Review: Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell


Book One of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

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

| Rating |

With powerful mages, card-throwing wanderers and an unseen enemy, Sebastien de Castell’s first foray into young adult fantasy is an undeniable success. In a world defined by magic and a person’s ability to wield it, Spellslinger takes the reader on an exciting journey which blurs the lines between those who would be friends, those who are family and those who may become enemies.

Witty and absorbing, this novel tells the tale of a boy whose steady loss of power culminates in a dangerous confrontation with his own people and, through a series of unpredictable twists and turns, exhibits an extraordinary flare for adventure from beginning to end.

There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.


Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone.

As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. 

Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope… 

At the age of sixteen, all young Jan’Tep must face their greatest trial: the mage’s trial. The outcome of which will determine those that will assume ultimate power, wielding great magic and respected from afar, and those that will become Sha’Tep, the serving underclass of Jan’Tep society.

Kellen’s magic has dwindled over the years to next to nothing. He hasn’t broken any of his mage’s bands, he can barely perform a simple spell, and to make matters worse his little sister is likely to become one of the most powerful mages of all time.

Bullied by those who think him beneath them, abandoned by those he would have considered friends, Kellen is left with only his meagre powers, a dash of cunning, and sheer dumb luck to get him through his trials.

But when a strange frontierswoman turns up to help Kellen out of his trouble, he finds his path taking an altogether unexpected turn… for better or worse, only time will tell.

De Castell has created a vivid and ruthless society whose own sense of superiority has rendered them an isolated state. The world of the Jan’Tep is a world where a person’s magical ability defines their very place in the social order. A people who consider their own culture and society as the pinnacle of refinement and power, the Jan’Tep see those beyond their borders as outsiders, whose weakness is made apparent by their lack of power.

Those within Jan’Tep society who fail to display any magical prowess are doomed to become Sha’Tep. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters; all are parted when the magic in one fails to appear in the other. Those who are lucky may take a serving position in what was once their home. Those who are not are forced to work in the mines.

As skilfully as Jan’Tep society is wrought; where the arrogance that permeates their culture, even amongst Kellen’s own family and friends, threatens to make them all appear as an unreasonable and tyrannical culture, the characterisation of the principle cast is where the novel and the overarching plot truly excels. De Castell has created a cast of true and varied characters whose humour and apparent deficiencies carry the story to its dramatic conclusion.

As both protagonist and narrator, Kellen is a witty and self-deprecating companion throughout the novel. What he lacks in magical proficiency he more than makes up for in cunning, wit and in his ability for getting the backs up of almost every person he comes across. And though he drives the other Jan’Tep mages to distraction, and perhaps even his friends half the time, he is an instantly likeable character which makes the injustice of his situation all the more potent.

His companions, Ferius Parfax, an Argosi wanderer whose proficiency in both playing cards and using them as a deadly weapon is more than a little disconcerting, and Reichis, a squirrel cat who has a penchant for thievery, violence and eating his enemies eyeballs, are arguably my two favourite characters, creating a strange and humorous sense of camaraderie which only becomes more interesting as the novel develops.

Spellslinger succeeds in combining this interesting cast of characters with an exciting and unpredictable plot-line, whose twists and turns never fail to turn up a surprise or two. Skilfully plotted and wonderfully executed, de Castell writes in a personable, almost conversational tone which creates a distinct connection with Kellen and emphasises the injustices which permeate Jan’Tep society.

The first in the Spellslinger series is a thoroughly enjoyable read which leaves me eager to join Kellen in future adventures. Brimming with magic, humour and more than a little danger, de Castell has created another novel which never fails to leave a lasting impression.

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The Friday Face-Off: The Staircase

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re comparing covers that feature a staircase.

The cover which immediately sprang to my mind was the first book in the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud, The Screaming Staircase; which, as luck would have it, almost always features a staircase!

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Doubleday – UK Cover

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - UK.jpg

Cover Art by Alessandro ‘Talexi’ Taini

Disney / Hyperion Books | US Cover

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - US

Cover Art by Alan Ayers

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - Win.jpg

I really love both these covers. They’re atmospheric, feature dramatic lighting and manage to express the tension of the illustrated scene.

The UK cover is dramatic and eye-catching, bathing the scene in an intense blue light, which casts shadows into the corners of the page. I love that the two figures in the foreground appear frozen in action as the eerie spectral figure appears at the top of the staircase, and that the typeface is clearly an integral part off the overall composition.

The US cover is simlarly dramatic but rather than using light, uses a thick green mist which clings to a staircase deep in shadow. The two figures appear primed to face battle, as an unsettling red light falls upon them and they hold aloft their weapons. Although I prefer the typeface on the UK cover, there is nothing to distract from the beautiful and bold illustration on the winning US cover.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Next week’s theme is:

 The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing

A cover featuring something from Greek mythology

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

| Links |

Lynn @ Books and Travelling with Lynn

S. J. Higbee @ Brainfluff

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Wendall @ Bookwraiths

Steve Smith @ Books and Beyond Reviews

Wendle @ MarvelatWords

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The Friday Face-Off: Which Witch is Which?

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Welcome to this week’s Friday Face-Off – apologies for being on the late side! This week we’re looking at covers which feature either witches or witchcraft… and I must say that for a while I was stumped!

Published by Tor in both the UK and the US, Truthwitch is the first book in The Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. This Face-Off features two bold and watery covers which are similar enough to be recognised as counterparts, but are executed in their own unique styles. Take a look and see which one is your favourite this week!

Tor – UK Cover

Artwork by Justine Anwieler

Tor – US Cover

Artwork by Scott Grimando

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

This week, the US  cover takes the Face-Off crown after something of a close call. Although I absolutely love the typeface used for the title on the UK cover – and which I’m certain is stunning in real life – the artwork itself does not capture my attention as well as it might. The central figure is bold in both colour and stance whilst the crashing wave succeeds in framing the composition, drawing your eye towards the centre of the artwork. However, first impressions are everything and this one certainly failed to grab me from the start, though it improves considerably upon closer inspection.

The US cover, whilst not in a style which usually appeals to me, succeeds in bringing a bit more drama and atmosphere to the artwork and just manages to tip the balance in the US’ favour. The typeface is bold and eye-catching – though not nearly as sumptuous as the UK cover – and the blend of smoky blues and turquoises, along with the close-up composition, draw the eye almost immediately. This immediate attraction (for good or ill) makes this cover, in my humblest of opinions, the more successful of the two options this week.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Post LinksNext week’s theme is: Just Then Flew Down a Monstrous Crow

A cover which features a bird

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

| Links |

Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek – The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books  – The Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett

S J Higbee @ Brainfluff – Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones

Nick V Reys @ The Paper Dragon – Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Cate + Karen @ MidnightBiblioBlog – The Witches by Roald Dahl

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The Monthly Round-Up: March 2016

The Monthly Round-Up March 2Welcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!

| The Monthly Round-Up: March 2016 |

This month has been so hectic I’m surprised I managed to get through as many books as I did! With work coming out of my eyeballs, a virus which feels like someone’s taken a sander to my throat, the death of my reading companion Felix – RIP Piggle 😦 – and two new guinea pigs springing into my life, I feel like I’ve barely touched ground this March. My review count has suffered a little and my posts have been somewhat erratic (or non-existent in the case of Bookish Beats!) but all in all, the books I’ve read have given me some much needed relief. So let’s take a look at the literary delights I’ve been consuming:

| Books Read |

| 1. |

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Read as part of the official blog tour, Girl Waits With Gun, with its gun-toting, feisty real-life heroine and its exciting storyline, was an excellent read with which to start my month.

| 2. |

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows, the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, was most definitely a highlight of March. This was an excellent follow-up which, in my view, surpassed the first in terms of narrative and excitement. I certainly can’t wait for the third!

| 3. |

Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

Envy of Angels, the first Sin du Jour novella, was a book I’d had my eye on ever since reading a review for it a few months back. It certainly lived up to expectations by proving itself to be tremendous fun and ever so slightly grotesque.

| 4. |

Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd

Stranger of Tempest has been on my reading list ever since the wonderful cover reveal in January. Luckily for me, it proved just as good as its wrappings and has once more placed Tom Lloyd at the top of my reading list!

| 5. |

Skinshaper by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Another day, another Gelineau and King novella!  These guys certainly know how to write a captivating piece of short fiction and Skinshaper is no exception. This novella, with its enigmatic characters and abhorrent creations, is one of the most disturbing and captivating to date.

| 6. |

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, a steampunk piece of alternative history, brought about a change of pace with its steady narrative and gorgeous prose. A surprising and delightful novel, I’m looking forward to my next venture into the Gas-Lit Empire.

| 7. |

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire

For March’s Read Along we returned to the world of October ‘Toby’ Daye in the second novel of the series by Seanan McGuire. After something of a rocky start, A Local Habitation turned out to be a rather enjoyable read and I cannot wait to get stuck into the third in the series this April!

Book of the Month2

A Gathering of Shadows

by V.E. Schwab

| March Goals |

To finish NOS4R2 and Emma before the month is out!

Yes, yes another roll over!

Status: Incomplete

… Perhaps it’s time to stop posting this goal and accept that they’ll be read when they’re read!  – I hate to think how many months it’s been rolling over!


| Goals for 2016 |

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: 25/100 Books Read (25%)

Status: +7% in March

| Reviews Posted |

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Legend - Gemmell

Legend by David Gemmell

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart


Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

| Other Posts From March |

This month ushered in a change to the schedule with The Friday Face-Off becoming a weekly meme! I love posting and comparing book covers every Friday and it’s fantastic seeing the covers other bloggers post! So thank you for joining in and long may it continue! 

Announcement: The Friday Face-Off – A Weekly Meme

The Friday Face-Off: March 04 – Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner

The Friday Face-Off: March 11 – First Friday Freebie

The Friday Face-Off: March 18 – Here be Dragons

The Friday Face-Off: March 25 – Green With Envy

The Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

The Month Ahead: March 2016

Cover Reveal: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan – US Edition

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books When You’re in the Mood for Axe-Wielding Maniacs

Top Ten Tuesay: Top Ten… Books on my Spring TBR

Teaser Tuesdays: March 01 – A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Teaser Tuesdays: March 08 – The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

Teaser Tuesdays: March 15 – Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

Teaser Tuesdays: March 22 – Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

Teaser Tuesdays: March 29 – Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky

Book Haul: March 02 – Swords of Good Men & Blood Will Follow

Book Haul: March 31 – Angel of Storms & Legion: Skin Deep

Read Along: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire – Week 1

Read Along: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire – Week 2

Read Along: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire – Week 3

Read Along: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire – Week 4

The Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

Welcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!

| Books Read |

February 8

February has flown by in a torrent of amazingly bloody, beautiful and brilliant books. I only managed a respectable eight but every single one of them was fantastic – I expect that there won’t be less than a four star review amongst them! I may have completely ignored my goals of the month but never mind! February was a blast. It also featured a book so good it required its own rating!

Here’s the run down of the books I devoured last month:

| 1. |

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

| 2. |

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

| 3. |

Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 4. |

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

| 5. |

The Grim Company by Luke Scull

| 6. |

Legend by David Gemmell

| 7. |

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

| 8. |

Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner

Book of the Month

Promise of Blood

by Brian McClellan

| February Goals |

To finish NOS4R2 and Emma before the month is out!

Status: Incomplete (I haven’t even picked one of them up!)


And to really challenge myself to be organised…

To post every day in February

Status: Incomplete (22 of 29 days Complete)

| Goals for 2016 |

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: 18/100 Books Read (18%)

Status: +8% in February

| Reviews Posted |



Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

5 Stars

The Thief by Claire North

Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

three point five

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Rising Tide by Rajan Khanna

| Other Posts From February |

The Monthly Round-Up: January 2016

The Month Ahead: February 2016

Cover Reveal: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Cover Reveal: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – Paperback Edition

Cover Reveal: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Bookish Beats: Bonobo – Black Sands

Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Mezzanine

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Historical Settings

Teaser Tuesdays: February 02 – The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Teaser Tuesdays: February 09 – Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Teaser Tuesdays: February 16 – The Grim Company by Luke Scull

Teaser Tuesdays: February 23 – A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel

The Friday Face-Off: February 05 – The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

The Friday Face-Off: February 12 – The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

The Friday Face-Off: February 19 – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

The Friday Face-Off: February 26 – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Book Haul: February 06 – The Frey and McGray Series by Oscar de Muriel

Book Haul: February 08 – Drake, Servant of the Underworld and The Crimson Ribbon

Book Haul: February 10 – Low Town Series and City of Bohane

Book Haul: February 13 – The Rats, The Folding Knife and The Electric Church

Book Haul: February 23 – The Raven’s Head, And Then There Were None and Ink and Bone

Book Haul: February 24 – Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Review: Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Faith and Moonlight

An Echo of the Ascended

by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Young Adult | Fantasy | Novella | 80 Pages | Published by Gelineau and King in 2015

| Rating |

This book was received from Netgalley in return for an honest review

We’ve slain Rendworms with Elinor in A Reaper of Stone, battled terrible Ruins with Ferran in Rend the Dark, and uncovered the dark hearts of men with Alys in Best Left in the Shadows. And now we enter a world of honour and tradition; of swords and legends and the heroics of men, as we follow the story of our final two orphans, Roan and Kay in Faith and Moonlight.

Gelineau and King have once again raised the bar with this beautifully crafted and enchanting tale, a tale which has all the hallmarks of a traditional coming of age fantasy together with the flair and excitement which have become the mainstay of this impressive series of shorts.

Faith and Moonlight continues in the tradition of its predecessors as a wholly absorbing and vivid journey into this increasingly diverse world; one which introduces new characters, new places and new themes, and which once again leaves me in no doubt that I will be reading the next novella.
Roan and Kay are orphans.

A fire destroys their old life, but they have one chance to enter the School of Faith.

They are given one month to pass the entry trials, but as Roan excels and Kay fails, their devotion to each other is put to the test.

They swore they would face everything together, but when the stakes are losing the life they’ve always dreamed of, what will they do to stay together?

What won’t they do?Faith and Moonlight introduces Roan and Kay, two orphans left with little more than each other when a fire destroys their orphanage and leaves their small band of friends scattered across the lands.

Assisted by a stranger who finds himself indebted to them, Roan and Kay are taken to the School of Faith where the great and the powerful train to join the ranks of the infamous Razors. But before they can be accepted they must show they are able to ‘pierce the veil’, something which should have manifested long ago if was to present itself at all.

For Roan the skills of a Razor come easily, but as he goes from strength to strength Kay falls further and further behind. Going back to their old life is not possible and going forwards without the other is a fate neither want to comprehend. A month is all they have. A month to pierce the veil. A month to decide their fate.Faith and Moonlight is a wonderfully compact tale of friendship, love and survival, one which has all the strengths of the previous novellas whilst avoiding the pitfalls and clichés which so many young adult books fall into. Where the preceding Echoes uncover a world of darkness and terror, where nightmares roam the land and the greed and vice of men is ever apparent, Faith and Moonlight shows us a purer and more idealistic world. This is a landscape of heroes and legends and a noble cause, where brave warriors confound evil despite the underlying darkness which pervades even this novella.

Once again Gelineau and King have carved out a varied landscape in stunning, if brief, detail; a city bathed in moonlight with the Razor schools at its heart couldn’t be more of a contrast to Lowside of Best Left in the Shadows or the tumble down villages of Rend the Dark. From the reliquaries of the First Ascended to the architecture of the city, Faith and Moonlight weaves its spell of chivalric charm and, with notable links back to previous novellas, firmly establishes itself as part of Aedaron.

The characterisation in this novella is likewise the equal of those that have gone before it. Roan and Kay are two protagonists whose obvious love and affection for one another only contributes to the narrative, becoming a driving force for the storyline rather than an unnecessary aside. Forging friendships, mastering new skills and testing their own strength becomes vital to their existence in the School of Faith, bringing a sense of depth and diversity to their characters and creating two distinct voices.

With Faith and Moonlight, Gelineau and King have added a touch of beauty to their increasingly dark world. This is a tale which, despite some sinister undertones, benefits from a lighter heart and a steady pace; a brief but beautiful young adult novella.
Faith and Moonlight is another wonderful contribution to the Echoes of the Ascended series, one which is nothing short of the equal to its predecessors and one which I recommend to all those wishing to while away less than an hour in another world. This novella surpassed all my expectations and leaves me in no doubt of the authors’ place on my bookshelves.

Miss the author interview with Mark Gelineau and Joe King? Check it out here

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Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part Four

Throne of Glass (3)

| Part Four |

Chapters 40 – end

Welcome to the read along of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, organised by Rinn Reads.

As one of the few people to have not read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of a read along, despite having heard very mixed opinions – ranging from extreme love to extreme hate! From the 8th – 18th… ahem, 19th January… I will be reading Throne of Glass and posting my thoughts for discussion. Here’s what the schedule would look like if I could actually manage to keep to it:

8th January

Discussion of chapters 1 – 13

11th January

Discussion of chapters 14 – 27

14th January

Discussion of chapters 28 – 39

18th January

Discussion of chapters 40 – end

 There will be spoilers!

| Part Three Rating |four star

| The Story So Far |

Dark forces continue to infiltrate the castle and, as Celaena discovers more about the Wyrdmarks and their magic, she must face the darkness head on whilst simultaneously fighting for victory as the King’s champion. As both events come to a head, and her chance of victory balances on a knife’s edge, Celaena must put her trust in both her friends and her abilities – she must fight, or die.

| The Discussion |

Well this turned out to be an unexpectedly enjoyable read. There may well have been more murderers, assassins and thieves than you can shake a stick at but, at its heart, Throne of Glass remains a fun and enchanting novel which manages to retain a sense of humour throughout.  After reaching a satisfying conclusion which tied up most loose ends, I am definitely excited to move onto its sequel. I only hope that it lives up to the expectation that this novel has inspired!

| The Highlights |

The friendship between Nehemia and Celaena is one of the most wonderful parts of this novel. Female friendships often get a rough time of it in fiction and rarely come across as true to life (and that’s being kind!) but with Throne of Glass Maas has definitely scored a winner. Celaena may have had her momentary doubts about Nehemia’s character but it wasn’t without great regret… and a lot of second guessing! 

Kaltain getting her comeuppance was a rather fun moment! I highly doubt she was a particularly nice character even before Perrington had his claws into her so it all worked out rather well in the end! I’m certain she’ll return with a vengeance in the books to come… only with less of the inane drivel, I hope.

Oh so many an intriguing teaser about Celaena’s past! The hints regarding her heritage, with possible links to the fae, were a definite highlight throughout the narrative and are one of the driving forces in making me want to pick up the next book. I am in no doubt that all will be revealed in good time!

The romance didn’t irritate me! A definite win. This  book played it with a light touch and didn’t overstep the boundary into making the whole novel revolve around the love triangle (cough.. even if I was a little pro-Chaol). And the fact that Celaena chose freedom above all else at the end definitely won her my vote! 

The whole story wrapped up neatly, had a rather exciting ending and was enjoyable throughout but…

What was your favourite moment in Throne of Glass? Were you satisfied with the conclusion?

| The Low Points |

…It was just a little bit obvious. There seemed to be something a little predictable in Cain, Perrington and the King being the bad guys and Kaltain, although subjected to some man-ring-hoodoo, was intensely dislikeable anyway so I was neither surprised when she joined team supervillain, nor did I care when they let her take the fall (although I was amused!). I would have loved to be surprised at some point towards the end of the novel but it all panned out as expected (though in an exciting fashion of course)… oh well! Can’t have it all.

The fact that Celaena is considered the world’s most famous assassin still doesn’t quite hit the mark. Perhaps in the next novel we will see more of her employment skills and these credentials will be made more apparent… but for now it just feels like something she likes to tell herself. The hard edges to her character definitely didn’t remain at the end which probably contributes to her lack of assassin vibes. But never mind! I still like her!

What were the low points, if any, for you?

Stay tuned for the review!

Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part Three

Throne of Glass (3)

| Part Three |

Chapters 28 – 39

Welcome to the read along of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, organised by Rinn Reads.

As one of the few people to have not read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of a read along, despite having heard very mixed opinions – ranging from extreme love to extreme hate! From the 8th – 18th January I will be reading Throne of Glass and posting my thoughts for discussion. Here’s what the schedule would look like if I could actually manage to keep to it:

8th January

Discussion of chapters 1 – 13

11th January

Discussion of chapters 14 – 27

14th January

Discussion of chapters 28 – 39

18th January

Discussion of chapters 40 – end

Feel free to join in with the read along at any point and all discussion points are welcome (but no spoilers!!)… which reminds me:

 There will be spoilers for chapters 28-39!

| Part Three Rating |four star

| The Story So Far |

As the threat against the castle continues to grow and the life of yet another contestant is prematurely snuffed out, and suspicion is cast on both reputable and disreputable characters alike, Celaena must remain on her guard whilst competing for victory in the ongoing trial. But all is not dark in the castle of Rifthold; as her friendships continue to grow, and with two men vying for her favour, Celaena is intent upon enjoying the Yulemas festivities – whilst remaining vigilant in case of threat, of course – and this time no one is going to stop her.

| The Discussion |

Throne of Glass continues to entertain and surprise with its intriguing storyline and compelling characters. This is definitely a book where, if you can accept it for what it is and don’t question the narrative too much, you’ll likely be swept away by a storyline laced with magic and the dance of blades. Celaena continues to grow on me as a character and adds some quite endearing moments to her repertoire in this section of the novel. However there is a growing disparity between Celaena the intelligent and feisty young woman and Celaena the cold assassin. Whether we will see the two sides of her personality truly merge remains to be seen… but overall, a very enjoyable third part to this tale!

| The Highlights |

Events surrounding the mysterious threat within the castle continue to progress and, with the murder of another contestant and the trail of enigmatic Wyrdmarks and with the very real prospect that Nehemia could be involved, this novel has the potential of becoming very exciting. Somehow I can’t quite believe that Nehemia is responsible for the attacks. Her concerns obviously lie elsewhere and, whilst her behaviour might seem suspicious, whatever threat she poses will likely be concentrated on the hateful King of Adarlan and not on a contest of soldiers, prisoners and assassins.This section of the novel contains quite a number of humorous and endearing moments which can’t help but make you warm to Celaena. Her tantrum whilst playing billiards was particularly amusing and, as she continues to befriend the other characters, she continues to engage the reader with her sense of humour as the new side to her personality becomes ever more apparent.

Chaol’s reaction to Celaena’s time of the month was likewise a very humorous moment. It has such an element of truth about it, and is used so well as a light-hearted diversion, that it can’t help but make you laugh. Like Celaena, Chaol continues to reveal more dimensions to his personality, has a very honest and stark voice and is remains one of my favourite characters.

When Celaena is confronted with a whole bag of sweets, she proceeds to devour the majority before breakfast, staining her teeth red in the process. This is an entertaining and sweet (sorry) moment which yet again highlights the duality in her personality. In fact, despite her obvious skill when competing in the tests, we’re seeing something less of the assassin, and almost nothing of the cutthroat killer. Which moves us on to the low points…

Did you have any favourite moments or highlights during this stage in the novel??

| The Low Points |

I like Celaena the assassin. I don’t want her to lose that cold side that has made her what she is today. I don’t want her to lose that foundation of suspicion and distrust which must have permeated every moment in her life before her release from Endovier. The funny and endearing moments are enjoyable but there needs to be a little more cohesion in her two quite disparate sides.

Poor, poor Chaol. He just has to watch from the sidelines as Dorian sweeps Celaena off her feet. Dorian, whilst essentially likeable, seems to be missing something which would truly make me like him – or perhaps trust him. Perhaps he comes across as a little fickle, or flighty, or something… or maybe I just prefer Chaol. 

During this section, the contest plays second fiddle to Celaena’s personal life. Though enjoyable in their own right, I would definitely prefer the contest, along with the murders and levels of suspicion between contestants to take centre stage.

“Celaena realized with a jolt that perhaps the Champions’ killer and Elena’s mysterious evil force might be one and the same.”  

Really? Only just? This is possibly the moment that irritated me most throughout the entirety of the novel so far. Maas has consistently portrayed Celaena as highly intelligent and quick off the mark, yet this somewhat ridiculous moment of dawning realisation came entirely too late. I’m almost certain most readers would have assumed this from the moment Elena popped out of the ether. Perhaps Celaena is too familiar with death and destruction to put the two together…

At this stage in the novel, what were the low points of the story for you?

Stay tuned for the next instalment of this Read Along on 18th January 

Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part Two

Throne of Glass (3)

| Part Two |

Chapters 14 – 27

Welcome to the read along of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, organised by Rinn Reads.

As one of the few people to have not read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, I couldn’t resist the opportunity of a read along, despite having heard very mixed opinions – ranging from extreme love to extreme hate! From the 8th – 18th January I will be reading Throne of Glass and posting my thoughts for discussion. Here’s what the schedule looks like:

8th January

Discussion of chapters 1 – 13

11th January

Discussion of chapters 14 – 27

14th January

Discussion of chapters 28 – 39

18th January

Discussion of chapters 40 – end

Feel free to join in with the read along at any point and all discussion points are welcome (but no spoilers!!)… which reminds me:

 There will be spoilers for chapters 14-27!

| Part Two Rating |four star

| The Story So Far |

Celaena continues her training as she and the other contestants embark upon the First Test of the Champions. Whilst frustrated at her inability to show her true talents and subjected to the taunts and ridicule of the other contestants, there are far more sinister events taking place in the castle of Rifthold. In a series of grizzly murders, the champions are seemingly being picked off one by one. Celaena, in her curiosity to discover more of the castle, finds far more than she bargained for as she flees terrors in the night, converses with Fae Queens and realises that the Kingdom of Adarlan is not so devoid of magic as it might first appear.

| The Discussion |

During my Part One discussion I took a broad spectrum of the story and characters we encounter. In this post, I will be looking at how both these aspects have developed over the second part of the read along, and look at some of the highlights and low points so far. It has to be said though, I really am enjoying this book! So much so that I think I’m going to find it more difficult creating a list of low points. Perhaps that section should just be called ‘nit-picking’…

During the second part of the novel, the storyline developed in a much more intriguing and mysterious way than I at first expected. The introduction of magical elements to the narrative bring a sense of weight and history to the world along with a sinister undercurrent which is likely to play a key role in the rest of the novel to come. Celaena’s ‘dream’ encounter with the Fae Queen at the mysterious carved tomb on Samhuinn also added another magical element to the storyline, leading us to believe Celaena was brought to the castle by, perhaps, divine design to solve the gruesome and possibly magically linked murders. The ante has most definitely been upped in this section, and a captivating framework has been created for the second half to come.

| The Highlights |

As a lover of crime and detective fiction I couldn’t help but have a giddy moment when poor ol’ eyeballs got his comeuppance. This is an excellent twist to the tale and, though I was expecting some (quite literal) backstabbing between contestants, I wasn’t expecting ghastly supernatural murders at all! Definitely an exciting turn of events. Which leads me onto my next point…

I absolutely love a good dose of the supernatural and the fact that we’re now feeling the presence of the magic one thought destroyed in the storyline. I love fantasy fiction whether its heavily laden with magic systems or not, but this mysterious magic – the Wyrdmarks smeared in blood on the walls and carved into the stones of the castle – have most definitely piqued my interest! I’m looking forward to how this side of the narrative unravels and, more importantly, whether or how it connects to Celaena’s past. And talking of Celaena’s past…

Celaena’s heartfelt number on the piano and her subsequent conversation with Dorian was a very interesting moment, especially when glimmers of Celaena’s past shine through. I love that we experienced a more emotional side to her character but, most importantly, one in which she didn’t change entirely. If I’m given a mean and snarky character to love; I sure as hell don’t want them to change so completely over the course of a novel that they’re unrecognisable by the end of it. Fingers crossed for this feisty lady.

And what’s a feisty lady to do when confined to a castle? Why! Explore it of course! When I say I love worldbuilding I mean it, right down to the last crumbling stone. So discovering more about the castle of Rifthold and exploring its secret passages was a definite highlight, one which was almost reminiscent of The Secret Garden – a book which inspired a lifelong love of hidden architecture! Celaena’s decision not to escape also felt right. At this stage she has nothing to go back to, someone who obviously betrayed her in the outside world, and the potential for legitimate freedom within her grasp. Good choice!

But then her two fancy men both come to visit her chambers late at night… and encounter one another instead! Clearly these two are both falling for Celaena and, whilst I don’t dislike Dorian by any means, Chaol is a much more intriguing character. So far I’m not hating the ‘romance’ level of this novel… it slots in quite comfortably for now so I’m willing to call it a highlight!

The tests! The daring rescue! Nox! Ol’ Grey eyes! Finally Celaena has a friend and one stupid bastard with a knife decides to try and kill him. Rude! However, Celaena not only gets to show off what one can do with a rope, a gargoyle and some sticky-backed plastic but she also manages to rescue a blossoming friendship in the process! A win, win I’d say… except for the losing part of course.

Did you have any favourite moments or highlights during this stage in the novel??

| The Low Points |

First things first: Not inviting Celaena to the party! Rude! Sure she might discreetly drown you in the punch, or poison your canapés but if you’re going to invite a bunch of murders and rapists anyway… !

Last things last: Kaltain Rompier. Firm dislike.

At this stage in the novel, what were the low points of the story for you?

Stay tuned for the next instalment of this Read Along on 14th January