All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

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Publisher: Gollancz (Trade Paperback – 30 August 2022)

Series: All of Us Villains – Book Two

Length: 470 pages

My Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

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After wowing the world with their first collaboration, 2021’s All of Us Villains, the superstar young adult fiction team of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman return with the second book in their impressive duology, All of Our Demise, one of the most anticipated young adult fantasy releases of the year.

For generations, seven prominent families of the city of Ilvernath have each sacrificed one of their children to a legendary death tournament, the winner of which would secure the extremely powerful high magick for their family.  However, this latest tournament has not turned out like anyone expected.  Already exposed to the world thanks to a tell-all book, some of the champions, led by the seemingly heroic Briony Thorburn, are determined to break free from the bloody tournament that has long haunted their families.  But as they attempt to break the curse that binds the tournament to them by destroying the enchanted artefacts and locations associated with their families, their actions will have unexpected consequences on all around them.

For the first time in its history, the magical Blood Veil that physically separates the participants from the outside world has been broken and now everyone can witness the tournament unfold.  As reporters and members of the public swarm into the historic battleground as witnesses, the participants can return to Ilvernath and seek help from those in town.  The destruction of the Blood Veil seems proof that Briony’s plan is working, but not everyone wants the curse to end.

After the miraculous resurrection of his murdered brother, Hendry, Alistair Lowe believes that the only way he can keep Hendry alive is by winning the tournament.  After murdering his entire evil family and after being cursed by the girl he fell for, Alistair finds himself isolated with Hendry, unsure how to proceed.  However, he soon finds himself working with a surprising new ally in Gavin Grieve, the boy no-one expected to survive, and who has his own desperate reasons for working with the Lowes.  At the same time, the formerly glamorous Isobel Macaslan finds herself drawn to the mysterious Reid MacTavish, whose manipulation of the champions has brought nothing but trouble.  Determined to help Briony destroy the tournament, Isobel will break all the rules to survive, even if that means drafting Reid in against his will.

As the battle lines are drawn and the two groups of champions attempt to path their respective courses to victory, they find unexpected obstacles blocking their way.  Not only are the champions’ manipulative families attempting to sway events to their favour, but the media is determined to make all of them infamous in their own way.  Forced to battle each other both in the tournament and in the field of public opinion, the champions will face unbelievable tragedy and despair as they all try to survive.  However, the biggest threat to all of them may come from outside the tournament, and no-one is prepared for the evils waiting for them in the wider world.

Foody and Lynn Herman have delivered quite an impressive sequel here with All of Our Demise, which presents the reader with another epic and powerful story.  Building on the elaborate narrative and character arcs of All of Us Villains, All of Our Demise takes the reader on an exceptional emotional rollercoaster as they watch four extremely complex and distinctive point-of-view characters battle in impossible circumstances.  All of Our Demise ends up being just as good, if not a little better, than Foody and Lynn Herman’s first impressive outing, and it provides readers with an outstanding and memorable conclusion to this captivating young adult fantasy duology.

I’m still reeling a little bit about how All of Our Demise’s story turned out.  Foody and Lynn Hermann did a remarkable job with this sequel and the story continues seamlessly on from the events of the first book.  Told from the perspective of the four main characters, the death tournament focus of the story has evolved due to the events of All of Us Villains and the characters are now forced to contend with outside forces as they fight in an extended battleground.  The protagonists are now split down the middle as some fight to destroy the tournament for good, while they others try to keep it alive so they can win, either for their own survival or to save those closest to them.  All four protagonists have some brilliant character driven storylines around them, and each of them is fighting for something important to them, whether it be redemption, family, reputation, or respect.  In addition, the protagonists are still reeling from the events of All of Us Villains, and no-one has been left emotionally or physically untouched from the events of the first book.  This results in an emotionally heavy storyline, especially once everyone gets a taste of betrayal, either from the other champions or from other malign figures outside of the main group.  The story evolves at a great pace, and the authors chuck in some imaginative and clever twists as each group starts to get closer to their goal.  New relationships are built while others are torn down, and there are some very intense moments as scorned friends finally confront each other over past betrayals.  Everything leads up perfectly to the big conclusion, where there are some big sacrifices and some major changes in the lives of every protagonist as they reach their endgame.  I really appreciated how this impressive story came together, and you will be left shocked, moved and very satisfied with how this outstanding duology came to an end.

I think the excellent team of Foody and Lynn Herman did a remarkable job pulling All of Our Demise together, and this was an extremely well-written book.  As I mentioned above, this is a pretty epic sequel, and the authors strike off right after the cool cliff-hanger that All of Us Villains ended on.  All the great story elements from the first book are seamlessly continued here, and I really appreciated being able to jump straight into the narrative again.  While the authors do ensure that there is some exposition so that readers can remember what happened in the first book, I would say that All of Our Demise is a bit of a harder book to enjoy if you haven’t read All of Us Villains first.  There are some story and character gaps featured here that might be a bit hard to follow without having read the first book, so I would definitely recommend checking that out first.  Once you are into this story, there really isn’t a slow moment, as the characters are constantly engaged in some form of action, the enhanced intrigue surrounding the event, or a deep examination of their psyche and relationships, especially as they continue to examine the terrible events they have found themselves in.  While All of Our Demise is a bit of a brick, you honestly are never left feeling bored or stuck, and you frankly can’t help but move forward as you are drawn into this elaborate tale.  I really think that the split between the four protagonists is handled perfectly as well, and it ensures you get a well-balanced narrative and substantial time to dive into their respective and impressive character arcs.  This was one of those young adult novels that has a lot of appeal both for its target teen audience, and much older readers, as everyone will deeply appreciate its clever storylines and deeply relatable characters.  I felt that All of Our Demise came together exceptionally well, and this ended up being quite an outstanding and addictive read.

I must make special note of the cool death tournament that is such a fantastic feature of this amazing duology.  I love a great young adult death tournament scenario (who doesn’t?), and the one featured in All of Us Villains and All of Our Demise is particularly inventive, loaded with a unique history, fun magical features, and all manner of devastating tragedy.  I was really impressed with how the authors set up and featured this elaborate tournament in the previous book, and they continue to utilise it throughout All of Our Demise.  The constant fight to survive the lethal tournament becomes even more complicated throughout this second book, and it was fascinating to see how the characters deal with the pressure and the constant war they find themselves in.  There are some excellent features of the tournament that come into play in this second book, including the new magical artefacts and locations featured within that give them varying advantages.  These are generally short lived as the champions are determined to destroy them all, which not only requires them to learn more of their various family’s dark histories but forces them to engage in deadly challenges built into the tournament to destroy it.  These challenges are pretty epic, and it was great to see the protagonists involved in progressively more lethal encounters.

However, the most distinctive and entertaining change to the tournament that occurred in All of Our Demise was the sudden lack invasion of the public that occurred due to the breaking of the Blood Veil barrier.  The tournament has always historically been a private affair between the champions, but now the entire battle is a worldwide sensation being constantly reported on by the media.  It was quite fascinating and a little maddening to see the supposed sombre death tournament devolve further into a gaudy spectacle, equipped with baying fans, manipulative outsiders and a ton of paparazzi, all of whom have a very different view of the events occurring.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the ridiculous media coverage that occurred throughout this second part of the tournament, especially as various over-the-top and often blatantly false headlines and discussions of current tournament events appeared at the start of every chapter, replacing the quotes from the tell-all book that were featured in All of Us Villains.  This media coverage nearly always painted the complex characters in such a terrible light for the rest of world, which was a little hard to see, especially after you have become quite attached to the various protagonists.  However, I personally felt that it drew me into the narrative a little more, and it was a very entertaining and fun element that I had an amazing amount of fun with.  This media coverage had an interesting impact on the events of the narrative, as the characters are forced to conduct interviews and discussions with reporters to further their goals.  This entire change in the publicity of the tournament was a brilliant addition to this second book, and it altered the tone of the book in an impressive and amazing way, that really added to my enjoyment of the book.

However, the best thing about All of Our Demise was the exceptional character work featured within.  Foody and Lynn Herman did such a brilliant job setting up the four complex protagonists in All of Us Villains, and these impressive character arcs are continued seamlessly in the sequel, with each of the protagonists forced to deal with some of the further traumas that were inflicted on them in the first book.  All of Our Demise maintains the same four point-of-view characters as before, and I found myself instantly connected to them again as I remembered their compelling history and the devastating events that occurred to them in the first book.  The authors continued to perfectly build these characters throughout All of Our Demise, subjecting them to further trauma, emotional concerns and hardships, and watching them try to deal with these as they fight for their survival is a key and impressive part of this epic young adult book.

Probably the most compelling character in the entire duology is Alistair Lowe, who simultaneously plays the role of the best antagonist and an intriguing and likeable protagonist.  Alistair is the oldest son of the Lowe family, who are generally considered to be the major villains of the tournament.  Despite being raised from birth to be a monster, Alistair was hesitant about his role in the tournament and was initially a reluctant participant, even though he knew it was his destiny.  Thanks to his romantic interactions with fellow champion Isobel and the murder of his brother Hendry by his family to boost his chances, Alistair had a brief brush as being a hero and destroying the tournament with the others.  However, the apparent resurrection of Hendry by the tournament at the end of All of Us Villains caused Alistair to abandon his allies and attempt to kill Isobel as he believes their plan would result in his brother dying again.  Now fatally cursed and having taken brutal revenge on his family, Alistair is forced to re-envision himself as the villain once again to convince himself to kill the other champions, all to save the most important person in his life.

It is very hard not to appreciate Alistair as character as the authors have done an incredible job creating him and turning him into the most complex figure in the novel.  The authors really did a number on Alistair in the last book, and watching him try and work through all these issues here is extremely powerful, especially as he keeps experiencing more setbacks and traumas as he proceeds.  There is so much tragedy and emotional turmoil surrounding Alistair in this book, and the authors write an excellent arc around him for this sequel.  Watching him try to balance his desires and true nature with everyone’s perspective of him as a monster is just so damn fascinating and moving, and you can’t help but feel sorry for this fictional character.  I am glad that Foody and Lynn Herman did work in a redemption arc for Alistair in All of Our Demise, and there are some surprising, but very heartfelt relationships surrounding him in this novel that help to keep him going.  I really think that the authors handled Alistair perfectly, and he is definitely the character that everyone will remember once they finish this book.

Another character who you fall in love with Isobel Macaslan, another person who has gone through absolute hell through the course of the books.  Forced into the tournament against her will, Isobel tried to use her sudden infamy to her benefit and projected an air of confidence before the tournament, despite being terrified and used by her family.  Since then, she had an unfortunate romantic entanglement with Alistair Lowe which resulted in him murdering her.  Resurrected by a dark curse that makes her more corpse than woman, Isobel is in a very bad place during this book.  Still controlled by doubt and despair, Isobel is uncertain about whether she believes in the plan her friends are proposing and spends most of the book coming to terms with her fears and her growing attachment to another dangerous character.  Throw in some major family issues, as she continues to struggle with her selfish family, and a hostile press who produce some typical paparazzi junk about her, and you some excellent and compelling moments around Isobel that are fascinating to see.  Isobel continues to experience quite a lot of tragedy in this novel and watching her power through them and try to fix all her damaged relationships is a great part of the plot.

The third point-of-view character is Briony Thorburn, who serves quite a key role in the plot.  Briony has seen herself as the hero her entire life and was the only person excited for the tournament.  However, after her younger sister was chosen in her place thanks to the machinations of the government, Briony illegally entered the tournament by incapacitating her sister and cutting her finger off.  Now determined to destroy the tournament, Briony leads the charge to destroy the artefacts and landmarks.  However, there are some major concerns about her actual motivations, as many assume this part of her manipulative hero complex.  Briony spends most of the book trying to redeem herself after the mistakes of the first novel, a task that is complicated by her own family, who have their own sinister plans for her and the other champions.  Mentally isolated and hated by the media, Briony has a terrible time in All of Our Demise, and the authors weave some powerful moments around her.  I honestly think that Briony had one of the best and most complete narratives in the entire series, and All of Our Demise brought her character arc together extremely well.  Like the rest of the cast, it is very hard not to grow attached to Briony as you witness her complicated physical and mental battles unfold, and I really appreciated the outstanding way it ended.

The final main character is Gavin Grieve, who proved to be one of the most surprising and captivating characters from the first book.  The chosen sacrifice of the one family who has never won the tournament, Gavin always knew he was destined to die.  Full of rage and resentment, Gavin chose to make a deal with the devil and accessed a dangerous form of magick that drained his own life to gain substantial power.  Made into a lethal contender but slowly dying, Gavin is convinced by outside forces that they can save him, but they require him to work with Alistair Lowe.  Forced to overcome his own prejudices, most of which revolve from the perceived disrespect of the other champions, Gavin grows close to Alistair, and they form an interesting team.  I was really surprised by the direction of Gavin’s storylines in this book, especially as there are some fantastic reveals and changes in personality.  The authors did a great job of explaining his changes in personality, and I felt that it was quite a natural transition, especially when you consider everything he’s gone through.  Gavin rounded out the central cast of damaged, complex protagonists, extremely well, and I thought that this was a brilliant combination of characters.  Their combined complex storylines and arcs are just superb, and while you might get a little more drawn in to one or two of the characters more than the rest, there is no perspective that you are actively wanting to avoid.  I cannot highlight just how impressive these four characters were, and Foody and Lynn Herman should be commended for the exceptional character work they did here.

The wonderful and insanely talented team of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman have come up with something truly special with All of Our Demise.  Perfectly finishing the brilliant story started in All of Us Villains, All of Our Demise lived up to all the hype surrounding it and ended up being one of the best young adult fantasy books of the year.  Featuring all the great characters from the first book, Foody and Lynn Herman weave an addictive and deeply personal narrative around them that takes the reader back into the midst of a constantly evolving and deeply traumatising magical death tournament.  Intense, captivating and very complex, All of Our Demise is a highly recommended read, and I cannot have envisioned a better end for the exceptional young adult duology.

All of Our Demise Cover

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WWW Wednesday – 21 September 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 Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik (Trade Paperback)

The Golden Enclaves Cover Better

After receiving a copy of this book last week there was no way I wasn’t immediately going to start reading The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik.  The epic sequel to A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate, The Golden Enclaves is one of my most anticipated novels of 2022, especially after the epic cliff-hanger Novik left at the end of The Last Graduate.  I am about 50 pages into The Golden Enclaves and it is so far opening up some intriguing storylines.  I can’t wait to see how this complex and brilliant fantasy trilogy comes to an end and I have no doubt that The Golden Enclaves is going to be one of the absolute best novels of 2022.

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The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman (Audiobook)

The Bullet That Missed Cover

Another must read novel I managed to start this week was The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman.  The third book in his awesome Thursday Murder Club series, The Bullet That Missed follows on from The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, both of which were incredible reads.  This new book follows the titular Thursday Murder Club, four unusual retirees with a talent for solving crimes, as they investigate another compelling murder.  Loaded with amazing humour, an excellent mystery and some sensational characters, The Bullet That Missed is another top book of 2022 that I am having an epic time listening to.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris (Trade Paperback)

Act of Oblivion Cover

An outstanding novel that follows the hunt for two of the men responsible for the execution of King Charles I as they flee to the American colonies to escape the British.  I had a blast reading Act of Oblivion and it was an excellent and captivating novel with a fascinating historical story behind it.  One of the most intriguing novels of the year, this book comes highly recommended.

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Warhammer 40,000: Outgunned by Denny Flowers (audiobook)

Warhammer 40,000 - Outgunned Cover

I managed to knock off the incredible Warhammer 40,000 audiobook, Outgunned by Denny Flowers this week, and it was pretty amazing.  The second novel from Flowers (he wrote the excellent Fire Made Flesh last year) this was an exceptional Warhammer book that had a deeply impressive plot to it.  A must-read for all Warhammer fanatics.

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Oath of Loyalty by Kyle Mills (Audiobook)

Oath of Loyalty Cover

I also managed to start and finish that latest epic Mitch Rapp novel this week with Oath of Loyalty by Kyle Mills.  Following on from some of the storylines set up in the previous books Red WarLethal AgentTotal Power and Enemy at the Gates, Oath of Loyalty saw badass protagonist Mitch Rapp step up to a corrupt president, who sets a deadly group of assassins to hunt down everyone he loves.  This was another amazing and compelling spy thriller adventure and I really loved how everything turned out.  A fantastic and very fun read.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis

Star Wars - The Princess and the Scoundrel Cover

I have several great books to check out next, but the one I think I’ll try hardest to read is the new Star Wars release, The Princess and the Scoundrel.  I was hoping to get to it this week, but got distracted by a few other books I got my hands on.  Still, I think I will try even harder to make this book a priority for the next week as I have heard some excellent stuff about this book, and I am very excited to get to grips with a novel that explores the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia in the current Star Wars canon.  Set to feature both their wedding and their turbulent honeymoon, this is a must-read for all Star Wars fans, and I know I intend to read it as soon as I can.

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The Martyr by Anthony Ryan

The Martyr Cover

In the next week I am hoping to finally read the new Anthony Ryan book, The Martyr, which was one of my most anticipated books of the year.  The sequel to the impressive 2021 novel, The Pariah, The Martyr looks set to continue the brilliant fantasy adventure about a young bandit turned scribe who finds his fate bound to multiple inspirational people in this cool fantasy realm.  This new book will see him continue to follow a living saint as she goes to war against her nation’s church and crown.  I cannot wait to read this exceptional novel and I know I am going to deeply, deeply enjoy it.

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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 – Retribution and Headcase

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 two fantastic upcoming crime fiction novels from some of the very best authors Australia has to offer.

Due to my location I tend to receive a lot of fiction written by Australian authors and I have really grown to appreciate the talent that my countrymen have for writing brilliant crime fiction reads.  I have already had the pleasure of reading some truly impressive Australian murder mysteries and thrillers this year, including several great debuts.  However, for this post I want to highlight two outstanding sequels coming out later this year that I am very excited for.  Both books are written by exceptional writers, and I can’t wait to see how their respective series continue.

Retribution Cover

The first book I want to look is Retribution by Sarah Barrie.  Last year Barrie presented an incredible and deeply powerful book in Unforgiven, a gripping Australian thriller that ended up being one of the best Australian fiction releases of 2021Unforgiven followed former child abuse victim turned vigilante, Lexi Winter, who spends her days hunting down and destroying paedophiles around Sydney.  However, Lexi is forced to work with the detective who failed her years ago when evidence emerges that suggests that the monster from her past is still out there.  This resulted in an impressive and deeply captivating read that saw Lexi and the police dive into a particularly dark part of Sydney’s criminal underbelly only to be thwarted at every turn by a master manipulator.  I had an outstanding time with this book, and I was utterly enthralled all the way to the final epic twist, especially as Barrie left the story open for a potential sequel.

This sequel is set for release in a few months’ time with the intriguing follow-up RetributionRetribution, which has a release date of 30 November 2022, will bring back the main characters from the first book and set them on a new thrilling case, as threads from the previous investigation continue to haunt them.  I am quite excited for this new book, especially as it will feature an evolution for the compelling main protagonist, while also continuing the dark crime fiction elements that Barrie set up so well in the first book.  I have no doubt that this is going to be one of the most intense Australian reads of 2022 and I can’t wait to see how this latest mystery unfolds.

Plot Synopsis:

Once a vigilante, she’s now a cop … but she still plays by her own rules. A fast-paced, suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

Ace hacker, ex-prostitute, Jack Daniels drinker and part-time vigilante Lexi Winter returns, now working with the police – mostly – with a new enemy in the target and an old foe at the back of her mind.

Most probationary constables would baulk at chasing a drug dealer into a train tunnel in the dead of night. Not Lexi Winter. She emerges injured but alive, to face the wrath of her boss. Lexi may now be in uniform, but she has as much trouble with authority as ever, and is quietly using her hacking skills to investigate a notorious drug-dealing Sydney crime family with links to her old prey, the paedophile Damon Vaughn.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Finn Carson investigates a death on a Sydney building site … which oddly enough, leads him to the picturesque Wondabyne station on the Hawkesbury River, and Inspector Rachael Langley oversees an investigation that could tie it all together. Lexi holds the key … if only she’ll toe the line …

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The next upcoming book I want to highlight is Headcase, written by fellow Canberran Jack Heath.  Heath is swiftly working his way up the list of Australia’s best crime fiction authors, especially as he has delivered some absolutely cracking reads in the last couple of years.  While he has written some great young adult thrillers, Heath is probably best known for his ongoing Timothy Blake series, which follows a deranged cannibalistic serial killer as he investigates impossible crimes throughout America.  The Timothy Blake books are thrilling, gory and utterly entertaining reads, and I had a lot of fun with the last book, Hideout (one of my favourite Australian releases of 2020), which saw Blake trapped in a house with a group of other serial killers, which predictably resulted in a massive bloodbath.  I also deeply enjoyed Heath’s last book, Kill Your Brother, a five-star read that saw a woman caught in a terrible situation where the only way to survive is to kill a fellow captive, her beloved brother.  Loaded with clever twists and with some amazing characters, Kill Your Brother was an exceptional read that has made extremely keen in checking out anything else Heath releases.

Headcase Cover

Luckily for me, Heath has a new book coming out in a few months’ time, and I am very happy to see that it is another Timothy Blake thriller.  This new Timothy Blake entry, which is set for release around the same time as Retribution, has the very intriguing title of Headcase, and it sounds like it is going to be quite the awesome read.  Following the psychotic Blake as he investigates a mysterious murder of a Chinese astronaut in a highly secure NASA base, Headcase sounds pretty damn epic book that will blend together a spy thriller narrative, with the dark psychological aspects of Heath’s amazing protagonist.  I have a feeling that Headcase is going to be one of the craziest books of 2022 and I will love every single second I spend reading it.

Plot Synopsis:

Timothy Blake returns in a tense, unputdownable thriller from the author of Hangman.

A Chinese astronaut is found dead in a NASA training environment in Houston, Texas. No one can explain how he got there. Amid fears of a diplomatic catastrophe, the CIA dispatches Timothy ‘Hangman’ Blake to investigate, because a convicted kidnapper works in the facility – someone Blake put away a long time ago.

Blake is deeply insane, afflicted by terrible urges he can barely control – but he’s also brilliant. Zara, his beautiful and deadly CIA handler, suspects a secret Chinese spacecraft is surveilling the United States, but Blake can see something much more sinister is going on. Something connected to the kidnapping seven years ago, to the technologies being developed at NASA, and to the serial killer known as the Texas Reaper.

Will Blake survive long enough to uncover the truth? And if he does, will anyone even believe him?

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Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday required participants to list the top upcoming books on their Fall (Spring down here in the Southern hemisphere) to be read list.  However, I addressed that a couple of weeks ago, so that leaves me with a bit of a free topic this week.  I decided to fill this extra list by looking at one of my absolute favourite series of all time, the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett.

I have long been a fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which, in my opinion, is one of the absolute best series of all time.  Made up of 41 separate novels and running from 1983 to 2015, the Discworld novels are a fantasy institution from one of the most talented authors ever.  Set on a flat world shaped like a disc that travels through space on the back of four elephants, who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle, this world is filled with all manner of crazy and over-the-top people, creatures, gods and monsters, and this results in an amazing number of stories.  All 41 books feature amazing and highly unique story that perfectly blends outrageous fantasy elements with clever and relentless humour and satire.  I have read every Discworld novel multiple times, and in my opinion, everyone is a masterpiece in their own way.  Heck, I am such a big fan of this series that I even named this blog after a location in the Discworld universe, that’s how much I love them.

While the Discworld novels are never that far from my mind, I have been thinking about them a lot more lately, mainly because I have been featuring some of them on my recent top ten lists.  My lists that highlighted my favourite Books with Magical Schools, Favourite Books Written More than Ten Years Ago and Hilarious Book Titles have all featured a few Discworld books, and it turns out I have a hard time not going on about Pratchett’s work on a weekly basis.  Naturally, this has gotten me thinking more and more about the Discworld books, and I will probably embark on a new re-read of them sooner or later.  However, before I get around to that, I thought I would have a go at listing my absolute favourite Discworld novels, as that will make an interesting list.

Now, why I deeply enjoy this entire series, not all Discworld novels are created equal.  Several shine above the rest in my opinion, whether because they have better jokes, a more compelling plot, or a more impressive and elaborate premise.  As such, I felt reasonably confident that I could choose the ten entries (with some honourable mentions) that I enjoy the most.  I have based this list on several factors, including humour, plot, world-building, characters and many other features.  This allowed me to determine my favourite Discworld books, although I had to make some hard choices to settle on a final top ten, as all of them are very good.  I was eventually able to whittle it down to my list, and I think the results match my overall preference rather well.  While most of them are from Pratchett’s golden years and are in the middle of the Discworld release back, I think there is a good variety here, and that the list below really showcases the outstanding and amazing depth that Pratchett always had.  So let us see what made the cut.

Honourable Mentions:

Interesting Times – 1994

Interesting Times Cover

A rambling good read that sees one of Pratchett’s most iconic protagonists visit this world’s version of Asia.  Loaded with some brilliant jokes (the multiple translations of a person’s scream), a ton of fun references to Asian culture, and some outrageous characters, Interesting Times is an excellent read that also offers a little closure for the first two Discworld books.

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Feet of Clay – 1996

Feet of Clay Cover

The third City Watch novel, Feet of Clay is a brilliant murder mystery novel that makes full use of its fantasy and comedy to create an epic read.  Featuring several great mysteries, including a series of murders committed by a Golem and the poisoning of the city’s ruler, you really get dragged into the story while loving Pratchett’s excellent solutions and hilarious inclusions.

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The Truth – 2000

The Truth Cover

Pratchett introduces print journalism to the Discworld in this clever standalone entry.  Following an ambitious reporter who creates Ankh-Morpork’s first newspaper, only to get dragged into a big conspiracy, The Truth is an ambitious and very exciting entry that perfectly parodies everything about newspapers.  Loaded with jokes about everything from dodgy advertisers, stupid human interest pieces, and even featuring a trashy alternate paper, this is perfect for anyone familiar with the crazy newspapers of London.

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Night Watch – 2002

Night Watch Cover

Another exceptional City Watch book is the later entry, Night Watch, which sees Vimes, transported back into the past by magic with a dangerous serial killer.  Forced to relive his traumatic early days on the watch, Vimes must keep his younger self alive while also navigating a dangerous revolution he remembers all too well.  With a compelling narrative that mirrors Les Misérables and some great time-travel elements, Night Watch is one of the more distinctive reads in the series.  While it gets a lot darker than some of the other Discworld novels, it is still extremely addictive, and fits into the rest of the series perfectly

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Top Ten List:

Pyramids – 1989

Pyramids Cover

The first entry on my top ten list is the classic Pratchett novel, Pyramids.  A standalone entry in the series, Pyramids tells the story of a young prince of a river valley kingdom, very similar to Egypt, who returns home after receiving training as an assassin in Ankh-Morpork (the biggest city on the Discworld and a major setting).  Upon claiming the throne, he tries to fight against the tradition of his kingdom, with limited effect, until the kingdom’s overuse of pyramids creates major temporal issues for the entire valley (its all down to bad geometry).  Loaded with so many jokes about ancient Egypt, this is a hilarious fish-out-of-water tale that is very hard to put down.  There are a ton of great moments in this novel, including the best look at the legendary Assassin’s Guild, an impromptu rugby game between the gods over the sun (with commentary from an overexcited priest), and an army of mummies pissed off at being buried without their organs.  I have probably read this Discworld novel the most out of any of them, and I get something new out of it every time I pick it up.  An exceptional, and extremely funny read.

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Guards! Guards! – 1989

Guards! Guards! Cover

One of the more interesting aspects of the Discworld series is the way that Pratchett featured several smaller sub-series which follow specific characters.  My favourite of these is easily the City Watch books, which follow the underpaid and constantly underestimated watchmen of the infamous, crime-ridden city of Ankh-Morpork.  Perfectly blending Pratchett’s typical humour and fantasy elements with hard-boiled detective narratives, the City Watch books are some of the best entries in this series, and I love the unique blend of characters and highly entertaining and enthralling narratives.  The first City Watch entry, Guards! Guards! is definitely one of Pratchett’s best novels, and I constantly rave about it when I do lists about funny books.  Not only does it do a great job introducing several iconic characters who Pratchett would reuse throughout the rest of the series, but it has an outstanding narrative to it.  Following the depleted and useless Night Watch, made up of a drunk captain, a hopeless sergeant and a criminally minded corporal as they attempt to solve a series of murders caused by a magically summoned dragon.  Joined by a new eager, if slightly oblivious new recruit, who definitely isn’t the city’s returning king, the Night Watch embark on an ambitious investigation against cultists, dragon hunters and city’s massive criminal class.  Guards! Guards! is fantastic on so many levels, and there is something for everyone in it.

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Moving Pictures – 1990

Moving Pictures Cover

One of the things that the Discworld novels excel at is parody and satire of certain social, historical or cultural elements, with everything from countries, ancient empires and entire trades lovingly mocked.  Perhaps one of the best examples of this is Moving Pictures, a mostly standalone read that sees the art of film appear on the Discworld, becoming an instant hit.  Soon an alternate version of Hollywood appears, and various characters jump at the chance to make over-the-top films, which are accompanied by a vast array of jokes and references about classic movies, film making tropes and actors.  Naturally for a Discworld book, nothing is what it seems, and the heroes are forced to face off against interdimensional monsters coming out of the screens.  In addition, the iconic Unseen University setting gets some stability as a new Arch-Chancellor arrives, shaking up the wizards.  I love this book on so many levels, especially as Pratchett has so much fun satirising the film industry here.  Everything is lampooned here, such as Gone with the Wind (accompanied with subliminal advertising), King Kong (except a giant woman kidnaps an ape), The Wizard of Oz (the dwarfs of the Discworld will never be the same again), and so much more.  I can’t even count the sheer number of movie references featured here, and I discover a new clever joke every time I read Moving Pictures.  Pratchett also manages to introduce or expand on several great secondary characters who will go on to have major roles in other books in the series, so it turns out to be a surprisingly key book.  Impressive and wonderful on so many levels, Moving Pictures was an easy inclusion for this list.

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Witches Abroad – 1991

Witches Abroad Cover

Another one of the top Discworld sub-series is the Witches books, which unsurprisingly follows a group of witches (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick), in several unique adventures.  Unlike the characters they are based on from Macbeth, the witches are a force for good and help the local villages primarily with headology (psychology and folk medicine parcelled up with mystical overtones) and the occasional magic.  The witches make for an excellent group of central characters, and Pratchett told some exceptional stories with them.  While Wyrd Sisters and Lords and Ladies are both pretty epic reads, my favourite Witches book is Witches Abroad.  As the name suggests, this book see the three protagonists embark on a holiday to a faraway kingdom (essentially New Orleans), to fulfil a fairy godmother’s last wish.  Along the way they are forced to confront a series of twisted fairy tale scenarios, their own internal bickering, and an evil fairy godmother from Granny Weatherwax’s past.  Armed only with a wand that is permanently set to pumpkin mode, the witches must deploy their usual trickery to save the day.  This entire novel is pretty epic, as it not only captures the protagonists in all their amazing glory, but it has a powerful story that expertly blends humour and drama.  A lot of the narrative focuses on the dark side of fairy tales, and Pratchett has fun satirising so many classic stories in very clever ways.  However, my favourite scene is the fantastic sequence where Granny Weatherwax uses headology to completely destroy a group of card sharks who had conned her friends.  Extremely inventive, memorable and oh so funny, I just had to feature Witches Abroad here.

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Small Gods – 1992

Small Gods Cover

The next entry on this list is in my opinion, some of Pratchett’s best work.  The 13th Discworld novel, Small Gods has a standalone narrative which sees Pratchett examine religion and belief.  The story follows Brutha, a somewhat simple lad who lives in a vast imperial theocracy that is centred around the worship of the Great God Om.  However, Brutha is shocked when he discovers a talking tortoise only he can understand who claims to be the actual Om.  Forced to take the tortoise along on a great adventure, Brutha discovers the corruption at the heart of his empire and must fight to save it, himself, and his god.  This is a particularly clever novel from Pratchett and a very worth addition to this list.  The author pulls together a very thoughtful and captivating read that examines the various pros and cons of religion, worship and gods in a very thoughtful, but still humorous way.  The mixture of theological debate, adventure, and the brilliant satire of religion, results in a very impressive read, and it is guaranteed to leave you both laughing and pensive at the same time.  The book’s main strength is the outstanding interactions of the two main characters, and the growing relationship between an arrogant put powerless god, and his simple but deeply wise believer, sets an impressive tone for the entire book.  I would say that Small Gods is one of the most intelligent and compelling books of the entire Discworld series and I cannot hype it up enough.

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Men at Arms – 1993

Men At Arms Cover

After wowing everyone with Guards! Guards! Pratchett mercifully brought back the City Watch characters and storylines again with a fantastic sequel, Men at Arms.  This book sees a retiring Captain Vimes and his team try and stop a madman who is running around the city killing people with the Disc’s first gun.  Featuring another exceptional mystery that involves assassins, clowns and a literal species war between dwarfs and trolls, Pratchett switches the tone of this book from the hardboiled detective story of Guards! Guards! to a more typical police narrative like Dirty Harry.  Loaded with fantastic cop humour and introducing several great new characters, Men at Arms is just as good as the first City Watch book, while also expertly setting up some story elements for the rest of the series.  Guaranteed to appeal to both fantasy fans and crime fiction buffs, Men at Arms is one hell of a read.

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Hogfather – 1996

Hogfather Cover

All Pratchett fans will know that one of the most surprising loveable recurring characters in the entire Discworld series is Death, the literal grim reaper, who appears in pretty much every book.  Initially shown to as a resolute soul taker, Death evolves into quite a personable and likeable figure who is obsessed with the humans he’s tasked with reaping.  This obsession eventually compels him to adopt a daughter and take on an apprentice, which leads to the first Death book, Mort.  Pratchett wrote several Death novels over his career, many of which dealt with Death’s growing love of humanity, while also involving attacks on reality by outside forces.  While I have a lot of love for Reaper Man and Soul Music, my favourite Death novel is probably Hogfather.  After the Hogfather (this universe’s version of Santa) is murdered, Death steps into the role for unknown reasons.  This forces his granddaughter, Susan, to investigate the disappearance and try to bring back the Hogfather.  This results in an extremely entertaining and silly book that satirises all things Christmas and festive in one fantastic outing.  Most of the humour revolves around Death pretending to be Santa, which leads to all manner of confusion and fear, that is so much fun to see.  Throw in a very memorable villain and a great secondary storyline around the crazy wizards at the Unseen University accidently inventing gods, and this is one of the funniest books in the series.  A very entertaining and compelling Discworld novel, you will never look at Christmas the same again after reading it.

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Jingo – 1997

Jingo Cover

For the next entry on this list, Jingo, I must admit that my choice to include it here might be for more personal reasons, rather than purely on the quality of the book.  That is because Jingo was the first Pratchett book I ever properly read, and it has led to my subsequent lifelong obsession with all things Discworld.  I still have my first copy of Jingo, and it is extra special for me because I managed to get Terry to sign it for me.  So yeah, I might be a little biased when it comes to Jingo, but I maintain it is a worthy addition to this list as it has a brilliant and hilarious story to it.  The fourth entry in the City Watch sub-series, Jingo sees Commander Vimes and his men caught up in a brewing war between Ankh-Morpork and the rival empire of Klatch when both claim a mysterious new island that rose in the ocean between them.  After an attempted assassination of a Klatchian prince occurs on Vimes’ watch, he leads the city watch in an impromptu invasion of Klatch to find the killer and stop the war.  I deeply enjoyed Jingo’s brilliant and very clever story and it was a very worthy addition to the City Watch series.  The humour in Jingo is a bit more subtle than some of Pratchett’s other novels, with most of the jokes satirising British imperialism, diplomacy, politics, and its view of foreigners, with a ton of references to historical wars and conflicts that Britain had against its neighbours.  While some of the jokes are a tad obscure, they are all extremely well set up, and they always get a chuckle out of me.  Throw in some brilliant references about a lone bowman assassin, an espionage mission with Sergeant Colon and a cross-dressing Corporal Nobbs that has mixed success, and the always charismatic Captain Carrot turning into Lawrence of Arabia and arresting two entire armies for breaches of the peace, and you have a really entertaining narrative.  Jingo is always a must read for me whenever I revisit the Discworld universe, as well as being an essential entry in the deeply impressive City Watch books that comes highly recommended.

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The Last Continent – 1998

The Last Continent Cover

Another Pratchett book that I have a little bias for is The Last Continent, which is probably one of my absolute favourite Discworld novels.  The sixth book to feature the cowardly wizzard (not a typo) Rincewind as its protagonist, The Last Continent takes place on the lost continent of XXXX, which is essentially the Discworld’s version of Australia (despite certain assurances from the author that any similarities to Australia are coincidental at best).  This book follows Rincewind after he is tricked into another heroic quest that sees him traverse the continent, often mimicking various Australian folk heroes or cultural icons.  At the same time, the wizards of Unseen University, in an attempt to find Rincewind, get themselves trapped back in time and must escape from an enthusiastic god of evolution with their usual chaotic shenanigans.  Pratchett has a lot of fun with The Last Continent, and there isn’t a single piece of Australian culture or history that he doesn’t make fun of here.  As an Australian myself, I can’t help but laugh at all his fun and well-written Australian jokes and it was interesting to see his British take on my country.  I also have a lot of love for the evolution centred jokes that occur during the secondary storyline, many of which I didn’t fully appreciate until after I studied biology at university.  This is probably one of the better Rincewind novels as well, especially as the character now full appreciates his role in the universe, and his resentment at being dragged into a heroic quest is quite hilarious.  Him, plus the fantastically written Unseen University wizards, make for a sensational cast, and their two storylines come together perfectly.  There is no way that I can exclude Pratchett’s love-letter to Australia from this list, and it will always have a very special place in my heart.

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Going Postal – 2004

Going Postal Cover

The final entry on the list is Going Postal, which I feel is one of Pratchett’s best later books.  Featuring a very different tone from some of his previous books, Going Postal is a very distinctive read that is very hard not to enjoy.  Introducing a new protagonist in Moist von Lipwig, a notorious conman who is captured by Ankh-Morpork’s tyrannical leader, Lord Vetinari, and given two options: death or running the city’s post office.  Reluctantly choosing the later, Lipwig soon lives to regret his decision, as everyone and everything associated with the post office is absolutely crazy.  Forced to use all his talent, skill and instincts as a conman to save the post, Lipwig tries to rise to the occasion, only to contend with the ruthless chairman of a rival company who is determined to kill him.  It is a testament to Pratchett’s writing skill that he could make anything, even the post office, ruthlessly entertaining, as you swiftly fall in love with the hilarious over-the-top employees and associates of this crazy establishment.  Lipwig himself is the perfect protagonist for this book, and Pratchett wrote a brilliant redemptive storyline around him as he attempts to save his new friends with all his old tricks.  While this book is extremely funny, I also felt that Going Postal benefited from a somewhat darker tone than the preceding books, while  Pratchett also examines the benefits and costs of progress and new technology.  This darker tone would persist for the rest of Pratchett’s adult Discworld novels, and I have often thought that Pratchett included it in response to his growing health issues.  As such, I often look on Going Postal with a little sadness, especially as it was probably the best book he wrote towards the end of his career.  However, despite that, Going Postal is probably one of the Discworld books I have read the most and I would strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone interested in this outstanding series.

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So, as you can see from this exceptionally long list, I have a lot of love for the Discworld series and can write a ton about all the books.  While I deeply enjoy all the Discworld novels, the ten featured above are my absolute favourite now, and I cannot recommend them enough, especially if you want a laugh or an uplifting tale to brighten your day.  This is a list I might come back to in the future, especially if I do another reread and re-evaluate my positions.  I have been thinking about trying to read all of them again soon, especially as I recently found out that the Discworld audiobooks have all been re-released, this time with an amazing voice cast, including Colin Morgan, Peter Serafinowicz, Billy Nighy, Andy Serkis and Indira Varma.  As such, stay tuned for more reviews of the Discworld books soon, and I look forward to returning to my ultimate comfort book series.  In the meantime, let me know what your favourite Discworld book is in the comments below.

Warhammer 40,000: Outgunned by Denny Flowers

Warhammer 40,000 - Outgunned Cover

Publisher: Black Library (Audiobook – 20 August 2022)

Series: Warhammer 40,000

Length: 10 hours

My Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

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One of the fastest rising stars of Warhammer fiction, Denny Flowers, returns with his second novel in the Warhammer 40,000 canon, Outgunned, a deeply compelling and epic novel with a twisty and powerful story.

Last year I was lucky enough to read an interesting and memorable Warhammer 40,000 novel, Fire Made Flesh.  The debut novel of Denny Flowers, who had previously written some interesting Warhammer 40,000 short stories, Fire Made Flesh was part of the Necromunda subseries and told a fantastic story about warring factions in a spooky underworld town.  I had a lot of fun reading Fire Made Flesh, and it ended up being one of the better debuts I read in 2021.  As such, I have been eager to see how Flowers was going to follow up this debut, and I was deeply excited when I saw that he had a new novel coming out, the intriguing Outgunned.

In the far future, the soldiers of the Imperium of Man fight monsters and aliens on many battlefields and there is always a need for fresh bodies to fill the gaps in the ranks.  That is where Kile Simlex comes in.  A talented propagandist, Simlex excels at creating moving cinematic picts to inspire the people and increase recruitment to the Astra Militarum.  However, Simlex desires greater realism and seeks to travel to a battlefield to gain real footage for his greatest pict yet.

Travelling to the fetid swamp planet of Bacchus, Propagandist Simlex plans to chronicle the adventures of the Aeronautica Imperialis, the brave flying aces who traverse the skies, fighting in deadly aerial combat against the rampaging ork hordes.  In particular, he hopes to make a pict about legendary fighter ace, Lucille von Shard, considered to be the greatest pilot in the Imperium, to turn her into a renowned hero.  However, not everything is as it seems on Bacchus, and Simlex’s attempts to get footage may cost him everything.

Soon after arriving, Simlex begins to realise that the war on Bacchus is not going to plan.  The undermanned Aeronautica forces are being overwhelmed by the supposedly crude orks who have created an elaborate fleet of fighters and are slowly destroying Imperial forces from a hidden base.  At the same time, a mysterious sickness is destroying the planet itself, while its governor is determined to downplay the war no matter the cost.

However, his biggest threat may come from his chosen subject, as Lucille von Shard is an arrogant and disobedient pilot who has only avoided execution due to her peerless flying abilities.  Determined to make the situation work, Simlex attempts to chronicle the reluctant Shard’s skills, while also investigating the strange occurrences on Bacchus.  But is even the legendary Lucille von Shard capable of defeating the mysterious enemy waiting for them within the clouds?  The Green Storm hungers for combat, and the entire Imperium may shake as it approaches.

This was a superb and deeply impressive Warhammer 40,000 read that really highlights Flower’s growing skill as a science fiction writer.  Containing a unique and highly addictive narrative, Outgunned was an outstanding read that blended an exceptional story with some impressive glances at the wider Warhammer 40,000 universe.  I had an amazing time getting through this book and it was one of the more exciting and compelling Warhammer novels of 2022 so far.

I must admit that while I deeply enjoyed Outgunned’s brilliant narrative, it honestly wasn’t what I was expecting when I first started reading it.  Rather than a completely combat/military focused story about battles in the sky, Outgunned is a powerful and intense story that spends just as much time examining the darker aspects of the Imperium of Man as it does facing off against the ork threat.  This becomes clear very early on, especially as the opening introduction from Simlex hints at the deceit, cover-up and lies that are to come.  However, I was still unprepared for the full extent of the fantastic narrative that Flowers came up with, as he blends a lot of complex themes and components with some exceptional character work and clever universe expansions to create something truly special.

Outgunned’s narrative starts off hard and fast, quickly introducing Simlex and his propagandist ways, as well as his intentions on Bacchus, before throwing him briefly into the fray and introducing his fellow protagonist, Shard.  From there, Simlex attempts to film the flying aces in action, but he soon begins to realise that the supposedly stupid orks have developed a giant fleet of sophisticated airships and are slowly winning the battle against the Aeronautica Imperialis.  As he attempts to learn more about this, he finds himself drawn into a major conspiracy as Bacchus’s governor is determined to minimalize the impacts of the ork invasion and is actively working against it.  This forces Simlex to engage in multiple efforts, including diving into the past of his desired subject, the prickly and secretive Shard and flying on several missions against the orks, only to discover just how organised and deadly they are.  At the same time, he also attempts to understand what is truly going on with Bacchus and its people, as he finds many strange elements to them, including a spreading disease and a corrupt leader.  These well set up storylines are not only quite compelling and intriguing in their own right but they come together to tell a complex and impressive story that I was deeply addicted to.  I loved the mysteries and intrigues featured within this story, and they blended extremely well with the more combat orientated aspects of the plot and the unique character interactions that Flowers included.  Everything comes together extremely well at the end, and I loved some of the brilliant revelations and secrets that come out as the story concludes.  The entire narrative leads up to an excellent final fiery confrontation with the orks, which ties in nicely to many of the story elements featured throughout the book.  This is an overall excellent and powerful narrative that will really draw you in, especially with its unique look at the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

I deeply enjoyed the way that Flowers set out Outgunned’s narrative as there are so many great elements to it.  Told in a chronicle format from Propagandist Simlex’s perspective as he recalls the events in a more realistic and negative light.  This works to tell quite an intriguing tale, especially as you get some hints of the events of the future, and the negative tint that Simlex gives to the book’s narrative was a fantastic overall tone.  Despite this interesting narration choice, this novel has a brilliant, fast pace to it and the reader is never left in a dull spot, as there is always some cool action, fascinating intrigue or powerful dive into a character occurring throughout.  I loved the balance of story elements, and I must highlight the fantastic moments where Simlex works on his propaganda picts and dives through his recordings of the events around him.  I also had a lot of fun with the outstanding ariel combat scenes that are featured through the plot.  While they aren’t as heavily featured as you would expect from a book about the Aeronautica Imperialis, there are still some great sequences that were very fun to see.  Flowers really captures the magic and brutality of combat in in the air, and I loved some of the crazy scenes that resulted, especially against the ork stronghold.  There is also a particularly good fight sequence in the middle of a swamp that was pretty awesome, especially as it showed one character’s particular ingenuity and fighting spirit.

Outgunned served as an impressive standalone entry in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and I deeply enjoyed how self-contained the narrative turned out to be.  Flowers also did a great job explaining most of the relevant Warhammer 40,000 elements featured within Outgunned, and I felt that this book can be easily enjoyed by most science fiction fans, although established Warhammer fans will probably get the most out of it.  I loved some of the very unique Warhammer 40,000 aspects that Flowers featured in Outgunned, as the author came up with some fantastic new elements that added so much more to the story.  I personally thought that Flowers did a really good job examining the Imperium through his character’s eyes, and you really get to see a fun new edge to it.  Not only do you get to see the Aeronautica Imperialis in action, which will appeal to many Imperial Guard fans, but you also get a cool viewpoint of the Imperium’s propaganda department.  Watching the protagonist dive into the techniques and motivations of the Imperial propagandists is quite fascinating, and it gives another great edge to the already dark and gothic Imperium that make you understand that deep down, they really aren’t the good guys they try to make out.  Throw in a fun blast of Imperial politics, as a corrupt planetary governor can manipulate the Astra Militarum for their own selfish ends, as well as some dark viewpoints of the brainwashing of young soldiers that occurred to certain characters, and you have a great, cynical view of the Imperium that I deeply enjoyed.

I was also quite impressed with the intriguing and cool viewpoint of the orks contained in Outgunned.  2022 has been a pretty good year for fascinating ork novels, such as Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waagh! and Catachan Devil, and Outgunned offered another great look, even though you rarely get to see the creatures in person.  Instead, Flowers offers an interesting look at them through the human characters’ eyes as they try to work out just how these supposedly crude creatures are winning the war for the skies over the planet.  Watching the characters slowly realise just how ingenious and clever the orks really are is pretty fun, especially as the propagandist main character has spent most of his career showing them as stupid beasts.  As such, the book shows many fantastic examples of the complex ork culture through the eyes of characters who really don’t understand it, which I think worked to make it appear a lot more interesting and mysterious.  Established fans of the ork faction (and what Warhammer fiction reader doesn’t love the orks?), will have a blast watching the characters, especially the sheltered Simlex, try and understand their motivations and tactics, and I felt that it was a great way of showcasing the orks without having a major ork character present.  I deeply enjoyed all the awesome Warhammer 40,000 elements contained with Outgunned, and it really proved to be an amazing entry into the wider canon.

I also must quickly mention the outstanding setting of the planet Bacchus, where the entire narrative took place.  A swamp world with little agricultural value, Bacchus proves to be an unlikely battleground for the forces of the Imperium; however, with an influential governor and a corrupt ruling class enjoying the wine that it produces, it soon becomes a major warzone.  While I quite enjoyed this further example of how corrupt the Imperium is, its main benefit as a setting is the way that Flowers makes Bacchus appear as unpleasant and deadly as possible, and it provides a very distinctive and memorable background for many of the book’s fantastic scenes.  The sickly swamp setting comes across in vivid detail, and you can feel the terrible sucking feel of it, as well as the many dangers in contains.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Flowers also inserts in a mysterious rotting disease that is making Bacchus even more deadly and hostile.  This disease is worked into the larger story beautifully, and it helps to give Bacchus even more of a rotting, decaying feel that makes you wonder why anyone is still fighting the orks for it.  I deeply appreciated this unique and fantastic Warhammer 40,000 setting, and Flower’s masterful portrayal of it deeply enhanced Outgunned’s excellent story.

I also must talk about the outstanding characters contained within Outgunned as Flowers worked to create some impressive and complex central protagonists.  While there are some great supporting figures throughout Outgunned, I am going to limit myself to the main two characters who most of the story revolves around.  The first of these is Propagandist Kile Simlex, a renowned pict maker and artist who has dedicated his life to making inspirational films that inspire mankind and get them to fight the Imperium’s enemies.  Not only is this a very cool position in the Warhammer 40,000 canon, but Flowers writes Simlex in a very compelling way.  I loved how the character’s narration allows you to see the cynical hindsight of Simlex after he survived the events of the book and recounts his adventures, and it was fascinating to see the character slowly lose his faith in the Imperium and the system he has always served when confronted with the events of this book.  The constant danger, political selfishness, betrayal, misinformation and disdain of the soldiers he is trying to help really get to him as the novel progresses, and you really see him start to doubt himself.  Flowers writes some beautiful scenes around this, and the realisations that he has about the Imperium and his role in its continuing exploitation are great, even if they come back to bite him.

I also deeply enjoyed how Flowers paired Simlex with three servo-skulls who are linked to him mentally.  These skulls (literal skulls that have been turned into drones) are specifically altered to act as Simlex’s cameras, and he uses them to record the combat footage and gather information as he attempts to unravel the conspiracies of Bacchus.  The powerful link he has to these skulls ensures that his mind is often split between different perspectives, and he often views the world through these robotic eyes.  This unique method of viewing the world becomes a key part of Simlex’s character, and it was fascinating to see how connected he was to his floating skulls, who almost become characters in their own right.  Simlex proved to be an impressive centre for this entire narrative, and his dark and compelling view of the world really helped to shape this awesome book.

The other major character is Flight Commander Lucille von Shard, the greatest fighter ace in the Imperium, who Simlex is hoping to base his pict on.  Shard is the scion of a legendary Imperial family whose members are serving the Imperium in distinguished roles.  However, rather than being a dutiful solider, Shard is a brash, arrogant and rude figure who knows she’s the best, even when drunk, and is happy to tell everyone she knows.  Always depicted with a sneer on her face, Shard appears not to care about her position, and only truly loves flying, drinking and fighting.  Initially disrespectful of Simlex and everything he represents, the two eventually begin working as an antagonistic team against the orks, and Simlex soon sees Shard in a new light, especially once he discovers that much of her persona is an act.  Flowers does a truly fascinating dive into Shard throughout Outgunned, and she is easily the most interesting and complex characters in the entire novel.  There is so much hidden pain, unreasonable expectations and personality issues surrounding this character, and the hints about what drives her and the realities of her family and her past are just brilliant.  Shard honestly had a perfect character arc and Flowers did something special with this protagonist.  I honestly don’t think that Outgunned would have been as good as it was without Shard, and I had such an outstanding time getting to know her and seeing the complex backstory the author wove around her.

Like most of the Warhammer novels I enjoy, I chose to check out Outgunned in its audiobook format, which was pretty damn epic.  I loved how well the Outgunned audiobook turned out, and the format really enhanced the impressive, action-packed narrative.  The audiobook moves the already great story along at a brisk and fun pace, while also highlighting the excellent characters.  With a run time of 10 hours, this is a pretty quick audiobook to get through, and I managed to power through it in a few days.  I was particularly impressed with the voice work of narrator Phillip Sacramento, who does a wonderful job reading out this compelling book.  Sacramento has a brilliant voice for the dark gothic narrative of Outgunned, and I felt that this Irish accent gave the overall narration a little more gravitas.  I deeply enjoyed the great voices he attributed to the various characters of Outgunned, and every cast member was given a fitting voice that really worked for them.  I felt that Sacramento really captured each of these characters extremely well, and you get a real feel of their rough emotions as they attempt to navigate the terrible situations of the book.  I particularly liked the voice that was used for Lucille von Shard, as the sheer arrogance of the character practically drips into your ear, only to occasionally be replaced by a different emotion as her barriers break.  This outstanding narration added so much to my enjoyment of Outgunned, and this ended up being an exceptional way to enjoy this brilliant book.  As such, this format comes very highly recommended, and it is easily the best format to enjoy Outgunned.

With his second novel, Outgunned, Denny Flowers really showed the world what he is capable of as a Warhammer 40,000 author.  With its outstanding and captivating narrative, Outgunned rose above the author’s previous novel and was one of the better Warhammer 40,000 novels of 2022 so far.  The author wove some brilliant layers into this impressive read, and I loved the incredible characters, memorable setting and fascinating Warhammer elements that enhanced the clever story.  A must-read for all Warhammer 40,000 fans, Outgunned was an absolute pleasure to read and I can’t wait to find out what Flowers has planned next.

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Guest Review – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien (Audiobook)

For this Throwback Thursday we have a rare treat with a guest review from my awesome editor/wife, Alex.  Long-time readers of this blog may remember that Alex previously provided some guest reviews of books like The Power and The Testaments, although she hasn’t provided us with anything for a long while (don’t worry, I’ve judged her very harshly because of this, so much judgement!!!).  Alex recently endeavoured to read all three The Lord of the Rings books, and I of course convinced her into writing a review for them.  I think her review below is pretty awesome (I may be slightly biased), and it has made me interested in listening to the latest audiobook version of The Lord of the Rings novels.

Publisher: HarperCollins and Recorded Books – Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Fellowship of the Rings

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First of all, this is not really a review of The Lord of the Rings. You don’t need me to tell you that these books are good, and Tolkien scholars have already built up mountains of literary analysis over the decades. This is instead a review of one particular way to enjoy the story: the audiobook edition recently published by HarperCollins and Recorded Books and narrated by Andy Serkis.

But I should say that this review is written from the perspective of someone who adores the Lord of the Rings movies but had never before read the books. I loved reading The Hobbit as a kid, and the cinematic masterpiece of The Fellowship of the Ring blew my 10-year-old mind. At that age, however, I found myself too impatient to enjoy the slower pace of the novel (not to mention the preliminary chapters on hobbit anthropology) but also too prideful to simply skip to ‘the good stuff’, so Fellowship was sent back to the library in frustration before Frodo had even reached the Prancing Pony. But recently watching The Rings of Power reminded me that I have been missing out on the full, glorious Tolkien canon experience.

The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers Cover

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Regular readers of The Unseen Library will know that the Chief Librarian is constantly praising audiobooks as the very best way to absorb a story, so when I heard that there was a new edition narrated by Andy Serkis, I had to have it. And of course I loved it, as I always knew I would. The world Tolkien created is beautiful, and the themes, histories, cultures, languages, characters and journeys within defined an entire genre. The story is epic in the truest meaning of the word, but you already know that. Here instead let me answer two things you will want to know about this particular edition of the story:

  • Yes, it is unabridged.
  • Yes, he does the voices.

The first thing I checked before starting this audiobook was that it was an unabridged edition; if I were to finally read The Lord of the Rings, I would do it properly! This audiobook is actually an extension of a charity project in which Andy Serkis livestreamed himself reading The Hobbit to raise money for the NHS in the early days of the pandemic. This was followed up by an official reading of The Hobbit published later in 2020, and then The Lord of the Rings in 2021.

The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

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I can think of few more appropriate actors for this project than Andy Serkis. An audiobook demands a distinctive voice for each character, especially for a book with such an enormous cast of characters, and Serkis definitely delivers, seizing the opportunity to show off his acting talents. What’s more, he has made an effort to echo the voices of his fellow Lord of the Rings film alumni. For example, he affects a Scottish accent for Pippin, a West Country accent for Samwise and Merry, and a gruff Yorkshire brogue for Boromir. He gives Aragorn the same strong but quiet dignity Viggo Mortensen did, and he gives Frodo a higher, younger-sounding voice that echoes a 20-year-old Elijah Wood more than the 50-year-old Frodo of the books. And, of course, he reproduces the definitive portrayal of Gollum for which he has been so celebrated. As a fan of the films, I greatly appreciated these choices as it meant I didn’t have to recalibrate my imagining of the characters too greatly. It would have been rather distracting if, say, Merry sounded Scottish and Pippin didn’t, and I had to concentrate all the more simply to work out who was speaking. Instead I was able to relax and focus on simply enjoying the story.

Andy Serkis Picture 1

But while the voices are clearly based, for the most part, on those of the film actors, the performances are wholly informed by the text, and Serkis has made it his own. For example, whereas Ian McKellen almost whispered Gandalf’s final command, ‘Fly, you fools!’, Serkis performs the line as if shouted while falling from the great height of the Bridge of Khazad-dum. He brings the poetic prose and dialogue to life with amazing energy and passion. He uses a narrative voice that perfectly fits the text and adjusts the pacing of the telling according to each scene, keeping the story flowing and keeping the listener totally captivated. Each of the three books is a little over 20 hours long, but with the combined storytelling skills of Tolkien and Serkis mesmerising me I was never eager to hit the pause button and get back to real life, so it took only a few days for me to get through each book.

Andy Serkis Picture 2

Howard Shore’s brilliant film score sadly isn’t featured; instead, the audiobook relies wholly on the talents of Andy Serkis. The films were very sparing in their use of the songs Tolkien wrote, which made Pippin’s haunting ballad in The Return of the King all the more impactful. I was delighted that the songs are here performed in full and in the voices of their singers—no mean feat! I’m sure Serkis exhausted himself playing the boisterous Tom Bombadil in particular, whom I had always found quite tiresome, but Serkis gives him a mysterious charm. The songs are a core element of the books, giving us glimpses into Middle Earth’s cultures and histories that aren’t otherwise shared in the prose, and I’m so glad they’ve been given such a treatment.

Andy Serkis Picture 3

There are a few small drawbacks to an audio edition of these books. A few times I would have wanted to flip back a few pages to double-check my understanding of certain details (‘Hang on, was that the name of a person or a river?’), but that wasn’t all that easy to do without losing my place, at least not with the media software I was using. The other thing missing, because it could not possibly be reproduced in audio despite Andy Serkis’s considerable talent, is the maps of Middle Earth which usually feature in any Tolkien book. As a kid reading The Hobbit I would be constantly checking the map to trace the hero’s journey through the world. I can highly recommend the interactive map at lotrproject.com as a companion piece to this audiobook for those who wish to do the same.

The Lord of the Rings, as read by Andy Serkis, is the ultimate audiobook for fans of the films. I can highly recommend it to those who have never read the books before, and I’m sure it would be a similarly excellent experience for those who have and who would like to revisit the canon after watching The Rings of Power. I can only hope that Serkis completes the series with a reading of The Silmarillion and other supplementary works by Tolkien, because I am so in love with this telling of the story of Middle Earth that the 75-odd hours’ worth already recorded simply isn’t enough. I am so glad to finally say that I have read The Lord of the Rings; I only wish I had done it sooner.

WWW Wednesday – 14 September 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?

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris (Trade Paperback)

Act of Oblivion Cover

I have started reading the impressive historical fiction novel, Act of Oblivion, by bestselling author Robert Harris.  This is an outstanding novel that follows the hunt for two of the men responsible for the execution of King Charles I as they flee to the American colonies to escape the British.  I have made a bit of progress on Act of Oblivion already and it is proving to be an excellent and captivating novel with a fascinating historical story behind it.  I can’t wait to see how these real historical events turn out and I look forward to getting to the end of this amazing novel.

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Warhammer 40,000: Outgunned by Denny Flowers (audiobook)

Warhammer 40,000 - Outgunned Cover

I have had a great time over the last week enjoying the fantastic Warhammer 40,000 audiobook, Outgunned by Denny Flowers.  Set on a dangerous swamp planet, Outgunned follows an Imperial propagandist who is attempting to create an inspiring film about heroic pilots on a battlefield.  However, the protagonist soon finds himself drawn into a dark conspiracy as he attempts to discover how the Imperial pilots are losing to the primate orks and their crude machines.  I am really enjoying this epic novel and I will probably finish it off in the next day or so.  This is Flowers’ second novel (he wrote the excellent Fire Made Flesh last year) and it has turned out to be an exceptional Warhammer book that is really worth a listen.

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What did you recently finish reading?

No Country for Girls by Emma Styles (Trade Paperback)

No Country for Girls Cover

A stylish and captivating debut thriller from a great new author.  This was certainly one of the more distinctive Australian books of 2022 and I had an amazing time getting through it.

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Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

Glacier's Edge Cover

I finally finished off Glacier’s Edge this week and it ended up being a very fun and elaborate novel.  This book served as an excellent sequel to Starlight Enclave, as well as being another outstanding addition to the larger Drizzt Do’Urden series.  Loaded with action, intrigue and fun adventure, this is a must for all Salvatore fans.  Review to follow soon.

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Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante

Dark Rooms Cover

A brilliant new Tennison novel from the always enjoyable Lynda La Plante, which did a good job following on from some of the previous books in the series (Murder MileBlunt Force and Unholy Murder).  A captivating historical crime fiction book that even ventures out its London comfort zone all the way to Australia.   

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Essex Dogs by Dan Jones

Essex Dogs Cover

I was very pleased to get through this amazing historical fiction debut this week, and I only just finished it off earlier today.  Dan Jones did an impressive job with Essex Dogs, and this was a brilliant and highly addictive read that you can really sink your teeth into.  Essentially a medieval version of Band of Brothers, this is definitely one of the better debuts of 2022 so far.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis

Star Wars - The Princess and the Scoundrel Cover

I have several great books to check out next, but the one I think I’ll try hardest to read is the new Star Wars release, The Princess and the Scoundrel.  I have heard some excellent stuff about this book, and I am very excited to get to grips with a novel that explores the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia in the current Star Wars canon.  Set to feature both their wedding and their turbulent honeymoon, this is a must-read for all Star Wars fans, and I know I intend to read it as soon as I can.

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Oath of Loyalty by Kyle Mills

Oath of Loyalty Cover

I also have a good stash of audiobooks to listen to at the moment, but I think that I will check out a spy thriller novel next from the always fun Mitch Rapp series.  In particular, I will check out the latest book in the series, Oath of Loyalty, which sounds extremely cool.  Following on from some of the storylines set up in the previous books Red War, Lethal Agent, Total Power and Enemy at the Gates, Oath of Loyalty will see protagonist Mitch Rapp step up to a corrupt president, who sets a deadly group of assassins to hunt down everyone he loves.  I already know that this will be a deeply addictive and exciting read and I am hoping I can read in the next week.

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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 – Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow

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.  In this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I look at a fantastic upcoming historical murder mystery with Dead of Night by Simon Scarrow.

Dead of Night Cover

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I have been in a real historical fiction mood over the last week, having read several awesome and enjoyable reads with great historical settings to them.  As such, I wanted to feature a historical fiction book in my Waiting on Wednesday post and who better to look at then one of my favourite authors, Simon Scarrow.  Readers of this blog will know I have been a major fan of Scarrow for years, and reviews for several of his latest books, such as The Blood of Rome, Traitors of Rome, The Emperor’s Exile and The Honour of Rome, can be found here.  The above books all fall within his Eagles of the Empire series, and I have a lot of love for his Roman historical fiction work.  I am especially keen for his next novel, Death to the Emperor, which is out very soon, however, the Eagles of the Empire books aren’t Scarrow’s only ongoing series.

Last year Scarrow released an intriguing and enjoyable historical murder mystery novel with Blackout.  Set in Nazi controlled Berlin just before the outbreak of World War II, Blackout followed an honest police detective who attempts to investigate a series of brutal murders throughout the city during a harsh winter.  This case was complicated by the political implications of the murders, and the protagonist was forced to go up against the dangerous and insidious Nazi party, while trying to maintain his own soul.  I deeply enjoyed Blackout and I had an amazing time exploring Scarrow’s foray in the crime fiction, especially as it worked well with the exceptional historical elements.

Due to how much I enjoyed Blackout (as well as my general love of all things Scarrow), I have been keeping an eye out for a potential sequel for a couple of years now, and I was very happy when some details about it where released.  This second Blackout novel will be Dead of Night, which is currently set for release in February 2023, and it appears that it will continue some of the excellent elements contained in the first book.

I really like the sound of the plot for Dead of Night, especially as the book will continue to follow the first novel’s protagonist, Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke, as he finds himself caught up in another complex and problematic murder investigation.  This time, Schenke finds himself barred from investigating the suspicious death of a SS doctor and must once again contend with the machinations of his Nazis superiors as he attempts to solve the crime.  The plot sounds amazing, and it looks like Scarrow will once again combine a great mystery, with an examination of the Nazi regime and how it took over key German institutions, like the police.

As such, I am pretty excited for Dead of Night, and I already know I am going to have a brilliant time getting through this book.  Not only am I excited for the sequel to Blackout, but I am just generally happy to get another Scarrow book so soon after the upcoming Eagles of the Empire book.  I have no doubt that Dead of Night is going to be one of the best historical fiction reads of 2023 and I look forward to getting through this compelling mystery.

Synopsis:

The stunning new thriller set in wartime Berlin from the author of Blackout: ‘A wonderfully compelling thriller, reeking of authenticity, and a terrific depiction of the human world within the chilling world of the Third Reich’ Peter James

BERLIN. JANUARY 1941. Evil cannot bring about good . . .

After Germany’s invasion of Poland, the world is holding its breath and hoping for peace. At home, the Nazi Party’s hold on power is absolute.

One freezing night, an SS doctor and his wife return from an evening mingling with their fellow Nazis at the concert hall. By the time the sun rises, the doctor will be lying lifeless in a pool of blood.

Was it murder or suicide? Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is told that under no circumstances should he investigate. The doctor’s widow, however, is convinced her husband was the target of a hit. But why would anyone murder an apparently obscure doctor? Compelled to dig deeper, Schenke learns of the mysterious death of a child. The cases seem unconnected, but soon chilling links begin to emerge that point to a terrifying secret.

Even in times of war, under a ruthless regime, there are places in hell no man should ever enter. And Schenke fears he may not return alive . . .

Top Ten Tuesday – Books with Geographical Terms in the Title

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For this latest Top Ten Tuesday participants are tasked with listing their top books that have geographical terms in the title.  Geographical terms in this case include terms such as mountains, islands, lands, deserts, oceans, valleys and much, much more.  Participants were actually provided a link of hundreds of potential geographical terms on Wikipedia to use as examples to help with the task here, and while I didn’t get some of the more exotic terms, it did help me select a couple of fun books to include.  I did have a bit of a struggle coming up with a full list here, as it turns out a lot of the books I have read didn’t feature geographical terms, but I was eventually able to pull together a descent list in the end.  All the books below are excellent reads and I liked how the authors used these terms in the titles.

Honourable Mentions:

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars Cover

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The Lawless Land by Beth Morrison and Boyd Morrison

The Lawless Land Cover

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In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O’Connor

In a Great Southern Land Cover

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Half Moon Lake by Kirsten Alexander

Half Moon Lake Cover

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Top Ten Tuesday:

Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 21: The Mother of Mountains by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo - Volume 20 - The Mother of Mountains Cover

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Streams of Silver by R. A. Salvatore

Streams of Silver Cover

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The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Mountain Cover 2

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Into the Drowning Deep Cover

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Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies

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River of Gold by Anthony Riches

River of Gold Cover

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Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith: The Burning Seas by Charles Soule

Darth Vader - The Burning Seas Cover

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Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore

Glacier's Edge Cover

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The Grove of the Caesars by Lindsey Davis

The Grove of the Caesars Cover

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Well, that’s the end of this list.  As you can see there is some fantastic novels out there that use geographical terms in their titles, and there are some interesting usages throughout fiction.  All the above novels are wonderful and highly recommended reads, and I had an incredible time reading them.  I look forward to potentially revisiting this list in the future and it will be interesting to see what new books will feature these sorts of terms in their titles.  Let me know which books with geographical phrases in the titles you enjoyed the most in the comments below.

WWW Wednesday – 7 September 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?

No Country for Girls by Emma Styles (Trade Paperback)

No Country for Girls Cover

I just started reading the fantastic Australian crime fiction debut, No Country for Girls by new author Emma Styles.  Set in the Western Australian outback, No Country for Girls is an intense and compelling novel that sees two strangers embark on a deadly road trip after becoming accomplices in a crime.  I’ve made a bit of progress on this book already and it is turning out to be an excellent and fun read.  I look forward to seeing how it turns out in the end, but I can already tell you that this is going to be one of the more interesting Australian books of 2022.

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Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

Glacier's Edge Cover

I was really hoping to have finished Glacier’s Edge by now, but a few things got in my way this last week.  However, I am nearly finished this sequel to Starlight Enclave, and should knock it out in the next day or so.  I am really getting into this amazing book, and it is proving to be an outstanding addition to the larger Drizzt Do’Urden series (which includes TimelessBoundless and Relentless). I look forward to seeing what happens in Glacier’s Edge’s final moments, and it will be interesting to see how Salvatore leads into his next epic novel.

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What did you recently finish reading?

All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman (Trade Paperback)

All of Our Demise Cover

I managed to knock off All of Our Demise this week and it proved to be just as good, if not better, than the first novel in this duology, All of Us Villains.  The impressive team of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman did a remarkable job with All of Our Demise, and I had an exceptional time seeing how this series came to an end.  There are some big twists, epic surprises, and so much damn amazing character work, that you will come away from this book shocked, moved, and deeply satisfied.  This really is one of the best young adult books of 2022, and it comes very highly recommended.  Review to follow soon.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante

Dark Rooms Cover

Based on my current collection of books, I think that the novel I will read next is Dark Rooms by leading crime fiction author Lynda La Plante.  The latest book in the bestselling Tennison series (which has included awesome reads like Murder MileBlunt Force and Unholy Murder), Dark Rooms looks set to contain another fantastic and thrilling murder mystery which I know I will get very wrapped up in.  I have no doubt that I am going to love Dark Rooms, as La Plante’ captivating writing style has never disappointed me before.

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Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris

Act of Oblivion Cover

In the next week I will also try and read Act of Oblivion by bestselling author Robert Harris.  I have deeply enjoyed some of Harris’s historical fiction novels in the past, and he can create some gripping and extremely addictive reads, especially if he bases it on an exceptional historical event.  Well, his new novel, Act of Oblivion definitely has one of those, and I am extremely hopeful this will result in a particularly good read.  Act of Oblivion follows the hunt for two of the men responsible for the execution of King Charles I and will see the two fugitives flee to the American colonies whilst being pursued by the British.  This novel has so much potential, and I can’t wait to see how Harris portrays these epic historical events.

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Essex Dogs by Dan Jones

Essex Dogs Cover

I am also hoping to read the very intriguing historical fiction debut, Essex Dogs, in the next week.  The first book from new author Dan Jones, Essex Dogs sounds like a fantastic and fun medieval adventure that I know I am going to enjoy.  Following a group of mercenaries who get drafted into the Hundred Year’s War, Essex Dogs has an amazing plot behind it, and I can’t wait to see what happens to this close-nit band of fighters during this conflict.  I have been meaning to read this book for a while, and I am very excited to finally be able to read this debut.

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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.