Book Review: Warriors of the Tempest by Stan Nicholls

Warriors of the Tempest is the final book in the Orcs: First Blood Trilogy by Stan Nicholls.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Fast paced and action packed, Warriors of the Tempest was a fantastic final book in the trilogy. Exciting, unpredictable and unputdownable. 4.5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

The third volume in Nicholls’s critically acclaimed fantasy finds Maras Dantia drowning in war. Stryke, head of the renegade orcs, and his warband have found the long-lost relic they need–but still do not know how to use it. And, while they try to figure it out, enemies hunt them from every corner. Worse yet, the three sisters are close to forming an alliance that will overturn history. Time is running out to save the world. Nicholls’s masterworks are the first to tell the story from the other side–from the point of view of the orcs, the villains of Lord of the Rings.

Favourite Quote

Jennesta’s chariot was decked with flowers.  She’d had the whirling knives removed.  It wouldn’t do to upset potential subjects by cutting their legs off.

(Warriors of the Tempest by Stan Nicholls, pg 625)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning (see my review here), Legion of Thunder (see review here) and Warriors of the Tempest) which also includes a short story, The Taking, and I will be reviewing the books separately.

Now I’ve got to the end of the trilogy, I can say wholeheartedly that this is one of the best fantasy series I have read in recent years.  Honestly, I felt a little sad when I finished it.  I never imagined how entertaining orcs as main characters in a book could be.  Not only that, I never thought that I would find myself rooting for them and hoping they would come out on top.  Stan Nicholls has seriously changed and challenged my view on Orcs.

I couldn’t possibly pick one single favourite character but I thought Stryke was a great leader; he was insightful and perceptive and I can see why others wanted to follow him.  Coilla was feisty and Alfray was wise.  Haskeer was amusing and Jup dependable…Outside of the Wolverines, I thought Krista, the High Priestess from Ruffet’s View, was interesting and provided a counter balance to the portrayal of humans in the story.

This was a fantastic end to the trilogy.  Once more, this volume was fast paced and action packed, full of battles and unexpected plot twists.  The ending was exciting, unpredictable and unputdownable.

Again, we got to see places not yet visited in the previous two books.  Maras Dantia was an interesting world to explore, both geographically and with regards to the people who lived there.

Warriors of the Tempest was a great final book in Orcs: First Blood. Though I’m at the end of the trilogy, I’m pleased to see that there are more books in this series, which have been duly added to my ‘Have To Buy’ list…I can’t wait to read more about Stryke, Coilla and the rest of the Wolverines.  In the mean time, I have the short story, The Taking, to read and review…

Rating

4.5 / 5

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Book Review: Legion of Thunder by Stan Nicholls

Legion of Thunder is the second book in the Orcs: First Blood Trilogy by Stan Nicholls.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Addictive, compelling, unpredictable.  A refreshing fantasy read set in an interesting world and peopled with engaging characters. 4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

A blistering sequel to the acclaimed Bodyguard of Lightning takes you into a world full of wonder, magic, and encroaching dark. In the land of Maras Dantias, peace once reigned. Then the humans came, wreaking destruction, killing the enchantment, and bringing war. Even the climate changed, with once-warm summers now autumnal. Of all the races in Maras Dantias, the Orcs, led by Stryke, were the most ferocious. Now, he and his troops have become renegades, chased by his own people as well as the humans. Only a long-lost relic can save them now–and the rest of Maras Dantias, too. But, time is running out and a new foe endangers them all.

Favourite Quote

Alfray remembered that gnomes were notorious for knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.  Good road courtesy, for instance.

(Legion of Thunder by Stan Nicholls, pg 314)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning (see my review here), Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest) which also includes a short story, The Taking, and I will be reviewing the books separately.

As the second book in the trilogy, Legion of Thunder was just as good as the first book, Bodyguard of Lightning.  Sometimes middle books in a series fall flat or are simply there to fill out the space between books one and two, but not so in this case.  The plot moved with purpose and direction and did a great job of continuing to hold my interest after the first book whilst setting up the story for the final book in the trilogy.

Once again there is a lot of fast paced action, and plenty of well-written fight scenes and battles.  If you’re a writer and what to learn how to write battle scenes, I recommend you give any of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy a read.

The world-building continued to fascinate me. Whilst the story unfolded, we got to explore more of Maras-Dantia, as well as meet more of the wide-ranging folk who live there.  My favourite were probably the centaurs but the gnomes were quite fun too (see favourite quote above).

Once again, I was surprised at how easily I found myself willing on the orcs that make up the warband the Wolverines.  This fantasy story is so refreshing and unique.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy traditional fantasy with the usual tropes, but once in a while it is nice to be taken by surprise.  I didn’t know what to expect because the story isn’t predictable.

Whilst I’m writing this review, I have already finished reading the final book of the trilogy, Warriors of the Tempest.  What I have read has been addictive and compelling, and I’m pleased that I had all three books of the trilogy to hand in the omnibus edition; I would have hated waiting to get my hands on the next one (these days, I tend to only read paperback books rather than ebooks).

Rating

Book Review: Bodyguard of Lightning by Stan Nicholls

Bodyguard of Lightning is the first book in the Orcs: First Blood Trilogy by Stan Nicholls.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An unusual and surprisingly engrossing fantasy that sees orcs take centre stage; full of action and fast paced, this is an interesting world, full of interesting characters.  As soon as I finished the first book in the trilogy, I had to start reading the second. 4 / 5

Summary (from Amazon)

A fast moving, action packed epic that for the first time tells the story of fantasy’s traditional enemy, giving orcs their own heroes, motives and destinies.

An epic quest that takes orc warband leader Stryke and his warriors on a journey to secure five artefacts of power with which they hope they can buy their freedom but which actually hold the key to everything and the explanation of the sudden incursion that is leeching the magic out of Maras-Dantia.

Favourite Quote

‘…it continues to this day, and grows more fevered. The rounding-up of free-roaming animals for their meat and hides, the overgrazing…’

‘The fouling of rivers,’ Coilla added, ‘the levelling of forests.’

‘Putting villages to the torch,’ Jup contributed.

‘Spreading their foul diseases,’ Alfray said.

(Bodyguard of Light by Stan Nicholls, pg 109)

Review

I’m reading the omnibus edition of the Orcs: First Blood trilogy, (Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder and Warriors of the Tempest) which also includes a short story, The Taking, and I will be reviewing the books separately.

To begin with, this story takes what we usually find in fantasy stories and turns it on its head.  Orcs, while not wholly the good guys (that would be far too simplistic), in terms of this tale, the orcs that make up the Wolverines (the warband led by Stryke) are pretty much the heroes.  On the opposite side is nearly everyone else, including humans.  So, from the outset we know this isn’t going to be your usual fantasy fare.

I quickly became caught up in the story.  It’s strange, because I never thought I would easily find myself supporting orcs, let alone positively liking them.  Perhaps they’ve just had too much bad press in fantasy stories…?  Hmm… Or perhaps, which I think is most likely, they have never before been portrayed as they have in these stories (at least, not in the stories I have read).  Usually they are seen as stupid, mindless, skirmish / battle fodder, yet here they are presented as intelligent, sensible, sensitive to the environment, and even on occasion, capable of mercy and compassion, and not just towards their own kind, but other species of the elder races, and sometimes even humans, albeit, rarely.

I found myself genuinely liking and rooting for some of the characters, Stryke and Coilla especially, but Jup the dwarf and Alfray too.  But there are some truly nasty characters peopling the story too, the worst two being Jennesta, the part-human part-nyadd Queen of Cairnbarrow and Kimball Hobrow, the leader of one of the two groups of humans, who are split along religious lines.

The world the author has constructed is fascinating, as is how humans are depicted.  If aliens were to stumble across Earth, I wouldn’t be surprised if the conclusions they draw about us are the same, at least in terms of wilfully damaging the environment.  I spent a long time studying and appreciating the map of the world – geographer here! 😉  It’s an absorbing, varied landscape, with some interesting sounding place names, such as “Scratch” and “Ladygrove”.

There is much action to be found in the story and as such, the pace is fast.  It is also comes across as a bit gory – a bit too much for my liking, hence the losing of a star when I came to rating it.  That being said, it held my attention firmly, from start to finish, and, as soon as I finished it, I threw myself straight in the next book in the series.  So, overall, I found this book addictive reading.

If you want something different to the usually fantasy read, and enjoy lots of well-written fights and battles, there’s a good chance you would like this.

Rating

Book Review: The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan

The Magician’s Apprentice is the prequel to The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A perfect prequel for fans of The Black Magician trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed The Magician’s Apprentice especially learning more about the history of this fantasy world and exploring its geography.  The cast of characters is extensive and engaging, and the storyline captivating.  Great stuff!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer. Her mother would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn.

When the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage get violent, Tessia unconsciously taps unknown reserves of magic to defend herself. Lord Dakon, the local magician, takes Tessia under his wing as an apprentice.

The hours are long and the work arduous, but soon and exciting new world opens up to her. There are fine clothes and servants – and, to Tessia’s delight – regular trips to the great city of Imardin.

However, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. For a storm is approaching that threatens to tear her world apart.

Favourite Quote

It’s going to come at a cost.  It’s going to change the way we see ourselves…If we justify this, then how much easier will it be to justify worse?  If Kyralians believe a little wrongdoing is excusable for the right reason, what else will we excuse, or assume others will excuse?

(The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan, pg 596)

Review

I have enjoyed all the stories I have read in this world – I’m captivated by the people, places, the world-building, but especially the main characters.  The Black Magician trilogy is one of my favourite fantasy series, and so I was certain I would not only enjoy but love The Magician’s Apprentice.

Not much about the story was predictable – except the romance.  The ending certainly came as a surprise, even though hints are given regarding it, (in this book and others set in the same world).  My favourite chapters focused on Tessia (who reminded me very much of Sonea from The Black Magician books), Dakon and Jayan.  I had more trouble connecting with Stara, but it was interesting to find out how the Traitors began.  The only criticism I have is that I would have liked to have read more about the characters after the war; the ending seemed a little abrupt, given how long was spent on other areas.  Yet, this hardly seems like any criticism at all, and it did not affect my overall enjoyment of story.  I’m probably only complaining because I didn’t want the story to end 😉

There is a lot of story in this one book: war, love, magic, action, adventure, politics, and more.  The cast of characters is also extensive to enable the story to cover more than one country and a number of storylines.

It is a big book – around 700 pages long – and the story is told from a number of different perspectives, which I enjoyed immensely.  I like knowing what is going on elsewhere, but more than that, when there are people from other lands and other cultures, we get to see what is normal for them, and understand why they react and behave in a certain way.  We wouldn’t get this without the bias of perspective if the whole story was told from a single viewpoint.

Whether I would have enjoyed this book as much if I hadn’t already read The Black Magician’s trilogy, I’m not sure.  There  are a number of events and a lot of information in The Magician’s Apprentice which set the foundations for aspects of the original stories, such as higher magic and the Magicians’ Guild.  There are also elements that link in with The Traitor Spy trilogy that comes after The Black Magician books, so there is clearly an aspect of interweaving between the books, which I also enjoy.  I would guess that if this is your first foray into Trudi Canavan’s books set in Kyralia, it might be too heavy on detail for it to be an entertaining, engaging read.  However, if like me you are familiar with the other stories, you will get a lot out of The Magician’s Apprentice.

Rating

 

 

Favourite Reads 2014-2018

Earlier in the week I was cobbling together my “Favourite Reads of 2019” page, when I realised, this will be the sixth year I’ve been composing these particular book lists.  I thought it would be fun to create a favourite top ten reads list spanning the last five years, using these lists, my reviews and any linger thoughts I have on the books…Only, when I decided to do it, I had no idea how much of a challenge I was setting myself…

 

Preparing to Compile The List

The first thing I noticed as I set about this task was that my reviews were very different in 2014 compared to the one’s I write now.  Back then my reviews resembled (possibly uninteresting) articles; a block of text with no headings or pictures, and perhaps most importantly, no ratings.  Neither could I refer to Goodreads, as it wasn’t until some years later that I began religiously updating it.  These reviews look stark, and perhaps even uninviting when you see the reviews of the last couple of years.  These are structured with sections and headings, breaking up the text and brightening up the page with book cover pictures and star ratings.

Then it finally dawned on me that this task was not going to be as easy as I had imagined.  As I glanced over the titles from 2014, the first of the five years in question, there were at least eight books I provisionally earmarked for making my “super favourites lists”.  When there are only ten available slots…hmm…this was going to be tricky…

 

Rules…because every game must have them!

The rules I made up at the beginning of this exercise are as follows:

  • Only one book per author can be included in the list
  • A maximum of three books from one year only can be featured

So, after much umming and ahhing, this is what that list looks today…I say today, because I don’t doubt for one second, should I have decided to undertake this endeavour tomorrow, or next week, or next month, (you get the picture), this list would have looked very different.  Such things are effected by mood, by what genres I’m currently enjoying and by what side I got out of the bed this morning – probably..

 

Favourite Reads 2014 – 2018

As always, if you wish to read the reviews, simply click the links below.  The books are not listed by favourite, but rather by the year they were reviewed.

To aid me, I put together a longlist of 15 books, and that was difficult in itself.  Then I whittled them down to 10.  There were some surprises: some favourite authors were missing, notably Trudi Canavan, Ellis Peters, M.C. Beaton and Agatha Christie, and others; as well as some books which I think of as favourites of mine: The Séance by John Harwood, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith and Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings, and more besides.

This was certainly an interesting undertaking, so much so, I am planning on doing it again for books I reviewed between starting this site in 2012, up to the end of 2013.

If you’re interested to see what other books made it into my favourites list of the five past years, check out the following:

Favourite Reads of 2014 | Favourite Reads of 2015 | Favourite Reads of 2016

Favourite Reads of 2017 | Favourite Reads of 2018

Book Review: Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury

* This review may contain spoilers * 
Footsteps in Time is the first book in The After Cilmeri series by Sarah Woodbury.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An easy read, full of interesting historical detail and an engaging setting.  Medieval Wales is brought to life with colour and ease. 3 /5

Summary (from goodreads)

In December of 1282, English soldiers ambushed and murdered Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales. His death marked the end of Wales as an independent nation and the beginning of over seven hundred years under the English boot.

Footsteps in Time is the story of what might have happened had Llywelyn lived.

And what happens to the two teenagers who save him.

Favourite Quote

“Not all men bend with the wind as easily as Dafydd.”

“Some bend; some break.”

Review

I’ve been meaning to read Sarah Woodbury’s books for a while now, and so I managed to cram Footsteps in Time into the very last few days of my Historical Fiction Month challenge, and yet it has taken me quite a while to review it.  The reason is in no small part that I was quite undecided how I felt about this book…

First, the concept: I loved it.  I enjoy a good time-travelling yarn – if it’s done properly. The historical detail was spot on, and thirteenth century Wales came to life as I read.  Having been to some of the areas mentioned I felt a connection to the setting throughout the story.  And, by throwing a “what if” question into the mix – in this case, what would have happened if Llywelyn ap Gruffydd hadn’t died at Cilmeri – adds a great deal of interest to the storyline.

What I didn’t like was the patronising tone one of the characters used in a couple of the passages.  And unfortunately, this seemed to undermine my enjoyment of the story.  More importantly though, I struggled to really connect with the characters. I would have loved to have seen more of the courtship between Anna and Math, but that time was skipped over for some reason.

So a bit of a mixed review: great historical detail and a wonderful setting on one hand, but a lack of connection to the characters on the other.  I really wanted to enjoy the story more than I did.  Will I read any more from this series?  I’m not sure.  I have a paperback of The Good Knight, the first in the Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries, (another series by Sarah Woodbury) so I might turn my attention to that series first…

Rating

Book Review: Wolf’s Wife by Julie Midnight

Summary (from Goodreads)

Alice is twenty-four, far old enough to know that a change of scenery can’t repair the cracks in a relationship long strained. But when her lover insists on a trip to a remote cabin to get away and recharge, Alice agrees…and soon discovers that among the beasts of the forest, there is one that shouldn’t exist and yet does: a wolf that changes into a man and a man who changes into a wolf. He’s savage, suspicious, and feral. And he’s as undeniably interested in her as she is in him…

Wolf’s Wife is an erotic paranormal romance and the first book in the Monstrous Hearts series.

Favourite Quote

Even in a mind worn into paths of silence and appeasement, the urge to snap and claw and kick burns like an ember hidden in the ashes.

Review

Like my previous review, this isn’t the usual type of paranormal book I read.  There is a lot of mature content to be found in the story – so should you go off and read it yourself, you’ve been warned…  Neither is it full of the usual werewolf fare.

I loved the story, but more than that, I loved the characters.  I warmed to Alice very quickly; her relationship with Magdalene was hard to read, so tipped were the scales.  Colton, the werewolf, with his aloofness, his wariness, was very realistic.  He’s gruff and rough and suspicious, almost animal traits that he brings with him into his human form rather than leaving behind with the wolf.  And that makes this werewolf more lifelike than what is usually depicted in supernaturally-themed tales.

There is a complexness in this story that makes this paranormal romance so believable.  The characters are well-crafted and the story well-thought out and well-written.  The author knows how to build atmosphere and tension, and as the quote above shows, there is a beauty to the prose.

There’s also a rawness about this tale.  Colton, as a man/wolf between worlds has to decide whether he can trust this stranger.  And as for Alice, who also finds herself “in between”, between her world and his, between her relationship with Magdalene and her feelings, she’s trying to navigate her way through some pretty difficult territory.

I will certainly be reading the sequel, Wolf’s Bane to find out how the story continues to unfold.

Rating

Book Review: The Book With No Name by Anonymous

The Book With No Name is the first book in the Bourbon Kid series by Anonymous.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read, with a plot that twists and turns and keeps you guessing right to the very end.  Great stuff!  4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Detective Miles Jensen is called to the lawless town of Santa Mondega to investigate a spate of murders. This would all be quite ordinary in those rough streets, except that Jensen is the Chief Detective of Supernatural Investigations. The breakneck plot centers around a mysterious blue stone — The Eye of the Moon—and the men and women who all want to get their hands on it: a mass murderer with a drinking problem, a hit man who thinks he’s Elvis, and a pair of monks among them. Add in the local crime baron, an amnesiac woman who’s just emerged from a five-year coma, a gypsy fortune teller, and a hapless hotel porter, and the plot thickens fast. Most importantly, how do all these people come to be linked to the strange book with no name? This is the anonymous, ancient book that no one seems to have survived reading. Everyone who has ever read it has been murdered. What can this mean?

Favourite Quote

‘Cross my palm with a twenty-dollar bill and I shall reveal your destiny.’

What happened to silver? Dante thought…

Review

When I reached the last paragraph of this book, hope swelled within me.  The book ended with question, leaving the reader to wonder if this was indeed the end of the story. You know the type…This is the end…or is it?  I desperately hoped not.  When I learned there were in fact more instalments to read, I was so very, very happy.  As I’m sure you can tell. 🙂

As soon as I saw this book I was intrigued.  Curiosity piqued, I wondered at the title or lack there of, and then I wondered some more at the author deciding to publish under the name “Anonymous”.  It didn’t taken long for me to realise I needed to read this.

This is highly imaginative storytelling, with a plethora of characters to keep you entertained (see the summary above for a brief cast list). The pace is fast, as one plot twist occurs after another.  There is plenty of action, and plenty of gore also – something I’m not usually a fan of, but here it seemed to work.

The story is told from several points of view, allowing us glimpses of all that is going on in Santa Mondega.  You won’t like many of the characters – I’m not sure you’re supposed to – but you may find yourself laughing at some of the things that happen in the story.

There are elements from a number of different genres, including horror, the paranormal / supernatural, fantasy, westerns, crime and mystery but somehow the auther has managed to weave them all together into a cohesive whole. I guessed some of the plot twists but there were still plenty I did not see coming.

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read.  I am excited to read book two in the series, The Eye of the Moon.

Rating

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season is the first book in the series of the same name by Samantha Shannon.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

Favourite Quote

Nothing’s worse than a story without an end.

Review

Hmm.  I really really wanted to like this book. The truth is I didn’t like the first half but enjoyed the second, and that makes it quite hard to review.  When reading the first half, I struggled to pick the book up, but, for the second half of the book I struggled to put it down.

What didn’t I like about the first half?  There was too much information about the world the story was set it, and that made it clunky to read and slow going.  At times I felt like I was wading through detail, description and definitions to get to the story.

What did I like about the second half?  I’m not sure that the second half of book was any easier to read or any lighter on detail, but the storyline did pick up and that helped both the flow of the plot and its pace.  The characters really came into their own (I especially liked Nick, Liss and Julian), there was a lot of action, and the ending was good and worth the effort of working through the slower passages.

If the world-building information had been lighter and perhaps more subtly incorporated into the story, I think this book would have been fantastic.  I understand that as the first book set in this world enough information has to be offered to the reader so they can understand what is going on but it felt unnecessarily complicated.

There is, however, no arguing with the fact that the author possesses a great imagination.  The parts I enjoyed, I really enjoyed.

Will I read the second book in the series, The Mime Order?  Yes, I think I would.

There is a lot to get to grips with in The Bone Season; the cast of characters is vast and there is a lot of terminology that is used throughout (there is a glossary to accompany the story).  If you like to become completely immersed in a fantasy / future world, then you will enjoy the level of detail in this book.

Rating

As for the rating, I would have given the first half no more than 2 /5, and the second half 4/5, so 3/5 seems like a pretty fair score.

 

Book Review: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Poison Study is the first book in the Poison Study trilogy by Maria V Snyder.

Summary (from Goodreads)

CHOOSE: A QUICK DEATH OR SLOW POISON…

On the eve of her execution for murder, Yelena is reprieved, but her relief is short-lived. She is to be the Commander of Ixia’s food taster. Can Yelena learn all she needs to know about poisons before an assassin succeeds?

Her troubles have only just begun, however… Valek, her captor, has a uniquely cruel method to stop her escaping; General Brazell, father of the man she killed, still wants her dead; and someone is plotting against the Commander.

Resourceful and wily, Yelena gains friends, survival skills – and more than a few enemies. In a desperate race against time, the Commander’s life, the future of Ixia and the secrets of her own past will be in her hands…

Favourite Quote

“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder.”

Review

When I first picked up this book, I found it extremely difficult to get into so put it back down pretty quickly.  And there it stayed for months.  And yet, the second time I tried to read it, I found it engaging and addictive.  I guess I wasn’t in the right mood to read it that first time, which was a shame because there is so much to like about it.

The storyline was engaging and the world building detailed.  Ixia is an interesting and sometimes scary place.

I liked Yelena; it’s hard not to empathise with her after all she’s been through and what she must face every day as the Commander’s food taster.  And yet she grows and becomes stronger.  I also like Varek.  There is so much more to his character than you realise when we first meet him as the cold, calculated man offering Yelena the choice of being executed for murder or becoming a student and taster of poisons.  The other supporting characters were also good: Rand, Ari, Janco, Dilana, especially.

This is one of the better YA books that I have come across and I can’t wait to read the second book in the trilogy, Magic Study.

Rating