The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence

Title: The Liar’s Key

Series: The Red Queen’s War #2

Author: Mark Lawrence

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2015

Prince Jalan Kendeth has spent the winter in the north, hiding from the cold – and from the husbands of his conquests, until the day comes when he is forced to leave and embarks in a new journey with Snorri, this time heading south – music to Jalan’s ears, already dreaming of home and all its comforts.

But comfort is the last thing on Snorri’s mind. Now in possession of Loki’s key, he only needs one more thing before he can bring back his wife and children: to find death’s door, and open it.
But their enemies have eyes on the key, and they won’t make his search easy.

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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Title: The Year of the Witching

Series: Bethel #1

Author: Alexis Henderson

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2020

Blood. Blight. Darkness. Slaughter.

Immanuelle Moore only wants to be a normal young woman in Bethel’s society and follow Protocol and the Prophet’s word just like anyone else, but she has always been frowned upon for being the result of a union between her mother and an outsider.
When a mishap lures her into the dark forest that surrounds Bethel, she encounters the spirits of four witches that were slain on those grounds by the first Prophet, and they bestow a gift on her: her own mother’s diary.
Immanuelle sets to reading her mother’s words, but what begins as the diary of a young woman in love soon turns to something darker and worrisome. Immanuelle doesn’t understand everything, but one thing is clear: if she wants to save Bethel, she needs to get to the bottom of what happened before she was born.

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When the Tiger Came down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Title: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

Series: The Singing Hills Cycle #2

Author: Nghi Vo

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2020

Chih, a cleric from the Singing Hills, is on the road again, collecting knowledge to bring back to their order. This time they’re hiring a scout to guide them through a mountain pass, but along the way they are chased and trapped by a small group of hungry tigers. The only way to survive is to gain time until the arrival of mammoths, and so Chih starts telling them the tale of the tiger Ho Thi Thao and her lover, the scolar Dieu.

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Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Best Served Cold

Author: Joe Abercrombie

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2009

Conscience is an excuse. Mercy and cowardice are the same.

Monza Murcatto has everything she wants. At the head of the Thousand Swords, winning a battle after the other, she has money, respect, and a name: she’s the Serpent of Talins, the Butcher of Caprile. Her employer’s enemies curse her name, while his people cheer her when she walks the streets.
But they like her a bit too much for her employer’s taste, and so he decides to take her out of the picture – literally. If only he had checked that she was actually dead…

Broken and alone, her only desire is to take revenge on the seven people responsible for her demise. With a totally untrustworthy but deadly group of allies, she will hunt down her victims to the end of the world if she must, and let no one stop her.

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The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky

Title: The Seventh Perfection

Author: Daniel Polansky

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2020

The past is the past. Go digging in a graveyard, you’re sure to find a corpse.

Manet is an Amanuensis, a servant of the God-King who studied to master the seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She has perfect memory, a gift that will surely drive her mad as she ages. But when a mysterious locket is sent to her, she will scour the city to find out the truth about it.

What she finds during her search are secrets that put into question the stories around the ascent of the God-King, but also her own past. How much is she ready to sacrifice to get to the bottom of it, and will it be worth it?

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The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Title: The Bone Shard Daughter

Series: The Drowning Empire #1

Author: Andrea Stewart

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2020

Father told me I’m broken.

Lin knows that she is the emperor’s daughter and heir. Five years ago, a sickness took all memories of her previous life, and her father refuses to teach her his bone shard magic until she regains it. But she’s tired of waiting and afraid that Bayan, her foster brother, will take her place as the heir. She is determined to prove her worth to her father, even if that means stealing his keys to open the doors of the palace and study his magic in secret.

Meanwhile, a rebellion is stirring on the floating islands of the Empire. Jovis is a smuggler looking for his lost wife. He doesn’t want anything to do with the rebels, but an act of kindness will drag him into the heart of the Shardless Few anyway, until he is confronted with the ultimate choice: keep looking for his wife, who might as well be dead, or stay and help to overthrow the emperor.

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Title: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Year: 2018

Circe is the daughter of Helios, Titan and god of the sun, but she doesn’t look nor sound like a divinity herself. Not like her brother and sister, with their beautiful golden eyes and their pettiness; and certainly not like her younger brother, whom she loves dearly, and is the brightest of them all.

Scorned by her kin, she seeks solace in the company of mortals, fascinated by their ability to find happiness despite all the hardship of their lives. When she casts a spell out of love, she incurs in the wrath of Zeus and is finally exiled. Alone on the island of Aiaia, with a palace that doesn’t need any tending and her pantry always brimming with food, Circe spends her time studying and improving the ability that caused her exile: witchcraft. While her craft and strength grow, many pass through her island and bring her news of the outside world: the god Hermes, but also sailors, heroes, soldiers and craftsman, and then, one day, Odysseus himself, whose brilliant plan caused the fall of the great city of Troy and the end of a long war.

But her actions draw the wrath of men and gods alike, and Circe will have to be more clever, and braver, and stronger than any of them in order to survive and protect what’s most important to her.

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Title: The Library at Mount Char

Author: Scott Hawkins

Genre: Fantasy

Year: 2015

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

Carolyn has grown up in the library at Garrison Oaks for most of her life, since the day her parents died and she was taken in – together with eleven other children – by a man they all call Father. Each one of them was tasked with learning a very specific fraction of his god-like knowledge, constantly tested and strictly punished by Father when they fail to show enough progress.
Until one day Father disappears, the library is suddenly inaccessible to all of them, and they need to figure out what’s happened and what to do now. Did any of his thousand-year-old enemies finally catch up with him? And what will happen if they can’t get in the library anymore, and all the knowledge inside it is lost to them?

It’s only a matter of time before they start turning on each other for possession of the library, but Carolyn has already accounted for this. And she has a plan.

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When short is too short

In this last period I’m finding it hard to focus on reading and writing, and so I’ve been picking up more short fiction than usual. I usually end up really liking it – do we want to talk about the satisfaction of finishing something in one sitting? – but sadly I found both of these reads very underwhelming. I mean, the ideas were there, the settings were interestings, but the stories themselves just fell flat. So this is a double-review post, in which I’ll try to explain the reason why I felt this way.

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A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry

Title: A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

Series: The Shadow Histories

Author: H.G. Parry

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Published 23/7/2020

Fair warning: this book will feel extremely slow for those who are used to action packed, fast reads. That said, if you are like me and it doesn’t bother you at all, then read this book. It’s brilliant.

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a historical fantasy book that recounts the events of the French Revolution, but with magic in the mix. Before we get into too many details, let me paint a picture of the world we are in.

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