Review: Fearsome Magics

I’ve only picked up short story collections relatively recently, I (exceedingly) foolishly thought that they might not be good as a full length novel.

This book, Fearsome Magics (edited by Jonathan Strahan), proves I could not have been more wrong.

Inside we have stories from Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Justina Robson, Ellen Klages, Christopher Rowe, Isobelle Carmody, Tony Ballantyne, James Bradley, Karin Tidbeck, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Frances Hardinger, Kaaron Warren, Genevieve Valentine and Robert Shearman. ( I didn’t want to leave anyone out)

I enjoyed every single one of the stories in this anthology and highly recommend you go and read them all. But I thought that perhaps the best way to do a review was to pick some favourites and go into detail about those and then do a round up, so without further ado!

‘Home is the Haunter’ by Garth Nix

 This was one of the longer stories in the anthology and did take a little longer to get into  (but still not that long, I mean there’s not that long altogether!). A story of Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz, who just happens to be a living puppet, it took a little time to get drawn into the world but when I was I did not want to go anywhere. Once the story got going I could barely put it down, the writing was fantastic, the pacing was excellent, and the characters were outstanding. As soon as I finished this story I set out to find out more about Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz and purchased a collection of short stories on them. 

‘Grigori’s Theorum’ by Isobelle Carmody

I don’t think I have anything bad to say about this story.  A story about the end of the world, it gave me chills. The imagery that Carmody brought up and the feelings of sheer inevitability and acceptance just blew me away and I have been telling people about this story all week. Seriously, I thought it was amazing, an interesting concept exceedingly well told. 

“The Changeling” by James Bradley

A haunting tale really blurring the lines between what might actually be magic and what we might just want to perceive. Exploring a theme of escapism and social acceptance this particular short story did stay with me for its ambiguity in its ending. Bradley definitely pushed his protagonist to the edge.

All in all I think this a very strong anthology with a collection of stories that are all wonderful, creepy, epic, and heart-breaking all at once. To say that I would recommend this short story collection would be a bit of misdirection. I have already recommended this anthology several times to friends.  It has strong female characters, teddy bears, maths, and a village jam and preserve competition. What more could you want?

If you need something to occupy your mind for an hour and you want something that will stay with you and you can get your teeth into, grab a steak and this book.

Review: Emperor of Thorns (Audiobook)

Once again this was an audiobook but I actually got a signed hardcopy as a gift (awesome gift!) and it turns out the new POV character’s chapters were in a different font, which I thought was really cool! 

Anyway! 

As per usual Mark Lawrence does a wonderful job of throwing us right into the action and then folding in the back-story like a fine cake made of blood, death, and misery. This time we join Jorg as he is about to make his way to Congression (I’m not sure if that’s supposed to the capitalised but why not?) and again some backstory woven in that adds wonderful depth to the world, story, and character.

A brand new twist on this book in particular in another POV character! Say what!

This time we hear from … Chella’s perspective (Sorry I had to look that up, fantasy audiobooks mean I’m not sure how to spell things sometimes). It’s an interesting tale and gives us much more information about the world and a fresh perspective on things (although definitely not a fluffy happy one).

If there’s something that Lawrence can do, it is weave different levels of stories together. We also get lots of those throwaway sentences that Lawrence is so good at which are just beautifully put together and just make you stop to appreciate them. 

One thing I was slightly confused about was the foreshadowing that Lawrence included in his book. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of foreshadowing, especially if it means your second read through is completely different.  I’m not sure if I felt the foreshadowing was obvious, because it wasn’t very heavy handed at all, or perhaps more that Lawrence’s writing process is more of a (to use a term made famous by GRRM) gardener than an architect. Whatever the cause, reason, or rhyme I did find that I had seen ahead the twist long before it happened.

I don’t want you to take away that this is necessarily a bad thing, I’m not sure if it was supposed to remain a mystery until the big reveal or if Lawrence wanted us to guess it early on. With the story being in first person (for the most part) it added a tremendous amount of dramatic tension to the final chapters of the book and made those scenes all the more powerful. 

All in all this book was a very good close to the Broken Empire trilogy and I very much look forward to reading the next series that Lawrence has lined up for us (especially if he takes us beyond the end of Emperor of Thorns in his world’s timeline to see what effects the finale had on it).

This was an excellent book of the same high calibre that Mark Lawrence has crafted before. In Jorg we get a philosopher, warrior, king, and broken thing. Mark Lawrence makes no apologies for Jorg but we don’t want to and we fall in love with him all the same (perhaps more so because of that). The story moves a little slower than the previous books but it is still quick and compelling. It will make you laugh, it will tear at you and make you cry and leave you wanting more stories from Lawrence’s world.

What more could you want?