Sanderson's mastery of worldbuilding and character development is on spectacular display in this sprawling epic. Enter the world of Roshar, a vast supercontinent that is home to an abundance of different races, cultures, religions and dialects that makes for a gripping narrative. This amazing first intallment in The Stormlight Archive marries classic fantastical imagery with expertly written characters all while managing paragraphs of exposition that keep you engaged and yearning for more.
"Empire of the Vampire" takes a post-apocalyptic approach to the classic vampire narrative, plunging humanity into an endless night, known to the world as Daysdeath, where the creatures of darkness reign supreme. The armies of man fight a brutal, futile battle against the undying vampire ranks that seek to annihilate them. In this desolate setting that marries Netflix's Castlevania and Justin Cronin's "The Passage", we find our protagonist: Gabriel de Leon.
Gabriel,16 years old is an initiate filled with blind faith and an itching to prove himself in the Ordo Argent, an organization of celibate warriors dedicated to the killing of vampires and other unholy creatures. There he works himself to the bone in pursuit of fame and glory, subject to the bullying of his peers and the abuse of his betters. With the help of his friends he uncovers a diabolical plan to obliterate humanity in one fell swoop, but with the majority of the Ordo Argent against him, it falls to he and the worthy few to save humanity from being snuffed out with naught but a whimper.
Gabriel, 32 years old, is a faithless, world weary addict traveling ever north in pursuit of righteous vengeance. The days grow colder as Wintersdeep draws near. In his travels he comes across a familiar face from his past who supposedly possesses the secret to bringing back the sun and ending Daysdeath at last. His personal priorities clash with his swiftly decaying morals as he is urged to put aside his personal vendetta for the good of mankind.
It is a dire, cynical world of death and decay and our protagonist reflects that world to a 'T'. "Empire of the Vampire" is quite funny despite its dire setting. Gabriel's biting sarcasm and cynicism serves as a welcome reprieve from the sea of despair and loss that saturates the story. This has been argued as Jay Kristoff's best work to date, and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment. Veris!
Brandon Sanderson returns to the world of Roshar (after releasing "The Way of Kings" four years prior) in the second installment of the Stormlight Archive: Words of Radiance.
Dalinar Kholin has narrowly escaped with his life after being left for dead on a field of battle by his supposed ally, Highprince Torol Sadeas. He takes the man who saved his life and that of his army, Kaladin, under his own command, making him head of his security detail. Amidst all of this, Dalinar continues on his task to bring the Highprinces of Alethkar together and avoid the fall of their country. "Unite Them" the voice of unkown origin thunders in his head, threatening to drive him to madness, "Unite Them". He is trying hard as he can, but he senses he is running out of time. For an unnamed cataclysm draws near and it seems Dalinar is the only one who feels it approaching.
Kaladin and his Bridge Four crew no longer have to risk their lives running bridges for Sadeas' army, acting as live bait for enemy arrows. Under Highprince Dalinar, they are given all the amenities that come with a high ranking position in the Kholin army. Kaladin begins to explore the abilities granted to him by his honorspren, Syl, but continues to struggle with both his prejudice against the Lighteyes and his personal vendetta with Highlord Amaram. All this makes it very difficult to trust the words of Highprince Dalinar, despite the honor and nobility he exudes with seemingly no effort.
Shallan travels with Jasnah Kholin on a voyage bound for the Shattered Plains in pursuit of knowldege regarding the mysterious city of Urithuru and the truth around the Voidbringers. But the voyage is soon attacked by a group of unkown assailants, and Shallan must continue the journey on land. Shallan is also the focus of this books flashback chapters, which I will not divulge the details of here.
Like its predecessor, "Words of Radiance" is a daunting behemoth of a book with a total of 1303 pages! And it makes use of every single one. The worldbuilding and character work are as good as the first book, the story is arguably superior. this is a worthy follow-up to the Way of Kings and one of the rare sequels that surpasses its forbear. 6 out of 5 stars!!!
Sarah J. Maas tells a slow burn romance against the backdrop of the vast Faerie lands of Prythian. While I prefer her Throne of Glass series to this particular book, the characters and mythology of Prythian really stand out. What starts as a high fantasy re-telling of Beauty and the Beast quickly transforms into an expoloration of found family & rising above ones trauma. Definitely gets better with the following books in the trilogy.
N.K. Jemisin introduces a world so far removed from our own yet juxtaposes it with many of the same issues dealt with today; prejudice, exploitation & hypocrisy. "The Fifth Season" transports you to a distant, unrecognizable Earth ravaged by an ever shifting lithosphere and a humanity rough and callused by the constant upheaval of the earths crust. Jemisin grapples with the value of a life, the nature of love & how far one can go in pursuit of righteous vengeance.
I will sing Neal Shusterman's praises all the livelong day. He writes people so well, they're thoughts and emotions are portrayed so realistically and relatably. He uses this to anchor even the most outlandish scenarios in realism. Scythe is a prime example of that. We are dropped into a Quasi-Utopia where death, hunger, war, crime and other staples of the human condition have been eradicated in one way or another by a benevolent AI known as the Thunderhead (like the cloud, get it?). The only potential problem remaining: Overpopulation. Humans are functionally immortal now and no one wants to give that up willingly. That's where the scythes come in. These agents of death wear the garbs of an archetype long forgotten in the age of immortality and the irony goes unappreciated. Against the backdrop of this society do we find our protagonists, Citra and Rowan. I've already said too much already so I'll leave you with this: If you're looking for high octane action, this might not be your jam. If you're looking for a story rife with philosophical questions and moral quandaries, this'll be right up your alley.
Empire of Storms is the fifth installment in Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series. It expertly takes all the elements of the story from the previous four books and interlaces them in a very satisfying way. Everything I loved about Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows is back in full force here: the action/spectacle, the ever expanding mythology of Adarlan and its surrounding territories and, of course, the romance. As always, the emotional beats hit very strong in this one. I teared up a little on many occasions throughout my initial read. In conclusion this is an amazing addition to the series, its as good as (if not better than) Queen of Shadows. 5 out of 5 stars.
Axiom's End is a natural evolution of the x-files conspiracy genre. Instead of following a federal agent as they uncover the dark secrets kept from the public by those in power, we are introduced to a relatable, civilian protagonist who is as clueless as we are. The year is 2007 and a media leak has revealed that the US government may have made first contact with extra-terrestrial life. Shortly after, our protagonist is swept up in a whirlwind of conspiracy, discovery and moral quandaries too complex to solve easily. Lindsay Ellis' sarcastic relatability shines in her debut novel. I look forward to further installments in this series. 5/5 stars.
Pathfinder consists of a dual storyline; Rigg can see the paths taken by every living being, like the afterimage of staring at a bright light for too long. He lives a nomadic life with his father who teaches him all he knows of the world and its peoples. When his fathers life is brought to an abrupt end, Rigg is forced to brave the world on his own, utilizing the knowledge passed down to him & his extraordinary gift to survive.
Ram Odin is the captain of an interstellar ship holding thousands of passengers in cryo. Their destination is a planet in the habitable zone of a solar system thousands of lightyears way. When the ship jumps to lightspeed, the trip goes terribly wrong and Ram finds himself stranded in deep space with only his morally ambiguous android assistant for company and a life threatening conundrum.
Orson Scott Card weaves intricate world-building with cutting edge scientific theory in this first installment of a trilogy. He ponders the true nature of time, theories of determinism & the muddy morals of colonialism through the lense of this sci-fi spectacle. 10/10 would reccomend. Insert several thumbs up emojis.
Cassandra Clare's 'Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy' is a collection of short stories set in various time frames of the shadowhunter world. The setting of all these stories is the aforementioned Academy. In these tales we are introduced to new characters soon to feature in their own shadowhunter novels as well as familiar favorites like Clary Morgentsern, Jace Herondale, Jem Carstairs, Magnus Bane, Tessa Gray and the protagonist of this particular anthology: Simon Lewis. In the aftermath of 'City of Heavenly Fire', (spoilers, i guess) Simon is attending the Academy in hopes of drinking from the cup of Raziel and becoming a fully fledged Shadowhunter. On his year long stint in the school he encounters friends, monsters, dead rats (lots of them) and stories. SO MANY STORIES. But there are no complaints from this reader. This book mostly serves as a back door pilot to Cassandra Clare's 'The Last Hours' and 'The Dark Artifices' series as most of the characters of those series' are introduced in this tome. But it also serves as a check in for our familiar favorites with short stories centering around characters like Magnus Bane or Will Herondale. Simon's journey to becoming a child of Raziel is merely the framework in which these stories are told. That does not however detract from the emotional impact of Simon's arc. These stories were previously released separately online over the course of a year, and i must say reading them all in one go (more or less) is a much more fullfilling experience than months apart from each other. If you like the Shadowhunter novels thus far and have not read this collection yet. I highly reccomend it. It enriches stories that have already been told, providing background and context for characters and events that may have been previously passed over by the narrative, all while telling a beautiful story about finding ones self in the face of external expectations. Its a beautiful piece of the Shadowhunter collection.
Sanderson returns to the world of Roshar in the form of a short but dense novella. Set between two gargantuan volumes (Oathbringer and Rhythm of War), Dawnshard serves as an interim piece and a refreshing return to the Stormlight archive after years of going without.
Rysn Ftori has spent years apprenticed under her Babsk, Vstim, learning the ways of trade and commerce. But now she is a professional tradesman, commisioned by Queen Navani herself to uncover the secrets of Aimia, an island shrouded in mystery and virtually inaccessible since the Day of Recreance. Not only do the queens Navani of Urithuru and Fen of Thaylenah have a great interest in the island and its secrets, but so does Rysn herself.
Dawnshard is a great primer before diving back into the Stormlight Archive in full and a worthy story of its own. Very good, l would read again, insert thumbs up emojis.
Sarah J. Maas writes a murder mystery/romance set in a world rife with magic and fantastical creatures yet not too dissimilar from our own Earth. We are transported to Crescent City, a sprawling metropolis where the immortal fae hoard their wealth like dragons, werewolf cops patrol the streets and angels walk among us as gods.
Bryce Quinlan is a half-human/half fae content to party the night away in the various clubs Crescent City has to offer, but her world is abruptly snatched from under her after the violent murder of her best friend. Two years later, her friends murderer resurfaces and Bryce is called to help investigate and possibly bring them to justice. As she works (and becomes dangerously close) with Hunt Athalar, a disgraced Fallen Angel, she slowly uncovers a dark conspiracy among the warring political elite of the city.
Crescent City is a dense tome that's both dark crime thriller & steamy romance. It is overflowing with character, worldbuilding and all the clever banter often found in Maas' fantasy worlds, but with a modern twist. If you are a fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon's "Dark Hunters" series, this just might be your next fantasy favorite.
A Court of Mist and Fury is a big improvement on the previous installment of the series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, in almost every way. The pacing and character writing are on point. The clever banter that was lacking in Thorns and Roses is on spectacular display and a much welcome addition to the experience.
Feyre has survived the trials Under The Mountain and defeated the Hybern General Amarantha. As Mist and Fury begins we find Feyre back in the Spring Court with her lover Tamlin. The two are soon to be married and yet both are scarred and traumatised by their time Under the Mountain. As Feyre prepares for her vows, she is called upon by Rhysand, the Highlord of the Night Court, to fulfill her part of their bargain. She is promptly whisked away to the Night Court and enlisted in Rhysand's Inner Circle.
I cant really say more without spoiling the story. Suffice it to say this book is a return to form for Maas, delivering heart-pounding action, elaborate worldbuilding, shocking twists and (as always) alot of sizzling romance. One of her best works to date. Insert several thumbs up emojis.
Bubble is a graphic novel that you will swallow up in under a day (as i did) because of how funny, cool, beautifully drawn, and FUNNY it is. Did I mention it's hilarious? Well it is. So its set in a dome world owned and sustained by a company aptly named "The Company" (yeah this isnt a subtle metaphor). Outside the dome is The Brush, a cruel wilderness filled with mutant horrors that can and will kill you if given the opportunity. For Morgan, life is in the Dome, but it began in the Brush. She hunted and survived for the majority of her childhood and appreciates the slow safe monotony of her adult life. But sometimes she'll go hunt the occasional mutant tiger (ya know, for the rush). Along for the ride is Morgan's roomate Annie and the wholesomely awkward Mitch. Together they uncover a conspiracy that could endanger the citizens of Bubble and beyond.
Bubble hilariously critiques gig economy, hipster lifestyle, and closed off communities in this colorful, quick witted, ADULT comic that promises belly laughs for every panel. 5 stars.
Brandon Sanderson crafts a world plagued by ash showers and devoid of color or radiance. grey clouds dominate the skies and a massive red sun provides the bare minimum in a sad excuse for daylight. It has been like this for a thousand years, ever since the immortal Lord Ruler took and maintained control with an iron fist. In the seat of his power and the capital of his empire, the city of Luthadel, two individuals find each other in the most unlikely of circumstances.
The street urchin turned member of a theiving crew; Vin is caught using an ability outlawed by the Final Empire and is being hunted by an Inquisitor.
A master thief that makes an artwork of his trade turned revolutionary leader; Kelsier works to topple the established order of Luthadel, hoping the rest of the Final Empire will follow in its stead.
Ocean's 11 unfolds in a vast fantasy world with an imaginative magic system filled with lovable characters and witty banter. Will definitely be reading the second installment.
Sanderson continues the streak of top tier fantasy with Oathbringer, the third installment of the Stormlight Archive. Like the previous two books, this volume focuses a portion of its pages to flashback chapters focused on a single character. The Way of Kings tells of Kaladin, Words of Radiance showed us Shallan's background, and Oathbringer finally tells us the story of the Blackthorn himself, Dalinar Kholin. Let me tell you this book DELIVERS on the backstory front.
In the present, Dalinar and the other Highprinces move into the lost city of Urithuru, but a dark presence is preying on the city's new residents. Adolin heads the investigation for Torol Sadeas' murder (ironic, I know); Shallan continues to fall deeper into her false persona, Veil, and Kaladin is tasked with finding and training more Knights Radiant to fill the ranks.
Like in the previous installments, this book switches between past & present with seamless precision. The characters are at their best, and the stakes continue to rise. 5 out of 5 stars.