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 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 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: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.

Welcome back to the Discworld everyone and here we are again at Unseen University and the realm of Death. Wizards meet death personally when they die don’t they? Don’t they??

DEATH IS MISSING – PRESUMED . . . ER . . . GONE.

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall, dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There’s a harvest to be gathered in…

I think at this stage it would be easier to give me a non Death centric book from the Discworld series to see if I would like it. I really started out not enjoying this as much as I expected but I was very quickly reminded that this was a Death book and therefore my heart was about to be broken.

Starting with the world building, we are right back at the familiar haunts of Ankh Morpork, Unseen University and a mild stop in Death’s realm. As usual, the city is consistently chaotic and brutal. One thing that I was pushed to understand at first was what exactly the disaster was or might be that was coming to mess up the city this time and how exactly it tied in to what was happening between death and the Wizard story line (i’ll get t that in a sec).

I know that a mystery is obviously necessary for the plot and we aren’t supposed to know everything or that would kill the reveal. But I think anyone who has read this will know what I mean here. It was hard to tie how this thing represented itself and how it could possibly tie in with the other chaos where in the last few books it was becoming clear after a bit where these events are linked to each other.

That being said however, this is a character book more than anything. There are two main perspectives here, Death of course but also Windle Poons the old wizard that I have often pointed out has the perfect name for a cat. That was something that I wasn’t set up for so I felt very much like I was lacking on the Death content when I first started reading.

However old Poons does grow on you very quickly and by the end of the book I was VERY attached to him and his heroics and struggles. There is a definite question and reality of getting old and how that takes away from your own capabilities. Also how it really causes people to treat you and even Poons himself really sees how the other Wizards just considered him a chore or a object really. I can name on one hand the amount of SFF books that do things like this with aging and one is a short story, the other a book by Stephen King. This was a welcome plot and Poons really got his moment to shine.

Death of course. This isn’t a review of a Discworld novel without and the tears. This book really confronts Death with mortality and how he is changing as a result of humanity. There is a distinct feel of him becoming more in touch with humans and our needs and feelings when he is presented with his own possibility of living and dying after that life is gone. Pratchett really went to lengths here to make this story as powerful as it is heartbreaking. Death’s relationship with Miss Flitworth is definitely the best part and had me crying a lot. His relationship all be in brief on the page with Sal, the little girl who can see him, as well was wonderful.

This story is excellent with some very deep questions and characters that are hard not to become closer to.Again, I would only draw criticism to the confusing delivery of the entity that is causing chaos here and the fact this should be marketed as both Windle Poons’ story and Death’s so at least expectations don’t cause someone to give up on this very great story.

Thank you so much to anyone who is following along my Discwild jurney at this point. After a year I thought I would be way further into this series but then I realise there are 40 books and I had life, blog tours and other related phenomena along the way. I might do a wee check in post to track my current progress and see how I am doing. As usual from me, happy reading to you all!

★★★★/5

Review: Squire by Tamora Pierce

‘So long as there nobles and commoners, the wealthy and the poor, those with power will be heard, and those without ignored. That’s the world’

I’m not crying. You’re crying. I think this entire series is just punching me right in the feelings. I love Kel. I love Tortall. Oh I told you this was a review? Ah okay, I’d better crack on so.

Keladry of Mindelan dreams of becoming squire to the legendary female knight Alanna the Lioness, a hero straight out of story. But Kel is chosen instead by Lord Raoul, a leader of men and a strategist – an unexpected honor that shocks her enemies.

Kel must hone her skills and discover what it takes to be part of the royal guard. Part of a team.
With this change comes another: a new romance, bringing with it the rush of first love and the unexpected challenges of balancing duty and love. All the while, Kel prepares for her biggest challenge: the infamous and terrifying Ordeal – the last challenge standing between her and knighthood.

A powerful classic that is more timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is about smashing the ceilings others place above you.

In a landmark quartet published years before it’s time, Kel must prove herself twice as good as her male peers just to be thought equal. A series that touches on questions of courage, friendship, a humane perspective – told against a backdrop of a magical, action-packed fantasy adventure

I don’t know what it is but dammit Pierce’s writing just gets better with every single book I read by her and just when I think she has done something I have never seen before I get proven totally wrong in my thoughts. I see now why I chose to review the Immortals Quartet as one work. It’s so hard to not give all these books five stars when they all are so strong together. But I have chosen to review each one so, lets go ahead and get into why you need to read this.

This is the first book in the series that begins to deal with the more political side of court life as Kel is exposed more to these things due to her duties as a Squire. She at one point attends a court trial from events in the last book. Kel at one point gains an audience with King Jonathan and challenges him on the outdated rules and laws that still exist in Tortall. I personally think that this is a welcome element to the story. Not only to show how Kel is growing up and how she is going to have to see these things all the time as a Knight but also since it does show that tortall is not run by noone and not without struggle.

Another element that really helps the world building in a very unexpected way is the discussion of sexuality and contraception. I have always wondered from my own reading and my own experiences of using different contraceptive methods over the years is why can’t you prevent pregnancy using magic? Surely someone has managed it? And they have ladies and gentlemen! Kel gets a boyfriend and her mother advises her of how as someone who has chosen a path outside of the standard being a Lady then she can kinda do what she wants but to be careful . She advises her to get a charm to prevent pregnancy until she is ready. Like, how easy is that to add into the story as a small little world building element and just use it as a means to normalise sex and sexuality? Simples.

Kel is finally seeing her hard work pay off after years of hard work, bullying and mockery. She is finally Squire to a Knight master. That Knight is not however Alanna the Lioness as she hoped. One of the best damn things in this book was Kel’s relationship with Raoul. There is a wonderful moment where Kel has to mend her sheets and while chatting to him he just starts sewing them up with her. I honestly am thrilled to just read a man that is comfortable in his masculinity and sexuality that he just gets on with things.

There are literally no complaints here from me about this book. I think this stands a chance of replacing the Immortals quartet as my favourite. There is literally a minor pacing issue with how th story ends but that is really me nitpicking and looking for things that might be worth giving out about.

I should read Lady Knight which is book four soon. I’m honestly thinking of doing an overall series discussion anyway so I can go into spoilers and gush a little bit more. Do let me know if you have read this and if you love Jump the little doggo as much as me. Thanks for checking in and happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Blog Tour: The Angel of Evil (The Great Devil War IV)by Kenneth B. Andersen

Good evening everyone. Welcome to my stop today on The Write Reads blg tour for The Angel of Evil by Kenneth B. Andersen!

Nothing will ever be the same. Satina is gone, kidnapped by the enemy. Disobeying Lucifer, Philip heads out to find her, journeying into the deep darkness of Outer Reach. But nothing can prepare Philip for the horror that awaits—or the demons he will face.

Meanwhile, Lucifer’s kingdom is threatened as the Great Devil War draws closer. All Hell is about to break loose.

The Angel of Evil is volume 4 of The Great Devil War series

‘But he had. And did he regret it?
No. He was no longer an angel and he’d sworn never to be weak again.’

Anyone who follows my posts on a regular basis will know how I’ve been following along with this series. Especially how the last book tore out my heart and totally blew up my expectations. Needless to say, the mood for this was set before reading the first page and things are getting real.

Things kick off directly from the get go. It picks up directly after the explosive ending of the previous story and how the characters are dealing with that. The world building isn’t something I’ll be discussing much here since we are now four books in and the world is very well developed, especially after the third book expanding to other hellscapes and other parts of these planes of existence. This book kind of links them all together in anticipation of this unavoidable war. Either way, it’s good to be back.

The main focus of this book is a mix of conflict and the trauma it leaves in it’s wake. As well as the consequences of our own conflict and how we deal with that. But this is Philip’s story so we are watching him deal with these struggles. Philip has a very different character arc in this book compared to the others. His inner struggles are more present than ever since at this stage, he does want to stay in Hell and it’s clear how he feels for Satina by now. But this war he has internally between his potential devil self and his “human” self is really put on display here and I really liked that. The humor of the first two books is definitely toned down to make room for this and I appreciated that.

Philip at the end of the day is a human and no amount of dies, summoning pills and accidental deaths are going to make him the devil he wants to be. He has to be Philip and that’s how he will triumph in the end. There are some very emotional moments between him and the other characters. Mostly Lucifer and Ravine but I do feel that he and Satina are more central to the plot with him having these decisions to make.

Satina takes a bit of a step back in the story which I wasn’t thrilled about (sorry, I love a demon lady) but something that was touched upon a good but is her recovery after being abducted by Aziel. There is a very good discussion that not all damage is done physically even when you are a non human being but it was good to see that as a main point of discussion. Spells could do as much damage as whips. However, it didn’t get brought up again much and that would have been amazing but I still loved seeing this on the page.

The story never fails to deliver on anything. The tension, the big reveals and the way it all wraps up at the end is as great as the last few have been. I will not deny after the last one, I was dreading the last few pages and I will have trust issues with the next book as a result but this felt like a perfect delivery of everything we have been teased about in the series so far. I really enjoyed it and was totally satisfied with how this all wrapped up. However book five is out now, so noone is safe.

Thank you as always to Dave from The Write Reads for having me on the tour and to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for review. The Angel of Evil is out now!

★★★★.5/5

Review: First Test by Tamora Pierce (The Protector of the Small)

‘I’ve watched Lady Alanna fight for the crown. I saw her majesty and some of her ladies fight in the Immortals War. I know women can be warriors.’

I’m back! Apologies for my sudden absence, a combination of work and personal things coupled with the world being totally on fire at the moment have lead me to fall behind on the review here. Well I’m back with my journey to Tortall and the first book in The Protector of the Small quartet.

Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of the new rule that allows women to train for knighthood.

But standing in Kel’s way is Lord Wyldon the training master, who is dead set against girls becoming knights. A woman should be lovely. A woman should be charming. A woman should not be deadly.

Wyldon demands Kel pass a one-year trial that no male page has ever had to endure. It’s just one more way to separate Kel from her fellow trainees. Kel must prove herself twice as good as her male peers just to be thought equal. But she is not to be underestimated.

Kel will fight to succeed, even when odds are stacked against her. Book one of a powerful and classic fantasy quartet about smashing the ceilings others place above you, by the bestselling author of the Song of the Lioness series and Tempests and Slaughter.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows how much I loved my read of the Immortals quartet last year that returning to this world was highly enjoyable for me. I love Tamora Pierce’s writing from my first read of Wild Magic and I feel it only gets better with each series.

This book expands on the world building of Tortall from the previous 2 series but there is no issue for a reader to begin reading from here. There are details and spoilers from the Immortals quartet as well as appearances of characters from there and the world left changed after the Immortals War. It’s a nice reward for anyone who has read it but it really makes the world larger and we learn of the Yamani Islands which are based on Japan and Japanese culture. Kel having spent time there gives us some brief insight into their traditions and ways of living.

Kel is only 11 in this first book but already she is pretty fearless. During the constant harassment from the male Pages, her training mater and the general struggle of becoming a Knight, she doesn’t give an inch and refuses to compromise. From the start of the book she is clearly a character that is more aligned with Alanna than Daine where she is more physical and commonly sports black eyes and bruises from various fights. I think out of all the characters Pierce has written, Kel is one I relate to the hardest. I’ve so often been in the situation (as many people have) that I’ve had to work harder just to get what I want and it’s refreshing she is not a ‘chosen one’ either.

We met some other great characters along the way. Besides the reappearance of Daine, Numair and other big names, there is the introduction of Lord Wyldon and Kel’s main ally, Nealan of Queenscove. Clearly Wyldon is as biased as he is tough but I thought by the end of the book, he certainly took on a more relatable light and changed a lot. I like seeing characters change their attitudes and just grow out of them. It needs to be normalised a lot more in fantasy books. Neal is hilarious and a great friend to Kel but there is clearly some set up here for later books I feel with his character so I’ll talk about that as I read on.

This is a nice quick read with a smooth cohesive plot that really works as both a primer for the world and a refresher for returning reader. I am giving it such a high rating for mostly enjoyment purposes but do still think this is a very solid first book for a series. Also, Kel saves kittens. She was a fave right there and then.

Thank you for bearing with me fellow readers. Rest assured I have a lot of stuff coming up these next couple of weeks including my review of the second book in this series, Page. So keep an eye out for that and do tell me, are you a fan? Have you read this series? Happy reading everyone!

★★★★★/5