Gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise…

If in doubt quote Pink Floyd.

Don’t you just hate it when you hit a reading lull?  You have all these great books to read and you just cannot be bothered to read any of them.  I am currently 200 pages into reading Ruin by John Gwynne.  I started it on Saturday.  Normally, I’d be finished by now but I just don’t have the will or the energy at the moment to read any more.

I suppose it had to happen sometime.  I’ve been reading constantly all year, I’m up to 61 books completed so far and I usually go through a lull at some point but it’s not normally when I’ve been enjoying books.  I really like.  I have really been enjoying the Faithful and the Fallen series but I just don’t feel the motivation to read at all at the moment.  It’s just not there and when I do try to sit down and read I can’t concentrate on the words on the page.

I’m inclined to blame the multitude of 6am starts I’ve had over the last few weeks at work.  By the time I’ve worked a shift on less than five hours sleep I have no energy for the rest of the day to read.  Hopefully there won’t be too many early shifts over the next couple of weeks so I can get back into my usual rhythm and I can get back to reading at my usual obsessive pace but until then I can sit and stare pathetically at the book I desperately want to read but can’t.

It stinks.  I have a whole list of books I want to read but I have no desire to read.  I have Mage’s Blood by David Hair to read.  The new James Islington book is out but I can’t be bothered to get it.  There are so many books out there and I want to read them but I have no motivation.  Someone find my motivation.

I suppose it’s saving me money at the moment since I’m not going to buy books I’m not going to read but I just hope I get over this reading malaise soon so I can get back to them all.


Review: When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner

When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


When the Heavens Fall is a fantasy novel written by Marc Turner and was published in 2015.  The novel features the point of view of several different characters and focuses on the theft of ‘The Book of Lost Souls’.  As a debut novel I found it to have an interesting premise and on the whole it was enjoyable but there were also some negatives to the story.  I would, however, be interested in reading the following books in the series.

The biggest strength of this novel is undoubtedly the plot.  It is amazing and well written.  The plot is tight and there is no room for filler.  The novel hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until the final page.  This could be confusing for readers who aren’t used to this style but it works very well for this book.  Another aspect of the novel which could confuse readers is the narrative style.  It is common in fantasy to have numerous POVs of characters but they are usually separated by chapters.  When the Heavens Fall has been compared to Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series and, like that series, this novel focuses on all of the character point of views in one chapter.  This is an unusual choice for a novel and, as mentioned before, can be very confusing for the reader as they don’t necessarily realise when the POV has changed.  I would say that When the Heaven’s Fall does this better than Malazan because I could read several pages of Malazan without realising the character had changed but the characters in Heaven were all distinctive enough to know when the POV switched.

All in all, the story is a good one; the plot is intriguing and well written.  There are, however, some problems with the novel and that mean that it can only be classed as a good novel and not a great one.  These problems are with the characters.

I am not saying that the characters are bad, far from it.  The characters are all very well-defined and they play their parts well.  The problem is there is not a huge deal with character development.  It has been a week and a half since I finished the book and I am having a hard time remembering the names of most of the characters, even the main ones.  I can remember their stories but I couldn’t tell you much more.  I would have to consult the book for the names so this is a major down for the book.

Whilst I was reading the novel, I found the characters interesting but a little flat.  The story progresses but the characters don’t for the most part.  With the exception of Parolla, most of the characters are the same as they were at the beginning of the book.  I know that some readers don’t mind a lack of characterisation if the plot is good but I, personally, am the opposite.  The most important part of a novel, for me, is the characters.  I like to fall in love with the characters and I can forgive a weak plot if the characterisation is strong but, as in the case of When the Heavens Fall, if the characters are not strong I don’t feel as emotionally connected to the plot.

I know this is a very personal thing so don’t let my own feelings put you off reading this novel because, on the whole, it is worth reading.  I’m definitely going to pick up a copy of the second novel if I can ever find one that doesn’t look like it’s been read and returned to the shop.

Review of the Greatcoats series by Sebastien de Castell


Traitor’s Blade
Knight’s Shadow
Saint’s Blood
Tyrant’s Throne

Series rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Greatcoat’s series, by Sebastien de Castell, consists of four books: Traitor’s Blade, Knight’s Shadow, Saint’s Blood and Tyrants Throne. Set in the country of Tristia, the story commences five years after the Dukes and Duchesses of the country overthrew the King and turned the Greatcoat’s into traitors. The story focuses, and is written in the first person viewpoint of, on Falcio val Mond; the First Cantor of the Greatcoats and his friends Kest and Brasti as they attempt to restore order to Tristia.

Before King Paelis was deposed and executed he gave orders to each of the Greatcoats and in Falcio’s case it was to find his “charoites” and this is the focus of book one. Book two deals with what happens next; trying to unite a country behind a new ruler when the country doesn’t really want that to happen. Book three, takes it a step further when someone starts killing gods and saints before book four finally concludes with a threat from another country and problems closer to home.

This review is going to be split into two parts: a non-spoiler-y general review of my feelings towards the books and then a more in depth review which will include major plot points so if you don’t want to know what happens, don’t read that part.
I am going to start by saying that, quite simply, I loved this series. It is pretty much everything I look for in a book. It has action, it has fantastic characters and it has an easy, yet interesting plot. A review on the back of the first book describes the series as a cross between The Three Musketeers and Game of Thrones and I would completely agree. The relationship between Falcio, Kest and Brasti is very reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas’ creations but in a more modern way. They bicker and argue a lot but there is a genuine love between the three characters.

Falcio is the main character and the POV for the series. He likes long speeches and he always manages to find trouble. He’s honourable but prone to seeing red and he would give his life to protect those he loves. He sounds like he could be a bit of a cliché but de Castell is aware enough to not make that happen and his actions are often lampshaded by other characters, Kest and Brasti in particular. Most of the characters could be read as clichéd; Kest is a humourless fighter, Brasti a shameless flirt who rarely comes across as anything but an idiot, but de Castell manages to make all of them sympathetic and interesting characters. Reading Falcio never giving up, even in the face of certain death, simply made me cheer him on more and I spent the books hoping that he would succeed and overcome whatever problem had arisen.

One criticism you could level at the series is that it does have a very formulaic plot. Each book has an interesting plot, don’t get me wrong, but every books starts out with a problem, things get worse, Falcio gets the absolute living daylights beaten out of him; physically, mentally and emotionally before the problem is resolved and the next one crops up. I have to give props to de Castell for being able to make each book interesting in their own right whilst using the same formula in four different ways.

There are characters that you love and characters that you hate. The three main characters are all wonderful, in my opinion. As the books is written in first person there are occasions where the secondary characters don’t feature at all, you can go fifty/a hundred pages without seeing them at all but they are just as interesting. Aline, Valiana, Ethalia and Darriana, in particular, stand out as characters throughout the series. The Duke of Rijou and his son, Tommer, are similarly as interesting. The only character I felt was underused, especially after Traitor’s blade, was Trin but we’ll get into that later.
The character who has the most character development over the course of the series is, undoubtedly, Valiana. You wouldn’t think that from her first appearance as the spoilt daughter of the very nasty Patriana that she would turn out to be the person she did and it is a credit to de Castell that he not only managed to turn initial perceptions on their head but to also create a wonderful, mature and strong female character who grows throughout the course of the series.

All in all, the Greatcoat’s series successfully combines action, humour and emotion into one epic series. The characters made me laugh, especially the interactions between Falcio, Kest and Brasti. Their mocking of Falcio’s love of long speeches, Kest’s lack of humour and Brasti’s shameless flirting often leant wonderful moments of humour when the outlook for the three characters seemed bleak and you genuinely believed they all care deeply for one another. The series offers something new to the fantasy genre, which is amazing given how much fantasy, and how much excellent fantasy, there currently is out there to read. It is adventurous and action packed but never sacrifices plot or character in favour of the other. You fall in love with the protagonists and want them to succeed and that is the greatest strength of the book.

Also, “Shut up, Brasti” might as well be the subtitle for this series because the characters said is so often.

Now onto the spoiler-y part of the review.

As mentioned in the summary, the quest that Falcio was given by Paelis shortly before his death was to find his “charoites”. It is the big mystery of the first book and it turns out that they are his children, whom he sired in order to keep the line of succession going because he knew the Dukes would overthrow him. It is revealed that one of the Duchesses, Patriana of Hervor, has been killing these children since the death of the King and there is only one left alive, a girl named Aline who Falcio et al must protect and eventually see her crowned Queen of Tristia.

This is no easy task because not only are the Dukes against this, Falcio has to deal with Kinghts and Saint killers as well as internal and external threats from people he thought he could trust. The duchies want Aline dead, people believe the Greatcoats to be traitors, knights are trying to assassinate her, someone is going around killing saints so, all in all, it looks like a hopeless task but somehow Falcio, Kest and Brasti manage to save the day and keep Aline alive for another novel. As I said above, interesting and fun but formulaic.

Then something happened that I did not expect.

Tyrant’s Throne is the last book in the series and deals with the biggest problem to date: a rogue Greatcoat has united several warbands from the neighbouring country of Avares, a country which prides itself on its warriors and, of course, it is up to Falcio et al to solve the problem by getting beaten on multiple occasions and with a certain amount of wit. So far, so formulaic.

Then Aline died.

The girl, the almost Queen of Tristia, who Falcio has been trying to protect from the very first novel is accidentally killed, giving her life to save her newly discovered brother from being assassinated by his mother. It was completely in her character, I cannot argue against that, and it certainly moved the plot on. It also gives Falcio an out at the end of the book because there was no way he would ever have retired from the Greatcoats as he does at the end if Aline became Queen. Her death also gives a wonderfully emotional moment near the climax of the book which drives the Tristian army to give their all in the fight against the Avareans.

I just didn’t see it coming. At all. If I had expected it I might have found it sad but I was too busy trying to pick my jaw off the floor saying “WHAT?!” over and over again for a good five minutes so kudos to de Castell for providing a plot point that took my breath away because there aren’t many authors that have managed to do that.

My biggest issue was with Trin. I know she has a point and she plays the part well but I can’t help but feel that she was a completely superfluous character. Her inclusion in the first novel was interesting and she served an important point and in the second book she was a distant yet serious threat. Then she disappears from the third book entirely before popping up in book four in prison in Avares with King Paelis’ son, Filian. The character does what any character needs to do for the plot but, in the end, I can’t help but think that any character could have do what Trin did. She was made out to be an important and dangerous threat in Traitor’s Blade but she never really lived up to that threat/ She doesn’t die, and is instead exiled with her tail between her legs, so I am going to assume she will return in any future books set in that world but she didn’t feel completely right in Tyrant’s Throne. I didn’t miss her in book three and she was not an important enough character in book four and seeing her tossed aside so easily at the end just proves that she wasn’t really needed in Tyrant’s Throne.

On the whole, though, Tyrant’s Throne was a very good end to the series. Loose ends were wrapped up and all the important characters reached a point where they were either happy or at peace. We finally found out how Kest beat the Saint of Swords (hilarious laugh included) and the emotional final meeting between Falcio and Paelis was sad and funny in equal measure, but the series is definitely left open for future books, which I am happy about because I would happily read more about these characters and any future ones.