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Book Review

131 Days by Keith Blackmore

131 Days by Keith Blackmore

Blackmore is a vastly under-appreciated author. His Mountain Man novels are a superb example of a post-apocalyptic / zombie series.

131 days does for heroic, gladiatorial fantasy what Mountain Man did for Zombies, a charged, fast-paced story that has confidence, style and plenty of GrimDark. Every year in the city of Sunja, gladitorial games are held in the Pit. Often fighting to the death, some fighters enter for fame, others for the money - a few for the chance of carrying out ...

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review written by Ant on Tuesday 16th October 2018
Book Review

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

The clue to what makes the Fantasy genre so great is staring you straight in the face; it is fantastical. It gives author the chance to transport their readers to a different time and place. Lands full of wonder, populated by creatures only seen in your dreams. So, it is sometimes a little sad to see how serious and dark Fantasy has become in recent years. This no doubt reflects our own uncertain times, but do we really need to dwell on the basest things when we could be reading about dragons...

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review written by Sam Tyler on Friday 28th September 2018
Book Review

The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding

The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding

The Ember Blade is a legendary sword, the sword of kings, and the spark needed to ignite the fires of revolution.

Aren has lived by the rules all his young life, without question. Then his father is executed for treason and his whole world is shattered. Thrown into a prison-mine with his friend Cade, they are doomed to work until they die of exhuastion. That is unless somehow they can break free. But what lies beyond the prison could be even worse, the land long occupied by harsh r...

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review written by Ant on Monday 27th August 2018
Book Review

Ravencry by Ed McDonald

Ravencry by Ed McDonald

Last year one of the most impressive debut's I read was Ed McDonald's Blackwing. It's dark, confident and bold fiction with some exceptional world-building and even finer characters,

Ravencry is the sequel and does everything a sequel should, building on the best elements of the first novel and taking the story in new directions. Four years have passed since the events of Blackwing and Galharrow still works for one of the nameless as a blackwing captain, while the Deep ...

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review written by Ant on Monday 30th July 2018
Book Review

Witchsign by Den Patrick

Witchsign by Den Patrick

It’s a bleak start to Den Patrick’s latest fantasy adventure and the first instalment of his Ashen Torment trilogy. It’s been a tough year in the village of Cinderfell and Blacksmith Marek is struggling to make ends meet for him and his two children. But feeding his family isn’t his only problem. His daughter Kjellrunn has always been different from the others, and with the Empire’s Invigilation on the horizon, he worries he may lose her forever. However, when the tyrannical Synod d...

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review written by Alice Wybrew on Wednesday 2nd May 2018
Book Review

The Wolf by Leo Carew

The Wolf by Leo Carew

The Wolf is the debut of Leo Carew, a graduate of Cambridge University with a degree in Biological Anthropology, specialising in the Palaeolithic.

The authors knowledge and perspective colours the story, providing a rich and detailed backdrop of an alternative world that somewhat resembles the Viking Era. The northern lands of Albion are inhabited by a long lived race of giants known as the Anakim. Measuring their lives in centuries, the Anakim relish the harsh conditions of life ...

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review written by Ant on Thursday 22nd March 2018
Book Review

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

On the surface, this post-apocalyptic tale of infection, nuclear fallout and scattered, savage humanity is no different from the many others that have gone before it. But what saves it from being just another drop in the great maelstrom of dystopian novels is the author’s taught and affecting story-telling of one girl’s struggle to come to terms with her place in an uncertain new world.

Told vividly through flashbacks, Johnson’s set-up is unveiled through the story’s narrato...

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review written by Alice Wybrew on Sunday 21st January 2018
Book Review

Blackbird by ND Gomes

Blackbird by ND Gomes

It’s New Year’s Eve when the beloved and popular Olivia goes missing on the Orkney island that was her home. Of all her friends and family, it’s her little sister Alex, who takes it the hardest.

Blackbird is the claustrophobic account of Alex’s life immediately following her sister’s disappearance. Her search for answers, the reasons behind those she finds and her journey at the hands of grief are all depicted in excruciating first–person detail.

It’s an imp...

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review written by Alice Wybrew on Sunday 31st December 2017
Book Review

Blade Bound by Chloe Neill

Blade Bound by Chloe Neill

Blade Bound is the final instalment of Chloe Neill’s urban fantasy Chicagoland Vampire series.  It can be read as a standalone novel, but I recommend you start earlier in the series to get full enjoyment, reading them in reverse order will result in significant plot spoilers. 

The protagonist, Merit, is the Sentinel and protector of Cadogan House, a house of Vampires, perhaps reminiscent of a college in the UK or fraternity house in the US, but with daylight shutters and bags of...

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review written by Karen Fishwick on Saturday 16th December 2017
Book Review

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

In short, this is a story set in a fantasy version of European renaissance including trade, religion and politics. You can draw parallels between different countries and religions in the book to real world versions of the same. 

But simply describing a book in this way is somewhat lazy and misses the author’s intention. 

The story is grounded in and inspired by real world history and culture, which gives colour to the story, so places and people seem familiar to the re...

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review written by Karen Fishwick on Sunday 10th December 2017
Book Review

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium by Paul Kidby

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium by Paul Kidby

Paul Kidby was Pratchett's artist of choice and once described his lively, colourful illustrations as:

The closest anyone's got to how I see the characters

He's been drawing Discworld for over fifteen years, including the superbly illustrated Last Hero, not to mention The Art of Discworld and Terry Pratchett's Discworld Colouring Book. Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium collects the finest of his discworld illustrations, including 40 pieces tha...

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review written by Ant on Friday 8th December 2017
Book Review

And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White

This book, by Kiersten White, is a gender flipped historically based story of the early life of Vlad the Impaler or in this case, Lada  Dracul.

White takes the bones of the historical accounts and layers it with a rich imaginings of characters and quirks, to give the reader some insight into a belivable character that could have inspired the stories that followed. 

The gender flip is imbedded from the start, the character has all the nuances of a little girl, with many o...

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review written by Karen Fishwick on Thursday 7th December 2017

Find the latest Fantasy book reviews here. Fantasy as a genre can be very difficult to define but is usually said to encompass stories set in an alternative reality based on imagined fantastical elements like magic or the supernatural. This is the defining difference between science fiction and fantasy, science fiction deals with elements that are theoretically possible while fantasy deals with the improbable or impossible.

Fantasy can be most commonly associated with sword and sorcery stories however the genre can include contemporary (Harry Potter) and humorous (Tom Holt) tales. Fantasy, science fiction and horror can occasionally overlap and generally the term used to describe these novels is speculative fiction.

Fantasy fiction can trace it's roots all the way back to ancient mythology, especially Homer's Odyssey which was written in the 9th century BC. Homer's Odyssey chronicles the fictional adventures of a hero returning to Ithaca after the capture of Troy. The earliest surviving English text of fantasy origins is the poem Beowulf which dates back to 700 AD.

The most recognisable to modern audiences is perhaps the Legends of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. These stories have been told many times from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur (around 1485 AD) to T. H. White's The Once and Future King (1958), Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (1982) and Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle (1987).

The series that could be said to bring fantasy into the mainstream has to be Terry Brooks Sword of Shannara series, written in 1977 it was one of the first modern fantasy books to become a new york times best seller. Since then this has been repeated by David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Terry Good Kind and Terry Pratchett.

Here you can find fantasy book reviews from the big name authors to the self published and independant, it's the story that's always the star here.

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.
- Albert Einstein

Book of the month

Ball Lightning by Liu Cixin
Ball Lightning by Liu Cixin

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