Review: Empire of Grass

Title: Empire of Grass (2019)
Author: Tad Williams
Pages: 867
Series: The Last King of Osten Ard #2 (Series Tracker)


Another satisfying read as the overarching story starts to take shape (all is not well in Osten Ard!). So much of my enjoyment of this ongoing series comes from Williams’s writing. It’s beautiful to read and although the pacing is often slow, there’s rarely much fluff from page to page. 

In truth, the reason I started Williams’s original series was because I saw Michael Whelan’s incredible cover art for this novel and it made me want to read the entire series so I could put this book on my shelf. Seven books later and I’ve finally finished that book that caught my eye so many moons ago. Sadly, DAW chose not to commission more cover art from Whelan for future books in the series. Luckily, I’m now invested in the story itself, so the cover art is less important! (Although, I do like the art from book #3 – Into the Narrowdark).

★★★¾

Review: Fevered Star

Title: Fevered Star (April 19, 2022)
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Pages: 384
Series: Between Earth and Sky #2 (Series Tracker)


Fevered Star is a worthy follow-up to Black Sun, one of my favorite books of the last few years. This is epic fantasy of the highest order and Roanhorse’s writing is a joy to read. 

While Black Sun was constructed like a ticking time bomb with a narrative structure that built towards an epic conclusion, Fevered Star is a quieter tale. It’s the calm after the storm that that hit in book #1. It’s a transitory time in the Meridian as factions grow, contract, splinter off, or soldier on. The characters scramble to consolidate power and lines are drawn in the sand.

Despite the more subdued action, I’m fully invested in these characters. Each POV brings something interesting to the table and Roanhorse uses this novel to position her chess pieces for the coming conclusion/confrontation/clash to decide the fate of this world. Several fuses have been lit, but we’ll have to wait until the third book to see them pay off. I know I’m looking forward to it.

★★★★

Review: The Witchwood Crown

Title: The Witchwood Crown (2017)
Author: Tad Williams
Pages: 990
Series: The Last King of Osten Ard #1 (Series Tracker)


It was so wonderful to be back in Osten Ard and to see what has changed and, interestingly, what has remained the same. The Heart of What Was Lost and Brothers of the Wind turned out to be great primer novellas to the start of this new series.

I felt a certain Star Wars: The Force Awakens vibe from this book – similar story beats as the original Osten Are trilogy, a familiar foe, characters we know and love, and a new group of dynamic, young upstarts. 

I was pleased to see Williams’s writing style has become somewhat less opaque than in the decades old original trilogy. And while this book does not work at all as a standalone (nor does it try to), I have full trust that Williams will neatly tie everything together when all is said and done. I am fully on board for the ride.

★★★★

Review: The Heart of What Was Lost

Title: The Heart of What Was Lost (2017)
Author: Tad Williams
Pages: 251
Series: Osten Ard Saga (Series Tracker)


I can’t say that I was too interested in what happened to the Norns in the aftermath of Tad Williams’ original Osten Ard trilogy, but this was a nice, quick read that added greater depth and understanding to the plight of the Norns.

It wasn’t the epilogue to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn that I was expecting (or wanting), but it was a well-written tale that keeps me excited for what’s to come in this world.

★★★

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: 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.

Review: Stone of Farewell

Title: Stone of Farewell (1990)
Author: Tad Williams
Pages: 771
Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #2, Osten Ard Saga #2 (Series Tracker)


This was a bit of a letdown after a really enjoyable opening novel. Folks knock the first book because the first 200 pages are interminably slow. No one ever mentioned that the second book takes about 500(!) pages to really get going.

While The Dragonbone Chair raised many questions and provided few answers, Stone of Farewell raises very few questions and answers even fewer. Here’s hoping the final doorstopper in the trilogy is packed to the brim with with action and plot development!

★★★

Review: Idols Fall

Title: Idols Fall (April 21, 2021)
Author: Mike Shel
Pages: 614
Series: Iconoclasts #3 (Series Tracker)


Shel is a truly gifted storyteller and he’s woven a trilogy-capping book that is dark, twisty, funny, wholly satisfying, and bloody brilliant…major emphasis on the “bloody.”

Sometimes the third book in a series starts to feel stale if it’s not charting new ground, but Shel has injected enough fresh energy into this story and its characters to pay off this final adventure splendidly. There’s so much fantasy goodness packed into the pages here: demonic possession, talking swords, beasts from hell, false gods, geopolitical conflict, cults, and of course, a dangerous expedition into an ancient cursed ruin. It’s all rendered beautifully on the page by Shel’s delightful prose. Bump this trilogy up your TBRs folks. This is a masterful conclusion to an outstanding series.

★★★★½

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