Can’t Wait Wednesday : Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff

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 : Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff – just how excited am I for this book to come out – very excited – by which I mean much, much much excitement:

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?

Which is your favourite cover?  I’m going for the cat – its gorgeous.

Due for publication September 2019

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff

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 : Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff.

Darkdawn.jpgThe Nevernight Chronicle is a complex fantasy series about Mia Corvere, a kick-butt, flawed heroine who trains as an assassin as part of her mission for personal revenge. Her tale takes place in the immersive world of Godsgrave which, although based on ancient Rome and Venice, is imaginative with many original details provided by a beloved snarky narrator.

In Darkdawn, the Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive? 

Expected Publication September 2018

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Posted On 18 September 2017

Filed under Book Reviews
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Godsgrave – what an absolute blast of a book, packed with action, drenched in blood, sweat and tears and full of surprises.  Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this, it’s a great second instalment in series with not a whiff of ‘middle book syndrome’ to be found.

At the start of the story we have a dual timeline that follows Mia working as an assassin, and captured by slavers and on her way to training to become a gladiator.  I do enjoy dual timelines and I think this one eventually comes to a head in a most satisfactory way.  I won’t spoil the enjoyment of discovery for you but suffice to say that Mia is still hell bent on revenge against the two men responsible for the death of her parents.

I’m not going to really elaborate on the plot too much but discuss other things that I really enjoyed about this instalment.

Firstly, I must address the footnotes.  I made no secret of the fact that they weren’t my favourite aspect of Nevernight – however that was very much due to the formatting and that particular niggle has been resolved wonderfully here.  Each time a footnote appears the text is hidden, clicking on the footnote displays the content.  I really liked this as you don’t lose your place in the book.  Just a small thing but it did make me happy I can’t deny it.

Secondly, this story firmly takes us to an alternate Rome resplendent with Gladiatorial games and more to the point the training and competition that act as a fore runner to the main event.  I loved the training school, the trials and tribulations and the friendships that sprung up – in spite of Mia’s protestations to the contrary and determination to remain aloof.

Thirdly, the action, the drama, the pace.  All amazing.  You can barely put this book down because it’s constantly cranking up the level and forcing you to stay amongst the pages.  Put simply it’s an exciting and exhilarating book to read.

Finally, the characters.  Kristoff certainly made me care about them and I love that in a book, that choked up feeling when you’re so worried that something bad is going to happen to your favourite characters.  This book definitely puts you through the wringer in that respect.  And, I loved the darkin characters – they bring a wonderful argumentative banter to the pages and the whole darkin element is quite fascinating to read about and I’m pleased to say is developed further here.

Criticisms.  Well, nothing major to be honest.  I think the writing is different in this book, the pacing certainly is and I think the author has tried to cull his tendency towards ‘purple prose’ – frankly, I like the descriptiveness and, okay, flowery writing, so, whilst I wasn’t disappointed to see that this book was a bit more to the point, I would equally have been happy with the more ‘wordy’ approach of Nevernight.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this.  It was highly entertaining, gripping and had twists and turns that I didn’t see coming plus it packs a great emotional punch.

Highly recommended – although I think you must read Nevernight first.  I don’t think this would be as good without the background of the first.

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

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #RRSciFiMonth

illuminaeIlluminae is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for quite a while.  It was recommended to me by a few reliable bloggers so it was definitely on the shelf and yet I was reluctant to get to it.  Sci Fi isn’t my first love, I admit, that and coupled with a book aimed more at a YA audience and the possibility that the story focuses quite heavily on romance well I needed a little push and SciFi Month 2016 provided that gentle nudge.

Firstly, to the story.  This is definitely a book review that I don’t want to give too much away in.  There are plenty of twists and turns to this story and future readers don’t need me to spoil the surprises along the way.  I noticed that Kristoff himself gave an excellent synopsis over on Goodreads which basically summaries the story as:  girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl loses planet and family.  Girl ends up on a damaged spaceship – with a faster space ship in hot pursuit.  On top of this we have a zombie style outbreak taking place on board one of the ships and an AI computer gone insane.

Basically as the story opens we make the acquaintance of Kady and Ezra, their planet is under attack from warships and it doesn’t seem like they’re taking prisoners.  Kady and Ezra were in a relationship that literally ended on the evening before the story starts but they’re momentarily flung together as they make a desperate attempt to get off planet in a fleet of ships making a bid to escape.  Of course they are once again torn apart and although it takes a little while the two of them make tentative moves to once again establish contact with each other.  It seems that the threat of a warship hot on your tail, intent on killing any witnesses is a big incentive in putting things in perspective and bringing people back together.

There’s a lot more to the story than the above of course but Kady and Ezra are the key protagonists that we follow as they not only try to stay alive but also finally reach the conclusion that the people responsible for this attack need to be exposed.

The story is written in epistolary format with briefing notes, messages and surveillance transcriptions lending the story a realistic feel.  This is a style that I really enjoy it might not be for everyone but I think it’s a good way of providing the reader with key information without the need to resort to massive info dumps.

What I think really worked well for this story was the build up of momentum.  The fleet of escape ships are at a massive disadvantage to the warship pursuing them.  They don’t have the speed and the damage sustained during the original attack on the planet of Kerensa has left their hyper jump capacity damaged, on top of this they are incapacitated further by being massively overburdened in terms of the numbers they are now carrying.  Throughout the story we watch the progress of the warship with visuals that display how many months/days and hours there are before they are intercepted which helps to heighten the tension for the reader.  Meanwhile, the feeling on board the ships trying to escape is desperate.  Information is not readily forthcoming and suspicions run deep.  All of this coincides with what appears to be a massive break down in the AI onboard one of the ships and running alongside this we start to understand that during the original attack on the planet bio weapons were used and those infected need to be quarantined.

Kady and an acquaintance she has made have turned to hacking the ship’s systems to try and uncover what is really going on.  To aid their work they need to make contact with someone on board one of the other vessels and so Kady is forced to reach out to Ezra for help.

The characters – well, I really liked Kady.   She’s a very easy to read character.  She’s quick witted, intelligent and very cool under pressure – but she has a real person’s flaws.  She may be quick at hacking into a computer network but she’s not a ninja.  She can unlock doors but doesn’t like to use weapons and she is genuinely afraid when being chased by, well, I won’t go into that!  Basically she runs the gamut of emotions and I really liked that about her.  Ezra on the other hand is probably a bit more of a simple lad – he calls a spade a spade, he doesn’t have the quick wit of Kady but he’s a good guy and loyal to a fault and I really did feel for the two of them – in fact that was actually what gave me the most tension whilst reading – I so wanted them to get back together and they just kept hitting more and more obstacles to survival.  In a reader who cares little for romance that was quite a revelation.

This is a fast paced story with plenty of action.  The action is virtually instantaneous from the start of the story and it keeps the momentum right through to the conclusion.  That thing about having your heart in your throat – I felt that at a few points whilst reading.  I wanted things to go smoothly for this pair – and yet they hit set back after set back.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I didn’t like the layout of the book itself – I understand that it’s something of a work of art but reading on a fairly basic e-reader that doesn’t come across or work well at all.  I’m sure it works better on a traditional paper format but this is a niggle of mine, particularly as I read a lot of my books in electronic format these days – I think the book should work in both formats.  I’m not going to use this review as the opportunity to rant though as this didn’t really bother me too much as I skipped over the pages in question.  Also, I’m not entirely sure that those elements brought anything to the story – others will probably know better on that front.

I thought the ending felt a little bit rushed to be honest.  There was an opportunity to make it considerably more tense and to really work on the readers’ emotions even more – perhaps the authors decided they wanted to give us a break.

Overall, niggles aside, I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I don’t really read a lot of sci fi so for me the plot and themes involved felt really quite original and very gripping.  I suppose hardened sci fi readers might feel differently in that respect.

I would definitely recommend Illuminae, it does have a romance running throughout the plot but because of the way in which the story is told this doesn’t come across as overpowering or ‘cheesy’.  There’s no insta-love here, more a realisation of what’s important to the main characters.  And, of course there’s the mystery at the heart of the novel – which still remains to be uncovered.

I will definitely pick up No.2 to see where this goes to next.  A wonderful story filled with tension and desperation.

scifimonth2016

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

NevernightFor those of you too busy to read this whole post the ‘in brief’ version of this review is that I loved Nevernight.  Its a book that I’ve been highly anticipating and we all know how wrong that can sometimes go and yet it lived up to my expectations completely.  I really had a good time reading this. It’s a very entertaining and well thought out story with a very readable main protagonist and her sidekick set at it’s heart.  A story of assassins with a murderer running amok in their midst.

I’m going to set this review on it’s head in terms of my usual style by beginning with a few thoughts or maybe even criticisms.  I’ve seen, comparisons being made of this book to the Harry Potter series and I can see where those comparisons are coming from.  A sizeable chunk of this story is set in a school, the protagonists are teenagers and there are all sorts of fantasy elements blended into the school ranging from bookworms in the library to a labyrinth of tunnels and staircases that never seem to stay in the same place for very long.  However, I would point out that Nevernight is a dark tale of revenge containing torture, bad language and creative cursing and sexually explicit content.  This book is certainly not aimed at a younger audience so please bear that in mind.  The school (or church) in question only contains around 30 students and a good number of these will die during their apprenticeship.  Each student aims to become the best assassin possible.  Only four places are available in the Red Church for those wanting to become ‘blades’ for the Lady of Blessed Murder and so the competition is tough and the chances of staying alive even tougher.

At the start of the book we are introduced to a young Mia as she witnesses the execution of her father, accused and tried as a traitor and rebel rouser.  Her mother and brother are thrown into a prison where the darkness will eventually drive them mad and Mia herself barely escapes death.  The story then moves onwards as Mia, sixteen years old, shrouded in shadow, waits for her first kill.  Mia has a purpose that will give her focus for the rest of the story.

I thought that Nevernight got off to a captivating start that completely grabbed my attention and then succeeded in keeping it for the rest of the story.  The world is well described and easy to picture, maybe not entirely unique in terms of Mia’s home Godsgrave (built on the bones of a dead God)  but fascinating enough with a Roman style empire combined with a Venetian style setting.  This is a world with three suns, where, unsurprisingly, darkness rarely falls (once every 2 years I think) – hence the name of the book.  The religion revolves around the God of Light and Goddess of Dark who basically had a falling out.  The ruling faction worship the light and believe the dark worshippers to be heretics.  The Red Church, where would-be assassins learn their trade, is hidden within a range of mountains and protected by magic.  Once inside the students will be taught the art of swordplay, thievery, seduction and poisons.

The world building is assisted by footnotes – now, I’m not overly fond of this style (even though it’s not the first time I’ve encountered a similar set up).   I’m not sure whether it’s because I was reading on a kindle but I found this just didn’t work well and perhaps the paper copy will be better in that respect.  I also found the interruptions broke up the flow of the story at first – but, even though I didn’t love the use of footnotes it’s surprising how quickly I got used to them and they were used less as the story progressed so hang in there.

In terms of the characters there is plenty going on.  A good mix of people to like and dislike.  We have Mercurio who took Mia in as a young child.  We don’t know too much about Mercurio although we are given snippets as the story develops.  I won’t run over all the other characters but there is a really good mix of students and teachers with plenty to like and dislike.  I liked that nobody is perfect, I enjoyed the unpredictability of some of the character arcs and the easy way that the author builds them up and I admit myself impressed at some of the twists that the author pulls that I really didn’t see coming.

Mia herself is a darkin, this means that she can manipulate and use the shadows and in fact part of her ability means that she has her own constant companion in the form of  a shadowy cat called Mr Kindly.  Mr Kindly has been with Mia since she was a small child escaping death and running out onto the streets of Godsgrave.  Mr Kindly is a great character that I really enjoyed reading about although I confess that I’m still puzzled about the relationship and look forward to learning more about these darkin creatures.  He keeps Mia grounded in many respects, he helps her with her fear and the nightmares she has and more than that he ensures that she’s never alone.

In terms of the writing.  The story is narrated by a character as yet unknown and it appears that this will be a chronicle set in three parts.  The bulk of the story revolves around Mia’s time at the Red Church but we are also given a deeper history through the use of flashbacks.   Kristoff certainly appears to be one of those authors who is comfortable with description.  He has a way with words that I do enjoy even if they can be a little elaborate here and there.  As mentioned above he also makes use of footnotes to assist the world building and although this was a bit irritating to start off with I think my main concerns boiled down to how this worked (or not) on my own electronic device.

So, this is a story of revenge, although it’s not quite as simple as it first appears.  There is a twist in the tale here and a great set up for the next book.

Basically, I really enjoyed Nevernight.  I went into this concerned about all the hype but came out at the other side having thoroughly enjoyed the read and with no hesitation at all about recommending it to others.  I can’t deny this is a bit of a wordy novel and Kristoff has a certain descriptive style that may not be to everyone’s tastes but I just loved it.  It’s dark and twisted with a great streak of humour that softens some of the blows.

An excellent start to series and one that I’m really looking forward to continuing with.

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

 

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