MandaBerry's Books

One person's thoughts on a whole lot of books

Tag Archives: PYR

Review: Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Book One of the Twilight Reign)

The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Book One of the Twilight Reign)


From the back of the book


In a land ruled by prophecy and the whims of Gods, a young man finds himself at the heart of a war he barely understands, wielding powers he may never be able to control.  Isak is a white-eye, born bigger, more charismatic, and more powerful than normal men…but with that power comes an unpredictable temper and an inner rage he cannot always hide.  Brought up as a wagon-brat, feared and despised by those around him, he dreams of a place in the army and a chance to live his own life.  But when the call comes, it isn’t to be a soldier, for the Gods have other plans for the intemperate teenager: Isak has been chosen as heir-elect to the brooding Lord Bahl, the white-eye Lord of the Farlan.  The white-eyes were created by the Gods to bring order out of chaos, for their magnetic charm and formidable strength make them natural leaders of men.  Lord Bahl is typical of the breed: he inspires and oppresses those around him in equal measure.  He can be brusque and impatient, a difficult mentor for a boy every bit as volatile as he is.

But now is the time for revenge, and for the forging of empires.  With mounting envy and malice, the men who would themselves be kings watch Isak, chosen by Gods as flawed as the humans who serve them, as he is shaped and molded to fulfill the prophecies that circle him like scavenger birds.  Divine fury and mortal strife are about to spill over and paint the world with blood.  The Stormcaller is the first book in a powerful new series that combines inspired world building, epoch-shattering battles, and high emotion to dazzling effect.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought


I admit that I’m behind on my fantasy reading.  I wish I could say “If you like so-and-so, then you’ll like this,” but, alas, I can’t.  I enjoyed reading about most of the characters, and the action scenes were exciting but very brief. I liked the world that the author was building, but I don’t feel I can completely see or understand it yet.  Maybe in the next book it’ll all make sense.  Quite a few characters were briefly introduced in short segments and left me wondering how they fit into the story. I’m a little miffed because this isn’t settled by the end of the book. Sorry. I’m aware this is a series, but this installment doesn’t compel me to rush out and buy the next one. I’m concerned I might just get completely lost.  I enjoyed the story, but all of the jumping around and the number of characters briefly mentioned makes me hesitant to continue reading this series.  You never know, I may just suck it up and see how it turns out.

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Review: Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Shadows of the Apt #1)

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt 1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky 
From the back of the book

The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbors.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, it killing Art . . . And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable.

Only the aging Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire’s latest victim.

My rating:   5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought


 My natural aversion to bugs kept me from picking this up for quite a while.  I finally picked the book up when I was in a “facing my fears” mode, and I’m so glad I did.  First, in order to clarify a little, the book is not about bugs. The characters in this book are defined by the Ancestors from which they “evolved”.  These races, for lack of a better term, have each developed special gifts or abilities that are characteristic of their namesakes.  The Beetle Kinden, for example, are often hard-working, full of stamina, and unfortunately end up on the broad side of physical appearances.  I loved how the author uses the characteristics of certain bugs to develop the people of this world. Loved it.

This action/adventure fantasy novel started off a little awkwardly for me personally because I didn’t know what to expect, but everything cleared up after the first 50 pages or so.  Once that confusion was cleared up I got wrapped up in the story of adventure, espionage,war, action, romance, and betrayal that I finished this rather quickly and immediately had to get the second one. I’m timing my completion of the third installment with the release of the fourth. Such torture!  I enjoyed the characters and wanted to find out what they did next. There’s a medievalesque atmosphere, but there’s also some technology thrown in, not hi-tech, but more steampunkish. Although, this really isn’t a “steampunk” novel.  I’m not sure exactly how to describe what that would make it. Who needs a label anyway, right?

And how about that cover? It’s beautiful. I tend to get hooked by the cover art, which doesn’t always work out so well. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the covers that PYR have put out and most, if not all, have had the story to back it up.

Empire in Black in Gold is the first in the Shadows of the Apt series.  It is immediately followed by Dragonfly Falling (#2) and Shadow of the Mantis (#3), and there are more in the series after that.