Hedwig’s World of TBR: Update

Welcome back guys! Hope you like the little logo up above. So I’ve not been having the best of reading the last month or so and that really ran into September I am sad to say. I did read 2 books this weekend gone but I am looking to get back on the horse this week and at least catch up on the four books that I am behind on for my GR goal.

That being said it is insane to think it’s been two months since I made the first post for this little project I set myself. Today I’m updating the list since I’ve finally completed one of the series I set on the original list! I’m glad to have made a dent however small and to be honest, it couldn’t have been a better one since it’s now one of my favourite series.

That is of course the Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K Le Guin. I have reviewed each of the books in the series now and I will link them below but I will say, regardless of it taking me longer than I anticipated, I loved this series. It was everything I needed right now for many reasons, one being the rise of She Who Will Not be Named.

So now I’m done one series, am I left with only 3? No, that would be sensible and I’m a glutton for punishment. I am going to add another 2 series to the list since I’ve felt a real need to finally finish that one in particular so without further rambling, the below is the updated list. Again, Those highlighted in bold have been read and those with a * are going to be a reread.

Books and series read:

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin:
– A Wizard of Earthsea
– The Tombs of Atuan
– The Farthest Shore
– Tehanu

Series left to read and finish:

The Wormwood Trilogy by Tade Thompson:
– Rosewater
– The Rosewater Insurrection
– The Rosewater Redemption

The Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E Schwab:
A Darker Shade of Magic*
– A of Shadows
– A Conjuring of Light

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb:
– Assassins Apprentice*
– Royal Assassin
– Assassins Quest

The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman:
-The Magicians
-The Magician King
-The Magician’s Land

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K Jemisin:
-The Fifth Season
-The Obelisk Gate
-The Stone Sky

So two more trilogies! Both by extremely excellent authors and both having been in both my possession and unfinished for a while. I would like to get at least a chunk of these read before the end of this year but that might be pushing it and I am a very mood reader. I shall be updating here on the occasions that I have a new one completed (or DNFd??) so we shall see.

Thank you so much to everyone for reading my disaster post and my very minimal attempt to hold myself in check for the amount of uncompleted series I have. If you have read or finished any of the above that you think I would like, do let me know. Happy reading to you all!

Review: Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin

‘If women had power what would men be but women who can’t bear children? And what would women be but men who can?’

****Trigger warnings for the following: Rape (implied and off page), incest,some ableist language and death of a spouse****

Well here we are. We’ve come full circle. And I have many feelings. Honestly, despite my clear love of Ursula K. Le Guin’s work, I had no idea when I started this series just how much of an impact this would make on me and now, I can honestly say I never want to leave Earthsea.

Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan—she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer’s widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own.

Once, when they were young, they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger and shared an adventure like no other. Now they must join forces again, to help another in need — the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny has yet to be revealed

When I reviewed the previous book in the series, I mentioned how for many that is considered the conclusion to the original story of Ged and his adventures of Earthsea. Considering the time between The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, anyone who had been following her work for so long would be right to assume that was the end. But this, truly felt like the conclusion we needed.

We are back of course where it all started, Gont. And we are back with Tenar, now known as Goha to the Gontish people she married among. Honestly, I loved Tenar a lot for the simple realism she brought to the story while also struggling with something that is very real for people who have lived under such a sheltered rule. I was glad to see she had chosen to make a life for herself on Gont, marry a husband, have children, lose said husband and become Goha. There is a very interesting point later between Ged and Tenar where he reminds her that she could have been the first woman mage, she had Ogion, she had the power, she had everything available. But Tenar reminds Ged very quickly that for the first time in her life, it was her choice alone. That to me, is the most important thing of Tenar’s story.

Something the story juggles and discusses a lot is gender. It’s no secret that Le Guin’s writing of gender was ahead of it’s time in many ways and particularly for a woman in such a high place in SFF. But here it’s really confronted by Tenar. She is clearly more powerful than a common witch (“weak as a woman’s magic, wicked as a woman’s magic” is a phrase used a lot in the story) and can even converse with the dragon, Kallesin, in the Old Speech. This is pretty unknown outside of wizards and dragons and does take years of study but she manages it. Reality didn’t cease to exist because a woman conversed with a dragon.

This book is hell of a lot darker than any of the others. The story opens with Tenar helping a local Gontish woman try and safe a young girl who was raped by her fellow clan members and thrown live into a fire. She is named Therru (flame in Kargish) and Tenar tries her best to raise the girl in some form of normality and to try and help her recover from the horrific way she was treated. The girl is left physically scarred and affected by this (again like the start, definitely some out of date language used to discuss her disabilities) forever, barely speaking and only learning to trust men once Ged comes back. The story concludes wonderfully with Therru given back a hell of a lot more agency but it is worth knowing in advance that these are in the story.

You’re probably wondering how I made it this far without even mentioning Ged. That’s because this isn’t his story. It’s the story of those left behind. Women, widows, witches, the disabled and the older people. This is the story of anyone who the big fantasy epics left behind and forgot about after we left the last page. I honestly really enjoyed the direction this book took, you could truly tell that Le Guin was in a very different place in life writing this. While we still see Ged and he is still a big part of the story, his story is over and this ends his, and Tenar’s, stories so they can enjoy the rest of their lives. Together in peace.

Thank you to everyone who has read these reviews and followed my journey to read the series I started so I can truly experience them. Earthsea is honestly after this one of my favourite series of all time. I know I do have The Other Wind and Tales of Earthsea left still in this world but for now, I’m thrilled to have finished this amazing series. I’ll be posting an update to the TBR project and I’ll discuss the series at length in it’s own post hopefully but in the mean time, thanks for checking in! Happy reading!

★★★★.5/5

Review: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

‘Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.’

Welcome back to the Discworld Project! Today we are back with my favourite coven! The Lancre Coven! But what if I told you the coven were not longer in Lancre? What if I told you the witches were going…abroad?!

It seemed an easy job . . . After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn’t marry a prince?

But for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, travelling to the distant city of Genua, things are never that simple . . .

Servant girls have to marry the prince. That’s what life is all about. You can’t fight a Happy Ending. At least – up until now.

I think it’s safe to say that the Witches are starting to rival the Death books for me. There’s nothing quite as joyous as spending time with 3 women who can’t agree on anything and generally don’t want to spend time together but the Disc kind of needs them to and now we get to watch them go on holiday together. But with a magic wand and a lot of pumpkins.

One thing we have learned along the way with me reviewing these books is that there is always something Pratchett is trying to dissect, parody and draw very real discussions about. Today we are tackling fairytales and story. There is also an albeit extremely small and subtle (if a bit outdated) message of the damage caused by trying to control nature, race and cultural erasure.

The world building is honestly the best I’ve read from Pratchett so far. The whole story is one big journey as the witches travel from Lancre to Genua across the Disc to stop a happily ever after. I honestly loved everything about this. I’m usually very picky about “journey” books in fantasy. Outside of the big ones, I tend to avoid them since they draw me straight back to studying Joseph Campbell for my thesis. So some of the best moments are narrated by Nanny Ogg as she sends postcards back to her Jason and honestly, I wish I had an entire book from her point of view. Genua does confuse me a little in what it is supposed to be, considering it has definite overtones of New Orleans meets Far, Far Away.

You would think the way this book follows Magrat that this book would focus on her development since she is chosen in the first place to be a fairy godmother and even though we do see her grow a lot, this book is dedicated to the matriarch herself, Esme Weatherwax. Despite Magrat’s doubts about Granny’s abilities as a witch, this boos proves if anything how powerful she truly is. We see her using powers she hasn’t used since ‘Equal Rites’, including “borrowing” and hypnotism. Outside of all that, we see her fearing someone enough that she is hiding from them. I won’t reveal too much else since it is explained later in the book but it really gave such weight to her as a character by adding a layer of vulnerability to her that only Pratchett could layer in a story that openly mocks fairytales like this. I also will try and practice saying ‘Blessings upon this house’ to get people to respect me going forward.

Something that I have realised as I read more of the books, I can see how Pratchett reminds us that inside these humourous moments, there is a real darkness at route as well. In one scene Granny and Nanny are trying to prevent the outcome of the Red Riding Hood story. When the witches meet the wolf and Granny looks into the mind of this magically altered person, he asks her to let him die. It is such a turn for the story and there is some genuine ethical questions there about altering a person against their will and an almost criticism of eugenics I thought. This one moment was enough to have me stop reading to think for a bit.

What else can I say? This is a story of embracing different cultures, coming to terms with duty and expectations and proof that you’re probably better off not knowing what was in that drink. This was a well overdue addition to the project and next up is Small Gods. Thanks for checking in everyone! Happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Review: The Raven by Jonathan Janz

‘The evidence is all around me. Humans have always been monsters. We just needed a push to embrace our shadow side.’

*****Trigger warning for the following: Body horror, apocalypses, rape, pedophaelia, gore, blood, torture, death of a child and a parent*******

I always talk about my love for SFF and comics on this blog but horror sometimes falls by the wayside here. I’ve been reading horror since I was 13 (10 if you include Under the Hawthorne Tree. If you know, you know.). I am ashamed to say that despite my love of horror, I have never read a Jonathan Janz book. Until now!

Fearing that mankind is heading toward nuclear extinction, a group of geneticists unleash a plot to save the world. They’ve discovered that mythological creatures such as werewolves, vampires, witches, and satyrs were once real, and that these monstrous genetic strands are still present in human DNA. These radical scientists unleash the bestial side of human beings that had been dormant for eons, and within months, most people are dead, and bloodthirsty creatures rule the earth. Despite the fact that Dez McClane has no special powers, he is determined to atone for the lives he couldn’t save and to save the woman he loves. But how long can a man survive in a world full of monsters?

I haven’t read a book that felt this cinematic in a very long time. Everything literally felt like I was sat watching it on screen instead of a book. This is a grim, dark world that is both familiar yet totally alien. Not a single moment gives you relief from the constant threats this world throws at it’s characters and for a post apocalyptic novel that I read during a global pandemic, I had great fun.

One things that struck me was Janz’s wonderful ability for world building. This is a world that felt lived in and it certanily felt like he was questioning just what lengths he could really push the misery of the characters lives. And then how could he make it worse. He honestly has such a knack for writing a world like this, like trying to pitch a pandemic level apocalypse that turns people into vampires and werewolves as a novel is just so unique. I honestly am mostly obsessed with the concept and I really enjoyed it.

Now as we all know, horror is hinged on atmosphere. This book does it times ten. This world is bleak, it’s unforgiving and you will die in seconds if you don’t have your eye on the ball. Like honestly Janz does not care about the wellbeing of his characters. Dez, our protagonist, literally escapes a bunch of cannibals and watches 2 people being killed and consumed, he finds shelter (and popcorn!) only for his peace to be ruined and his life nearly stolen at by a grieving werewolf. Noone at all catches a break here.

Random thing I really liked about the myriad of monsters of this world is the werewolves. They aren’t transformed or alered by moonlight but ususally an emotional trigger. Dez does let us know that is seems to be mostly anger or rage of some kind that sets off the transformation of human to wolf. However w do meet one later that changes as a result of the crushing grief at the loss of his wife. I really liked that since it is an interesting modern take.

Janz is truly brutal to his characters though. Dez has been through almightly hell when we meet him. Mostly as a result of the post traumatic stress of the loss of his son, he lives in this constant state of guilt. One small complaint I really didn’t like was the brief hint that he had a form of possible OCD but he never bothered to get it checked. I know it’s the apocalypse but this is distinctly described as a moment of contemplation when he thinks of the past. Outside of that, all the characters need a cup of tea that isn’t secretly full of wasps.

The horror is really dialled up to ten, the characters are interesting but what took the last star was the plot and structure of the book. We had what promised to be every other chapter told in the first person by Dez. That only lasts for a few chapters and it is forgotten about. The framing device is the journal he keeps and those chapters are his entries, granted he can’t write them all the time but the lack of consistency with it was a bit jarring.

Thank you to both Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for an early copy of this book for review. This was highly enjoyable and I look forward to reading more of Janz work. Thanks for checking in everyone! happy reading! ‘The Raven’ is out now.

★★★★/5

Review:The Malan Witch by Catherine Cavendish

‘No, the shadow had moved. It really had. She hardly dared breathe.
A loud “caw” outside her window madeher jump. The shadow fluttered and was gone.’

*******Disclaimer: I was sent a digital advanced copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.******

Well summer is over, who can say they’re honestly sorry to see it go? Alright, maybe a few of you are. But spooky season is upon us! Finally, after this dreadful year, it’s nice to see some proof that time is passing. But no here we are, time for spooky stories and speaking of them, is there anything more unsettling than the idea that your perfect holiday home is haunted by vengeful witches? While you’re isolated by the sea?

“Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.”

An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood—two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

I spent most of my childhood summers by the sea up the West Cosat of Ireland. I think anyone who knows this and knows Ireland at all will know that it certainly wasn’t sunny, sandy beaches with everyone smiling. It is a lot of unsettled weather, seaweed and spending time in the local bars hiding from said weather. So right away from the get go, this book appealed to me being set in such a similar place. Trust me I know my description makes it sound like it wasn’t a great place but going to the most remote parts of the coast did allow us always a chance to cut off from the city for a while.

This is why it makes sense to me that our protagonist Robyn would retreat there to recover from grief. The world building is superb, there is such an atmosphere here I could literally feel the winds blowing in on Robyn’s walks. The local scrutiny and the endless nepotism of the local village had me smiling from sheer nostalgia.

This is obviously a double edged sword since what is a wonderful, remoste place for recovery from very devastating loss is also an isolated cottage with very little contact with the world outside rural ‘Malan’. What I really enjoyed about the writing here was how the two of these moods are so well balanced. There is a moment here Robyn is reflecting quite cosily over a piece of cake, watching the world go by in the local cafe. Within moments, the stoy is suddenly overshadowed by the strange and tragic history of Malan and how Robyn might not be truly alone.

Something I really enjoy in books is sister dynamics. Robyn and her sister Holly are a very close set of sisters, onee being in Malan cottage at the others recommendation. What really worked was their relationship in comparison to Jowanet and Zenobie, the witches themselves. Granted the sisters were clearly working some evil dark magic and were cursing the entire land but one of them is haunting the place still searching for her sister. I have to admire that.

All that asie this is still a horror story at the end of the day and it delivers on that even better than I expected and I knew thatI would enjoy this. Catherine Cavendish really has a gift for the uncanny that manages to unsettle you even in very small ways. Smell is something I really react to personally and the smaller details of the near rotten smell in the cottage was such a small thing that added to the overall experience. To me personlly it’s always the smaller things that lead to me feeing on edge. The attention to detail here is honestly fantastic and I can’t fault the creepy feel of the Malan Witch lurking around every corner.

The only thing I wish there had been more of was Robyn and her late husband, Simon. this is a very small thing in the overall story but it becomes clear from the moments she does think of him that Robyn and Simon were very happy in their marriage. It definitely would have added extra emotional weight to the story, that we do get from the moments that Holly and her children are brought into context of the witch but I personally would have loved to have seen it.

Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy of this to review! This was the exact book I needed to pull me out of a mini slump that I was having and I would recommend to get them spooky feels started for the Autumn. Thanks for checking in everyone! Happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Review: Axioms End by Lindsay Ellis

‘No intelligent species has evolved past fear.’

I don’t generally fare well with first contact stories. I saw E.T for the first time 2 Christmases ago and was left in the depths of melancholy. I literally can’t go back to it. Aliens generally to me are usually of the Xenomorph/Thing type than the needing a hug from my mother because one went home. Lindsay Ellis however managed to change that for me.

Truth is a human right.

It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

I generally watch Lindsay Ellis’s videos at least daily if not then every few days. Even ones that I have seen multiple times, have pestered my boyfriend with and just generally know the academic flow they will follow. So you can understand my caution for someone who writes non fiction video essays emerging with a science fiction story. I was very wrong. What Ellis manages to capture is the nostalgia and dread I feel when I think about 2007 while still writing a compelling story.

The world building here is very well done with just the right levels of throwback to the early 2000’s and the strangeness of that time. I was a teenager in 2007 when Bush was president so I was in my own little bubble of angst back then. But I was very aware of the political environment at the time, both in Ireland and the U.S with Barack Obama in the run for president especially. This book is written so well I was dragged back to those years. From the mention of the final Harry Potter book being published and the very mention of My Chemical Romance set the right mood of that year. it wasn’t all nostalgia though, Ellis really captures the unease of living during the economic crash by adding little details here and there. One of them I really found interesting was the details of the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the beginning of each part of the book. Kinda really sets up the constant awareness of the economy we all lived with back then.

Review: The Farthest Shore (The Earthsea Quartet) by Ursula K Le Guin

‘This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.’

Look. It’s me, Hedwig/Kayleigh, still following a TBR I set myself. How you may I ask? I would like to say I have grown more consistent and better at time management but you all know it’s a lie. It’s because I started with possibly one of my new favourite series of all time and this one in particular made me cry. Read on to know why a 27 year old cried over an old wizard.

Darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk – Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord — embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad’s young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. Together they will sail to the farthest reaches of their world — even beyond the realm of death – as they seek to restore magic to a land desperately thirsty for it.

So this for some people is the end of the Earthsea original series since the next book, ‘Tehanu’ wasn’t published for another 18 years after this book and it follows Tenar as the protagonist. But this review isn’t about that. The Farthest Shore is one of the most wonderful, heartwarming books I’ve read this year. If you only read as far as it, I wager you would be satisfied with this wonderful series.

Similar to the previous story, we aren’t following Ged’s perspective but another younger character who’s story is directly tied to him. We meet Arren, the prince and heir to Enlad, on his way to Ged, now the Archmage on the island of Roke the home of the wizards of Earthsea. Once again we see Ged decades after the end of the previous story and further into his maturity. This time, Ged is a weary old man, unwilling to give into impulse and leave the magically secured island. As the conclusion to his story, this book truly delivers for a narrative and emotional standpoint.

I listened to this on audio book for the sake of convenience and I truly enjoyed it far more for it. The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, managed both the young lilt of Arren and the gravelly tone Ged now speaks with after many years of travel. His narration adds fantastically to the world building as Arren and Ged travel around the smaller islands of the archipelago where they meet those further and further away from the main civilisation. What I was really impressed with and that made me really feel the magical awe for Earthsea is how he narrates the dragons. That alone was some of my favourite parts of the audio book.

What really touched me however and is still living in my feelings at this moment in time is the relationship between Arren and Ged. We watch Ged again through the eyes of a young characters on the edge of their life and see just how much the wizard changes their life for the better, despite his world weary of himself. One moment that really tuck with me was at the start of the story was after Arren meets Ged for the first time he declares that he loves the wizard in that very meeting. Le guin being the great challenger of norms had me considering this as a more romantic love than a platonic one and I find it hard not to think that still.

Granted, if this was true this could very easily fall prey to the harmful trope of a younger queer man being groomed by a much older one. That to me is truly where the genius of Le Guin and her writing lies. She handles this in a way that it becomes clear as the novel goes on that the love Arren feels for Ged is more platonic and bordering on familial but as he matures, it could possibly be a teen falling “in love” with a role model. I could be grabbing at straws slightly here since Le Guin did tend to not queer bait or code her characters but I still thought it an interesting potential of their relationships.

The stakes are definitely higher in this book than any of the others in the series. Magic is literally dying. There are hundreds of people losing their gifts across this world and dying in many more as a result. Ged at one stage meeting a desperate wizard who has lost a limb and his life as a result of this happening being the true sign to him that this isn’t some silly task to please a prince. Magic is going missing and noone, even the dragons, know how. The eventual climax, meeting of the adversary of Ged causing this, not only brings the book to a very cathartic end but mirrors Ged’s mission of the first book beautifully. Sometimes callbacks can be a little cheap in endings so it can be hard to do but you really feel a strong sense that Ged has always been prepared for this.

I honestly can’t find a single complaint for the book or how it closes off Ged’s story. Where the usual things that would disengage me from a story (plots being fairly nonexistent for a chunk of the book, characters having very out of place emotional turns, convenient plot devices) but everything in this story served a purpose, no matter how small.

It’s taken me days to review this coherently so I hope it all makes sense. My TBR project has been going a little slower than I thought with being busy in work and generally being in a near slump. I am half dreading to finally finish with the last book but I know the satisfaction of finishing the series will be fabulous. Thanks for checking in, happy reading everyone!

★★★★★/5

Review: The Dreaming Volume 2: Empty Shells by Simon Spurrier, Abigail Larson, Bilquis Evely, Matt Lopes and Quinton Winter

‘Turns out it’s the diseased and the dying who feel it first when the whole world breaks like a heart.’

I have returned folks! I was lucky enough to have a mini Staycation in Galway with the boyf this week and I never got time to prep posts before leaving so this review is well overdue. As a lifelong Sandman fan (yes, there is a review coming for the Audible drama too) I have been more than happy to continue reading the Sandman Universe titles from the DC Black Label/Vertigo formerly. However The Dreaming, I have been struggling with.

Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely continue the stories of the characters from the award-winning The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman as Lord Daniel is introduced to the cold taste of heartbreak. And as expected, it’s not pretty.

Even the Lord of Dreams is powerless against the storm of lost love. As with his predecessor Morpheus, Lord Daniel will find love in the last place anyone could have hoped for…the realm of the mortals. And as with all romantic entanglements between mortals and the Endless, things are destined to be doomed. Meanwhile, a newly awakened mind in the Dreaming brings with it radical changes that may undo reality itself!

Collects The Dreaming #7-12

This was so hard to rate and even think of words for a review. I loved so much of the story, the art and the way this series is linking back to the original run but ultimately it was messy and disappointing with lots of the potential that was built on between issues 7-9 being left with so many plot threads untouched.

Think it’s best to start by explaining that issues 7&8 were the best so far in this series, both art and story wise. I love Abigail Larson’s art and often just stare at her instagram crying in Art Graduate. But the art works so well with this two part story. We see Lucien in recovery from his last encounter in the Dreaming in a hospital in the mortal realm while having Rose Walker tell her story to him.

I was more than happy to see Rose again, The Dolls House is one of my favourites of the Sandman stories and I often wondered how her direct heritage tied to the Endless might play out. She is not only confirmed as queer by flashbacks but she is a mother. Her daughter, Ivy, now the lover of Dream/Daniel. These both function as a wonderful standalone story with an ending that we do tie back to later and after this we return to where we left off at the end of Issue 6.

This for me is where the entire story fell apart for me and similarly ended poorly. Dora and Matthew take a trip through worlds using Dora’s powers to try and find the mising Daniel. The best part of this being the visits to old locations of the comics and meeting characters again. Other than that, the story is still not doing much in the way of exposing what is happening and relying on hints to keep the reader engaged.

Like I mentioned earlier the art remains to be utterly and totally perfect. Larson and Evely continue to keep the art to the standard this series has always had with breathtaking art to match the vast worlds and realms explored in the story. Evely and her spreads across pages to display the constantly expanding parameters of the realm of dreams works so well with Larson and how she uses smoke, vapour and cloth to frame panels makes me want to weep.

Honestly there is still a lot I love about this series. As well the most recent addition to the series, The Waking Hours, looks insanely promising. But all in all, this was a let down. Any other Sandman readers have a take on the story? Feel like this one is a great one for a discussion! Thanks for checking in everyone, happy reading.

★★★/5

Review: The Tombs of Atuan (The Earthsea Quartet) by Ursula K.Le Guin

They do not die. They are dark and undying, and they hate the light: the brief, bright light of our mortality. They are immortal, but they are not gods. They never were.

If you follow me on any of my social medias or even have seen my most recent posts here on the blog, then you may know that I am holding myself accountable for finishing some series I started. This review is my first finished book of that I will be doing as part of that. I read A Wizard of Earthsea earlier this year and absolutely loved it. But what about the follow up book?

When young Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, everything is taken away – home, family, possessions, even her name. For she is now Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan.

While she is learning her way through the dark labyrinth, a young wizard, Ged, comes to steal the Tombs’ greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. But Ged also brings with him the light of magic, and together, he and Tenar escape from the darkness that has become her domain

This is certainly a change in direction from the first novel in the series. For a start we have a new protagonist and we are on a totally different part of the archipelago of Earthsea. We have moved to the culture of the Kargish people, those who keep the Tombs Atuan. Our protagonist, Tenar, is taken to the tombs at age 5 and is made High Priestess to the Nameless Ones, being renamed ‘Arha’ (meaning ‘eaten one’) as part of the duty.

I thouroughly enjoyed seeing this side of the islands. Considering the Kargish people are a race of people with white skin and are seen as ‘savages’ by the Hardic folk for their religious theocracy and their distaste of reading and writing, it made for interesting worldbuilding. The atmosphere as always is perfect in Le Guin’s worlds. You really feel the isolation that Tenar faces here and the struggle of maintaining the duty that you were given while being expected to just know how to do the job.

While A Wizard of Earthsea functioned as a coming of age story for Ged, and we watched him grow from the impulsive spirited apprentice he was, to the powerful mage Sparrowhawk, we get a similar situation here with Tenar. Tenar is renamed Arha at the age of 5 when she taken away from her parents. The Kargish believing that the same High Priestess lives, dies and born again to serve the Nameless Ones. Tenar as a result is constantly struggling between her belief in the Nameless Ones and how she is proud to serve them to the endless questioning of what lies out there.

Her eventual meeting with Ged is genuinely some of the best moments in the book. You see Tenar confronted with everything she has been conditioned to believe is barbaric and wrong. She has to fight against this belief that her Nameless Ones she serves so well didn’t step in to stop this evil mage. She genuinely struggles and battles against it showing the clear signs of trauma someone indoctrinated might go through. Ged is wonderfully patient and helpful with her, guiding her to eventually use the power she has wielded all these years to learn what she truly wants.

The plot was a little tricky here since I never realised although Ged is a character in all the Earthsea books, each one takes place years apart from the last and he isn’t the main character in any of the other books. Tenar did grow on me and I did love her story as it went on but to start with it was a little jarring and had me a little lost to begin with so maybe take that on board if you are going to read these.

I am quite happy I chose to start my TBR projct with this series first. Ursula K Le Guin is honestly one of my favourite writers and I wish I had read Earthsea sooner. I have found it vastly comforting since my break up with JKR and trying to distance myself from Harry Potter for a while. Thanks for checking in folks! happy reading!

★★★★/5

Review: Abhorsen by Garth Nix

So I’ll do that, and I’ll do my best and if my best isn’t good enough, at least I will have done everything I could, everything that is in me. I don’t have to try to be someone else, someone I could never be.

I met Garth Nix at Octocon, the Irish scifi convention, in 2018. Coincidentally I met one of my good friends in the queue for he and Sean Williams’ (their books will come) signing. At that particular event I also got to drink champagne with him while talking about dogs. The relevance this has to my review is the fact I had just read Sabriel and I can still remember it so vividly and that doesn’t really happn for me with fantasy books after a year or so anymore. This year, I finally brough myself to ransom an finished the series.

The Ninth was strong and fought with might
But lone Orannis was put out of the light
Broken in two and buried under hill
Forever to lie there, wishing us ill.


So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.

To make matters worse, Sam’s best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.

Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer

****Potential spoilers for the ret of the series ahead. This is the third in the original trilogy, now a series so spoilers may lie ahead. Be warned*******

Okay let’s get this out of the way, Garth Nix can end a series like no one else. I find it very hard these days to be both interested in YA SFF while if I am reading it, to find any ending satisfying enough. Granted this is kind of the end to the main story started in Sabriel and I did treat this a a trilogy but this really ends on a high one regardless of the books that came after.

There is a huge change to the overall world building and set up here. It harkens right back to the atmosphere of urgency of Sabriel where there is a truly devastating threat around the corner that threatens not only the Old Kingdom but the entire world. We also have this sense of the unkown again where Lirael is right back where Sabriel was in the first book, she knows she is the next Abhorsen but has kind of arrived to the role by extreme circumstances. The stakes are high and they only get higher as the book goes on.

Lirael sees fantastic growth in this book. she’s definitely a character I would feel closer to than say Sabriel, since we did watch her grow over two books. She really proves herself here, come the end of the book, just how powerful she is. I still really love the fact her relationship wth Sameth turned out to be familial and not a romantic one. I feel Nix made the better choice here in doing that. That being said my favourtes are still Mogget and the Disreputable Dog. There is a moment where they are alone where it becomes clear just how old they both are and how far back their animosity goes too. It was a nice additon. I hope there is a short story along the way about them both.

I have no faults with this story. Honestly. The entire series to date has been betwen 4-5 stars so I’m not really surprised. The whole story wraps up wonderfully with sacrifices made (and in my case, tears cried) and it ends in such a way that the reader can make the decision to continue with the other books or not. Garth Nix ends his books in a way that it’s like there is blade dropped right after the climax and that’s all you get. And I really like that since I find a lot of books rable a bit after the end has come and gone.

I also listened to this on audio book, its narrated by the God himself Tim Curry. He is the perfect choice for both the accents, the various voices of creatures including Mogget (especially Mogget) and he really does the touch of spooy these have well. Why would you not want to read a bok narrated by Long John Silver? (If you get that, please humor me and my elderly self)

I do intend to read Clariel, which I had spoiled for me a few years ago but I do want to sit in my feelings for the end of this for a bit. Now I can finally read Agel Mage too without the sheer GUILT of seeing Abhorsen on the shelf. Where my Old Kingdom fans at? Thanks for checking in guys! Happy reading!

★★★★★/5