Review: Kings of Paradise

KingsofParadiseTitle: Kings of Paradise (2017)
Author: Richard Nell
Pages: 601
Series: Ash and Sand #1 (Series Tracker)


This was a solid dark fantasy. The characters and setting are well-drawn and the writing is quite good. I connected with some POV characters more than others and this meant that there were long stretches where I was disengaged from the story as I just tried to get through the POV chapters I enjoyed less. I’m undecided as to whether I’ll pick up the next book in the series, but I had a good time with this one.

★★★½ out of 5

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Review: Aching God

DaVQZiHW0AALaj8Title: Aching God (2018)
Author: Mike Shel
Pages: 598
Series: Iconoclasts #1 (Series Tracker)


Aching God appeared on my radar after seeing several glowing reviews on the r/fantasy subreddit. Now, I don’t always connect with books that r/fantasy fawns over, but this was certainly not the case with Aching God, which is a thoroughly engrossing debut novel that I enjoyed immensely.

The book follows Auric Manteo, a retired mercenary, of sorts, who leads an expedition to return a cursed gem to the haunted temple from whence it came. It’s a straightforward story, but told in expert fashion. The writing is superb, which is not always a given in self-published fare. When a character referred to something as an “ensorcelled receptacle,” I knew that this was the right book for me. I expected a fairly simplistic dungeon quest tale, but it’s really so much more than that. Author Mike Shel has built out the world of Hanifax in rich detail and explores a great deal of the map with compelling encounters and fully-formed characters.

This is for anyone who enjoys dark fantasy and a well-told story. It’s certainly one of my favorite books of 2018 and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series, as Aching God builds a very solid foundation from which to jump off from. It feels like sword and sorcery Indiana Jones — and I’m very here for that.

★★★★¼ out of 5