Waiting on Wednesday – The Will of the Many by James Islington

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 look at an awesome upcoming fantasy novel with a dark magical school setting, The Will of the Many by James Islington.

The Will of the Many Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

One of the things that I love about fantasy fiction is that there are so many awesome potential settings that can be used as a backdrop for an epic tale.  Fantasy can incorporate anything from modern urban settings to outrageous alien communities, and everything in between, and you can get some amazing reads out of that.  However, if I had to choose one of my absolute favourite settings for a fantasy, it would have to be a magical school.  Maybe its because the Harry Potter books were such a big part of my childhood, or maybe because there have been some outstanding recent novels set in fantasy academies (check out a Top Ten Tuesday list I did on the subject), but I have always loved these novels in a big way.  As such, when I see that a talented fantasy author is releasing a cool new book with a magical school setting later this year, it really gets my attention.

This upcoming book is The Will of the Many by new-to-me author James Islington, which is currently set for release in May 2023.  Set to combine mystery, intrigue, politics and the future of a nation with a dark magic school, The Will of the Many sounds particularly epic, and I am actually really excited to check it out.  The plot synopsis below has some very intriguing details to it, and the entire magical system, which is based on people ceding their Will into someone else to give them power, is very unique and opens up a raft of possibilities.  I look forward to seeing how Islington will bring everything together and I have feeling that The Will of the Many is going to end up being one of the most interesting and compelling fantasy novels of 2023.

Plot Synopsis:

At the elite Catenan Academy, where students are prepared as the future leaders of the Hierarchy empire, the curriculum reveals a layered set of mysteries which turn murderous in this new fantasy by bestselling author of The Licanius Trilogy, James Islington.

Vis, the adopted son of Magnus Quintus Ulcisor, a prominent senator within the Hierarchy, is trained to enter the famed Catenan Academy to help Ulciscor learn what the hidden agenda is of the remote island academy. Secretly, he also wants Vis to discover what happed to his brother who died at the academy. He’s sure the current Principalis of the academy, Quintus Veridius Julii, a political rival, knows much more than he’s revealing.

The Academy’s vigorous syllabus is a challenge Vis is ably suited to meet, but it is the training in the use of Will, a practice that Vis finds abhorrent, that he must learn in order to excel at the Academy. Will—a concept that encompasses their energy, drive, focus, initiative, ambition, and vitality—can be voluntarily “ceded” to someone else. A single recipient can accept ceded Will from multiple people, growing in power towards superhuman levels. Within the hierarchy your level of Will, or legal rank, determines how you live or die. And there are those who are determined to destroy this hierarchal system, as well as those in the Academy who use it to gain dominance in internationally bestselling author James Islington’s wonderfully crafted new epic fantasy series.

Waiting on Wednesday – Fire With Fire by Candice Fox

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 check out an awesome upcoming thriller from a particularly talented Australian author, Fire With Fire by Candice Fox.

Fire With Fire Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Over the last few years, I have been lucky enough to read several books from one of Australia’s premier authors, Candice Fox.  Fox is an exceptional author who has been wowing Australian crime fiction audiences since 2014 with her Australian crime fiction books, including the Archer and Bennet series and the Crimson Lake books (recently adapted into the Australian television show, Troppo).  In recent years, Fox has moved on to a larger international audience with several amazing books set in America, as well as some great collaborations with legendary thriller author James Patterson, including her Detective Harriet Blue series.  I personally have had the pleasure of reading her last three books, the standalone novels Gathering Dark, The Chase, and 2 Sisters Detective Agency (co-written with James Patterson), and all of them were exceedingly good reads (2 Sisters Detective Agency was one of my favourite Australian books of 2021).

After how incredible her last three books were, there is no way I am going to miss out on her next epic read, and luckily for me, there is only a couple of months until her new book, Fire With Fire, is out.  Set for release in early April 2023, Fire With Fire is another gritty crime-read set in America that will push several complex characters over the edge.  I absolutely love the sound of the epic plot below, especially the idea of desperate parents holding an evidence lab hostage, and there is no way that this doesn’t result in an intense, emotionally powerful crime fiction read.  With Fox’s proven writing ability, Fire With Fire is sure to be an outstanding novel and it wouldn’t surprise me if it becomes one of the best books by an Australian author released in 2023.

Plot Synopsis:

A married couple launch a deadly plan to find their missing child.
A half-dead man washes up on a Los Angeles beach.
A rookie cop is fired on her first day.

Ryan and Elsie Delaney don’t accept the official line that their young daughter drowned on Santa Monica beach. Her body has never been found and their pleas for a proper investigation are rejected.

So now the desperate pair are raining hellfire on the police.

Taking three hostages at the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, they give law enforcement an ultimatum: if Tilly isn’t located in the next 24 hours, they will destroy evidence in several major cases.

Detective Charlie Hoskins only just survived five years embedded with the ruthless gang known as the Death Machines. All his work is in that lab. If the police won’t look for Tilly, he will. Even if that means accepting help from Lynette Lamb, the rookie officer sacked for blowing his cover – and having him thrown to the sharks.

Finding Tilly is now a matter of life and death – for the Delaneys, for their hostages, for Charlie and Lamb, and for the little girl who one day simply vanished . . .

Waiting on Wednesday – The Traitor by Anthony Ryan

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 an upcoming book that is likely to become one of my absolute favourite fantasy reads of 2023 with The Traitor by Anthony Ryan.

The Traitor Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

I have been having a smashing time with fantasy novels over the last few years especially as there have been some amazing series and very talented authors providing some brilliant books.  Out of all these great writers, one of my absolute favourites is bestselling author Anthony Ryan, whose latest series I have really fallen in love with.  A talented and prolific author, Ryan has been dominating the genre for over 10 years with several impressive series, including his highly regarded Raven’s Shadow, Raven’s Blade, Slab City Blues and Draconis Memoria books.  While all these series sound extremely good, I have only had the pleasure of reading Ryan’s current body of work, although that has been more than enough to make me a major Ryan fan.

Ryan’s main current series is the exciting and complex The Covenant of Steel trilogy.  Set in an elaborate and battle-torn new fantasy world and told through an awesome chronicle style, The Covenant of Steel books follow the tumultuous life of Alwyn Scribe, a former outlaw who finds redemption and a new purpose in life after being trained as a scribe.  This series started in 2021 with The Pariah, an addictive read that introduced Alwyn and showed the formulative events of his life, including his recruitment by Lady Evadine Courlain, a devote and charismatic former noblewoman who forms her own regiment to fight for her nation’s religious order.  Caught in a series of deadly battles, Alwyn finds himself growing more and more loyal to Evadine and uses all his underhanded skills and personal history to keep her alive.  The Pariah was a brilliant and powerful new novel that did a wonderful job introducing the reader to the best elements of series.  I absolutely flew through this book and The Pariah ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021.

Ryan kept the magic going in 2022 when he released the second Covenant of Steel book with The Martyr.  Continuing to follow Alwyn and his dangerous quest to advanced Evadine’s cause, The Martyr saw the characters embark on a deadly and extended war, which included two glorious and powerful siege sequences.  It also showcased Alwyn’s continued growth as a character, as he becomes a knight and a war leader, while also adding in some compelling mystical elements to the universe.  I had an outstanding time reading The Martyr, and it ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2022.  Ryan also made sure to leave The Martyr on an intriguing and concerning cliff-hanger, which has made me extremely eager to get my hands on the next Covenant of Steel book.

Luckily, I only must wait several more months until I find out how Ryan ends his brilliant trilogy, as the third and final book is out in July 2023.  This final Covenant of Steel novel is titled, The Traitor, which not only has another striking cover, but which sounds like it is going to be quite an epic read.

Plot Synopsis:

 It’s been a long journey for Alwyn Scribe. Born a bastard and raised an outlaw, he’s now a knight and the most trusted advisor to Lady Evadine Courlain. Together they’ve won countless battles and helped to bring order to a fractured kingdom.

Yet Evadine is not the woman Alwyn once knew. As puritanical fury increasingly replaces her benevolent faith, Alwyn begins to question what her true motives really are.

As the kingdom braces itself for one final battle, Alwyn’s conscience fights its own war with his heart. Now, more than ever, he must decide whose side he’s really on.

While the above summary is a little light on details, what is revealed, as well as how Ryan finished off The Martyr, has made me exceptionally excited for The Traitor.  This new book looks set to feature more war, politics and terrible personal conflicts, especially as the revelations and deeper suspicions come to light about the brilliant character of Evadine Courlain.  Evadine has always been a complex figure in this series, what with her unnatural charisma and apparent connection to the divine.  However, Ryan has been subtly setting her up as a potential villain for most of the trilogy and I am quite excited to see how this all comes to a head in The Traitor.  The mention of her upcoming change to a more angry and vengeful character is very concerning, and I have no doubt there will be some fantastic scenes of her using her current position as a resurrected martyr to insight great violence against her foes.  This, combined with The Martyr’s final revelation that she is an agent for an ancient destructive force, and this looks set to be quite a book for Evadine and I cannot wait to see how her slide from purity to destructive being unfolds.

This is of course going to be hard for the narrator to watch, as Alwyn has spent the last two books devoted to Evadine and slowly falling in love with her.  Having to watch the women he loves and respects above all overs become a figure of hate and death is going to be devastating for the loveable rogue, and I am sure it is going to hit me hard in the feels.  The mentioned conflict about whether to stand with Evadine or try to do the right thing, will no doubt be the emotional centre of this book and I cannot wait to see how Ryan features it.

Look, based on how incredibly awesome the first two Covenant of Steel novels were, I have no doubt what-so-ever that The Traitor is going to be a particularly epic read.  I have deeply enjoyed the elaborate and captivating narrative Anthony Ryan set up in The Pariah and The Martyr and I am very excited to see how he manages to wrap everything up in this third and final book.  The Traitor is definitely going to be one of the best fantasy books of 2023 and I know I will have an exceptional time checking out its audiobook format in a few months’ time.

Waiting on Wednesday – Seven Faceless Saints by M. K. Lobb

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 an intriguing upcoming fantasy novel that I think has a lot of potential with Seven Faceless Saints by M. K. Lobb.

Seven Faceless Saints Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

We are just around the corner from 2023 and already the new year is starting to look very promising in terms of awesome books.  I am already quite excited for the next novels from some of my favourite writers, but I am also keeping an eye out for new authors who are going to be making their debut in 2023.  One debuting author who has already caught my attention is M. K. Lobb, who is set to release her first novel in a few months’ time with Seven Faceless Saints.

Seven Faceless Saints, which currently has a release date for February 2023, is a fantasy novel with some excellent thriller and murder mystery elements to it.  Set in a new fantasy city, the book will follow two protagonists on opposite ends of the cities corrupt ruling class, with one acting as a rebel seeking revenge, while the other serves as the head of the government’s security.  However, both are dragged into a murder investigation when a dangerous serial killer stalks the streets, forcing them to dive deep into the dark heart of their city.  I already really love the sound of this awesome book and I think that it could turn out to be an excellent and highly enjoyable read.  Blending murder mystery, rebellion and two fantastic sounding characters in a new fantasy setting is a great starting point for an amazing read and I have a strong feeling that Seven Faceless Saints is going to be one of the top debuts of 2023.

Plot Synopsis:

 In the city of Ombrazia, saints and their disciples rule with terrifying and unjust power, playing favorites while the unfavored struggle to survive.

After her father’s murder at the hands of the Ombrazian military, Rossana Lacertosa is willing to do whatever it takes to dismantle the corrupt system—tapping into her powers as a disciple of Patience, joining the rebellion, and facing the boy who broke her heart. As the youngest captain in the history of Palazzo security, Damian Venturi is expected to be ruthless and strong, and to serve the saints with unquestioning devotion. But three years spent fighting in a never-ending war have left him with deeper scars than he wants to admit… and a fear of confronting the girl he left behind.

Now a murderer stalks Ombrazia’s citizens. As the body count climbs, the Palazzo is all too happy to look the other way—that is, until a disciple becomes the newest victim. With every lead turning into a dead end, Damian and Roz must team up to find the killer, even if it means digging up buried emotions. As they dive into the underbelly of Ombrazia, the pair will discover something more sinister—and far less holy. With darkness closing in and time running out, will they be able to save the city from an evil so powerful that it threatens to destroy everything in its path?

Discover what’s lurking in the shadows in this dark fantasy debut with a murder-mystery twist, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kerri Maniscalco.

Waiting on Wednesday – Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 38: The Green Dragon by Stan Sakai

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 get excited again for another exciting addition to my favourite comic series with the 38th volume of Stan Sakai’s epic Usagi Yojimbo comic, The Green Dragon.

Usagi Yojimbo - Volume 38 - The Green Dragon Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

I know I have made this point quite a few times this year, but boy do I love the Usagi Yojimbo series by Stan Sakai.  A unique, long-running series, the Usagi Yojimbo comics follow a rabbit ronin in an alternate version of feudal Japan as he battles deadly enemies, rival samurai and creatures from Japanese mythology.  Featuring excellent art, amazing characters, and some fantastic and well-written stories, I have been a fan of the Usagi Yojimbo series for a very long time and every single volume quickly finds a place in my heart.

Now usually I must wait a whole year for a new Usagi Yojimbo volume to appear, but luckily for me Sakai has been on a real role lately and two volumes dropped in 2022.  This included the brilliantly written Tengu War! and the very fun Crossroads, both of which were five-star reads in my opinion.  I had such an epic time with these comics, and I was once again overjoyed when I found out that a whole new volume is coming out extremely soon.

This next volume is The Green Dragon, which is currently set for release in February 2023.  The 38th volume of the series, The Green Dragon will present the reader with two multi-issues stories that place Usagi, and his new companion Yukichi, in great danger as they go up against dangerous opponents, both mortal and spiritual.  This new volume sounds pretty damn cool and I am very excited for the stories they contain.

Synopsis:

The rabbit ronin’s newest adventures continue in this fifth volume that sees Usagi and Yukichi on a mission to deliver a valuable object!

But first, in “A Ghost Story,” Usagi and Yukichi come upon a young woman, Shizuye, praying at a shrine to a girl murdered fifty years ago by her married lover. Shizuye is in the same predicament, and Usagi and Yukichi take it upon themselves to become her protectors. However, all is not what it seems as the local priest warns them to beware of ghosts in the area.

Then, in “The Secret of the Green Dragon” Usagi and Yukichi are obligated to deliver a priceless jade dragon to a merchant. During their journey they witness a runner delivering a parcel of jewels to the same merchant killed on the road ahead. However, the killers left the jewels and escaped with the container leading them to the realization that the box they carry may be even more valuable than the jade within.

Collects issues #27–31 of the all-new full-color Usagi Yojimbo series published by IDW.

This looks set to be another exceptional entry in this series and I really love the two stories listed above.  Some of the very best Usagi Yojimbo stories feature supernatural or spiritual elements, so I have very high hope for the first entry, A Ghost Story, especially as you going to spend a good part of the story wondering if they are encountering real ghosts or some sort of elaborate fakes.  The main story, The Secret of the Green Dragon, sounds like a typical Usagi Yojimbo escort narrative, and it is usually a good basis for one of these comics.  However, it looks like Sakai is going to throw in a few twists here, especially as they will have to work out the mystery surrounding their cargo and try to work out what they are really being paid to defend.  Throw in an appearance from the Komori Ninjas, the ninja bats shown on the cover, and The Green Dragon looks set to be quite an impressive read and one that I am extremely excited for.

To be honest, I already know that I am going to grab this comic the moment it comes out and I will love it unconditionally.  I have such a great respect and appreciation for this exceptional series, and I refuse to believe I will find anything to hate in the new upcoming volume, especially if Stan Sakai keeps up all the skill and creativity he’s been putting into the last few volumes.  I cannot wait to see the elaborate stories contained within The Green Dragon, as well as the brilliant art which is now in colour thanks to publisher IDW (which has looked very cool in volumes such as Bunraku and Other Stories and Homecoming).  This is already one of my most anticipated reads for the new year and I have no doubt Usagi Yojimbo: The Green Dragon will get another five-star rating from me.

Waiting on Wednesday – Battle Song by Ian Ross

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 check out an awesome upcoming historical fiction read with the excellent and intriguing Battle Song by Ian Ross.

Battle Song Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Readers familiar with my blog will know that I have a big soft spot for the historical fiction genre, as I spent a good part of my early reviewing career primarily focused on books set in historical periods.  I still dedicate a good part of my reading schedule to some amazing historical reads, and I am always on the look out for some great new novels from the genre, especially those that sound incredibly fun and entertaining.  Therefore, when I came across a fantastic upcoming book that features an epic narrative full of knights, tournaments, betrayal, and war, I knew that it was something I would be very keen to read.

The book I am talking about is the amazing upcoming novel, Battle Song by Ian Ross, which is currently set for release in late March 2023.  Ross is an author I have previously not read before, although he has a well-established historical fiction pedigree thanks to his Twilight of Empire Roman historical fiction series.  His next book sees Ross focus on a whole new historical period, as Battle Song will be set in the 13th century and focuses on tournaments and war in Europe.


Plot Synopsis:

 There is a fury in England that none shall suppress – and when it breaks forth it will shake the throne’

1264

Storm clouds are gathering as Simon de Montfort and the barons of the realm challenge the power of Henry III. The barons demand reform; the crown demands obedience. England is on the brink of civil war.

Adam de Norton, a young squire devoted to the virtues of chivalry, longs only to be knighted, and to win back his father’s lands. Then a bloody hunting accident leaves him with a new master: the devilish Sir Robert de Dunstanville, who does not hesitate to use the blackest stratagems in pursuit of victory.

Following Robert overseas, Adam is introduced to the ruthless world of the tournament, where knights compete for glory and riches, and his new master’s methods prove brutally effective.

But as England plunges into violence, Robert and Adam must choose a side in a battle that will decide the fate of the kingdom. Will they fight for the king, for de Montfort – or for themselves?

Searingly vivid and richly evocative, Battle Song is tale of friendship and chivalry, rivalry and rebellion, and the medieval world in all its colour and darkness.


I absolutely love the sound of this book’s plot and it looks like Battle Song (which is a pretty cool book title BTW), is going to be a very interesting and enjoyable historical read.  I love the idea of a young squire forced into the service of an ambitious knight who wins no matter the cost and I can imagine that all the tournament scenes and other complex interactions surrounding these two characters are going to be outstanding.  I am also very intrigued by the fact that a lot of the story is going to be set around Simon de Montfort’s rebellion against the king, which is something I haven’t really seen in a historical fiction book before.  All this has an immense amount of potential as a historical fiction read, and I have a feeling that I am going to have an amazing time with this book.

I must admit that I became extremely keen to read this book the moment I saw the above plot synopsis.  Battle Song sounds like it is going to be an exceptional read and I cannot wait to find out just how impressive Ian Ross’s story is going to turn out.  I am very excited to see all the war, tournaments, and intense character moments that Battle Song is likely to contain, and I am extremely confident that this will be one of the top historical fiction novels of 2023.

Waiting on Wednesday – Fatal Legacy by Lindsey Davis

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 look at one of my most anticipated historical fiction reads of 2023, with the epic and captivating sounding Fatal Legacy by Lindsey Davis.

Fatal Legacy Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

Early each year I get a particularly satisfying historical murder mystery fix with the exceptional writing of Lindsey Davis, who has been pumping out hits since 1989.  Best known for her Marcus Didius Falco series, Davis’s work focuses on ancient Rome and generally see her protagonist, originally the titular Falco, investigate a series of elaborate crimes.  The Falco books ended in 2010, but Davis soon followed them up with her current series, the Flavia Albia books, which follow the daughter of Falco as she gets involved in a series of similar investigations to her father.

I have been a pretty big fan of the Flavia Albia series since the get go, having received a copy of the first book, The Ides of April, when it came out in 2013, and I had an absolute blast with it.  I have since gone on to read most of the books in this series and I absolutely love the fantastic blend of dark mystery, compelling characters, fun humour, and interesting historical details that often require the protagonist to dive into some unique aspect of Roman life.  Each of the previous books in the series have been excellent in their own way, and I have had an absolute blast with awesome books such as The Third Nero, Pandora’s Boy, A Capitol Death, The Grove of the Caesars (one of my favourite books of 2020), A Comedy of Terrors and Desperate Undertakings (one of my favourite books from the first half of 2022).  Many of these books have gotten five-star reviews from me and I have such an amazing time getting through all of them.

Naturally, after absolutely enjoying the first 10 books in the Flavia Albia series, there is no way I am going to miss the 11th, and luckily I don’t have to wait too much longer for it.  The next Flavia Albia book will be Fatal Legacy, which is currently set for release in April 2023.  I already love the sound of this upcoming books as it will see the protagonist involved in a complex feud between two rival families:


Synopsis:

The next witty, must-read book in the Flavia Albia series.

An unpaid bar bill leads Flavia Albia to her most bitter and complex case yet.

Decades earlier Appius Tranquillus Surus wrote his will: it freed his slaves and bequeathed his businesses to them. He left an orchard to the Prisci, a family he was friendly with, on the condition that his freedmen could still take its harvest.

The convoluted arrangement has led to a feud between the two families, each of which has its own internal strife. Endless claims and counterclaims lead to violence and even death. Lawyers have given up in exasperation as the case limps on. The original will has disappeared, along with a falsified codicil – and might there be another one?

But is there a solution? Two youngsters from each side of the divide, Gaius Venuleius and Cosca Sabatina, have fallen in love, which could unite the feuding families. There is only one problem: were Sabatina’s grandmother and father really liberated in the Surus will? If not, the stigma of slavery will stop the marriage and the dispute will rage on forever.

Reconciliation seems impossible, but Albia will try. Her investigation must cut through decades of secrets, arguments, lies and violence to reach a startling truth.


Now, while I was already quite excited for this cool upcoming book, the above synopsis has got me very intrigued for Fatal Legacy.  This is mainly because the protagonist will find herself drawn into quite a complex sounding case, with feuding families attempting to gain control of a wealthy track of land.  This case itself sounds more like a legal thriller than anything else and I can’t wait to see Davis’s great take on the Roman legal system.  This will pair nicely with the inevitable murders, thefts, and schemes that Flavia Ablia will be forced to investigate, and I am sure that she will have to dig deep into both family’s secrets to find the truth.  Throw in a doomed, Shakespearian romance between two young lovers from each family and this has all the makings for another Lindsey Davis classic that I will have a wonderful time reading.

Based on how much fun and excitement I have had with the Flavia Albia series in the past, I was pretty damn hyped for Fatal Legacy, even before I knew what it was going to be about.  However, now that I can see just how interesting the new Davis’s story is going to be, I am even more pumped.  The plot synopsis above is extremely epic and I cannot wait to see what complex and twisty narrative, rich with historical detail, that the author comes up with.  I am already highly confident Fatal Legacy is going to be one of the best historical fiction books I read in 2023, and I will make every effort to grab a copy as soon as I can.

Fatal Legacy Cover 2

Waiting on Wednesday – Witch King by Martha Wells

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I highlight an excellent and compelling upcoming fantasy book from an author I have been meaning to try for some time, with Witch King by Martha Wells.

Witch King Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

One of the sad realities of being a reader/reviewer is that it is pretty impossible to read every single amazing novel that is released, no matter how much you want to.  As such, I currently have a huge backlog of books that I desperately want to read, including a ton from some highly regarded authors whose voice I have never had a chance to enjoy before.  Despite my best efforts, I have never had a chance to truly check some great authors out, which is something I deeply regret.  However, in 2023, I am going to make a real effort to finally read something from one author whose name I keep hearing about, Martha Wells.

Martha Wells is an impressive author who has been writing since 1993, producing a range of compelling fantasy and science fiction novels.  Wells current has a huge catalogue of books to her name, including a range of great standalone novels, her Ille-Rien and Books of the Raksura series, as well as some intriguing tie-in novels.  However, the books that I constantly hear people talking about is the cool science fiction series, The Murderbot Diaries, which follows a murderous robot who gains sentience and attempts to discover its humanity.  I have heard some really good things about The Murderbot Diaries series, and it seems at times like every reviewer I follow has something positive to say about it.  I am also quite keen on checking out Well’s Star Wars tie-in novel, Razor’s Edge, which has a great story to it, and which I currently have a copy of sitting on my phone.  As good as all these Wells’ books sound, I doubt I’m going to get around to reading them anytime soon, especially with all the awesome new books coming out in 2023.  However, I think I will make time to read Wells’ next upcoming book, especially as it is separate from any of her previous work.

This new book is Witch King, which is currently set for release in late May 2023.  A compelling and unique fantasy book, Witch King will apparently follow a powerful demon who attempts to find out why he was killed and imprisoned, while also working with a lesser mage who is attempting to steal his powers.  This sounds like it is going to be a pretty impressive read, and I love the potential story that Wells has laid out below.  Combine this with Wells’ well established writing skill and the huge appreciation she has garnered from a lot of other reviewers, I am highly confident that this is going to be a pretty exceptional read, and I cannot wait to try it out.  Honestly, Witch King has so much damn potential and I cannot wait to try it, and Wells’ writing, out in 2023.

Synopsis:

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”
Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

Waiting on Wednesday – Burner by Mark Greaney

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

Burner Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

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

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

Plot Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting on Wednesday – The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding

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

The Shadow Casket Cover

Amazon     Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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