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Shadow Of The Raven

For once, I really like this work for the tale it tells. Although far from complete and it would take a lot more than that, but I really like the research the author puts into this. As well as the way that it was written, understandable and really enjoyable in the way it was written. The style basically can be summed up in one word: timeless.

I barely have any idea about the Vikings, and I really like how this was immersed into us, and well the transition smooth and easy for me to get into despite having very little idea about the time period.

As for the main character, Eardwulf(old English Names just aren’t my thing) is a really relatable character. As he slowly moved through the entire ordeal of being a thrall(a slave basically) and seeing more tragedies unfold before him, and eventually managing to find his way out.

And well, I really like this work for how it made it bite sized and to me it was one which I went deep and connected with Ulf(his eventual name but it’s just way easier to spell than above which I’m not too sure what the spelling is.)

Although there is some romance in this book during Ulf’s time as a thrall, and eventually it resolved by the end. Which I did like given that Freyis is kind and gentle, although not as interesting as a character however I did like it when she did try to pursue something and when her dreams were crushed she simply didn’t just accept it.

As for Morwenna, she is by far the best woman here. The other princess of Wessex doesn’t really stand out. But I do like Morwenna for when she became a concubine she just stayed there until she found her eldest son and even had another. I do really like her character and her strength, which translates to her decisions and actions.

As for the ending, well it will lead you somewhere and it will suggest something a bit more. I definitely look forward to where it heads and most definitely where it will go.

In my opinion should you consider reading this: yes.

I voluntarily requested a copy of this book on Netgalley.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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My Lady Jane

This was the right sort of hilarious, it made me laugh within fifty pages of the book and the rest of the time giggling to myself(like a bit of a lunatic, can’t help myself since I also talk a lot to myself). I guess a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously is right up my alley (now where can I reserve a copy of The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue).

Well, instead of the religious divide we have in Tudor England during the region of Edward the Sixth, what we have instead is a divide between people who can turn into animals, and people who cannot. And that the cast is full of animal, we have a kestrel, a fox, a cat, a ferret and of course a horse(now I can’t stop laughing at the mention of one.)

This was just so enjoyable, and you know making me laugh. I read this with rarely any skimming, because I really didn’t want to miss a joke, since it made me laugh out loud for the first time with a book(which had never happened in the year and a half that I continuously read books). Let me just say, when these three authors come together to write a comedy, count me in and I’ll forever be a willing supporter of their humor.

And I enjoyed the fact that for the first half history was there, for the second half it was thrown out the window quite literally. But for a book like this, who cares, you’re in for a silly fun ride regardless of whether it follows history or not. Trust me, just go with the flow, I suppressed my skepticism and gave myself up(though it was easy to do since it made me laugh out loud to resist all disbelief.)

As for the ending, it follows history. There won’t be any great changes to history, with some exceptions of course. And well, everyone does get a happy ending. And for an animal reference, a cat and mouse exists in here, which would prove to be the dynamic of the two characters in history(it’s easy to guess who, since they were cousins and one had the other’s head chopped off).

And not to mention the cast being as diverse as it was, and making a great joke out of Henry the Eighth in the first 10%.

I guess I have said too much, any longer and I’ll have to change this to a recap of the book, which isn’t what intend. So, I’ll end here. The rest is up to you dear reader of this review whether you want to read it or not(but I highly recommend you to like really recommend you to, this book it worth it.)

Rating: 5 our of 5

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A Queen’s Spy

This is a case of mismatched expectations. What I expected form this was plenty of interesting conversations and finding out and also spying.

Here, I don’t even know where is the spying. All the characters are boring, and it was set in a time where Elizabeth did need a spy most. But I wanted more than this, it wasn’t to my expectations. It was not to my thoughts, and not to what I really wanted from this book.

And even more so, was that I really couldn’t click with any of the characters at all. Not even one of them made me interested in them. And really, I didn’t find where the plot was focusing about.

It was just all around the death of Edward VI, Mary. I did expect a lot more interaction than that, and a lot more of the Tudor Court than that. To my surprise, this didn’t really give me any of that. Some intrigue here and that, but it just wasn’t what I really wanted.

It just wasn’t what I wanted from this book, and that I couldn’t really click nor enjoy the story. This just wasn’t what I thought it would be. So, to me, it’s really just not to my taste and expectations.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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The Warrior Princess

Unlike the title which promises a warrior princess which doesn’t happen till the end. And well, frankly this bored me till the end.

Not even one of them have any personality that drew me to this. Especially the moments where they should have simply focused on Gwenilian, she barely has any role earlier and doesn’t do anything powerful until the end. And well, that is a lot of time and a lot of wasted pages on the intrigue and bunch of other characters, who apparently are mostly her villains. What happened to developing her personality as the main character.

Do I care about unknown warlords? I would have very much preferred if it focused on our main character first before going to develop the others, since I was very well confused why was it that we ended up only knowing her very late into the book.

And history without a character I can focus on, is what that bores me. Although that the prose was very well written and even developed, but I barely could not enjoy the atmosphere. Not when most of the book is spent just building it and nothing is really done or making me excited until the last few pages.

And well, that’s where I give up too. My verdict: will not recommend.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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False Lights

I really really like the way that it was imagined, yet I still feel as though this book was just so utterly forgettable in the way that it made its characters and the way the plot was structured and also the writing. It just wasn’t for me.

I really couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and the writing although rather alright and able to get the meaning across just failed to even move me slightly. And strangely, I feel as though the novel had never really moved much at all.

All I really remember is a whole bunch of characters, and also plenty of historical characters who do appear. And well, mostly I’m a little confused here. One moment I was with Crow, the next with I think it was his wife Hester and finally sometimes some characters who I barely even understand. And well, the huge casts of characters without really anything memorable about then was what that ruined this book for me. Since I really need a character to focus about, and there was not much of anything which made me go back to read again. Or any form of dialogue which was even momentarily relatable. In fact, I can’t even seem to remember any memorable quotes here at all. And those go a long way when it comes to me.

If I’m not invested, yeah it is hard to make me really like a book. And sometimes this always happened here, I just couldn’t connect with them. Although I did enjoy the way it’s premise worked, and several developments that came due to the Bonaparte taking England.

But I just couldn’t feel a thing for any of the characters. And well, that to me is always a problem. And somehow, I really wanted to know more about the politics that went behind there instead of this confusing plot I had. I felt as though there was absolutely no tension throughout the book and well nothing of much importance was even happening.

I don’t know whether the writing really killed everything for me, or was it just not to my taste and expectations. So for this, it really boils down to the fact that this isn’t a perfect fit for me. I enjoyed the world, but really found the plot and characters absolutely boring.

Will recommend to you though, if you are still interested. It may be the fact that I expected something a little different from what I got.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Queen Of Trial And Sorrow

I never felt more addicted to a real historical character. Although not as controversial as some people but her life made for one heck of a story. And it is true, from the moment she becomes Queen, she was unlikely. Yet, she managed to hang on.

I really got sucked into the work, immersed in its world and complicated legacies. Most importantly, I became an avid fan of this period of history from the moment I read this book. I preciously only knew about the Tudors, not much other than that.

But I loved this, as Elizabeth had a great deal of story. From becoming queen when she was widowed, and at the same time went back to her own house. To when she lost her sons, whose death till these days remains a mystery. And her emotions with all of it, touched me particularly. The author was insanely skilled in making a likeable character, she may have made some horrible mistakes with horrible repercussions. Also, the way she dealt with some strange things. She was a Queen in an age where she probably would be the last suitable contender for it. And the way she had to deal with her sons death, which is still something of great speculation till this day.

And I think her story was well narrated, crafted even. As she gets herself involved in political intrigue, and dealing with it. To maintain her standing, also to advance her own family. As well as protecting her own children. What she does clearly is interesting, and she does have faith even if the bleakest of times.

Well she may not have had a lot of influence, nor did she have a large hand in politics. But she was sound, and some level I found her sensible. The way she handled her husband’s affair, knowing full well that it was best not to do anything. Since she could survive, she had so many children to depend on.

The way I think the story introduced and immersed me in a world which I barely knew, and made it readable relatable. Her narration goes until the death of her own sons and eventually a little bit when her life did get a bit better when her daughter chose to marry Henry Tudor.

And I think that the story ended well, middle ground, she lived out the rest of her days peacefully, but so filled with sorrow. She lost most of her sons, but had her daughters for company went from a widow to a Queen and eventually a mistress. At the end of the day, she got back what she had, but lost a lot as well. The title is incredibly fitting, and I have to say, I was absorbed in this story.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Now I Rise 

This was worth every cent that I spent on it. I bought this book, becoming way too anxious to try and reserve it instead. And this was totally worth it, worth all the money. And like the first book, except that everything gets darker, murkier and even more brutal. 

While the first book was Lada’s story, even though here she still has a lot of story to go. But it goes to Radu, Radu who went through hell, Radu who was caught so in between two worlds. Radu who was beginning to doubt his own alliances. And this was why it is his. The slow development, his sympathy, his emotions and slowly his disillusionment; it was all well portrayed.  

The way that he began to doubt, began to wonder. The way that he eventually saw the things he needed to pay, it was all so painful for Radu. All so painful for me to read. He was the one who always fought for the truth, he isn’t without his own loyalties, his own moralities but it all comes to be a balance here. And this quote was perfect to describe it: 

How many ways could a man turn traitor in his lifetime? 

Lada’s slow evolution to becoming the Impaler, was exactly what I expected to see. Eventually, it was going down this route. She begans to fight less and less from her own inner demons, and begins to give in. She is cruel, but at the same time, I could say almost anyone would admire her for what she did. The means justifies the end, she killed all of them to have a stronger Wallachia. And she never wavered from it. 

Even if she is cruel, for me, I always liked it. I always understood her, I still continued to sympathise with her. Even though she is in a downward spiral, she will become the monster that Vlad the Impaler was, and this book showed it. The steps she took, all for a noble goal, but she is allowed to be nasty and at the same time, she is doing what she can. 

And most importantly, she is doing it on her terms. Even when she is a woman, even when she is basically nothing. And her obsession and devotion to Wallachia, it was something that I feel was real. She wanted to rebuild it, and this book will justify the monster she becomes just for her own country. 

As for her own sexuality, she should be asexual, end of story. Because she is too arrogant, and too angry with men to be one. And the way that the romance had a part to play in her, the way that she chose not to ever dress up. She doesn’t like playing by anyone’s rules, and sometimes she constantly wonders whether she has too. Even when they prove to be utterly useless and dangerous to them instead. 

And she would do it all for Wallachia. Whether it means destroying it completely and building it from the rubble, or killing so many. She is afraid of losing power, and she is afraid to be at anyone’s mercy. The way that she didn’t want to be Mehmed’s Empress, the way she didn’t want to forge alliances and play by the rules. Because she doesn’t want to trust them; she believes she cannot trust them. And this is why I loved her. So many reasons, and an actual female protagonist who although hasn’t find her feminity, but is balanced out by the other female influences here. 

As for her own quote: 

She never stopped being that girl lost in a place where she could never have power 

As for the side characters, Nazira stood out, so did Daciana. The way Nazira helped Radu, was important to it in so many ways. The way that she was so much more than a wife, and she was real. She loved, she hated. And that was why I like her, she is never afraid to take opportunities, she is never afraid to move forward. As for Daciana, being a peasant, and managing to terrify Janissaries instead, and even find Lada. She was brilliant, she was strong. And she is tough. She knew who to find, and I liked her because of it.

As for the character who are simply too good for this world, is Cyprian. Despite it all, he trusted Radu. Despite it all, he believed in him. And the way he impacted Radu, was in a way that was utterly believable. And his entire character, I just hope he will survive to the end. 

And their sibling relationship, even when they separated, they didn’t stop thinking about each other. They are close, when together are balanced yet they would suffocate each other. They would utterly be unable to help each other rise. And have separated, they constantly think about each other. Constantly think about the other’s action. And I loved it. 

The romance and love triangle have tied up, in a way that I was satisfied yet completely out of my thought. It developed in a way I never thought it would, and the end, I would say is fitting. 

As for my ending paragraph. This was perfection to me, but it may not be for all readers. If you like historical fiction, if you like politics and court intrigue, then this is for you. There is no fantasy, there is no easy way out. There is only political machinations and deals, and cruelty. Above all, there are no heroes or villains here. And there is no black or white. Everything was in shades of grey. And this is all about thrones and power. 

If you like all this, pick up And I Darken. Because there is no better ya book who deals with this better, the way that politics is handled here was so well done. But if you prefer sword fights and action scenes, you are looking for the wrong book. 

Rating: 5 out of 5