The Queen of Attolia

Rating: .5
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Series: The Queen’s Thief #2
Genres: Fantasy
Pub Date: 2000 (read Apr. 2018)

This is a surprisingly hard book to rate! It has such high reviews and I went into it with such high expectations and it just didn’t quite live up to them 😦

The Queen of Attolia is the 2nd book in the Queen’s Thief series and follows where The Thief left off, so there are spoilers from The Thief in here if you haven’t read the first novel. Gen has returned to Eddis to continue in his role as the Queen’s Thief. He continues to steal into the Queen of Attolia’s court and when he is caught, she takes swift vengeance against him. He is returned to Eddis, but he barely recovers from his run-in with Attolia and is listless, hiding away from the rest of the court. Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis war with each other and Eugenides comes up with a plan to steal the Queen of Attolia and find justice for his country.

Megan Whalen Turner is definitely a good writer and I really like how clever her plots are. Every character and every sentence matters. I think I said this in my last review, but it reminds me of Melina Marchetta’s writing in that every single character matters and nothing happens by chance. This book has a pretty brutal start, but I only grew to love Eugenides more and more. I like that she gives Attolia a back story and that she’s not just an evil shadow queen. It’s still a pretty short book for fantasy and I’m interested to see what she’d going to do with the story in the next book.

The only part I didn’t really like in this book was the romance. I liked the little surprise in the middle, but I just didn’t really buy into the romance. I could buy into the proposal as a bid for power, but I didn’t get the love.

Anyways, I don’t have a whole lot else to say about this book. It’s a struggle to rate because it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, so I want to rate it a 3.5, but I gave the Thief a 4 and this was just as good as the Thief. I didn’t expect much from the Thief and it ended up really surprising me with how clever it was, which is why I gave it a 4. I was expecting this one to be clever, which is maybe why I didn’t love it as much – my expectations were just too high.

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Avenged

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ⭐⭐.5
Author: Amy Tintera
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: May 2017 (read Mar. 2018)

Between my monthly challenges, my book club, Canada Reads, and Netgalley, I finally got a chance to read this sequel to Ruined. I’ve been trying to get to it for the last 2 months and I finally found some time. I shouldn’t have worried though because I devoured this book in a single day.

I LOVED Ruined. I know it’s not ground-breaking literature or anything, but it was just such a fast-paced and fun read! Avenged picks up right where Ruined left off, with the Ruined returning to their homeland after rescuing Olivia. This one has a bit more politics than the first one, but it’s still a fast paced read. I didn’t love it quite as much as Ruined, but I’d still give it a solid 3.5 stars.

Em and her sister Olivia have just returned to Ruina. Em is the oldest, but because she doesn’t have powers, the throne passes to her sister Olivia. The torture Olivia suffered at the hands of Lera has weakened her emotionally, but it has only strengthened her powers. She becomes incredibly powerful, but has little interest in politics and negotiations, so she proposes a diarchy with her sister whereby they will both be queen.

It’s a rough start for the Ruined. Their castle was destroyed by Lera and Vallos and the land in their country is dying. Em wants to continue their alliance with the Olso warriors because she fears the Ruined cannot survive without their aid and supplies at this time. Olivia doesn’t want their help and feels that her and Aren are strong enough to protect the rest of the Ruined and can teach them all how to be stronger.

At the same time, Cas struggles to take control of his own country in the wake of his parents death. He made a pact with Em that neither would attack each other, but his cousin (and only living relative) Jovita sees this as a huge sign of weakness and makes a coup to take control of Lera. She tries to attack the Ruined again and all hell breaks loose between the 4 kingdoms.

Like I said, I didn’t love this as much as Ruined, but it was still a solid second novel. Olivia is a 100% certified psychopath and she makes for an interesting and intense story. She had a pretty crazy introduction at the end of Ruined, but she was really only just getting started then.

I liked that this novel is still very morally grey. You definitely root for Em and Cas and their quest for peace, but you also couldn’t fault Olivia for how she felt about Lera. She was tortured by Lera for a year and even though Cas didn’t directly play a role, a simple ‘sorry’ isn’t enough for Olivia, especially when he’s done nothing meaningful to help the Ruined, like provide supplies or help them re-build their homeland.

“No. His regret was not enough for Olivia. Regret did not give her back her mother. It didn’t erase the year of torture she’s endured. No apology, no matter how sincere, was enough for her people.”

I also thought the dialogue was fantastic and I love how witty the characters are. Ruined had quite a bit of humour woven into it and Tintera continued that humour in this book. I can’t wait for the final book of the trilogy to come out in May!

The Fifth Season

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ⭐⭐
Author: NK Jemisin
Genres: Fantasy
Pub Date: Aug. 2015 (read Mar. 2018)

I’ve only heard good things about this series and I’ve been dying to read it for ages, but this was quite different than all the other fantasy I read and I really struggled to get into it.

I definitely liked the story, but it took me a while to get into it and it wasn’t until the first “twist” of the story that I started to understand how clever this was. I’ll be honest, I mostly read YA fantasy, which is why I think I initially struggled with this.

The Fifth Season supposedly tells the story of how the world ends for the last time. This world has been through many seasons that have threatened the existence of humans, but they have always managed to survive. The book starts off with a huge earthquake that destroys the major city of the continent, Yumenes, and with a mother fleeing her community after the death of her son. We follow the perspectives of 3 women as we learn about the intricacies of this world.

The continent is largely dictated by earthquakes. There are many fault lines and the ground is never stable. The communities are used to frequent shaking of the earth and many communities struggle to survive beyond a few seasons in this hostile world. There is one thing that can stabilize the earth and prevent earthquakes, the Orogenes, who can communicate with the earthquake and quell and create shakes. They can be extremely dangerous if not trained, so there is another group called Guardians, who seek out orogenes and bring them to the Fulcrum in Yumenes to be trained. Our three main characters are all orogenes. Essun has just lost her son after the great shake in Yumenes, Syenite is completing a mission on behalf of the Fulcrum, and Damaya has just been discovered in her community by a Guardian.

It’s a hard book to get into because there’s a lot to learn about this new world and it’s hard to keep up with the constantly changing perspectives. I also found the timeline a little confusing and had a hard time with Essun’s perspective because it’s written in 2nd person POV. But I did start to get into it after about the half way mark and I think the next two novels will be easier now that I understand the baseline of the story. Like I said, this book is quite clever and the writing is good.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to the next book, but I probably will try to do it soon because I’m worried about forgetting what happened in this book and I don’t want a steep learning curve again! Hoping the next one will be a 4 star read for me.

This Savage Song

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ⭐⭐
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Read: Mar. 2018

This Savage Song is the second book in my March Challenge to read 3 fantasy novels and the first book that has disappointed me this year as part of my monthly challenges.

I had mixed feelings about Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series because while I did like it and thought she had some really great characters, I never really felt that engaged while I was reading it. But afterwards, even though I hadn’t totally loved the series, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and think fondly of Kell, Lila, Rhy, and the whole London gang.

I don’t know if that will be the case with this series as well. Again, I liked the characters and I did fly through reading this, but I was never super into the story. Maybe I just don’t love Schwab’s writing style? I honestly don’t know. This is another beloved series, but despite all the monsters and the high stakes, I just never got into it.

This Savage Song is an urban fantasy that I pictured as being set in America, but now I can’t actually remember if it was or not. Either way, it’s a kind of post apocalyptic world where monsters have risen up out of the darkness and the country has been divided into 6 different realms, all separated by the lawless “waste”. Verity is one of those realms and Verity City is fractured in two between Harker and Henry Flynn (North City and South City). Harker has made some kind of deal with the monsters whereby they won’t harm anyone who pays to be under his protection. On the other side, Henry’s Flynn Task Force is trying to rid the city of evil.

Kate Harker has been kicked out of boarding school after boarding school and her father has finally allowed her to return to V-City. However, the truce between North City and South City is fracturing, so Henry sends his adopted son, August, undercover into North City to get close to Kate and see if they can use her to their benefit. Kate and August become close, everything goes to hell, and suddenly they find themselves fighting for their lives across Verity City.

The book did have an interesting ending and there’s only 1 more book in this series, so I would like to read it, but I think it’s going to fall pretty far down on my list as there are a lot of other books I’d rather prioritize. I did still like the book, I just didn’t really see anything that special about it. Oh well.

The Thief

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Genres: Fantasy
Read: Mar. 2018

The Thief was the first book in my March Challenge to read 3 fantasy novels. It’s been on my TBR since Thick as Thieves came out last year and I heard that the series has gotten really good reviews. I’ve heard that the second book, The Queen of Attolia, is really the star of the series, so I wasn’t sure if The Thief would be that great, but I still really enjoyed it!

It’s a short book and it has a fairly simple plot, but it was a lot of fun! Gen claims to be able to steal anything, but he finds himself trapped in the King’s prison at the start of this novel. He’s very weak from being confined to the prison, with painful wounds on his ankles and wrists from the chains. But he’s offered a chance to get out of the prison when the King’s Magus appears to take him on a quest to steal an item for the King of Sounis. If Gen is successful, he’ll be granted immunity and allowed to walk free, the only catch is that he’s not told where they’re going or what they’re going to steal.

Gen sets off on a journey with the Magus, his 2 apprentices, and a solider, Pol, to steal an item of great value to the 3 kingdoms: Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia. This item will give Sounis a political advantage against their enemies. Gen isn’t interested in the journey or the task at hand, but he does want freedom, so he agrees to aid the Magus in his task.

I thought Gen was a fantastic character. He’s a bit full of himself and a bit dim-witted – he got thrown into prison because he spent too much time bragging in a wineshop about what a good thief he is. He’s got a dry sense of humour and his only real joys seem to come from eating and sleeping. He may be along for the journey, but he’s not going to make it easy on his captors. He knows that he has no real power, but he also knows that they need him, so he takes the opportunity to mess with them a little bit since they don’t want to see him harmed before he can steal for them.

It is a bit of a slow moving plot – there’s a lot of journeying and not a whole lot of action until the second half of the book, but I enjoyed the writing and the characterization. But the ending is what really made this a great book. The plot seems simple, but it’s the first of 5 books, so you know this book has to be setting up the rest of the story, and it is, but Turner puts in a great twist at the end to really give this book a meaningful start to the story.

It reminded me a little of Howl’s Moving Castle, one of my favourite middle grade books, in that a lot of seemingly random, unimportant stuff happens and it’s not until the end that you realize that all those incidents and conversations actually do mean something and that this book was actually a lot more complex and clever than you realized. You have a great epiphany at the end and everything comes together so well that you can’t help but be impressed with the structure and writing!

So definitely a great start to a new series, I’m just lamenting that I can’t jump right into the next book!