The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis: For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? (goodreads)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I was waiting for the right moment to begin the Mistborn Series and I am so glad that I finally dove in. I was both excited and nervous to get things started, as I have heard such great things about these books. A lot of the bloggers that I really admire love this series. So, of course I wanted to love it too. Well, at the risk of ruining my review, I did! I am a relatively new Sanderson reader (and fan) as I’ve only read Elantris, which I enjoyed.  But clearly Sanderson is a very popular author and after reading The Final Empire I now understand why. The storyline was very engaging, included plenty of twists and turns, and I was pleasantly surprised at the humor – the banter between characters was simply awesome. The plot centered around overthrowing the Lord Ruler, who governed with absolute authority. It featured rebellion, political maneuvering, and lots of strategy. The story included great worldbuilding, awesome characters, and amazing magic systems. I will speak to those three elements below.

Worldbuilding

This was a masterclass in worldbuilding. I experienced this installment through all five of my senses. It was as though I could both smell and taste the ash that covered Luthadel. Sanderson made it so easy to visualize the bleak world. It was grey and dark – a world that lacked beautiful landscapes but was still so vivid. Yet, you still got the sense of awe pulling into the estates of the noble families. I could hear the music playing at all of the parties and balls. And I could feel the mist on my skin as if I was there in person. Simply put, the story was just so atmospheric. 

Characters 

I am a character driven reader – the way into both my heart and mind is through a great cast. And this book didn’t disappoint. One of my favorite aspects was the tight knit crew – there was such great camaraderie. I often felt as though I was in the room with this crew, participating in their banter as they planned their efforts to try to pull off the impossible. I can easily ramble on about each member. However, I will spare you and just mention that I really enjoyed how each character was so different, yet they complimented each other so well. 

My three favorite characters in the book were Vin, Sazed and Kelsier. I appreciated Sanderson’s gradual development of Vin as you progressed through the book. Vin has been through a lot in her young life, which shaped how she felt towards others. However, she provided a great reminder that even through multiple betrayals, there is hope yet and there is value in trusting again. Sazed’s character snuck up on me. He’s loyal, always followed through with his assignments and never seemed to put himself above others. That brings me to Kelsier – he’s powerful, intelligent and above all was not willing to stand for oppression. Finally, I must add that I am excited for Elend’s character arc in the next two books.

Magic Systems

My all time favorite magic system is Chromaturgy from The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks. And while I am not ready to hand over the crown, Sanderson’s Allomancy and Feruchemy are very very special. Allomancy is an intriguing multi-layered magic system. It is a complex system that the reader continually gets to learn more and more about it as you make your way through the book. My favorite aspect of Allomancy were the battle scenes, which were super fast paced and intense. I am really looking forward to learning more about both Allomancy and Feruchemy as I make my way through the series.  

Finally, I must also add that I enjoyed Sanderson’s prose in The Final Empire. And while the writing wasn’t overly complex, the storyline spoke for itself. This book certainly lived up to the expectations. I cannot wait to continue my journey in the Mistborn Series and through the Cosmere. Thanks for stopping by KP’s Pages and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

A Series Review: The Wounded Kingdom Trilogy by R J Barker

This was a priority series for me in 2021 and I am so glad that I read it! And while I didn’t know a whole lot about the trilogy going into it, the synopsis of book one totally had me sold. Plus, I always am up for a good assassin story. Here is my series review.

Book one: Age of Assassins  

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom. (goodreads)

This was a very solid first entry of the series. It is a character driven story told in the first person narrative. The story follows the main character Girton Club-foot, a 15 year old assassin. Girton is an apprentice to Merela, one of the deadliest assassins in the Tired Lands. The two assassins are hired to find the traitor looking to take out the heir to the throne. Barker does a wonderful job blending fantasy and mystery into the story. It is well paced and the plot develops over the course of the book. While it is not entirely action packed, there are some really great action scenes throughout the book. And there were many twists and turns which kept me on the edge of my seat. 

Some of my favorite elements of the story included:

Characters:

  • Girton felt so real – it was easy to empathize with him
  • Great mentor/mentee relationship between Girton and Merela 
  • Includes interesting flashbacks that showed how Girton and Merela’s close-knit relationship developed 
  • An overall strong supporting cast
  • Included really neat war mounts

Great battle sequences:

  • Fascinating fighting techniques – described as a dance or an iteration
  • Really smooth battle scenes
  • The action sequences felt like an art

Worldbuilding:

  • Subtle and well developed over the course of the book
  • An interesting history of the Tired Lands that explained why sorcery was so despised 

Themes:

  • Coming-of-age
  • Betrayal 
  • Loyalty 

Age of Assassins was really well done and made the decision to jump into book two an easy one. Once I finished, it was immediately clear that I would be reading straight through this series. 

Book two: Blood of Assassins 

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis: The king is dead, long live the king…

The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels. The place he knew no longer exists.

War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra. Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin. (goodreads)

The second installment picks up five years later with Girton and Merela travelling the Lands as mercenaries. While they travel, a war wages between the three kings. Girton finds himself right back in the thick of it with his friend Rufra. And while five years have passed, it was done really well and did not feel disjointed. The storytelling was even better in this entry – it was unpredictable, with plenty of plot twists. Barker built up the tension as you progressed through the book and it was very difficult to put down. The mystery side of things was even more compelling in book two. While the stakes were high in Age of Assassins, they were even higher in Blood of Assassins. This entry was much more action packed and I simply flew through it. There was a much darker feel to this book. But, redemption was one of my favorite themes. The best element of the whole book was the character development. The most enjoyable aspects of the book included:

Character development:

  • Girton is now an adult, but was rash, oftentimes selfish and had a difficult time trusting anyone. Yet, his thoughts were really well articulated by Barker
  • Great character growth of both Rufra and Aydor
  • The relationship between Girton and Merela is conveyed even better in this installment

Magic system:

  • Learn more about the magic system in book two
  • It derives from the very life of the lands and those inhabit it
  • Girton had to figure out how to control his sorcery as it continued to grow stronger

Battle scenes:

  • Very action packed and included many fight scenes
  • Awesome sword dances, archery, and magic use
  • Plus, it included many scenes with a warhammer!

Worldbuilding: 

  • Greater insight into the bleak world of the Tired Lands and the damage done by sorcery
  • Travelled to more places in the world  
  •  Had a sort of battle camp feel to it

Blood of Assassins is a really great sequel. It built upon the great work of book one and had really great character work. As soon as I finished, I just had to start the finale, King of Assassins.  

Book three: King of Assassins

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis: THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING . . .

Many years of peace have passed in Maniyadoc, years of relative calm for the assassin Girton Club-Foot. Even the Forgetting Plague, which ravaged the rest of the kingdoms, seemed to pass them by. But now Rufra ap Vthyr eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital, a rat’s nest of intrigue and murder, where every enemy he has ever made will gather and the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in his bid to become the King of all Kings.

Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and the god of death, Xus the Unseen, stands closer than ever – casting his shadow over everything most dear to Girton. (goodreads) 

Wow, that was an intense and fiery finale! The third installment picks up 15 years after the end of Blood of Assassins. And once again, Barker does an incredible job in the transition and nothing feels lost despite the amount of time that has gone by. King of Assassins brought out all of my emotions – I felt despair, anxiety, anger, frustration, shock, sadness, jubilance, triumph and relief. This story was just so engaging. And while I moved through the series quite quickly, I smashed through the finale. This was a definite page-turner. I also felt like this was the best written of the three books. I really enjoyed the interludes, which were really well timed and placed amidst the story. Barker did a really fine job of foreshadowing events throughout the trilogy. For not knowing a lot about this series, I am so glad that I gave it a try as it has quickly moved up alongside some of my favorites. I almost always gravitate towards the epic and high fantasy subgenres. So, it was nice reading something a bit different like the Wounded Kingdom Trilogy. Here are my favorite aspects of this finale.

Worldbuilding:

  • We were introduced to a new setting in which the majority of the book took place – Ceadoc, home of the High King. The new location really elevated the book
  • Ceadoc provided a great atmosphere
    • It was gritty and dark
    • Had a paranoid like vibe to the city because of its plague-hit past
    • Included interesting infrastructure
    • And provided new places to explore
  • Super tense and hostile environment

The following themes were tied together really nicely to finish up the series:

  • Love
  • Redemption
  • Loyalty
  • Forgiveness
  • Family
  • and friendship

Characters:

  • Great continued development of ALL the characters
  • I truly felt like I was there alongside Girton. Barker’s writing has a way of making everything feel so vivid and real
  • Enjoyed getting to experience more of Merela, Aydor and Rufra
  • A solid side cast, including more assassins 

There were SO many twists and turns. The tension built up quickly and didn’t relinquish until the very end.

This was a super conclusion to a great series. It kept you guessing until the very end, had really great action scenes and included some great characters.  I highly recommend you pick up The Wounded Kingdom Trilogy. I will be adding Barker’s next series – The Tide Child Trilogy – to my TBR because of how much I enjoyed these three books. 

Overall Series Cumulative Rating: 14.5/15 Stars

Thanks for stopping by KP’s Pages and let me know your thoughts and opinions on the series.

Unsouled (Cradle #1) by Will Wight

Synopsis: Sacred artists follow a thousand Paths to power, using their souls to control the forces of the natural world.

Lindon is Unsouled, forbidden to learn the sacred arts of his clan.

When faced with a looming fate he cannot ignore, he must defy his family’s rules…and forge his own Path

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I was excited to jump into the Cradle Series as I’ve heard great things about it by many of the bloggers I follow. However, beyond knowing that it was well liked, I knew very little about the series and had no expectations going into it. I also decided it was time to try an audiobook – something I had been thinking about for a while but just never got around to it. I am really glad that I did as it was a really fun experience. The narrator, Travis Baldree, was excellent and made it so easy to become immersed in the story. I will definitely continue to listen to audiobooks because of Baldree’s performance. I really appreciated the ability to take the story with me on walks.

Unsouled is the first entry in a 12 book series. It is an Eastern-inspired fantasy that includes a great magic system and is based in a well created world. The story follows Wei Shi Lindon, an Unsouled – without an affinity for magic – who is barred from learning the sacred arts of his clan. Lindon has to think creatively to overcome obstacles and find his way on to the path of the sacred arts.

As this is the first installment in a fairly large series, it does a really great job setting the scene. Wight methodically develops the world, introduces the reader to the magic system and provides the adequate time to become acquainted with the main character. And while the pacing was a little slow in the first half of the book, the second half was really enthralling. The slow build up didn’t bother me and I think it will really pay off as you progress through the series.

Here are some of my favorite aspects of the book.

The magic system:

  • Felt both original and intricate
  • The source of power is based in the core of one’s soul (madra) to control the forces of nature
  • Includes interesting magical artifacts
  • Requires mastery and can be dangerous if not careful
  • Includes leveling up

Solid main character, Wei Shi Lindon:

  • Embraced being an underdog
  • Showed great determination and will power
  • Kind hearted despite that he was continually treated as an outcast
  • Found creative and cunning ways to progress

Great world building:

  • Complex world with incredible potential
  • Awesome sacred arts villages
  • Atmospheric scenes 

Unsouled is a great first entry and I am excited to continue on in the series. I have purchased both the physical and audio copies of books one and two. I am looking forward to listening to Travis Baldree narrate book two, Soulsmith. Are you making your way through the Cradle Series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for stopping by KP’s Pages. 

A Series Review: Of Blood and Bone by John Gwynne

I went into A Time of Dread with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was so excited to be back in the Banished Lands, but on the other, I was a bit nervous as The Faithful and the Fallen is one of my all time favorite series. Could it live up to the incredibly high expectations I built up in my head? How could Gwynne possibly create characters that could match the likes of Corbyn, Storm, Maquin, Cywen, Gar, Varadis, Brina, Camlin and many more? Well he did, of course he did – Gwynne is a master storyteller and character creator! I loved the cast in Of Blood and Bone just as much. This series was simply awesome and I had to binge read it. The minute I was done with one book, I dove into the next. And while I have heard that you can jump into the Of Blood and Bone series without reading The Faithful and the Fallen, I wouldn’t recommend it. I think the experience is much better if you start with Malice and go from there. Overall, the stories of the Banished Lands are some of the best! Gwynne is one of my all time favorite authors and I will always buy whatever he puts out!

Below you can find my thoughts on each of the three books.  

Book one: A Time of Dread

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis: A race of warrior angels, the Ben-Elim, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands, but their peace is brutally enforced.

In the south, hotheaded Riv is desperate to join the Ben-Elim’s peacekeeping force, until she unearths a deadly secret.

In the west, the giantess Sig investigates demon sightings and discovers signs of an uprising and black magic.

And in the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests. The work of a predator, or something far darker?

It’s a time of shifting loyalties and world-changing dangers. Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise… (goodreads)

It only took a few pages to remind me of just how much I love the world Gwynne created. This first installment is a wonderful return to the Banished Lands but had a bit of a darker feel from the onset. Over a hundred years have passed since that epic day – now referred to as Day of Wrath – and times have changed. These changes set up the plot for the series and we learn that the Ben-Elim are “in charge” of keeping the peace in the Lands. Gwynne methodically set up the storyline in this first installment and the pacing increased as you made your way through the book. The build up to the climax is one of my favorite things about Gwynne’s writing. You can literally feel the tension building chapter after chapter.

As I mentioned in my intro above, I think it is helpful to have read The Faithful and the Fallen series as you will have a much better understanding of the world Gwynne has created. The nostalgia hits hard when reading about familiar lands such as Drassil and the Forn Forest. And as time has passed, the world has changed. I really enjoyed learning about new cities and the changed landscapes – in short, the worldbuilding of the Banished Lands was excellent in this book. I loved how I felt both a sense of familiarity and the excitement of adventuring into newly created realms.

If you have ready any of my previous reviews you know that characters make or break a book for me. Gwynne is second to none in his character development. His ability to connect the reader with the cast is amazing. I find myself thinking about his characters all the time and they are some of my absolute favorites. Gwynne writes the most lovable protagonists and equally hateable villains – even those villains are so intriguing to read about. Again, he deploys a multiple character POV for this series. This time we follow along a smaller main cast as it focuses on four main characters. I quickly took a liking and felt a bond with each. And have no fear, we see a few familiar names and faces throughout the series! 

“Sometimes the only answer is blood and steel.”

A Time of Dread was an incredible first entry to the series and created an immediate need to dive into book two. Any worries of this series living up to my expectations was quickly dismissed and I knew this would be a new favorite of mine.  

Book Two: A Time of Blood

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Defy the darkness. Defend the light.

Drem and his friends flee the battle at Starstone Lake to warn the Order of the Bright Star. They’ve witnessed horrors they’ll never forget, such as magic warping men into beasts. But worst of all, they’ve seen a demon rise from the dead – making it even more powerful. Now Fritha, the demons’ high priestess, is hunting Drem’s party.

Concealed in Forn Forest, Riv struggles to understand her half-breed heritage. She represents the warrior angels’ biggest secret, one which could break their society. And when she’s found by the Ben-Elim’s high captain, he swoops in for the kill.

As demonic forces multiply, they send a mighty war-host to overthrow the angel’s stronghold. This could decimate the fractured Ben-Elim. And their allies in the Order may be too overwhelmed to send aid – with Fritha and her monstrous beasts closing in. Like heroes of old, Drem and the Bright Star’s warriors must battle to save their land. But can the light triumph when the dark is rising?

A Time of Blood is the spectacular follow-up to John Gwynne’s A Time of Dread. (goodreads)

This second installment picked up immediately after the conclusion of A Time of Dread. The thing I quickly noticed with this entry is the pacing – it is fast paced and really well done. Chapters rolled into one another with loads of action and suspense. I can’t even count how many times I said I am going to read just one more chapter. Gwynne had me completely captivated. And while the first book was mainly focused on setup, this second book provided lots of action and intrigue.

In terms of character development, Gwynne sets the hooks even deeper with the bonds I felt for the main characters. Bleda, Drem and Riv are amazing characters. I truly felt such a great connection with those three – each felt so real. Gwynne excels at writing about friendship, love and faith in one another – I can’t think of anyone that does it better. With that said, those that have read Gwynne’s work know that he isn’t afraid to hurt or even kill off those characters that you have come to love. There is no exception in this series. As a result, my heart is in my throat for most of this book! I do not want to inadvertently provide spoilers so I will leave it at that. I also loved how the reader gets better acquainted with the side cast in book two. We also learned a lot more about Fritha in this installment. She is one of those love to hate types of characters and I really enjoyed her arc in this entry. 

“The heart cannot be ruled, but it can be fooled.”

The other thing that I am so impressed with in this book and it should come as no surprise, is the battle sequences. Gwynne writes an exceptional battle scene. They are so very detailed and realistic. I am often left breathless from the encounters. In particular, I loved the archery work – it often felt as though I was pulling back the bow and releasing the arrow myself. It included ancient magic, incredible sword work, feral beasts, giants and great mid-air duals. The amazing fight scenes have become a hallmark of Gwynne’s work.

A Time of Blood was a great second book and I expected nothing less. After I finished book two, there was no way I was stopping and I immediately started the finale, A Time of Courage.

Book Three: A Time of Courage

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Battle the dark

Reclaim the world

The Demon-King of the Otherworld is finally free. And armed with mighty new starstone weapons, Asroth prepares to lead his demonic war-host south. With the help of his dark bride Fritha, he plans to crush the warrior-angels and their allies.

In the shadows of Forn Forest, Riv and the surviving Ben-Elim hold a war council. After the catastrophic events at Drassil, they are desperate to unite those who would stand against Asroth and his army. So they fly west, to join the Order of the Bright Star. But Drem and the Order are besieged by a demon horde – and their fragile defence may soon shatter.

Across the Banished Lands armies are heading south, to settle ancient grudges and decide the fate of humanity. Drem, Riv and the Bright Star’s warriors will need every ounce of their courage if they are to join the final battle. But will their combined forces be enough to face down their greatest foe? (goodreads)

I went into this finale with all sorts of feelings. I was so anxious to find out how things would go and at the same time I was also sad that this would be the end of my Banished Lands journey. And what an epic conclusion it was. This felt like not only a finale to this series but also to the previous books that take place in these lands. It was a classic good versus evil battle where both sides were willing to do whatever it took. A Time of Courage tied together the themes of this series so well – friendship, love, hope, justice and of course truth and courage!

While I thought the pacing and action scenes were very good in A Time of Blood, they were even better in this finale. The buildup and the battles themselves were absolutely epic. The action kept coming and coming and I honestly couldn’t get enough of it. The book as a whole flew by, but the final 250 or so pages were simply incredible. There was no way you were getting me to stop until I finished; I was so completely immersed in this story. Gwynne is one of the best at capturing my attention. 

I know that I am repeating myself here, but no one is better at developing characters and creating that bond between reader and the cast. I became so attached to many of these characters. It was as if I was actually there physically with them in those final battle scenes. I felt their pain, their loss and their triumph. I closed my eyes in fear, held my breath in anticipation, shed a tear because of death and pumped my fist in victory! Gwynne just knows how to bring out all of your emotions. Bleda, Drem, and Riv will join Corbyn et al as some of my favorite characters of all time. Plus, how good is Gwynne at incorporating animal companions into his stories! Hammer, Friend, Fen and Rab will join the likes of Storm, Craf, Mouse and of course Nighteyes as some of my favorite animals in fantasy. And I love this quote from Bleda:

“‘You may think of us as cold, aloof.’ Bleda said, ‘because we wear a face of stone, but that is our shield, for our enemies. Inside we are fierce and proud, passionate.’ He punched his chest. ‘Our love is a fire, our loyalty a rock, our enmity a curse.’”

I’m sure by now you are sick of hearing me gush about this series. The Of Blood and Bone series is now easily one of my all time favorites alongside The Faithful and the Fallen. The seven books of the Banished Lands are truly amazing. Gwynne has cemented himself as one of my favorite authors and I cannot wait for his next book The Shadow of Gods, book one of The Bloodsworn Trilogy. I cannot recommend the Of Blood and Bone series enough. Go read it!

Overall Series Cumulative Rating: 15/15 Stars

Thanks for stopping by KP’s Pages and let me know your thoughts and opinions on the series.  

Christmas and January Book Hauls!

I was planning on doing a Christmas book haul, but by the time I got around to it, it was halfway through January. So, I figured I would just combine my Christmas and January hauls together. Plus, many of the books I purchased in January were from gift cards. I guess merging the two was meant to be. If this haul is any indication of my reading year ahead, I think it will be a great one! Here are the books I acquired over the past month.

The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, and The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time books 1-3) by Robert Jordan 

The Wheel of Time is one of my priority series for 2021. And it needs no introduction. I received the first three books of the series for Christmas and I absolutely love these hardcovers! I am really excited to get started.

The Wounded Kingdom Series by RJ Barker

I picked up the full set as this is also a series I am prioritizing this year. I plan to get started in February and am very much looking forward to it.

Brother Red by Adrian Selby

I need to start by thanking Angela Man and Orbit Books for sending this! I have read some really great reviews on it and cannot wait to dive in. I definitely moved this up my TBR and will be reading it very soon.

Unsouled and Soulsmith (Cradle volumes 1 and 2) by Will Wight 

I am just starting to get into audiobooks and I started with Unsouled by Will Wight. This book was excellent and I am very excited to continue on with the Cradle series. Narrator Travis Baldree captured my attention and I will most definitely be listening to Soulsmith; I should be starting that this week. I absolutely needed to pick up the hard copies for my collection.  

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Divine Cities Trilogy is another series I am focusing on in 2021. I picked up book one and will be buying the other two in the series at some point in the near future. This series has been on my TBR for some time and I have heard great things about Robert Jackson Bennett. 

Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

Many bloggers have spoken very highly of Michael J. Sullivan’s work and when I saw that he was having a winter sale on his website, I couldn’t pass it up. When you buy directly from Sullivan, you get your books signed and there were bonus bookmarks too! While I wasn’t planning on getting to this series in 2021, I am hoping to make time for it.

Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Last but not least is Side Jobs by Jim Butcher, which was also a Christmas gift. I really love the Dresden Files and am really happy I received this. It will be fun reading these short stories and I am anxious to read Aftermath, which takes place an hour or two after the end of Changes. I will hopefully be adding Brief Cases to my collection sometime soon. 

Not a bad haul! Did you add any books to your collection over the past month or two? Any of the books I mentioned above catch your attention? Let me know in the comments and thanks for stopping by. 

An Update on KP’s Pages for 2021

Happy new year and I hope you all had a joyous and healthy holiday season. And here is hoping for a much improved 2021! This past year has been a difficult one for multiple reasons, but there are plenty of positives too. Starting with the most important one, last year provided the gift of extra time at home with my wife and kids. This would not have happened if not for the pandemic (when life gives you lemons – make lemonade). I also found the courage to create this blog – something I wanted to do for a long time but didn’t know where to start. I was worried about putting myself out there in the blogging world; would anyone actually read it? Working on KP’s Pages has been a great learning experience and I continue to figure out what I want to accomplish in this space. Finally, I had a really great reading year in 2020 – the most I have read in a single year – where I was able to escape into fantastical worlds and not worry about what was going on in the real world.

This brings me to the point of this post, I swear my intention was not just to ramble on. I have been reflecting a bit on what I have been able to do with this blog, in its short existence, and I came to a few realizations. I jumped into this head first and tried to review every single book I read over the past six months. I was starting to burn myself out and I realized I needed to better balance my time. In many ways, the fun of reading was starting to diminish because I was always worried about writing a proper review. So much so, that I contemplated deleting the blog and moving on. But I remembered how much I enjoy talking/writing about books and I have put a lot of work into KP’s Pages.

Where does that leave me now? I decided to take a week off of Twitter and blogging to really contemplate what direction to go in. It forced me to think back on what I really enjoyed and that is reading awesome fantasy books and being a part of the fantasy book community. I don’t want to take anything away from that. So, I started to think about what types of posts I’ll enjoy writing the most and I had a light-bulb moment. I figured out how I want to move forward with this blog, at least for the immediate future. I plan to write about 2-3 posts a month, with a focus on the following topics: monthly reading plans, book hauls, series reviews, and monthly wrap ups that will include mini reviews of the books I finished. And I will still include full reviews when the timing works.

I am hoping this change will reduce the pressure I have been putting on myself. For now, I am excited about the direction I am taking KP’s Pages. What are your plans for 2021 – be it reading, blogging and life in general. As always, thanks for taking the time to read my posts. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

Cold Days (The Dresden Files #14) by Jim Butcher

Synopsis: You can’t keep a good wizard down – even when he wants to stay that way.

For years, Harry Dresden has been Chicago’s only professional wizard, but a bargain made in desperation with the Queen of Air and Darkness has forced him into a new job: professional killer.

Mab, the mother of wicked faeries, has restored the mostly-dead wizard to health, and dispatches him upon his first mission – to bring death to an immortal. Even as he grapples with the impossible task, Dresden learns of a looming danger to Demonreach, the living island hidden upon Lake Michigan, a place whose true purpose and dark potential have the potential to destroy billions and to land Dresden in the deepest trouble he has ever known – even deeper than being dead. How messed up is that?

Beset by his new enemies and hounded by the old, Dresden has only twenty four hours to reconnect with his old allies, prevent a cataclysm and do the impossible – all while the power he bargained to get – but never meant to keep – lays siege to his very soul.

Magic. It can get a guy killed. (goodreads)

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

It is hard to believe I am already through book 14 of The Dresden Files. I started the series about 6 months ago and never really thought about a timeline to finish. I figured I would take my time and read a book here and there. However, I have loved it so much that I found myself coming back to it time after time, regardless of my ever growing TBR. In a way, this has become a comfort series for me as I have not been let down by any of the books. I can count on Butcher delivering an intriguing and enjoyable read each time I pick up the Dresden Files. And Cold Days was another awesome entry. I am going to focus on the three things I really enjoyed about this book – the plot, the characters and the action scenes.

In terms of the plot, Harry is assigned his first mission as the Winter Knight and to no one’s surprise it is a doozy. You know things are going to get crazy whenever Mab is involved. Harry faced many difficult situations that tested both his skill and his power. Speaking of power, there were several instances where he had to decide how far he was willing to go – an ongoing theme in the series. Butcher brought the reader through many twists and turns and there was a brief moment where I was worried that things were on the brink of being overly complicated, but it all came together brilliantly in the end. As I have mentioned in many of my reviews on this series, the ending is always amazing. The last 100 pages flew by and you would have had to pry it out of my hands to stop me from reading. 

I was really curious about how Harry was going to be reunited with his friends. This was something he struggled with, because not only did he have to figure out what to say but he also feared that seeing his friends would involve them in his current case. Ultimately the band got back together and we saw many of our favorites including Molly, Thomas, Butters, Mouse and Toot-Toot. Molly has become such an integral part of the series and I look forward to seeing how things continue to progress with her. There also seems to be an interesting backstory with Mac that I am anxious to learn more about. And of course we continue to experience the back and forth relationship of Harry and Murphy.

In terms of supernaturals, this installment focuses on the Faerie Courts and the Wyldfae. We meet some interesting fae and the Erlking makes another appearance. I always enjoy reading about the Lord of the Goblins! We also get more insight into the Outsiders which was first introduced in Death Masks. They are a fierce foe. The characters make the series for me and were a huge part of why this book was so good. I must admit that I enjoy the books that feature the Faerie Courts – something I was not so sure about in the beginning of the series. 

Finally, the action sequences were so well done in Cold Days. The pacing was spot on and the level of detail was just right. As the stakes continued to get higher, Butcher rose to the occasion and wrote appropriately epic battle scenes. The final chapters at Demonreach were amazing!

I cannot end this review without mentioning that while the series has taken a bit of a darker tone, Butcher has balanced it out with humor. I can always count on Harry coming up with a great nickname (Sharkface in this instance) and I really enjoyed all of the Star Wars references. This was another awesome read and I’m looking forward to Skin Game. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Happy New Year!

Top 10 Books I Read in 2020

So the year is coming to an end and I must admit I am not sorry to see it go. While this was a difficult year for many reasons, it was a really good year on the book front. I had been wanting to start my own fantasy book blog for a while, but always found it a bit daunting and held back. In July, I finally decided to go for it and created KP’s Pages. I am so glad that I did as it has been so rewarding and has connected me to such an awesome community. This was one of my best reading years ever and I think that is reflected in my top 10 list below. Ranking these awesome books was no easy task and the margins between each were so thin. I applied the following criteria for my rankings:

  • One book per author (as hard as this was)
  • Did not count rereads

10. The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids (Amra Thetys #1) by Michael McClung 

9. Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

8. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch

7. The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

6. The Siege of Abythos (Chronicles of the Black Gate #3) by Phil Tucker

5. Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1) by Robin Hobb

4. The Light of All That Falls (The Licanius Trilogy #3) by James Islington

3. A Chorus of Fire (The Sorcerer’s Song #2) by Brian D. Anderson

2. Changes (The Dresden Files #12) by Jim Butcher

  1. Ruin (The Faithful and the Fallen #3) by John Gwynne

Thank you to all that have read my blog in 2020. I am so excited for my reading plans in 2021 and look forward to sharing that content here. Happy New Year!

A Chorus of Fire (The Sorcerer’s Song #2) by Brian D. Anderson

I read book 1 of the series – The Bard’s Blade – in April and absolutely loved it. I gave it 5/5 stars and it was one of the most fun reads of the year. So, I was very excited to return to this world. I had very high hopes for this second book and Anderson nailed it! This second installment was equally good and probably even slightly better. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis: The second book in a new epic fantasy trilogy from successful self-published author, perfect for fans of the Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth.

A shadow has moved across Lamoria. Whispers of the coming conflict are growing louder; the enemy becoming bolder. Belkar’s reach has extended far into the heart of Ralmarstad and war now seems inevitable.

Mariyah, clinging to the hope of one day being reunited with Lem, struggles to attain the power she will need to make the world safe again. But a power like this is not easily acquired and will test the limits of her mind and body. She will need to look deep inside herself to find the strength to achieve what even the Thaumas of old could not.

Lem continues his descent into darkness, serving a man he does not trust in the name of a faith which is not his own. Only Shemi keeps his heart from succumbing to despair, along with the knowledge that he has finally found Mariyah. But Lem is convinced she is being held against her will, and compelled to do the bidding of her captors. He is determined to free her, regardless the cost.

Their separate roads are leading them to the same destination. And once they arrive they will have to confront more than the power of Belkar. They will have to face themselves and what Lamoria has forced them to become. (goodreads)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I have to start by saying how much I enjoy Anderson’s writing. His books are so easy to read and get through. I say that absolutely as a compliment. I feel like there is such good flow and I really like his prose. There were several times that I looked down at the page number and was shocked at how far I progressed. The writing is so engaging; it is really easy to immerse yourself in this story.

My favorite part of the series is the two main characters Lem and Mariyah. Their development is so well done and this is a very character driven series – one of the many reasons why I love it so much. It was easy to feel as though you were right there alongside them step for step through their journey. Their emotions pulsed off the pages and you experienced the pains, the struggles, the guilt, the hope, the wonder, and most importantly their love for one another. And it was impressive how both were able to push forward with their given tasks while maintaining their ultimate desire of reuniting, even if it would take some time. Their loyalty to one another is admirable, particularly as each faced a multitude of temptations. Simply put, these two felt real.

Another area that caught my attention was the worldbuilding and lore. Anderson masterfully set the scene in book one and continued that through this second installment. A Chorus of Fire provided the reader with the history of Kylor and the characters traveled around to new, exciting locations. I must say that my favorite scene was when Lem travelled to the Bard’s College. The time at the College was only a chapter or two, but I wish there were many more as I loved the time spent there. In many ways it felt nostalgic and brought me back to my times at University. It made me reminisce of when I was at the library cafe enjoying a delicious cup of coffee and preparing for exams or completing an assignment. I relished every minute spent at the Bard’s College.

This series also makes me wonder why there aren’t more books that feature a bard as the main character. Music is a universal language that so many can connect with. Why not use that as a foundation for a series? And while there isn’t quite as much music in this book, it is still a prominent part of the trilogy; one which makes it stand out from others in the genre. We started to get a hint of a bard’s true power in this second book and I cannot wait to see if we get a deeper dive in the finale. 

I can’t end my post without mentioning two other things that I love about this series and that is the cover art and the epigraphs. The cover art in this series is simply stunning! Felix Ortiz has definitely caught my attention and I can’t wait to see what the cover of book 3 looks like. Additionally, Anderson provided epigraphs for each chapter in the series. I loved every single one and often found myself looking forward to the next chapter so that I could see what would come next. Here are a two that really stuck out to me in A Chorus of Fire:

“Within us all hides a secret – one that most never bother to seek out. For its discovery will lay the soul bare and reveal who we truly are. For most, this is a terrifying prospect. And why the world remains shrouded in ignorance.” 

“The deadliest foe is one without hope.” 

As I continue to reflect on these books, I realize more and more how much I love this high fantasy series. I flew through both books 1 and 2 and simply could not get enough. And now the hard part, waiting for the third and final installment. I am really looking forward to the finale. I can’t recommend this story enough.  

My Five Priority Series for 2021

As a difficult year comes to an end I am excited about the possibilities for 2021. A new year brings hope. And it provides a fresh opportunity to develop reading goals for the next twelve months. The task of thinking about what to read next can be daunting, considering all the great books out there. I have found that having a reading plan helps keep me on track and accountable. I have also found that I need to allow for some flexibility because you never know what life will throw at you, or even more simply what you may be in the mood for at that moment. That is why I chose five series to focus on over the next year. In order to qualify, I decided to pick a series that I haven’t started yet. So in addition to these five, there are many other series that I am in the middle of and will continue throughout 2021. Below I will mention the series, but provide the cover and synopsis for the first book. Here’s to a great 2021!

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (completed by Brandon Sanderson) 

Synopsis: The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. (goodreads)

The Wheel of Time needs no introduction – a giant in the fantasy genre. This is a series that I have always wanted to read and knew that I would get to at some point. But, it was always a bit daunting. I decided it was time to take the leap and I am committing to the series in 2021. I am so excited to get this started.

Of Blood and Bone by John Gwynne

Synopsis: A race of warrior angels, the Ben-Elim, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands, but their peace is brutally enforced.

In the south, hotheaded Riv is desperate to join the Ben-Elim’s peacekeeping force, until she unearths a deadly secret.

In the west, the giantess Sig investigates demon sightings and discovers signs of an uprising and black magic.

And in the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests. The work of a predator, or something far darker?

It’s a time of shifting loyalties and world-changing dangers. Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise… (goodreads) 

I am so pumped to read this series! The Faithful and the Fallen is one of the best series I have read this year and one of my all time favorites. It was also my first blog post for KP’s Pages and therefore will always have sentimental value for me. Simply, John Gwynne is an incredible storyteller. He is on my auto-purchase list and I plan to always read his work. I have heard so many great things about the Of Blood and Bone series and cannot wait to get back into the Banished Lands. Truth and Courage! 

The Mistborn Saga by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis: For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? (goodreads)

This is another series that I have been very anxious to get to. Many of the book bloggers I follow and respect love this series, so I have a great feeling about it. I got my first taste of the Cosmere this year with Elantris and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to my return to the Cosmere in 2021. 

The Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett

Synopsis: The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions — until its divine protectors were killed. Now, Bulikov’s history has been censored and erased, its citizens subjugated. But the surreal landscape of the city itself, forever altered by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it, stands as a haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched — along with her terrifying “secretary”, Sigrud — to solve a murder.

But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem, and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

A tale of vast conspiracies, dead gods, and buried histories, City of Stairs is at once a gripping spy novel and a stunningly original work of fantasy.

I have heard some great things about the series and the author. It has been on my TBR and I am definitely intrigued. I am looking forward to jumping in.

The Wounded Kingdom Series by RJ Barker 

Synopsis: To catch an assassin, use an assassin…

Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom. (goodreads)

I actually do not know a lot about this series. However, look at the synopsis of book one above – it sounds amazing! I love a good assassin story and figured this would be a great read.

So there you have it – my five priority series for next year. Have you read any of the above series? What are your reading plans for 2021? Let me know in the comments and Happy New Year!