#SPFBO Review : Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas #1) by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

BloodofHeirsWow. That is all. Goodbye.

Okay, maybe there’s more but the abridged version of this review is that if all of the SPFBO finalists are as gripping as this then not only am I going to be one happy little reader but this is going to be a very close competition.

The story follows two different povs.  Lidan is the first born daughter and potential heir to her father’s clan. It is unknown for a woman to rule a clan but her father has conceived daughters with all four of his wives and so Lidan finds herself in an extraordinary position. Ran is a Prince and as such his future is set in stone, or so it seemed until he developed magical abilities. Magic is forbidden and Ran is forced to run from his home and family, knowing that he will be relentlessly pursued.

There is just so much that I want to say about this book that this will no doubt become jumbled.

Firstly, the writing is really good. It isn’t over the top with wordy descriptions, it isn’t trying to be major boovy brained hot shot impressive. It does exactly what it needs to do in terms of rooting you to the spot and making the book unputdownable.  Secondly, we have two different characters, separated by geography, who find themselves in danger, nothing surprising there but what was a really pleasant surprise was that these timelines don’t cross – in this instalment at least.  Which isn’t to say that I don’t want them to cross but I like an author who defies expectations.

This is, simply, a book that worked very well for me. It was like all the stars aligned, the setting was intriguing, the characters were show stealing and the plot was absolutely rife with tension.

The world here has a very early feel to it, iron is fairly rare for example, horses are the mode of transport and Lidan’s clan has an almost viking feel to it or early mediaeval perhaps – basically, I’m not really sure so don’t quote me!  Lidan’s homestead is quite small and she has led a fairly sheltered existence (comparative to Ran) although her father seems to be a wealthy chieftain and well respected.  Ran’s home is much larger and more prosperous, although it regularly comes under attack from the Empire who are keen to control the resources it holds.

The two alternating storylines are not only separate but also quite different.  Ran is trying to survive capture and death.  He has fallen from a place of privilege to become the scourge of his own people.  Magic is not tolerated and users are ruthlessly executed.  Lidan is trying to establish her position as heir, which is not easy given that her father’s fourth wife is pregnant and the baby is expected to be a boy, meaning Lidan will be ousted from her position as heir.  As this means her mother will also lose her coveted place as first wive you can imagine the strife between Lidan’s parents and how this impacts on her.  As well as the two storylines there is an additional threat in the form of looming creatures stalking the woods and dark places and killing rangers and farmers.  These strange beasts are quickly becoming more of a threat to ordinary life as they start to test and understand their own strength.

Now, to the characters – which are the foundation on which this novel really rests.  I really enjoyed reading both storylines.  Lidan would probably be my favourite simply because she’s so determined to be something more than convention dictates.  But, both are equally compelling and I was happy to switch between the two.  In some ways Lidan reminded me of the main character from the Wolf in the Whale – a female who doesn’t want to be kept down simply because she was born a girl.  She wants to try things, to train and to have opportunities and couldn’t be less interested in being ladylike and making a good match.  Ran also has a very good story arc.  Of course he’s been raised a Prince with all the expectations and privileges you would expect but these are all ripped away from him quite dramatically and he copes, not always well, but he’s learning and obviously his education and training are a great help in this respect.

In terms of criticisms.  I think the only thing was the speed at which Lidan seemed to grasp using dual blades.  I mean, she didn’t just grasp the idea but put it into practice with great success which had me cheering her on at the same time I was kind of thinking ‘really?’  It’s not really a criticism to be fair because although I had slight reservations at the progress that both characters made I was enjoying the story far too much to let it get in the way.

Overall, you may be able to guess, but I really loved this.  In fact I would read the next instalment right now if I could.

A riveting story with two relatable characters set in a brutal, cold and dark time.

Give me more

My thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars



Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is :  The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho.

TheOrderofZen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Expected publication June 2020

Top Ten Tuesday : New to me authors from 2019


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

 Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

This week my list is all about ‘new to me’ authors.  I read quite a lot of new authors in 2019 and so it was difficult to chop this list down to 10 but here are the books that really stood out at a glance:

  1. The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
  2. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  3. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
  4. Westside by WM Akers
  5. A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
  6. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

  7. Strange Practice by Vivien Shaw
  8. Ration by Cody T Luff
  9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
  10. Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

ShadowSaintThe Shadow Saint is a solid instalment in the Black Iron Legacy series.  No suffering from the dreaded ‘middle book syndrome’ to be found amongst these pages, and although this was a read that took a little time to fully grab my attention it really is another very impressive book.

Firstly, I would point out that as this is a review for the second book in a series you might want to be aware that potential spoilers may be lurking, I do try to avoid these but sometimes they’re determined to break out regardless of my intentions.  Also, without doubt, if you’re planning on picking up Shadow Saint you need to have read Gutter Prayer first.  This book is quite different in a couple of ways from the first book.  The main characters are mostly new although some of the previous cast do make appearances, and although there was plenty of world building in the first book, given the ending, it feels like we’re learning about the place all over again.  Conversely, given those two elements, you would think you’d be able to pick this one up as a standalone but I would strongly advise against doing so.

What both books have in common is a need to read at a pace that allows thought and reflection.  There is no blasting through these pages just as there wasn’t with the first book.  This is, dare I say, a convoluted read.  Guerdon is in the throes of political upheaval and there is much posturing and party political hobnobbing not to mention the potential threat of war increases the tension dramatically.  In fairness I wasn’t really a fan of all the campaigning and matters of state and this aspect of the story, coupled with the new characters slowed me down quite a bit at first until I became more involved in the story and started to understand what was really happening.

Similar to my review of Gutter Prayer, I’m not going to elaborate on the plot.  There will be plenty of other descriptions out there not to mention the cover blurb and given the covert nature of a lot of the story I’d sooner not go there.

In terms of the characters this time we have two new faces, a spy with many identifies and a Haith noble who seems to be somewhat disgraced in the eyes of his family.  We also follow Eladora who appeared in the first book and is Cari’s cousin.  All of them are easy to read about and feel fully fleshed out but I admit it took me a while to really get on board with them and that’s probably my own fault.  I think I naturally assumed, or wanted, more of the old faces from The Gutter Prayer and so these changes at first made me feel a little resentful and I had to get over that before I could really start to care about the fates of any of them. Cari was my favourite and that’s probably because I enjoyed where her story led to in more ways than the other two.

Once again the writing is just excellent and the imagination is, frankly, superb.  I really enjoyed the elements of the story surrounding Cari and the creative ways that she managed to elude capture and traverse the city.  It’s really difficult to say anything more about that aspect because it would involve spoilers but I really loved it whenever she made an appearance.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, as already mentioned, this certainly isn’t a fast paced read.  There are political machinations and lots of double dealing and back stabbing and, as with any story with more twists and turns than a busted corkscrew, it can sometimes feel like walking up a sand dune or trying to run in water but, at the same time, I have to say, stick with it.  I think my own impatience got the better of me at times but that’s an ‘it’s me not you’ thing really.  Sometimes you just need to slow down and enjoy the book, stop worrying about deadlines and the like and let yourself become fully immersed.  It may have taken me a while but I eventually got there.

In conclusion, I probably didn’t love Shadow Saint as much as Gutter Prayer but it was still, without doubt, a very good read with some fantastic elements that I absolutely loved.  I wasn’t as keen on the politics of the piece but the dark undertones, the tension and the world building were really good.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4 of 5 stars





Weekly Wrap Up : 12th January 2020

A little later than planned here is my weekly wrap up.   This is in fact my first weekly wrap up of 2020, I’m still catching up following my two week Christmas break.  So, this week I’ve read two books.

Here’s my week in books:

  1. The God Game by Danny Tobey – I loved this and my review can be found here.
  2. The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

What I’m reading next week:

  1. The Other People by CJ Tudor
  2. The Woods by Vanessa Savage
  3. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell

Upcoming Reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
  5. King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  6. Where Gods Fear to go by Angus Watson
  7. The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

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