Blurb: In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.
As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow’s life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place.
It’s an appointment that will kill her.
As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade… That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics.
A rebel force plans to put an end to Rennard’s rule and Kaylan suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cause that might just be worth fighting for. But no cause is without its costs…
As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she’ll leave her mark on the world.
Relic is the absorbing first novel in The Relic Trilogy, a thrillingly dark YA fantasy series
Note: ARC with uncorrted proof exchanged for review, thoughts and opinions are my own.
Relic is an amazing novel that needs more attention. On the one hand, this was quite an amazing experience to read through. I liked Kaylon’s ability to use her powers to help in her when trouble came, but I felt she did not take enough ownership of the consequences of her actions as much as I would have liked too.
The prose, the dialogue and the pacing is all well done.
I also loved Rover 🙂
This novel is quite complex in its characterisation. I felt Markus was a good love interest but he did not know enough about Kaylon. The two needed more scenes to get in touch with each other, and to develop the chemistry between them.
While I liked Kaylon I wanted her to take more action and being less hesitant. Rennard may have been an man that over time has become corrupt, which is true in history, but I would use the example of Empress Theodora. She was a prostitute yet the most powerful man in all of Byzantium fell in love with her. Kaylon would benefit from some inspiration from her.
I felt Rennard was under-used as well as Jespar. Clearly there is a hidden history between the whole basis of the conflict that envelopes the town.
I like the concept of feudal lords utilizing people to work. This was what the Samurai Warlords did to their populations, and they killed unproductive workers. If you’re in the UK and on KU, its free for what I believe is a limited time. Do not miss this at all. I def want to read on this exciting triology and see what comes next. Thank you so much to Shealea for allowing me on this blog tour.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Here I review medieval/historical fantasy and the lesser known Asian fantasy sub-genre. So stay tuned for upcoming reviews. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Deep in the rain forests of Guatemala, an ancient Mayan temple holds a mythical secret. The legendary Fountain of Youth lies within, but not all myths are fairy tales. The temple ruins have been seized by the Core, a sinister cult determined to unlock the mysteries of immortality.
When their captured friends are spotted near the temple, Bobby and his cousin Jinx must journey into the dark heart of the jungle to save them. Harnessing their extraordinary abilities, the boys will undertake an epic quest to fulfill a centuries-old prophecy.
Cut off from their allies, Bobby and Jinx combat supernatural barriers, raging rivers, and deadly beasts. They’ll face savage natives, vengeful ghosts, and ruthless mercenaries who can conjure a person’s darkest fears.
Past and present will collide, with the power of eternity on the line. Can Bobby fulfill the prophecy and lay the temple’s spirits to rest? If not, they may all become permanent inhabitants of the Temple of Eternity.
This book does what it says on the tin. You will face deadly beasts that are man eating beasts, you will face savage natives wanting to protect their homelands, vengeful ghosts that want their side of their story told, and too many ruthless mercenaries.
Temple of Eternity is a perfect book for YA readers. Well crafted historical fiction, well crafted modern-day fiction, and a superb plot that makes you engrossed. Easy to read. I need no complexity. I was so impressed with the writing style that Scott has done a terrific job of immersing you in this world. There’s an evil organization known as the Core, and they, as all evil organizations are, aiming to control the world. An organization that you don’t want to get involved in. I suspect it embeds them deep into the governments of this world.
I liked Bobby a lot. He’s a spiritual guy that can understand the past and I related to him the most. Jinx was a second favorite, as he’s young and an excitable character. Slab. I hated all the villains in this novel. The creep. The soul lady who’s just weird beyond belief. There are many characters to behold in this novel, and guess what? Each character is written perfectly. It wastes no character in this novel. Every piece of dialogue makes sense. The story itself is so well written and the plot is superbly well done. Tight but large enough to tell you there’s a second story going on here.
This is perfect for a Netflix series adaptation. Excellent and well done. And the story of the Mayans…it made me wish we saw more Mayan historical fiction. Because I wanted to read more of the Mayan characters and you will end up sympathizing with them so much. And the Mayans were less cruel than their Aztec counterparts. The concept of the Nexus is easy to understand, which allows Bobby to connect his consciousness with other living creatures. My suggestion would be to add more Gods. The ancient Mayan story involving Maximon and Lingya, and Ex Chauj….wow! Well done sir, you’ve done a fantastic job on it. I won’t say, but it is outstanding! I was not convinced of Ek Chauj’s POV however. He was the least convincing. And I would have wanted Bobby to meet the Mayan Gods. I hope in book 3, we get to go to Egypt, and we can meet the Egyptian Gods!
A new tale of time-displaced persons fighting for their lives in the ancient world, from 1632 and Boundary series creator Eric Flint.
It’s been more than a year since the cruise ship Queen of the Sea was transported in time and space to the ancient Mediterranean not long after the death of Alexander the Great.
Captain Lars Floden and the other “Ship People” are trying to plant the seeds of modern civilization. It’s not an easy task, to put it mildly, even if they have a tacit alliance with the co-regents of Alexander’s empire, his widow Roxane, and Eurydice, the wife of his half-brother.
For they have plenty of enemies, too. Cassander is using every foul means available to turn Macedonia and Greece into his own empire. The brutal general Antigonus One-Eye is doing the same in Mesopotamia. And Ptolemy, the cleverest of them all, is expanding his Egyptian realm to the Red Sea.
Things aren’t any easier in the colony that passengers from the cruise ship founded on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. President Allen Wiley is trying to build a twenty-first century democratic nation, but the people he has to work with aren’t the most suitable for the task: oldsters from the future, local tribesmen, and third-century BCE immigrants from Europe and Africa.
War, religious strife, assassinations, espionage, poisonings and other murders—and a fair amount of love, too—all mix together with the Ship People’s knowledge from the 21st century to form a new weaving of the fates. Hopefully, that will lead to a bright new future. If it doesn’t kill everyone first.
I was provided an ARC via Edelwiess, all thoughts are just that, my opinion only.
The Macedonian Hazard is a smart novel. I am no historical expert, nor do I claim to be a scientific expert on this matter. This series is more focused on its world-building because it has this: When different eras come and interact with each on a time mesh, then there is bound to be a more scientific explanation than the story. Why is that you might ask? It’s explaining this, that when 21st-century people are interacting with 4th-century people, the results can be wonderful, it can be unique, but it can also get slow pacing in some parts.
It’s smart in the sense that it doesn’t explain everything in one go. There’s a lot of POVs in this novel. You get to see the rulers of the Diadochi, which is basically Alexander’s general’s engaging in a huge civil war after he died. You see them trying to manipulate the Queen of the Sea, captained by Captain Lars, to get more resources. They’re trying to break the neutrality that the Queen of the Sea has. It can house, what, maybe 4000 passengers? But I can’t give all the answers to scientific research and mining for oil, for example. That I leave to you, dear reader.
I enjoyed the parts where the Ancients were reading about what happened to them in history. And how they try to manipulate the 21st-century people by using Wikipedia. No Joke. You got the characters of the Diadochi: Eumenes, Olympias, Roxanne, Dag and so many more. My suggestion to the authors that while I loved the fact that both Carthage and Rome were using 21st-century technology (I.e. Accessing the computers of the Queen of the Sea) I WANTED to see more of their viewpoint. It also disappointed me we didn’t see many Ancients use social media or YouTube. YouTube has become TV for me. I would reccomend the authors to watch El Ministerio Del Tiempio, a Spanish TV show that has people collaborating from all periods working under a special Ministry of Time to prevent Spanish history from being changed. It is a massive hit series. But I’d seriously love to see what an Ancient Greek, Egyptian or Carthaginian does as being a fellow Youtuber. Seeing the Ancients having access to social media would be so cool. This is however, under the limitations of what the authors can do. But it would seriously be such a good thing. I don’t like cable TV anymore. It would be so COOL to see how the Ancients use social media. I feel that in the next book; we need more of this.
Some parts had me giggling for no reason but just finding out how the Ancients use email. Like literally, you want a job posting for a worker or slave? Put it on the internet! Then have Ancient Romans and Carthaginians emailing you offering you their slave, but they are demanding expensive prices. That was so hilarious. I just don’t want to spoil this story. It’s very well written, fun, and immersive. There’s a lot of brutalities because this period was brutal, and it can get confusing if you haven’t read the first book. So I suggest you read the first book, and then the second. Another suggestion I would make is, I am sure there would have been Indian passengers from India that could help with advising how to contact India. Because if a 21st-century cruiser goes to 4th century India. This will change the landscape and the technology there by a decade.
I want to see more interactions between Ancient peoples using 21st-century technology and social media. I want to see more of this. I also liked the New World colony story, but wouldn’t it make more sense that if the ancestors of the Mayans, Aztecs and Olmecs were to go on the Queen of the Sea, log onto a computer, discover the cities that their ancestors would build, that they would adopt these techniques rather quickly? Also I love the Carthaginians in this novel. I really want to see more of them establishing colonies in the New World. I dislike the fact that warfare will transform from sword and shield to guns and explosives. I’d want combat to be something similar to 16th century combat or something like that. But not to the extent because there is no honor in exploding bombs.
It’s an amazing book and I say watch out for Phillip the III of Macedon. He’s perhaps one of the most intelligent characters in this book. And watch out for the ending. The ending foreshadows that history will change. I just had fun reading this. I was excited to see this on Edelweiss and knew I was in for a treat. I wish more mainstream fantasy publishers like Orbit and Tor UK, Gollancz, Little Brown Group UK, and independent fantasy publishers like Angry Robot would seriously recognize the potential that time travel and the ancient world has to offer!
I also felt this novel was too short. It needed to be much longer! I’d happily read a 1000 pages of this wonderful alternate time travel history novel
DISCOVER THE START OF AN EPIC FANTASY TRILOGY THAT BEGINS WITH A HEIST AND QUICKLY EXPLODES INTO A FULL-TILT, LAST-DITCH PLAN TO SAVE HUMANITY
Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief – a master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When he gets hired for his most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory – Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilisation.
Thank you to Nazia at Orbit Books for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are mine only.
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is a unique novel. In the sense, that’s its half musical, half heist, and half dragon. All of these three elements mentioned creating a fabulous start to this novel. Its also that a ruse artist has to steal the King’s Replica! I don’t wish to spoil anything, but Tyler’s done a fantastic job in illustrating the daily struggles that thieves have to go through to steal such items which amount to treason! And yes, the magic system known as grit, is bascially burned dragon poop that creates the magic that humans need. Grit is a unique system, and it’s not easy to come up with a magic system for any fantasy writer, whether from the beginning stage to the advanced stage. My favorite Grit magic? The memory wipe! A fascinating weapon if used in the right hands….Also if you want dragon snapping humans….(here’s a hint) and there’s a lot of cultural messages being sent here. Dragons are a big part of this world. The bakery is as well! You’ll come across a lot of pastries
A good magic system immerses you into the world, whereas a bad magic system will not immerse you. That falls into the simple category of what determines how a good story is executed and how well it is planned. Tyler here has made it simple enough, and it’s enough to immerse you into this world. He’s created a good magic system. He’s done a good job. Its simple enough, yet complex enough as well to immerse you and make you want to find out more. Though, I would have gone with fewer systems of grit purely because half the novel relies on a treasure trove of explaining how grit came to be, and what it has to do with the dragon.
My critique of this part would be that even though it is a fantasy novel and it’s a first, the trend is these days, to set up the world and begin a slow burn. I’ve read hundreds of fantasy books and I am thinking that maybe a slow burn isn’t needed so much. Some parts of the story did slow down for me, and there were times where I felt the pacing should have been a little bit better. But then again, this is a fantastic story and a story with a lot of potential. I did like Ard in many parts, but without wanting to spoil the story, Ard sometimes may have acted like a selfish guy when in reality, I don’t think he is. I think the guy’s lonely and he needs someone to love.
The chemistry between Raek, Ardor, and Quarrah was a good set up and a good build-up. I do, however, want to see more of Ardor and Quarrah as I felt you could have had a whole novel for Ardor and Quarrah alone. Their love setup is well constructed, but it is also to some extent realistic. You can fall in love, but what happens when you realize that that foundation isn’t as solid as you thought it was? That’s only a hint I’ve given, but it’s not enough. Once you discover the intricate backstory that is behind all of this, you’ll soon begin to understand. Rank was one of the BEST characters. Loyal and good, and a character that I want to SEE more of in fantasy. And I liked Quarrah a lot, she’s a loyal character as well, and I feel that Ardor has to see this: She’ll make a fantastic partner. Go marry her you, idiot!
Overall, this is a fantastic story. A fantastic setup. Dragons, Ruse Artists, Pastries, and whatnot. What’s not to like when a ruse artist or thief for that matter gets involved in shaking the destiny and fortune of an entire Kingdom? I can’t wait to read book 2 already! 10/10 from me. It’s very…musical! Very musical indeed!
A TRAGIC TALE THAT WILL DEFINE ROME’S DESTINY AND THE FATE OF EUROPE FOREVER
‘A page turner from beginning to end … A damn fine read’ Ben Kane.
FOUR EMPERORS. TWO FRIENDS. ONE DESTINY.
As twilight descends on the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire is but a shadow of its former self. Decades of usurping emperors, splinter kingdoms and savage wars have left the people beleaguered, the armies weary and the future uncertain. And into this chaos Emperor Diocletian steps, reforming the succession to allow for not one emperor to rule the world, but four.
Meanwhile, two boys share a chance meeting in the great city of Treverorum as Diocletian’s dream is announced to the imperial court. Throughout the years that follow, they share heartbreak and glory as that dream sours and the empire endures an era of tyranny and dread. Their lives are inextricably linked, their destinies ever-converging as they rise through Rome’s savage stations, to the zenith of empire. For Constantine and Maxentius, the purple robes beckon…
Thank you to Aries Fiction (An Imprint of Head of Zeus Books) and Jade Gwilliam for allowing me to participate on this blog tour
Let it be known, the Roman Empire at the dawn of Maxentius and Constantine:
The book does not deal with this yet, in much detail. It will sooner or later begin to show you the result of this system that Diocletian devised to prevent civil war from occuring in the Roman Empire. The story of Rome’s downfall began with Diocletian himself in my opinion. That’s is my opinion. But the real story began with Constantine and Maxentius. Two lads, that one day will begin to determine the fate of Rome’s destiny to its very ends. This is by far, the most tragic story I have ever encountered. In a world without gold and the ruthless need for power, Constantine and Maxentius may have been the very best of friends. For those of you that should know, I feel Constantine doesn’t get that much attention as these names will: Nero, Trajan, Hadrian. The most famous Emperors of Rome, including Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.
Constantine was the man that changed Europe’s destiny forever. He’s the man that converted the Roman Empire to Christianity that would set the foundations for European history as we know today. Of course, this novel follows the events of how that came to be. And in a sense, you sense that this world is Rome collapsing. The events that Constantine and Maxentius find themselves can be roughly summarised to this: It is the crisis of the Third Century. Rome’s borders have begun to become attacked, left unprotected due to in-numerous civil wars. The man that was capable of achieving this Olympian task was Emperor Aurelian, who single-handily defeated the Empire’s enemies, conquered the Queen of Palmyra’s lands, and began a process that would have secured the Empire’s borders, had he not been assassinated. He was one of the last Romans in my opinion. With Aurelian gone, there was another series of successive Emperors, the Praetorian Guards swapping one Emperor for the other. That’s as far as I can recall my Roman Knowledge.
Fast forward to Diocletian, this man decides to split the Empire into four parts. In case he forgets his history, back in the good old days of the Roman Republic, the Triumivate between Mark Antony, Julius Ceasar, and Lepidus led to the Roman Civil War which was affecting the Republic in many ways that it could handle. The same process was going to happen here when Diocletian ‘tetrarchic’ system collapsed like a house of cards. In essence, the fathers of Mextentius and Constantine were ruthless bastards. Not to mention the most horrible figure in this system, Galerius. A tooth-spitting stinking man with no sense of morale or honor. Diocletian’s last grand persecution of the Christians is shown and it is a reminder of the days of Nero. It’s shown in brutal, graphic detail. But I’d also have like to see how the Christians during this time, persecuted Roman Temples, heck even denounce the religion of Rome as false. Bear in mind we may begin to see this in the later books of this series.
This is a world where you feel sadness for the fact that old Rome is dying. A new power is rising in the East which will later become the Byzantine Empire. The Persians have not forgotten their old rival and are consistently trying to destroy’s Rome grip on the East. You will see Constantine battling the Persians, which foreshadows the conflict that when the Eastern Roman Empire is formed, they will have immense battles with the Sassanids as they become to be known by the Romans.
You will get this fact by observing that Christianity is becoming more popular. And the Roman Pagan Emperors dislike the fact that they refuse to bow to them. It is Maxentius however, that proves to be a tolerant Emperor, a man that truly cares for the people and that he would bring back the old glorious days of Rome. Bear in mind also, that by the time of Diocletian, the city of Rome was losing its grandeur, it was falling into deep poverty, temples and buildings ransacked, crime rife. The Praetorian Guard were the least trusted out of all, and Rome’s religious grasp was buckling under the new Christian religion which may very well have been spreading like wildfire as a result of the people losing confidence in their Emperors, and matters did not help when the Praetorian Guard were swapping Emperor from Emperor.
Rome was also the cesspit of numerous murders, failed assassination plots, and perhaps from a Christian’s point of view, a city of sin drenched in blood. But when you compare it from a pagan’s point of view, it is the Christians that sought to seek power and take important positions. There is a lot of juxtaposing here between the religious conflict that will become central to the core of this book. Had Maxentius won against Constantine, there would have been no stop to the rise of Christianity. However, we would have seen a co-existence between Christianity and Roman Paganism which would have been true and alive today.
I’ve gone on a lot about the historical detail, but I feel it’s important to know this as the politics of the Third Century are an ever-mangling, ever confusing vertigo of madness and chaos. I do not like the Third Century either as it resembles the downfall of Rome and what happens to the Empire when men of ambition grab it. In this essence, the writing of this book is superb. The research is clear, excellent, and immersive. The world-building is beautifully crafted to make me feel that Christianity will replace this new world. Constantine is a great character including Maxentius. I didn’t like Maxentius’s wife at all.
You will soon know why. SJA Turney and Gordon Doherty wrote this book like two writers that have entered their prime and all their experience boils down to a book that is superbly written. You’ll feel loss, love, and tragedy. And a knowing doom that you as the reader, will know what’s going to happen. I love books that can evoke much passion like this, and I barely know anything about Roman history! They also make it clear that much of what you read is from a Christian point of view. And that makes sense because when we look at Carthage, we know nothing about its history, its perspective, its religion. And why is that? The Romans burnt the city of Carthage to the ground and subjected it to the fate of Troy. In the same way, the Christians burnt down temples, ransacked religious places of the Romans and Greeks. History is a funny irony is it not? We don’t get to see things from a pagan perspective, as the authors will point out. But imagine if we could. It would certainly add some balance.
It’s a fantastic debut, a fantastic triumph of Rome’s majestic scale, and a representation of the eventual downfall of one of history’s most triumphal empires to date.
Get a preview of the new book, and do sub to Gordan’s channel!
Follow a renegade sorcerer off the edge of the map, in a thrilling adventure perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson and Sebastien de Castell . . .
Dashryn Cowl has run out of places to hide. The erstwhile sorcerer of the Imperial College fled the Bolgravian Empire when his high-flying family fell from grace, but the tyrannical empire is still hunting for him.
So when he gets his hands on a map showing a place outside the known lands rich in istariol, the mineral that fuels sorcery, he sees a way back to power. There’s only one problem: it means masquerading as an Imperial Cartomancer (an instant death sentence) and finding some dupes to help him mine the istariol in secret, no questions asked.
But somehow, amid the dangers of the road (floods and avalanches, beasts, barbarians and monsters), a strange thing begins to happen: Dashryn starts to care about his ragtag followers and their strange odyssey into the ruins of an ancient forgotten civilisation.
But his past won’t let him be: the implacable Imperial Bloodhound Toran Zorne has caught his scent, and Zorne has never yet failed to bring his quarry to ground.
At the edge of the map, there’s no going forward and no going back . . .
Thank you to Jo Fletcher Books and Milly Reid for providing me an ARC for this blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my opinions only.
Map’s Edge’s, in a nutshell, is this: A bunch of Otravians, Pelarians are led by Dashryn Cowl to find the ‘secret’ Istariol that has long been funneling the source of sorcery in this distant land. All I can say is that from the outset, it appears and looks to be like a pulling a sneaky heist as the Bolgravians seek to stop this from happening in the first place. Dashryn also needs to convince a bunch of people to come with him on this quest. It is long, dangerous and it is not an easy quest to go on. Especially when you consider the fact Dashryn fought against the Bolgravians and failed. And he lost his Kingdom to a powerful family where his wife…
I shall leave it at that. I believe the book itself paced itself very nicely with its characters. Jesco Duretto, being the loyal and rogue-like mercenary from Shadran was a sort for sight eyes. He brought in many comedic moments within the book. Vidar, a man with an ability to turn into a rogue-like bear and a scout in the Royal Nordan Army before the Bolgravs smashed them. The Bolgravs are the equivalent of invaders that you don’t want to come into your homeland. They are a tough and brutal race, but I believe they possess no skill nor art. They don’t. They’re just drunkards.
And Dashryn has to keep mediating this rag-tag band of followers between him and Sir Elgus. All I’ll say is a Chameleon has more shades than Sir Elgus has. That’s the only clue I’ll give. You’ll figure it out in the novel. Zarelda is a delight to read in this novel. She’s like the daughter every father loves. Strong and stubborn, but smart and fiesty however she does get a little lovesick within this novel. Oh, and Sir Elgus has a proud, loyal son…I’ll leaves you to figure this one out. The book description is correct: You’ll be exploring mountains, you’ll be going through the ruins of the Aldar, the forgotten civilization that eerily resembles a Carthaginian Society to me.
There are plenty of floods, avalanches, heck, magic blasting frigates! (Also watch out for this one, this was my favorite scene in the entire book) I didn’t like two characters in this book: Firstly, Toran Zorne is a despicable member of any race that would fit well in a dictatorship’s secret service. Loyal and ruthless to the core, feeling no emotions. There’s nothing clear about his origin than this: He’s just evil from birth. That’s what I feel. WWII had many people expressing their evilness when in reality it just demonstrates that human nature is very fickle indeed. Secondly, Kemara I felt doesn’t have that chemistry yet with Dashryn. I feel Dashyrn needs another partner. You’ll get what I mean when you read further.
There’s a lot of cool stuff, ancient civilizations, magic, a heist, personal loss, love, and humor. I enjoyed this so much and I would def say, that’s it for fans of Brandon Sanderson and Sebastien De Castell. A VERY apt description indeed
When truth and lies have been used as a weapon. When you fight an enemy from the past using lies, and truth becomes the weapon with which you fight that enemy. The story takes you to an ancient land under siege.
The history of Keldarra is long but forgotten. A distant past when someone knew the Wolf Riders would rise. They also knew they would come to an end.
The Truth: Words spoken. Still spoken to speak a lie.
Marrida. Alagur. Each individual has a reason for wanting change. But can the reasons co-exist without clashing? Can truth prevail when each of them exists because of lies? When they discover similarity it reveals a hidden past, a past that means so much more than either knew.
Thank you to Maia and Silver Dagger Book Tours for providing me a copy of this ARC book. All thoughts and opinions are my reviews.
Thank you to Maia and Silver Dagger Book Tours for providing me a copy of this ARC book. All thoughts and opinions are my reviews.
Tainted Truth is a traditional fantasy that is so enjoyable, that you feel its story itself is immersive enough to get you into this fascinating new world that Nathalie has built. Over 800 pages long, this book was slow-paced at times. Some parts could have been reduced in my opinion, but the strengths overweigh most weaknesses within this book. It is well written, well put, and well thought out. Writing a 800 fantasy page book with many character arcs is no easy task. I am honestly impressed that Nathalie has managed to build and construct a narrative in the second person (and second person is something I do not read a lot) that manages to hold a cohesive structure between many characters in this novel. You have to admire this aspect. Writing is never an easy task. I remember reading a quote somewhere that authors can have an idea for a dazzling world but the idea of executing it requires very careful planning.
I will say this: It is a refreshing change from the grimdark nature. Nathalie doesn’t hesitate to show the goodness that exists in our world. I will admit that she has not only impressed with me the idea that she can contrast both areas of good and bad, but she also shows that badness comes more out of human’s greedness than anything else. This is the start of a series that stretches out to 9 books. Nathalie also plays a lot of world of warcraft! That’s a plus, so expect to see a lot of references within this book. I was not too sold on the romantic aspect of this novel, as it contains prophecies and such. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I’ve read fantasy novel with Jenn Lyon’s for example, showing the two characters being past reincarnations of former lovers and then we go through multiple flashbacks. And that book is published by Tor. If that book can have that, I don’t mind the romance in this one. Oh, it has a lot of Outlander influences. A LOT. Normally, I can understand why readers say oh no romance, but I can assure you, this is a pleasant and well developed chemistry between Alagur (who is part of the Wolf Riders) in this novel, and Marrida, being an acolyte at the Temple of Ruh’nar under of course, led by the Elder Sharriba.
On some aspects, the world-building structure fits well enough, but it does contain some weaknesses when we go from Marrida’s character arc. She’s smart, strong, funny and she’s able to see visions. The contrasting visions in each scene work very well indeed with Alagur, who’s also been having visions of her. Somewhere I felt this was disjointed because ultimately these two characters are trying to find a ‘tainted’ truth that has been long lost from the conflict that is currently happening between the Wolf Riders and the city that they raid in, where Alagur is given shelter by Marrida within that city. That’s as much as I’ll say about the story. Once you read all 800 pages, you’ll get the idea. The characters arcs of Bergas (And he is a character you must read and who I like so much. A very clever person indeed) has a very similar arc to a BBC documentary I was once watching, where this baby elephant had been separated from her mother. Over the course of that documentary, the baby elephant and the mother get together – but that’s only a clue. The real hint you should watch is: Bergas, Alagur and Marrida and see how they all fit together.
For Samar, as a villain, I felt he needed more scenes. I think I needed to see more of him in the novel. He did begin to fall back into the evil type of character that eventually begins to become hated by the very people he leads. However, he is a strong and capable man that is eventually rising out of his own ambitions to one day, perhaps, lead the Wolf Riders. I have to say this. The second person was very enjoyable. There wasn’t a single moment in this book where I felt it was doing anything wrong. Every character arc is well written and makes you grabbed into their lifestyle. You will feel for each character. There’s a lot of wolves and watch out for Yalla! (Hint hint).
Honestly, I enjoyed this. It took me 3 days to finish, but I loved it. I think its a book you should try out too. For a traditional fantasy novel, sure it has some tropes, but you know what, there’s nothing stopping you reading a traditional fantasy novel and enjoying it. I was reading the interview on the Silver Dagger Tour site and the author said something like this: Well I want to create my own world so why can’t I? And to be honest with you, I agree. Fantastic credit to Emerentsia Publications through which both Nathalie and her husband run. I will leave a link down below because independent small press publishers need the help and support from you: The reader. Every purchase you make of an independent small publisher, regardless of whether you’re in both sides of the pond (UK and US) in all genres, but mostly the genres of science fiction and fantasy, helps. It provides them money to build and expand their business and ultimately you get more books from them. I cannot stress this enough.
I’ll also say this. In the UK (where I’m from) we have a fantastic magazine called Writing Magazine that gives all the insights on the UK Publishing industry. In 2013, I recieved a copy where the editor at the time speculated whether self-publishing would change the industry. And this was 2013. Now fast forward to 2020, Amazon has given the ability for people to publish, independent publishing presses have emerged. If Amazon hadn’t given the ability for ordinary people to become authors, then self-publishing wouldn’t even be a thing (and this is from my perspective) and now thankfully, the lines between self-publishing and traditional publishing are blurring thanks to the initiative of Amazon for doing this. Lockdown has certainly provided challenges (and they need your support so buy a book from them please). So when you purchase a copy from Nathalie’s site you also help her company out. Normally my reviews don’t go in this much detail, but I needed to bring this up.
This is a fantastic, riveting book that you need to get! I really did enjoy it
Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy
Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.
Thank you to Head of Zeus and Lauren for providing me a physical copy
Ashes of the Sun is one of those novels you need to pick up and read. It has a fantastic book cover which I believe illustrates the magnitude of this novel. Star Wars influences are written all over this book, and you’ll find many such examples: Two opposing factions fighting each other? The Twilight Order being kind of reminiscent of the Empire in Star Wars. I however found another connection: Children being snatched by the Twilight Order also has a historical connection: The Janissaries, the elite shock troops, and bodyguards of the Ottoman Empire were young Christian Boys from the Balkans and then to serve in the Ottoman Army. This I found very similar to be in the approach for Maya’s arc.
And guess who’s fighting against this very order? Maya’s brother, Gyre. He’s like your typical roguish Han Solo style character added in with a dash of Aragon and a sprinkle of Porthos and Aramis. Very noble, very honorable, but eventually he finds himself embroiled in a conflict that is bigger beyond simply resisting the Twilight Order. Gyre’s a likable character, but I believe he falls too easily in love sometimes. He is smart and resilient, however. Maya on the other hand is resourceful and intelligent. Her relationship with Beq is developed well enough, though I would have wanted to see more scenes of their relationship evolving. It is very well developed.
There are many unsung heroes in this novel, Yara, Varo, and Tanax. All three characters you will come to have liked them, disliked them, and then feel for them. Varo’s an interesting character that loves to narrate stories. He’s the life of the party in this book. Tanax is an honorable character that if you put him in a historical context, he would die serving that empire, army, or organization till his last breath. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t privy to changing his thoughts. The writing is excellent, and there’s a lot of Roman influences in this novel which was a refreshing change! The worldbuilding is exquisite, and there are many times you wonder whether you’ve stumbled into an open world RPG video game! I enjoyed this novel.
It is well worth your time, and a fascinating cover to go alongside it! Pick this up now!
It will be the cruellest war ever waged, and the Gods will gather to watch…
1275 BC: Tensions between the Hittite and Egyptian Empires erupt and the two great superpowers mobilise for all-out war. Horns blare across the Hittite northlands and the dunes of Egypt rumble with the din of drums as each gathers an army of unprecedented size. Both set their eyes upon the border between their domains, and the first and most important target: a desert city whose name will toll through history. Kadesh!
Prince Hattu has lived in torment for years, plagued by the memory of his wife’s murder. Thoughts of her poisoner, Volca the Sherden – for so long safe and distant by Pharaoh Ramesses’ side – have sullied his dreams, blackened his waking hours and driven him to commit the darkest of deeds. Now that war is here, he at last has the chance to confront his nemesis and have his vengeance.
But as the ancient world goes to war, Hattu will learn that the cold, sweet kiss of revenge comes at a terrible price.
Thank you to Gordon for providing me with an ARC. These are my thoughts and opinions.
This is a wonderful, dazzling novel that puts you in one of the most epic battles of the Bronze Age Era. Thunder at Kadesh. The title is very apt. Cinematic visuals combined with excellent prose make you immersed in a well researched, well written historical world that comes alive to you. I always love historical fiction that focuses on the Bronze Age Era, especially Egypt, and Mesopotamia. I wish more fantasy would pick this up as a setting.
The Ancient Near East as you will know by its modern name today, the Middle East, is still a hotbed of conflict that hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. Consider this book as a prelude, a sort of history’s warning so to say. Before the days of the Romans and the Greeks, two massive empires in the Levant battled out for supreme dominance in the region of Ancient Syria. Or in those times, regions that were ruled by the Hittites. Both Egypt and the Hittites were gearing up for a battle that would rattle the backbones of both empires.
This map easily illustrates the situation to say:
Now you might be wondering, that’s all fine and good, but how does this factor into everything that happened at Kadesh? Quite simply put, Egypt had been under the rule of the Hyskos for quite a while. And they managed to throw the yoke of the tyrants that the Hyskos were. The Egyptians, quite possibly embarrassed at this national humiliation resolved to rebuild their empire to the glory it once was. Under Thutmose I, the Egyptian Empire had reached its furthest extent to Canaan. The days of those times however were gone. Seti I expanded his armies into the provinces as shown in Green. The Egyptians were keen to bring back the days of the Tutmosid Kings that had expanded their empire so gloriously. To bascially put this into perspective: peace was made with the Hittites and so the Egyptians had a gala time conquering small-time kingdoms. They were the old kids on the block that were aiming to bring back their old glory. Lo and behold, the city of Kadesh lies in both camp’s interest. The conflict resolves and that is when you get Seti I first dying, and his son Ramesses II (Yes, that Ramesses the Great) wanting to defeat the Hittites.
That’s the historical point of context from what we can gather here. Gordon is an expert historian and superb at his research. He spent a lot of time studying both sides, their military, and the way their society functioned. His depiction of chariot warfare is perhaps one of the best ways I’ve seen it written. Chariot warfare is not easy to write, because we don’t have that many records of how people would fight them. Now you might say, well that’s not true as we have records, yes, true. But chariots were the tanks of their days. A chariot rider would have had at least two warriors beside him also including that they had to protect him. Or get sliced under the wreckage should chariots collide with one another. There is brutal combat in this book.
And lo and behold, we have the Trojans! They make a welcome appearance in this book. And by the Gods, they make an excellent debut. They are powerful and vicious warriors. I won’t say their names but you will soon realize where they come from. I do like the hint that Gordon put here because they were the vassals of the Hittites. The characters in this novel are staggering. Each character feels three-dimensional and each of them has an actual motive. You’ve got Hattu obsessed with Volca, who was bascially responsible for killing Seti I, his wife, and many other innocent people.
And Volca’s a Sherden, one of the Sea Peoples that were involved in this fight. You tend to sympathize more with the Hittites and you see that the Egyptians when they are forced to become brutal, become brutal. I was disappointed that we did not see more of Ramesses’s son, Khepe. I would have wanted more scenes with him. Ramesses the Great, however, is a brutal man that you would never wish to offend in real life. His grand advisors and priests are the most corrupt force behind him. I believe. But if it was for anything, Egypt’s downfall came at the hand of its priesthood long into the Greek and Roman days.
The landscapes in this novel are very unique. The Empire of Bronze Series has been building up to this monumental battle at Kadesh. I think Hattu was too mewling, obsessed with killing Volca that it ruined his health. There are many Godly interventions written in this novel that are also well done. When I mean interventions, think of them as omens so to say. The Battle of Kadesh is written on such a magnificent scale that this novel could have been longer. I felt we spent too much time on the development of both armies building up their resources, gathering their allies, and then going for the final battle. Because Kadesh is bascially going like this: The Hittites spot the Egyptians too early. They attack. The Egyptians retreat. Ramesses leads a stiff-counter attack. The Hittites outnumber the Egyptians, they send more troops. They loot the Egyptian camp. Ramesses’s reinforcements arrive and the battle becomes a stalemate for now. While Egyptian records state that they won, Hittite records have also stated that they too won. That’s my basic understanding of what happened at Kadesh. I do hope I haven’t made a mistake!
And if you want an image to see how brutal this battle was, Gordon does a fantastic job in bringing it alive. It was truly a terrible battle. You’ll march through deserts, wonder in the palaces of both Hittite and Egyptian, and see the Gods in their full might. You’ll witness thirty thousand warriors on both sides, clashing swords while chariots collide and crunch at each other, generals and warriors boasting on both sides and taunting each other. You’ll see Prince Hattu prove his worth on the battlefield, and trying to correct a terrible mistake that led to Kadesh. You will see a lion cub soon becoming powerful…(and that’s a hint you’ll discover.) It is such a refreshing book, that I wish more fantasy was based on the Bronze Age. It was a time of great battles, wonderful achievements, yet a truly brutal era to live in. You will feel as if you are in this world. Amazing description, breathtaking cinematic battle scenes, and wonderful characterization.
Current work includes epic fantasy, futuristic science fiction, mystery, romance. Follow me on Twitter @nmlromer! Visit nathaliemlromer.com for information and news about the author and her publications.