The Long and Short Of It

I write. Have done for as long as I can remember, but this last year the second draft of my novel (or as it likes to taunt: double-dare you to finish me, mofo!), has monopolised my time. Novel writing has had a steep learning curve – sometimes I joyfully get it, other times I despair. Ah, the rollercoaster life of a writer – amazing highs and some really shit-house lows.

Of late, I’ve been in that dead zone between highs and lows: the ‘Meh’ State, as I like to call it. While I’m still running on the high of my comic release, a writer needs to keep moving forward, and… enter the Meh State.

Neh

It’s taken a while for me to figure out why there’s been an itch the novel couldn’t scratch, but after a week in the country at my dad’s farm, it became apparent – short stories. So focussed I’ve been on getting through this next draft of the novel that I’ve neglected one of my favourite writing mediums.

I returned to fiction writing (from journalism) about seven years ago, and it was with short stories I decided to lay my hat. There was method to my choice: mastering short-story writing would enable me to write a lot tighter, which in turn would assist with my ability to write a lot more story into a novel.

Writing long is a very different beast to writing short, but there’s intrinsic value in learning the art of short-story writing. Creating a complete story within a limited word count means every word has to fight for its right to be in the story – a skill that transfers extremely well to novel writing. It’s a skill I have; one of my shortest pieces (under 3,000 words) won the Australian Shadows Award in 2011. And I’ve been applying it to the novel… and here is also where I think I’m coming undone. It’s the focus on making every word count – especially in this second draft – that is taking me longer to get this draft done than I’d like. There’s a need to shift gears, to see the bigger picture.

Help me

But that’s not the only thing that’s pushed me into the Meh State. I’ve missed writing short stories. A lot. Honing in on a moment in time, a sliver of someone’s life, is a whole lot of fun (yes, horror is a helluva lot of fun to write – murder and mayhem and monsters, oh my!); there’s no need to create a world on the same scale as the novel, but more drip-feed the world/culture into the story – just enough for set the reader in that world.

And let’s not forget the gratification side of things. Writing a short is far quicker than writing a novel (duh), and there’s also a much quicker response time for a short story, be it accepted or rejected. You know what’s happening with it far sooner than you would with a novel. It’s that high of having a story out in the world, fighting for its right to be in an anthology that I’ve missed, the feeling of being actually working (regardless of how stupid that sounds).

Balance. That’s what I was missing. I’d forgone the love of writing in the short form to pursue the lure of writing in the long. As of today, I have two short stories out in the world at the moment, both written within the last few weeks, and I’m currently working on another for an anthology that deadlines at the end of this month. I’m pumped. Not just to finish this short, but to also get back to the novel. Going back to writing short stories has reignited my desire to finish the novel.

As with anything, having such a singular focus can drain the joy from things you love. That was my mistake.

And that’s the long and short of it.

 

Review: Left Hand Path by Jason Franks, Paul Abstruse & Eddy Swan

You bet I’m on a roll with posting, but as tomorrow I’m heading away to the country for a week, I thought I’d get this review done. That’s right; it’s review time again!  Today I’m looking at a one of the horror comics from the super-talented Jason FranksLeft Hand Path. I picked this copy up at ComicCon Melbourne – and the last copy at that! Both Jason and artist, Paul Abstruse happily signed it for me, and there really isn’t a lot better than having signed comics and books, I gotta say.

For those who have even a passing association with anything horror-related will have an understanding that the ‘left hand path’ refers to dark magic and Satanism – the path toward evil (yes, that’s a rather simplistic explanation, but I’m not writing a dissertation here). And from page one, we’re thrown right into the mix with a summoning of the Horned One himself.

Left Hand Path

As with any first book in a series, there’s a lot of setting up and introduction of characters (no introduction really needed for Satan, but I can see the same black humour and wit Franks used in his novel Bloody Waters, come through here), and the beginning of plots and sub-plots between said characters.

You can probably guess that Satan gets his kicks on right from the get-go, which pulls in other characters ­– cops Livia and Danik – who have a snarky, gritty dynamic that fits perfectly with the almost noir feel of this side of the comic.

Like I said, this is comic #1 in the series, so here we’re exploring the building of plot and characters, but Franks doesn’t over-dwell on backstory – you can’t with a comic; it has to come through via dialogue and captions, and Left Hand Path shows us Franks is a master at what he does. It’s little wonder this comic was an Aurealis Award finalist.

aurealis

Artwork… ah, artwork, how I love thee! Here, both Paul Abstruse (pencils & inks) and Eddy Swan (colours) really bring this comic to life. The illustrations are beautifully detailed from background to foreground, and Swan has used a perfect dichotomy between muted and vivid colour to really draw the eye. This is especially good when it comes to the gruesome scenes – very visceral in their display, which always makes me smile (hey, each to their own, right?).

Published by Winter City Productions, this is going to be a very cool series to get into, and I’m itching to see what Satan gets up now he’s been unleashed upon the unsuspecting citizens of the city. And more snark from the cops and intolerant (and totally cool) ‘specialist’ sent to stop the big guy tells me this is going to be a lot of fun!

I’ll also make a note here for language and gruesome horror – some of my favourite things, but for others… mebbe not. J

On a Goodreads scale (even though it’s not up on Goodreads – get on that Jason!), I’m giving it 4 stars.

4 stars

It’s live! Live, I tells ya!

The Road to Golgotha, the two-in-one graphic novel published through Cohesion Comics is now live! *does happy dance* … *apologises for happy dance* No one deserves to see that.

The Road to Golgotha

Now it is true that the launch was last weekend at ComicCon Melbourne (see my wrap-up here), but now the comic is unleashed upon the world. Mwhahahahahaha!

Ahem.

The Road to Golgotha consists of a story by GN Braun – His Own Personal Golgotha, and my supernatural horror story, The Road. (See how clever that combined title is? Yeah, I didn’t come up with it – all kudos to Geoff for that one). There’s a symmetry in the telling of both stories, a link of cause-and-effect that strikes deep at the main characters of each tale. This is also beautifully carried through by the illustrations of uber-talented artist, Monty Borror.

Golgotha

Here’s what it’s all about:

The Road to Golgotha holds two comics by Australian writers, set to the art of US illustrator Monty Borror. His Own Personal Golgotha by GN Braun follows the awakening of ‘the man’ into a nightmarish world of cemeteries and bones. To achieve anything, he must find out where and who he is. The Road by Amanda J Spedding shows us the changes wrought in Riley as she casts off her civilized veneer to allow the goddess within to emerge fully into her birthright. Redemption and personal growth are strong themes throughout both stories, and they each hold surprises as the protagonists struggle to come to terms with changes or growth they need to undertake. Travel with them as they go through their own personal golgotha along a road less-travelled.”

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The first-run, signed ComicCon editions of sleek black & white are available, but Cohesion is looking to have colour editions screaming their way into the world soon. And by colour I mean vivid splatters of red and wispy, fiery orange. I’m so incredibly in love with this graphic novel, and so incredibly proud to have it published and in readers’ hands.

This is the first graphic novel in the Cohesion Comics line, with some incredible storytellers lined up for the future. The Road to Golgotha is an amazing first edition to what will only be a kick-arse series from the Cohesion team. Go take a look. G’orn, you know you want to…

Review: King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

As I’m powering through the final book, I thought it best to get onto the review of King of Thornsbook two in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy. Second books are tricky beasts, and on more than one occasion I’ve been burned by slow pacing, plot meandering, and character veering, so I tend to enter into that second book with a little trepidation (please be good, oh *please* be good).

But… Ah, King Jorg, such a gloriously grey character. Such defiance, such cunning, such dark fun.

Now before I get into the nitty-gritty of this book, there’s some housekeeping that needs doing. So in keeping with the grimdark and me writing reviews any way I please, let’s make this bloody:

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS. THERE, THERE BE SPOILERS. AND IF YOU’RE NOT WATCHING YOUR BACK, A SPOILER WILL SNEAK UP BEHIND YOU AND SLIT YOUR THROAT EASY AS YOU PLEASE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

King of Thorns

I’m usually a little wary when beginning the read of the second book in a trilogy, especially when I’ve so enjoyed the first. What I tend to find is a rebuilding of the world, a rehashing of previous events and mansplaining the crap out of everything (totally unnecessary – give your reader credit, they have a surprising tendency to remember what happened, with like memory and stuff), not so with King of Thorns. Can I get a hallelujah? No? Too much?

We’re thrown right back into the mix; into the words of Katherine, to be precise – the woman/aunt with whom Jorg is obsessed before making our way to his wedding to child-bride Miana. But with the Prince of Arrow’s legion now marshalled at the castle gate, this isn’t a happy day by any stretch of the imagination. Happy isn’t something Jorg is at all familiar with – happiness would be a weakness, and weakness is something King Jorg will not tolerate.

jorg

A hasty marriage ceremony is on the cards, and given Jorg’s distaste for bedding someone who is essentially a child, an even hastier ruse is contrived to show Jorg’s subjects the deed has been done. This is also where we get the first glimpse of Miana’s mind and strength, and with each of her appearances throughout the book, Lawrence unveils a little more of that intellect and crafty perception she holds – she’s quite the tactician. Something Jorg will soon come to value.

This book also keeps to the format of moving from past to present and back again in its storytelling. While it took me a wee bit to get into the gist of this with the first book, I slipped seamlessly into the rhythm this time round. This type of storytelling is difficult to pull-off, let alone successfully, but Lawrence manages it remarkably well – it forces (allows?) the reader to think, to wonder why Jorg does the things he does in the present before taking you back to give you clues and scenes to decipher. It’s something I value when reading. I don’t want to be hand-held down a garden path with the writer pointing out all I need to know and why – let me do some lifting as well, it creates the connection with characters I’m wanting.

Connection is something I’ve noticed some readers find difficult when it comes to Jorg. Not me. I have about as much empathy for Jorg as he has for himself, but I like the way he forges ahead with his goals, how he sacrifices much to achieve them. There’s something to be said for writer who creates a character that has little with which to empathise but with whom I find myself cheering on. Yes, even when committing deeds that seem totally sociopathic. Is Jorg a sociopath? There’s definitely evidence to suggest as much. Doesn’t make me like him less.

jorg 1

Jorg is again joined by Sir Makin and his Brothers (who are slowly and violently dwindling) and the monsters he’s collected along his travels – Gog and Gorgoth. Gog, ever the fire-child, does hold a special place with Jorg, but would you call it love? No. Gog is a kindred, while I believe Gorgoth is the conscious Jorg struggles to find. Both will suffer because of this, Gog more so, but that demise powerfully links the two, and Jorg will always have that puckered reminder staring back at him.

One of my favourite scenes is that within the marshes – the rising of the dead, all of them, and the confrontation with the necromancer, Chella. Here Jorg and the Brothers fight those they’ve killed, those who died with the Builder’s sun and even fellow brothers in various states of decomposition – it’s hard, brutal and unforgiving. I loved it!

(Psst! You gotta love a review where I get to use the words: monster, necromancer, decomposition and sociopath.) Here’s where we find out a little more of the Dead King, and that’s a showdown I’m very much looking forward to.

But Jorg is first moving steadily toward a showdown with the Prince of Arrow – the light to Jorg’s darkness. We’re taken back to their first meeting, and we’re shown the allure the Prince has; so much so that even Jorg questions his motivations to take on a man who even he would follow. The Prince of Arrow is a man of the people, looking to unite the empire and bring peace and bounty to all within. He’s a forward-thinker, and also the one who will marry Katherine. The two set up for a mighty future battle (yes, the one that take place on Jorg’s wedding day), but first, Jorg makes for the family he knows little about – his mother’s.

It’s here, upon meeting his uncle and grandparents (and ghost Fexler), that plans for this upcoming battle really do start to fall into place (while creating a new foe). And that’s one thing a reader cannot doubt – Jorg’s ability and determination to see things through, no matter the outcome, no matter the cost. Jorg gets the information and [redacted for spoilery moment] that will have him win this war. It’s also where we learn more about the Jorg’s world and the Builders that makes Lawrence’s Broken Empire so damn awesome (this is a revelation future readers need to make, and something I won’t spoil for them).

bloody handprint

We see the return of Jorg’s memory from that copper box he carries with him, and how madness really does ride side-saddle with him. But through it all, Jorg is a tactician’s tactician. And despite the shenanigans of dream-witch Sageous, Jorg remains true to his path to the throne, albeit sometimes wandering off-path to deal with those who threaten his rise or to find… stuff… that will aid him in that battle.

Katherine plays a far greater part in this book, although most of what we discover about her is told through journal entries. We see her develop some interesting yet dangerous talents with regard to accessing her dreams and moving through them. We’re given greater understanding of the Prince of Arrow (Orrin) and his sullen brother Egan, and slowly, slowly the layers are peeled away and all are shown the truth.

It’s this final scene, this final battle between King Jorg and the Prince of Arrow (will not spoil this revelation either) and Jorg’s ensuing internal battle where Lawrence really delivers some killer blows. While I saw that spoilery bit coming just moments prior, it didn’t lesson the appreciation of the delivery; same with the big burn baby burn!

Lawrence didn’t take the easy way out here with this second book and use it to solely set up the final book. There are twists and turns; a subtle leading and plot punches to the face; there’s death on the tiniest but most powerful of scales (that’s a hint, not a real spoiler) and deaths bordering genocide. All of it woven with a delicate hand that drags you in and makes you see life in this world for what it is – not at all pretty. That this is told from Jorg’s point-of-view, one who doesn’t pretty-up the world, its people and their action, only makes this a more compelling read.

We’re introduced to new characters and we watch others die, usually violently, but anyone who says that’s a surprise is kidding themselves. This is as dark a book as was the first, which makes me a happy reader and more eager than ever to get stuck into the final book.

On a Goodreads scale, I give King of Thorns 4.5 stars.

Four and half stars

 

ComicCon Wrap-up

Where to start? Probably 5am Friday morning when I dragged myself out of bed then dragged an equally unwilling child from her bed to catch a too-damn-early flight to Melbourne. After copious amounts of coffee (for me, not my daughter), wakefulness hit then excitement – COMIC CON!!!

We were bunking down at a my friends Chris and Tracy’s place (read her work – read it!), so Saturday morning we were again up at sparrow-fart and off to Melbourne-proper. It’s a pretty city, Melbourne, and damn if they don’t make a great cup of java (yes, this is a vital part of me liking any place I visit). As my daughter and I strolled along Southbank, it wasn’t long before we were in the midst of cosplayers – excitement level-up.

Me and Cloe

While I’ve been to Supanovas, this was my first ComicCon, and what made this all the more special was that this was the launch of my comic ‘The Road’ – part of a two-in-one comic ‘The Road to Golgotha’ with GN Braun and brought to spectacular life by the artist, Monty Borror. And when I walked up to the Cohesion Press table, there she was, pride of place and absolutely beautiful. That I was sharing this with my daughter made this even more special.

Our table was beside that of IFWG Publishing, manned by the lovely Gerry Huntman, the effervescent Stephen McCracken, and one of my favourite people in the world, Robert Hood. We were in some mighty fine company.

Road

Now, I’m not a salesperson by any stretch of the imagination (kinda a design flaw in the whole being-a-writer thing), and pimping my work to strangers is hard, but the thing with ComicCon attendees is their desire to engage. There’s complete and utter acceptance of everything and everyone at cons such as these; it’s a celebration of the arts in all their mediums, and a celebration of those who love their movies, tv shows, authors, artists and all that goes with it.

The cosplayers were just brilliant – always happy and obliging for photos; and some of the costumes just blew my mind. It was happy, happy place that nurtures creativity, and you really can’t ask for more than that.

Chatting with people about the comic, explaining the idea behind the story and having people ask me questions then buy the comic was such a buzz – signing it for them as an author is a real joy. To have someone come up and buy your work because another con member recommended it? That’s the stuff of snoopy-dances.

snoopy

If all of this wasn’t enough, I got to finally meet some peeps I’d been waiting to for a long time, and my mate James O’Keefe (who was also working ComicCon) was first to the table. I’ve known James for… must be five or six years now, but with both of us living in different states… it was great to finally catch up in person.

I knew artist and writer Jason Franks would be at the con, and that was a meet I was looking forward to, especially after reading his amazing novel Bloody Waters (get on it – it’s a killer piece! Reviewed here). While I would have liked to have spent more time chatting and to sit in on his panel – time was a hungry beast for us both.

Same with Aaron Sterns – it was wonderful to finally meet and chat with the softly-spoken writer of the Wolf Creek fame. I missed his panel as well, but that’s the thing with being an exhibitor at cons, you’re there to engage with potential readers and you can’t do that effectively when visiting people you’ve been hanging to meet for a long while. But cons are also the places that allow you to have those meets with friends from other states; with the people who love what they do as much as you do.

up

Being amongst it all brings home how much this really is the best gig in the world, and how lucky I am to be doing something that feeds my soul. None of which could have happened without the likes of Geoff Brown of Cohesion Press who believed in me and how much ‘The Road’ would be a kick-arse comic. I can’t thank him enough.road page 29

I really wish Monty could have made the con, but living in the US makes it a tad more difficult to get here – he’s a very busy lad! But without him, ‘The Road to Golgotha’ wouldn’t be the stunning piece of art that it is. And to top it all off, there were two pieces of original artwork waiting for me. Two of my favourite pages from the comic that will soon be framed and up on my wall where I will love them and stroke them and love them.

It was all over far too soon. Exhausting though those days were, it really lit a fire under my bum to create bigger and better, and to make sure I attend more cons to not only connect with my mates but to readers as well, ‘cause there ain’t nothin’ better than seeing someone walk away holding your book with a smile on their face.

 signing 1

ComicCon, I will be in you…

Tomorrow morning (waaay early), my daughter and I will be dragging our tired selves onto a plane for our trip to Melbourne for ComicCon. It’s a big deal, a very big deal. This is where the two-in-one comic ‘The Road to Golgotha’ will be launched through Cohesion Press. My story ‘The Road’, takes up 47 pages of horror-filled beauty, and while it’s uber-exciting, I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet (hell, I still haven’t started packing).

The Road to Golgotha

It’s been quite a long road (yeah, I see that pun) to get to this point; the script was written about two years ago, taken from a short story I’d had published in Midnight Echo #9. This was the first comic script I’d written, and truth be told, it almost broke me. Comic writing and story writing are two completely different beasts, and it took me a while to wrap my head around the ‘stillness’ of a comic. A panel is a snapshot, a moment frozen in time – a character isn’t ‘running’ they are ‘mid-step’; they aren’t ‘raising their hand’, it’s either up or down.

A true collaboration it is, and the gods stepped in and sent extraordinarily talented artist Monty Borror my way. It’s his art that brings my story to life, his skill and mastery of the medium that took my words and ideas and made them visually real, visually stunning. I sometimes wonder if he’s a sorcerer.

So 47 glorious pages later, Monty had finished the art, the lettering had been done, and it was off to the printers in time for launch at Melbourne ComicCon. ‘The Road’ is a story of gods and monsters, of self-discovery and a battle for identity for the heroine. It’s hard and it’s bloody and she unapologetically owns it.

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The other story, by GN Braun is ‘His Own Personal Golgotha’ – a search for redemption through horror-filled pages again brought to wicked life by Monty Borror. It’s a visually stunning piece that doesn’t pull any punches. It’s kick-arse.

I also get to share this experience ­– my first ever launch – with my daughter, and that’s pretty damn special. She’s just as excited as I am, despite the fact she isn’t allowed to read the comic as it comes with a ‘R’ rating, but she’s very much looking forward to wearing an exhibitor pass and exploring ComicCon.

So if you’re in Melbourne over the weekend, come say hello and take a look at the comic – we’ll even sign it for you! For anyone who can’t make it, the comic will be available on Amazon next week, in either black and white or spectacular colour.

road page 9

Now, I’d better go pack, I have to be up in five hours.

Review: Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells

I should be writing, I should, but I’m starting to get ridiculously behind on my book reviews, which isn’t a bad thing really – it means I’m reading faster than I can write reviews… or someone’s seriously messing with time (if so – STOP IT!).

Aaaanyway… it’s book review time! Today we’re venturing into the fantastical world of Rowena Cory Daniells’ Outcast Chronicles. While I’ve read the trilogy in its entirety, here I’ll be chatting about the first in the series – Besieged. (Oh, and a special shout out to Ashely Capes for putting me onto this trilogy, too! Thanks, buddy!)

Now before we go any further, I have a marching band mustering stage right with the requisite spoiler alert, and they’re getting antsy…

<Enter marching band to the strains of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Master Blaster’ – because Stevie>

EVERYONE’S SEEING SPOILERS! IT’S A SPOILER IN JUNE! THOUGH THE WORLD’S FULL OF SPOILERS, THEY COULDN’T SPOIL US EVEN IF THEY TRIED!

Well technically you could be spoiled if you continue reading. So as the marching band exits stage left, either take your seat and continue reading (ignoring my dancing) or follow the band out to the parking lot…

Besieged

Alrighty, let’s get to this, shall we?

Imagine a world split definitively between those with differing physical attributes. Daniells’ world is ruled by ‘True-Men’, perfectly-formed and pure of blood, they believe themselves better than those unlike them. On the other side is the T’En, white-haired, blue-eyed, six-fingered people with mind-bending abilities that strike fear (and superstition) into the hearts of True-Men everywhere. Caught somewhat between are the Malajune (Wyrds), copper-haired, purple-eyed, six fingered men and women born into the service of the T’En – honoured they believe themselves to be, this indoctrination is hard-wired into them through history.

But the above is just the main structure, the loom if you will, of a rich tapestry of lives and loves, culture and magic that hold this world together. Daniells weaves her world with care and precision, but one tug at those threads and it all unravels, as we will come to see.

At times the precision of Daniells’ world-building worked against the forwarding of the story, especially within the first one-hundred and fifty or so pages. I understand the need for this world-building at the beginning of a trilogy, but there was a lot of information I felt could have been drip-fed through the story, not spelled out so completely with those early chapters.

It’s all about balance, and that Daniells’ storylines for the characters were so compelling, it was sometimes frustrating to feel bogged down in some of her descriptions when I wanted to follow the characters through their stories.

Besieged is told from several points of view, and works well to give us a taste of the different people that make up this world. While Imoshen takes somewhat centre stage for the trilogy, it’s the character of Sorne, the disavowed son of the mad king, Charald, to whom we are first introduced as a babe – I’m talking straight from the womb and (almost) directly to his father’s blade.

It’s with Sorne we spend the beginning of the book; saved (and raised) by former High Priest Oskane – for purely selfish reasons, mind – he is an experiment in the abilities of the Malanjune to find a way to defeat them. Tortured and indoctrinated into subservience, Sorne’s is a pitiful, yet strangely happy childhood, until he becomes aware of who he really is. Things really go from bad to worse when he delves into the higher planes where monsters dwell, and becomes an even greater pawn in Oskane’s plans for revenge.

besieged banner

Running concurrently with Sorne’s story is that of Imoshen. The T’En’s are also a divided race – the Sisterhood and Brotherhoods (yes, men and women split with power-plays happening all the time). History has the Sisterhoods raising all children, with the boys moving to a Brotherhood when they come of age. It’s an interesting dynamic Daniells plays out here – each Brother and Sisterhood has its own standing, but each also vies for greater standing and power with the T’En. Each T’En also has their own gift, which can range from being a Warrior, Healer, and taster of truth to communing with animals (which is so low on the scale, it’s considered tainted).

Those within the Brotherhood usually have children with Malanjune, and Imoshen was not handed over to the Sisterhood as per law but raised by men. Though loved by her father, she too, is a pawn in bringing prestige to the Brotherhood but the pact was broken and… well, all hell breaks loose when Imoshen arrives at the Sisterhood after escaping a murder-plot.

Besieged is the set-up book for Daniells’ created world, characters and the story arcs of said characters. It’s a bloody, in-your-face world that doesn’t shy from the harsh reality of a world that is bound by rules and laws that at times seem unfair, but so far have worked to keep the peace. Of course you know that the peace is going to be broken, that there are those within the book who will set out alone to make their own destinies, even when they are tied so tightly to the people they’re meant to be guiding and protecting.

It’s no secret that the Mad King Charald wants the city the T’En occupy – beautiful and bountiful that it is. He’s determined, ruthless and uses the magic and history of the gods to further his cause while taking wife after wife in an attempt to sire the perfect True-Man son.

There are parts of the book I’d like to mention here, but they’re also parts as a reader you should discover yourself. Daniells has woven an intricate world and characters that are wholly likeable and unlikeable, but there’s an honesty to this world that I really enjoyed.

While it sits squarely within the fantasy genre, there’s a darkness and brutality to it that won’t appeal to all fans of fantasy. For me, though, I liked that unashamed storytelling. Lives aren’t all pristine and happy unicorns, that if you look hard enough, you’ll see the cracks in those veneers and the dirt that hides beneath.

As I said earlier, there were times where I felt the story suffered a little under the weight of the world-building, but that’s a personal preference. Daniells’ world is extremely well constructed, the magic systems and culture, though unique to each race, they’re cleverly entwined and deftly delivered. There’s political and religious power-plays, revenge, betrayal, love and horror all finding their place here — a little something for everyone.

It’s difficult to express within a thousand-or-so words how good this book is (without it turning into a dissertation), but I’d highly, highly recommend this series. Daniells said she wanted to write a trilogy that had the reader wanting more, and she definitely delivered with Besieged. I finished the book (which is 672 pages) in about five days because I wanted to spend more time with the characters in this beautifully fucked-up world.

On a Goodreads scale, I give this 3.5 stars

stars

 

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