Book Review: The Gods of Men

The Gods of Men by [Kloss, Barbara]

4.5/5 stars

This was (almost) everything I wanted it to be. A solid, rip-roaring epic fantasy, with all the beloved elements of the genre. Usually when I pick up such a story, I rate it on four (albeit completely arbitrary and unique to myself) elements: magic, monsters, (wo)+men, and mayhem. All four of these things were *very* nearly there, and made my fantasy-loving heart oh so happy.

First, magic (and the only category with a docked half-point). The magic system was solid, but didn’t completely do it for me. I don’t mind unclarity (is that a word? If not, I declare it so) with magic. In fact, I prefer a little mystery to accompany the system, but this had a little TOO much fogginess with how it worked. I’m assuming it will become more concrete with the next installment of the series. But I would have preferred a little more clear lines with what it is and how it works. I feel like with certain POV’s, it could have been fleshed out more, particularly Rasmin’s. But generally, I enjoyed the unique element of music being a part of it, and the Shah was certainly an interesting concept. It will be cool to see how it (hopefully) becomes more defined in book 2.

Second, monsters. I love some good scary beasts adding unpredictability to a narrative. This book had it in spades. The shades were super scary and unique, and the chakran was downright terrifying. They kicked the intensity up a notch, and raised the stakes at times, so it had this element that I really enjoy and typically judge an epic fantasy by.

Third, (wo)+men, which is just a dumb way of talking about the characters while having everything start with an “m”. I thoroughly enjoyed ALL the characters, which is unusual for me. Usually there are one or two that I have complaints about, be it their character arc or motivations. But every single actor in this story was well-written, had believable motivations, and flowed well with what the author seemed to be trying to accomplish. Even the Maker, the god in this story, wasn’t typical. I love how the characters each interacted with him differently, had various ways they believed or didn’t believe, and how that affected each of their stories. Sable was a compelling main character, and the Wolf, while somewhat typical (at least, IMO) had elements to him that made him a bit different, too. I really loved the “is he a good guy or bad guy?” question throughout the whole book, and how it made him unique. There were snippets here and there throughout the book of fun, believable relationships. Wolf/Braddok and their friendship, the complicated Wolf/Sable thing going on, and even the sibling relationships the author delved into were awesome. My only complaint (very, very minor) was what happened with Astrid’s character arc. It was heartbreaking, in a way, but also made me both angry and unsatisfied. However, I think this is probably what the author was going for, and it in no way detracts from the story.

Lastly, mayhem. This book delivers on complicated plots, battles, fight scenes, and general madness that makes epic fantasy so fun and engaging to read. The author has a knack for pacing that is pretty unusual with epic fantasy, too. Most authors (usually unique to epic fantasy writers) can’t quite strike a good balance between worldbuilding and pacing the plot forward, but the author has mastered this. There wasn’t ever a point where I was bored by the descriptions of the world, because it was so masterfully woven into the narrative. Yet there wasn’t ever a time I was confused, either, by parts of the world because there wasn’t an explanation of it. YOU GUYS. This is so hard to do. I write epic fantasy, and this is the hardest part of writing it, hands down. It seems like this author literally had no issue with mastering this, and it makes me jealous. It seemed so effortless, so immersive, and kept the pacing of the book flawless. Major kudos.

All in all, this ties with one of my favorite epic fantasy reads this year. I’m really looking forward to book 2, and following this author’s career.

Grab it on Amazon or add it on Goodreads

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Book Review: The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

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5/5 stars

The Sword of Kaigen is the first book I’ve read by this author, and certainly won’t be the last. I had a wide range of feelings and thoughts when I first started reading. What I’ll do for review purposes is start off with what I had (minor) complaints about before I get into the massive amounts of positive things. But first things first.

You can’t read this book thinking it’s about a progressive story, with a typical 5 act structure. The book centers around one battle that takes place about halfway through, and on two characters and how they respond. It took me a bit to get used to this concept. Typically I’m drawn to books that take you multiple different directions with the plot lines, and have some happenings that lead up to the plot climax. This is not that. So, when I finally understood this, I enjoyed the story much better. I’m sure this was purposeful on the author’s part (since this story takes place in a world she already created) so the book, from what I understand, is kind of a prequel type of story. This actually isn’t a complaint as much as a side note to how you should approach reading this book.

A couple things that I had to get used to. There is a LOT of concepts, terms, and language that is new. There is a glossary, which is helpful, but it was so pervasive that at least twice a paragraph I was having to go back to reference what was being said and talked about. For readers familiar with the author’s other works, this probably won’t be as much of a problem. But for me, it was almost too much. I nearly put the book down. I’m SO glad I didn’t. On the one hand, this lends to really being deep in the world, because of course the characters will know exactly what is going on. But there were other sections of the book that were info dumps (helpful in some cases) but I wish there had been a tad bit more of this so I had a better idea of what was going on without having to constantly be referencing the glossary (which is more difficult when reading an eBook, which I was.) Again, all that to say, stick with it. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, on to the good stuff. For me, there were three things that make this writer a stand-out. The book focuses on two characters, for the most part. Mamoru and his mother, Misaki. However, their stories don’t intersect that much until a good bit into the story. This isn’t a problem, though, because it’s actually a very clever worldbuilding element. You right away get the sense that family relationships are VERY different, but without being directly told this is so. That’s my first rave about this author: the worldbuilding is incredible. You immediately get tossed into a fantastic, unique world and story.

Secondly, the characters are multi-layered, unique, and far from predictable. Initially, I REALLY disliked Misaki, because her flaws seemed to far outweigh the good things about her. But then it hit me: this was absolutely intentional and vital to the story itself. Because not only is Misaki an incredibly unique and relateable character, it gradually comes out that this self-view she has is not accurate. And where it IS accurate, it only reveals the brokenness of her story and of the world itself, making her one of the most real, understandable, and fascinating characters I’ve ever read in any book. Ever. And I read A LOT.

Mamoru is also a very well-done character. It was hard at first to get into his story, since initially he comes across as just like every other coming-of-age teenager I’ve read. However, his character arc takes such a great turn that I finally grasped the scope of what the author was trying to accomplish, and was totally blown away. It finally struck me that this is more a story about the characters than the plot itself. And the story was so well crafted that I can’t even complain about it.

Lastly, the themes of this book were deep and so well done that you get the feeling the author is some multi-bestselling genius. Topics such as relationships in marriage, parenting, sexism, patriarchy, self-worth, and a host of others left me in awe. This story hits a hard punch to the gut in all the best ways. I can’t remember the last time I got choked up so many times reading a novel. It’s not just current and raw, it rips your heart up and then heals it.

A HUGE 5 stars. Wish I could leave more than that. This book isn’t even a risk. It’s a guaranteed enjoyable, emotional experience.

Find it on Amazon or add to Goodreads.

Now available: The Shade War

It’s time to wrap up The Rodasia Chronicles. The Shade War, volume III, released today. It’s a bittersweet moment for me. Years of work, finally completed. Sigh. There’s a sense of accomplishment, though. Get caught up by reading The Hidden Queen and The Coming Light.

 

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Now Available: The Coming Light

Volume II of The Rodasia Chronicles is here!!!! Once again, the amazing Susie Poole of Poole Publishing Services is responsible for the beautiful cover. Isn’t Charles looking good!? Maybe I’m a bit biased. Anyways. You can grab The Coming Light on Amazon in eBook, print, and free for KU subscribers. Happy reading!

 

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Married to a stranger, her country on the verge of destruction, can Queen Gwyneth Jada avoid catastrophe? 

Charles is captured, and the Speaker of Highland has double-crossed her. Gwen is faced with mounting pressure from within and without her kingdom. Rodasia is in the brink of collapse, and the Emperor of Devin proposes a Summit to discuss the future. But when betrayal comes from all sides, Gwen doesn’t know who she can trust.

Soon she is on the run, and when all hope seems lost, Gwen must find a way to not just save herself, but save her people and all those she loves. And the solution is nothing like what she thought it would be.

Step into Book II of the Rodasia Chronicles, a story of trust, love, and friendship, from fantasy author Janelle Garrett.

Ahead of Schedule

Sometimes being ahead of schedule is awesome. This is one of those times. The Hidden Queen is now available. Check it out!

 “An excellently crafted tale of love, struggle, failure and victory, this fantasy hefts heavy themes of faith, philosophy, culture, and humanity without loosing any enjoyment for the reader. Not only will this book keep you happily lost in a fantasy world for hours, it won’t let you leave unchanged.”
         -J.E. Purrazzi. Author of The Malfunction Trilogy and The Raventree Society

 

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The Hidden Queen

So, for quite some time now, I’ve kept a secret. But now, it is out on the internets.

Coming January 31st…

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Secrets and betrayal. Fear and courage. Can one woman save her nation from destruction?

Check it out here, where you can pre-order. Want to say up-to-date, and receive info like this earlier than any one else? Join my newsletter, and receive free content (including a free book), announcements before the general public, and a host of other freebies.

Now available! The Last Steward

Part 3 of the Steward Saga is here. Try not to lose your mind with excitement. I am enough for the both of us. Check it out, and leave a comment with what you think!

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The Triumphant King is on the march. The Stewards are in hiding. The Sisterhood must unite.

Step into a new world from visionary fantasy author Janelle Garrett. This sweeping tale takes you into new cultures, an intricate magic system, and in-depth plots that will spark the imagination. See what readers are calling “masterful storytelling”, a “rich, complex story” and “a perfect example of epic fantasy.”

When Brate and the Sisterhood rescued Malok from Polbine Voltaire, the victory was short-lived. King Voltaire escaped with his life, and Isa, the mysterious and powerful warlock, disappeared after sending Voltaire running. But just who is Isa? With his help, Brate, Malok, Priva, and Graissa are convinced they can defeat Voltaire once and for all, and stand a chance at closing the Rift.

But Voltaire is Soulbound to the Liar. And he marches toward the Bright Lands, intent on taking the Stone Throne for himself and establishing his dominance across the Lands. The Stewards and the Sisterhood must unite and stop him, otherwise the Rift will never close. But with strife and contention from one corner of the Lands to the other, their chances of stopping Voltaire seem slim. They will need the help of the one person they can’t find: Isa, who has his own ideas about what closing the Rift will entail.

When all hope seems lost, one single act will alter the course of the entire sphere. The surprising truth will change the Stewards, change the Sisterhood, and open the floodgates of the Deep. But will the sacrifice be worth the reward?

The Last Steward is Part 3 of a four-part epic fantasy series. Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, and Robin Hobb will enjoy this fresh, new voice in fantasy literature.

The world of the Steward Saga, available on Amazon:

  1. Part 1 – Rift in the Deep
  2. Part 2 – Rise of the Warlock King
  3. Part 3 – The Last Steward
  4. Part 4 – coming late summer of 2019
  5. The Tale of Briton’s Fury – prequel novella
  6. Justice: A Steward Saga Short Story Collection