The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1) by Jen Williams

ninth-rainWell, what a brilliant start to series this is!  I picked up The Ninth Rain with a certain amount of trepidation.  I confess that I always do so when it’s an author that I enjoy reading – I always worry ‘will this book be as good as?’!  Goodness only knows what the author must feel.  Anyway, after loving the Copper Cat series, yes, of course, I had a certain amount of concern about where Ms Williams would go next but in real style she’s pulled another wonderful number out of the hat.  The Ninth Rain brings to us a fascinating world, populated with a variety of different beings, conflict, characters that you will root for and a good degree of the author’s wonderful sense of humour.  I admit that I’m a little bit in love with Jen Williams at the moment – not, of course, in a  bunny-boiler-stalker fashion you may be pleased to hear (although I may stalk her twitter and Goodreads pages for news of the next book).

Anyway, to the book.  It gets off to a great start.  We read of the Eborans.  Once a mighty empire Ebora now lies mostly empty.  It’s once golden and busy streets are populated by the vines that again encroach and take hold and the few remaining inhabitants are simply waiting to die.  The Eborans are a fascinating race.  They worship a tree God called Ygseril.  Their God bestows upon them an unusually long life, strength and grace.  Unfortunately, Ygseril seems to have declined – or died – or just gone plain missing leaving the Eborans not only starved of his presence but also of the sustenance that he provided and forcing them to seek solace from another source – blood.  As you can imagine this didn’t go down too well with the human population and obviously war ensued until a more peaceful arrangement could be accommodated.  This was long in the past and many of the Eborans have now died as a result of a disease called the Crimson Flux – brought on by human blood!  And so we arrive at Tormalin the Oathless as he prepares to leave his home, much to the disgust of his sister.  Tormalin doesn’t want to sit and wait for the Flux to catch up with him – he wants to experience life and so off he goes with his little spotted hanky packed with goodies to sustain him on his travels!

And so we met Tormalin.  Now let’s meet Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon!  You’ll be pleased to make her acquaintance.  She’s totally eccentric and a real character to boot.  Full of sass and wit.  Vintage’s family have made their fortune in wine and she now has the means to support her real passion in life.  Vintage is something of an explorer and a scientist.  She travels the country looking for clues about the Jure’lia from the broken pieces of their left over crafts.  She’s determined to be ready for the Ninth Rain when it comes and knowledge is valuable. It seems almost inevitable that Tormalin and Vintage should meet up – the brawn to the brains, plus Vintage’s wealth and easy access to wine allows Tormalin a good deal of freedom, drinking and other exploits.  Plus he gets to fight with all sorts of monsters whilst Vintage has her very own protector!

Of course, you’re probably pondering over the Ninth Rain.  The previous eight ‘rains’ refer to attacks by an alien nation.  Hideous attackers who leave a trail of death in their wake.  The only people who have ever been able to stand up to the Jure’lia attacks are the Eborans – oh the irony!  Now, what I love about this is it’s a delicious combination of science fiction and fantasy.  The Jure’lians are the strangest race – at this point, I’m really not aware of their motivations.  Perhaps they don’t have any – perhaps they’re just the downright baddy of the piece – they certainly don’t take prisoners and they create swathes of zombie type people as they swarm forward.  Lets just talk about insects and the screaming heebie-jeebies for a moment – because that’s going on – even the ships that are used for travel.  Anyway, no more of that – I’m not going to give too much away.

To the final character, Fell Noon – a fell witch with powerfully fierce sorcery.  Beware the fell witches!  Oh yes, they’re all evil, destructive, murderous creatures – or are they?  Anybody can manifest this magical ability – it strikes at will and without any recognisable pattern and anybody who displays such talent is immediately taken from their families and placed in the Winnowry.  This is a dreadful place.  Cruel and harsh, the people who run it are religious zealots who treat the inhabitants terribly and at the very heart of it is corruption.

These three characters are going to eventually find each other on the same path.  A darkness is once again growing.  Strange portents and dreams are drawing people together, they know the Ninth Rain is looming.  In the meantime our characters are on a desperate hunt, a race against time to prevent what could be the extermination of everyone on the planet.

 

One thing about Jen Williams is that she can write – well.  And frankly good writing is never going to go out of fashion (in my humble opinion).  It’s a delight to read a book like this, so well written and made to look deceptively easy.  Yet again she brings characters that you will love, in fact to be honest, the plot plays an almost secondary role by comparison.  Plus the world building.  This is a completely different world – it takes a little time to become accustomed to what’s going on but once you sit back and chill it all just falls into place.

I really enjoyed this.  It’s just a delight and I highly recommend it.  I look forward to the next instalment because it appears that there will be critters aplenty to look forward to.

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

 

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1) by Jen Williams

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : Waiting on Wednesday: The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1) by Jen Williams.  I absolutely love Jen Williams Copper Cat series and can’t wait for this to be released.  Fortunately, not too long a wait: February 23rd 2017.

ninthrainThe great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall… 

I can’t wait for this book!  Literally, I’m jumping up and down!  It sounds so good.

 

‘ere be dragons’

The Friday Face Off (FFO#2)

‘Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme being hosted by Books by Proxy .   The rules are fairly simple and can be found here.  Each week, following a predetermined theme choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.  Simples.  This week the theme is:

‘A cover which features dragons’:

UK    :    US

The Copper Promise is the first in this fantastic series written by Jen Williams.  I actually like both covers and particularly the way the colours share a similar colour theme.  That being said I adore the UK covers for this series.  They have a wonderful olde worlde feel which is really striking.  Plus the three of them together look amazing.

My winner this week is the UK cover.

The Silver Tide (The Copper Promise #3) by Jen Williams

thesilvertJust finished reading The Silver Tide by Jen Williams.  This series is so good that it makes me want to cry because it’s now come to an end.  Literally, I could cry right now!  Enough about me though, to the book with a small cautionary note about spoilers for the first two books in the series.

This book is so good, I absolutely loved it.  It’s jam packed with so many goodies that I’m sure I developed an ache in my jaw from just gaping ridiculously whilst reading.  Not only do we get to return to this fantastic world and spend time with, frankly, three of my most favourite characters from fantasy at the moment, but we go on some totally crazy adventures.

Did I mention that there may be gushing – apologies for not forewarning you.

At the start of the story the Black Feather Three are going to be enlisted by none other than Devinia the Red.  Their mission: to delve, boldly I might say, into the heart of the cursed Island of Euriale (otherwise known as the Island of the Gods) where hopefully heaps of treasure lies waiting for their little grabby hands.  Why, you may ask, is this treasure left lying around.  Well, nobody who wanders into the jungles of Euriale has ever returned to tell the tale which does put a bit of a damper on any thoughts of going trekking there.  Of course our little band of sellswords can’t resist the temptation to line their pockets, plus, let’s just be honest, they’re always keen for a little adventure and at the start of the story all three of them could use a bit of a pick-me-up.  Anyway, their latest adventure is going to pick them up in ways they never imagined (not to mention throw them around a good deal and beat the living daylights out of them).  Sooner than they know it they’re going to be in a heap of trouble.

This book is an unadulterated riot of fantasy.  The imagination is just wonderful.  We start the story with a disappearance to whet the appetite and give us a feeling for this creepy little island.  Is it really haunted by the ghosts of it’s past?  Euriale certainly has a long and sad history and it seems that over time the jungle has almost become steeped in bad memories and evil.  The Island of the Gods has seen more than it’s fair share of misery and pain.  It is also home to the many pirates who make port at the Town of Two Birds, a den of iniquity seething mainly with taverns and brothels.  And yet, as rough and tough as these pirates may be, as many brawls as they may boast of and scars they wear with pride – they all know better than to venture over the boundaries of Two Birds.

To the characters.  Well, if you’ve read the previous two books (The Copper Promise and the Iron Ghost) you’ll already be familiar with Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian Caverson.  You may also remember Ephemeral who is one of the fearsome brood sisters from the Copper Promise – they’re all going to be making tracks through the jungle.  What I forgot to mention of course is that Devinia the Red, scourge of the high seas, is actually Wydrin’s mum – she’s not the kind to be nurse maiding her children and bringing them milk and cookies but she does defy the pirate image a little by being more of a hoarder of books and knowledge than treasure and trinkets.  We also become re acquainted with a number of other characters from previous stories but I won’t elaborate on those for fear of spoilers.

The plot starts off as a treasure hunt but pretty soon splits into a number of threads as the group become divided.  We continue to follow the pirates on their course to the interior of the island.  Sebastian goes off on a unexpected and personal mission and Wydrin and Frith become entangled with a group of strange inhabitants, a fanatic cult, who are hatching a plot that could undermine the very fabric of this world.

So, what did I love about this book, or for that matter this series. I think Jen Williams has created three characters here that you can really become attached to. It sounds so cliched to say that she brings these characters to life on the page but for me that’s exactly what happens.  I have a vision of each of them in my head, I can picture them, how they move, how they talk and I love it when an author manages to do that.  On top of that the peripheral characters are also highly entertaining.  The writing is great.  Swords and sorcery at its most ingenious and entertaining.  Plenty of action, tempered with captures, escapes, time travel, dragons, Gods, sea monsters and other huge beasts, magic, dragons (did I already mention the dragons!). Did you entertain me?  You most certainly did and you managed to do so consistently over the entire trilogy which is no mean feat.  No middle book syndrome to be found here.

In terms of criticisms – I have nothing.  Although I must say I am sorely disappointed to be leaving this world and these characters behind.  I want more, I’m just greedy like that.

I think that you could probably read each of these books as a standalone book.  I wouldn’t personally suggest you do because I can’t really understand why you would knowingly deny yourself the pleasure of reading the first two books. Just saying.

Would I recommend this series.  Absolutely without doubt.  Do yourself a favour and read them all.

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

Now take a look at these lovelies and just imagine them sitting on your shelf!

 

The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams

Just finished reading The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams.  I admit it upfront – I loved it.  The Copper Promise was on my top 10 list for 2014 and I wondered how this would compare and it’s just brilliant so beware – there will be gushing aplenty below.

The Iron Ghost picks up a few months after The Copper Promise left off.  Our favourite threesome, flush with their previous success, are now in great demand – they call themselves the Blackfeather Three.  At the start of The Iron Ghost, after a few months break from each other whilst sorting out their own affairs, they’ve been hired to retrieve a stolen item.  Now, clearly things are not going to go according to plan, even assuming there was a plan in the first instance!  There are all sorts of complications – not least of which the awakening of the most powerful, dangerous and psychopathic mage ever to have lived who having been resurrected is hellbent on finishing the project he was working on before he was killed! Oh dear.

I won’t go further into the plot – you can rest assured that a huge metric shit load of crap is going to be unleashed and whilst not directly responsible our intrepid trio are going to go rushing into the fray yet again.  Just hold onto your hats because this has bucket loads of imagination, oodles of fun and cartloads of personality.

The Copper Promise brought to us three wonderful characters in Sebastian, Frith and Wydrin, aka the Copper Cat.  I love characters that grab my attention and feel real and these three certainly took me by storm.  The Iron Ghost raises their profile further.  The characterisation is just excellent and in this instalment we spend a little bit more time with Sebastian and Frith than in the first book giving them both a little more depth in the way that Wydrin was fleshed out originally.  That’s not to say that we don’t spend time with the Copper Cat!  She’s her usual maniac self, filled with almost child like curiosity about all things with a complete lack of self preservation all rolled up with her rum drinking, swashbuckling, sword fighting and devil may care attitude that actually hides her true softer interior.

Then there is the setting.  We journey to a completely different part of this fantastic world where the imagination is resplendent.  Skaldshallow where the Skalds and the Narhls are at war.  Two entirely different races of people.  One a cold race of people who believe in the soul of the mountain and live with a close affinity to nature that lends them a certain sort of magic and the others that mine the mountain and craft strange stone creatures called Werkens. The Skalds believe that Werkens are little more than basic structures that they control themselves using chips of the heartstone which they also mined.  The Narhls think the Skalds are abusing the mountain and nature itself and that they truly do not understand the soul contained within both.  The Narhls and Skalds are at war, both believing that they are protecting their own way of life and what is most important to them.  Neither of them have the faintest idea of the destructive force that is about to be unleashed.

The plot is fast paced and inventive, we jump from one action sequence to the next and the story also gives us flash backs to what our trio got up to after book 1.  I particularly enjoyed Sebastian’s sections of the book where he tries to come to terms with his own newfound nature having shared blood with a dragon and the army of green skinned women that he seeks to tame in order that they might survive.  The Brood army call him father and look up to him and in return he certainly does his best to curb their savage nature so that they might become more acceptable to humankind.  Of course they naturally stand out and their inherent nature as predators oftentimes kicks in before Sebastian can intervene causing terrible problems.

Everything builds up to a fantastic grand scale finale with zombie-esque creatures, demons and death aplenty!

I cannot stress how much I enjoyed this book, really.  It’s a pretty huge chunkster but it’s chock full of goodies.

I want you all to read it!  It’s epic, it’s fun, it’s tense, it’s original and it’s pretty damned awesome and on top of that I think that Ms Williams has come up with a few characters here that I just love.  I literally care about them and that’s what makes a read gripping.  At the end of the day you can have a unique world and a great plot but if the readers don’t care about what happens to the characters then there will be no emotion and that’s what makes reading so enjoyable.  It’s the ups and downs, the gasps, the laughs the shocks and the sudden relief or even sorrow.

I hope you’ll give this a go – it’s such a good series.

I received a copy of this via the publishers through Netgalley and I’m damned glad I did!  My thanks and appreciation.  The above is my own opinion.

My review of the Copper Promise is here.

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