Reading roundup 12/06/19

I have spent a lot of time reading during this last week; it is the one compensation of being stuck in bed! Well, you do have to try to find the positive side where you can.

Malice by John Gwynne

My first read of the week was the start of another fantasy series: Malice by John Gwynne (#01 of The Faithful and the Fallen). Here is the blurb:

A black sun is rising …

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

This was a thick and meaty read, just what I needed! It was worth close to the full five stars, but not quite. This is my review on Goodreads:

Good and exciting fantasy debut, although not without some issues. The scene setting at the beginning was quite slow with what seemed to be multiple coming of age storylines from a range of characters. The fantasy world itself was quite intriguing and the author used a large number of different points of view to set out the lives of his main characters, spread across various parts of a continent seemingly at peace. This large population of characters quickly became a problem for me. Many of the names were similar and, partly because most of them were male, I got quite confused at the beginning of some chapters. Perhaps a list of characters would have been helpful?

As I read further into the book, the plot gained pace and I liked how the author managed to draw out a growing sense of menace and possible betrayal. By the end of the book events were moving even faster and I began to look forward to the next book in the series.

I now have books two and three on reserve at the library!

Yes, I will soon be picking up the next books in the series and I am really looking forward to reading them.

Hunted by Paul Finch

My second read of the week was a change from the fantasy genre to crime: Hunted (#05 DS Heckenburg) by Paul Finch. This is the blurb:

Heck needs to watch his back. Because someone’s watching him…

Across the south of England, a series of bizarre but fatal accidents are taking place. So when a local businessman survives a near-drowning but is found burnt alive in his car just weeks later, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is brought in to investigate.

Soon it appears that other recent deaths might be linked: two thieves that were bitten to death by poisonous spiders, and a driver impaled through the chest with scaffolding.

Accidents do happen but as the body count rises it’s clear that something far more sinister is at play, and it’s coming for Heck too…

This book made quite a nice change after reading quite a few long fantasy novels and I did enjoy it. It was well worth three stars and here is my review:

I found this book to be a fast, gripping and easy read. The plot was inventive, although extremely gruesome in places. The main character was engaging and realistic without too many stereotypes. I probably won’t go out of my way to read other books in the series, but will certainly pick them up if I happen across them in the library. All in all, a well-written crime novel that keeps the reader interested.

The Plague Stones by James Brogden

I swapped genres again for my third book – to horror this time. I don’t think that I have read a true horror novel for ages, so this made a nice change: The Plague Stones by James Brogden. Here is the blurb:

Fleeing from a traumatic break-in, Londoners Paul and Tricia Feenan sell up to escape to the isolated Holiwell village where Tricia has inherited a property. Scattered throughout the settlement are centuries-old stones used during the Great Plague as boundary markers. No plague-sufferer was permitted to pass them and enter the village. The plague diminished, and the village survived unscathed, but since then each year the village trustees have insisted on an ancient ceremony to renew the village boundaries, until a misguided act by the Feenans’ son then reminds the village that there is a reason traditions have been rigidly stuck to, and that all acts of betrayal, even those committed centuries ago, have consequences…

The book was exciting and quite gripping and, I think, worth around three to four stars. And here is my review on Goodreads:

A pretty standard horror tale and well worth reading. Good characters and an interesting historical background. Full of the usual horror themes: standing stones, blood and boils, nasty deaths and evil betrayers. I will probably read other books by this author if I find them in the Library.

As usual, I really recommend that visitors to my blog explore sites such as Goodreads, LibraryThing and the many excellent book blogs that are available. In fact, I would welcome suggestions on the best blogs to list in the sidebar. Any ideas?

Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

I have now just started my new book – science fiction this time! It is Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds and I will review it in time for next week’s Reading Roundup post.

Happy Reading to you all and very best wishes,


About The Librain

Retired School Librarian
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