Books I Recommend

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  1. Hall of Bones by Tim Hardie

    Available on Amazon

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    Blurb:

    In the remote land of Laskar the seven ruling clans have vied with each other for power for over a century. The son of the Reavesburg Clan Chief, Rothgar, has been groomed all his life for a role supporting his elder brother, Jorik, in leading their kingdom when their father’s time finally comes to an end.

    However, the rulers of their greatest rivals, the Vorund Clan, are in the grip of something older and far darker. They have been conquered by evil, a remnant from the time when the gods warred with one another and the world of Amuran collapsed into the Fallen Age.

    Everything is about to change …

    The first book in The Brotherhood of the Eagle series, Hall of Bones begins a tale of epic fantasy, magic and intrigue.

    My Review:

    Hall of Bones, the first book of The Brotherhood of The Eagle, is set in a Norse-inspired region of a wider fantasy world; a region perhaps a little naive in retaining its warrior culture when there are so many sophisticated threats not so very far from their borders. The book has got warriors, clans, love, family, politics and magic, all artfully put together.

    Despite not really being drawn to Norse books, this one had me at hello. It immediately drew me in, and I swiftly became emotionally invested.  

    The early chapters, told from the perspective of Rothgar, the younger son of the Reaveburg Clan Chief, tell the tale of his latter childhood and adolescence within his father’s keep, in a style that reminded me very strongly of Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, but, I felt (no disrespect to Hobb - she also had an ability to draw me in) more authentically portrayed. Those chapters have a warm feeling, conveying the strength of the family connections with a hint of bittersweet nostalgia, as it is apparent the first-person narrator is looking back on a time when his home was stable and secure; a childhood idyll that would not last. Sure enough, life begins to take its toll when a rival clan steps up its raids and strife within Rothgar’s own clan threatens his family’s position. 

    Hardie’s writing style is natural, warm and welcoming. I slipped into the world he has created with ease and tore through chapter after chapter, pleasantly immersed, but worried what would come next! 

    I look forward to the release of Sundered Souls, the second book of The Brotherhood of the Eagle.

     

    5/5 stars!

  2. We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley

    Available on Amazon

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    Blurb:

    ‘We Men of Ash and Shadow’ is the first book in the Vanguard Series and follows the journey of protagonist, John Vanguard, through the dark and corrupt city of D’Orsee. A Grimdark gas lamp novel, ‘We Men of Ash and Shadow’ explores themes of redemption, loyalty, and betrayal against the backdrop of a world where survival often means compromising your values.

    Amidst the gas lamp shadows former soldier-turned-mercenary John Vanguard hunts criminals at the behest of his corrupt employer, Captain Felix Sanquain. Shamed by his deserter past and seeking to make amends for his many misdeeds, a chance encounter with Tarryn Leersac – a skilled young would-be-assassin fallen from the graces of high society – leads Vanguard to become an unlikely mentor.

    Charged with hunting down the killer of two guards left washed up on the banks of the canal, the further Vanguard delves into the underbelly of the city the more he finds himself entangled in a web of secrets and lies. A prominent aristocrat is missing. Crime lords, con men and harlots run amok and the city teeters on the brink of another revolution.

    With his already precarious reputation hanging by a thread, Vanguard must piece together how and why the last war came to pass, find a way to earn redemption for his mistakes and come to terms with the past in a city where few survive, and even fewer can be trusted.

    My Review:

    I’ll begin by saying that HL Tinsley writes beautifully. Her descriptions and characterisation are first rate, and she pays attention to details, which bring scenes to life in unexpected ways. And, man, she is brutal.
    The structure and style of the book is a talking point in itself, with an omniscient narrator who initially paints the city in what feels like a series of vignettes. I finished the book this morning, and I am still reflecting on it, remembering little moments and realising the symbolism.
    John Vanguard is a broken man, an old soldier, walking the gutters of D’Orsee, a sprawling city that reminded me of both the 18th and 19th century, made up of zones differentiated by the class of their occupants. The brooding, menacing story follows its haunted protagonist as he begins to see the bigger picture. HL Tinsley does not give information to us on a platter, does not give it all away at once. She lets the tension build until the exactly the right moment.
    I bought the book on Kindle and, before I had finished, I knew I was going to be a fanboy, so I bought the paperback too, something I am trying to avoid doing due to space constraints.
    We Men of Ash and Shadow is totally immersive, evocative and, at times, challenging. It is reminiscent of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe, Assassin’s Creed, Sherlock Holmes and Les Miserables!
    I need to read more about both the past and the future of John Vanguard!

    5/5 stars!