Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio – Review

Cover- Empire of Silence

Published: July 3, 2018

Publisher DAW Books

Series: Sun Eater #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 624 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.


Empire of Silence is one of those rare books that just impressed me beyond expectation. I knew very little of it beyond what the synopsis gives and understood it to be ROME IN SPACE. Which is awesome. This theme is becoming more popular (though perhaps not common) in the SFF community and I’ve found that it’s totally my jam. I love it – from Red Rising to the underrated gem that is Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, I am completely hooked on this kind of book. I love the idea that these ancient traditions from Earth might be so revered by future progeny that they create a whole stupid empire that spans galaxies based on the philosophy that I hated studying in college. Actually, I must admit Rome was cool, but generally talked about far too much in college courses when there were so many other fantastic ancient cultures that could have been studied.

Hadrian Marlowe is the eldest son of a powerful lord, distantly kin to the emperor, and unfortunately not destined to sit his father’s throne. He just doesn’t have the casual cruelty sought after by those in power and so his father decides to ship him off to the Chantry to be a priest or a torturer or something equally awful. Hadrian has other plans and sets out to be a Scholiast and though not everything (well, nothing) works out as he anticipated, he sure has a more exciting life than his brother Crispin. Hadrian spends time in the gutters of a foreign planet begging and thieving, the sands of the gladiatorial fields as a myrmidon, the halls of a palace as a languages tutor, a field expedition pack mule, and a translator for Inquisitors. This is no small book, but Hadrian sure has a lot happen to him in 600+ pages and it’s only the beginning!

Empire of Silence is, in my opinion, the science fiction version of The Name of the Wind. There are quite a few similarities and I am in no way complaining about it because it was such a great book! Hadrian is telling the story of his life from his wealthy, cushioned beginning as the son of a lord to how he becomes known as the Sun Eater. Obviously we don’t get to the Sun Eater part in this book because it’s only the first in a series, but I love pondering how the events I did get to read about will ultimately bring him to that point. There are a few character/story line similarities including Hadrian’s time as a street rat and the double-edged sword of his cleverness, but the two books take very different directions as I would expect them to. The biggest similarity I think, is the quality of writing. Christopher Ruocchio is an excellent writer and had some elegant turns of phrase that practically screamed Patrick Rothfuss’s style. Hadrian is a very well-written character and there were interesting side characters, though only Volka truly had a thorough development.

This was such a fantastic book and I think it’s especially awesome that this is a debut! I can only think that the author will improve even further with time and I am definitely looking forward to news of the sequel. I’m sure we’ll see more of the alien Cielcin, battles, and exotic new planets and/or locations which even this book had a number of. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of readers and if you were a fan of Red Rising, The Name of the Wind, or anything with a bit of gladiatorial combat + a deep world you’ll probably love this book! Pick it up now because it will take you ages to catch up if you wait until the next book is out!

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A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning – Review

Cover- Warlock Holmes

Published: May 17, 2016

Publisher: Titan Books

Series: Warlock Holmes #1

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Pages: 336 (Paperback)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes.

Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.

An imaginative, irreverent and addictive reimagining of the world’s favourite detective, Warlock Holmes retains the charm, tone and feel of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while finally giving the flat at 221b Baker Street what it’s been missing for all these years: an alchemy table.

Reimagining six stories, this riotous mash-up is a glorious new take on the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes myth, featuring the vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade, the ogre Inspector Torg Grogsson, and Dr. Watson, the true detective at 221b. And Sherlock. A warlock.


I’m not really sure what to say about this book… it was definitely quite the interpretation of the usual Holmes and Watson duo. Rather than Sherlock being the brains of the operation, he is instead a mad warlock who isn’t all that bright. Watson is much cleverer (or is it just common sense?) and proceeds to guide Warlock through a number of cases. It was rather unusual.

Another interesting thing is that this, much like the actual Sherlock Holmes stories, is not a single novel, but rather a collection of short stories. I had a hard time getting immersed in the stories and kept getting distracted, so it definitely wasn’t the most engaging book I’ve ever read. The stories weird and at times kind of funny – especially the wild west donut flashback, but this book just wasn’t hitting the right notes with me.

I thought this was a unique retelling, though it just wasn’t for me. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of book, but I didn’t think it was particularly funny and couldn’t wait for it to end. I’ve definitely read some Sherlock retelling that I enjoyed more and will definitely find more to check out in the future, but I’ll be avoiding the rest of this series. I’ve seen plenty of positive reviews for this book, so please check those out before you make a decision based solely on my review!

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – Review

Cover- Jane Steele

Published: March 22, 2016

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.


Jane Steele is not my normal genre, but it sounded like so much awesomeness that I just couldn’t resist. This is essentially a re-telling of Jane Eyre, but our Jane is a murderer and she’s quite the fan of the original Jane Eyre story. This is written as almost a memoir style, in that Jane speaks to the reader on occasion to make commentary. I loved the style, and while I can’t compare it to the original (haven’t read it) I can say that this is fabulously entertaining and addicting book. I couldn’t bear to pause it!

This book follows Jane from a very young age up until approximately her mid-twenties. Her younger years are spent at the family home with her mother until tragedy strikes and she goes away to school. We spend quite some time going through Jane’s formative years at a nightmarish boarding school where she forms a tight friendship with one of her classmates. Tragedy (or should I say Jane?) strikes again and Jane and Clarke flee to London to start anew. After many years in London, Jane sees an ad for a governess position at her former home and she returns with the idea of claiming her inheritance. Turns out it’s being inhabited by a fantastic group of people that she quickly becomes a part of. Charles Thornfield, his young spritely charge, and his Sikh compatriots were so instantly likable and full of mysteries!

This whole book is great, but I did have my favorite parts. Of course I intensely disliked Jane’s school years, but it was entirely because of the environment and the tyrannical creep overseeing the school girls. I loved the last portion where Jane returns to her home and meets Charles Thornfield. Heck, I was practically swooning over him too! He had such a fascinating backstory and fortunately, his secrets didn’t include a mad wife locked in a tower. Jane was at her very best during this portion of the book and I loved every page of it!!!

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book and a great homage to the original Jane Eyre story it was inspired by. While I haven’t read the book, I’ve seen multiple adaptations that I enjoyed and were apparently pretty true to the story line. I definitely want to re-watch the BBC version to see the parallels and just enjoy the whole experience again. If you’re looking for some great historical fiction, I would highly recommend this, particularly the audio version. The narration really made it!

Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau – Review

Cover- Eden Conquered

Published: June 5, 2018

Publisher: HarperTeen

Series: Dividing Eden #2

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The electrifying conclusion to the Dividing Eden series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Testing trilogy, Joelle Charbonneau..

The Trials of Virtuous Succession have ended. Prince Andreus is king—and Princess Carys is dead.

But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead. And worst of all, the winds of Eden are faltering.

But despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of Winds, face her twin and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started.

The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Brother and sister, former foes, must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven—and whether one will wear the crown or both will lose everything.


It took me 50+ pages to even begin to remember what happened in the previous installment of this series which isn’t all that surprising since I read 100 books last year. I am surprised that I enjoyed this one as much as I did, despite remembering so little of the plot. I suppose that speaks to the author’s skill at gaining and retaining an audience throughout the book. After the book though… I’m struggling to remember what happened (though I’ve read several books since then) so it’s not exactly memorable.

The story was pretty entertaining, with plenty of action, and two POVs that didn’t bore me to death. Carys spends most of the book hiding out from her own people because everyone thinks she’s dead and it’s beneficial. She’s also trying to learn to use her magical wind powers (she’s emergency windmill fuel). Andreus has taken the crown and has quickly learned that being King isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’s got meetings galore and the council is trying to control/manipulate him for various personal reasons. Oh yeah, and he’s got to find out who’s endangering the kingdom by cutting the power. Of course, both characters end up doing some fantastically stupid things. I was pretty relieved that this book continues to avoid the love triangle trope. It pleased me especially that Carys, while she develops some feelings toward one of the characters, doesn’t turn towards hormone filled stupidity as a valid life choice.

The whole book was very entertaining, though like I said, not particularly memorable. It doesn’t stand out from the crowd of YA novels being released this year though I will say if you enjoyed the first book, you’ll probably like this one just as much. The author managed to throw some curve balls that I didn’t really see coming, which I always appreciate, especially when the curve balls actually make sense once they hit you. As of right now, this is still standing as a duology and I hope it stays that way since most series get profoundly worse once extended.

Knee-Deep in Grit by Adrian Collins and Mike Myers (Editors) – Review

Cover- Knee Deep in Grit

Published: June 30, 2018

Publisher: Grimdark Magazine

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Series: Standalone

Pages: 380 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Get knee-deep in grit with twenty-five grimdark sci-fi and fantasy short stories from the shadowy vaults of Grimdark Magazine. The top names in dark speculative fiction and the genre’s brightest newcomers bring you stories of war, betrayal, violence, and greed, as anti-heroes and adversaries fight to the bittersweet end.

For the first time, the first two years of fiction from Grimdark Magazine are printed on dead trees and bound together like captive slaves to be read or reread and proudly placed among your favourite tomes on your bookshelf.


I’ve only read a few (like 2) anthologies and as such I’m not really sure how I want to rate this one. I don’t have much to compare it to, so I suppose I’ll babble about it for a few paragraphs like I do for everything else. Knee-Deep in Grit is a collection of all the short stories featured in Grimdark Magazine since its genesis two years previous. You don’t need prior knowledge of any of the author’s works to be entertained by the stories and, as a matter of fact, it may lead you to try out some of the authors.

There is a wide variety of stories here, from scifi to fantasy, but all are considered to be grimdark fiction. Some of my favorites included At the Walls of Sinnlos, A Recipe for Corpse Oil, and Viva Longevicus though I liked most all of them. I definitely want to read more by Michael R. Fletcher though I’m not sure when I’ll find the time – perhaps I’ll have to try out the audio format of his books. I have to say that Viva Longevicus was super creepy because, well, mutant rats were taking over planets in a meat starved vermin horde. So yeah, that’s pretty terrifying. Some of the stories are a little creepy, others just plain dark, but there’s something for everyone who enjoys the darker side of fiction.

Overall I thought Knee-Deep in Grit was a great way to try out some new authors and get an idea as to what to expect from future issues of,Grimdark Magazine. I’ll definitely make a point to check it out more often now that I’ve had a taste! Additionally, I’ll also be adding several of these authors to my watch list so I can keep up with any new releases they might be putting out!

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides – Review

Cover- The Thousand Deaths

Published: May 15, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Ardor Benn #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 784 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

“I’m hiring you to steal the king’s crown.”

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.


The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is one of those fantasy books that just hits ALL the right marks. I mean seriously, the magic system is based on dragon poop. Dragons are fed things, they poop it out, and people collect the contents, process it into something called grit and use it to light their homes, blow things up, and summon powerful god-like beings. Oh yeah, it’s also a heist book that’s nearly on par with The Lies of Locke Lamora. If those two factors don’t sell you on this book, then I might be doing this whole review thing totally wrong… or perhaps you don’t read fantasy (why are you here then?).

This is a book that starts one of those action packed scenes that immediately draws you in, despite not understanding characters, plot, magic system etc. Following the epic introductory scene, all of these details begin to unfold – you learn more about Ardor, Raek, Quarrah, and Isle Halavend, the substance known as grit, and the worldbuilding. Essentially, Ardor and Raek are hired by a priest (Isle Halavend) to steal the royal Regalia, which is this fancy headgear and robe get-up made out of dragon eggshells. Why do this? The priest wants them to make Visitant grit, which when activated will summon a Paladin Visitant who will theoretically save the world from the spreading moonsickness. There’s considerably more to the plot than that (subplots, actual details) but I’m not here to summarize it for you, I’m here to review it so you can decide to read or not to read.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the infiltration of the palace by elaborate disguise and false identity. Quarrah simultaneously cracked me up and made me terribly nervous because she would say some wild stuff and was clearly out of her element. She was a burglar, not ruse artist like Ardor who could talk his way out of almost anything. I also liked Isle Halavend’s POV much more than I expected. He was uncovering all these deep dark secrets of the Wayfarist religion as well as government cover-ups and I was constantly waiting for him to get busted or slip up. I did think parts of this book strongly mirrored The Lies of Locke Lamora, but overall it was different enough that I didn’t mind. It’s almost like paying homage to one of my favorite fantasy books ever written and I’ll absolutely recommend this book to those who are looking for something similar.

I loved the magic system – the use of Grit for everything from thievery to lighting lamps to summoning a flaming religious figure is just way cool. I thought it was explained and used well throughout the book and never really felt that there was an infodump with all of the details – it was explained organically through use. There is a glossary at the end with further details if you need a refresher. For the most part, the setting isn’t all that memorable. It’s much more focused on plot and character than describing the intricate scrollwork above the palace doors, so in that respect it was a little flat, but at the same time this book was already long enough without that extra detail. Some of the bigger plot points that were probably intended to evoke a strong emotion mostly didn’t do so. Like, I never wanted to weep but I was going “OH NOOO” on the inside so it definitely doesn’t compete with Scott Lynch’s books in that respect (they made me want to baby cry on several occasions). Overall, this was a great debut novel and a series that I’ll be continuing on with and I think future books will only get better!

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Review

Cover- Children of Time

Published: June 4, 2015

Publisher: PanMacmillan

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 600 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

A race for survival among the stars… Humanity’s last survivors escaped earth’s ruins to find a new home. But when they find it, can their desperation overcome its dangers?

WHO WILL INHERIT THIS NEW EARTH?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?


SPIDERS.

SPIDER PLANET.

THERE IS A PLANET FULL OF SENTIENT SPIDERS.

THEY HAVE A LEGIT SOCIETY, WITH RELIGION, TECHNOLOGY, WAR, CULTURE, EVERYTHING.

I LOVED THEM AND I DON’T LIKE SPIDERS.

Oh yeah, there are also humans who occasionally wake up from deep cryo-sleep and they blast around the universe searching for habitable planets, because Earth was destroyed and they’re the last humans.

But really, who cares about their petty dramas when we can have a multi-generational spider-verse that’s way cooler than many other ”unique” societies in sci-fi and fantasy books?

In all reality, the human POVs in this book are for the most part very interesting as well, but for vastly different reasons. These humans are on a giant colony ship that is headed towards the spider planet (Kernsworld) in hopes of finding a habitable planet for the scraggly remnants of the human species. What they don’t expect to find is a highly territorial and definitely insane AI/human nightmare that wants nothing more than to blast them to smithereens to prevent any corruption of this experimental world. They reach an impasse and the humans carry on towards another planet only to come full circle in the end. This portion follows a fairly standard plot with some exciting additions like mutiny, religious cults, and wannabe immortals.

The spiders are way cooler. This book follows them from the introduction of a virus that causes them to evolve at an unnaturally rapid pace through to a highly advanced state. The fact that you can go along with their species and society evolving is what makes this portion so darn fascinating. I loved it! There’s warfare against the ants, plague, religious factions… basically it’s a world history, but it zeroes in on a few select spideys in each generation, all of which are descendants of the first spiders to have acquired the virus.

Children of Time is only my second Adrian Tchaikovsky book and it’s so vastly different from the other that I can’t begin to compare them. Needless to say, he has a way to make you feel for characters and high quality writing to boot. I’ve got a third book by him queued up for the near future and can’t wait to see how that compares!

The Mermaid by Christina Henry – Review

Cover- The Mermaid

Published: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 336 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn’t bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he’s determined to hold on to his mermaid.


The Mermaid was a lovely book that basically just made me hate P.T. Barnum. He was such an inconsiderate, money-hungry turd and I felt bad for his associates, his family, and Amelia who became his resident mermaid. That aside, I think the first paragraph of the synopsis is enough to catch a potential reader’s attention. Plus, don’t you want to know why this book made me dislike Barnum so much?

The Mermaid was a really good book and the beginning was really touching. I loved that a mermaid came out of the ocean for curiosity and loneliness and actually fell in love and had a good experience. Her fisherman husband loved the sea just as much as she did and even the villagers protected her fiercely from prying outsiders. It was WHOLESOME. Then Barnum hears rumor of a mermaid along the coast of Maine and sends his rep to bring her back to New York City. Amelia goes of her own accord so she can have money to travel the world and see what the land has to offer and Barnum, being the desperate businessman that he is, tries to manipulate her at every opportunity. But Amelia pushes back and she has her own allies (Barnum’s wife included) and her own mind.

I liked getting both Amelia’s and Levi’s (Barnum’s legal assistant, procurement guy) POV. It was nice to see that Levi was sticking up for Amelia and it was a good way to show Levi’s feelings for Amelia. Much better than having it from only Amelia’s side of things. I also really enjoyed the ending of this book as it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.

Overall, I’d say this book is worth giving a go, especially if mermaids are your mythical thing. I haven’t read any of Christina Henry’s other books, but they seem to have been well received by the general bookish community. I probably will forgo reading her other books, especially since I’ve never cared for Alice in Wonderland and would doubtless not appreciate a retelling nearly as much as I should.

Waiting on Wednesday: Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Seven Blades in Black

I’ve never read a Sam Sykes book, but now is probably a good opportunity, right? Seven Blades in Black is his newest forthcoming work and it sounds AMAZING. The main character is one of the most powerful mages and she walks into the wastes, with only weaponry and a list of names belonging to (I’m assuming) those she wants to kill. I admit I’m not a huge fan of the cover, mostly because it looks like a random dude’s face was cut and pasted on, but it’s not a big deal. The book sounds so good that the cover could just have no design whatsoever and I still might buy it. This is scheduled for an early 2019 release date at the moment.

The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer – Review

Cover- The Oddling Prince

Published: May 15, 2018

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 288 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In the ancient moors of Scotland, the king of Calidon lies on his deathbed, cursed by a ring that cannot be removed from his finger. When a mysterious fey stranger appears to save the king, he also carries a secret that could tear the royal family apart.

The kingdom’s only hope will lie with two young men raised worlds apart. Aric is the beloved heir to the throne of Calidon; Albaric is clearly of noble origin yet strangely out of place.

The Oddling Prince is a tale of brothers whose love and loyalty to each other is such that it defies impending warfare, sundering seas, fated hatred, and the very course of time itself. In her long-awaited new fantasy novel, Nancy Springer (the Books of Isle series) explores the darkness of the human heart as well as its unceasing capacity for love.


I’ll be honest, The Oddling Prince was mostly a cover based request… It was just so pretty and the synopsis did intrigue me a bit too. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to this one since I’d seen both rave reviews and others that described it as boring. I can see both sides of the argument here and didn’t feel strongly either way.

Aric a prince in Northern Scotland and his father is laying upon his deathbed, at least until a mysterious stranger rides into the castle yard. This stranger is Albaric, who is a prince of the fae and Aric’s half-brother. Albaric saves the king (his father) from the enchantment put upon him by the slighted fae queen and all should be well. Except it is not. While Aric and Albaric immediately click, their father dislikes Albaric immensely and is hostile to the point of violence in some cases. This book primarily focuses on Aric and Albaric’s growing brotherhood and how they handle their father’s treatment of them and his changed personality since his miraculous recovery.

The Oddling Prince is written in a very classic fantasy style – think a style similar to Tolkein- rather than the more modern prose that most fantasy authors are using. Also, while not lacking in action, it’s certainly not the main focus of this book, which focuses far more on the relationships between our characters. I think these two factors are the biggest reasons why people are less than happy with this book. I personally didn’t mind that there was less action than in many fantasy books and this ended up being a leisurely read. My gripe with this book wasn’t so much the book, but rather Aric’s father. I couldn’t stand his character and felt like he was being a jealous a-hole and super paranoid, especially since both Aric and Albaric were clearly good hearted.

I liked that this book defied my expectations for Aric and Albaric’s meeting. I expected the usual immediate rivalry between the half siblings, but to my pleasant surprise they hit it off and became inseparable. Their interactions tended to be melodramatic at times but it worked with the storytelling. The Oddling Prince had a strong Celtic lore influence and it ended just as strangely as these tales tend to do.

This was a book that I liked but it didn’t grip me the way other books have in the past. That being said, it was well written and quite different from what’s being published in the mainstream fantasy field presently. The ocean scene at the end has quite a few people puzzled, but I thought it was a nice ending and a scene that I would like to see illustrated. This is a great book to break up the monotony of reading the same ol’ stuff all the time, but it definitely won’t be a good fit for everyone.