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Book review: Grey Sister #2 Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence

Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2)Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“To Sister Cage though, fury was a weapon. She opened herself to the anger she had held at bay. Her friend lay dying. Her friend.  There is a purity in rage. It will burn out sorrow. For a time. It will burn out fear. Even cruelty and hatred will seek shelter, rage wants none of them, only to destroy. Rage is the gift our nature gives to us, shaped by untold years. Why discard it?.”

In some dark beautiful twisted way, the characters in the Book of the Ancestor series are all broken and evidently flawed deep down. And that’s what makes it so beautiful and relatable. We all know Nona’s story. Unloved and unlovable, betrayed, hunted, sold to Giljohn, until she finds relief in Sweet Mercy. The convent that is, under the Abbess Glass.

The Abbess herself has her own demons, so does the deadly Kettle. Of course, she survives! Would you have expected anything less? And there’s Regol too. Yes, that deadly Regol in Red Sister. There, I said it! He’s still alive and kicking and sardonic and deadly as ever. He’s full-blood hunska after all. You will love him!

Ah yes, and then there’s Keot! Nona’s demons from her past have carved a living space within her soul. That actually bothered me for a while there. Who or what is Keot? I will admit I tried to read spoilers to get answers to this question. When I go too deep and risked killing the element of surprise, I pulled out. So don’t worry. You’ll get there too. Continue reading “Book review: Grey Sister #2 Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence”

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Book Review: Tower Lord #2 Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan

Tower Lord (Raven's Shadow, #2)Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Davoka gestured at the pine. “Look at the tree, throw the knife.”

“I’ve never done this before.”

“Then you miss. Throw again and miss. Again and again until you hit. Then you know how.”

“It’s really that easy?”

Davoka laughed. “No. Really hard. Learning any weapon really hard.”

Lyrna looked at the tree, drew her arm back and threw the knife as hard as she could. Nersa and the guards spent a half hour searching before it was found amongst the surrounding heather.

Reading this novel, I marvelled at the organisation and progression of the fragmented plots, his rock solid memorable characters, his eerily descriptive narrative, the sheer genius of the plot, it’s flawless execution and all that. At that point alone, Anthony Ryan had already earned himself 5 Stars from me. What he pulled off is not something for the faint-hearted. Every climax, expression, reaction, name it was spot on.

Reading Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan for the second time offered me a few insights I had missed the first time around. So much so that I had to overhaul my entire review and write with new eyes. Now that I am not so enamoured of our hero Vaelin Al Sorna, I was able to see other characters that make the Raven’s Shadow series what it is. Here are two observations about Vaelin:

1. Vaelin’s legend is sung more times than you actually get to see it manifest. I actually counted the times he actually fought (and only once with his blade) Continue reading “Book Review: Tower Lord #2 Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan”

Book Review: Blood Song #1 Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song (Raven's Shadow, #1)Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“You shouldn’t linger here. All these people have to offer you is an ugly death.”
“Is that what happens to the Darkblade in the prophecy?”
“Hardly. He is seduced by a sorceress who makes herself a queen with the power to conjure fire from the air. Together they wreak terrible ruin on the world until her fire consumes him in the throes of their sinful passion.”
“Well, at least I have that to look forward to.”

I have read Blood Song at least 3 or 4 times over the years. Once you read Tower Lord and the abominable Queen of Fire(don’t take my biased word for it), you come to appreciate and treasure Blood Song. Before everything goes to shit. What makes this book such a gem is the meticulous world building and the origins story we all crave. It’s like peeling onion rings and discovering something new every time to propel the plot forward.

At the core of the Raven’s Shadow series is Vaelin Al Sorna, son of the Battle Lord of the Unified Realm. Soon after his mother’s death, Vaelin is disposed of in the arms of a forbidding Aspect Arlyn at the gates of the mysterious Sixth Order. There he meets other boys (Nortah, Barkus, Dentos, Caenis, Mikhel, Jennis) under similar circumstances who are trained by the exacting Blade Master Sollis along with other Masters in the art of War. Continue reading “Book Review: Blood Song #1 Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan”

Book Review: Queen of Fire #3 Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan

Queen of Fire (Raven's Shadow, #3)Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you are into historical epic war books, this might work for you.

Not me

Never have I wanted a book to conclude as much I did Queen of Fire. I went through chapter after chapter of nauseating never-ending mind-numbing killing after killing that at times, I couldn’t tell whether I was having a terrible nightmare I couldn’t wake up from, or simply reading a book. And this was after all those negative reviews I read and a conscious decision not to read The Queen of Fire I made to myself years ago when the book came out, despite my desire to go on another adventure with my main man Vaelin Al Sorna.

I was duped!

Years have passed since I read Blood Song, definitely one of the most fascinating fantasy books ever written, and a lukewarm reception for Tower Lord, because you know, we all got nostalgic for the Sixth Order and Anthony Ryan’s masterful worldbuilding that catered to every minutiae you might think of. I didn’t wish to besmirch the beautiful image left by Blood Song, and as I mentioned, lots of reviews left me wary of embarking on what might as well turn out to be a disappointing portrayal of one of my favorite set of characters.

But I forgot!

And so, I read The Queen of Fire. On a whim, actually, since I was searching for something awesome to read. And you know, Rothfuss isn’t so forthcoming with the fabled Doors of Stone, and Scott Lynch is yet to enthral us with the Thorn of Emberlain, despite years of promising and me stalking his page on the down-low. And Blood Song is such an unforgettable read and you know, new year jitters and what not. Continue reading “Book Review: Queen of Fire #3 Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan”

Book Review: Graevale #4 The Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni

Graevale (The Medoran Chronicles, #4)Graevale by Lynette Noni

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay, so there’s one thing that had me all excited reading Graevale. And I mean, disregarding the fact that I waited for the #4 like a runaway sneeze. Shadow Wolves! Man! That was as much a nugget as the Draekora was in the previous book. They only appear for a slice in the entire book, but man! Do I live for those moments!

Here I was thinking that Graevale would be the last book in the series, but it’s rather the penultimate volume in the series. We have Vardaesia to look out for. Big yay? Or squeaky yay? I am personally torn. Continue reading “Book Review: Graevale #4 The Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni”

Book review: Red Sister #1 Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In some few children the old-bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect….A blood-stained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of far worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose…Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way…

A synopsis like that is enough to pique any fantasy reader worth a dime. And me, I have been bought and sold for much less. I will admit I am that cheap. Don’t judge me. It’s that itch, that allure for the impossible, that respect for worldbuilding that sets everything we know and take for granted on its head. I know I am a tad late for Red Sister, but as they say, the race is not for the swift…

Our little scrawny heroine is Nona-something before she’s Nona Reeve, and later Nona Grey. The changing surnames are the least of your worries. What she is deep down is simply a lonely, friendless child looking to bond with anybody who would give her a sliver of attention. That’s more than her mom ever gave her. What she is, is something that had me hooked to Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister in a bid to unravel this secret of secrets Nona keeps close to her chest like invisible talons…

Continue reading “Book review: Red Sister #1 Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence”

Announcing the Judging Panels for the 2018 Writivism Prizes!

Something nice to look forward to.

Writivism

We are pleased to announce the six judges for the 2018 short story and creative non-fiction prizes.

The short story prize panel will be chaired by Shadreck Chikoti, a writer, publisher and representative of the Story Club of Malawi, who are sponsoring the prize. Chikoti will be joined by Beatrice Lamwaka, an award-winning Ugandan short story writer and Emmanuel Sigauke, a writer, editor, and longstanding member of the Writivism Council of advisors.

The Koffi Addo prize for creative non-fiction panel will be chaired by Akwaeke Emezi, a novelist and memoirist. She will be joined by Daniel Kalinaki, a journalist, biographer and General Manager- Editorial of Nation Media Group (Uganda) and Sumayya Lee, a novelist, editor and longstanding member of the Writivism Council of advisors. The prize is sponsored by the Koffi Addo family, through MAKEDA.  

The six judges represent a diversity of backgrounds and the high standards that the…

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Book Review: Draekora #3 Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni

Draekora (The Medoran Chronicles, #3)Draekora by Lynette Noni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So this review might or might not have spoilers, so you might or might have to go ahead with it, unless you already have an inkling as to what is going down. So there! Spoiler Alert!!

First Act:

Here be Dragons! Or Draekora, if the title and the cover art wasn’t already a dead giveaway. More on that later.

So, let’s do a quick recap. We have regular people from Earth. Call them Freyans. We got Alternate Earthlings, like Alex’s friends Bear, Jordan, DC and the whole Akarnae crew. They got giftings, aka superpowers aka magic. Some of them, at least. Call them Medorans. You got Medoran Elves. Don’t call them that. They find it offensive. Rather, call them Meyarins. You got creepy Shadow Walkers and Deadly Sarnaph, the bane of Meyarin existence among other weird creatures. You got yourself a talking, sentient, time-warping Library, and the aptly named Lady Mystique, whoever she might be. What else….hmm…that about sums it up. This is no doubt a setting up of fantastical leaning. Continue reading “Book Review: Draekora #3 Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni”

Book review: Raelia #2 Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni

Raelia (The Medoran Chronicles, #2)Raelia by Lynette Noni

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Without any preamble, Raelia picks off where we stopped in Akarnae. I appreciate the fact that Lynette Noni doesn’t waste her breath on lengthy recaps as many current writers are wont to do in series.

The relatively decent climax in Akarnae corresponds with our hero Alex’s conclusion of her 3rd year level spruced up academics at Akarnae, a school for magically inclined students in Medora. Medora is an alternate universe from Freya aka Earth as we know it.

Surviving Aven’s attack on her person and her soon to be bestie, D.C or Dix, Alex does the impossible and breaks the Elfish Meyarin’s magical hold on her, something unprecedented as far as we can tell. This scene alters Alex in more subtle ways than the silver scars she bears in her palm and back from her ordeal, as we find out in Raelia. Continue reading “Book review: Raelia #2 Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni”

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