Book Review: The Liar’s Key (The Red Queen’s War #2) by Mark Lawrence

Publishing Date: 2015

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 2.4/5

Review: This doorstop along the way to the finale’ is fraught with repetitive actions stolen from “Prince of Fools”.  Quests are great vehicles for a variety of reasons yet become flawed when over-used and set in the same pattern. For example: in the first novel they go north and see a witch, in the second novel they go south and……see the same witch. Consummate with both novels, Jalan gets drunk every night, bangs wenches that get him in trouble and is mostly unconscious or puking.


I liked the dreams of past truths for some self-enlightenment yet Jalan never grows the fuk up, no matter the current life-forging events. His constant dis-belief about his prowess with a sword wears thin, while  everyone mutters “Beserker!!!”. The cowardice conflict still rages within without an ounce of cessation to the rule.

In short Jalan needed to show change within as well as without in order to develop into a character with depth. What we get is a drunk, sexually myopic, self-centered narcissist that continues to whine about his predicament that he chose to embrace. There has to be some form of acceptance for the state of affairs that you find yourself, regardless of what forced you there. In this case, a withered sisters magic. The ending takes an interesting turn and somewhat redeems what came before.

Good thing the final novel is pretty cheap or I would bugger off.

Book Review: Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence

Publishing Date: 2014

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 3.8/5

Review: Well this was a relief after reading Abercrombie’s graphic killing novels. A bit lighter and hopeful in outlook.

Jalan is a treat to read. A fun character with plenty of self-deprecation to go around and a penchant for womanizing. He really drives the story whereas Snorri is a bit of a snore and the supporting cast never has a chance to grow in depth.

The scenes a overly embellished with descriptors as is the in-depth interactions and internal ruminations. Kind of slowed the pace a bit yet not enough to lose interest.  I will plow on to the next.


Book Review: Along the Razor’s Edge (The War Eternal #1) by Rob J. Hayes

Publishing Date: 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Review: This opening novel flowed quite smoothly from scene to scene and although the story line was not complex, the progression was logical and worked to an accomplished build. The characters were presentable but not riveting with a lack of depth hard to deny.


Eskara Helsene is not real believable, which does not bode well for a main character. Her emotional repertoire is based on revenge and anger yet she finds the time to have the hots for a dungeon guy. While she is only 15 years old, covered in filth and starving, these base emotions don’t play very well in the environment in which she resides.  As life is extremely harsh (torture, starvation, slavery) the expectation is not one forged into hardness but beat down while fondling a meagre serving of hope. What we get is an angry, emaciated fighter whom thumbs her nose at the people that have complete control over her, risking her own life in the process.


The foretelling within the body of the narrative plays out like a constant spoiler and gains in annoyance. The story line and plot are as boring as a bag of hammers and slower than a snail in peanut butter.  I liked the writing style and that may be what brings me back into this series. For now I am a bit ‘meh’.

Book Review: Dungeon Eternium (The Divine Dungeon #5) by Dakota Krout

Publishing Date: 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.1/5

Review: This was a whole lot better than #3 and #4. Good movement that embraced the characters in their various quests. The world building was better in terms of visualization ease and dungeon development was, once again, interesting.

For a finale’ to the series, this was a bit weak in that the individual progression failed in terms of a  visceral payoff. You root for characters throughout the series and their rewards do not marry with the gifts of dungeon completion. Additionally, the ending is all over the place with story line threads failing to resolve and the final movement truncated and ineffective.

This was so far removed from the brilliant “Completionist Chronicles” series that it often felt like a different writer.  The main problem with this finale’ was the lack of a determined and fulfilling ending. The characters held some bright spots but generally became diffuse in presentation.

A strong pass on this series if you are considering it.

Book Review: Dungeon Calamity (The Divine Dungeon #3) by Dakota Krout

Publishing Date: 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5

Review: This was a hard slog through to the end. This installment was WAY too involved in the magical pathways of Essence, Mana, Chi and aura infusion. At the end of the day it is all make believe and attempting to gain validity through justification is pure nonsense.

I looked forward to reading about Dale and his cohorts, mainly because they were in constant movement and developing with interest. Cal is kind of an arsehole and weighs the story line down to a crawl.

Here is hoping it picks up a bit.

Book Review: Dungeon Born (The Divine Dungeon #1) by Dakota Krout

Publishing Date: 2016

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Review: This was an interesting turn from all of the other LitRPG novels out there where a player interacts within a role playing game and seeks to advance within. While Dale fills this role admirably, the focus is on the development of a sentient dungeon.

Dakota is one of my favorite writers. He is inventive, creative and his characters leap off the pages in all their snark and circumstance. The world building is descriptive enough to visualize but not over-bearing to the point the story line is lost.  The magic makes connective sense and helps ground the novel as players and dungeon progress.

A bit short in length for the money, but I will continue to pay.

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy #1) by J. Islington

Publishing Date: 2014

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5

Review: Well I am way late to the party on this series what with the plethora of good reviews out there.

I thought that this was some solid bit of writing that often swayed into back story/flashback-ville for too long a stretch. The characters are varied but the theme is YA which drove it a bit into the dirt at times. The “Hey we know better than people twice our age because we are on a quest” shtick was not too believable.

The world building is epic and the story line a bit confused, lacking a sense of progression. The quest, although great in the visual department, made no sense whatsoever. You go North, pick up a guy, then another, keep going into hostile country, pick up 3 more people, lose 2 and back to where you started. I was waiting for something to be achieved under the premise that an augur box would create this wonderful reveal. Nope.

The next in the series is a fence sitter for me. Not sure I would spend the coin for the same drawn out story line. Great cover art though.

Book Review: Red Country (First Law World #6) by Joe Abercrombie

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Date: 2012

Rating: 2.9/5

Review: This was a much better stand alone read than “Best Served Cold” as the characters were developed with good movement in the form of a wagon train to nowhere. The hardships and victories  along the trail help further define and reveal those various personalities with intent.

We see the return of Logan Nine Fingers and I was not quite ready for that after reading “Best Served Cold”. I thought with Logan we would once again have to endure pages of senseless slaughter rendered most graphic. What I got was a toned down version of Logan with some gory instances, allowing the story line to breath and live a little. Shy is a wonderful character that steals your heart with commitment, flair and honesty.

I will not bother reading “The Hero’s” as anything with Black Dow in it will most certainly force my gorge to rise. So here is some free money to the author to spend sharpening pikes and what not.