The FaceFaker’s Game by Chandler J. Birch. ★★★★
As soon as I heard the words “fantasy heist,” I knew I wanted to read The Facefaker’s Game.
Ashes is an orphan scrapping a living in Burroughside, the poorest and most crime ridden area of the giant Victorian-esque city of Teranis. Then by coincidence he comes to the attention of Candlestick Jack: a master thief and Artificer, a magician who manipulates light to craft illusions. He offers Ashes a chance to be his student, but he wants his help with a grand scheme.
Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer. ★★★
I cannot figure out why I didn’t like this book. It has so much that would normally appeal to me – an inventive fantasy setting, a flawed female lead, a diverse cast – but I just could not get into it. I procrastinated on reading it quite a bit, and it felt like work to reach the end.
Unar lives in the Canopy, the part of the forest city closest to the sun and thus the most elite. However, she has to flee her destitute family when her parents plot to sell her into slavery. She finds a place as a Gardner in the temple of the goddess Audblayin, where she uses her innate magic to help the growth of plants. When Audblayin dies, Unar sees it as a chance to fulfill her destiny by becoming the next incarnation’s Bodyguard. But Unar’s choices will lead her in a direction she never could have imagined. Continue reading
The Ships of Air by Martha Wells. ★★★★
The Ships of Air is the second book in the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, which starts with The Wizard Hunters. I suggest reading them in order, but I actually enjoyed The Ships of Air more than the first installment.
Ile-Rien has been overrun by the Gardier, the mysterious enemies who’ve been attacking them from another world. Everyone who can has evacuated, and the front of the war has moved on to a neighboring country. Our protagonists are aboard the Queen Ravenna, a luxury liner which has been converted for the war effort and given the ability to travel between worlds with the aid of a sorcerer. The goal is to avoid the Gardier patrols and get the refugees to safety. But the ship itself is not entirely safe, for a malevolent and shadowy force stalks it.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. ★★★★
It’s hard to review a book which is so closely associated with my childhood. I have clear memories of sneaking pages of Howl’s Moving Castle during mandatory 5th grade camp, desperately trying to air conditioned places to read in. I’m happy to say that even reading it years later, Howl’s Moving Castle is still a book worth loving.
Sophie Hatter is the oldest of three sisters, and she knows she won’t amount to much. Her youngest sister will probably go off and seek her fortune, having great adventures, but Sophie? Her future holds nothing more than hats. Then the infamous Witch of the Wastes comes into the hat shop and curses Sophie, transforming her into an old woman. In a state of shock, Sophie wanders out of the hat shop and off into the hills, where she comes across Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl is nearly as infamous as the Witch of the Waste, and Sophie’s always been told to stay away from him since he devours young women’s hearts. But Sophie’s no longer a young woman, so what does she have to be afraid of? She barges her way into Howl’s castle and makes a deal with a fire demon – if she breaks the demon’s contract with Howl, the demon will free her from the curse.
Grudgebearer by J.F. Lewis. ★★
Grudgebearer is the start to an epic fantasy trilogy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to my tastes. If I weren’t reading it for review, I wouldn’t have finished.
Grudgebearer is set in a world with a wide array of species, some of whom are immortal. Kholster is the first of the immortal Aern, a wolf-like, carnivorous warrior species with no qualms about eating other sentient beings. They were created as slaves for the Eldrennai but gained freedom six hundred years ago. Every hundred years the peace between the Eldrennai and the Aern must be reforged at the Grand Conjunction. But an Eldrennai prince has moved the armor the Aern left hostage, and if he’s going to follow his oath, Kholster must destroy them all. And if he doesn’t follow his oath, then he will no longer be an Aern.
The Initiate Brother by Sean Russell. ★★★1/2
After a plague ravaged the Empire of Wa, there’s a new dynasty on the throne. And many who were once powerful are out of favor with the Emperor. Among these are the Botahist Monks, who have a unique control over their perception of time and their internal energy. They’ve been spiritual advisers to the court for a thousand years, but now their position is threatened. However, the Emperor views his greatest enemy of all as Lord Shonto, the powerful head of a great house and adopted father of Lady Nishima, the last surviving member of the old dynasty. The Emperor has hatched a plan to rid himself of Lord Shonto, but he didn’t count on Lord Shonto’s new spiritual adviser, the Brother Shuyun.
Stories of the Raksura: Volume One by Martha Wells. ★★★★
I love the Raksura. I will happily read everything Martha Wells writes about them, and I’ve even considered donating to her patron to get story snippets about them every month. For those who are unaware, the Raksura are a species of shapeshifters created by Martha Wells. The world they inhabit is beautifully strange and doesn’t contain a human in sight. There’s an entire series of books following a young consort named Moon who was unaware he was a Raksura for most of his life until he found the Raksuran court of Indigo Cloud. The series starts with The Cloud Roads, and I highly recommend it.
Stories of the Raksura contains a couple of novellas and short stories all set in the world of the Raksura. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to read it!