Review: Brothers of the Wind

Title: Brothers of the Wind (2021)
Author: Tad Williams
Pages: 258
Series: Osten Ard Saga (Series Tracker)


This will be more rewarding for those with preexisting knowledge of Osten Ard, but I think this works really well as a standalone story, too. For me, this is one of my favorite books of the year.

While Williams fills in some of Ineluki’s backstory (prior to his descent into supervillainy), there’s more emphasis on Ineluki’s brother, Hakatri, and Hakatri’s faithful servant, Pamon Kes. This duo’s story is incredibly compelling, with Pamon Kes as the standout star. I’d happily read more stories from Pamon’s perspective and I hope Williams tells additional tales from this era in Osten Ard’s history.

All in all, this was a wonderful novella that I struggled to put down. Bonus points for an outstanding cover and a stunning map!

★★★★¼

My thanks to DAW and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: To Green Angel Tower

Title: To Green Angel Tower (1994)
Author: Tad Williams
Pages: 1,592
Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #3, Osten Ard Saga #3 (Series Tracker)


What an excellent series capper. I’m glad I pushed through the so-so second book and wasn’t deterred by the size of this massive, massive tome. Williams puts on a masterclass in building towards a grand finale here and while brevity and succinctness are nowhere to be found, Williams employs his 520,000 word count to set a captivating tone and mood for this concluding novel. I listened to some of this via audiobook as a change of pace and Andrew Wincott’s incredible narration added another layer of gravitas to the story and characters. 

I’m very pleased to know that Williams has continued telling stories in this world and I look forward to diving into those books soon.

★★★★½

Review: How High We Go in the Dark

Title: How High We Go in the Dark (January 18, 2022)
Author: Sequoia Nagamatsu
Pages: 304


A euthanasia theme park, a talking pig named Snortorious P.I.G., and a funerary hotel. There is no shortage of dark humor to be found among the increasingly macabre story beats of How High We Go in the Dark. Even so, some sections are just incredibly devastating to read and that’s a credit to Nagamatsu’s excellent writing. 

Not every vignette worked for me, but the ones that did were awfully affecting. My investment in each small story waned as we moved farther away from the “present day,” but the ever-evolving interconnectedness of the narratives was intriguing to track throughout.

If you’re looking for an escape from our current pandemic-ridden world, this is not the right book for you. If you can put that aside, there’s some really effective storytelling at work here. 

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Justice of Kings

Title: The Justice of Kings (February 22, 2022)
Author: Richard Swan
Pages: 496
Series: Empire of the Wolf #1


An odd thing about this book is that the only character on the cover and the character mentioned in the book’s description as an “unforgettable protagonist destined to become a fantasy icon” is not the main character of the story! It’s certainly an interesting choice and I’m unsure whether or not it is an effective one. Helena, our actual main first-person POV character, is likable and authentic. We see Sir Konrad Vonvalt (the aforementioned coverboy/man) and the story itself through her eyes. It was a tad distracting trying to puzzle out how this served the greater narrative, and I can’t say I ever arrived at an answer.

Luckily, Richard Swan’s writing flows nicely and made for a pleasant reading experience. The murder mystery nestled inside the larger, empire-spanning conspiracy was compelling and left me curious to explore this world beyond what is shown in this specific story. I’m on the fence over whether I’ll continue on to book #2, but this was a solid start to an intriguing new series.

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Fall of Babel

Title: The Fall of Babel (November 9, 2021)
Author: Josiah Bancroft
Pages: 672
Series: The Books of Babel #4 (Series Tracker)


With the final page turned and the curtain now closed, I’m happy to report that The Books of Babel is one of the greatest fantasy series I’ve ever read. Bancroft’s prose continues to possess a unique flavor with dashes of charm, wit, biting humor, and heart that are unmatched by others in the genre.

Throughout this final book, I cared about certain characters more than others, found some story threads more compelling than others, and preferred the quieter, more contemplative moments to the dizzying action sequences and set pieces. Despite my mileage varying on certain aspects of the novel itself, all of the elements coalesced into something wondrous and satisfying in the end.

We’ve been taken on a wild ride since Thomas Senlin first set foot in the magnificent and mysterious Tower of Babel. And while I’m sad to leave this world and cast of characters behind, I’m excited to see what else can be plumbed from the depths of Josiah Bancroft’s imagination. Frankly, I’d devour whatever he writes next – whether that’s a shopping list, appliance manual, esoteric textbook, or (ideally) a new novel! 

★★★★

My thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Jade Legacy

Title: Jade Legacy (November 30, 2021)
Author: Fonda Lee
Pages: 736
Series: The Green Bone Saga #3 (Series Tracker)


Engrossing, unpredictable, and heart-wrenching through to the final page – Jade Legacy is a worthy capstone to an incredible trilogy. I can confidently say that Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga is a modern fantasy classic and I feel lucky to have come across such a special series.

Lee’s writing makes everything compelling, even down to the most esoteric matters of the clans’ business empire. And although we’re very familiar with the main players in the warring clans, Jade Legacy further plumbs the depths of these flawed, but captivating characters with an expanded story timeframe and frequent time jumps. This was a smart choice and made for a supremely satisfying concluding book.

There are new avenues Lee could explore in future stories set in this world, but for now I am happy to sit back and marvel at the brilliant trilogy she has crafted. 

★★★★★
SPECULATIVE SHELF STARRED BOOK

My thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Elder Race

Title: Elder Race (November 16, 2021)
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pages: 176


Lynesse must seek out a reclusive wizard living in a forbidden tower. That concept alone (and the gorgeous cover) drew me to this novella, but the plot gets turned on its head almost immediately with a delicious bait and switch. The storyline that follows the twist was not quite compelling enough to sustain my interest, but the ending was strong and satisfying.

This novella is a good reminder of what an interesting writer Adrian Tchaikovsky has become and I’ve never been disappointed by one of his stories. As an aside, reading this in conjunction with AppleTV+’s Foundation series made for a nice genre pairing, I must say.

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Jade War

Title: Jade War (2019)
Author: Fonda Lee
Pages: 592
Series: The Green Bone Saga #2 (Series Tracker)


With the characters, world, and magic system already established, this book hit the ground running and increased the complexity and reach of the ongoing clan war. 

I rarely like a second book in a series better than the first, but Jade War is just excellent. It ups the ante and improves upon many of the elements that made Jade City so good. I can’t wait to crack open the ARC of Jade Legacy currently sitting on my shelf.

★★★★½
SPECULATIVE SHELF STARRED BOOK

Review: The Bone Ship’s Wake

Title: The Bone Ship’s Wake (September 28, 2021)
Author: R.J. Barker
Pages: 592
Series: The Tide Child #3 (Series Tracker)


Much like a fireworks show, The Bone Ship’s Wake starts slowly before building in pace and intensity to an epic and explosive finale. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a magnificent seafaring adventure trilogy. 

While the first book in this series remains my favorite, the entire saga is worthwhile and this final book is just the cherry on top of a thrilling and bloody pirate sundae. Sounds tasty, right?

It’s been gratifying to watch these characters withstand both literal and figurative storms and come out better for it, but I am certainly sad to see their adventures come to an end. Although this particular saga is at its close, Barker leaves the door cracked open enough should he ever want to return to tell more tales from the Scattered Archipelago. I would happily sign up for another tour of duty in this world. 

★★★★

My thanks to Orbit for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.