Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist

Talon of the Silver Hawk

By: Raymond E. Feist

Synopsis: Evil has come to a distant land high among the snow-capped mountains of Midkemia, as an exterminating army wearing the colours of the Duke of Olasko razes village after village, slaughtering men, women, and children without mercy. And when the carnage is done, only one survivor remains: a young boy named Kieli. A youth no longer, there is now but one road for him to travel: the path of vengeance. And he will not be alone. Under the tutelage of the rescuers who discovered him, Kieli will be molded into a sure and pitiless weapon. And he will accept the destiny that has been chosen for him… as Talon of the Silver Hawk. But the prey he so earnestly stalks is hunting him as well. And Talon must swear allegiance to a shadowy cause that already binds his mysterious benefactors – or his mission, his honour, and his life will be lost forever.

Format: Talon of the Silver Hawk is the first book in the Conclave of Shadows trilogy, which is part of the larger Riftwar Cycle. My copy is 374 pages long, and follows Talon of the Silver Hawk on his transformation from a young boy in a mountain village, to the beginning of his vengeance. It was first printed in 2003 by Eos.

My Thoughts: This is a truly fantastic introduction to Raymond E. Feist’s work if you have not read any of his other works. It demonstrates his fantastic ability to create realistic characters with real emotions and motives. The characters in any of the Riftwar Cycle are all very complex. However, nothing compares to Talon’s character arc in my mind. Talon started out as a young boy that already had some remarkable qualities, yet through the crucible of suffering he is forged into something much greater. Yet despite the fantastic things he encounters, Talon never loses sight of his true self, and his true goals. This is what I find makes him a remarkable character.

Another thought if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of the Riftwar Cycle, the worldbuilding that occurred for Midkemia is astonishing. Midkemia has fully formed cultures, which influence political climates and characters lives, as well as functioning economies and trade pathways to various parts of the world. Combine this level of detail with the influence from other planets in this universe as well as magic and you have a world that is startlingly realistic and still magical and amazing.

As for this particular book, you have everything you could possibly want in a story. A strong plot purposely avoiding the use of magic, to a character who must plot an improbable vengeance. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, even though it is the first book in the trilogy and gives you a lot of background information so you can understand Talon’s world of intrigue.

While I don’t want to appear like I am begging, but you need to read this book. I love it, you will love it, everyone loves it! Do yourself a favour and read this book!

Leave any thoughts you have on this book below!

ShadowMarch by Tad Williams

Shadowmarch

By: Tad Williams

Synopsis: For generations the misty Shadowline has marked the boundary between the lands of men and the lost northern lands that are the lair of their inhuman enemies, the ageless Qar. But now that boundary line is moving outward, threatening to engulf the northernmost land in which humans still live – the kingdom of Southmarch.

For centuries the Eddon family has ruled in ancient, forbidding Southmarch Castle, guarding the border against the Qar’s return, but now this powerful royal line has been dealt a devastating blow. The monarch, King Olin, is being held captive in a distant land, and it falls to his inexperienced heirs to lead their people in a time of growing danger and dread.

It is on the two youngest Eddons that the heaviest burdens fall. The twins Barrick and Briony, who in such evil times have only each other, may lose even that bond as darkness closes over them. As the Qar’s power reaches out across their land, will Southmarch Castle, the only home they’ve ever known, become in fact what it has long been called – Shadowmarch?

Format: Shadowmarch is the first book in the Shadowmarch series. It is 762 pages long, and follows a compelling cast of characters through great upheaval. It was first published in 2006 by DAW Books Inc.

My Thoughts: Well first, and most important, WOW. This book is as compelling as they come. You get to follow a cast of characters as their world is changing, and not necessarily for the better. Each of these characters is interesting and relatable, and has wants and desires that change how they act and interpret actions of the other characters. You get to watch multiple characters grow in response to their changing environment, and it makes everything seem so real!

To continue the realism, Tad Williams is just descriptive enough to really let you imagine the world he has created, while always maintaining the suspense of the plot. I honestly felt like I have been to Southmarch, and that is pretty amazing! The differing peoples in this book are intriguing, as is the use of more esoteric items and magic, but none of them are a crutch to hold a slow plot. No, not at all. The plot is what will keep you awake at night reading this book. You will be left breathless, aching to know what happens next, yet also slightly dreading it. In a masterful twist, Tad Williams lets us connect to his characters, and then slowly makes us worry for their well-being.

My favourite part of this book however, is it almost felt like I was reading a historical account of what happened in a far off land. Obviously, there is some perspective differences between an actual historical account and this book, but I just felt so connected with the place and the characters it felt real. Very exciting and enthralling, and I recommend having the next book in the series, Shadowplay, easily available for when you have finished Shadowmarch!

Let me know your thoughts on this book below!

The Fate of the Fallen by Ian Irvine

The Fate of The Fallen

By: Ian Irvine

Synopsis: The world of Santhenar lies in thrall to the maimed God-Emperor. Its people live in fear, watched unceasingly by their tyrant’s sorcerous quicksilver tears. Yet, hidden in that cruelly abused land, there remains one glimmer of hope: the Emperor’s son Nish, incarcerated for a decade in his father’s grimmest dungeon. A beaten people see Nish as the Deliverer, who will cast down his father and end their suffering. But Nish is faced with a harsh choice. If he joins his corrupt father, Nish will have enormous wealth and power, though at a terrible price – his soul. If he resists that temptation he has only two alternatives – to face a further ten years in prison, or join a doomed resistance movement…

Format: The Fate of the Fallen is the first book in the Song of Tears trilogy, part of the greater The Three Worlds  series. It is 607 pages long, and follows Maelys and Nish through some difficult decisions (if you read the synopsis above you know at least one difficult decision!). My copy was published in 2007 by Orbit.

My Thoughts: I hope none of you are concerned with larger books, especially because this one will pull you in and keep you reading late at night, regardless of what you are supposed to be doing the next day. I could literally not put this book down, especially because I would dream about it when I finally slept!

This book changes perspective between two main characters, Nish and Maelys, and does a fantastic job at showing you their thought processes without letting that knowledge leak into the other character’s actions. You feel like you understand and relate to both of the characters, yet the characters don’t necessarily know what you do and this keeps a nice tension and suspense throughout the book. It also helps that you some romantic tension, along with some amazing twists, is set up in this first book!

The worldbuilding in this book is very well done, I know I mention this relatively frequently, but it takes a lot of work to set up an entire world, with different areas of history and culture, that has been put through so much turmoil and is still coherent. I enjoy the magic system in this book, the plot keeps you in suspense, the unimaginable power of one character is compelling, but there is one thing that I happen to like the most in this book.

That is the description and characterization of the harsh realities of this world. At the beginning of the book Nish has been imprisoned for ten years, and this has impacts on his personality that he is cognizant of, which is awesome to get to read about! Some of the characters are suffering, or have suffered and not only does this change how they act in the world, it is described in such a way as to elicit a response from the reader. I found myself feeling sympathy for characters normally considered monsters, as I don’t know how I would change if I suffered the same things they did!

Another book I highly recommend, and if you have read it tell me what you think in the comments!!

The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston

The Year of Our War

By: Steph Swainston

Synopsis: ‘All mortals dream, it seems, of joining the Castle Circle. Always pushing for immortality. Always seeking to stop the spin of the wheel of fortune, as it rips through their hands, leaving splinters. How splendid it would be to be eternal, and safe. But at the same time it is daunting to join such a fellowship.’

Jant is the Messenger, one of The Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor. He is the only immortal, indeed the only man alive, who can fly. The Emperor must protect mankind from the hordes of giant insects who have plagued the land for centuries, eating everything and everyone in their path. But he must also contend with the rivalries and petty squabblings of his chosen immortal. These will soon spill over into open civil war.

Format: The Year of Our War is the first book in the Fourlands series. It is 369 pages long, and delivers some of the adventures of Jant, the Emperor’s Messenger. It was published in 2004 by Gollancz.

My Thoughts: When you hear about a book with someone who can fly, or someone who is immortal, you could be tempted into thinking “This is a superhero book” or “It is probably like Twilight..”. Like I said you could be tempted into thinking that, but don’t allow those thoughts out! This book keeps you building with suspense from cover to cover, with characters that become more intriguing as you read on. I fully believe it is hard to write one well developed character, yet in The Year Of Our War the author seems to do it as easily as breathing. With a few sentences I can understand a motivation with a character, or even relate to a character that I would not normally feel anything for!

Outside of the characterization, the world-building is amazing. After finishing this book I feel like I have been to the towns and city mentioned in the book. I have peered over mountains as Jant flies around, I have even seen the dreaded horde of insects coming to destroy armies. The imagery used throughout the book allows for easy visualization, and the society just seems so lifelike.

I had read this book when I was younger, and I had trouble with it. I realized this week my difficulty. This story enters you into a fully developed world, and leaves you with problems still in the world. I was not force fed a plot that gave all the answers by the end, I was allowed a peek into another world, and when my peek was over that was all I knew.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. There are not many Fantasy books out there that deal with drug abuse as central to the plot! I think my local bookstores must have been rubbing their hands in glee when they learn I read this book, as now I must go buy the rest of the series!

Feel free to leave your thoughts below 🙂

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man

By: Peter V. Brett

Synopsis: As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise – demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards – symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together they will stand against the night.

Format: The Warded Man is part of the Demon Cycle series. It is the first book in the series, and is 453 pages long. The Warded Man definitely gains some ideas from survival horror, but is not a scary read. It is a fantasy novel from the perspective of a few main characters. It was published in 2009 by Random House Inc.

My Thoughts: I have really enjoyed this book, it is one of the ones I actively read again and again. I really enjoyed the growth of Arlen, from young boy to adult. I liked the world building, and the small references to the past. Even the clashes of different cultures becomes very intriguing when there is not many people left in the world.

This book definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat, with a perfect balance between things you know will happen (and secretly want them too) to twists that take you by surprise. For example, someone in this book happens to be a warded man (spoilers maybe?). Shocking, I know.

The magic in this book was another factor in why I liked this book. You have very reasonable explanations for what the magic does, and how it works. The plot does not rely on magic to solve problems either. However, the source and origin of the magic is never explained. Magic in this series is something anyone can learn (It is basically drawing certain patterns in the right material) but no one understands.

Finally, the different characters in this book are truly what makes it such a unique and compelling story. You have the main characters who must learn some terrible lessons to become who they are, to minor characters whose motives can change the entire plot. The elite upper class in the story even has impact on the world through their motives and policy. While that sounds entirely logical, it is a challenging feat to have a written and imaginary society appear to behave like one from the real-world.

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something new, exciting, and a little different. Just be warned, it is incredibly hard to put down once you start! Have you read this book before? If yes, tell me about it in the comments!!