Book Review: “The Chosen of Anthros” by Travis Simmons

September 29, 2015 | Posted in Book Reviews, Epic Fantasy, Fiction, mythology-based | By

The Chosen of AnthrosThe Chosen of Anthros by Travis Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review.

“The Chosen of Anthros” is the 4th book in Travis Simmons’ “Harbingers of Light” series and picks up where “A Lament of Moonlight” leaves off – with our heroes having finally found their way through the forest and ready to head into the Harbinger settlement.

This entry in the series is full of surprises as we learn more about both the Harbingers and the plague in general and the characters specifically. Once they reach the settlement, each of the characters is given training and tasks that keep them separate much of the time, and Simmons does a nice job of spreading the story between them, giving each the chance to grow individually. There are also the beginnings of what might turn out to be a sweet love story, which is a nice touch amongst the seriousness of the rest of the events.

As a lover of Norse mythology, I like how Simmons uses various aspects of the stories to tell an original tale – not just a retelling of established lore. While he uses different names for some of the gods, it’s still pretty clear who they are (especially if you’re at all familiar with the myths) but it allows him to endow them with different characteristics, making them fresh.

This installment ends with a shocking cliffhanger – which sometimes can be rather off-putting. In this case, however, it just makes me that much more eager to see what happens next.

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Book Review: “The Rings of Power” by Lor Hasse

September 19, 2015 | Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Urban Fantasy | By

The Rings of Power (Solomon's Circle Book 2)The Rings of Power by Lor Haase
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“The Rings of Power” is the follow-up to Lor Hasse’s novel, “Circleborn.” In that first book, we met a group of young adults who are part of a circle of magic wielders, whose powers are passed down from one generation to the next, and each of whom wields a different kind of magic – for example, there’s blood magic, earth, ancestral, and so forth. For the circle to function properly, each type of magic must be represented, and to maintain that balance needed for the magic to work properly, there are bonds of varying strength between different kinds of magic.

The first book introduced us to the characters, the magical system, and the basic conflict, which involves a member from an older generations circle who wants to obtain more power for himself by eliminating the next circle generation. While trying to protect themselves from the rogue mage, the group also finds itself facing stresses from within due to the complex nature of the bonds, leading some members to consider taking actions that might prove to be detrimental to the group and its goal. The play between the internal and external struggles is nicely balanced and gives each character different issues to contend with and different opportunities for growth.

One of my biggest complaints about the earlier book was that Hasse the tended to keep a lot of balls in the air at one time, dropping hints and foreshadowing, but tending to drag out the explanation that allowed the story to progress forward. Fortunately, in this second installment, he rarely does this at all, providing us instead with good, solid suspenseful scenes that lead up to a reveal, taking enough time to let our curiosity peak, but doesn’t draw it out too long, giving this book a much faster pace. Also, a problem with typographic errors I had noticed in the first book has apparently been cleared up as I didn’t notice as many this time around.

While I did enjoy the book a great deal, and do recommend it, there are a few places where it feels like I might have missed some details – either from the first book or from earlier in this one. There are times various concepts are discussed or references are made to structural issues within the circle where I feel like I’m perhaps missing some of the information needed to put it into a fuller context, but I found that for the most part when I kept reading the context would usually become clear enough that I was able to follow along without any problem and enjoy the story unfolding.

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Book Review: “Bitter of Tongue” by Cassandra Clare

September 19, 2015 | Posted in Book Reviews, Epic Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy | By

Bitter of Tongue (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy)Bitter of Tongue by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite entries in the “Tales From Shadowhunter Academy” series. This book helps set up the next book in the Shadowhunter series by giving us a closer look at the Blackwood family. In the “Mortal Instruments” series, young Mark Blackwood is kidnapped by the Fairies and forced to join the Wild Hunt. Because the political situation with the Fairies is so tenuous, however, the Clave decides not to try to rescue him.

In this story, Simon has an encounter with Mark, one which is both deeply moving and deeply troubling, and helps show what it is about Simon that sets him apart from so many of the other Shadowhunters. His response to the situation is surprisingly mature and shows us more of the strength that gave Simon the ability to survive his transformation into a vampire (and back) and the loss of so many of his memories.

Most of the books in the series have really been quite good, but I think of the ones released so far this one is easily my favorite. It presents a very difficult situation that has no easy answers and serves as an excellent reminder as to why Simon has been such a fan favorite in the series.

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Book Review – “A Lament of Moonlight” by Travis Simmons

September 6, 2015 | Posted in Book Reviews, Epic Fantasy, mythology-based | By

A Lament of Moonlight (Harbingers of Light, #3)A Lament of Moonlight by Travis Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As the 3rd book in the “Harbingers of Light” series, “A Lament of Moonlight” serves mainly to move the story from one book to the next, rather than present a tale of its own. It does so in fine fashion, as author Travis Simmons once again provides solid character development and several dynamic action scenes.

The setting, once again, is the Fey Forest, which our heroes are traveling through in hopes of reaching the Harbinger of Light settlement, where Abigail can learn to control the Wyrd magic brought on by the shadow plague. The stakes are raised when the group finds itself on the wrong path, meaning that instead of exiting the forest near the elven city and harbinger refuge, they must travel considerably further both in the forest, and from the forest exit to the city .

I’m really enjoying this series. The books are not overlong which helps them maintain a brisk pace – but they’re not so short that story details get left by the wayside. The mythology Simmons is unveiling as the story builds, while based on the Norse mythology, deviates in various ways, so that even if you’ve read a ton of Norse-based stories, there are plenty of surprises amongst the familiar.

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