Dungeon Duel (The Rogue Dungeon, #5)

by eden Hudson

Publishing Date: 2021

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Review: I am not sure why there are so few reviews for this series. Shadow Alley Press may need to up their game in order to realize the spread of talent because these are two very talented writers.

This continuation series is very well done. The world is fantastic as it spans 3 dimensions in plausible fashion. The characters are creative and engaging. Pwner is one of the funniest characters I have had the pleasure to read. He just keeps on giving shjt.

Is the price of the ticket worth admission? I think so, yet the novel edges along the border of being a novella in length. This was mainly why I gave it four stars as it would have easily been five with a proper page count.

The end of this series draws near and that is saddening. But it was a good ride and I had a great time. If you have not read any of Eden Hudson’s work then you are in for a treat as she continues to get better and better.

The Coward

(Quest for Heroes #1)

by Stephen Aryan

Publishing Date: 2021

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6/5

Review: If ever there was a reluctant hero then Kell Kressia fits the mold forged by Kevin Costner. Yet Kell makes it believable by shirking duty in favor of a rest he has justifiably earned in past service. Rather than go North he decides that any other direction is better than facing the Ice Lich, yet with momentum in the people to save the countryside he has little choice but to serve.

Where this novel excelled was the world building and, specifically, the characters. Each persona is built with care in order to develop into well rounded players. The movement is constant in the form of a quest which helps build character depth as well. Bronwyn was one of my favorites, being Zena-like in body and rougher in presentation.

A good read that severely lacked in editing. The grammatical errors are numerous and sometimes left certain paragraphs without meaning as the stumble was too blatant to surmount. Usually Angry Robot has very good editing but this was bad to the bone.

I am looking forward to the next in this series, “The Warrior“.

Idols Fall

(Iconoclasts #3)

by Mike Shel

Publishing Date: 2021

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Review: A good conclusion to a formidable series.

Agnes was not my favorite character with inconsistent adolescent behavior (crying, horny, angry, petulant, vindictive) but she was at times, entertaining to wade through.

The series lacked the immersive depth that instead, was plied in expedient waters. The author has huge talent that might be best served in lengthier story lines.

Perhaps this world may be further explored in quest fashion to reclaim the heart of magic before Belu and the sword come to terms…….without Agnes.

Of Kings and Killers

The Elder Empire: Sea #3

by Will Wight


Publishing Date: 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Review: The grand finale’ to a riveting series that under-achieved in broadening the story line.

Our hero becomes mired in political intrigue and factional rivalries. The supporting characters and their various back stories add a bit of levity to a droning Calder. How this guy goes from interesting to boring-as-fuk is a mystery.

The greater universe that the author has built in the Cradle series begins. These various worlds and their champions will one day meet to fight the fiends that riddle the galaxies. Just a hunch.

Still, a fun read by an accomplished author.

Of Sea and Shadow

The Elder Empire: Sea #1

by Will Wight

Publishing Date: 2014

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6/5

Review: Surprisingly, this novel suffered none of the story line progression and continuity issues that the Travelers Gate series had. The character development flowed smoothly along with the movement, the depth of the MC’s was compelling and the supporting cast, fascinating. A really well put together novel.

Not really a lot to shjtpick about other than Jyrine’s presence vaguely justified in the Grayweather household.

Man buckles were swashed in this installment. Currently reading the next in the series, “Of Dawn and Darkness” and am still pleased.

Bloodline

(Cradle #9)

by Will Wight

Publishing Date: 2021

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 3.3/5

Review: This was a minor dip in a relentlessly entertaining series. The pacing is disjointed while the story line is often compressed. This creates some continuity issues. Our heroes are getting a bit too “perfect” and any flaws seemed forced or inserted as an afterthought.

I am unsure why so much of the novel was spent in Sacred Valley. While innately boring on a logarithmic scale the residents are built like stubborn constructs with no redeeming qualities. yet Mr. Hero must save them all!! I get it, we have known since Suriel showed up where Lindon is eventually headed and there has to be some kind of build in terms of his stalwart high-moral proclivities.

No surprises with this one.

Sin Eater

(Iconoclasts #2)

by Mike Shel

Publishing Date: 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.9/5

Review: This author follows in the path of George R.R. Martin in that he kills characters seemingly at whim. Part of good world building are the characters that anchor the story line. If their deaths detract, rather than enhance continuity, then you probably shouldn’t kill them. Just my .02.

This barely reaches the high accomplishment found in “The Aching God” yet provides entertainment and some sense of closure. There are some fails in the character arena that may severely disappoint some readers (ahem) yet overall a well done novel.

Here is hoping that this series continues and that down the road, Auric plays a role.

The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy

(Traveler’s Gate #1–3 omnibus)

by Will Wight

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Publishing Date: 2015

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.9/5

Review: A rather confusing world with multiple territories gifted inherent qualities that Travelers purvey. Each Territory has an Incarnation subsumed by a blood tree in order to control an outbreak of destruction. 

Simon is a patterned trope of the “weak gutsy kid that rises through determination”. Leah is a princess (but don’t call her that) whom must find her way in the real world by living in a dirty village. There are some characters that weigh the story line down as their believability pushes the boundaries of acceptance. Indirial and Kai (yes fuking someone named Kai) are well-built characters. The dolls are creative and entertaining story line insertions.

The story line drifts a bit with what seems like a rather large plot hole. The Territories vie for power over the others which makes no sense as there is no end-game prize worth the trouble. 

There are Blood Trees that must have sacrifices in order to contain the Incarnations that would otherwise rampage everywhere. I think each territory has an incarnation but definitely all have a blood tree….maybe. An incarnation is supposedly the embodiment of nature in some form or another yet the definition does not marry with the icon unless you are that tree/flower in-carnation (ha, ha). 

Parts of this series, especially the last, seemed compressed, rushed and truncated. This process follows a sudden shift to a formulaic story line. 

So there you go. Confusing as fuk yet still entertaining what with the great character development and all. Not near as good as the Cradle series. 

Book Review: Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive #4) by Brandon Sanderson

Publishing Date: 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.4/5

Review: Well, the long awaited installment is here while being heralded as the greatest epic fantasy series of all time. While I think this is below average in the series, this complete body of work was well executed.

Shallan is back within her multiple personality disorder that no-one seems to find strange. As with “normal” multiple personalities, those distinct mental constructs are not aware of their hosts. Shallan is able to utilize all of her personalities that serve her specific functional requirements. So, not so much a disorder yet rather rampant narcissism. Adolin reflects her persona as they ride the one-dimensional train.  Jasnah should have been the focus of this novel as she is believable and written with depth. Sadly, she is like skipping a stone.

Kaladin rocks as usual while most supporting characters are minimized. No subtleties here. Too bad, as a good supporting character can round out a MC and add depth to the story line. Shallan is just a shit show from start to finish. Navani is built like Shallan: as a heroine genius that knows and saves all while snuggling wif her manly man-Prince/King. Just….barf.

The novel jumps around quite a bit and the background of the Fused and Heralds seems to shift to fit the new story line. At best it was confusing but mostly felt rushed and compressed. If you are seeking closure, tough shit. There is no such thing when a popular series has more money to make.

An average continuance that seeks to entertain.