Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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The Pillars of the World: Not appealing

The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop

I loved Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy so much. But it took me a long time to pick up The Pillars of the World, because it just didn’t sound terribly appealing.

And it wasn’t appealing in the least. The one character I did like was portrayed as a cold, possessive jerk by the end of the book. The mysterious Lucien is shunted aside for the “sweet” Neall who has about as much depth as a puddle.


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Original Sin: A hot mess

Original Sin by Allison Brennan

Original Sin is a hot mess, and I’m not quite sure where to start.

Allison Brennan may not have known where to start, either. The early chapters jump around in time to a head-spinning degree. There are so many flashbacks to years ago, and references to events of weeks ago, that Original Sin gives the impression of beginning in the wrong place. If the monastery murders and fire are so important, why not put them in the novel?


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Shadow Prowler: Every fantasy cliché in the book

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

Shadow Prowler, the first fantasy novel by Russian author Alexey Pehov to be translated to English, pulls out every fantasy cliché in the book: elves, dwarves, orcs, ogres, goblins, guilds of thieves and assassins, and an evil overlord (the “Nameless One”) who is about to awaken and take over the land with an army of evil beasties. Shadow Harold (yes, that’s his name) is a master thief who, against his will, gets involved in rescuing the world from said Nameless One. 


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The Swordbearer: Read The Black Company instead

The Swordbearer by Glen Cook

The Swordbearer is an early standalone novel by Glen Cook, originally published in 1982 and re-released by Nightshade Books in 2009. If you’re a fan of Glen Cook, whose CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY are classics of the genre, this would probably be an interesting read, as you’ll be able to see some of the author’s themes and quirks taking shape. However, taken on its own, The Swordbearer isn’t anywhere near as good as some of Glen Cook’s other works.

Gathrid, the main character,


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Morrigan’s Cross: Toss in a dozen fantasy clichés and stir for 352 pages

Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts (aka J.D. Robb), as you probably know, is a prolific award-winning (and best-selling) author of romance novels. Not being a romance novel reader, I had never before read any of her work. But, when I found that I could freely download her fantasy trilogy (The Circle) from my public library’s website, I decided to give it a try.

First, let me say that authors don’t get to be award-winning best-sellers for writing poorly, so I’m perfectly willing to believe that Nora Roberts is an excellent romance writer and,


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The Four Forges: Leave this one on the shelf

The Four Forges by Jenna Rhodes

Rarely do I not like a book at all. But occasionally, a novel just doesn’t resonate. Sometimes it’s just reading the novel at the wrong time, perhaps at a time of reading burnout, or a style that just doesn’t click. But even rarer is the book that I find to be just awfully written. Jenna RhodesThe Four Forges is just awful. Rhodes writes an epic fantasy with a great setting, but a disturbing lack of a central plot.


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The Wanderer’s Tale: I’ve seen better character development in cheesy RPGs:

The Wanderer’s Tale by David Bilsborough

Described as an “epic fantasy series in the very best tradition of Tolkien,” The Wanderer’s Tale is an old-school story about a band of misfits embarking on a quest north to Melhus through the land of Lindormyn — populated by many different races, religions, deities and other creatures — to prevent Drauglir, The Evil One, from being resurrected 500 years after he was supposedly slain. Along the way, the travelers get caught up in numerous (mis)adventures as they journey through strange lands and meet up with a menagerie of beasts — ogres,


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Tangled Webs: A glorified Halloween episode

Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop

Warning: This review will contain some spoilers.

The Black Jewels Trilogy was and is one of my very favorite guilty pleasures. Yet I’ve been avoiding Tangled Webs (what is tagged book six in what is now called The Black Jewels Series — don’t even get me started on that) for some time. To explain why, I’ll give you a quote from the publisher’s blurb:

“The invitation is signed “Jaenelle Angelline,”


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Dog Days: Lacks soul, personality, and style

Dog Days by John Levitt

I’ve been eyeing Dog Days curiously for a while now (insert obvious feline joke here), mainly intrigued by the blurb’s promise of a magical dog. Yes, that’s right, I freely admit it — my inner three-year-old wanted to see the magical doggie.

The magical dog is an Ifrit, which I found kind of intriguing. Besides that, though, Dog Days has little to offer. I don’t like the main character, Mason, one bit. To avoid making him a Gary Stu,


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Fire of Heaven: Inconsistent

FIRE OF HEAVEN by Russell Kirkpatrick

The Fire Of Heaven series is a Christianity-inspired fantasy. My rating for these three books varies quite a bit from the first book to the last. The first book, Across the Face of the World, was a promising start to the story and I would rate it at perhaps three stars. I had hoped the writing would improve as the story progressed, but the second book, In the Earth Abides the Flame, was, unfortunately, a step backwards rather than forwards and it introduced elements that bothered me,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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