I received an ARC copy of Wild Sky, by Zaya Feli, through A Novel Take.
Description from Goodreads:
Tauran Darrica has been retired from the Valreus Sky Guard for four years following the Battle of the Broken Wings that resulted in the death of his dragon. Now, all Tauran wants to do is spend his days forgetting the past and gambling his way to an unsteady income.
So when his old general from the Sky Guard hunts Tauran down to request his help with staving off the increasingly aggressive wild dragon population, Tauran refuses. But a fire ruins his rented room and leaves him without a place to stay, and Tauran finds himself on the road to Valreus, after all.
Tauran is determined to stay as far away from dragons as he can get, but a starry-eyed young man from Sharoani, land of the wild dragons, might just ruin his plans.
Kalai Ro-Ani has spent his life watching the stars, knowing he could never reach them. With his wild dragon Arrow, he sets out for the city of Valreus in the hope of building himself a better future than he could have stuck at the foot of the Kel Visal dragon temples.
But nobody told Kalai that only the Sky Guard is allowed to own dragons, so when Arrow kills a guard in Kalai’s defense, it looks like his adventure might be over before it can begin. But a chance encounter at the old Valreus archive offers Kalai the future he’d been hoping for. In the span of a single day, he has a home, a job, and a purpose.
In Valreus, something much bigger falls into his lap – along with a tall and striking Valrean man with a rather strange disposition.
I generally enjoyed this a lot. I thought the pacing was a little inconsistent, making it feel overly long at times, the plot progression depended on too many coincidences, and that the two main characters were a little too perfect, especially in their dealing with one another. However, outside of that, I loved the dragons; thought the plot engaging, liked the characters and world, and appreciated the slow-burn romance. I’d be more than happy to read more books by Feli, be it in this series or another.
I borrowed an e-copy of Andrzej Sapowski‘s The Time of Contempt through my local library. (Links to my reviews for The Last Wish and Blood of Elves are below.)
Description from Goodreads:
Geralt is a witcher: guardian of the innocent; protector of those in need; a defender, in dark times, against some of the most frightening creatures of myth and legend. His task, now, is to protect Ciri. A child of prophecy, she will have the power to change the world for good or for ill — but only if she lives to use it.
A coup threatens the Wizard’s Guild.
War breaks out across the lands.
A serious injury leaves Geralt fighting for his life…
… and Ciri, in whose hands the world’s fate rests, has vanished…
I have to be honest, if I’d started this series here I wouldn’t be continuing. I liked the short stories (The Last Wish) and enjoyed book one (Blood of Elves), but I struggled to finish this book. I found the writing really stiff. I don’t know if that’s the fault of the author or the translator, but it was no fun to read. I struggled to keep the characters and locations straight and there was too little indication of changing POVs. So, I often didn’t know what was happening, since I didn’t know we’d changed characters. Then to top it all off, the last quarter starts in on all the cliched man-writing-fantasy BS. Suddenly it’s wench this and rape that, etc. And it ends on a cliffhanger. I will give this series one more book because I’m interested in the overarching storyline. But if it doesn’t improve (at least to the quality of book one) I’m calling it done.
I borrowed a copy of The Death of the Necromancer (by Martha Wells) from the library.
Description from Goodreads:
Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. Under cover of darkness on the streets of the gaslit city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance: the murder of Count Montesq. Montesq orchestrated the wrongful execution of Nicholas’s beloved godfather Edouard on false charges of necromancy, the art of divination through communion with spirits of the dead, a practice long outlawed in the kingdom of Ile-Rien.
But now Nicholas’s murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, fatal events. Someone with tremendous magical powers is opposing him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn’t been used for centuries appear. And when a spiritualist unwittingly leads Nicholas to a decrepit old house, the truly monstrous nature of his peril finally emerges.
What if The Count of Monte Cristo merged with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a magical pseudo-victorian city? It would be great, right? Right. It honestly was. I will admit that the was slow, being almost 550 pages long. But I so enjoyed the characters and the unhurried development of the mystery that I totally overlooked it in the reading.
I appreciated Wells’ willingness to allow side characters diversity and autonomy, even the female ones. (Though I have to admit Crack was my favorite. I always love the loyal, rough-hand, bodyguard types.) There was humor and both the characters and the reader had to accept that not everyone (even the good guys) always get what they want.
When I picked this book up from the library I didn’t realize that it is part of a series. But being set 100 years after the first book, I didn’t feel the lack of reading book one at all. But I’ll be happy to go hunt up book three. Wells is simply becoming one of my favorite go-to authors.