WWW Wednesday – 23 November 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Retribution by Sarah Barrie (Trade Paperback)

Retribution Cover

I recently started reading the cool Australian crime thriller, Retribution by Sarah Barrie.  The sequel to Barrie’s 2021 novel, Unforgiven, Retribution is another excellent and powerful Australian thriller that follows a maverick protagonist as she seeks justice and revenge.  I am having an outstanding time with this book and I can’t wait to see how the clever mysteries unfold.  I will probably knock this book off in the next day or so, and it is proving to be quite an amazing read.

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Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer (Audiobook)

Dragon Mage Cover

I am still slowly getting through the lengthy by captivating fantasy novel Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer. A massive and complex fantasy novel from a couple of years ago, Dragon Mage follows two teenagers who are dragged into an interdimensional war and must learn to harness their respective abilities to save the world.  Dragon Mage has a very elaborate and captivating story to it, which does get a little slow at times, so I have been struggling to make a lot of headway with this book.  However, the story is starting to speed up a bit now that I’m the second half and I am hoping to finish this off in the next week.  This is a very impressive fantasy read however, and I am really enjoying getting through it.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Death to the Emperor by Simon Scarrow (Trade Paperback)

Death to the Emperor Cover

Another fast-paced and well-written historical fiction novel from one of my favourite authors.  Death to the Emperor takes the readers right into the middle of Boudica’s rebellion, and you will not be able to turn away from the resulting battles.

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Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (Trade Paperback)

Friends Like These Cover 2

An excellent and extremely captivating young adult thriller.  Friends Like These is a very powerful read from Jennifer Lynn Alvarez that places the reader in the middle of a very realistic teenage situation that gets far too out of hand in some compelling and exciting ways.

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Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 37: Crossroads by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Crossroads Cover

Another outstanding volume in the always fun Usagi Yojimbo comic series.  Crossroads was another instant classic from Sakai and I had such an incredible time reading it.  Review to follow soon.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Silver Queendom by Dan Kobolt

Silver Queendom Cover

After finishing off Retribution, my plan is to start reading the awesome sounding fantasy book, Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt.  Following a group of rogues who decide to pull off a dangerous heist, Silver Queendom sounds like a very fun and enjoyable read and I can’t wait to see all the resultant betrayals, elaborate plans and fantasy shenanigans.

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

If I manage to finish off Dragon Mage in the next week, then the next audiobook on my list to listen to is Convergence by Zoraida Cordova.  The first adult book in the second phase of the Star Wars: The High Republic series, Convergence will set the stage for much of 2023’s Star Wars fiction, and I am pretty excited for that.  Set to follow a new batch of characters as they explore a whole new period of Star Wars history, Convergence is sure to be an exciting and central read, and I can’t wait to see how the next Phase of High Republic fiction will unfold, especially after how good Path of Deceit was.

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That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Waiting on Wednesday – Burner by Mark Greaney

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  For my latest Waiting on Wednesday, I check out the spy thriller novel that I am most excited for in 2023 with Burner by Mark Greaney.

Burner Cover

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Mark Greaney is a very talented thriller author who has been on a major role lately.  Not only has he produced some impressive standalone reads such as Armored and Red Metal (co-written by Hunter Ripley Rawlings IV), but his Gray Man series has just had its first adaptation on Netflix.  I am a big fan of the Gray Man novels, having been blown away by his first book, The Gray Man, while also deeply enjoying his great recent entries in the series, including Mission Critical, One Minute Out (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2020), Relentless (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), and Sierra Six (one of my favourite books and audiobooks from the first half of 2022).  Needless to say, after how exceptional all his recent novels have been, I am exceedingly eager to try another Greaney read, and it looks like I don’t have too much longer to wait for the next one.

Greaney’s next book, Burner, is coming out in February 2023 and it looks set to be quite an intense and action packed read.  The 12th book in the Gray Man series, Burner will follow series protagonist, Court Gentry, as he continues to get in all manner of trouble while trying to avoid his former masters at the CIA.  This time, Gentry will team up with his love interest to keep a very wanted man alive as everyone in the intelligence game and criminal underworld tries to kill him.

Plot Synopsis:

Court Gentry is caught between the Russian mafia and the CIA in this latest electrifying thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling Gray Man series.

When you kick over a rock, you never know what’s going to crawl out.

Alex Velesky is about to discover that the hard way. He’s stolen records from the Swiss bank that employs him, thinking that he’ll uncover a criminal conspiracy. But he soon finds that he’s tapped into the mother lode of corruption. Before he knows it, he’s being hunted by everyone from the Russian mafia to the CIA.

Court Gentry and his erstwhile lover, Zoya Zakharova, find themselves on opposites poles when it comes to Velesky. They both want him but for different reasons.

That’s a problem for tomorrow. Today they need to keep him and themselves alive. Right now, it’s not looking good.

Unsurprisingly, I am pretty damn excited for Burner, especially with the cool plot synopsis above.  Greaney always delivers on fun and compelling spy thriller storylines and this one sounds particularly good.  I love the idea of Court Gentry having to keep a civilian alive from the various forces coming after him, especially when it puts Gentry back on the radar of the CIA who are always looking for him.  I am envisioning the protagonists going up against multiple groups of over-the-top killers in this new book, which is going to be so damn epic, especially as Greaney is very good at portraying action, tradecraft, and fights in impressive detail.  No doubt these actions will set Gentry against his CIA nemesis, Suzzane Brewer, who has been trying to kill him for years, and who makes for such an entertaining antagonist.  At the same time, seeing Gentry once again interact with Zoya Zakharova should be a lot of fun.  The two have a very unique relationship, in that they are deadly assassins that every government want dead, and it will be awesome to see them go up against each other for this mission.

Honestly, based on how epic the last few Gray Man novels have been, there is no way in hell that I am going to miss out on Burner, especially as it has quite an exceptional sounding story to it.  I always deep enjoy Greaney’s amazing books, and I have got extremely wrapped up in the long-running Gray Man plot that he has been pulling together for the last few books.  I have very little doubt that Burner is going to end up being one of my absolute favourite books of next year, and it is one of my most anticipated reads for early 2023.  I cannot wait to get my hands on this new book, and it is going to be so damn epic.

Book Haul – 22 November 2022

I have been having an absolutely fantastic week for book, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers.  These novels include some truly awesome new releases, some of which rank amongst my top books of 2022.  I am extremely keen to check out all of the books below and they should make for some amazing reads.

Death to the Emperor by Simon Scarrow

Death to the Emperor Cover

The first book I recently received was the latest historical epic from the master of Roman historical fiction, Simon Scarrow, with Death to the Emperor.  The 21st book in his amazing Eagles of the Emperor series (which has previously featured such awesome reads like The Blood of Rome, Traitors of Rome, The Emperor’s Exile and The Honour of Rome), Death to the Emperor puts Scarrow’s long-running protagonists in the middle of Boudica’s rebellion in Britannia.  I have actually already read this amazing book and it proved to be particularly captivating and action-packed.  Review to follow soon.

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Retribution by Sarah Barrie

Retribution Cover

Next up is the outstanding Australian thriller Retribution by Sarah Barrie.  A sequel to Barrie’s dark 2021 read, Unforgiven, Retribution presents several intriguing, interlocked cases that tie into the events of the last book and sees her maverick protagonist once again try to take down the deadly antagonist from Unforgiven. I have already started reading this fantastic novel and I can’t wait to see how the various cases unfold.

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Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 37: Crossroads by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Crossroads Cover

I was exceedingly happy to receive a copy of the new Usagi Yojimbo volume, Crossroads, this week.  As most readers will know, I am a massive fan of Stan Sakai’s outstanding Usagi Yojimbo comic series, and I was extremely happy that Sakai released a second volume this year.  Crossroads, which I read the second it was delivered, is another amazing read with two epic stories to them.  Loaded with action, incredible artwork and fantastic characters, this was another impressive outing from Sakai that I had a wonderful time reading.

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Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt

Silver Queendom Cover

The next book I was lucky enough to receive is the fantastic and fun fantasy novel, Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt.  I absolutely love the sound of Silver Queendom which sees a scrappy group of conman attempt to pull off an impossible heist to save their skins.  There is nothing about this book’s plot that I do not love, and I am very excited to see how this fantasy heist novel pays off.  I already know I am going to have an awesome time with this book, and I am hoping to check it out next.

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The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett

The Resemblance Cover

I was also lucky enough to receive a copy of a fantastic new debut novel with The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett.  Set in a college town, this book will see a police detective dive into the corrupt world of fraternities and sororities as she attempts to solve a curious murder of a college student run over by someone who looks exactly like him.  This sounds like quite an intriguing read, and I look forward to diving into this elaborate case, which will no doubt provide some interesting insights into the crazy world of elite university students.

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Private Beijing by James Patterson and Adam Hamdy

Private Beijing Cover

I have been getting a few James Patterson books recently, and the latest is the compelling Private Beijing, which Patterson cowrote with Adam Hamdy.  This is the 17th book in Patterson’s The Private series which follows a group of private investigators, and his latest book will see the Beijing office of the agency come under attack, forcing Private’s leader, Jack Morgan, into action.  I haven’t had a chance to check out this series before, but I am very keen to try now, especially as this sounds like quite a fun spy thriller.  I look forward to getting through more of Patterson’s books this year and I am sure I am in for an excellent time with Private Beijing.

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Judgement Day by Mali Waugh

Judgement Day Cover

The final book I received a copy of is the awesome 2023 Australian thriller, Judgement Day, by new author Mali Waugh. The debut novel from Waugh, Judgement Day will see a detective investigate the murder of judge, which will bring her to the dark heart of the local legal system.  I am already quite intrigued by this upcoming novel, and I am very excited to already have a copy of this Australian crime fiction debut.

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Well, that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (Trade Paperback – 18 October 2022)

Series: Standalone

Length: 454 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Legendary crime fiction author John Grisham returns with another impressive read, this time combining a complex, multi-generation character narrative with some excellent legal thriller elements to create the amazing novel, The Boys from Biloxi.

As I have mentioned a few times on this blog, last year I finally got the chance to read something from renowned author John Grisham.  The author of multiple iconic legal thrillers, Grisham was a major author whose work I had only consumed by way of film adaptations.  Luckily, I was able to fix that by checking out his 2021 release, The Judge’s List, which followed a complex investigation into a dangerous serial killer who was also a successful judge.  I had an outstanding time reading The Judge’s List, and it made me determined to check out some more of Grisham’s books, especially his new releases.  This included the fantastic short-story collection he released earlier this year, Sparring Partners, and his latest book, The Boys from BiloxiThe Boys from Biloxi is an intriguing standalone novel that proved to be quite excellent, and I am very glad I got my hands on it.

In the heartlands of Mississippi, the city of Biloxi is notorious for its vice, lawlessness and general lack of morals.  A successful fishing and tourism spot on the coast, over time Biloxi became known as a place where all manner of gambling, drinking, drugs, girls and every other vice could be found.  However, the battle for the soul of Biloxi is about to begin as two families go to war.

Jesse Rudy and Lance Malco are both second-generation Americans.  The sons of hardworking immigrants, Jesse and Lance grew up on the streets of Biloxi, learning the value of the American way and hoping to make something for themselves by choosing very different paths in life.  While Jesse chose to become a lawyer, working himself tirelessly to get his degree, Lance used his father’s money to invest in the seedy clubs of Biloxi.  Both are happy in their respective lives, but, despite the close friendship of their sons, Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco, the two families are about to go to war.

After years of watching the corruption of Biloxi reach new heights, Jesse Rudy embarks on a mission to clean up the coast and works to become the city’s district attorney.  His first target is Lance Malco, whose has become Biloxi’s biggest crime lord, controlling multiple illegal night clubs and bringing a brutal gang war to the city.  As the two men go head to head, their sons soon follow in their footsteps, with Keith going to school to become a crusading lawyer, while Hugh becomes a thug for his father.  Before long it becomes clear that only one family can remain in Biloxi, and the loser will not survive their defeat.

Grisham continues to showcase why he is so highly regarded with another awesome and captivating read in The Boys from Biloxi.  Making great use of historical Biloxi, this fascinating crime fiction novel told a wonderful tale of crime and legal shenanigans that turned two families against each other over the course of decades.

I got pretty hooked on this novel right away, especially as Grisham started everything off by painting a cool picture of Biloxi, which promised to be quite a unique setting.  The author swiftly compounded my interest by quickly and effectively introducing the reader to the Rudy and Malco families and showcasing their history.  The early chapters of the book seek to build up the four main characters of the story, Jesse Rudy and Lance Malco, and their sons, Keith and Hugh.  Grisham paints a multi-generational tale around them, simultaneously diving into how each character grew into their destined roles, as well as the friendship that Keith and Hugh had as children.  These key characters are built up extremely quickly at the start of the novel, and before long you are really invested in their narratives, especially as there are some interesting contrasts between the adults, with Lance becoming a vicious criminal, while Jesse works hard to find his calling as a lawyer.

After all this substantial but necessary character and setting development, Grisham starts diving into the meat of the story, the conflict between the two families, and the wider fate of Biloxi, all of which is shown from the perspective of an intriguing range of characters.  This starts when Jesse Rudy decides to run for district attorney, promising to clean up Biloxi and shut down the illegal clubs owned by Lance Malco, leading to a protracted battle over many years.  The two sides engage in all manner of endeavours, including political runs, criminal investigations, turf wars and more, all while the younger characters grow up and start getting interested in their respective father’s worlds.  There are some great scenes spread out through this elaborate narrative, including several entertaining trials, where the lawyer characters battle it out in the courtroom.  Grisham clearly has some fun with these courtroom scenes, not only because the legal thriller elements are his bread and butter, but because it gives him the opportunity to come up with some ridiculous and fun legal manoeuvres that the characters utilise to win their cases.

The battle between the two families soon becomes the primary focus of the book, eclipsing some of the other storylines and character arcs going on simultaneously.  There are some key and memorable scenes chucked into the centre of the book that really change the nature of the story, and it helps to focus the plot onto the younger generation of the respective families as Keith and Hugh continue their father’s war.  The pace really picks up in the second half, and Grisham does an amazing job of bringing all the various plot points together, with some key moments cleverly set up much earlier in the book.  Everything wraps up extremely well towards the end, and the characters all end up in some interesting and emotionally heavy positions.  While the conclusion is mostly satisfying, Grisham does end everything on a rather sorrowful note that will stick in the reader’s mind.  An overall exceptional read, and you will find it extremely hard not to get swept into this powerful and captivating narrative.

One of the things that I felt really enhanced this already cool story was the great setting of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Now, I must admit that I thought Biloxi was a fictional city while I was reading this book (I had honestly never heard of it before), especially as Grisham really built it as the vice capital of the south.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was real, and I was really impressed with the way that Grisham utilised it as a background setting in this book.  Grisham spends a substantial amount of time exploring and examining Biloxi throughout the book, and the early chapters of The Boys from Biloxi, contain a very in-depth and fascinating look at Biloxi’s history, culture, and the people who lived there.  While the characters of this story are fictional, some of the key plot events are real, and I loved how Grisham was able to work historical events, such as hurricanes, the influence of the Dixie Mafia, and Biloxi’s changing society into his compelling narrative.  The author really shows all sides of Biloxi throughout this book, including its position as a hub for immigration early in the 20th century, its role during World War II, as well as how it became known for its clubs, casinos, and other areas of vice throughout its history.  Due to how the story is structured, Grisham spends quite a lot of time examining various parts of Biloxi’s culture and position in Mississippi, and you really get to understand its heart and soul, even with some of the over-the-top story elements.  I also appreciated seeing the characters interacting with the city throughout the lengthy course of the book’s plot, and it was great to see some of the characters grow from children to adults, all while living in Biloxi.  This was an amazing setting for this very clever book, and I really appreciated the outstanding story that Grisham was able to wrap around Biloxi.  I will certainly not be forgetting that Biloxi is a real city for a very long time, and it sounds like a very interesting place to visit.

Finally, I must highlight the many great characters featured throughout The Boys from Biloxi.  Grisham writes a compelling cast for this impressive story, and I enjoyed getting to know the various fictional inhabitants of Biloxi, especially as the author decided to make most of them very big personalities.  Most of the focus is on the key members of the Rudy and Malco families, particularly the family patriarchs and their eldest sons, around whom this war is fought.  As such, Grisham spends quite a lot of time building these four characters up and showing the key events that turned them into the men who would fight over the soul of Biloxi.  These characters proved to be very compelling to follow, and Grisham writes a compelling and heartfelt tale around them, filled with love, regrets and the powerful influences that change people.  I did feel that, at times, Grisham did make the four main characters a little too perfect, as all of them tend to succeed and excel at everything they put their mind to, and frankly it did get a little tiring to see them be the very best at every sport, job and academic pursuit they tried out.  However, you do really get close to these characters, especially once their war gets even more personal and dangerous.  Throw in a massive group of distinctive and memorable supporting characters, most of whom have personalities and personas to match the outrageous city of Biloxi, and The Boys from Biloxi has an excellent cast who help to enhance this very entertaining read in so many fun ways.

John Grisham presents another exceptional and highly entertaining crime fiction read with the brilliant new book, The Boys from Biloxi.  One-part historical fiction read, one-part character-driven tale, and one-part legal crime thriller, The Boys from Biloxi was an amazing read that follows a feud between two families that lasted generations.  Deeply compelling and filled with some exciting and fun scenes, The Boys from Biloxi is a highly recommended novel that I had a wonderful time reading.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I check out one of the most anticipated and epic upcoming fantasy novels of 2023 with, The Shadow Casket, by Chris Wooding.

The Shadow Casket Cover

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Back in 2018 I was lucky enough to be introduced the amazing writing of an impressive fantasy author, Chris Wooding.  Despite his work on several previous fantasy books, including the Braided Path, Malice and Tales of Ketty Jay fantasy series, I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to read anything from Wooding.  I also wasn’t initially aware that he had a new fantasy book coming out in 2018 either, so much so that its release completely passed me by.  It wasn’t until I started hearing rave reviews about it that I decided to check it out, and boy was I lucky that I did, as it proved to be an exceptional and incredible fantasy read.

That book was The Ember Blade, a massive and elaborate fantasy epic that took a great group of characters on an intense and captivating adventure.  The first book in Wooding’s The Darkwater Legacy series, The Ember Blade primarily takes place in the conquered fantasy nation of Ossia, who were invaded and destroyed by the brutal Krodan Empire years before, who now rule Ossia with an iron first.  The only Ossians who flourish in the country anymore are those who bow down to the Krodan rulers and allow their children to be brainwashed into believing that the Krodan are saviours.  This includes the main protagonist of the series, Aren, who grew up wanting to be a Krodan with all his heart.

However, after his father is killed by the Krodans, Aren and his best friend Cade are taken to a labour camp, where they are expected to die.  Realising just how evil the Krodan are, Aren plots to fight them, and is given the chance when a band of freedom fighters free them from the camp.  They soon find themselves embroiled in a plot to break into an impregnable fortress and steal the legendary Ember Blade, an ancient sword with the potential to ignite the Ossian people in rebellion.  However, while Aren and his comrades are able to pull off the heist, they suffer great losses in process, including the band’s leader and Cade.

I had an extremely awesome time listening to The Ember Blade audiobook, which really filled all my epic fantasy needs.  Not only did Wooding introduce a bold new fantasy world, filled with some amazingly complex characters, but The Ember Blade had an exceptional story to it.  I loved the combination of fantasy adventure, rebel action, and a heist storyline that formed the main plot, and I was relentlessly entertained the entire way through.  I also had a lot of fun listening to The Ember Blade audiobook, which ended up being the eighth longest audiobook I have ever listened toThe Ember Blade got an easy five-star review from me, and I have been eagerly looking forward to the sequel for a few years now.

Well, my wait is finally over, as Wooding is finally releasing the second Darkwater Legacy novel in a couple of months’ time.  This sequel to The Ember Blade is The Shadow Casket, which will continue the epic story from the from the first book.  Set for release in mid-February 2023, The Shadow Casket has an immense amount of potential and I like the sound of the cool plot synopsis that has been released:

Synopsis:

A BAND OF REBELS.
A TRAITOR IN THEIR MIDST.
A REVOLUTION ABOUT TO BEGIN.

It’s been three years since Aren seized the Ember Blade. Three years since they struck the spark they hoped would ignite the revolution. But the flame has failed to catch. The Krodans have crushed Ossia in an iron grip of terror. The revolution seems further away than ever.

Far in the north, the Dawnwardens seek to unite the fractious clans of the Fell Folk and create a stronghold from which to retake their land. But even if they can overcome the danger of treachery from within, they still have to contend with the dreadknights. Only the druidess Vika can resist these near-unstoppable foes, and there’s only one of her.

But what if there was a weapon that could destroy the dreadknights? A weapon of such power it could turn the tide? A weapon that, if it fell into the wrong hands, might mean the end of all hope?

The Shadow Casket has returned from out of the past, and it will save or damn them all.

There are some very intriguing elements in the synopsis above that have got me even more excited for The Shadow Casket.  I love the idea of a bit of a time-skip between The Ember Blade and this sequel, especially as it appears that the protagonist’s dream or uniting the country around the Ember Blade failed.  While this does kind of invalidate the events of the first book, I’m sure that Wooding will turn this failure into some impressive personal drama for the protagonist.  In addition, there appears to be even more chaos and confusion as the rebels attempt to band together their fractious countrymen into fighting a terrible enemy.  Throw in a new fantasy MacGuffin, the Shadow Casket, and I am sure that this will be a great new read with another epic story to it.

Look, there is honestly no way that I will not be enjoying The Shadow Casket when it comes out next year.  The Ember Blade was too damn good not for me to look forward to the sequel, and I can’t wait to see how the elaborate story continues.  While I am slightly worried that I may have forgotten some of the details since listening to the first book in 2019, I am sure that I will have no trouble diving back into this series.  This book has so much damn potential, and I am exceedingly confident that The Shadow Casket is going to be one of the absolute best fantasy books of 2023.

Call of Empire by Peter Watt

Call of Empire Cover

Publisher: Macmillan (Trade Paperback – 25 October 2022)

Series: The Colonial series – Book Five

Length: 368 pages

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Australia’s master of the historical adventure returns with another deeply exciting and highly intriguing character driven read that follows one historical family as they embark on war and adventure across the world, Call of Empire by Peter Watt.

Towards the end of each year, I always know that I am about to have my historical action and adventure quota filled as the new Peter Watt is coming out.  Watt has been a particularly enjoyable and compelling Australian author for years, producing intriguing historical fiction books with a focus on Australian history.  His works have so far included the long-running Frontier series and his compelling Papua trilogy, both of which contained some remarkable historical adventures.  However, I personally have been really getting into his currently body of work, The Colonial series, which I have had a wonderful time reading in recent years.

The Colonial series started of back in 2018 with The Queen’s Colonial, an intriguing read that followed young Australian Ian Steele in 1845 as he switched places with an English nobleman to take up his commission in a British regiment.  Becoming Captain Samuel Forbes, Steele found himself drawn into several of England’s deadly 19th century wars, while also forced to confront several dangers back in England as the real Samuel Forbes’ family sought to have him killed.  This fantastic series continued for two more books, The Queen’s Tiger and The Queen’s Captain, both of which were excellent reads.  Watt continued the series last year with The Colonial’s Son, which jumped ahead a couple of decades to follow the main character’s oldest son as he followed in his father’s footsteps and become a soldier in the Queen’s army.  I had a great deal of fun with these exciting books, and I was very happy when I received the next entry in the series, Call of Empire.

Starting in 1885, several years after the conclusion of The Colonial’s Son, Call of Empire sees protagonist Ian Steele finally living the quiet life in New South Wales, enjoying time with his family and friends, and expanding his business empire.  However, the British Empire is constantly finding itself in conflict across the globe, and soon the young New South Wales colony is called upon to send troops to assist the British campaign in Sudan.

Determined to serve the Empire once again, Ian’s oldest son, Josiah, takes a commission in the New South Wales army and journeys to Africa to fight the Sudanese forces for the British.  However, his decision will alienate him from the love of his life, Marian Curry, who is determined that he stop fighting in imperialistic wars.  At the same time, Ian’s younger son, Samuel, is learning the family business out in the Pacific with the family’s friend, Ling Lee.  However, Samuel and Lee are soon dragged into a dangerous plot to smuggle guns for the Chinese, as Lee’s obsession with freeing China from European control leads them into mortal danger.

Soon the entire Steele family finds themselves in deep trouble across the world, and only the most daring of actions will help them survive.  But as the Empire’s wars continue and the Steele family and their friends are drawn into even more conflicts, can even their legendary luck continue?  Death and tragedy awaits them all, and soon the Steele family will face a loss they never expected.

This was another fantastic and deeply exciting novel from Watt, who continues to dazzle with his fast-paced writing and impressive historical insights.  I loved the awesome story contained in Call of Empire, and I ended up powering through this book in less than a day.

Watt produces another exciting and ultra-fast paced story for Call of Empire that takes the reader on a wild and captivating journey through some interesting parts of late 19th century history.  Starting in 1885, Call of Empire primarily follows the three male members of the Steele family as they attempt to overcome the various challenges they face in their respective endeavours.  Watt tells a multi-layered, multi-generational, character driven story that follows multiple characters simultaneously as they engage in their own story.  This means that readers are often treated to a range of different storylines in the same chapter, having one character engaged in war, while another deals with issues at home, and at the same time a third finds themselves caught up in adventures at sea.  This makes for quite a complex read, although the range of storylines are well balanced and never oversaturate or confuse the story.  Indeed, Watt is a pretty clear and concise writer, and the reader is able to have a lot of fun with several of the storylines at the same time.  Watt features an outstanding range of storylines throughout Call of Empire, and I loved the blend of war, politics, exploration, business, romance, character development and legal concerns that were featured at various points throughout the 15 year long plot.  This reminded me a lot of the author’s previous Frontier novels, especially the focus on one big family, and I had a wonderful time seeing the elaborate narrative he wove around his characters.  Watt really takes this story in some interesting directions, and there are a few big surprises, as well as some tragedies that established readers of this series will be hit hard by.  This proved to be quite an addictive read, and I loved seeing his characters continue to traverse through life in their chaotic and adventurous ways.  The book ends at the start of the new century, and it looks like Watt will be taking his characters in World War I next time, which I am sure will be suitably traumatic.

Easily my favourite thing about this book was Watt’s excellent dive into the always eventful colonial history of Australia.  In particular, Watt examines several lesser-known wars and conflicts from the 19th century, with a particular focus on the role of New South Wales.  This starts early in the plot with one of the characters getting involved in the Suakin Expedition in Sudan, which was part of the larger Mahdist War.  This deployment saw a battalion of New South Wales soldiers travel to Sudan as part of the war effort and was the very first military force to be raised and deployed overseas by Australia.  While there wasn’t a lot of fighting involved with this campaign, I was deeply intrigued by the history and the politics behind it, and Watt did a wonderful job of exploring it in great detail throughout the book by inserting his characters.  Watt continued this trend throughout the rest of the book, which saw several of his characters involved in both the Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion in China.  Both conflicts had Australian soldiers involved, fighting on the side of the British, and Watt took exquisite care to explore what role the Australians played in them, and how they came to be involved in the conflict.

Out of all of them, I particularly enjoyed the captivating examination of the Boer War in Africa, which was one of the more deadly wars Australians fought in during the 19th century.  This war, and one of the character’s roles in it, dominated a good part of the book, and Watt did an amazing job of bringing different parts of the conflict to life.  The author really captured just how dark and bloody this war was, from snipers in the African bush, to the horrors inflicted on the Boer settlers.  However, Watt saves some of his best writing for the Battle of Elands River, a protracted battle that saw the Boers surround a force of Australians and their allies in a brutal siege for 13 days.  Naturally, one of the characters is right in the middle of this fight, and Watt really showcased the carnage and terror that the Australians would have felt being surrounded and bombarded.  I honestly didn’t know a great deal about some of these early Australian military conflicts, and it was absolutely fascinating to see them come to life in the hands of this talented author.  Having this great historical background really enhanced the overall quality of the novel, and I had a wonderful time diving back into these sometimes overlooked parts of Australian military history.

As I mentioned above, Call of Empire was a very character focused book that featured a range of fantastic point of view protagonists through whose eyes the story unfolded.  Watt features a great combination of characters, with a compelling mixture of younger figures who were the focus of The Colonial’s Son, and even a few characters from the first three Colonial books.  There was quite a range of different character storylines in Call of Empire, and you swiftly get drawn into the various unique adventures of each of the characters.  It was fascinating to see how the older characters had evolved since their original adventures, and I liked how Watt started focusing more on the next generation, including by expanding the role of the younger Steele son, Sam, who had an amazing outing here.  There is a great examination of the events that help to form these figures character, and it was fantastic to see them overcome so much adversity at various parts of their life.  I will say that some of the male Steele characters did tend to blend personality wise as the book proceeded, mostly as they are cut from the same adventurous cloth, but you still grow to like all of them, and you ended up getting touched when bad things happen to them.  There are some very interesting and powerful developments that hit the main characters in this book, and this ended up being a very key novel in the family history.  I had a wonderful time seeing the latest exploits of the Steele family, and with the next generation being introduced towards the end of the book, you know that they have even more adventures to come.

Peter Watt continues to showcase his talent as Australia’s premiere author of the Australian historical adventure with his latest Colonial novel, Call of Empire.  Bringing back several of his fantastic protagonists from the previous books, Watt crafts together another exciting read that dives into some intriguing parts of Australia’s military history.  Fast paced and full of awesome action, Call of Empire is another amazing read from Watt, and one that I had a lot of fun getting through.

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Book Haul – 13 November 2022

I have been having an absolutely fantastic weeks for book, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers.  These novels include some truly awesome new releases, some of which rank amongst my top books of 2022.  I am extremely keen to check out all of the books below and they should make for some amazing reads.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

The first book I recently received was the awesome Star Wars novel, Convergence by Zoraida Cordova.  The first adult book in the second phase of The High Republic sub-series, Convergence looks set to be one of the major books of this franchise, providing a major introduction to the wider galaxy in the prequel era while also showcasing some of the key new characters and concepts. I only just finished the very first book in this second phase, Path of Deceit, and it has gotten me pretty excited for the upcoming High Republic offerings.  I can’t wait to see what happens in Convergence, and I have a feeling it is going to be quite an impressive read.

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Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Friends Like These Cover 2

I was very excited to receive a copy of the intense young adult thriller, Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarerz.  I had an absolutely wonderful time reading Alvarez’s 2021 novel, Lies Like Wildfire, which was one of my favourite debuts of last yearFriends Like These will contain another intriguing narrative around teenagers making terrible mistakes that lead to murder. This time centered around the consequences of a beach party where a viral video prank gets everyone in trouble, Friends Like These promises to be an exceptional read, and I reckon I’ll try to dive into it next.

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The Prisoner by B. A. Paris

The Prisoner by B. A. Paris Cover

One of the more intriguing books I recently received was the compelling psychological thriller, The Prisoner by acclaimed author B. A. Paris.  Set to follow a woman who knows plenty about survival, The Prisoner will see the protagonist kidnapped by mysterious captors, who lock her in a pitch-black room.  However, as the ordeal continues, the protagonist finds herself feeling safe, especially as it keeps her away from her husband.  I’m very, very curious about this book, mainly because I’m not entirely sure how it is going to unfold.  I am imagining that this is going to be a super-twisty read, and I look forward to seeing just how dark and complex it turns out to be.

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The Warrior by Stephen Aryan

The Warrior Cover

I was very happy to receive a copy of The Warrior by Stephen Aryan in the last week, which will continue an excellent narrative from a talented author.  The sequel to one of the more entertaining fantasy books of 2021, The Coward, The Warrior will see the protagonist, traumatized hero turned reluctant king, Kell, travel off on another lethal adventure, this time to help a friend. I loved the first book in this clever duology last year and I have no doubt that Aryan has another exciting and heartfelt adventure waiting for us in this cool sequel.

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Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

Dead Man's Hand Cover

Out of all the books I have recently received, the one that I am particularly curious and excited for is Dead Man’s Hand, and that is mainly because of its author, James J. Butcher.  Butcher is the son of legendary fantasy author, Jim Butcher, and he is breaking into the family business by starting his own urban fantasy series.  Dead Man’s Hand is a very cool sounding book that sees a mediocre witch forced to investigate a murder of one of his powerful peers in order to prove his innocence.  Featuring a very interesting narrative and a cool cover, I have a feeling that I am going to enjoy Dead Man’s Hand and I look forward to finding out how Butcher’s first book turns out.

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The Perfect Assassin by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

The Perfect Assassin Cover

The final book I recently received is the awesomely titled novel, The Perfect Assassin, written by the fantastic team of James Patterson and Brian Stills.  I have been having an incredible time with some of the recent novels Patterson has cowritten, such as 2 Sisters Detective Agency and Death of the Black Widow, and I am looking forward to reading this next one, especially as it has quite an intriguing plot to it.  Connected to classic pulp character, Doc Savage, this book will apparently follow a university professor who is kidnapped by a mysterious woman, who seeks to mold him into something very different.  I am very intrigued by this interesting novel, and I have a feeling The Perfect Assassin is going to be a very entertaining, if slightly bonkers read, and I can’t wait to see how it connects to the old-school adventures from the 1930s.

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Well, that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Star Wars - Path of Deceit Cover

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press (Audiobook – 4 October 2022)

Series: Star Wars: The High Republic – Phase Two

Length: 8 hours and 10 minutes

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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The second phase of The High Republic begins with an absolute banger as the team of Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland introduce Star Wars fans to a bold new young adult novel that ends up being epic in all the right ways with Path of Deceit.

For the last two years, Star Wars extended fiction has been firmly focused on the compelling multimedia project, The High Republic.  Set centuries before the prequel films, The High Republic takes readers to a whole new period of Star Wars history, where the Republic and the Jedi were at the absolute height of their power and influence.  However, not everything is perfect, and the Jedi characters are soon forced into conflict with dangerous forces bent on destroying them.  The first phase of The High Republic introduced readers to this new time period extremely well, while also setting up several fascinating characters, as well as the villainous Nihil, a group of space marauders who seek to destroy the order that the Republic represents.  I quickly fell in love with this cool new Star Wars subseries, and I enjoyed the massive range of different media present in this first phase, including comics, manga, children’s books, audio productions and a ton of novels.  The main story of this series is expertly told across the three main adult books, Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm, and The Fallen Star, while other compelling, and often vital, stories take place in young adult books like Into the Dark, Out of the Shadows and Midnight Horizon, the associated comic series, as well as the audio production Tempest Runner.  This entire first phase came together extremely well, and I was really impressed with the range of stories they told, as well as the excellent new characters and elaborate new universe expansions that occurred.

After completing the first phase earlier this year, the various writers associated with The High Republic project, have just embarked on their ambitious second phase of High Republic fiction.  The second phase goes back even further into Star Wars history by being set 150 years before the events of the previous High Republic books.  The idea is that the second phase will act as a prequel to the first, showing how the Nihil were formed and the reasons behind their leader’s hatred for the Jedi.  These details will no doubt become extremely important for the third phase, while also helping the reader understand why the events of the first phase unfolded.  The first book in this second phase is Path of Deceit, written by the team of Star Wars fiction newcomer Tessa Gratton and established Star Wars writer Justina Ireland, who made a name for herself in the first phase with her young adult and middle school books.  Both authors really throw their heart into Path of Deceit, and the result in a fantastic and captivating read that presents Star Wars fans with something very epic indeed.

It is a time of exploration and discovery in the galaxy as the Republic enters an age of expansion.  Under the guidance of the Jedi, teams have been sent into the furthest corners of the Outer Rim, seeking out new planets, civilisations, and people to add to the delicate tapestry of life, diplomacy and trade that forms the basis for the Republic.  However, not all the discoveries being made are good, and many dangers lurk out in the far reaches of space.

Of these dangers, the most benign appear to be a small Force cult on the remote planet of Dalna.  Known as the Path of the Open Hand, this group believe that the Force should be free, and that no one should have the power to use and abuse it, including the Jedi.  Led by the charismatic Mother, the Path of the Open Hand is small, but features a fervent congregation of believers, including a hopeful young woman, Marda Ro.

Marda Ro always dreams of leaving Dalna to preach the message of the Path throughout the galaxy.  However, protected by her free-spirited cousin Yana Ro and held back by the Mother, Marda appears destined to remain always on Dalna.  That is until two Jedi, Jedi Knight Zallah Macri and her Padawan Kevmo Zink, arrive on Dalna, investigating the theft of several Force artifacts from surrounding systems.  Believing that the thefts are related to the Path, the two Jedi begin to investigate the group, and Marda and the young Kevmo soon form a tight bond as their connection grows.  However, not everything is as it seems on Dalna, and soon the Mother reveals a dark secret that will reverberate throughout the galaxy for centuries to come.

I have to admit that even before I started reading Path of Deceit, I kind of had some doubts about whether I was going to really enjoy it.  Not only was I surprised that this second phase of the High Republic was starting out with a young adult book, rather than the upcoming adult novel, Convergence, but I was also apprehensive about the reverse time skip between phases.  Setting this second phase 150 years before the events of the first phase was a bold choice, especially considering that The High Republic is a prequel series in itself.  However, if Path of Deceit is any indication of what is to come, then the entire second phase of The High Republic is going to be pretty damn impressive and fit into the wider High Republic extremely well.  The team of Gratton and Ireland did a remarkable job here, producing a slick, slow-burn Star Wars story that introduces many key elements of this new timeline while also giving some fantastic hints of what is to come.  I had an absolute blast getting through this book, and it is has definitely gotten me excited for the next round of High Republic fiction.

I was deeply, deeply impressed with the captivating story that the authors came up with for Path of Deceit.  Due to its position in this new High Republic phase, Gratton and Ireland had to achieve quite a lot during the narrative, not only introducing key characters and settings, but also tying them into the wider High Republic history.  However, I think they achieved this goal extremely well, and the subsequent story is very intriguing and intense.  I do need to warn people that the Path of Deceit does start of fairly slow and takes a long while for all its excellent storylines to pay off.

The book is primarily set on the planet of Dalna and follows three young central characters as they find themselves caught up in the actions of the mysterious Path of the Open Hand.  These central characters include Marda Ro, a devout member of the Path, her cousin Yana Ro, who leads the Path’s covert unit that steal Force artifacts, and Kevmo Zink, who arrives on the planet to investigate the Path and the recent thefts.  The first half of the book sees the various characters gradually get to know each other, while Marda and Kevmo grow closer, despite their different viewpoints of the Force.  As the story continues, you start to see some cracks in the serene appearance of the Path, with Yana growing more and more determined to leave as she begins to see the Mother for what she really is.  However, even with a few action scenes and a great flood sequence, the story is still moving at a gradual pace, with the authors laying down some subtle hints of what is to come.  All that changes in the last quarter of the novel, as everything comes together in a big and shocking way.  While the narrative appears to be heading in one certain direction, the authors suddenly unleash a pretty major twist that really surprised me.  This twist was extremely brilliant, not only because of how well set up it was but because its execution was very sudden and a major gamechanger.  The entire tone of the novel changes after that, with the characters taking on new roles, and you see just how well-connected Path of Deceit is to the books of Phase One.  This twist honestly makes you really appreciate the slow and careful pace of the rest of the book, and you realise just how cleverly they were setting everything up.  The entirety of Path of Deceit ends on an excellent and powerful note, and the reader is left eagerly looking forward to seeing how the rest of this second phase comes together.

The team of Gratton and Ireland set out this story in a very awesome way, and I felt that everything came together extremely well to enhance the fantastic narrative.  The split between the three main perspectives helped to produce a balanced and multifaceted narrative, and I liked seeing the distinctive alternate viewpoints of the cool events occurring.  While the pacing was initially a bit slow and there was a little less action than your typical Star Wars novel, Path of Deceit makes up for it by focusing more on the characters, setting up the new version of the universe, and featuring a great young adult story that will really appeal to the teenage audience.  The way that the characters interact and focus on their attractions is very typical of most young adult books, but I felt that it didn’t get too over-the-top.  Instead, it is just enough to help bring the younger reader in, while also still being intense and compelling enough to keep older readers still attached and entertained.  I personally deeply enjoyed how the story was presented, especially once the pace increased towards the end, and this entire novel was an absolute joy to read.

As I mentioned before, quite a lot of importance is attached to whether Path of Deceit did a good job featuring the relevant Star Wars and High Republic elements.  I say that Gratton and Ireland strongly succeeded, as they not only provided a great viewpoint of this new period of Star Wars fiction but they also provided some captivating and clever links to the first phase.  While most of the focus of Path of Deceit is primarily on one planet, so you don’t get the full galaxy view, I did like the initial glimpse of this universe.  There is a real Western frontier vibe to the entire setting, with explorers, settlers, pilgrims, and people looking for a fresh start interacting with new elements from the Outer Rim.  There are also some hints about how this version of the Republic and the Jedi are set up, and there is a very good mixture of elements that I think are going to come together very well in the future.  I also really enjoyed the mysterious and captivating Path of the Open Hand, who were introduced as an alternative Force cult who are completely opposed to the actions of the Jedi.  Their curious viewpoint of the Force, and their methods for preserving it, make for quite a fascinating group and I deeply enjoyed how they developed.  As for connections to the first High Republic phase, well let us say that Path of Deceit is a very key novel regarding this, as several key characters with connections to the future are brilliantly set up here.  So many key elements or organisations from the first phase are introduced in a completely different form here, and you will be surprised at the origins of some of the best bits from the established High Republic books.  I loved some of the impressive set up that Gratton and Ireland featured in Path of Deceit, and this young adult novel is a very key part of this phase of the High Republic, with story elements from it set to reverb through certain upcoming books all the way to the future in the third phase.

Now, one of the main questions I am sure many people are wondering is how much knowledge of the High Republic and wider Star Wars universe people need to enjoy Path of Deceit.  Naturally, as the introductory book in the second phase of an established Star Wars sub-series, people who have read the previous High Republic books are going to have a better time with Path of Deceit that readers who have not.  Not only do you have a better idea of what the earlier Star Wars period are going to look like, but you also will appreciate some of the revelations that appear in this book and have a better ability to make connections between this phase and the previous one.  As such I would strongly recommend checking out all the key previous High Republic content first (the three adult books at the very least), as you a really going to have a better time with Path of Deceit that way, especially as the big twist towards the end makes a lot more sense if you do.  However, this isn’t the absolute worst book to start the High Republic with, and maybe reading the prequel second phase first is a better way of enjoying these books.  Either way, Gratton and Ireland do a good job of making this book pretty accessible to new readers, and I think that anyone with a decent knowledge of Star Wars fiction will probably be able to enjoy and appreciate this book.

Path of Deceit contains a great group of central characters that the authors do an excellent job of introducing.  This includes three intriguing teenage protagonists who have a complex and fascinating narratives that see them engage with this new world in very different ways.  Marda Ro is the devoted adherent to the Path of the Open Hand, who believes in their mission and their leader with all her heart.  Marda has a deeply compelling and well-laid-out story arc in Path of Deceit that eventually sees her question her believes and connections to the Path once she meets Jedi Padawan Kevmo Zink.  Already feeling disconnected from the galaxy and people due to her species, which is renowned and reviled for unknown reasons, Marda was a real emotional tinderbox in this book, and her relationship with Kevmo only complicates this further.  However, the events of the book change her in a way no-one could really predict, even with the hints her name contain, and her metamorphosis from sweet character to something else is very clever and quite impactful.  I have a feeling that she is going to have one of the best character arcs in the entire second phase, and I look forward to seeing how her narrative completely unfolds.

I also like the storylines surrounding the main Jedi character, Padawan Kevmo Zink, and Marda’s cousin Yana Ro, both of whom have their own distinctive arcs that I was quite intrigued by.  Kevmo Zink is a great young Jedi character who is drawn by his own romantic urges and desire for connections as much by the Force.  Kevmo serves as a great newcomer character to Dalna and the Path of the Open Hand and provides a great alternate perspective to Marda’s strict commitment to their ways.  He also serves as an intriguing love interest to Marda, and the classic Star Wars relationship between a conflicted Jedi and a forbidden girl made for some great reading, without being too silly or over-the-top.  I had a lot of fun with Kevmo, and I liked his infectious humour and his extremely positive view of the universe.  His storyline also goes in some very surprising directions, and this ended up being a very intriguing character to follow.  Yana Ro on the other hand is a more wild and exciting addition to the cast, who acts extremely differently to her cousin Marda.  A less indoctrinated member of the Path, Yana knows that there is something rotten at their heart, and seeks a way out, mainly by stealing Force artifacts for the Mother.  Her journey is very emotionally rich, and a little bit tragic, and I had a wonderful time seeing her storyline come to fruition, especially as it puts her in a very exciting position for future entries in the series.  Yana’s realistic viewpoint of the Path, as well as her own species’ inclinations and reputation, stands in great contrast of that of Marda, and her more grounded and aggressive mindset also makes her stand out compared to Kevmo.  As such, there is a good balance of personalities in Path of Deceit amongst the point of view protagonists, and this helps to produce a fantastic and compelling read.

There are also several great side characters who add their own spice to the story.  The most prominent of these is Kevmo’s Jedi master, Zallah Macri, an extremely serious Jedi Knight who serves as Kevmo’s mentor and guide.  Zallah is a suitable cautionary figure throughout the book, trying to keep Kevmo focused on the Force and their investigation, despite his obsession with Marda.  The other side character I really want to focus on is the Mother, the Path of the Open Hand’s mysterious leader who has managed to take over the cult through to her apparent strong connection to the Force.  The Mother serves as a rather compelling antagonist throughout the book, especially as you spend most of the time wondering if she is really Force sensitive, or whether she is running a long con on her followers.  An aloof and secretive antagonist, it soon becomes very clear that the Mother has her own objectives and plans that run contrary to that of her followers, and the full extent of them proves to be very exciting and destructive.  I felt that the Mother was an excellent alternative character for Path of Deceit, especially as her plans have some major long-term impacts on the point-of-view characters, and she has some dark secrets that need to be explored further.  These, and other characters, really add to the overall strength on the novel and I deeply enjoyed the way that Gratton and Ireland introduced them and took them through a fascinating emotional ride.

As with most Star Wars novels, I chose to check out Path of Deceit’s audiobook format, which was a pleasurable and fun experience as always.  At just over eight hours, this was a relatively quick audiobook, and I managed to knock it out pretty quickly.  This format did an excellent job of presenting Path of Deceit’s compelling narrative, and I had fun having this book read out to me.  However, the real joy of a Star Wars audiobook always lies in the excellent extra production elements that have been added in.  The classic Star Wars sound effects are used very well throughout Path of Deceit’s audiobook, and hearing blasters, lightsabers and even the sounds of people in the crowds, helps to drag listeners into the story and its surrounding universe.  However, I am always more impressed with the fantastic use of the iconic Star Wars musical score that is threaded through multiple scenes in the audiobook.  Path of Deceit has a pretty cool selection of scores playing throughout it, and I liked how the music often reflected the more rural setting and the mystical elements it was exploring.  The various bits of music work extremely well at enhancing key scenes throughout the book, and there were several times when the careful application of these tunes enhanced the emotional impact of the entire book.

On top of the cool sound effects and powerful musical inclusions, much of my enjoyment of Path of Deceit’s audiobook lies in the excellent narrator who was telling the story.  Path of Deceit is narrated by actress Erin Yvette, who has done a lot of voice work recently in the video game space.  While Yvette hasn’t provided narration for too many Star Wars books yet, she did a great job here in Path of Deceit, and I loved how she read out the book.  Yvette’s voice fits the young adult tone of this Star Wars novel extremely well, and she ensures that the compelling tale is effectively shared out to the listener.  In addition, she also provides a range of excellent voices to the various characters featured throughout the book.  Each of her voices really fits the respective character, and you get a real sense of their nature, their bearing, and their emotional state as you hear Yvette narrate them.  Not only does she capture the youthful nature of characters like Kevmo Zink and Marda Ro well, but she also gets the proper Jedi character Zallah Macri, the more self-serving voice of Yana Ro, and the mystical, manipulative voice of the Mother, down perfectly.  This voice work is pretty damn impressive, and when combined with audiobook’s sound effects and outstanding Star Wars music, it helps to turn the Path of Deceit audiobook into an outstanding experience.  This was such an awesome way to enjoy this latest High Republic novel, and audiobook remains my absolute favourite way to enjoy a Star Wars tie-in book.

I am feeling a heck of a lot better about the second phase of the High Republic after powering through Path of Deceit.  The wonderful team of Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland produced an outstanding young adult Star Wars novel that did a lot of remarkable things.  Featuring a well-crafted story that slowly but surely hooks you and some fantastic characters, Path of Deceit charts its own course while also brilliant tying into the High Republic novels that have come before.  I can’t wait to see where this phase goes following this impressive story in Path of Deceit and I am planning to read the next High Republic book as soon as I can.

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WWW Wednesday – 9 November 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Orphans by Fiona McIntosh (Trade Paperback)

The Orphans Cover

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Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer (Audiobook)

Dragon Mage Cover

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What did you recently finish reading?

The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham (Trade Paperback)

The Boys from Biloxi Cover

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Star Wars - Path of Deceit Cover

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Call of Empire by Peter Watt (Trade Paperback)

Call of Empire Cover

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Firefly: What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England

Firefly - What Makes Us Mighty Cover

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That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.