Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title |

Following last week’s post, in which I discussed all my favourite books read and unread featuring the colour red, this week I will be looking at books with the colour black in their title. With books I’ve read, books I’ve reviewed and books that are firmly planted on my TBR, scroll down for this week’s Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title.

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| 1. |

Shadowblack

Book Two of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

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| My Thoughts |

Shadowblack, and the Spellslinger series as a whole, are some of my favourite YA novels to date. They’re frequently action-packed and engaging, always funny and fast-paced, and often keep you guessing to the very end. Kellen’s character is only surpassed by the wonder that is Reichis, the angry, thieving and quick to bite squirrel-cat that accompanies him on his journeys – his business partner, some might say – and the swaggering Argosi, Ferius Parfax. A highly recommend series which I only wish hadn’t concluded after Book Six, Crownbreaker.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

It’s a few months since Kellen left his people behind. Now aged sixteen, Kellen is an outlaw, relying on his wits to keep him alive in the land of the Seven Sands. He misses home, he misses family and more than anything, he misses Nephenia, the girl he left behind.

Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn’t blind, and who carries a secret that’s all too familiar to Kellen. Kellen and Ferius resolve to help – but the stakes are far higher than they realise. A Shadowblack plague is taking hold – and Kellen can’t help but suspect his own people may even be behind it.

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| 2. |

Empire in Black and Gold

Book One of Shadows of the Apt

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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| My Thoughts |

Despite the fact that I’ve still not finished this series – book eight here I come – I have so much love for the Shadows of the Apt series. They were my introduction to Adrian Tchaikovsky’s writing and I can honestly say that I have never looked back. Empire in Black and Gold, the first book in the series, introduces a detailed and complex world full of insectoid humans and their struggles between race, power and warring kingdoms. This is a unique world with unique characters which I could easily rate as one of my favourite series of all time.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

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 neighbours.

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

Only the ageing 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 becoming the Empire’s latest victim.heart

| 3. |

Blackwing

Book One of Raven’s Mark

by Ed McDonald

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Ed McDonald’s debut is a solid and vividly written fantasy which follows the tale of Ryhalt Galharrow – Blackwing Captain and bounty hunting mercenary – as he undertakes the bidding of the Nameless master, Crowfoot, in an ages long war against the Deep Kings. With battles, magic and grim-beings aplenty in a landscape blighted by a catastrophic war, this is a unique and refreshing grimdark novel which has me itching to read it’s sequel, Ravencry.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

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| 4. |

The Black Prism

Book One of Lightbringer

by Brent Weeks

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| My Thoughts |

With a fascinating and unique magic system, and a wonderfully imagined but complex world, The Black Prism is a stunning start to the Lightbringer series. Well-written and exquisitely rendered throughout, The Black Prism features engaging characters, interesting politics, and a fast-paced narrative that I couldn’t tear my eyes from. The only let down is that I still haven’t picked up the next in the series!

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

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| 5. |

Black City Saint

Book One of Black City Saint

by Richard A. Knaak

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| My Thoughts |

With Black City Saint, a book filled with saints, dragons and long-dead emperors, Richard A. Knaak has created an instantly compelling protagonist on a backdrop of dark magic and mob violence. An absorbing, inventive and humorous read, this stunning debut is high on my list of urban fantasy favourites. And, had I remembered this series sooner, I would have had two further black titled books to add to today’s list – Black City Demon and Black City Dragon.

Rating

My review of Black City Saint can be found here.

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| Synopsis |

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

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| 6. |

The Black Jewels Trilogy

Daughter of the Blood

Heir to the Shadows

Queen of the Darkness

by Anne Bishop

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| My Thoughts |

I first discovered this trilogy when I was fifteen years old and my rating almost certainly reflects that. It was like nothing else I’d ever read before – dark, passionate and grim with highly adult themes throughout and a female-dominated world and magic system to boot. It hit teenage me right in the sweet spot.

Despite my young age, I can almost certainly say that this is not a YA book (sex, violence, torture and slavery abound) and I wonder, given the mixed reviews, whether I would enjoy it as much now. It would, however, be dishonest of me to not give the same rating I gave all those years ago so perhaps The Black Jewels Trilogy is due a re-read.

Rating (Sixteen Years Ago)

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| Synopsis |

Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions.

Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence–and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men–sworn enemies–know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love–and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining…

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| 7. |

The Black Magician Trilogy

The Magician’s Guild

The Novice

The High Lord

by Trudi Canavan

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| My Thoughts |

Despite none of the individual titles having the word ‘black’ in them, it would be remiss of me not to include The Black Magician Trilogy in this list. I first read The Magician’s Guild when I was sixteen years old and, like The Black Jewels Trilogy, my rating will be influenced by that fact.

The first in the Black Magician Trilogy is an exciting and magical tale of a young girl with strange and dangerous powers who finds herself elevated to the position of novice in the Magicians’ Guild. This is a YA fantasy that began my love of Canavan’s writing, which I have enjoyed over the many years since, and I would be more than happy to re-read this trilogy again.

Rating (Fifteen Years Ago)

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| Synopsis |

Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe.

Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, hurls a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. To the amazement of all who bear witness, the stone passes unhindered through the barrier and renders a magician unconscious.

The guild’s worst fear has been realised… There is an untrained magician loose on the streets. She must be found before her uncontrolled powers unleash forces that will destroy both her, and the city that is her home.

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| 8. |

The Black Hawks

Book One of Articles of Faith

by David Wragg

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| My Thoughts |

The Black Hawks is a dark, action-packed and witty fantasy featuring a whole host of mercenaries, pompous princes and strangers willing to stab each other, quite literally, in the back. This debut novel by David Wragg is a solid read, which leaves the reader on a knife’s edge and was just shy of greatness.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.

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| 9. |

The Black Song

Book Two of Raven’s Blade

by Anthony Ryan

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| My Thoughts |

Having still not completed the brilliant Raven’s Shadow series, it may be a little early to put the second book of the follow-up series on the list, but it does feature the colour black and Anthony Ryan is a masterful writer. It really is about time I delved back into the world of Vaelin Al Sorna.heart

| Synopsis |

The Steel Horde has laid waste to the Venerable Kingdom, unleashing a storm of fire and blood. Now the leader of this mighty host – Kehlbrand, the warlord who thinks himself a god – turns his eyes to the other merchant kingdoms. No one can stop his divine conquest.

No one, perhaps, except Vaelin Al Sorna.

Yet Vaelin is on the run, his own army in disarray. Worse, the new blood song he has acquired is as much a curse as a blessing, and seeks to guide him down a path far darker than he could have imagined…

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| 10. |

The Black Company

Book One of The Chronicles of the Black Company

by Glen Cook

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| My Thoughts |

This classic, dark fantasy has influenced so many fantasy authors that it is a wonder I’ve never read it. Credited with being the progenitor of grimdark, and with mercenaries, anti-heroes and villains by the bucket-load, The Black Company is one book that is firmly placed on my TBR.

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| Synopsis |

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hardbitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead – until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more.

There must be a way for the Black Company to find her..


Click here to see last week’s post:

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Red in the Title

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Which ‘Black’ book is your favourite?

If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Fictional Cities in Fantasy Literature


Top Ten TuesdayWelcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Fictional Cities in Fantasy Literature |

A freebie week! I’m not going to lie. I started off with just ‘fictional locations’ and was so overwhelmed with the number I felt I couldn’t narrow it down. So to be specific, this week features the Top Ten… Fictional Cities in Fantasy Literature. These are places of great beauty or cesspools of vice and grit. These are cities where the nobility dance in great palaces and towers, where cut-throats and thieves roam the winding streets and alleys, and where commoners and gentlemen alike cavort in inns, taverns and brothels. These are places where you can lose your dignity, your money and yourself in another world.

| 1. |

Minas Tirith

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the City. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the topmost walls, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle glittered as if it were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and fluttered from the battlements in the morning breeze, and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets.”

~ p.781, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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| 2. |

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Luthadel

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

“Most of the buildings had been built from stone blocks, with tile roofs for the rest. The structures were packed closely together, making them seem squat despite the fact that they were generally three stories high. The tenements and shops were uniform in appearance; this was not a place to draw attention to oneself. Unless, of course, you were a member of the high nobility. Interspersed throughout the city were a dozen or so monolithic keeps. Intricate, with rows of spearlike spires or deep archways, these were the homes of the high nobility.”

~ p.28, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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| 3. |

LoLL

Camorr

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

“From the heights of the Five Towers to the obsidian smoothness of the vast glass breakwaters to the artificial reefs beneath the slate-coloured waves, Falselight radiated from every surface and every shard of Elderglass in Camorr, from every speck of the alien material left so long before by the creatures that had first shaped the city. Every night, as the west finally swallowed the sun,  the glass bridges would become threads of firefly light; the glass towers and glass avenues and the strange glass sculpture-gardens would shimmer wanly with violet and azure and orange and pearl-white, and the moon and stars would fade to grey.”

~ p.19-20, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

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| 4. |

TBI

Adua

The First Law by Joe Abercrombie

“To the south the city was spread out below him, an endless carpet of white houses stretching all around the glittering bay. In the other direction, the view over the Agriont was even more impressive. A great confusion of magnificent buildings piled one upon the other, broken up by green lawns and great trees, circled by its wide moat and its towering wall, studded with a hundred lofty towers. The Kingsway sliced straight through the centre toward the Lords’ Round, its bronze dome shining in the sunlight. The tall spires of the University stood behind, and beyond them loomed the grim immensity of the House of the Maker, rearing high over all like a dark mountain, casting its long shadow across the buildings below.”

~ p.40, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

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| 5. |

Imardin

The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan

“It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow city streets because it is grieved by what it finds there. On the day of the Purge it whistled amongst the swaying masts in the Marina, rushed through the Western Gates and screamed between the buildings. Then, as if appalled by the ragged souls it met there, it quietened to a whimper.”

~ p.3, The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

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| 6. |

AGoT

King’s Landing

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

“Now the city covered the shore as far as Catelyn could see; manses and arbors and granaries,  brick storehouses and timbered inns and merchant stalls, taverns and graveyards and brothels, all piled one on another. She could hear the clamour of the fish market even at this distance. Between the buildings were broad roads lined with trees, wandering crookback streets, and alleys so narrow that two men could not walk abreast.”

~ p.168, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

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| 7. |

BotM

Solarno

Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Solarno was predominately white stone with roofs of red and orange tiles, like surmounting flames, and it was brilliant whenever the sun struck it… She saw domes rising above the roofline, supported on so many arcades of columns  that some lofty buildings  seemed to have no solid walls at all. The markets  were all crowded into warrens of streets, the awnings of stalls forming a second roof layer, whilst the open spaces were parks or, on the higher tiers, airfields.”

~p.68-69, Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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| 8. |

Tar Valon

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

“The bridge was only the beginning. It arched straight to the walls that surrounded the island, high walls of gleaming white, silver-streaked stone, whose tops looked down on the bridge’s height. At intervals, guard towers interrupted the walls, of the same white stone, their massive footings washed by the river. But above the walls and beyond rose the true towers of Tar Valon,  the towers of story, pointed spires and flutes and spirals, some connected by airy bridges a good hundred paces or more above the ground. And still only the beginning.”

~ p.149, The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

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| 9. |

EotW

Caemlyn

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

“Outside the great wall, buildings clustered as if every town he had passed through had been gathered and set down there, side-by-side and all pushed together. Inns thrust their upper stories above the tile roofs of houses, and squat warehouses, broad and windowless, shouldered against them all. Red brick and gray stone and plastered white, jumbled and mixed together, they spread as far as the eye could see.”

~ p.528, The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

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| 10. |

ST

Rillanon

The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist

“Rillanon, capital of the Kingdom of the Isles, waited to welcome home her King. The buildings were bedecked in festive bunting and hothouse flowers. Brave pennants flew from the rooftops and bold banners of every colour were strung between the buildings over the streets the King would travel. Called Jewel of the Kingdom, Rillanon rested upon the slopes of many hills, a marvellous place of graceful spires, airy arches, and delicate spans.”

~ p.33, Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist

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Which fictional cities are your favourites?  If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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