Review: The Heroes (First Law #5) by Joe Abercrombie

The HeroesThe Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heroes is the fifth-book in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law World. This is an Epic Grimdark series that sucked me in from the very first book and hasn’t let go.

Best Served Cold, the fourth-book in the series, is one of my favorite books of all time and while I was excited to move forward in this world, I was also a little nervous. How could anything live up to that?

The truth is, this didn’t surpass Best Served Cold as far as my enjoyment went, but it was still a bloody brilliant story more than worthy of a 5-star rating.

At its heart, this is a story of war. The players, the action, the strategy, the outcome and the aftermath. We examine portions of each. I loved that it felt like a giant game of chess; moving players around the board, shuffling up alliances and allegiances.

The war is between the Union and the Northmen, lasting for three brutal days, that feel like many more to all involved.

There were a few shocking things that happened toward the end of this that I absolutely was not expecting. Abercromie definitely succeeded in giving me more than one solid jaw drop moment.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on in this world.

Abercrombie’s world-building is a masterclass on how to draw the Reader in. The cast of morally-grey characters is fantastic. It’s like a Grimdark Soap Opera. They’re bringing the drama, each and every installment.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Epic Fantasy, particularly Grimdark fans. There’s so much delicious content here to sink your teeth into. A must read series!

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Review: Best Served Cold (First Law #4) by Joe Abercrombie

Best Served ColdBest Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


As many of us know, revenge is a dish best served cold and that’s exactly what we’re served in this stunning Grimdark Fantasy by beloved author, Joe Abercrombie.

I loved the initial trilogy in the First Law world, composed of The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. I gave them all 5-stars and grew to love that set of characters with my whole heart.

In fact, I loved them so much, I was a little sad when I first learned that this book, Best Served Cold takes place many years after the end of Last Argument of Kings.

19-years have passed and this is a dangerous world, it would have to be following all new characters, right? I was going to miss my tried and trues.

Would I even enjoy it half as much?

I should have trusted Abercrombie. Of course this was going to be amazing. I feel sheepish looking back. How dareth I have questioned his prowess with a pen!!

In this story we follow Monza Murcatto, known as the Snake of Talins, she is the most feared mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ. Stories of her victories are told around every table, she’s hugely popular. A real woman of the people.

She’s a little too popular by Orso’s estimation. He can’t have it. It’s a threat to his rule. This thinking leads to a swift and bloody betrayal.

Monza’s beloved brother is slayed and she is attacked, beaten, thrown out a window to roll down the rocky cliff below and left for dead. Miraculously, she survives and through her dirty, painful recovery she has one thing on her mind. Vengeance.

Gobba, Mauthis, Prince Ario, General Granmark, Faithful Carpi, Prince Foscar and Grand Duke Orso of Talins.

Seven men were in the room when she was betrayed. They’ll all pay. The countdown begins.

Monza assembles a team and off they go. This was incredibly easy to read. At just over 600-pages, you may think you’ll get bogged down in it, but every moment was fascinating. My attention didn’t wane at all.

I loved this cast of characters so much. I was extremely nervous that Abercrombie was going to shatter me in the end, but you know, it’s hard not to walk away from such an incredible story a happy girl. Regardless of the outcome.

I’m now more in love with this world than ever and cannot wait to continue on.

If you’ve been curious about this series, love Grimdark Fantasy, or books with fascinating characters and top-tier world development in genreal, you absolutely have to give this series a go!!

I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

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Rereading A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R.R. Martin’s Epic Fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Although it was originally published in 1996, this fantastically-imagined grimdark story has been hugely popular over the past decade, or more, since HBO’s release of the television adaptation, originally aired in April of 2011.

When I first read this book, in the Fall of 2015, I had already watched 5 Seasons of the show. I basically just picked it up to have extra content while I waited for Season 6 to release.

I know what some of you are thinking. You watched the series before you read the book? Believe it or not, that’s actually my preference. I was particularly glad I did it that way in this case, as it truly helped with pronunciation and picturing such a vast world in my head.

Unfortunately, I stopped reading after the third book. Not for any reason really. They’re just a commitment and we all know, I’m not crazy about commitments.

Either way, recently I have been missing this series. I never watched the final Season and most likely never will. In spite of this, I feel like it was time for me to revisit the world and continue on with the books.

I’m obviously hoping Mr. Martin graces us with the Winds of Winter at some point in the next couple of years. If he does, I’ll be ready…

This time through, I did listen to the audiobook for the first time, while following along in my paperback copy. It was such an enjoyable experience. The narration by Roy Dotrice is so great. He has a true storytelling voice.

I plan to continue my reread in this format. It’s so impressive to me how distinctive he can make such a vast cast of characters. I always knew what perspective he was reading from. There was never any confusion.

Speaking of the vast cast, I love this as a first installment to a series. What a way to kick it off. The world-building is so well done. A true master class.

The alternating perspectives really showcase the size and scope of the overall series. This early on, you can already tell how complex this is going to get, yet it never seems info-dumpy or boring. How does Martin work this magic?

It hits you a certain way reading this knowing the outcome for some of these characters. I feel like it made me more emotional because of that. For example, watching how close Catelyn and Robb are. Their relationship, what a good mother she is to him. Sure, she’s a total twat to Jon, but clearly she thinks she has her reasons.

I had forgotten how young a lot of these characters were at the start of this, particularly Dany, Sansa, Robb and Jon. It’s crazy the things they were going through already at such a young age. You gotta grow up quickly in Westeros.

Also, while I clearly remember that George likes to rip your still beating heart out of your chest, throw it to the floor and stomp on it, I forgot how soul-crushing the last, approximately, 150-pages of this book actually is.

East section at the conclusion of this is like being punched in the gut, over and over again. Stark family shattered. Dany shattered. Megs_bookrack shattered. There’s a theme here.

With this being said, I’m super stoked to continue on with this series. I remember the books getting better and better, so I’m excited to experience that again and to move further along than I did before.


I only have 1,228-books currently on my TBR. I’ll just reread this one real quick…

Listening to the audiobook this time around, but going to be following along in my old, well-loved paperback edition!

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Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so hooked on this series. The characters, the intrigue, the brutality, the world-building; it’s all exemplary.

Off the charts. Sensational!

Before They Are Hanged is the second book in Joe Abercrombie’s series, The First Law. If you are unaware, the first three books in the series are a connected trilogy, while books four, five and six, are all standalone novels that take place in the same world.

I have been intimidated for years by this series; by Abercrombie actually. Even though I had heard nothing but great things about his writing.

I’m not quite sure what all that was about, but now that I have completed the first three books, I would count this as one of my favorite series ever. Yeah, it’s that good.

In this second book, I was super pumped about the fact that we were going on a quest. Bayez, the First of the Magi, gathers a group of traveling companions and they head out across the world in search of a mysterious ancient object.

Quests are one of my favorite tropes. I love to go along for the danger and adventure of the road. This group, oh my goodness, they were ill-suited to one another at first, but as with many traveling groups before them, they eventually began to grow on one another.

The quest is just one of the many storylines going on in this installment, however, so there is plenty here for everyone. Even if you are a monster and a quest isn’t your most favorite thing.

Throughout I was continually impressed with the world creation. I was learning so much regarding the structure and functioning of this world, all while maintaining my high level of interest. It was in no way info-dumpy, or dull.

The characters, as well, particularly our mains, are totally fleshed out. I have never loved such a brutal group of utter bastards more. I am seriously so attached to them; it’s a wee bit concerning actually.

The stakes were raised so high over the course of this narrative. I knew by the time I turned the final page, I needed to get my hands on the third book as quickly as possible.

10 out of 10, recommend to all Epic Fantasy fans, Grimdark Fantasy fans and Heroic Fantasy fans. In short, Fantasy fans unite!!

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Review: The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The First Law series has been on my radar for a long time. It’s one of those Fantasy series that seems to stand out as a favorite amongst Readers.

After completing this, I can absolutely see why.

With a lush, Grimdark Fantasy setting, extremely well-constructed characters, magic and a ton of intrigue, I was fully immersed within this story when I was reading it.

Even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I had no clue where the story was going, but was perfectly content to sit back and let Abercrombie’s genius wash over me.

In this first book, the main cast of characters is introduced and we watch as the spheres of their worlds begin to merge.

Logen, Bayaz, Glokta and Jezal were all incredibly compelling. Each one of their stories was one that I wanted to know more about. Often, I feel like character work can be uneven; like there are characters you are more drawn to than others. In this case, I loved each and every one of them!

There is a lot of ground work being laid in this novel, but in spite of that, it never felt like a slog. It always felt exciting and important.

I really enjoyed the level of magic that Abercrombie included. It wasn’t overdone, or relied upon too heavily as a plot device, but I feel like we are just scratching the surface of the powers available in this world.

I love how this ended up, with the intrigue higher than ever and it appears we are heading out on a quest. One of my favorite tropes in Fantasy.

I cannot wait to get to the next book!!!

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Review: Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruthless Gods, the second installment of Emily A. Duncan’s debut YA Fantasy trilogy, Something Dark and Holy, continues to bring the dark atmosphere I cherish.

Significantly darker than your average YA Fantasy, this second book especially, toed the line of Horror and I’m here for it.

Our three main characters, Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz, return and, y’all, they go through it.

This world is hella brutal. The magic, the landscape, it seems everything is out to get them, maybe even each other.

I enjoyed the character growth in this sequel, as each of them is faced with their own private battles. As they seemingly grow closer towards one another, outside forces are simultaneously pushing them apart.

Each is conflicted with their own demons, causing conflict amongst them. Meddlesome Gods play them like pawns in a game. The intensity is constant.

This was definitely an action-packed ride!

I’ll admit, I wish I would have taken the time to go back and review the first novel, particularly the ending, prior to picking this one up.

Up to around the 50% point of this book, I was confused. I was enjoying it, but it was a confused enjoyment.

My plan is to reread the first two books prior to the release of the third. I absolutely will be following through with this until its, no doubt, brutal conclusion.

I love this world. Based on an Eastern European culture and landscape, I find that the aspects of terrain and local folklore and legends, really add to my overall enjoyment of the story.

If you are a fan of Grimdark Fantasy, Blood Magic and Gods who manipulate the greater worlds around them, then you should definitely pick this series up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much!

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Review: Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean

Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne, #2)Priest of Lies by Peter McLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

This second installment to the War for the Rose Throne series picks up just months after the events of the first book, Priest of Bones.

We have our main man, Tomas Piety, leader of the Pious men, back in The Stink ruling the streets with an iron fist and some harsh justice.

I was so excited to get to this book, one of my most anticipated sequels of 2019, and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT! This grimdark adult fantasy series is so gritty and dirty, you can smell it, you can feel it. It’s immersive.

Less barroom brawls and more political strategy, I love the direction this series is heading in. As Tomas gains more power than ever before, he sees his position in society change to one he could have never imagined.

Once a champion of the people, does that stand true any more?

Traveling to Dannsburg, Tomas quickly discovers that while the nobility may battle with different weapons, it is no less dangerous. As with the first novel, this is action-packed from start to finish with a smooth writing style that is highly addictive.

One of my favorite aspects of this one was how our knowledge of the magic system is continuing to grow. The reader is getting more insight into the cunning as more characters with the gift are introduced. We also get to go inside the House of Magicians which was terrifying in the best possible way.

Additionally, the world building is continuing to grow and it is bloody fantastic!

I have no idea how long this series is projected to be but it left off in a great spot! I cannot wait to get my hands on Book 3. I will keep reading these as long as Mclean keeps writing them, I can tell you that right now!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Love this series, love this author. Yes, please. Keep them coming!!!

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Review: Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne #1)Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is the start to a new adult grimdark fantasy series. Gritty, violent and highly addictive this book kept me glued to the pages until the very end. The story begins with our badass MC, Tomas Piety, returning to his hometown after fighting in a long, brutal war. He brings with him a hodgepodge group of men, including his righthand ‘man’ Bloody Anne, and the mysterious child, Billy the Boy. Not far behind comes his younger brother, Jochan, with some of his men, returning as well. The two groups band together and set out to reclaim the territory and businesses previously owned by Piety that have been pirated during his absence.

This story has everything I am looking for when I open a grimdark fantasy. I want dirt. Lots of it. Dirt, grime, blood, stink, cussing, fighting and no mercy. Just me?

This book had all of those things in spades but it also had a lot more. It deals with some heavier topics that I think were handled really well; rather impressively in fact. For example, a lot of the men returning from war struggle with PTSD – I believe they call it battle sickness in the book – and it didn’t gloss over that fact; it discussed it, showed what that meant amongst the men and how they helped one another. It also examined the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse – the effects that has as an individual is growing into an adult. There are issues with grief, with guilt, and sexual identity. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few that I noticed and appreciated. That is pretty much all I want to say on the plot, as I don’t want to reveal anything else that may spoil the paced reveal of the story to anyone.

“All you want is more blood, and more fucking death, and it’s never enough for you, is it? You’ve become a fucking priest of bones!”

I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes grimdark fantasy; particularly people who may like stories like, The Song of Ice and Fire series, that have a lot of political intrigue in them and complex relationships. This story left off in the perfect place for the second book to start and trust me, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Well done, Peter McLean, well done!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkeley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing what other readers think of this incredibly dark and delicious story!

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