

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Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

Two of Roald Dahl’s most enduring qualities, and part of what makes him one of the most loved children's authors of all time, are his profound love of the rhythm and flow of language, and his realization that young children do not in fact need everything sugar-coated, that seeing the villainous, cruel or greedy receive appropriate and ...

8.5/10

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (The Tearling Trilogy)

I have been reading and reviewing books for nigh on seven years now, and in that time I believe I have noticed a creeping trend migrating from the world of comic books, infiltrating the world of genre literature. No longer is a book written solely for the purpose of entertaining a hoped-for reader, rather, some authors view the book-stage of the...

6.5/10

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Infected by Scott Sigler

Infected is a book with a somewhat unusual publishing history. It began (and indeed can still be found) on Podiobooks.com as a series of freely available audio podcast readings by Sigler himself. It has however since made the leap to being published print novel and to the surprise of many made it on to the New York Times best-seller list....

5.5/10

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Take Back Plenty by Colin Greenland

According to some authors such as Arthur C Clarke, the purpose of science fiction is simply to explore the possible consequences, benign or malign, of scientific principles, social trends or the ramifications of new technology.Myself however, while such writers as Clarke or Asimov can be an entertaining intellectual puzzle, I prefer my wo...

8.0/10

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Seaward by Susan Cooper

Susan Cooper is an author who I have had a great respect for ever since reading her Dark is Rising books as a child (and indeed more recently as an adult). When I discovered Seaward at the age of 16, I was incredibly pleased to find Cooper's work did not stop with the Dark is Rising, and that she had in fact written a full stand alone fantas...

9.5/10

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The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

I don't generally count myself as a serious Terry Pratchett fan. That's not to say I don't enjoy his work, I've read almost everything he's written including all 39 Discworld books, however he's not someone I find myself following obsessively or rereading time after time. This is largely because for all the random humour,...

7.0/10

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Joyland by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime Series)

My lady and I decided to take a break from our Sanderson odyssey and so for our next cooperative adventure in reading she suggested Joyland, a surprisingly gentle story; especially as compared to much of King’s other work.Joyland is the tale of 21 year old Devin Jones. After his girlfriend Wendy breaks his heart with a casual &ldquo...

9.0/10

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On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

1718: Puppeteer John Chandagnac has set sail for Jamaica to recover his stolen inheritance, when his ship is seized by pirates. Offered the choice to join the crew, or be killed where he stands, he decides that a pirate's life is better than none at all. Now known as Jack Shandy, this apprentice buccaneer soon learns to handle a mainsail and...

7.0/10

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To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

I was first introduced to Connie Willis by a friend of mine (now herself a doctor of physics), who told me her favourite science fiction writers were those who could change their style and tone rather than always write in a similar way.She illustrated this by reading me two of Connie Willis’ short stories. The first; Schwarzschild R...

7.6/10

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The Stand by Stephen King

I don’t know why it's taken me so long to reread the Stand. Certainly (unlike say The Tommyknockers or Misery) it isn’t because I didn’t enjoy it first time around, nor is it, despite its definitely extended length, because I found its beginning long winded or hard to get into. For whatever reason it’s been quite lite...

9.6/10

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Redshirts by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.Life couldn’t be better… until Andrew begins to pick up on th...

6.5/10

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Partials by Dan Wells (Partials Sequence)

A friend of mine recently lent me Partials by Dan Wells, and it was a book I was rather eager to try. Not only because I had enjoyed the only other book I'd read by Dan Wells, the wonderfully silly gothic farce Night of Blacker Darkness, but also because the world and setting of Partials intrigued me as a very unique take on apocalyptic dyst...

6.7/10

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breath-taking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.But behind the scenes, a fierce competi...

8.7/10

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Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (New Crobuzon)

I began reading Perdido Street Station firstly as a break from sci-fi and secondly because it sounded vaguely interesting. I finished reading Perdido Street Station (a surprisingly short time later given how long the book is)finding it to be one of the greatest, strangest and most utterly awesome things I've read for a considerable while. I ...

9.8/10

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The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Neverending story is one of those films that truly made a major difference to my childhood. Though I was too young to watch it upon its first 1984 release, my junior school showed it in 1987 or so when I was five (I had a very nice junior school). I remember it distinctly as one of the films that really scared me, but at the same time equall...

7.9/10

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Skallagrigg by William Horwood

Skallagrigg is a book with which I shared a connection even before I'd read a single word.My love for the works of William Horwood (especially his Duncton books) will be obv...

9.6/10

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Duncton Found by William Horwood (The Duncton Chronicles)

Upon my first reading of the Duncton books back when I was sixteen, I remember being slightly underwhelmed by Duncton Found. I'd enjoyed Duncton Wood, despite some uneven pacing; I'd absolutely adored Duncton Quest which felt half the length of Duncton Wood given how engaging it was, but I really didn't know what to make of Duncton F...

9.3/10

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The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Though I will confess to a morbid curiosity about the Twilight books, none of the opinions I’ve heard from those who’ve read the series (including my lady), have quite persuaded me to brave the world of sparkly vampires and romantic clichés in order to form my own. So I was a little surprised when Mrs. Dark read The Host and n...

7.4/10

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A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E Feist (Riftwar Saga)

As Prince Arutha and his companions rally their forces for the final battle with an ancient and mysterious evil, the dread necromancer Marcos the Black has once again unleashed his dark sorcerery. Now the fate of two worlds will be decided in a titanic struggle beneath the walls of Sethanon, as the link between Kelewan and Midkemia is revive...

6.9/10

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Under the Dome by Stephen King

Like many people (including my Lady), I first ran into Stephen King as a teenager, and was captivated by books like It, Salem's Lot, Insomnia and The Stand. With the exception of The Dark Tower however, my king reading largely fell off as I got older. I can't really give an adequate reason for this, and judging by the quality of Under th...

8.8/10

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The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle

I'm quite honestly surprised I haven't come across Peter S Beagle's The Last Unicorn before now. After all, as a fantasy loving child of the eighties I should at least have seen the animated film, even if the usual bugbear; lack of audio availability, kept me from reading the novel that inspired it. Fortunately, one of the happier co...

8.3/10

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The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay (The Fionavar Tapestry)

I've had several recommendations of Kay's work over the years from various people, usually very much of the sort of thing said in these reviews, "It's good solid fantasy" etc, so while I certainly wasn't against reading it, it wasn't exactly far up on my list either.My lady however recently read through the t...

8.8/10

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Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist (Riftwar Saga)

I will admit I was not a huge fan of Magician, so I was not overly eager to return to Midkemia which is why it has taken me so long to read Silverthorn. Nevertheless, since I have had some very solid recommendations for later books in the series, I thought I should get back to wading through the earlier ones, after all, presumably matters were g...

6.3/10

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Magician by Raymond E Feist (Riftwar Saga)

The story begins in Crydee, a frontier outpost in the Kingdom of the Isles. An orphaned young boy named Pug becomes a master magician’s apprentice and two world’s destinies are forever changed. The peace that he has known all his short life disappears and is replaced by war in the shape of invaders from another world. A magically cre...

9.0/10

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