Tag Archives: sword & sorcery

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Book Review: Shadow of the Wicked, by Douglas W.T. Smith

Douglas W.T. Smith‘s Shadow of the Wicked is going to be on Sadie’s Spotlight next week. I didn’t agree to review the book for the tour, but those participating in the tour received a free copy of the book. Since it’s only 107 pages long, I decided to give it a quick read.

Honestly, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. Assuming I would enjoy the book, I had planned to drop the review at the same time as the post goes live on Sadie’s Spotlight—a bit of a 2 for 1 deal. But I turned out not to like it much and I do try not to post bad reviews during a promotional tour. That’s just bad form. So, I’m posting it a week early instead of holding it until the week after.


Twin brothers–a sorcerer and a warrior–are each tortured for their opposing convictions. Will magick be restored or extinguished?

Magick had once ruled The Three Kingdoms, but now it is banished and condemnable.

Jaromir and Talmage have been imprisoned for different convictions.

Jaromir wakes up chained to a table filled with dread, while Talmage is thrown into an underground labyrinth.

Jaromir has devoted his life to mastering weapons as the Empress’ Guard and forming a secret order to rid the world of magick. His lifetime devotion is useless when his limbs are chained. Unless he divulges the order’s plans. Jaromir is tortured and his body pushed to breaking point but he refuses to betray the order––until his wife is dragged into the room. Jaromir is forced to make a choice between his honor and his beloved wife. Which will he choose?

Meanwhile, Talmage is thrown into an underground labyrinth. Since his parent’s death, he had practiced the art of magick in secret from his brother’s order. Magick had been his savor and his security through his troubled life. No matter what Talmage tried, the ghosts of his past haunt him––especially in the dark passages. At first, he thought he was alone, for one last trial, until familiar voices echo from the shadows.

Both brothers must escape from their wicked fate, identify their outgrown relationship, and swallow their pride before it’s too late.

my review

There isn’t any polite way to say a book isn’t very good. I could try and dress it up, give the review a compliment sandwich, etc. But the bare bones truth is still that this book isn’t very good. Though it’s not labeled as such, I’m fairly sure the copy I read was an ARC and, therefore, hasn’t yet had it’s final mechanical edit. So, I won’t go into grammatical editing. But even leaving that aside, the writing is choppy, repetitive, and often unclear. The characters are un-relatable and, worst of all, none of it is given any true context.The sentence in the synopsis that says, “Magick had once ruled The Three Kingdoms, but now it is banished and condemnable” is pretty much all the world-building you’ll find in the whole novella. What you’re left with is 107 pages of torture porn with no apparent point. I read all 107 pages and still do not know if there was a theme or message. Was I supposed to take something away from this? I sense that Smith meant for me to, but whatever it is it’s too weak to be successfully conveyed. A viscous content editor could maybe beat it into something meaningful. But it’s not there yet. It does have a great cover though.

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Review of The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids (Amra Thetys #1), by Michael McClung

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's BraidsI snagged a copy of Michael McClung‘s book, The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids, from the Amazon free list. At the time of posting, it was still free.

Description from Goodreads:
“They butchered Corbin right out in the street. That’s how it really started. He was a rogue and a thief, of course. But then, so am I. So when he got himself hacked up in front of his house off Silk Street, I decided somebody had to be made to pay. They thought that they could just sweep him away like rubbish. They were wrong.”

Amra Thetys is a thief with morals: She won’t steal from anybody poorer than she is. Fortunately, anybody that poor generally doesn’t have much worth stealing! But when a fellow thief and good friend is killed in a deal gone wrong, Amra turns her back on burglary and goes after something far more precious: Revenge.

I’m feeling blessed; I’ve had such good luck in the book department lately! The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids is a fun Sword & Sorcery book with a kick-butt heroine, a cool mage sidekick (maybe hero), and an interesting fantasy world. I enjoyed the read immensely. It was well-written, sarcastic, funny, and wrapped up nicely in the end. A+, in my opinion.

I was a bit confused about why Amra took it upon herself to avenge Corbin’s death. They were friends, not lovers, so it seems a bit extreme. The reasoning that she’s doing it because she has so few friends proved unsupported by the book. Her endeavor was successful solely because she seemed to have so many loyal, generous friends. So, I was left scratching my head about the very foundation of the book’s plot but decided to just roll with it.

I also thought that the ‘oops, sorry, I was wrong’ was glossed over. Several people died as a result of this particular mistake, those who lived would have a terrible memory, and it brought everyone to the attention of some really dangerous people. But no one seemed to mind, nor was anyone less inclined to take her word at face value when next she said, ‘Oh, I know who did it.’ It all felt a little too easy.

Easy is my last comment. For all the drama, running around, and highly dangerous enemies Amra battles, each was defeated with startling ease at the end. It left the encounters feeling rushed and abortive.

Having said all that, I really did enjoy it, and I hope to read the sequels soon.