The Bone Ships

Well that’s a fascinating bit of worldbuilding. In a nutshell, it’s a world (or at least story) dominated by naval superiority–brought about by ships built on the literal bones of sea dragons. And what’s more, the sea dragons appear to have been hunted to extinction, making the warships all the more rare and valuable. It’s a very cool root for the story and Barker only takes it from there with unique twists on vocab and word choice, a few other interesting bits of magic, and more naval everything than you can shake some paint at.


Out of the Blue

Take part gay teenage lifeguard lover of rom-coms, just broken up with the Love Of His Life(tm), add a non-binary (because they all are) mermaid, sent on a month long Rumspringa to the surface, make it into a love story (of course) with all the (teenage) relationship twists and turns that entails1… and you have Out of the Blue.

That … is not at all the sort of book I normally find myself drawn to (I picked it up for the 2022 Book Bingo), but you know… It’s actually kind of sweet. And now that it’s over, I think I’m glad to have read it.


Last Argument of Kings [The First Law #3]

I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.

And so it ends… for now. Some of our old friends (more or less) are dead, some are broken, and some … miraculously seem to have gotten everything they wanted in life. There are more surprises and political shifts than one knows how to deal with, a chunk more of world building around the First and Second Laws, and all manner of battles and death and destruction.

It remains fascinating what Abercrombie can do with characters. Glokta is a terrible person–and he makes us root for him. Logen is a berserker in the truest sense–and he makes us feel sorry for him. Jezal is excellent at failing upward–and he makes us feel sorry for him. It’s all around amazing and the real strength of the series.


The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Take the timeloop premise of Groundhog Day (et al), apply it to lifetimes, add a few neat worldbuilding twists, break things up with a cataclysm coming back through time… and you have The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I love all of those things, so of course, I love this book as well. :D


A Snake Falls to Earth

I do love stories that take mythology I don’t know as well and expands on it. In this case, the Lipan (Apache) people of what became the southwestern US down into Mexico. The idea of a world inhabited by animal people–those that can shape shift between an animal and a human form–that was once connected to Earth… and now is not. “And if they don’t?” I muttered. “Pfft. You’re a cottonmouth,” she snickered.


The Outside

Well, it did what Outside usually did in stories. Showed up. Violated all the known laws of physics. Killed some people and drove the rest mad.

Well that’s certainly an interesting book. It’s one part autism as ‘different, but that’s okay and sometimes it’s a superpower and sometimes it sucks’, one part cosmic horror, and one part fascinating worldbuilding with technoreligion writ large.

Overall, it didn’t quite feel finished to me. There’s a lot of setup, but the ending drew somewhere between a true horror ending and something much ‘better’. There’s potential for a sequel there, but without it, it could have been better. Still an enjoyable enough read.


The Unwritten, Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Well that’s a start. A world where Tommy Taylor is a modern hidden world fantasy even bigger than Harry Potter… until the author disappears, leaving behind disillusioned son Tom Taylor. There are more than hints of a darker truth behind the story, hidden worlds within hidden worlds. And a section at the end establishing how far back in time the truth goes. So far, a fascinating sort of story. Well written and illustrated.


The Rage of Dragons

African-inspired Bronze-age fantasy with piles of caste based tensions, crazy sword battles, interesting magic, demons, dragons, and the distinct feeling that the ‘good guys’ might not actually be that good after all.

I’m reminded a lot of Ender’s Game (which I love and need to re-read at some point) in that you have a surprisingly good soldier that manages to train harder and break the rules, breaking down society as he goes. It’s a lot darker though and Tau (said soldier) is motivated almost entirely by vengeance. It’s… a lot to read at times, but it fits. Man he’s stupid at times for it though.

It’s a great book and worth the read.


A Deadly Education [The Scholomance #1]

Oh, that’s a joy of a book. Saying which I suppose–after you’ve read it–feels a bit ironic. It’s one part magic school, with your more or less typical teenage protagonists doing more or less typical teenage thing. In my opinion, Novik does this very well. Main character El (short for Galadriel) is so wonderfully snarky and done with it teenage girl that I could practically feel her angst coming off the page–and it’s all the better, because she really does have a good reason for it.


Paradise Lost

Well that’s an odd sort of book. It’s basically the story of the Fall of Satan plus Genesis, wrapped up in some crazy flowery poetry, writ long. It’s been on my ‘why not’ list for a long time and hearing more about it in Daemon Voices bumped it up a fair bit.

Am I glad to have read it? Yes. Is it a good book? Maybe. The poetry is absolutely beautiful in some places, but the story is one you’ve probably heard before, if you’ve any sort of judeo-christian upbringing, although it does embelish in spots. And oy does it get long. It thought there were 7 books for some reason, so when I finished number 7 and we’re barely into Genesis…, well, I knew I was wrong about that.

In any case, the first few books with the fall of Satan are very cool and I’d say worth reading. The rest, hit or miss.