The Battle That Was Lost (#Ringlander: 0.5) by Michael S. Jackson

Rating: 8/10


A bastard gets paid.

That’s the point of being a bastard, after all. Yet in war, payment in blood is more likely than payment in coin.

Staegrim knows coins better than he knows people, and he isn’t giving his life away for free. Not to the rebels, not for the lords, and not for all of the bloody coins in Rengas.

But then… Everyone has a price.

I went into this prequel novella with zero idea of what Michaels written universe contained or of the characters in it, but Ive heard a massive amount about Michael’s first book Ringlander: The Path and The Way and was super excited to read this.

After I finished I wish I had gone with the full novel first as I feel I would have had a much stronger grasp of the Ringlander world, but without a doubt I can say with ease that TBTWL was an exemplary show of Michaels talent as a writer. The worldbuilding and character depth was fantastic and was really something I didn’t expect from so short a book, the main story coming in at only 57 pages! Michael used multiple POVs to weave a gritty and gripping view of the battlefield which kept it exciting from the first page to the last and left me wanting more. If all of the set pieces in The Path and The Way are written with the same detail and intensity I will be a very happy man.

This was a super entertaining novella, something incredibly easy to pick up and something that gave a real nice little burst of serotonin, if you feel a reading slump coming along this would be a beautiful little palette cleanser. But if anything, what you get from this book is the knowledge you will move on to TPATW and will see some incredibly in-depth worldbuilding and an intricate and intense plotline.

I really cant wait to get into the real meat of the Ringlander universe and luckily I only have a few books to clear on my TBR before I can move on, so expect to see a follow up review for that soon.

Also, quick side note to the quality of this arc, it was a stunning small black hardcover that gave it this prestigious look and came with some lovely bookmarks and art that really just made it a wonderful experience, as cheesy as that sounds, so a massive thank you for that.

Tl;dr – It’s a pretty book with pretty words. Read it.

Go buy Michael S. Jacksons new novella ‘The Battle that was Lost’ along with his first full book The Way and The Path at The Broken Binding –

Review: The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

When I found Net galley was a thing, I did the thing that I expect most bloggers do; I requested a bunch of books, my thought process being “I’m a brand-new blogger with a 0% feedback rating, I’m barely going to get approval”. Instead, what happened is I got approved for eleven in 3 days and now I’m metaphorically drowning in a TBR list that I keep adding to with physical books because Broken Binding is a store that everyday assaults me from their twitter page, feeding my addiction. So that’s how my March is going.

My first big ARC review, how exciting. Thankyou to NetGalley and Little Brown Book Group for the copy of “The Unbroken” in return for an honest review.

“Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.”

I’m just going to say straight off the mark, that this was a fantastic book. The Unbroken has been on my radar for a while and I was super hyped to get approval for this. C.L Clark wasn’t an author I was familiar with and after reading this I was massively impressed with the amount of dedication she’s put into this book and the incredible amount of research really shines through, giving this book a real weight behind it.

2021 is really turning out to be an interesting year for books with release line-ups looking incredible all year round, but not only do these books look and sound remarkable, we have a year that in my opinion has some true diversity in the books that are being discussed. We aren’t getting piles of similar books all written by older white men about loosely based westernised fantasy, instead we have books like Shelley Parker-Chan’s ‘She Who Became the Sun’, Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s ‘Son of the Storm’ (I was just approved for the ARC for this and that’s super exciting), Tasha Suri’s ‘The Jasmine Throne’ and C.L Clarks ‘The Unbroken’. I’m not someone that focuses on who the author of the book is, but instead the merits of the writing itself. It is undeniable that POC need a stronger representation in the publishing world and I’m glad that’s something that’s finally happening,  because of this incredible diversity finally pouring through we are getting some breath-taking worlds, and some beautiful stories coming to the forefront of the genre and I couldn’t be happier about that

The Unbroken seems to be inspired by the French occupation of Algeria and Morocco in the 1800s, the Quaz-li and the desert tribes being based on north African countries and cultures. As well as the Balladairans mirroring the efforts of the French to pacify its people through fear and subjugation, attempting to eradicate their religion and kill off their culture. This story really focuses on the appalling racism and effects of colonization of a people, something that feels way too prevalent and is still seen too often today. Not only in our own western countries but places like China with the genocide of the Uighur people. But the world Clark has crafted isn’t all grimdark, we do get a wonderful queernorm setting, we have a story filled with LQBTQ characters and relationships that are so open and natural instead of the classic light suggestions or whispered words behind closed doors, plus a world with a lot less misogyny. It was fantastic to read a story with so many strong female characters in positions of power, something that would never have been done in our world, The Unbroken’s people definitely seem to be doing better than us at quite a few things. 

This book is described as a military fantasy, but not in the way I normally would expect. When I think of the term, I think of something more along the lines of the Power Mage Trilogy or Joe Abercrombie’s ‘The Heroes’. That’s probably my own misunderstanding of the genre but instead of an action-packed story, The Unbroken was much more about the politics and people, and weirdly enough the lack of action really didn’t affect me much. Clark excelled with her story telling and character development so much that this book was entertaining the entire way through.

Clark’s book focuses on Touraine and Luca, two characters from vastly different walks of life. Touraine, kidnapped as a child and indoctrinated to fight and honour the Empire of Balladaire, ripping away her culture and people. Luca, the Princess of said Empire, struggling to take control of her birth right from her Uncle. Clark’s character writing for me really was the shining light of this book, Touraine, and Luca both frustrating me to the point that I wanted to shout at the pages multiple times. I was angry at the decisions these two characters made, angry at the story for the way it was going, and at times caught myself being frustrated by the direction of the author. But honestly, this was all my own fault, it took me a while, but I realised that these choices I was frustrated at, the ones I believed shouldn’t have happened were actual realistic human decisions. They messed up in big ways but always while trying to do what they thought best at the time. They did these things because Clark wrote genuine human characters and had them act like the imperfect beings that humans are instead of the heroes that we are used to in Fantasy. These choices being the product of their upbrings and experiences they had faced in life to this point, and it took me a while to see that. Clark really did an excellent job of intertwining these two characters in a wonderfully written relationship, again showing their imperfections hundred times over, a friendship blossoming even under the constraints of their stations and the issues each faced trying to do the right thing for their people. I loved watching the dance play out between the two of them because without their meeting they would never have become the people that they needed to be.

On top of these two we have an excellent support cast joining them, Djasha, Aranen and Jaghotai being exceptionally well written, all with very vivid and intricate personalities that added a ton to the story. I would really liked to have read parts of the story from their POVs, which is such a rarity for me, normally wanting to cut down on POVs so I’m not being deviated away from the characters I love the most, instead I found myself wanting to see more. Also, a special shoutout to Captain Rogan and the Comte de Beau-Sang for being a truly disgusting human. I spent the entire book wanting to punch them in their stupid little faces, which is intended as a compliment to Clark’s writing, I haven’t disliked two fictional characters this much since maybe Joffrey in GOT…

“Beau-Sangs smile widened. “I also see you’ve taken my advice. They’re a fine investment, aren’t they?” He nodded behind her. This time, Luca allowed herself to look. Those think dark brows. The cold glare into the middle distance. That square, clenched jaw.

“That’s one of Cantic’s, is that right? The Lieutenant.” As if Touraine were a prize hound she’d purchased to race against his Richard.”

I need to say quickly as well how I really loved the prevalence of religion in the story as well, the idea of strength of faith or belief literally manifesting physical objects or magic has been explored a few times and I always love when it does. The complexities of magic in the story becoming more and more vivid as the book goes on, and really making you understand the need for the Balladairans need to pacify the Quaz-li people for more than just control, they are trying to eliminate the power of these peoples. I can’t wait to see how this continues to unfold in further books.

I loved the ending that we were given, and I will continue to make this point but I’m a big lover of wrapping up a story instead of a massive painful cliff-hanger, so a big thank you to Clark for that. But even without some massive book one cliff-hanger Clark left The Unbroken in a spot where this story can go so many ways and I can’t really guess anything, but I swear to god they better go visit that big library or I’m going to be angry. I’m so excited for the prospect of what can happen next in The Magic of the Lost #2.

An excellent book by and excellent writer.

If you want to buy a copy of The Unbroken you can get a lovely signed copy from – use my code DFREVIEW221 for 5% off your entire order.

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.

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.