Sanderson's mastery of worldbuliding 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 father's is life brought to an abrupt end, Rigg is forced to brave the world on his own, utilizing both 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 novel. 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.