Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Image result for empire of stormsSome rambly thoughts I had on Empire of Storms: 


EoS is SO different to the other books in the series. I feel like it steps up into a war book. We’ve finally reached the point where the fighting and planning is starting. It’s terrifying and SO EXCITING.

ELIDE AND LORCAN ARE MY NEW FAVOURITE THING EVER. I’m waiting for the fanart of them to be drawn. They’re the unlikeliest couple and that makes it even better. I never thought about them interacting, never mind being a couple. It being so unexpected made it even better. I adored seeing this other side to Lorcan. He’s so protective of Elide. I love seeing this huge warrior male cowed by this small girl. Elide is totally my new favourite character, I loved her in QoS and I love her even more now. Her strength and her kindness is amazing. She might have a disability but that doesn’t stop her from doing anything or helping in any way she can.
I’m not even mad Lorcan and Elide are in a bad place at the end of the book, I’m just looking forward to their interaction in the next book and him trying to win her back. I strangely like the conflict :p

O.M.G the naval battles. They were so cinematic! I was cheering on Lysandra so much! I’ve never read anything like the Sea Wyvern/Dragon fight. Holy crap that bit was amazing. I completely take back every bad thing I ever thought about Lysandra while reading the Assassins Blade. That girl is amazing. But man, they must have taken some planning; I completely read them while imagining how it’d look as a movie. EPICCC.  

The Wyverns attack on Rifthold totally reminded me of the Nazgul destroying Minas Tirith, picking people up and dropping them, big winged shadows over buildings etc.

I’m so glad Manon stood up to her grandmother. I was so happy she saved Asterin (I was truly scared for a moment there)  and when Abraxos went missing whenever someone wondered where he’d gone I would be like ‘please say he’s gone to find the rest of the thirteen’. I still want my own Wyvern…and to be part of the thirteen.

Even though Chaol was always my love and he wasn’t in EoS, it wasn’t that I didn’t miss him but rather it felt like he wasn’t actually missing. The couple of mentions about him kept him in mind I’m excited that he’s getting his own novella. I also think the cast of characters was SO big in EoS, his absence helped not to overwhelm you with them all. I felt like this was the book with the least amount of Aelin PoV because of the many different things going on across the map but it worked well in terms of Aelin secretly planning with Ansel, Ilias (THEYRE BACK :O ) and Galan. It broke my heart that she didn’t get to see all her hard work come to fruition.

I feel bad that I never really thought about how Dorian would be in this book. He’s never had time to grieve and move on and it made me want to cry for him. Its so cool how Aelin is like her power in that she’s fiery and now Dorian feels like he’s becoming like his own. He’s a lot colder than the Dorian we were introduced to. His character development is insane. So good. But so sad. Bless him, he’s so haunted by Sorcha and being controlled. I loved ManonXDorian, they have this strange chemistry, but I hope they can be together not because she’d not easily broken but because they love each other.

I’ve totally decided Aelin CANNOT die at the end of the series now. NO. WAY. I don’t think I could handle it, that girl deserves the happiest of endings! I was trying to prepare myself as I got near the end of the book as I knew something would happen. But I don’t think anyone can be prepared for that. NO ONE. I never expected Maeve to do something like this, was waiting for Erawan to be doing the horrifying deeds. I was trying to think of a way of describing how the ending feels so I compared it to Nehemia death and the end of Heir of Fire, to me they were like a sharp punch to the heart, they hit me full force and made me immediately cry. EoS is like someone is squeezing my heart…permanently. Over the year I’m gonna be doing work or something and ill just think ‘Aelin is being tortured by Maeve right now. Alone. Not knowing her husband is coming for her.’ and ill just curl into a ball.

Image result for empire of stormsAELIN AND ROWAN GOT MARRIED! MARRRIEDDDD. Oh man those two make my heart soar and break it too. Rowan first saying ‘where is my wife?’ is like the perfect example, I was so happy for them but so devastated too.

The most insane moment I think has to go to finding out Aelin’s plan in case something like this happened. It makes me feel so deeply sad that they even have to consider the plan. Lysandra forever living as Aelin, Rowan living without Aelin but pretending that he still is and that their children are his and Aedion being in love with Lysandra but cant be with her, but have kids with her that he cant acknowledge. It was this that hit my right in the heart because these characters could survive the war, save the world but then go on living like this…without their happy ending.  I want to pick them all up and drop them on a safe little island somewhere where they’ll have no problems and somehow not be bothered by Erawan/Maeve.
Aedion declaring he would marry Lysandra brought tears to my eyes. Their slow burning but deep love for each other is just so sweet.

The links between each of the main characters and each of the gods was so interesting, as if they were each picked for a purpose and have all come together to complete the plan. I love that hints about this have been dropped since ToG.

Getting to read about Elena and Gavin in their own time was brilliant and to finally gets some truths on them. I love that their was a brave heroine who tried her best but ultimately failed because she wasn’t perfect.

One thing I always love in books is when two people from a group of friends who never really talk are forced to interact with each other, so I loved to see what kind of dynamic Rowan and Dorian had.

 5 Stars obviously, when do I ever not give Sarah 5 stars?

Thoughts on Chaol's story in the WHSmith edition of Empire of Storms. Which you can read here:

I think everyone, the Chaol lovers and the Chaol haters, needs to read this little novella because it explains everything we've wanted to know and questioned about Chaol. 

I'm a Chaolaena fan, they'll always have a special place in my heart, but they could never be endgame and any questions about this are answered in the story. 

Chaol says himself he would've never left Dorian, so he could never have gone with Aelin to live in Terrasen. So, Chaolaena would've ended...without the introduction of Rowan. Even a Chaolaena lover like me can see that this is true. Now I just want them to be friends. 

Chaol also talks about how he only saw a 'fraction' of Aelin and he imagined himself with that fraction and couldn't get his head around seeing her as a whole after loving her as just Celaena. Rowan saw the whole of Aelin, and fell in love with that. For me, its a perfect explanation of Chaol's inner turmoil over the last couple of books. All i want now is for Aelin, Dorian and Chaol to be besties for life. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Insurgency by S.J.A Turney

A forbidden love. A daring escape. A gathering storm.

Forty years have passed since the Empire was restored. Emperor Kiva the Golden, his wife Jala Parishid, and his brother Marshal Quintillian have together overseen decades of peace and prosperity, a time when the horrors of the civil war could begin to fade from memory.
But nothing can last forever. A forbidden love drives Quintillian from the capital far into the eastern deserts, where he discovers an unprecedented threat to the Empire’s very survival. And when Jala is kidnapped by a sinister and ruthless group of warriors, it will take all of Kiva’s strength to defend her, his people, and their destiny…
Insurgency is the fourth novel in S.J.A. Turney’s Tales of the Empire series, set in a world inspired by Roman history. A sweeping tale of deception, cunning, and military valour, this will appeal to readers of Matthew Harffy, Simon Scarrow, and K.M. Ashman. (Amazon) 

The blurring of history and fantasy by S.J.A. Turney

If you look along the shelves of a bookshop, or even browse the categories of an online store looking for your next read, you will find a number of handy, well-defined categories. Some readers will be drawn to crime, or to romance, or horror. Some will find themselves searching for the history section, or the fantasy section. Most genres have a certain amount of blur, for instance Ellis Peters and Ruth Downie are both Historical Crime writers. One might call Thomas Harris’ Hannibal books Crime/Horror. There are many combinations in this manner, of course, but one of those least recognised and yet most common is historical fantasy.
The thing is that half of what we understand to be history is in reality pure legend, myth, and hearsay – basically fantasy. So where do we draw the line between the mythical and the practical? I recently read the first book of Glyn Iliffe’s Adventures of Odysseus. Anyone who knows anything of Ancient Greece or the Trojan war might already wonder where the lines of true history can be drawn, for the tales of Homer are largely accepted to have at least a basis in truth and yet are filled with Gods whisking people from battlefields, serpents sent to slay men, mystic visions, invulnerable heroes, magic armour, and so on. Do these things have a place in history? The answer can only be: perhaps. That depends entirely on the reader’s perspective. I find Iliffe’s work to be no less valid on the Trojan War than the collaboration in which I took part (A Song of War), which is released in October. In our retelling all magic, visions, gods and the like are explained away as far as possible with pragmatic detail. That does not mean we were right and Iliffe wrong. It means we chose to look at the history a different way, removing an inherent fantastic element.
In numerous historical novels, gods and mysticism play a part, and even monsters sometimes, largely because humans who lived in the times we write about believed in such their selves. These things were accepted as a part of life and therefore can equally be accepted in retellings of those lives. Ben Kane, Manda Scott, Gordon Doherty – myself too – have all bent the practical into the unexplained at times to add authenticity and atmosphere to our tales.
And then there’s the flip side of the coin. Some authors have set out writing fantasy that is so realistic that it feels more like history than many historical novels. A recent very popular example is George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones, which, while it contains both monsters and magic, is no more a stretch to the imagination than many Ancient Greek, Viking or Medieval tales. But to move even closer, there is a whole genre centred around fantasy based solidly on historical facts. Guy Gavriel Kay has written many standalone novels that are clearly works of fantasy with odd common threads running through them, which take their flavour and often the bones of the plot and even some detail from a real historical event. The Lions of Al Rassan was a fantasy retelling of the Spanish Reconquista. The Sarantine Mosaic was based around the life and reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, and so on. There are other such writers, of course, but I cite Kay as the master of the art.
I myself have tried to blur the lines in my Tales of the Empire. They are heavily flavoured with Late Rome, many of the locations re-envisioned from real places and some of the characters even faint re-imaginings of true historical personages. Such ‘historical fantasy’ or ‘alternate history’ (something more based on the ‘what if…’ principle, such as Guy Saville’s novels) have value for writer and reader that exists outside both the fantasy and historical genres on their own.
For example, I took part in a retelling of Boudicca’s revolt against Rome in 60AD (A Year of Ravens) and while we were able to take a fresh angle and create something I loved, no reader with a basic knowledge of the era is going to wonder how the tale will end. Similar problems hit most historical periods. If I write a book about Caesar (yes I have) no reader is going to wonder if Caesar will pull through at the end. If I write about the second world war, no one is going to wonder whether D-Day will flop and the Germans will cross the channel. See what I mean? History has rules we have to stick to, and that means that many historical novels based on real events or people hold little true surprise for the reader.
Fantasy, on the other hand, can often be too far removed from reality to sync with the reader’s subconscious comfort levels. It is hard to become too concerned with the fate of Zorvax the Ogre Mage’s fate when he fights the nine armed toilet brush of doom. An strained example perhaps, but you get the point. Yet when the hero is a man dressed in a realistic historical manner standing with a sword, up to his knees in snow and bellowing slogans of resistance against an oppressive king… well, it’s so damned realistic it could happen. So it becomes a comfortable read.
Historical fantasy hits the sweet spot for both genres. It creates something unpredictable, exciting and unexpected, yet in such a familiar way that it feels like a part of our heritage. In my opinion, this small but important sub-genre has grown a great deal in recent years and is rising to become of great value in the literary marketplace. Bravo Mr Martin for popularising this concept, though I shall continue to trumpet my own contribution too. I write Roman historical novels and Ottoman ones, but my Tales of the Empire are historical fantasy, flavoured with late Rome and yet pure imagination. The latest in the series – Insurgency – was released on the  15th of August and incorporates a fictionalised invasion of very Hun/Mongol-type horse clans of a late-Roman/early Medieval empire.
So hooray for historical fantasy and the blurring of genres. Pick up a book you’d never have expected to read. Who knows where it might take you…
Insurgency is published by Canelo price £3.99 as an ebook.