City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. ★★★1/2
The Divine Cities series has been one of the most well written fantasy series I’ve ever read. Yet I have mixed emotions about this final book in the trilogy. You can read either the City of Stairs or City of Blades independently, but I think you need to have read both of them before going into City of Miracles.
City of Miracles opens with the assassination of Shara Komayd, hero of the battle of Bulikov and former prime minister. Sigrud has spent the last thirteen years waiting for Shara to summon him out of exile and give him a purpose again. When he hears of her death, he decides his purpose must be to avenge her. But he soon finds that Shara wasn’t taking it easy in her retirement – she was deeply involved in a battle of shadowy forces, and Sigrud has charged head first into a situation where he has no idea what is going on.
Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling. ★★★1/2
I’ve finally gotten around to reading Hidden Warrior, the sequel to the coming of age fantasy novel, The Bone Doll’s Twin. In my review of the first book, I noted that I was reserving judgement on how well gender is handled until I’d read the second book. And wow am I judgmental about how Hidden Warrior handled the themes it set out to explore.
To recap, in The Bone Doll’s Twin a king has taken the throne from his sister, the rightful heir. A long ago prophecy says the country will never be defeated as long as a woman of the proper lineage sits on the throne. Since prophecies are serious business in fantasy novels, the king starts killing off all female relatives who could be a potential threat. When his sister gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, a wizard takes matters into her own hands to preserve the girl, the “true heir,” by using dark magic to give her the shape of her brother. Oh, yes, this also involves the death of her brother.
A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows. ★★★★
A Tyranny of Queens is the sequel to the portal fantasy novel, An Accident of Stars, and I’m happy to report that I liked it even more than the first book! If queer feminist fantasy sounds at all your thing, I suggest you start reading this series. This is a series that should really be read in order – A Tyranny of Queens picks up almost directly from where An Accident of Stars left off. If you haven’t read the first book, I doubt you’d be able to make sense of this one. Forewarning, this review may contain spoilers for the first book.
Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn. ★★★★
I loved this fantasy novella! I picked it up mainly because I heard the protagonist was asexual (true), and I ended up with a novella that was beautiful in so many ways and really resonated with me.
Lai’s mother and grandmother before her have been priestesses, and Lai can’t imagine any other life for herself. In order to become a priestess, she must win through the trials, for only one girl can be selected by the gods as the next priestess. But what about after the trials? What will happen to the friends she’s in competition with? And what if… she fails?
The Last Witness by K.J. Parker. ★★★
I’ve been hearing a lot about K.J. Parker, and I figured this novella would be a good way to try out his work.
The narrator of The Last Witness has the ability to go into people’s heads and remove memories. Once he has removed a memory, it becomes his own, as vivid to him as if he had actually lived it, and his victims have no idea that the memory even exists. The narrator uses his talent to earn money – his clients hire him to have memories removed, either something that happened to them that they’d rather not remember, or something they want someone else to forget. As a result, the narrator becomes the last witness to a large number of crimes.
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher. ★★★★
This wonderfully written YA fantasy novel would appeal to fans of Robin McKinley’s fairy tale works.
Rhea’s life takes an unexpected turn when a local lord requests her hand in marriage. She doesn’t want to get married, much less to a stranger who’s as old as her father, but when you’re the daughter of a miller, you can’t tell a lord no. Then Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his manor house before the wedding. There she finds both dark magic and his six other wives. If Rhea doesn’t act quickly, she’ll share in their fate.
Sunset Mantle by Alter S. Reiss. ★★★1/2
Sunset Mantle is a solid work of high fantasy. What’s most fascinating about it is that for all it’s battles and political intrigue, it’s less than 200 pages long. That’s right ya’ll. This is a high fantasy novella.
Cete is a wandering solider for hire. He knows that Reach Antach is about to be on the losing side of a war and that the smart thing to do would be to move on… but somehow, he just can’t bring himself to do so. When he sees a beautifully embroidered mantle made by a blind craftswoman, he becomes inspired to stay and to risk everything for the town of Reach Antach.