Book Review – The Girl and the Stars

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

If I decided to use a five-star system this book is an easy 5/5.

But I don’t, so you can ignore that.

Lawrence’s newest series, the Book of the Ice is set in the same world as The Book of the Ancestor. If this isn’t something you’ve read, I would highly recommend you changing that as soon as possible. It isn’t necessary so you can skip over if you feel so inclined, but a lot of the lore and information you will be given is easier to understand if you go back. The major reason for going back is getting to see the world Lawrence has written, potentially one of my favourite and imaginative worlds in recent years. The world of Abeth is dying, its sun unable to stop the encroaching Ice Age that creeps from both poles, the last defence of man is a  barely functioning man-made moon that refracts the suns light into the corridor, a 50-mile-wide strip of land around the equator that’s slowly getting smaller year by year. The inhabitants of Abeth fighting each other for the scraps of what the ice hasn’t taken.

How fucking amazing does that sound?

The Book of the Ancestor focused on Nona Grey, a girl living in the corridor. Lawrence decided to stick to this incredible world but also explore the rest of Abeth this time round. Small tribes that live out on the ice, nomads, always moving, who can barely leave the safety of their clothing, spending most of their lives even unable to touch each other for fear of a quick and icy death.

As I said, how fucking amazing does that sound?

Our story focuses on Yaz, a sixteen-year-old girl from the Ithca tribe, we enter as they travel to the Pit of the Missing where the children of the tribes are tested for any signs of “weakness”. Weakness isn’t allowed to exist on the ice, and anyone not considered whole and strong is swiftly pushed down the hole, it is where all the broken must go.

“In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.”

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

Yaz knows she isn’t the same as the rest of the Ithca, she can’t run as far, she isn’t as strong, she feels the cold that little bit more, she knows when she arrives it is her time, she is destined to go into the dark depths of the hole and never to been seen again. However, Yaz is wrong, the regulators decide she has greater thing in store, but things quickly things change when she follows her twelve-year-old brother Zeen who’s been pushed down the hole instead.

“Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.”

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

This is the first sentence of the book, and I felt Lawrence really came out of the gates swinging with this and god damn what a start, it’s not often that a two-page prologue manages to get me so hyped. That energy never really disappears during the entire book, at no point did it feel boring or lacking. We get a tiny lull in the middle but honestly, I felt that was only a lull because the rest of the book was so exciting. Having a world that’s already been set really helps with this as we get to skip straight into the story, we don’t need the too common first book data dump or slow setup, we know of the tribes and the four bloods, we know (or really don’t know, I guess) about the missing and the technology they left behind. But even though this is the same world we already know it feels so different, the people of the corridor actually know so little of the rest of the world and that quickly shows. Then on the flipside and what was remarkably interesting was that the tribes do not even believe in the existence of the corridor,  the contact isn’t there, the people of the tribes haven’t seen a tree, or a butterfly, they can’t wander down to the local market. What we get is almost a completely new setting, barely stained by any previous events, but with the framework of a truly incredibly, well written world. The Caves and the undercity were incredibly exciting to read about and I’m glad so much of the story was spent in the ruins of the old city. I’m a big fan of Lawrence’s post-apocalyptic settings, the tie in of barely understood technology into everyday life, and the story that is slowly put together looks like we will get to see more of that than we’ve seen before.  Lawrence really fleshed this new Abeth with some of the best writing I’ve seen from him so far, as with anything practise makes perfect and you can see the continued evolution of Lawrence’s talent. There were some beautiful prose and every setting Yaz visits was painted beautifully without being unnecessarily over the top, I was super happy to not find myself skipping over paragraphs of prose that didn’t need to be written which is often the case and for myself a real tell of how good the writing really was.

As per usual Lawrence’s book follow a single person perspective with its usual array of supporting characters, Yaz is a well written and exciting main character to follow. She isn’t in any way wildly different from the classic fantasy protagonist, I do like Lawrence’s continued theme of not writing characters that have these massively preordained destinies or the “chosen one” which is seen all too often. We have a brave and smart teenage girl who is following her instincts and making mistakes along the way, she does seem to be on the stronger side of magic users in Abeth, but this is likely just due to her being out on the ice were people with the old blood have been slowly bred out, I’m not sure if she was against Nona she would seem all that special. The other supporting members of the cast were all enjoyable to read about and fell into their parts of the story well, there were a few stand outs for me; Maya is a bad bitch and I hope our little shadow assassin continues to be in the story. Erris and Elias both came into the story perfectly, super exciting chapters, revealing just enough to really keep you tense. Thurin was a great secondary to Yaz for the first part of the book and I think the portrayal of a survivor was done well, you felt his pain and fear as you found out more about him. As a whole, the Broken as a group were written beautifully, the pain and misery were heavily felt, these people had been abandoned to what was barely a life, slaving away for the people above ground without really knowing it, spending every day in fear of death, or worse.

“At first glance it’s an action-packed high-stakes adventure. Scratch a little deeper and it’s about right and wrong in a place where the two can be hard to disentangle.”

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

Theus and the tainted were incredible boogeymen, and as the book went on you really started to struggle to see the lines as they blurred between good and bad (don’t get me wrong, I hope all the priests of the Black Rock are murdered off). It was fantastic to really see the demons come into the story in a bigger way, finally finding out where they are from and how they were made. It really makes me excited to see where the Theus character arc goes, as he finds more missing parts of himself and becomes more complete, it makes you question whether he will stray from being the villain to being something closer to a hero? And does the Missing’s name maybe have less to do with the fact they are missing from the world but more to do with the fact they are missing what made them human in the first place? I think we are getting to see the reason for the Missing’s downfall and that really excites me.

 I agree with some people’s views that this book felt a little more YA than some of Lawrence’s previous entries and even then, it’s a very tiny agreement, and in no way is that a bad thing. I at points wished that the book focused a little less on the boy’s feelings for Yaz, the introduction of what I can only call a love square wasn’t needed (Quell returning out of nowhere was probably the only bit of the book I didn’t enjoy, his character should have stayed topside). But overall, the book felt to me more grimdark than some of the previous series, we have what really feels like a bleak and hopeless world, regardless of those living above the ice or below, every day is just scraping another day of survival with very little joy.

“The world turns whether we will it or not and everything, longed for or feared, comes to us in time.”

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Stars really is the peak of Lawrence’s writing so far, an incredibly well written first entry into what will be a magnificent series. I’m writing this review a couple months off from the The Girl and the Mountain release date and couldn’t be more exited to get my hands on it and I won’t be letting this one sit on my shelf for close to a year this time.

tl;dr Read the damn book, its great.

Thanks for reading


My most anticipated reads of 2021.

I know Ive missed a ton of what will be amazing reads for this year, this is just my list for what Im excited for. In no particular order…

Thank you for reading.

John Gwynne – Shadow of the Gods


“After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrid.

Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

As whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls under the shadow of the gods . . .”

John Gwynne is a truly incredible author and is constantly at war for my number one spot. His two  series so far have both been amazing, seven books and not one boring, or really any flaws to speak of. I feel Gwynne’s writing excels really in all areas, his world building is fantastic, he really knows how to write a world that feels new and unique which I find incredibly hard to do in Fantasy, now branching out from the Banished Lands we all love so,  I really can’t wait for his take on Nord Culture and how he makes this new world feel as compelling and interesting as before. His ability to write entertaining and interesting characters is another major strength, I’ve yet to come across someone in these books I’ve wanted to skip over, and Gwynne writes people you fall in love with, the lack of Corban from this first series to his next stopped me reading it for maybe three years?

This could be the fantasy book of 2021. (I mean he has to go against a Joe Abercrombie finale? 2021 is a good year)

The Pariah – Ryan Anthony


“Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?”

How damn amazing is that cover? Fuck.

Ryan Anthony is a writer that just keeps on getting better, I’ve been a big fan since finding Blood Song on the shelves of Waterstones and since then have eagerly brought every book on release day. Vaelin Al Sorna is one of my favourite characters to this day. His first series has some very opinionated viewpoints and is easy to see why, The Blood Song was an incredible book focusing completely on Al Sorna and his journey from child to adult, his following books tried to expand their scope and world and there are some plot holes and dips in writing, but anyone who says to not read them is crazy. His Draconis Memoria series was a shining return to his former writing and showcased some incredible world building, a new take of Dragons which is definitely hard. Anthony then returned to the world of Vaelin and really showed us how much he wanted to redeem himself with an incredible story.

One thing Anthony’s never struggled with is his ability to write swordplay, action and war in his books are always tense and completely absorbing. If you love books with a good amount of bloodshed then this will be one for you, this book sounds action packed and that’s enough to make me hit that preorder button. I can’t wait to see what Anthony does with a brand-new world.

Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff


“It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.”

Vampires have been ruined since the days of Sparkly boys and love triangles involving werewolves, but if anyone can make me want to read a Vampire book its going to be Jay Kristoff. I see some mixed reviews of his books and to be honest I’ve only read The Nevernight Chronicles but holy shit they are good, and I disagree with anyone that says otherwise. There’s one sentence I like to use to describe Kristoff’s writing and its this.

“Cock is just another word for ‘fool.’ But you call someone a cunt, well…” The girl smiled. “You’re implying a sense of malice there. An intent. Malevolent and self-aware. Don’t think I name Consul Scaeva a cunt to gift him insult. Cunts have brains, Don Tric. Cunts have teeth. Someone calls you a cunt, you take it as a compliment. As a sign that folks believe you’re not to be lightly fucked with.”

NeverNight – Jay Kristoff

The premise for this book sounds fantastic, maybe it’s just because I hide away from anything containing a Vampire, but this sounds new and refreshing, Kristoff writes fantastic characters and fantastic action and I reckon this will be one of his best books yet.

The Wisdom of Crowds – Joe Abercrombie


Sadly there currently isnt a cover released for The Wisdom of Crowds

“Chaos. Fury. Destruction.

The Great Change is upon us…

Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: The Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies… while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together…”

Oh Joe Abercrombie, King of Grimdark, why do you play with my feelings so? The Wisdom of Crowds is book three of Abercrombie’s newest series, The Age of Madness and the series name really didn’t fuck about, these books have been astounding so far and one you can’t put down once you’ve picked up. We were given a new but familiar feeling set of characters and chucked into the deep end, this has the same wonderous feeling as every Abercrombie book and so far, he’s managed to stun me with every single one, I’m normally good at guessing the plot twists but not this time.

The first book I picked up from Joe was The Heroes, a standalone story which Is a roughly 600-page story of one, three-day battle between the forces of the Union and the North. It was beautiful, it was action packed and I was hooked into Joes world from that point. Logan Nine Fingers continues to be one of my favourite characters to this very day and I don’t think he’s being removed from the top list any time soon, I’m sad he’s been allowed to take a backseat and rest a little, but I really really hope we get to see him again one day.

Action, intrigue, politics, murder, action, and more action. I can’t wait for the final instalment in this series.

The Girl and the Mountain – Mark Lawrence


“On Abeth there is only the ice. And the Black Rock.

For generations the priests of the Black Rock have reached out from their mountain to steer the ice tribes’ fate. With their Hidden God, their magic and their iron, the priests’ rule has never been challenged.
But nobody has ever escaped the Pit of the Missing before.

Yaz has lost her friends and found her enemies. She has a mountain to climb and even if she can break the Hidden God’s power her dream of a green world lies impossibly far to the south across a vast emptiness of ice. Before the journey can even start she must find out what happened to the ones she loves and save those that can be saved.

Abeth holds its secrets close, but the stars shine brighter for Yaz and she means to unlock the truth.

To touch the sky, be prepared to climb”

The Girl and the Stars is only just now my current read, why you ask? Because I was dumb and let it sit on my bookshelf too long, and it’s not a small amount of dumb, it’s a large amount of dumb, because this book has been incredible. I won’t be writing anymore because my next review will be on the first book and I couldn’t be happier that the next book is so close to being released.

Lawrence is a writer who I think just keeps managing to outdo himself. The Broken Empire was my first series and it is good, it wasnt something that really stood out to me but was an entertaining read with good world building and good plot progression. Book of the Ancestor, his last series just exploded to the top of my list out of nowhere. We have some great world building in this series, Lawrence’s classic mix of technology and fantasy have made something unique and special with a shit ton of intrigue and excitement.  Then we have excellent storytelling and character writing, Lawrence doesn’t let up, just throwing event after event, never letting you relax or slow down at any point in the story. The Girl and the Stars is set in the same world as Book of the Ancestor and seems to be another step up in writing, taking the incredible world and chucking some new incredible characters and just continuing to build upon what was already so well done. I can’t wait to see how this story carries on.

I could go on all day but Im not going to, so heres my notable mentions…

The Doors of Stone – Patrick Rothfuss

I don’t know if there any point in listing this honestly, it will be done when its done and I doubt that’s 2021 but a boy can dream hey? I love you forever Rothfuss regardless how long we must wait.

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

Shelley’s debut novel is being described as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and really that should be enough to make you want to buy it then go read the good reads page, people are hyped for this book.

The Thorn of Emberlain – Scott Lynch

Lynch has been dealing with a lot these past years and due to this book four of The Gentleman Bastards has been delayed, but never forgotten. If you’ve never read it The Lies of Locke Lamora is an amazing book and go enjoy it, start now and hopefully book four wont feel to far away.

The Winds of Winter – George RR Martin

Book Six please.

The Black Coast – Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks is unknown to me however his new book sounds like it will be a fantastically enjoyable read, the blurb sounds so exciting and Brooks being a Black Library author should be an excellent author of grimdark action.

Blood of the Chosen – Django Wexler

Ashes of the Sun was one of my big surprises for 2020, I’ve read a couple of Wexler’s books in the past but never been passively gripped till now, the only reason this book isn’t higher on my list is because I’m not certain of the release date. Read Ashes of the Sun if you haven’t.

Furious Heaven – Kate Elliot

The Unconquerable Sun was the same as above, another complete surprise for me, I very rarely pick up sci-fi and this managed to start a domino effect which had me buying and blasting through Jack Campbells Lost Fleet series and authors like John Scalzi. This is expected towards the end of 2021 and if so colour me excited.

Ready Player Two (and kinda Ready Player One?)

Ready Player Two

Ernest Cline

When I started the blog, I said to myself I would try not to write reviews for books I didn’t enjoy. I’m already breaking that rule, and honestly, it’s so bloody hard to write something bad, I know it isn’t the nicest thing but this is my opinion and that’s what this page is for, right? You luckily don’t have to agree with what I write. Now to stop rambling.

I was and still am, an enormous fan of Ready Player One, it’s a flawed book, but it’s short and easy to read, massively entertaining and it was one of those books you pick up and you don’t put down until you’re finished. The demographic I fit into meant the book really appealed to me and tons of similar young nerds obviously felt the same because this book has done exceedingly well. Cline wrote a book filled to the brim with pop culture references and a constant feeling of nostalgia, the range of which meant this was a fun read whether you are fourteen or forty. Its characters were easy to relate to and enjoyable to read, they reminded you of the friends you had and people you knew. I could imagine myself as the main protagonist Wade and the surrounding cast, their decisions and views, their daily struggles and Wade’s poor attempts with women all sung out to me (Sadly). However, the story was what really sold it, what nerd hasn’t wanted to live in a virtual reality world, slaying monsters and going on epic quests? What teenager doesn’t want the power to change their appearance at will? Who doesn’t want the power to escape into a world that feels real? The book had enough great pieces to make it an excellent book and overlook its issues. It was a silly, over the top, escapist fantasy.

It was wonderful.

Ready Player Two isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It’s just very… bleugh,  and sadly this is something I wasn’t surprised with. Armada which Cline released in 2015 was an attempt to move away from the OASIS and build on the same audience as his first book, sadly it was lacklustre. I was excited for the potential of RP2 but was also ready to be potentially disappointed.  

At this point the rest of the entry has a few spoilers so read on at risk.

RP2 starts just nine days after the end of the first book, Halliday leaves Wade a clue which leads him to a piece of unreleased technology called the “Oasis Neural Interface” (ONI), this technology allows users to dive fully into the OASIS, not only experiencing this incredible world with all five senses, but also record their experiences in real life.  The adventure we get from this quickly becomes an attempt to replicate the successes of RP1, a grand quest that goes far and wide across the OASIS, new clues, new easter eggs, new enemies. But it does it worse.

The biggest issue for myself was the first act of our book ripping up our dear Wade and replacing him with something that feels like the bad versions of Bill and Ted from their most excellent adventure. Wade to put it politely is now an arsehole, he’s alienated himself from his friends, his relationship went to shit quickly, and he has locked himself up and become a hermit, abusing his power and wealth to be a pale reflection of what he so hated in the first book. I do understand what Cline was doing with Wade, his slow evolution into Halliday for him to then realise his mistakes and change before it was all too late, the classic redemption arc. Personally, I just couldn’t understand how Wade would have gotten to that point in the first place, the actions and person Wade became was to much of a leap from the Wade we loved.

Ready Player Two gets off to a bad start but I force myself to continue, Wade is no longer someone I want to read about, but our new quest has started, and we get a glimmer of hope, I suddenly  feel back at home as our new adventure begins in earnest. We delve into the action and we find out our Master Gunter, our all-knowing Gunter who was the first to find the eggs is unable to figure out the first clue after years. So instead of persevering he decides to chuck money at the issue, he casually tosses a measly 1 billion dollars as a prize for the information which is eventually scooped up by the “Low Five”; a group that idolises Wade and the gang even though the rest of the OASIS just spend their days talking shit about him now. Then what we are treated to is a quest that seems to be purpose built for the members of the High Five. Every world they visit, every fact they need to know, luckily, they know everything they need because it’s been a key part of their past or they seem to be the worlds leading expert in the area. As our story goes on, we find our excitement deflating as the story spirals into a mass of cliches and confusion. Here was my second biggest problem, and once I realised what was happening was the nail in the coffin, the quest, written about Kira, a woman that was a mystery in the first books, apparently had the exact same likes and hobbies as our four heroes, and this just felt like lazy writing.

Something I did enjoy about this story was Cline’s attempt at writing something a little more “grimdark”, this book felt darker than the prequel, his other books have dealt with issues like slavery and the extinction of humanity, but even so. I do call it an attempt because Clines later you find out that the threats faced weren’t quite what we thought but being a massive fan of people like Joe Abercrombie I love any attempt to go a bit more grimdark.

This was, in conclusion a poor copy of a great book and maybe something I wish hadn’t seen the light of day (this felt a little harsh to write but honestly is true) . I know plenty of people enjoyed this story for similar reasons that they enjoyed the first and I wish I could be one of those people. I also don’t want to continue moaning about someone’s work and passion and honestly writing this was hard because I’m fully aware I’m no great writer, this isn’t a perfect, this might even be a real shit review, I’m plenty flawed as well, but as I said, this is all just opinion.

I hope our tales of the OASIS end here, its time to let a story rest.

Review – The Stone Knife

The Stone Knife               

Anna Stephens

My First review and first book of 2021, and what a book it was. Anna Stephens was an author I found with no prior knowledge, a rare look at paperbacks when Waterstones don’t have any new hardbacks and I was so impressed, the next two books were eagerly devoured and when I heard of Anna’s new series this was an instant buy. I’m just sad it had to wait on the shelf so long before I could read it.

The Stone Knife, book one of The Songs of the Drowned, is set in a new world inspired by Mayan/Aztec culture. The Story revolves around the Tokob and Yalotlan tribes who desperately cling to their very survival, fighting a war on two fronts. The first, the unstoppable Pechaqueh who march to the beat of their blessed song magic, who are bent on ruling the whole region of Ixachipan and bringing back their World Spirit to the land of the living. The second, terrifying monsters who dwell in any water source, using their deadly siren song to lure in anyone who steps to close so they can gorge on their flesh.

Anna uses seven characters to bring us this narrative, and this normally isn’t something I would enjoy. Being the simple man I am I personally prefer single character narratives, I get hooked into who I like and end up feeling animosity to the characters I don’t. However, Stephens does something I find exceedingly rare which is writing seven unique and incredible characters that I loved and didn’t want to be parted from. This was a real game changer for me because ending a chapter didn’t give me that feeling of sadness that I think most people can relate to, realising they must wait for their favourites chapter to come back around (Wheel of time is a perfect example of this for me, sadly). There also isn’t a clear main character in my opinion, which I think is a strange one, every person we read the perspective of feels important and necessary which is something I really enjoyed.

Xessa is the first character we meet (Kinda?), across her opening chapters she comes across as who we would guess as the heroine of our story, strong and unbreakable, fearless and fierce. This would make her share the same story arc as most fantasy novels, what Anna does instead however is makes this character human, very human. We get to see her flaws, her weaknesses and her fears and her fight through these emotions, and not in the same way we see the hero struggle in most books or films (Such as Superman’s constant struggle with just how strong and manly he is). Anna gave us a character we thought would be the hero and went “no” and instead we got someone just holding on like everyone else and the immersion this brings to the story is incredible. This is something that flowed over into every other character and something incredibly enjoyable. Plot protection is real, but in this book I was ready for any of these characters to die at a moments notice. If it isn’t clear, the reason I adored this book so much is down to Anna’s amazing ability to write the people that bring us through this story. Not a single conversation in this book cold or robotic, the humanity and connection you felt to these characters was solidified with an almost perfect writing of emotions, touches between characters were something you could imagine seeing, were natural, not forced, and this is something I think the best authors can struggle with. This was also a massive bonus when we got to a sex scene that wasn’t cringey, overextended or unnecessary. It’s a real pleasure and I think a rarity to find a fantasy author who can write characters as relatable as Anna Stephens can.        

Anna’s character building was the star of this book for me, drawing me in a way that most books don’t manage, but nowhere else did I find anything lacking. We had a fleshed-out world that fell into place as the story was told, knowledge was given very naturally as it was needed, I didn’t have to go back and reread in case I had missed a key part of the story. It also kept a strong mystery to the book as we didn’t have any solid information to go off from the beginning, the song even towards the end of the book is an unknown, there’s extraordinarily little we know about the Drowned because the characters don’t have that knowledge, we find out with them and again that’s another detail that real immerses us in this story and world.

 I like a book with a lot of action and if you’ve read the Godblind trilogy then you Anna delivers on this, combat was fluid, fast and natural, exciting to read about and had you tense when it happened. She also strongly came back with her lack of fear of the gore and gruesome, bringing that heavy grimdark feeling to the story as sometimes you want to read with your hands over your eyes just so you don’t see what’s happening. I read another review about how a reader felt nothing happened, about how they felt like there wasn’t a “oh shit” moment and if you can honestly tell me that’s true than I think we were reading different books. First books in trilogies are normally the slowest ones, we get the world building and the character introduction and then we will get some story points that drive on what will happen over the rest of the series. There’s a chapter halfway through the book that had me gripped in a way I cannot remember very often (When you get to it you will know what I mean) and after that Anna didn’t let go, the rest of the book was nonstop, our end set piece being incredibly tense and entertaining to read. I would also like to point out I’m normally real good at guessing what’s going to happen in a book, were the story will take us next, Anna threw me all over the place and I didn’t have a damn clue what was going to happen, every time I had a grip on the story it would be a “Nah mate, think again”.

This book did remind me quite heavily of Anna’s previous Godblind trilogy. I mean that should be enough to sell it, who needs to write a review hey? We have a completely new setting but something that resembled the same story. Anna’s previous story heavily relied on a lot of what we find in The Stone Knife, Religion and belief continue to be a massive factor in her story telling, but I really believe we see a massive growth in her writing and her talent shines through to new levels. If you loved Godblind you will love this too (I bet money on it).

So, to round out it, tl; dr – This is an excellent first book in Anna Stephens newest series, amazing characters, and a riveting world. I’m so so excited to see what happens in the next one, it will be at the top of my upcoming list so please let’s not wait too long.

Thanks for reading.

You should read these books (If you want to).

You should read these books (If you want to).

I have always hated “Ten books you need to read before you die”, and I dislike elitism in literature. Read what you want, enjoy what you want, do what you want. You can read a book a year or a book a week, but whatever you do just pick ones that you enjoy reading.

I’m currently writing my first review, ever? However, in the meantime I am going to write a quick list of the Fantasy series I would recommend to everyone and anyone. Why? Because they are fucking brilliant. I have a nature of preferring books that include lots of battles, swords, magic and huge set pieces. Be prepared for most of these books to be a little bias towards these.

There are so many more books I want to write about, Ive stuck to well-known series here and I guess that’s not the best, but these are some of my most loved for a reason. I will have to write a part two.

Also for some strange reason I havent included Brandon Sanderson in this post, this is a travesty. But he deserves a more practised writer and his own post…

John Gwynne – Malice, The Faithful and the Fallen

If I had to make a top five, It would be a struggle every day not to put this at the top. So much swordplay, so much action, this is an incredibly entertaining book to read. Gwynne manages to do something that I normally struggle to read, he writes an epic fantasy spanning multiple characters where I do not want to skip a single chapter to get back to the ones with the characters I’m fully absorbed in. Every character in this book is so well written, has so much depth and every chapter is so exciting read. However, what did happen is Gwynne gave us the heroes, our BrightStar Corban and our main good boy, Storm, and I was so emotionally attached to these characters that when this series ended, I couldn’t bring myself to read his next series just because I couldn’t bare reading about a world that didn’t have these people in.  

However, I would like to point out this was dumb because when I finally managed to pick it up it was every part the first series equal.

Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Apprentice, Farseer Trilogy

I think Hobb managed to write possibly one of my favourite characters ever with this series. It has been a long time since I’ve read these so I’m not going to go in depth about this, but I’ve never felt so emotionally attached to towards an imaginary friend. Every time his life seems to be getting just a little bit better someone else comes to mess shit up. Hobb manages to write an incredible world, with unique magic and characters that really draw you in. These books are beautiful and tragic and exciting, and they should be read.

Pierce Brown – Red Rising, Red Rising Saga

(This is technically Sci-Fi, shoot me) Urgh. I’ve read and reread, and I adore. This is the book I used to get my mother to stop reading only non-fiction. These books inspired my first tattoo, I patiently wait for the final instalment of the current series. Roman Space Hunger games on steroids. Action, blood, slingblades, gorydamn. Brown has mastered the technique of cliff-hangers and an author has never made me shout at the ending of a book till this man (Its fine for wheoever is reading this because you don’t have to deal with the gorydamn year long wait for the next book). Try the first book and I can almost promise you won’t regret it, Pierce Brown you beautiful man.

Brian McClellan – Promise of Bloody, The Powder Mage Trilogy

When I walk into waterstones and I pick up books from the new hardback section in my favourite little corner, I must make a choice. I read the blurb, I put some books back and I take some to the tills and I remember thinking how easy it was to not put this back down.

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

Powder mages! what more could you want from a book? All out war, betrayal, battles, magic, and gods. Wonderful.  

Evan Winter – Rage of Dragons, The Burning

Winters was the best debut author of 2017, easily, this book took off, the second in the series was just as incredible and I can’t wait for the final part. This book draws you into the rage and pain that our boy Tau feels, this is a story of revenge but ends up so much more. A struggle to break the chains of a broken system, a fight against an old evil that won’t stop till it wipes out his race. The kind of book you don’t put down till the entire thing has been finished. My favourite book of 2017 and its sequel Fires of Vengeance was my favourite book of 2020.

Brent Weeks – The Black Prism, The Lightbringer Series

Epic fantasy at its best, Weeks talent really lies in the world he builds, the uniqueness of what he has written is so special and this five-book series ended with what is now one of my favourite books of all time. I really like action, Fantasy is action for me, I read for the set pieces, I read for the swordplay, I read for mages throwing everything at each other. Weeks final book in the series was massive, close to a thousand pages, and almost seven hundred of those were the final showdown. I really hate sometimes when you read this massive series and then everything finishes in fifty pages and it’s over, it can feel so sudden and almost hurts to read. Weeks did the complete opposite and just had you tense for the whole damn book which honestly was incredible.


My name is Dale.

As of this year, I’m old. An age were you start to think about what you want to do and wondering if there should be more? I’m not doing badly in life, In the last few years I found the love of my life and I’m reasonably successful in my career hitting a milestone I’ve wanted to for a long time. But I’ve not done things in my life I’ve wanted to do for a long time and 2020 really seems to be the year to finally drive those things forward. Instead of learning to make the worlds best sourdough or watching Bob Ross till I’ve mastered painting I’ve started a blog. Will anyone read it besides my partner and my mum? Probably not. But if I manage to post once a week and put something down on paper finally then I’ve achieved something for myself at least.

I read, a lot. I read about Magic and wizards, I read about wars and duels, I even sometimes read about spaceships. I read Fantasy and sprinkle in the odd dusting of SciFi, I like to talk about books and I think I’m really good at recommending books, or that’s what my friends tell me.

I’m going to write about books, just as tons of other people write about books, hopefully you will read a few of the books I list down and enjoy them as much as I do.

Be aware I don’t write well, I don’t write with the beautiful prose of Robin Hobb or Mark Lawrence, I will write poorly and probably very blunt, “Read this book, a man hit this other man with a sword and it was exciting”, but I promise I will write and recommend good books.

I’m sure I will write about myself more, maybe explain more who I am and what I do, but for now I wrote a post on a website and that’s enough for one day. Hopefully by the time people look at this I will have more than a post explaining what I’m going to do and you can actually read a review, who knows?

Thank you