Monday, March 30, 2015

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley ( Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne # 2 )

Brian Staveley won my heart with his fantastic debut last year, The Emperor’s Blades. It helped that the massive marketing engines of large publishing houses worked overtime to ensure that the book got up front and close to us readers even before it released. But one thing was certain – even as I closed the last page of book-1 – that Brian was just getting started. The scope of book-one was more personal – the fates of three royal children after their father, the Emperor on the Unhewn Throne, is murdered and how the lines of fate circle around each – never entangling except towards the fag end when Valyn gets to team up with Kaden – and as book one ended, we knew the stakes were getting much higher. There were forces involved here that went far beyond the courts politics of Annur and the Dawn Palace. And perhaps Kaden, the one undergoing training at the hands of the Shin monks, would be key to understanding the perils of this harsh brutal world – where the storm-clouds were beginning to signal a war that was going to cost not just the throne but perhaps something more.

Book-two expands – nay – explodes the scope to beyond epic. And in such a mind-blowing fashion that it took me a few days to come to grips with the ending of book-two. The ending just ripped away any reservations I may have had earlier about this series – A lot of them say Unhewn Chronicles doesn’t add anything to the genre, that it is a play on existing tropes, a story we probably have seen before of royal siblings finding their groove after the Emperor is assassinated. And to all of them I say – Stop! Read Book-two before you make your proclamations.

The last two-thirds of the book raises the level of writing and the depth of political intrigue in an epic fantasy novel to hitherto unknown levels – stratospheric to say the least. And it’s so immersive and engrossing that you might ignore the fact that this tome is probably much bigger than book-one – and easily just forget everything about your normal daily life to be sucked into this frantic whirlpool of epic fantasy goodness. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sign of a good book. And of greatness still to come. For where book-two ends, the stage is set for some heart-rending face-offs, explosive and terrible at the same time.

Providence of Fire picks up exactly where The Emperor’s Blades ended – Valyn and Kaden, brothers finally joining hands and together on the run after the “incidents” at the Shin Monastery. I braced myself for some warm “brotherly” scenes but Brian clearly doesn’t believe in “soapy mushy” stuff. After all with the fate of the Empire still hanging in balance, there is clearly no time to engage in some nice brotherly “reliving” the memories of running around playing at swords in the corridors of the Dawn Palace. Nope. Both Kaden and Valyn are guarded – bristly like two porcupines facing off. I wasn’t fully convinced of this take from Brian yet – but somehow it works. In an ungainly manner to spur the story forwards by leaps.  While Kaden is still confused about his role and clearly not adjusted to the fact that he is now perhaps, The Emperor – Valyn struggles with the haunting memories of his “Kettral graduation” and he is still coming to terms with his leadership under pressure of his Wing now branded a “traitor” by the rest of the Kettrals and the imperial troops.
Just as we’re settling down, sighing with relief that maybe now Kaden is safe – with the battle-hardened Valyn to guard his back - Kaden splits off with his umial, the mysterious Rampuri Tan to find answers to the larger plot of the return of the Csestriim – with Tan’s older comrades in arms, the Ishien. Meanwhile, a disgruntled Valyn runs into troubles with the native horse-riding savages, the Urghuls on the swampy borders of the Empire.

And just as we’re gasping for breath – recovering from this adrenaline-pumping chapters of both Kaden and Valyn, we rush back to the Capital. Adare – who sadly in book-one was more of a show-piece rather than active participant in the conspiracy theories at the heart of the web – decides to finally take things into her own hands. She flees the Capital – away from the regent and her lover, General Ran il Tornja whose bloodied hands are behind the assassination. Adare – who had the slimmest slice of the three perspectives from book-one, am happy to say, comes into her own in this book and is clearly one of the brightest spark of the whole story. Her character development arc is the best developed in book-two. Through her POV, the plot is driven firmly forwards and the largest wheel that is now spinning around the mysterious General Tornja is being clearly driven by Adare. Though yes – after a momentous meeting between the two, she again sometimes gets relegated to being a side-player and we feel that she is yet again a helpless royal bauble, being led by the charming General with his own ulterior motives.

Kaden is inheriting his father’s skills at negotiating and bringing people together for a cause. But with no formal training and apparently foes like a General he’s never met and a sister he doesn’t know, things aren’t a walk in the park. His encounters with “the Ishien” and then his later adventures within the Capital makes for some choppy and tense reading – fulfilling in terms of character-development (Kaden - He is fast learning new skills as a political heir should!) and the final few chapters and the ‘revelations’ about his companions ups the ante big time. Brian cleverly introduces a new POV – through the eyes of Gwenna – the demolitions expert on Valyn’s wing, stuck behind in the Urghul camp with sharpshooter Annick and the assassin Pyrre. I thought this was a great move – coming in perhaps a tad too late but definitely a welcome  one – as Gwenna forms the perfect foil and lens to watch the epic confrontational battle unfold - between the amassed Urghul and a small set of defenders on this tiny choke-point village at the border. Pyrre gives us the only “light” moments in this whole grim brutal story – her quips are to die for.

Coming to Valyn – In book-one, he was clearly the whole glue behind the separated narratives of Adare and Kaden. The “star” POV for me. And in Book-two, in going after expansion of the plot and the world in conflict, Brian has unfortunately short-changed Valyn. A slow start followed by a scattershot confused narrative, he is a spectator to the events rolling by and doesn’t have much to do. [Until the final teaser moment where Brian flips everything in this series on its head. Shh…no spoilers] But rest assured as things come to a head in book-three, the three siblings are going to have a hard time reconciling with each other. This one’s going to be a crackling confrontation!

While Book one was about getting introduced to zen-cool vaniate or the super-cool Winged Avengers on their Kettrals and the whole pagoda of Gods – old and new, Book-Two builds up on the magic, the whole Kent-Kissing Universe gets a shot in the arm expanding beyond to encompass the marauding Urghuls at the borders and ultimately, the Csestriim finally get a face and conspiracies are crumbling while the factions are gathering, picking their sides for the final battle to follow.
The way this series is headed, I want to be in for a ring-side view of the explosive finale ( As Gwenna would have said it, ‘a Kent-Kissing Goat Fuck’ is on the cards, fellas!). A second book in a series, Providence of Fire isn’t bogged down by being a “bridge” to the final instalment. I have said this earlier, 2015 seems to be the Year of Second Books that challenge and trump over a triumphant first book. This one firmly takes the cake. Bigger, bolder and unequivocally EPIC, this book is like the stuff that got me into reading Epic Fantasy. It’s a refined version – suited to modern reader sentiments – being suitably grim and dark and full of explosive action yes but built on the foundations of an intriguing and well-built secondary world and a plot that keeps getting twistier than a dark chocolate pretzel and thus better. It builds up and showcases Brian Staveley’s immense talent and imagination – and for me, personally was a winner on all fronts. Worth every single line of blog-geekery and promo-buzz it has elicited!

This thundering series of political intrigue cross hatched with epic ‘Godly’ plotlines that dazzle and tantalize by turns, seasoned with a splash of magic should be on your MUST_READ_SERIES_EVER shelves. Go read it. NOW!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Movie Review: Badlapur ( 2015 )

Sometimes I cheat. And I put in reviews outside of Fantasy and Science Fiction books here on my blog. And if it is movies, then it usually is a movie that has affected me in a great manner.

Badlapur fits right into that mold – a revenge saga directed by Sriram Raghavan, a past master at creating dark haunting cinematic pieces that focuses on the dark labyrinths within one’s mind – remember Ek Hasina Thi? Several scenes were disturbing and had me cringing – but Sriram’s deft hands brought them out in the best possible manner – a crime-thriller, slick and underrated that went on to be appreciated as art-form in a genre that usually sees a lot of kitschy rehashes of Hollywood or Korean movies. Sriram’s handiwork – perhaps inspired – is still one of the best we get to see and Badlapur marks a bounce-back to form for the talented director ( After his big budget Agent Vinod tanked!)

Varun Dhawan plays Raghav aka Raghu, an up and coming ad agency executive living the plush happy life – married to Misha (Yami Gautam sleepwalking through another role yet again – playing the‘love-interest in the flashback’ ) with a young son, Robin – in Pune when their perfectly enviable dream-like life gets railroaded by a bank robbery gone horribly wrong. In fact the whole movie revolves around this one scene right in the beginning – where a small-time conman Layik ( Nawazuddin Siddique yet again playing a mesmerizing role that establishes his cadre as the top talent in the industry today) along with his henchman Harman ( Vinay Pathak) hijack Misha’s car to get away with their bank-loot and in the car-chase that follows, Robin the boy gets thrown out of the moving car and Misha gets shot by Layik.

From that moment on, you know this movie is going to grip you and slam you up against the walls to not let you go till the last frame. It’s a hurried shot – the gun-shot and the sullen shocked silence that follows. But Layik – Nawazuddin oozes pure evil as he calmly asks his partner to get off and then surrenders to police, claiming the shooting was done by his partner ( Who manages to disappear by then) and that he was only a getaway driver.  Enter Raghu – who watches his wife die in front of him and the cut-up dead body of his dead son at the morgue. And as we watch the devolution in him, a slow subtle change in Raghu – now possessed by the devil to extract revenge on whoever did this to him - we know we are in for the full ride. 

There are terrifying moments in the movie that grip you cold and make the hair at the nape of neck curl in anguish and fear - Raghu dancing with his imaginary wife in his hands, Raghu tying up Jimli (Layik's girlfriend who is a prostitute) to the bed head-post with silken kerchiefs, Raghu rolling up plastic sheets to mop up the spilled blood....The list goes on. From an acting point of view, I thought Varun Dhawan's delivered his best performance ever. For him - to go from the bright-eyed high-spirited Student of the Year/Main Tera Hero character to this obsessive menacing brooder, Varun's really worked hard on his emoting. Even developed a heavy walk that goes with his character. I'm a big fan of his ( think from that bunch of bratty star-kids who crowded the screen in Student of the Year, this boy was the brightest find for the industry!) Nawazuddin, well - this powerhouse of talent just blew my mind away. After Gangs of Wasseypur, this was yet another knockout. The other actors too pitched in with pretty seasoned performances - be it Huma Quereshi playing the hooker, Radhika Apte in a very nuanced performance as Harman's wife or Kumud Mishra playing the crafty inspector - all of them have put in outstanding performances.

Raghu’s gradual descent into depravity and madness possessed by this single-mindedness to not just extract revenge but to inflict pain on whoever did this to him – is the highlight of the story.  It’s a twisted dark drama – driven purely on by these two characters, their confrontation and their all-consuming hatred for each other. Just as you are convinced that Layik is a lying conniving bastard without any remorse in life and that Raghu is the victim thirsting to set right to the horrific wrongs that plagues his life – the movie switches tracks and you balk, confused and refusing to believe. This moment - there is a clear turn of events and an unforgettable scene that convinces you of Raghu's spiraling meltdown - is a suckerpunch. And quite possibly WAS the shot of the entire movie for me ( Not revealing that to avoid spoilers!)

The grey in their characters spread, mingle and then by the end of the movie, we are hard pressed to take a call as to who is the greater evil. This isn’t a regular- slasher revenge story with explosive fight sequences. It’s a slow movie – character-driven spanning all the other lives that gets drawn into this game of revenge including Layik’s mother, the police-office who investigates this murder from the beginning, Harman’s wife and Layik’s girlfriend.
The narrative is brilliant, soaked in suspense and narrowly balanced on the knife’s edge as you wait for more than fifteen years for Raghu to go about his revenge. And even as he does, you realize that it isn’t just revenge – that Raghu is so far down the path of black that there is no turning back for him now. There is no redemption for anyone involved.

For all the novel experimentation with casting and narrative, overall I felt the movie was a wee-bit too long.  Languorous is the word. The pacing was off-kilter and there were logic plot holes. You probably would walk out of the theater - disturbed and depressed - at the end of the movie. But maybe that was exactly what Sriram Raghavan was driving for. As far as I'm concerned, he has done a stupendous job of making this messed up twisty revenge saga that is duplicitous and slippery. Perhaps not as taut as the Korean Noir but definitely breaking new grounds for Bollywood!

Monday, March 16, 2015

AngelFall (Penryn and the End of Days # 1) by Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee released back in 2012 (published by Skyscape after it was an indie title before in 2011) and it recently caught my eye as the trilogy ending, End of Days is coming out this May. So a quick request to NetGalley followed and the book was in my TBR. A highly successful YA series featuring another plucky heroine? After “The Awesome” by Eva Darrows, I guess the genre had a second life as far as I was concerned. And I was beginning to like some titles!

 But the first few lines really reeled me in, hook, line and sinker – a dystopian world where the 'Angels of Apocalypse' have gone on a rampage destroying the big cities of the world and humanity is scrounging in pockets to survive. Not to mention the post-apocalyptic world being a lawless harsh place where human lives value lesser than a fallen feather to the gangs roaming the streets. Author Susan Ee launches us straight into the middle of the night – where seventeen-year old Penryn along with her quasi-mental mother and crippled younger sister Paige – are trying to escape from their apartment and go someplace safer. The tension was dripping off the pages and Susan masterfully builds up the atmosphere of a lawless San Francisco street where nameless danger lurks around the shadowy corner.

But the surprise kicker that really blew me off ( and made me persist with the reading!) was her introduction of the Angels. An angel-fight, five against one, a high-stakes high-pitched street-fight that Penryn accidentally walks into.  And being the large-hearted creature that she is, she saves Raffe – the lone angel whose wings gets brutally hacked off. But in the middle of this adrenaline-pumping fight scene, Penryn forgets that her crippled younger sister, bound to a wheelchair is easy pickings for the disgruntled Angels. She can only watch helplessly as she is borne away by the Angels to their hideout. Stuck with a bleeding Angel – who probably knows where they took Paige to, she has no option but to side up and revive this unlikely ally to go search for her sister. The rest of the action-packed heady narrative follows this unlikely duo try and retrieve Paige.

Angels of Apocalypse? Whoa, sounds like a fun take on a genre that is fast becoming stale and repetitive – with rip-offs on Hunger games hogging limelight for all wrong reasons. So frankly, I found this story fresh and original – and not only in its handling of the YA-concept (A truly remarkable heroine, unabashedly flawed, quick to anger and loyal to a fault, Penryn is a winning poster-girl for this genre. I loved her. Plucky, thinks with her heart and shoots her mouth off in the most unacceptable situations – making it stickier than ever, quick to blush and toy with the gentler feelings - the list that makes her likable goes on) but in building a believable premise where the World has gone to Hell – riding on the wings of Angels. It’s paced like a silver bullet – streaking away right from page one till the explosive climax where in the space of a few paragraphs, Susan lets it rip with a massive humdinger of a twist, shocking me as a seasoned reader. A grim end to the brutal set-up that she builds up in the first book. The plot flies off the pages and Susan keeps it pumped up throughout – introducing a new event to spice up the proceedings. There is not a single dull moment in this book and that probably sees us through to the end – without lingering on the fact that there are in fact, quite a few loose ends left glaringly open.

Raffe is obviously a big player in the larger scheme of the Angel-politics mystery but Susan plays things very close to her heart, letting nothing out. Choosing a first-person narrative for Penryn works for most of the novel. Mixing up dry snarky humour with unswerving loyalty and an unmistakable fervour to do the right things, Penryn is a character you will grow to love. But even with her, Susan plays out the complex relationship that Penryn shares with her "Mother" as a to-be-revealed-at-the-fag-end of the story card. The Mother for me, is an engrossing character whom I want to know and see more of. A lady whose dreams dictate her life-terms and who has frequent conversations with the “demons” is a hardy survivor of the harsh surroundings that the world has fallen into. If it was a tricky writer-device, well then yes damned it worked!

Raffe, Penryn’s Angel-ally ( The hunky brooding love-interest angle as is mandatory for any YA-novel this time is a Jockey Ad Model/Greek God with Wings )in this search is also a pretty interesting character – but Susan doesn’t really let us in on the secrets or enigma surrounding this Angel. But his quiet fortitude and a sense of charm and dignity – that he wears like a mask over possibly a lot of pain in his previous life – makes him difficult not to like. Penry and Raffe share a very interesting relationship throughout the novel that evolves – in the most logical and best possible manner. Let’s just say, you know where this is going, for now.  (until Book-2 I guess!)

Now the plot-holes that didn’t quite add up – and I’m hoping Susan is just letting these play out until the “End of Days” comes out – was the back-story to the Apocalypse. The devolution of the world in six weeks seems a bit far-fetched – especially because Susan just doesn’t let us know how all this came about. (Psst..Even the perpetrators don't have a clue!) But I wouldn’t let this dither you from reading this scorcher of a book.

Hells come alive, Angelfall is an astonishingly fast-paced, super entertaining opener to a YA-Fantasy series that will surely have fans of this genre screaming with glee for more. I, for one, am a fan and will stick around till the End of Days (Out in May this year!)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Awesome: Teenage confusions, some monster hunting and a LOT OF FUN!!

The Awesome by Eva Darrows is a fun little package – urban fantasy at its riotous LMAO best. The name itself should give you a clue that this is a book that doesn't take itself seriously. A name that screams teenage indifference, self-absorbed cocky attitudes. The Awesome features "I am cool. Yes I know it. I am THE Awesome" Maggie Cunningham, a precocious seventeen-year protagonist who represents the geeky, know-it-all, self-obsessed teenagers, who by the way is also an apprentice to her mother – an acclaimed monster hunter herself. The twist in the story is..that she has to ‘get laid’ to become a federally registered full-fledged hunter. The Awesome thus splays open the teenager version of the pandora's box: Full of all the dating-problems, drunken-sex parties and sugary first-kisses ( and all post-kiss insecurities and the emotional rollercoaster rides that follows) along with some hairy jeepers-creepers creating problems in thier daily life. Read fanged monsters as is evident on that beee-a-uutiful cover.

So Maggie is a home-schooled, mostly friendless (discounting her best friend Juliet) utterly intense teenager whose idea of fun on a Friday night is to get her freak on – read put on battle gear consisting of sharpened stakes, holy-water balloons stuffed into her bosom and knives strapped to the boots – and go hunting supernatural terrors who bump up in night time Massachusetts. Along with her mother, Janice (“Part rock-star, part Ninja, secret love-child of Jet Li and Lady Gaga – with a penchant to experiment her hair color that goes from pink, purple to sometimes green and blue and usually drove a pick-up truck or white kidnapper vans!)

Now Maggie is pretty sincere in following up on her mother’s footsteps and is trying hard to become a licensed and independent monster hunter -ie to find her groove in this world where vampires, ghouls, the walking dead and other pointy-horn thingies roam the night. In fact, the opening chapter of the book sets up the mood for the rest of the story – a backstory of her first act of monster-hunting that is a jet-setting laugh-riot. Where slapstick humour mixes with furious action and is narrated by a self-absorbed narcissistic snarky seventeen-year self. she is full of herself.  the cocky attitude that comes in at that age. Coz well, she is awesome, you know. And with that you pretty well guess how the rest of the book is going.

So Maggie reluctantly takes up her mom’s well-meaning advice (“If you're not up for boys, you're more than welcome to find yourself a nice girl. I'm hip.. I'm happening. I am totally down with you crazy kids exploring your sexuality.") and tries to hitch up with Ian - a sweet naive boy her best friend Juliet introduces her to at this party. Things don't go according to plan - mainly because Ian is on a rebound-after-being-ditched-by-girlfriend and is stone-drunk. But Ian - being the nice boy that he is - persists because, hey Maggie is THE awesome and a very cool girl to hang out with.

And while this domestic drama is unfolding in her life, Maggie - still being a virgin - attracts the bloodlust of a young vampire - whom her trigger-happy foul-mouthed mother of a monster-hunter happily dispatches to kingdom come by blowing her head into an ectoplasmic mound of slimey stuff. And the victim being the single progeny of some high-ranking vampire prince, Maggie and her mom are stuck between a rock and hard place. or as hard a place can be, when confronted by hordes of bloodsucking Vampires and Ghouls.  What follows is how Maggie extricates themselves from this bother of a spot - in her own ingenious ways. Thus earning her stripes to be a first-class Monster-Hunter. and yes, get laid of course.

It's a completely hilarious set-up - and Eva's writing is top-notch. We are reminded a bit of Chuck Wendig's Miriam Black in Maggie's profanity-laced outbursts at life's unfairness. In a good way. Flighty without taking any prisoners, Eva drills us onwards in this non-stop comic-action caper - where things go from bad to worse in a second's notice. Massachussets at night is a dangerous place - and Eva's prose brings the dangers alive. in a irreverent completely slapstick manner and she get's the narrator's voice pat-down. a surly teenager sulking through her date-disasters and then trying to cope with problems larger than her missing tampons - like a Hulk-strong Undead girl - ressurected from death and forced to shack up with Maggie and Janice, a Russian mobster-chick, a slick vampire prince who does pilates on the ground - Not to mention boyfriend issues and Mother-issues. It's a complicated life for a teenager. Her tumultuous deeply loving relationship and bonding with her mom is absolutely delightful stuff.( "Other people expressed affection with warm sentiments and kisses. I used death threats and demeaning language. Don't judge.")

So in parting, if you haven't experienced Maggie Cunningham yet, then you should. The Awesome is a nonstop fun express - poking fun at everything including itself.  A protagonist that I look forward to meeting again soon.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cover Reveal: Orbit Titles for Fall 2015 that I'm looking forward to

So Orbit has come out with some fascinating cover-reveals for their Fall 2015 catalog..And a lot of titles are series continuations or conclusions. Here are some:

A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

About the Book: 

Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.
Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.

A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER is an outstanding epic fantasy debut featuring an unforgettable warrior.

What's in it for me

A lot of positive vibes about this title. A debut that promises to give us another Monza Murcatto perhaps? Bring it on!! 

Mortal Tally by Sam Sykes

The heart of civilization bleeds.

Cier'Djaal, once the crowning glory of the civilized world, has gone from a city to a battlefield and a battlefield to a graveyard. Foreign armies clash relentlessly on streets laden with the bodies of innocents caught in the crossfire. Cultists and thieves wage shadow wars, tribal armies foment outside the city's walls, and haughty aristocrats watch the world burn from on high.

As his companions struggle to keep the city from destroying itself, Lenk travels to the Forbidden East in search of the demon who caused it all. But even as he pursues Khoth-Kapira, dark whispers plague his thoughts. Khoth-Kapira promises him a world free of war where Lenk can put down his sword at last. And Lenk finds it hard not to listen.
When gods are deaf, demons will speak.
 What's in it for me

I admit I haven't got into the Sykes-Mania yet and the whole trilogy that introduces Lenk and his brigand of no-gooders haven't struck a chord with me. But I've got City Stained Red, his new trilogy and I plan to make amends - jumping onto this Sykes-Train with this one. So yes, I'm looking forward to part#2 as well. And hey - what a friggin' awesome cover!!

Radiant State by Peter Higgins

About the Book:
The extraordinary conclusion to this heart-stopping debut fantasy thriller trilogy that began with Wolfhound Century.

What's in it for me

Having absolutely loved Peter Higgins' opening salvo in this trilogy, I want to know how this highly original story is going to end. I was most impressed by his ability to weave together russo-myths into this imaginative thriller/genre-bender.

Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

About the Book

The capital has fallen...

Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided...

With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one...

And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed...

What's in it for me

Brian McClellan and Django Wexler have thrown the "Flintlock Fantasy" sub-genre wide open with thier works that each builds upon the last. It's fun, furious and bloody fantastic. 
THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.

Reign of Iron by Angus Watson


 Caesar's soldiers have murdered, massacred and pillaged their way through Gaul and loom on the far side of the sea, ready to descend upon Britain - with them are an unstoppable legion of men twisted by dark magic. Somehow Queen Lowa must repel the invasion, although her best general is dead and her young druid powerless. She faces impossible odds, but when the alternative is death or slavery, a warrior queen will do whatever it takes to save her people.


What's in it for me

I read the first book, Age of Iron. Humor mixed up with Epic battles - meticulously researched and adeptly written. Angus Watson definitely has a shining future and I hope to see more of him. Reign of Iron marks the end of his trilogy - which I feel is criminally underrated. Go on - read Angus Watson. You won't be disappointed! 

Spider's War by Daniel Abraham

About the Book

Lord Regent Geder Palliako's great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent war of all against all.

In Carse, with armies on all borders, Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. Their tools: traitors high in the imperial army, the last survivor of the dragon empire, and a financial scheme that is either a revolution or the greatest fraud in the history of the world.

What's in it for me
Hell, the best ever running epic fantasy series ever. And it comes to an explosive ending with this title. Dagger and Coin rivals GRRM in scope and style. And yes - it is complete!! 

Black Wolves by Kate Elliot

Some choices can never be undone.

The Hundred, once ruled by a tainted religion and demon court, is now a place of prosperity, but treachery still waits in the shadows. Once the captain of the elite Black Wolves, Kellas finds himself standing at a crossroads where he must decide whom to serve and whom to betray. Faithful to the king's memory but shut out from his legacy, Lady Dannarah fights for the rank she was denied, while three young outcasts leave their homes to find their own destiny.
As broken alliances are guardedly rekindled and old friendships put to the test, the Hundred's past is called into question ­and its very future is at stake.

What's in it for me

Having never really read Kate Elliot till now, I think I would like to start something fresh. And this seems like an EPIC place to begin.