Review: Wintertide

8697584.jpgTitle: Wintertide (2010)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 317
Series: The Riyria Revelations #5 (Series Tracker)

I had been let down by the prior two installments, but this penultimate volume is certainly a return to form. The story is much tighter, with more characters working together or in interweaving narrative threads, and the overarching plot moves forward in compelling and unexpected ways. I don’t have the same level of excitement I did when I started Royce and Hadrian’s journey, but I’m still intrigued to see how it all concludes in the final volume.

★★★¼ out of 5

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Review: The Black Prism

9780316246279.jpgTitle: The Black Prism (2010)
Author: Brent Weeks
Pages: 678
Series: Lightbringer #1 (Series Tracker)

I’ve been meaning to start this series for a while, so I was excited that my initial impression upon starting this book was very positive. I was immediately hooked on the cool magic system and worldbuilding, but the hook eventually wore off as I became frustrated by the uneven pacing, the way the characters are drawn, and the sometimes clunky/cringey dialogue that is used. Several characters are sharp-tongued, flawed, and unlikable, but I’m hopeful that this will lead to further character growth as the books progress.  There are seeds of great storytelling here that I hope can be more consistently implemented in future installments. Hearing that this is not the high point in the series leaves me hopeful for future books, as I do plan on continuing to book 2.

★★★¼ out of 5

Review: Dragon Haven

dragonhavenTitle: Dragon Haven (2010)
Author: Robin Hobb
Pages: 526
Series: Rain Wild Chronicles #2, Realms of the Elderlings #11 (Series Tracker)

Many of Robin Hobb’s books begin with a set of characters that are broken in some way (physically, emotionally, by circumstance, etc.). Throughout the course of each book or series these characters are made whole through their experiences. Dragon Keeper introduced us to several flailing entities (feeble dragons, outcast keepers, multiple characters in doomed relationships), but it is from these small beginnings that these characters come into their own in Dragon Haven.

This book is very much a continuation of Dragon Keeper — which is not surprising, since these first two books were split from one long manuscript. Where the first book provided the set-up, Dragon Haven delivered with the action, romance, and pacing of a much more enjoyable book. I’ve become more connected with these characters, and in classic Robin Hobb fashion, I’m sharing in their triumphs and hurting from their defeats. Although it’s not quite at the level as the three preceding trilogies, this is a major improvement on the first book.

★★★¾ out of 5

Review: The Emerald Storm

TheEmeraldStormTitle: The Emerald Storm (2010)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 375
Series: The Riyria Revelations #4 (Series Tracker)

Royce and Hadrian continue their journey to locate the Heir of Novron and install him to his rightful throne. On this adventure they board The Emerald Storm, a New Empire ship with a crew whose allegiance is never quite what it seems.

This ship tale was not on par with Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders or Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies, but it’s another satisfactory installment in the series. I found this second pair of books to be less compelling than the first pair, perhaps because I’ve become more invested in the overarching story that spans the series rather than the plots of each individual book. Luckily, Royce and Hadrian continue to be a fun duo and I will see their journey through to the end.

★★★ out of 5