Friday, January 9, 2015

MG Fantasy Book Review: Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

Here's my first review for my YA and MG reading, so I decided I'd use it for one of my favorite MG fantasy series: the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. The series started off a bit slow for me, feeling a bit too childish in the first couple of books. Around halfway through book two, though, it had me convinced, and I loved the last three books.

What does Mull do well? There's a lot of action, and there's variety to it. His magic works. It's not incredibly systematic or anything, but he doesn't pull solutions out of nowhere. The characters are also fun, especially some of the side characters. As far as the main characters go, Kendra can be a bit too perfect at times, and Seth can get annoying with his stupidity, but they are kids. I found they were the perfect characters for the story.

The basic premise is that their grandparents own a wildlife preserve for all the fantasy creatures in the world. The series is, at first, about their adventures on this preserve. Eventually, they end up visiting other preserves, and it turns into a "save the world" plot. Along the way, the characters grow up and develop as people, and there are quite a few interesting twists.

In all, it's one of my favorites, especially later on in the series.

Rating: 9.5/10

Fantasy Book Review: Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell

I just finished this book today, and I came away very impressed. It's one of those books that brings back the action I like to see in fantasy. There were action scenes galore, and the author still found the time to develop interesting characters. It's a fun book, but it can also be a bit dark at times. Contrary to so much that's out there, I found it had grittiness without overdoing it.

The big thing is that our heroes are actually heroic, especially the protagonist. That's not to say he doesn't have his flaws. He does. But they're not the kind of flaws that make him a terrible person. To be honest, I'm sick of seeing so much fantasy starring despicable protagonists. At times, it feels as if authors don't know how to make a well-rounded character who still falls on the hero side of the spectrum. I'm glad Sebastien de Castell didn't go that route, providing me with characters I liked going through an action-packed story.

If you're looking for an exciting story that finds a balance between today's Grimdark and the optimistic fantasy of old, this is a good book to take a chance on.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fantasy Book Review: The Grim Company by Luke Scull

It's been a while since I've done some book reviews, so I'm going to try to get back in the habit. Since I've expanded my categories now, each book review will contain the genre or age category.

One book I finished recently was The Grim Company by Luke Scull. I wasn't sure about it going in, mainly because of the title. As I've mentioned before, I'm not the biggest fan of the Grimdark movement in recent fantasy. I'm fine with worlds having some grit and realism, but I've found many stories take this to an extreme, filling their worlds with utterly despicable main characters.

To my surprise, Scull didn't do that. Yes, our main characters were still antiheroes, but they were antiheroes I connected with. This didn't happen for me with some of Joe Abercrombie's characters.

I've read many reviews comparing The Grim Company to Abercrombie's work. While there are undeniably some similarities, mainly in the type of main characters and in the tone, there are also quite a few differences. For one thing, Abercrombie writes more in the low-fantasy vein, where there's some magic, but not a whole lot. Scull's world is very much a high-fantasy world, with tons of magic, where Magelords rule the world's nations.

There's also some pretty cool backstory involving, with the Magelords conquering the gods and then introducing their iron-fisted regimes. Their troops, the Augmentors, are also pretty cool. In all, the world kind of seems like one you might see in a fantasy video game (and that's not a bad thing). I think Scull's biography states that he also works on games, so there probably is some influence there.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It had its rough patches, but I'm intrigued enough to see where it's going.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I sent ouf five queries today.

I got back on the horse after a few rejections had me down for a while. Today, I sent out five queries for Sunweaver. I figure I might as well send it as many places as possible. Then I can make the decisions I alluded to in my last post. That is, should I consider self-publishing electronically. For now, that's not a major concern, but I'll keep it in the back of my mind.

You might also see that I've added more pages to the blog. They're not finished as of yet, but I added two new projects, as well as more reading lists. Now I'll try to get back to doing my reviews. I've added this stuff because I want the blog to reflect everything I do as a writer and reader.

Thanks for sticking with me despite the only occasional posting.