Tag Archives: Fantasy

Marriage, Portland, and Modesitt

Keeping with a series I love for this post! The Order War is the fourth book in L. E. Modesitt Jr’s Saga Of Recluce, and it is an excellent book!

A story about how I acquired this first printing because this one was the hardest one for me to acquire! For years I could only find the smaller Book Club edition hardcover. Everywhere I looked the results were the same! I started to doubt there was a full size hardcover ever made, but I looked in every used book store I walked in to. Then I met my wife. Not in a book store, I met my wife at an art show, but that’s another story, but my wedding helped lead me to this book!

You see, both my wife and I love to travel. We both agreed we wanted to go to new places on our anniversaries through the years, and on our first anniversary we traveled to Portland, Oregon and had a great time! In Portland is this amazing book store called Powell’s so we had to visit it! I looked for The Order War not expecting to find it after all these years, but to my delight there it was!

This book is all about the balance between order and chaos and how Recluce needs that balance, and what it will do when the balance is unnaturally abused. It is about a young talent wielder faced with the task of finding their center even if it costs them everything, because the cost of not finding that center would be even higher.

That trip to Portland will be a favorite memory all my days, and I’m thankful to have this book to remind me of it. You never know what adventures marriage will bring into your life, and I am thankful to have my wife to walk arm in arm with from adventure to adventure. You never know what stories a book on a shelf represent, and sometimes those stories mean even more than the stories written on the pages!

Eighth Of Nine: Fall of Thanes

We reach the end of The Godless World Trilogy by Brian Ruckley in this eighth post. We also reach the best book of this incredible trilogy. Fall of Thanes is why Brian Ruckley earned a spot amongst my favorite authors!

This book is why I describe this trilogy as a darkly beautiful and moving story. Reading this book is like walking along a dark ocean at night, feeling the ocean trying to draw you out into the deepness it encompasses. This book took me a long time to read and finish. Not because I was bored, but because I was so emotionally invested and on edge that I could only handle the story in small doses.

How does a story grip a reader so? How do certain books just catch you in the perfect way at the perfect moment? That truly is the magic of storytelling. I know you can ask a reader about a book that meant a lot to them and they’ll be able to share that with you. To me that is a more fun and easier to answer question than the favorite book question!

There is always the potential to have different endings to a story, and it can be difficult to write the correct one for that story. This one has the correct ending for this story. This is a story that will break your heart while offering slivers of hope. It is a work of art. I truly hope I’ve helped inspire a few of you to pick up this trilogy and give it a read! I think it is one of the finest out there, and I think you’ll agree with me about the ending.

Speaking of endings, tomorrow’s post will be the ending of this batch of nine posts! I’m looking forward to sharing that with you, and hopefully using the ending as a launching pad into a new chapter!

Seventh Of Nine: The Magic Engineer

We enter the final run of three in this set of nine posts! This has been so much fun that today I am taking photos and working out how to continue with frequent posts. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me in this!

Before we dive into The Magic Engineer by L.E. Modesitt Jr which is the third book of The Recluce Saga and one of my favorite books ever written, let’s talk about series and book reviewing! Seriously! As a SciFi and Fantasy fan it gets crazy trying to review (for example) book 7 of a 12 book series because anything you say can be a spoiler! If I write about the plot lines too in-depth it could ruin the overall fun for someone who wants to dive into a great series BUT I would like to talk about what I’m reading and enjoying. There is a fine line and of course the reader must beware possible spoilers, but that is also why most of my reviews try to focus on how a book makes me feel, or responses a book elicits within me, or some aspect of the story that I felt was important to me without taking from the overall series. How does this tie in to The Magic Engineer? Glad you asked!

The Magic Engineer is a standalone Fantasy book set three books in to The Saga Of Recluce. You could read this book by itself and love it. You’ll love it more if you read the first two books of the series, but still you could review this one as if it were the only book in the series. The entire Recluce Saga is like this to a degree. Modesitt tells standalone stories that normally take two books to tell and places them in an overall story that grows with each book. It feels like less of a commitment than say Wheel Of Time even though there are more books in Recluce! To be fair that is also because WOT books tend to run longer but still.

Dorrin is the Magic Engineer this title speaks of and this book further examines the balance between chaos and order that is present in Recluce. Dorrin is an outcast from Recluce, the same as Lerris in The Magic Of Recluce, and he is just trying to find some place where he can build the machines that fascinate him. However neither the forces of chaos or order want him to succeed, so how do you take on the world to pursue your dreams?

As said this book is one of my favorite books ever written. If I created a top five it would be on there. If there is one book from Modesitt that would hook you in on his stories I think this is it. As a standalone you could give it a go, but the reader in me thinks it is so powerful to me because of where it fits in the overall series, and because of how the concepts of the series have been growing to this point.

Tomorrow we will return for one last look into the Godless World!

Fifth Of Nine: Bloodheir

For the fifth ofvthese nine posts we return to the world of The Godless Trilogy for book two: Bloodheir.

Second books are the make or break points to a trilogy. I think it is universally accepted that the second film of the original Star Wars Trilogy was the best, yes? The ability to pick up a story, tell a new tale, and bring it to such a conclusion that you must go on to the final book is a powerful ability and Brian Ruckley has that ability in large quantities! Bloodheir picks you up right where the the opening book Winterbirth left you and quickly throws you into… well into a despair really. This one is a dark and moving tale where you really are in fear for any character you care for, and truly you find yourself caring for some characters you didn’t expect to care for!

One aspect of this story that I really love is that the world itself is a part of the story too. That is something I love about Dune as well. In this case it isn’t a hot desert planet. It is a vast frozen wilderness. It is ancient and hate filled forests. It is breathtaking mountains. Above all it is snow. And in this snow a battle takes place. A battle that will stretch loyalties to their breaking points. An intense battle first against the elements and then against the enemy. I love it when the world itself is a huge part of the story.

I admit that I was concerned when I started this book that the story wouldn’t draw me in further. That it would feel unneeded. However I quickly grew to appreciate this story. Truth told I thought the disasters and catastrophes that happened in the first book would be the worst of the series. Then I read this book and learned how disastrous it could still become! This book was even better than the first book. But it wasn’t the best book of the trilogy! That book is yet to come! We’ll talk about it soon.

Four Of Nine: The Towers Of Sunset

The Wheel Of Time turns and as it turns facts become stories, stories become legends, legends become myths, myths become forgotten, and the forgotten comes again…. or something like that. Why on earth would I start a post about the second book of the Saga Of Recluce with a butchering of the opening of the WOT? It is in answer to a question posed in the First Of Nine post from a few days back (which you should check out for an explanation of this crazy numbering system) about what led me to Recluce.

You see long long ago when I was a teen reader I encountered this series around the same time I encountered Wheel Of Time by Robert Jordan and noticed that they both have the same cover artist and RJ complimented the Recluce Saga in a cover blurb. Now this story should go that I read WOT, trusted RJ and picked up The Magic Of Recluce because that is the first book of the Recluce Saga. However as ages have passed since I was a teen reader the story has moved into the legendary myth status so I need to write it down before I forget it. Here is the true myth:

My library didn’t have The Magic Of Recluce. It did have The Towers Of Sunset. It didn’t have The Eye Of The World but it had other WOT books. I tried to figure out which book came first in Recluce but there wasn’t an internet and I was horrible at figuring out library records so I figured that this book looked interesting and that author I want to read recommended this one so… yep. You guessed it. I read book two of the Saga Of Recluce before I read book one. The Towers Of Sunset were my gateway into this wonderful world.

The good news is The Towers Of Sunset don’t really spoil The Magic Of Recluce as there is almost a thousand years between the books, mainly I knew the answer behind who was in some paintings Lerris sees in TMOR. Overall the stories are very separate. That said this does again raise the Publication vs Chronological reading order question and I’ll again side with the author and say the Publication order is the way to go as the concepts being explored in this series grow as you read the series.

The Towers Of Sunset features two primary POV characters who find themselves linked in ways they might not fully understand as they both start to journey inwardly and outwardly in their lives. This is a book of great change and upheaval, and what remains at the end is different than what is present at the start of the story. This story is one with deep emotions and transformations. Really a great story for those who enjoy character development.

Recluce is a saga that pulls me back into its embrace time and time again. It is a series I find both challenging and comforting and one I can’t praise enough! I am really looking forward to my next post on Recluce as the third book of the Saga is one of my all time favorite books! Tomorrow’s post though returns us to a Godless World.

Second Of Nine: Winterbirth

In keeping with my nine days of posts to get back in the swing of reading and writing (see previous post for details) I am featuring another of my favorite Fantasy series: The Godless World Trilogy and specifically featuring book one: Winterbirth

First off let me talk about the book itself: Orbit has perfected the large trade paperback book style! They create the best large fwompy books! Which is the sound they make when you fwomp them down. Go ahead and try it. Fwomp. Great bookish sound! The design of this trilogy is also eye catching as they went very minimalist and bright with the red title popping off the cover. Literally as it is raised. So I discovered this trilogy because the cover caught my eye and I am a cover buy reader! The concept is interesting too. Check out the summary from the back cover:

The general concept is that the gods created the world and the living beings on it. Then the beings went to war amongst themselves and so deeply offended the gods that the gods washed their hands of the world and left it. Some still believe they can bring the gods back if only everyone believes exactly how they do and they are willing to kill everyone who disagrees until they have their unity. Those that believe this way have been driven into the far north where existence is hard and have been ignored while the lands further south grow wealthy and prosperous. However there are changes stirring and deep magics awakening, and that which has been hidden is coming back into light.

This book launches one of the most beautiful Dark Fantasy stories I have ever read. I’ll detail that more when I post about the last book in another of these posts because of course I need something non spoilery to discuss in the posts for books two and three, but just know that the story that starts here grows beyond the roots of this book. It grows into the hearts of the readers.

That said have you ever had a book you bad to give up on and return back to at a later date? That was this book for me. I got 70 pages into it the first time and the people/place names all just seemed the same and I wasn’t feeling it. So I bailed, but decided later on to give it one more try and that next try I found that everything clicked. Truly amazing when that happens!

I’ll discuss the second and third books in upcoming posts and will do so in a way that hopefully doesn’t ruin any plot points for you. I’d rather always say too lite about plot than too much, but I think the next two posts on this trilogy will be safe. Thus ends the second of nine days of reviews!

First Of Nine: The Magic Of Recluce

Hello all! I am challenging myself to return to regular sharing/posting on my social media sites so I have taken a series of nine photos to share with y’all over the next nine days! I picked out books 1-3 of three separate series that I love and will write about them here, on bookstagram, on twitter, and possibly finish it all off with a podcast!

For the first of the nine posts I am featuring my favorite “comfort read” series of all time: L. E. Modesitt Jr’s Recluce Saga! What exactly do I mean by “comfort read”? WELL I AM GLAD YOU (possibly) ASKED! For me a “comfort read” is a book/series/author that when you pick up that book you feel like you are coming home. That is exactly what reading the Recluce Saga feels like to me after all these years of reading it. More on that later in this blog, let’s discuss this book!

The Magic Of Recluce is a wonderful coming of age tale set in a magical world that exists within a balance between Chaos and Order. Lerris (the star of this tale) discovers he has the potential to be a focal point for either side of the balance and is sent away from his homeland in order to discover exactly who and what he is and can become. Kind of harsh that his own country kicks him out, but they do give him a little schooling before he goes where he meets others who are like him in that their country doesn’t feel they belong, but thinks they might belong after traveling abroad. Here’s the thing: the rest of the world doesn’t really like their home country so the odds of survival aren’t going yo be in their favor. I have to admit I’ve always been a touch jealous of the schooling that Lerris was offered, but definitely not jealous of the exile.

While on his personal journey of discovery Lerris also becomes quite the carpenter! One of the most magical things for me about the Recluce Saga is that you get to learn about different crafts in each book. Modesitt educates while entertaining. In other books you get to learn about being a cooper or a scribe or any number of amazing crafts!

The Recluce Saga is a multigenerational High Fantasy tale which is not written in chronological order. Modesitt takes you on a journey into the concept of Recluce as you read along in publication order so definitely read in publication order. Normally you will find two consecutive books dedicated to one primary character, but sometimes there are standalones.

Ok on Bookstagram I had promised I’d tell the tale of how I discovered this series, and I will but not fully in this post! I’ll share that in the next Recluce post which will be soon in this series if nine posts BUT as a teaser for those of you who love High Fantasy can you name the artist who painted this cover and maybe guess the other High Fantasy series I saw this artist’s art on that drew my eye to Recluce? That is the teaser! More next time.

#20For20Books

All of us have massive TBR piles, or shelves, or lists, right? Well a friend on Instagram @Jetwithjess has created a fun “challenge” for attacking your TBR this year called #20For20Books in honor of the year 2020! It’s easy to join in. All you need to do is pick out twenty books that you already own from your TBR and read those twenty books over the course of this year! If you want to include a reread or want to add a book you don’t own yet but have wanted to read for ages that’s fine too, it’s all meant to be fun!

The difficult part for me was selecting just twenty books! There are so many boos on my TBR that I want to read! But I have narrowed my list down to these twenty books:

1 Beyond Apollo Barry Malzberg

2 Best Served Cold Joe Abercrombie

3 The Curse Of The Mistwraith Janny Wurts

4 Inversions Iain M Banks

5 Ancillary Sword Anne Leckie

6 The Land You Never Leave Angus Watson

7 Relic Of Sorrows Lindsay Buroker

8 The Deadbringer E M Markoff

9 The Mirror’s Truth Michael Fletcher

10 The Crown Of Stones Magic Scars C L Schneider

11 The House Of Sacrifice Anna Smith Spark

12 The Heart Of What Was Lost Tad Williams

13 Shadow And Flame Gail Z Martin

14 Eye Of Terra Aaron Dembski-Bowden

15 Fleet Of Knives Gareth L Powell

16 The Scorched Earth Drew Karpyshyn

17 The Sword Of The Lictor Gene Wolfe

18 The Citadel Of The Autarch Gene Wolfe

19 Fallen Dragon Peter Hamilton

20 Iron Gold Pierce Brown

Do you see any favorites on the list or ones you’d like to read to? Are you going to join in? I’m curious what books will make your #20For20Books list! Hope you join in!

A Voice That Gave A Voice

Creative titles are fun aren’t they? I mean I at least think it’s creative. Ok on with the reviewing before I think I’m more clever than I already think I am ha!

Years ago I accepted an ARC of A Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall and was really excited! A GrimDark Fantasy of a conflicting character from an earlier generation setting out to make the world bleed for their vengeance. Sounds promising! Unfortunately it failed to live up to its promise.

I know I know I rarely books that I don’t enjoy. I rarely read books I don’t enjoy or DNF them and then move on. Life is too short and my TBR too massive to spend time on books I’m not enjoying. However I felt I owed this one a read through as I did accept the ARC. It was taking me ages to make any headway though and so I ended up buying a physical copy to accompany my Ebook ARC. Maybe that will help me connect with this story but again I just wasn’t feeling it. I kept wondering why I wasn’t enjoying this tale, where was the disconnect? Suddenly it hit me: The characters didn’t have anything to truly distinguish themselves from each other.

Oh sure they had different names and physical attributes and backgrounds, but all of the characters were the same dull overly snarky attempting to be witty tough character. You could have replaced any of the primary characters with any of the secondary characters and not noticed a difference in the story. That’s frustrating.

I felt I owed it to the publisher to not give up, but a third of the way into the book I almost caved. Then I remembered I had an Audible credit and needed a new audiobook! Did this one have a good narrator? I decided to find out and I am so glad I did!

Angele Masters is an amazing narrator and she breathed life into the various characters within the pages of this book! Her reading of it and the voices she made for each of the characters turned my experience of this book completely around from one I was about to DNF to now having me interested in listening to the next two volumes of the trilogy.

If you enjoy GrimDark this story is worth a try. You may find more life within the characters than did I. If you enjoy GrimDark and audiobooks then this is a must listen because you’ll enjoy the experience!

READ THIS BOOK!

If there is one book I could convince you to read right now it’s this book I’m about to tell you about! As y’all know one of my goals with RedStarReviews is to draw attention to books that are published either independently or via a small publisher with my Star In The Sky reviews. The concept is that there are so many stars shining brightly in the sky and I want to use my platform to point out some that have grabbed my eye and today I have a very bright shining star of a story to share with you!

The Deadbringer by E M Markoff is the first book of The Ellderet Series and it is AMAZING!!! The author is a member of the Bookstagram Community and I somehow missed that she was an author! One day I saw her post about her characters and thought that they sounded cool so I decided to give the first chapter of the book a try. I hoped I’d like it. I didn’t just like it, Reader, I LOVED IT. This book is so damn awesome! It is a Dark Fantasy with elements of Horror within it. The world created by the author is interesting, the characters are so alive they could step off the pages and into your home. The interpersonal conflicts are some of the best I’ve ever encountered in a book in my reading life. This is a book that grabbed ahold of me and refused to let go! Seriously if there is one book this year that I recommend that you give a chance to please let it be this book! E M Markoff has created such an incredible story that I know you’ll love. After you’ve read it please let me know what you think!

If you’d like to hear me talk more about this story check out the latest episode of my RedStarReviews Podcast

Also! Another reviewer of books Nick T Borrelli has constructed a list of his Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Series and it is an excellent list! It’s inspired me to construct my own top ten so right now I’m stuck with 16 possibles and trying to narrow that down so I can share it with you. Hope to have my list for you soon, but please check out Nick’s list while waiting, and please read The Deadbringer!