Friday Firsts: Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: February 16 |

Spellslinger

Book One of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

Fantasy | 416 Pages | Published by Hot Key Books in 2017


| First Paragraphs |

The old spellmasters like to say that magic has a taste. Ember spells are like a spice burning the tip of your tongue. Breath magic is subtle, almost cool, the sensation of holding a mint leaf between your lips. Sand, silk, blood, iron … they each have their flavour. A true adept – the kind of mage who can cast spells even outside an oasis – knows them all.

Me? I had no idea what the high magics tasted like, which was why I was in so much trouble.

Tennat waited for me in the distance, standing inside the seven marble columns that ringed the town oasis. The sun at his back sent his shadow stretching all the way down the road towards me. He’d probably picked his spot precisely for that effect. It worked too, because my mouth was now as dry as the sand beneath my feet, and the only thing I could taste was panic.

‘Don’t do this, Kellen,’ Nephenia pleaded, quickening her step to catch up with me. ‘It’s not too late to forfeit.’

I stopped. A warm southern breeze shook the flowers from pink tamarisk trees lining the street. Tiny petals floated up into the air, glittering in the afternoon sun like particles of fire magic.

I could have used some fire magic just then. Actually, I would have settled for just about any kind of magic. Nephenia noticed my hesitation and unhelpfully added, ‘Tennat’s been bragging all over town that he’ll cripple you if you show up.’

I smiled, mostly because it was the only way I could keep the feeling of dread crawling up my stomach from reaching my face. I’d never fought a mage’s duel before, but I was fairly sure thatooking petrified in front of your opponent wasn’t an especially effective tactic. ‘I’ll be fine,’ I said, and resumed my steady march towards the oasis.

‘Nephenia’s right, Kel,’ Panahsi said, huffing and puffing as he struggled to catch up. His right arm was wrapped around the thick covering of bandages holding his ribs together. ‘Don’t fight Tennat on my account.’

I slowed my pace a little, resisting the urge to roll my eyes. Panahsi had all the makings of one of the finest mages of our generation. He might even become the face of our clan at court one day, which would be unfortunate, since his naturally muscular frame was offset by a deep love of yellowberry sweetcakes, and his otherwise handsome features were marred by the skin condition that was the inevitable result of the aforementioned cakes. My people have a lot of spells, but none that cure being fat and pockmarked.

‘Don’t listen to them, Kellen,’ Tennat called out as we approached the ring of white marble columns. He stood inside a three-foot circle in the sand, arms crossed over his black linen shirt. He’d cut the sleeves off to make sure everyone could see he’d sparked not just one, but two of his bands. The tattooed metallic inks shimmered and swirled under the skin of his forearms as he summoned the magics for breath and iron. ‘I think it’s sweet the way you’re throwing your life away just to defend your fat friend’s honour.’

A chorus of giggles rose up from our fellow initiates, most of whom were standing behind Tennat, shuffling about in anticipation. Everyone enjoys a good beating. Well, except the victim.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Only a short way into the opening chapter and I’m already hooked! Spellslinger dives straight into the action with a conversational narrator whose self-deprecating humour and frequent asides bring a sense of realism and more than a few laughs to this series opener.

With mages and magics a-plenty – though perhaps not in the case of Kellan – Spellslinger definitely looks like a book I’m unlikely to put down until I’ve reached the very end.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: February 09 |

Half the World

Book Two of Shattered Sea

by Joe Abercrombie

Fantasy | 484 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

He hesitated just an instant, but long enough for Thorn to club him in the balls with the rim of her shield.

Even over the racket of the other lads all baying for her to lose, she heard Brand groan.

Thorn’s father always said the moment you pause will be the moment you die, and she’d lived her life, for better and mostly worse, by that advice. So she bared her teeth in a fighting snarl – her favourite expression, after all – pushed up from her knees and went at Brand harder than ever.

She barged him with her shoulder, their shields clashing and grating, sand scattering from his heels as he staggered back down the beach, face still twisted with pain. He chopped at her but she ducked his wooden sword, swept hers low and caught him full in the calf, just below the mailshirt’s flapping hem.

To give Brand his due he didn’t go down, didn’t even cry out, just hopped back, grimacing. Thorn shook her shoulders out, waiting to see if Master Hunnan would call that a win, but he stood silent as the statues in the Godshall.

Some masters-at-arms acted as if the practice swords were real, called a halt at what would have been a finishing blow from a steel blade. But Hunnan liked to see his students put down, and hurt, and taught a hard lesson. The gods knew, Thorn had learned hard lessons enough in Hunnan’s square. She was happy to teach a few.

So she gave Brand a mocking smile – her second favourite expression, after all – and screamed, ‘Come on, you coward!’

Brand was strong as a bull, and had plenty of fight left in him, but he was limping, and tired, and Thorn had made sure the slope of the beach was on her side. She kept her eyes fixed on him, dodged one blow, and another, then slipped around a clumsy overhead to leave his side open. The best place to sheathe a blade is in your enemy’s back, her father always said, but the side was almost as good. Her wooden sword thudded into Brand’s ribs with a thwack like a log splitting, let him tottering helpless and Thorn grinning wider than ever. There’s no feeling in the world so sweet as hitting someone just right.

She planted the sole of her boot on his arse, shoved him splashing down on his hands and knees in the latest wave, and on its hissing way out it caught his sword and washed it down the beach, left it mired among the weed.

She stepped close and Brand winced up at her, wet hair plastered to one side of his face and his teeth bloodied from the butt she gave him before. Maybe she should have felt sorry for him. But it had been a long time since Thorn could afford to feel sorry.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

I started this book a considerable while ago and so, for the purposes of this post, went back to its opening chapters to get a sense of my first impressions. And boy does Abercrombie always leave a mark, even a second time.

As familiar to his work as anything, the opening paragraphs are filled with action. The narrative is so fluid, the fight scenes are etched out in such exact detail, and the characters given such dynamic realism that they could be standing right in front of you. This is what I love about Abercrombie’s writing. Stark, real and gritty.

Shattered Sea is without a doubt one of the series I will be powering through in the coming months. I only regret not having brought it to my new apartment sooner!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: February 02 |

The Grace of Kings

Book One of The Dandelion Dynasty

by Ken Liu

Fantasy | 641 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

A white bird hung still in the clear western sky and flapped its wings sporadically.

Perhaps it was a raptor that had left its nest on one of the soaring peaks of the Er-Mé Mountains a few miles away in search of prey. But this was not a good day for hunting—a raptor’s usual domain, this sun-parched section of the Porin Plains, had been taken over by people.

Thousands of spectators lined both sides of the wide road out of Zudi; they paid the bird no attention. They were here for the Imperial Procession.

They had gasped in awe as a fleet of giant Imperial airships passed overhead, shifting gracefully from one elegant formation to another. They had gawped in respectful silence as the heavy battle-carts rolled before them, thick bundles of ox sinew draping from the stone-throwing arms. They had praised the emperor’s foresight and generosity as his engineers sprayed the crowd with perfumed water from ice wagons, cool and refreshing in the hot sun and dusty air of northern Cocru. They had clapped and cheered the best dancers the six conquered Tiro states had to offer: five hundred Faça maidens who gyrated seductively in the veil dance, a sight once reserved for the royal court in Boama; four hundred Cocru sword twirlers who spun their blades into bright chrysanthemums of cold light that melded martial glory with lyrical grace; dozens of elegant, stately elephants from wild, sparsely settled Écofi Island, painted with the colors of the Seven States—the largest male draped in the whiteflag of Xana, as one would expect, while the others wore the rainbow colors of the conquered lands.

The elephants pulled a moving platform on which stood two hundred of the best singers all the Islands of Dara had to offer, a choir whose existence would have been impossible before the Xana Conquest. They sang a new song, a composition by the great imperial scholar Lügo Crupo to celebrate the occasion of the Imperial tour of the Islands:

To the north: Fruitful Faça, green as the eyes of kind Rufizo, Pastures ever kissed by sweet rain, craggy highlands shrouded in mist.

Soldiers walking next to the moving platform tossed trinkets into the crowd: Xana-style decorative knots made with bits of colorful string to represent the Seven States. The shapes of the knots were meant to evoke the logograms for “prosperity” and “luck.” Spectators scrambled and fought one another to catch a memento of this exciting day.

To the south: Castled Cocru, fields of sorghum and rice, both pale and dark, Red, for martial glory, white, like proud Rapa, black, as mournful Kana.

The crowd cheered especially loudly after this verse about their homeland.

To the west: Alluring Amu, the jewel of Tututika, Luminous elegance, filigreed cities surround two blue lakes.

To the east: Gleaming Gan, where Tazu’s trades and gambles glitter, Wealthy as the sea’s bounty, cultured like the scholars’ layered gray robes.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

The description detailed in these opening paragraphs brings a wealth of information in just a few words. The surrounding lands, their topography, their people and their cultures are etched out as the opening sequence sets the pace of the first chapter.

Intrigued? Definitely. However the writing style doesn’t quite hit the mark. Usually I am a great lover of descriptive worldbuilding but these opening paragraphs failed to instil any feeling in me whatsoever – perhaps there is just too much information from the get go to process.

I have heard great things about this book however so I’m determined to persevere and hopefully have my initial impressions proved absolutely wrong! I’d be intrigued to know how others felt about the opening of this book – please leave a comment!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Malice by John Gwynne


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 04 |

Malice

Book One of The Faithful and the Fallen

by John Gwynne

Fantasy | 672 Pages | Published by Tor in 2012


| First Paragraphs |

Forest litter crunched under Evnis’ feet, his breath misting as he whispered a curse. He swallowed, his mouth dry.

He was scared, he had to admit, but who would not be? What he was doing this night would make him traitor to his king. And worse.

He paused and looked back. Beyond the forest’s edge he could still see the stone circle, behind it the walls of Badun, his home, its outline silvered in the moonlight. It would be so easy to turn back, to go home and choose another path for his life. He felt a moment of vertigo, as if standing on the edge of a great chasm, and the world seemed to slow, waiting on the outcome of his decision. I have come this far, I will see it through. He looked up at the forest, a wall of impenetrable shadow; he pulled his cloak tighter and walked into the darkness.

He followed the giantsway for a while, the stone-flagged road that connected the kingdoms of Ardan and Narvon. It was long neglected, the giant clan that built it vanquished over a thousand years ago, great clumps of moss and mushroom growing between crumbling flagstone.

Even in the darkness he felt too vulnerable on this wide road, and soon slithered down its steep bank and slipped amongst the trees. Branches scratched overhead, wind hissing in the canopy above as he sweated his way up and down slope and dell. He knew where he was going, had walked the path many times before, though never at night. Nineteen summers old, yet he knew this part of the Darkwood as well as any woodsman twice his age.

Soon he saw a flicker amongst the trees: firelight. He crept closer, stopping before the light touched him, scared to leave the anonymity of the shadows. Turn around, go home, a voice whispered in his head. You are nothing, will never equal your brother. His mother’s words, cold and sharp as the day she had died. He ground his teeth and stepped into the firelight.

An iron cauldron hung on a spit over a fire, water bubbling. Beside it a figure, cloaked and hooded.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

First impressions? Well first I have to admit that I started this book a long time ago and for reasons I fail to remember, put it down and haven’t picked it up again until now.

Re-reading the opening however, which is brimming with dark tension and mystery, has drawn me back into The Banished Lands and I’m already hooked. While the slow build-up of the opening chapters is almost certainly what made me put Malice down to begin with, it’s detail and character development on second take is a joy to read. I certainly won’t be putting it down again until it’s finished!                   

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Immortals by S. E. Lister


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: July 14 |

The Immortals

by S. E. Lister

Fantasy | 328 Pages | Published by Old Street Publishing in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

Rosa came home after seven years, in the same year she had left. It was the beginning of the wet spring she knew so well. She found their cottage on the edge of a village, the latest Hyde home in a string of many, tucked out of the way behind a disused cattle barn. There were sandbags stacked against the steps, blackout curtains in every window. Bindweed framed the doorway. Beyond the fields a church spire rose into the dusky sky, lashed by rain, its chimes silenced.

A glossy blackbird shook its wings in a tree above her head, its liquid song filling the evening air. Everything was green, fat raindrops sliding from oak leaves and splashing onto the newly sprouted daffodils on the side of the road. There was a bicycle leaning against a silver birch. The grass at her feet was thick with snails.

She knocked, and after a few moments the door clicked open. A fair-haired girl blinked up at her politely. Rosa stared at her sister, now ten years old and tall for it, and felt the whole breadth of her own absence.

Bella ducked halfway back into the hallway. She peered out from behind her hair, plainly confused as to why this ragged stranger was familiar. Rosa’s words, rehearsed across many miles and decades, caught in her throat. She had nothing to say.

“Who is it?”

Footsteps, and then Bella had been pulled aside, making way for an apron-clad woman with her hair in curlers. She had a tea-towel in one hand and a mug in the other. Her mouth grew small and tight. The mug began to shake, spilling a slick of coffee onto the floor.

“Come in. Hurry! Come in…” Her mother’s hands did not touch her, but beckoned urgently. The door was pulled closed. In the hallway Rosa looked at Harriet Hyde, who had grown thinner, her face lined and her fiery hair dulled with grey. The softness around her edges had been replaced by a strained, brittle look. She bent to dab at the stain on the floor, shooing Rosa away when she tried to help. Bella clung to her apron.

“Did you walk through the village dressed like that?” Harriet asked at last, straightening up. Rosa nodded. “Were you seen by anyone?”

“I don’t think so. It’s dark, mother.”

“Yes, yes, I know. But busybodies at their windows…” Harriet’s eyes were bulging.

“Nobody looks out of their window at this hour.” Rosa lowered the pack from her shoulders. She peeled off her raincoat, and untied the scarf from around her hair.

“You might at least have changed your clothes.”

Rosa felt her jaw clench. “That wouldn’t have been easy.”

The whitewashed hallway was lit by a single bulb, umbrellas stacked beside the door, shoes in a neat line. No pictures on the walls, no peg for visitors’ coats. She had forgotten that they always had this feel, the Hyde homes, this stale, unloved impermanence. The carpets were worn only by other peoples’ footsteps, the pencil-scratches by the door marking the heights of other peoples’ children. Occupants long-gone, each place a borrowed shell.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Having heard little about this book or its author prior to opening it up – indeed I hadn’t even read the synopsis! – I dived in head first with no expectations. From the opening sentences this book gripped with its beautiful style and somewhat melancholy air and, with little to go on but the writing itself, I fully expect this to be an enchanting if somewhat haunting tale which I am already eager to continue.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Vagrant by Peter Newman


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: July 07 |


The Vagrant

Book One of The Vagrant Trilogy

by Peter Newman

Fantasy | 400 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

Starlight gives way to bolder neon. Signs muscle in on all sides, brightly welcoming each arrival to New Horizon.

The Vagrant does not notice; his gaze fixes on the ground ahead.

People litter the streets like living waste, their eyes as hollow as their laughter. Voices beg and hands grasp, needy, aggressive.

The Vagrant does not notice and walks on, clasping his coat tightly at the neck.

Excited shouts draw a crowd ahead. A mixture of half-bloods and pimps, dealers and spectators gather in force. Platforms rise up in the street, unsteady on legs of salvaged metal. Wire cages sit on top. Within, shivering forms squat, waiting to be sold. For some of the assembled, the flesh auction provides new slaves, for others, fresh meat.

Unnoticed in the commotion, the Vagrant travels on.

The centre of New Horizon is dominated by a vast scrap yard dubbed ‘The Iron Mountain’, a legacy from the war. At its heart is the gutted corpse of a fallen sky-ship; its cargo of tanks and fighters has spilled out in the crash, forming a skirt of scattered metal at the mountain’s base.

Always opportunistic, the inhabitants of New Horizon have tunnelled out its insides to create living spaces and shops, selling on the sky-ship’s treasures. Scavenged lamps hang, colouring the shadows.

One tunnel is illuminated by a glowing hoop, off-white and erratic. In the pale light, the low ceiling is the colour of curdled milk.

Awkwardly, the Vagrant enters, bending his legs and bowing his head, his back held straight.

Corrugated shelves line the walls, packed with bottles, tins and tubes. The owner of the rusting cave hunches on the floor, cleaning a syringe with a ragged cloth. He appraises the Vagrant with a bloodshot eye.

‘A new customer?’ The Vagrant nods. Syringe and cloth are swiftly tucked away and yellowing fingers rub together. ‘Ah, welcome, welcome. I am Doctor Zero. I take it you’ve heard of me?’

The Vagrant nods.

‘Of course you have, that’s why you’re here. Well, what can I get you? You look tired. I have the finest selection of uppers this side of the Breach, or perhaps something to escape with?’ His eyes twinkle, sleazy, seductive.

One hand still on his collar, the Vagrant’s amber eyes roam the shelves. They alight on a small jar, its label faded to a uniform grey.

‘Ah, a discerning customer,’ says Doctor Zero, impressed. ‘Rare to have somebody who knows what they’re looking for. Most of the rabble I get through here can’t tell the difference between stardust and sawdust.’ He picks up the jar, flicking something sticky from the lid. ‘I assume whoever sent you appreciates the scarcity of good medicine … and the cost.’

In answer, the Vagrant kneels and places two platinum coins on the ground, sliding them across the floor towards the Doctor.

‘I hope you aren’t trying to trick me,’ the Doctor replies, picking them up and tapping each one in turn with his finger. The coins vibrate and a brief two-note duet fills the cramped space. For a moment neither speak, both moved to other memories by the sound.

Doctor Zero holds them to the light, the clean discs incongruous with his sallow skin. ‘My apologies,’ he says, handing the jar over quickly, hoping no change will be asked for. ‘And if you have any other needs, don’t hesitate to come back.’

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Newman’s writing style. Even from the opening paragraphs the flow of his words and the lyrical construction of his sentences drew me deep into its pages and refused to let me go. The mystery and tension is palpable, the world a dark unknown, and the characters ever more so. This is one novel which already has me hooked.

First impressions? Breathtaking. If The Vagrant continues in the vein in which it started I have high expectations of it being an outstanding and incredibly memorable read.

Fingers crossed.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: June 30 |

The Hit

Book Three of the Leone Scamarcio Series

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | 320 Pages | Published by Scribe UK in 2016


| First Paragraphs |

LILA SAT CRYING ON THE SOFA, her eye make-up running down her cheeks. The camera panned right to reveal Fernando standing in the doorway, half in shadow. The music was building to a slow crescendo.

Micky Proietti sighed and uncrossed his legs. He’d told them ‘no piano’. He’d made it perfectly clear, he’d said it several times and had even set it down in an email, but there was piano everywhere — it was practically wall to wall.

Fernando approached from the doorway and stood behind Lila, placing a shaky hand on her shoulder.

Fernando had a memorable face, but his performance was weak. Right now, he looked like someone had run over his pet canary. Why hadn’t the director done a retake? The problem with the old guard was that they were scared of the talent; they didn’t ride them hard. The young guns didn’t care; they’d do whatever it took, commit their actors to an asylum if necessary. He should have got the Caselli Brothers on this. Why the hell had he listened to Giacometti when he’d insisted on Andrea? Andrea was 65 — he was past it. TV was a young man’s game.

Yet again, Micky Proietti considered the fact that he turned 43 next month. Would he be able to stay in the game until retirement? Would he be squeezed out, forced to take up a new career? Focus, Micky, he told himself. You will be pushed aside if you don’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Fernando was sitting next to Lila on the sofa now. He was taking her hand gently in his. ‘Darling, I have something to tell you …’

The dreadful piano music resumed, and the screen faded to black…

Micky Proietti cleared his throat, remembering the basic lessons from his management training: start with the positives before moving to the negatives; be constructive; build confidence. Problem was, right now he couldn’t think of any positives. Lila was OK-ish. She just about carried it, but it was hardly a stellar performance. As for Fernando, Micky could write the reviews already: ‘a limp effort’; ‘lacks passion,’ etc, etc.

Proietti cleared his throat again. He could murder a line. Maybe he should pop over to the bathroom before addressing the team. No, he told himself. Just get it over with — duty first, pleasure later.

He shifted in his seat and surveyed the room. The editor was chewing down on a nail, staring at him impassively, quietly defiant. Micky hated that rebellious streak in editors; they always seemed determined to let whoever was higher up the hierarchy know that they wouldn’t be intimidated, couldn’t be pushed around. Actually, if he was honest, he’d always been a bit scared of them. Andrea, the director, was looking down at something on his notepad, doodling nervous circles with his biro, crossing and uncrossing his feet. Did he already realise it was a disaster? Didi, the producer, was subtly shifting her skirt higher up her magnificent legs. Poor Didi wouldn’t be able to screw her way out of this one.

He recalled his management training once more, then thought, Fuck it. He needed to be in Parioli in an hour, and then there was that trip to the bathroom …

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

I’ve been looking forward to a follow up to the Leone Scamarcio series by Nadia Dalbuono for some time – though The Hit turned out to be an accidental one-click Amazon buy. Oops! But no concern there – this was definitely going to end up on my bookshelf sooner rather than later!

And so far, so good! The opening paragraphs draw the reader into the ambition-led, drug-fuelled, tension-filled world of showbusiness – a prime set up for this crime thriller to really kick off. And while the first paragraphs don’t give much away, we start to get a feel for the characters – and possible suspects – in this showbiz enterprise.

If The Hit is anything like The Few or The American then it’s going to be a tension-building, action-packed chase through Rome’s underworld which I cannot wait to get sucked into.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: June 09 |

Spiderlight

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Fantasy | 298 Pages | Published by Tor in 2016


| First Paragraphs |

THE WORDS THAT TWANGED and thrummed their way to Nth said, New food coming, and he stirred, resettling his legs to take the measure of the message: how far, what direction, who originated it. Mother’s Brood was large. Some of her children were more reliable than others.

New food. Different food. That had everyone’s interest. Across the span of the web, that was strung in mistlike sheets from tree to tree across their forest, he felt the others rousing, rising from their torpor. There was always food, even for so many bodies as Mother’s Brood ran to, but variety was welcome.

In the dark wood, the deer ran in their many herds, feeding in the clearings under the shadow of the webs, and being fed upon in turn. Mother saw to it that there were always clearings, where the great trees had been poisoned and weakened. There would always be deer aplenty.

In the trees there were monkeys, and they were clever and often escaped the hunt or the web, but this, too, was Mother’s plan. The monkeys were just clever enough that there would always be enough monkeys. They were aware enough to realize their fate, when they were caught, and that gave their juices an extra savor.

There were no wolves, no stalking cats. It was not that the flesh of these things was unpalatable, but they were wasteful. They consumed too many deer and monkeys for their presence to be tolerated.

New food , though. Nth waited for the words of the web to tell him that this prize wastaken, so that he could beg Mother for a taste.

More speech came from the hunters, a constant commentary as they shadowed the intruders into the dark wood, hurrying above them while their siblings wove traps and barriers to channel them and funnel them.

New food. Man.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

My third week of Friday Firsts and once again I return with one of my favourite authors! Adrian Tchaikovsky has written a multitude of outstanding fantasy and science fiction novels which always appear to hit the mark – and Spiderlight, I expect, will be no exception.

The novel begins in the heart of the dark brood itself. The thoughts,  hungers and animalistic desires that creep through this cluster of spiders are brought to the fore in Spiderlight’s opening paragraphs, leaving an impression of tension, excitement and a sense that this is going to be one unique novel!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Friday Firsts: Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: June 02 |

Legion: Skin Deep

Book Two of Legion

by Brandon Sanderson

 Sci-Fi | Novella | 208 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

What’s her angle?’ Ivy asked, walking around the table with her arms folded. Today, she wore her blonde hair in a severe bun, which was stuck through with several dangerous-looking pins.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore her.

‘Gold digger, perhaps?’ Tobias asked. Dark-skinned and stately, he had pulled a chair over to the table so he could sit beside me. He wore his usual relaxed suit with no tie, and fit in well with this room of crystalline lighting and piano music. ‘Many a woman has seen only Stephen’s wealth, and not his acumen.’

‘She’s the daughter of a real estate magnate,’ Ivy said with a dismissive wave. ‘She has wealth coming out of her nose.’ Ivy leaned down beside the table, inspecting my dinner companion. ‘A nose, by the way, which seems to have had as much work done on it as her chest.’

I forced out a smile, trying to keep my attention on my dinner companion. I was used to Ivy and Tobias by now. I relied upon them.

But it can be damn hard to enjoy a date when your hallucinations are along.

‘So …’ said Sylvia, my date. ‘Malcom tells me you’re some kind of detective?’ She gave me a timid smile. Resplendent in diamonds and a tight black dress, Sylvia was an acquaintance of a mutual friend who worried about me far too much. I wondered how much research Sylvia had done on me before agreeing to the blind date.

‘A detective?’ I said. ‘Yes, I suppose you could say that.’

‘I just did!’ Sylvia replied with a chittering laugh.

Ivy rolled her eyes, refusing the seat Tobias pulled over for her.

‘Though honestly,’ I said to Sylvia, ‘the word “detective” probably gives you the wrong idea. I just help people with very specialized problems.’

‘Like Batman!’ Sylvia said.

Tobias spat out his lemonade in a spray before him. It spotted the tablecloth, though Sylvia – of course – couldn’t see it.

‘Not … really like that,’ I said.

‘I was just being silly,’ Sylvia said, taking another drink of her wine. She’d had a lot of that for a meal that she’d only just begun. ‘What kind of problems do you solve? Like, computer problems? Security problems? Logic problems?’

‘Yes. All three of those, and then some.’

‘That … doesn’t sound very specialized to me,’ Sylvia said.

She had a point.

‘It’s difficult to explain. I’m a specialist, just in lots of areas.’

‘Like what?’

‘Anything. Depends on the problem.’

‘She’s hiding things,’ Ivy said, arms still folded. ‘I’m telling you, Steve. She’s got an angle.’

‘Everyone does,’ I replied.

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| First Impressions |

Brandon Sanderson is definitely an author who can do no wrong –  and has done no wrong – in my eyes, so I was excited to continue my exploration of his work with the next in his Legion novellas.

First impressions? Sanderson makes an art of reintroducing characters and themes throughout his sequels in a delicate and unobtrusive way and from the opening chapter I was once again submerged in the many aspects of Stephen Leeds. Sanderson’s writing has once again hooked me into a fast-paced and exciting novella which I cannot wait to get back to!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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