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Magical Research and Overturning Power Structures: A Review of Blood Over Bright Haven by M.L. Wang

This review can also be found on my blog

At some point in the year or two between my return to genre reading and my decision to start blogging, The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang became an r/Fantasy darling. It won the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO, the elder sister to SPSFC), matching the highest score in the history of the competition, and there was a time when--in my small corners of the Internet--it seemed you couldn’t read a review of R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed The Poppy War without seeing it compared unfavorably to The Sword of Kaigen. 

Personally, I felt that The Sword of Kaigen was pretty clumsy at times, with some frustrating infodumps at the beginning and a clumsy sequel hook at the end. But what came between was one of the best things I’d read in a long time, so there was no way I was going to miss Wang’s next novel: Blood Over Bright Haven. 

Evidently fate has conspired to keep the Wang/Kuang comparisons coming, because just a year after Kuang’s anti-colonial dark academia Babel, Wang has released one of her own. Blood Over Bright Haven features a bastard daughter from the wrong side of town seeking to become the first woman to break through the cultural and religious barriers that keep the heights of research magistry inaccessible to all but men of good breeding. Recruiting a barbarian janitor to her cause, she seeks to prove that a woman can achieve as much as or more than the best of the men. But her quest for knowledge and achievement uncovers the sort of secrets that calls into question not her city’s sexism, but its entire power structure. 

To those who haven’t read Babel, I apologize for spending some time with this comparison. It won’t include spoilers, and I hope context will make my thoughts on Blood Over Bright Haven clear enough. But given the similarities to such a popular recent work, I think an explicit consideration of the contrasts may be helpful for potential readers. Like Babel, Blood Over Bright Haven is a fantasy novel that screams its theme from the rooftops, delving into the horrors perpetrated by the academy in order to keep an empire running. But while the themes and premises may overlap, Blood Over Bright Haven is written for an entirely different audience and reads very, very differently. 

Where Babel is set at Oxford and has the pacing of a school novel, Blood Over Bright Haven is set in an institute for magical research in a purely fictional setting. So while there’s certainly some academic influences, the vibe is more magical think tank than magic school. There is no cohort of new students making friends and struggling through classes together, and there’s no character study of a lead dwelling on the uncomfortable experience in an institution that loves their mind but not them as a person. Instead, the lead already knows the institution is against her, but her ambition drives her deep into highly competitive research proposals that may win her fame in spite of the sexism around her. This structure allows for a deep dive into magic systems that would please a Brandon Sanderson fan, but with an immediacy to the exploration that comes from the high-stakes competition. 

While the lead’s eyes are wide open about her society’s sexism, she is very much in the dark about their (and her) racism, leading to a situation where the reader can predict certain developments before the character does. There were moments where I found that distracting—especially with a couple side characters written in such a way that there could be zero risk of misunderstanding exactly what kind of society this is—but the white-knuckled tension of the lead’s quest for truth kept me devouring the story even while I wished for a little more subtlety. And being able to predict some mid-book plot developments did not mean I could predict the ultimate ending, which provided plenty of uncertainty to keep me invested. 

And that ultimate ending was a true strength of the book. While the pacing was too quick to call it meditative, it still managed to explore a fairly complicated set of implications to both actions and potential actions. The secondary world setting meant that it wasn’t beholden to mapping one-to-one on any real-world conflict or philosophy, allowing it to explore its own world thoroughly but without feeling contrived. The result is a finish that’s thrilling and emotionally intense without being rushed or leaving the reader second-guessing. 

Blood Over Bright Haven is a book I could’ve nitpicked for 500 pages. It wears its message on its sleeve, and its characters are written to further that theme, with some of the side characters being particularly unsubtle. And yet, I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The main character’s search for truth was utterly compelling, even when I was pretty sure what that truth would be. And after the curtain was pulled back, the plot was thrilling and unpredictable, with so many different aspects of the world examined, but never so much that the plot began to bog down. If an overt message is going to bother you, Blood Over Bright Haven isn’t the book for you. But if you like exploring magic, uncovering secrets, and striking against the very heart of magical power, it’s a really fantastic read, and one of my favorites of the year. 

Recommended if you like: magic systems, secrets, strong anti-racist/anti-sexist themes. The themes of R.F. Kuang with the magic of Brandon Sanderson and pacing that’s probably more consistent than either one. 

Can I use it for Bingo? It's Self-Published by a POC Author and Released in 2023. 

Overall rating: 18 of Tar Vol’s 20. Five stars on Goodreads. 

23:53 UTC


Darkest fantasy book?

This is a very subjective one, so I’m interested in WHY people found a series dark - some are because of horrible acts, others because of sinister characters, psychological reasons, a hopeless atmosphere, etc.

For me The Warrior-Prophet takes the cake - each chapter from about halfway just outdoes the one before with bleakness, savagery, suffering, and all written so damn well.

23:22 UTC


How do you guys stick through the whole thing?

I have hundreds of unfinished books, shows, games, characters, etc because the draw to the next big thing is greater than staying the course. If I ever actually finish something, the appeal down the stretch is checking the box and telling myself I did it, rather than enjoyment.

I'm not really asking for advice on media I do not enjoy, but rather on the stuff I do enjoy. I understand my life will go on with unfinished hobbies, but lately I have found myself thinking all day about what I will indulge on at night, but when I get there I am so overwhelmed by choice, I just go to bed early.

Was torn between here or are the ADHD sub, but nearly all of my relevant interests are fantasy-related.

Thank you.

22:57 UTC


With all the love Eragon gets on Booktok and Booktube, am I the only one who DNFed it?

I found it incredibly derivative and could not get past how much style he borrowed from other authors that I loved.

20:23 UTC


What Fantasy book/series had aspects you loved but overall disliked?

For me this was the Art of the Adept series by Michael G. Manning.

It has a been a little while since I've read it but from what I remember it suffered horribly from railroading. To the extent that brain damage can be the only explanation for some of the decisions the main character makes.

But I had really liked most everything about the the magic of the world. The system and the lore behind it were fantastic. I especially liked the relationship between the MC and grumpy mentor who taught him. So much so that, afterwards, I was googling to try and find other similar mentor/mentee relationships in fantasy.(Which is surprisingly hard with all of the mentor/mentee relationships that end in romance)

Unfortunately everywhere else the story floundered. Despite this, I almost feel the story is worth starting just for those aspects.

Have you guys experienced something similar?

20:18 UTC


Please, help me find that early Dark Tower vibe.

Dear readers, I feel the need to read something similar to the Dark Tower Series. The core of these would be a small band of protagonists wandering over some underpopulated lands. A sea voyage could pass as well. Something about the world that has undergone some massive change and the reader is not given (at least for quite some time) the full picture. I just wouldn't want to read about places teeming with people. Also: The massive change should not be nuclear war or a deadly disease. Any ideas? Thanks.

19:44 UTC


J.v Jones and Endlords there yet?

I remember being blown away by Cavern of Black Ice many many moons ago.

I have so far read all the books in the series (4 I think).

Is there any plan for J.V Jones to finish her series? I saw a post that stated she would finish Endlords in six months, but that got to be years ago

So, anyone know anything? I see many that sponsor her on Patreon.

19:37 UTC


Looking for some song bands

I am looking for some song bands that are based on medieval fantasy, I am specifically looking for the ones that are related and are like the Blackmores Night or like Faun, not a fan of metal, I like some cool calming songs by such bands that take me deep into my imaginations. Does anyone have any preferences?

19:13 UTC


Books featuring warfare and campaigns

I love The Black Company and Malazan series. I've played and created wargames my entire life. What i'm looking for is another series that includes or features largescale fantasy warfare. I got tired of the action hero and single combat stuff. I would like to read about empires or at least city-states. The politics, militaries, religion. How they go about conquering those around them.

Thank you

18:59 UTC


LadyElfriede's Reviewless Review Recs of November!


Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Just not Kyle.

But...yours, mine, and probably everyone’s feelings and opinions about books and authors are satirically poked at using morbid or bad humor. So if you start crying I said Assassin’s Apprentice is a LOTR angst fic, just remember, I cried first shoving “I’ve Been Killing Slimes” to the back and instead, reading “proper” works. >!(Bitch, it’s still my first read of the year and I’ll be damned if someone tries to rip that series away from me)!<

Link to the blog post:


Previous RRRs:












Table of Contents: ctrl + f:

Patch Notes: #

Stats: ^

Recs: ½

Conclusion: @

Answers: ~

Next Month’s Books: Ä

Theme: Ö


Welcome back to Reviewless Review Recs of November!


A brief introduction to this post:

Dune lies abandoned.

What arises from the ashes of time? Is it “Fourth Wing”? What about “Bronze Ranked Brewer”?

Gregg doesn't have the answers. He's just here to deliver what was promised. What we all fear.

The unknown.

To read what you want, without fear of ratings, or what other people are reading.

This post is to help spark an interest in a book you might not give a second chance at. You use your own brain to decide if it’s something you want to read.

But Gregg has another delivery.

To deliver your newest love.



Remember how I said I might go into surgery in October?

Well, I was assigned to the wrong doctor this month, so now I have to wait many more months to see the “right” doctor. Top that off, the dude who saw me (mind you, an orthopedic surgeon) has never seen my condition before in 50 years.

It’s been...rough. Not knowing if I’ll ever be able to write like I used to or even work. There are a lot of unknowns dragging me down this month…

Top that all off, I got accused by the Swedish ticket police that I didn’t pay for my tram ride (when I did pay for it like a normal person) and was about to be charged $100+. You bet your ass I appealed for that and got off the hook eventually. But...it did leave a mark on me that I can’t trust the ticket system so now I get super anxious riding the tram.

With all that...what better way to avoid my dark and suicidal feelings than to study more books? And then get sick...again!

I also went to a used book fair and managed to snag 11 books for $20!

Two of which are featured at the end of the usual RRR lineup!

I’ll also be traveling in December but I will be able to put up content throughout the next month. See the Conclusion for more details.


Patch Notes:

  • Last month’s reviews are on backlog currently due to illness (whatever my hand pain decides). Steadily working on them and will bring updates via Twitter (X).
  • Added “First Line” previews at the end of each RRR to give a hook to the book.
  • Added a DNF stat and section since I DNF’ed my first book of the year. To not give attention to the authors or books, regardless if they deserve it or not, no content or context is given, but the title and author are listed at the end of the RRR for stat’s sake.
  • Added a Manga Series Read stat.
  • A Non-Fantasy section is added at the last part of the RRR.To better get a diversified scope of writing, I’m reading different genres. I was going to start next year, but blame used book fairs.


Stats: ^

Books read this month: 9 (-2)

Books I started: 14 (+2)

Word Count Read (approx.):449,796 (-612,580)

Books Published 2010+: 4 (-4)

Female Authors: 3 (+1)

Mary Sues & John Smiths: 3 (-2)

YA Books: 1 (+1)

Good Smut Scenes: 0 (=)

Light Novels Read: 1 (-1)

Manga Series Read: 1 (N/A)

Books that felt Souls-like: 1 (-3)

Audiobooks: 0 (=)

How many brain cells I lost: 574,493 (+560893)

Brain cells gain: 0 (-10)

Books Read 2023: 88/100 (-2)

Books DNF’ed: 1 (N/A)

What other stats do you want to see?


“Guessing That Rating” Game:

What? Do you want to know what I thought about each book?

Look, my opinions are garbage, and ratings aren’t supposed to matter, so move along-

What? You said you don’t want to know now?

J̴̨͉̀͋ư̶̜͓̰̠̐s̴͙̪̘̻̎̃̌̽ͅt̷͉̤͖̳͍̓̄ ̵͍͌̈́̈́͝t̷̲̊̅̋ǫ̴̳͚̯̖̆̌̀͛͠ ̴͓̟̦̃́̀̄͘š̸̘͕͌̒̀p̴͔̔̀ĩ̷̥͎̳̠̉̉͆͝ͅt̸̙̭͖̰̼̓́͊̽è̸͚͔̞̅ ̸̡̱͕͔̄̑y̶͎͔͖̫̘̽̔̇͠o̵͚̞͒̇̄͠ȕ̶̧̈́̌̂,̴͈̄̆̒͘̕ ̸͔̕Í̵̜̫̑’̸̪̭̳̹̈́m̷̳̮̑̂͗̓ ̶̜̠̣͕̋̃̑ͅp̵̥̤̟͓̬̎u̶̖̞̙̬͕͐̀̽̕t̷̛̗̿t̵̡̞̯̆͒̎ͅǐ̷͇̞n̸̪̝̿͑̆͝g̶̙̥̹̗͖͛ ̷̢̝̫̠͎͝m̴͖̼̆̾͊͠y̷̭͈̯͉͐ ̴̭̀͗̾r̶̟̹̪̗̈́͋͝á̴̢̱͎̎͊͘t̶̝̫͇́̾͜i̶̡̬͓̔͝n̸̯̜̎̉̀ǵ̴̫̝̰̟̓͘s̵͉̲̟̲̾ͅ ̸̭͙͎̲̘͊̈̾̓á̴̫̥̦̱̼͛t̷̢̛̪̗̝̖̕ ̴̣̖̳̖̙͐̑ṱ̵̼͚̔̽̈́̒̐ḧ̴̛͍͙͎̥̹́̈́̕̕e̸͖̫̎ ̵̱̙̯̳̑̅̕͝ͅẻ̶̯̯͂ͅn̷̖̟͇̳̒d̸̪̘̓̿̌ ̶̨̞̮̹̊o̵̲̽̾f̶͉̎͗̈́̉ ̸̲̏͒t̸̢̬͕̩̔̐͛̀͊h̷̥̯͎̪̎͂ȩ̶̙̜̽̾͛̓̈́ ̴͚̅̑͆̆R̴̛͔̰̗̝͆͂͑R̶̺̫̫͇͆̔́͛͝R̵̩̮͝ͅ ψ


Reviewless Review Recs: ½

I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years Vol. 10 by Kisetsu Morita

  • Link to Review: No Review, Ongoing Series


Read when you want to be confused about why Don Broco is mentioned in this book. Then listen to “Gumshield” on repeat for a few days only to realize that the name “Don Braco” was the name of a peach festival in this light novel. And there’s a butt peach contest too. Don’t worry about it.

In this volume, it deals with the usual antics including butt peach festivals, creating mythical legends, and trying to kidnap albino elephants. You’ve realized that Morita probably has some matcha that is probably not powdered green tea.

...Can that even be made into tea?...

1st Line: “Here you go!”

!(I’m sellin’ you on this book, huh?)!<

Ö Theme: DON BROCO – Gumshield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-efzPc-n3WQ


The Silver Spike (#3.5 Black Company) by Glen Cook

  • Link to Review: No Review, Ongoing Series


Read if you missed Toadkiller Dog and wanted a crossover with a “Lord of the Flies” crack fic that no one asked for. Cook and Morita are both drinking that “matcha” coming into this book (like most of "The Black Company") but with some of the madness of Book 2 in here.

Without any spoilers, Raven and Silence are screaming “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” on repeat while glaring at anybody with a dick in walking distance.

No one gives a shit what women think. Except like, one person.

After 4 books of this series, don’t come in here expecting anything happy as we’re all on this Boulevard with Toadkiller Dog trotting next to us holding questionable things in his jaws.

1st Line: “This here journal is Raven’s idea but I got me a feeling he won’t be so proud of it if he ever gets to reading it because most of the time I’m going to tell the truth.”

Ö Theme: Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Soa3gO7tL-c


Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you want to be the hipster at the next book club that’s reading “Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined” and shoving down everyone’s eyes that Le Fanu was the first creator of the vampire genre. Then shout at them that, “...AND THEY WERE LESBIANS (possibly bi) WAY BETTER THAN ANYTHING BRAM STOKER CAME UP WITH.

….Which probably will have 1 of 3 consequences.

A) They accept you with open arms

B) “If you want good lesbian media, watch “Madoka” before you come up with your swill to me”

C) Get banned from the book club but who wouldn’t want to leave? Gregg and Kyle were having a bout about why creeping at people’s manors and drinking their blood is not a kink, but an invasion of privacy and sanity.

1st Line: “Upon a paper attached to the following narrative, Doctor Hesselius has written a rather elaborate note, which he accompanies with a reference to his essay on the strange subject which the manuscript illuminates.”

Ö Theme: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie -Walpurgisnacht Rising- | OFFICIAL TRAILER https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGxyrO-27dQ

(Is anyone excited for this as much as I am?! I’m going to see this bitch in theaters and scream)


Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends & Lattes #0) by Travis Baldree

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you want to gut out the inside of Stardew Valley, disassemble Elantris, and suck the vibe out of Laid Back Camp into a book.

Weirdly enough, it reminds you of “Christmas Bookshop” as well, but more fun to read. Colgan wishes she could put a pug/griffin in her book!

TL;DR- Viv is stuck in a town and visits a bookshop while there. Shit and comfy shit happens. You don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this if that’s your main concern.

Compared to “Legends & Lattes”, there’s an increase in spooky/dire elements and an increased sense of danger, but gives you a ton of comfy times reading imaginary books that will never see the light of day. That sapphic novel will never be real, Gregg, I’m sorry. There, there...

1st Line: “Eighteen!”

Ö Theme: Stardew Valley – Night Market: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cVWwtJQHZE


Magus of the Library Vol 1-6 by Mitsu Izumi

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you want a manga series that will make you feel sophisticated because you now are a master at understanding how languages evolve, how to repair a book, and probably won’t be making friends at lunch any time soon. Unless you go to the library during lunch breaks and teach them what you learned.

...You’re getting blacklisted from the library again, aren’t you, Gregg?

You follow a half-elf ostracized by society who wants to become a librarian in Aftzaak, the city of books.

You will probably lose track of time staring at some of the full-page artwork and realize why this series takes a literal year to produce one volume. Book-themed artwork is shown throughout and you’ll be lost in a world that is central to reading and producing written works.

It’s a breath of fresh air to finally take an interest in a manga series that is done by a woman as the sausage fest was having everyone’s LDL cholesterol rise through the roof in a 100km radius.

1st Line: “Written texts...legacies linking the past to the future.”

Ö Theme: Serving Sizes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZdCjwq3pUA


A Coup of Tea (Tea Princess Chronicles Vol 1.) by Casey Blair

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you want a YA that has a theme of tea and some common Arabic/Indian stereotypes like deserts, night markets, greasy food, and a grumpy brown person who complains about people. Wait, that's me...

You follow the MC leaving her royal duties behind to work at a tea shop.

Sadly, we don’t get more information about tea or the process of the tea ceremony as it’s all “faded to black” like it’s a sex scene.

The bright side to all of this is it lets the reader absorb the story a little easier, but for a tea snob like me, >!(no Kyle, you don’t count as a tea snob for drinking a lot of bagged tea. Get the loose stuff and make your own tea envelopes, you get a better flavor than fannings. Get a gaiwan to boot. There, there, you can drink your Twinnings today, we’ll talk after you see the kids again.)!< it leaves something to be desired. You’ll have to enjoy the vibe of the book rather than reading this for tea and be prepared for a lot of brown people tropes. (It wasn’t insulting, but just glaringly obvious tropes)

1st Line: “I walk alone through a hallway of strangers.”

Ö Theme: Didn’t Expect This: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/ub1BAokgj9s


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you want more Arabic tropes that abducted the previous Theme and made it into a book but make it a little more offensive.

If you can keep in mind that this book was written in the late 80s and Coelho didn’t have a Twitter at the time to say some questionable stuff about women, the book reads like a moral story and a fairy tale.

It follows a young shepherd who learns that there is a treasure in his future. He makes a journey to find it.

There is some dumb stuff said about women towards the last part of the book, but I will give the benefit of the doubt that he has grown since then. That’s how I treat most authors who were in their prime in the past.

Accept the ignorance, hope they learn in the present day, and if they didn’t, well.

Time to send copious amounts of self-published author’s works to him and fill his inbox so he can never receive Amazon packages at his doorstep ever again and he would have to go to the post office to pick up his potpourri. That way, we support authors and give him social anxiety.

1st Line: “The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought.”

Ö Theme: Ken learns Patriarchy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0Sd4x3hClo



The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you wanted to blend episode 10 of “Violet Evergarden” into a book. While the plot is vastly different, the vibe is the same as we know at the beginning of how this will end.

The basic premise is a new housekeeper is assigned to someone named “the Professor” who is a math professor who has a memory of exactly 80 minutes. It would be great if we could all relive the same book over and over again, but your friends might tire of the 62nd time that you recited the plot of “The Murder at Spindle Manor”.

Still, The Professor’s memory seems to last up to a certain year so he still knows a shit ton of math that would put your Asian dad to shame and then you send him back to school.

Just be prepared to go say hi to your grandparents after you finish this book. If they’re no longer with you, volunteer cause man...it hit you in the feels a bit too hard that it vomited out your dark fantasy fixation.

1st Line: “We called him the Professor.”

Ö Theme: Violet Evergarden Outro – Michishirube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fayCDyH7vR0


The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

  • Link to Review: TBA


Read if you want to contract health OCD in the form of a 100-page booklet. And annoy every doctor to do every possible test that you start to know your doctor on a first-name basis. What’s the problem? A black spot on your chin which may or may not be a birthmark. YOU NEVER KNOW!

This is about a Russian guy who lived a questionable life and then contracted cancer while everyone around him played it off.

It’s meant to be philosophical about what it means to live a life that is good or any other theory that an Oxford professor will come up with.

You probably are framing this book right next to “The Book of Tea” and will create philosophical BookToks that you’re superior to regular fantasy nerds. You got this, nepo baby.

1st Line: “In the large law court building, during an adjournment of the Melvinsky trial, the members of the Bench and the public prosecutor had come together in the office of Ivan Yegorovich Shebek, and the conversation touched on the celebrated Krasovsky case.”

Ö Theme: Googling your symptoms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHycK9Zsz4o



Empire of the Vampire (#1) by Jay Kristoff


Conclusion: @

Depression aside in my intro, I have planned for a yearly round-up, a book awards post (with BS awards I have made up), ALL reviews will be done trickled throughout the month (keep up to date when those will be up via Twitter), a 2023 RRR’s edition (similar style to 2022’s post), a normal RRR, and a Christmas book post what to get for certain people in your life that is done in the same style as RRRs. All of this will be done in December.

If you’re worried about my mental health, look at it this way.

I rather spend it doing content than spending it with my mother’s drama flavor of the day.

To those who don’t celebrate the holidays, I’m here with ya in spirit. Let’s push through and get this year done!

To those who do celebrate: stop bullying people to enjoy this holiday. THERE I SAID IT, KYLE-



Slimes: >!4/5!<

Spike: >!4/5!<

Carmilla: >!3.5/5!<

Bookshops: >!4.5/5!<

Magus: >!4.5/5!<

Coup: >!2.5/5!<

Alchemist: >!3.5/5!<

Housekeeper: >!4/5!<

Death: >!4/5!<


Next Month’s Books: Ä

A loose list of books I want to read in December. If some of these books don’t get read, they will be pushed over to next month (usually) or backlogged. All of these will get full review Dissections and posted on r/fantasy and the blog as I read along (the bolded titles will not have reviews)


These books will be read, but TBA reading date

18:58 UTC


Why you should read Mages of the Wheel by JD Evans, a fantastic high fantasy series with an emphasis on political intrigue and espionage

ok I cannot believe I put off reading this book for so long, since it's been on my TBR for like a year now. But I finally read the first book in the Mages of the Wheel series by J.D. Evans and it was surprisingly so good (I gave it 5 stars, one of only 8 books out of 203 I've read this year) and I had to come here to rave about it to you all!

{Reign & Ruin by J.D. Evans} is the first book in a planned 6-book series (+ a full length prequel novel that is already out). It's an epic fantasy series with a unique magic system and a ton of political intrigue and espionage, with a romance subplot. The books are all free on Kindle Unlimited, and 4 books are already published (in addition to the prequel).

Worldbuilding: This is a world where magic is divided up into six different houses: Creation, Destruction, Wind, Fire, Earth, Water. The different types of magic are closely interconnected and the book describes the types of magic as being like spokes on a Wheel; the magic types that are opposite each other on the wheel can cancel each other out and balance each other in the grand scheme of things. Some 200 years before the start of this book, there was a Sundering War that caused the House of Destruction to split off from the rest of the Wheel and the magic of the Wheel has been unbalanced ever since. In particular, the House of Destruction has weakened to the point where they hardly produce mages anymore and those they do have are pretty weak with magic. The setting of this world is inspired by the author's love of Turkey, if I recall correctly.

Context: Naime has just turned 24 and she is the daughter of the Sultan. Her father is declining as a result of magic-induced dementia. As a result, the Grand Vizier and the counselors are all in-fighting for power and to control Naime. They want to marry her off to one of their sons so they can be acting Sultan while Naime will just be a wife with no power. Naime's ultimate goals are to reunite the Houses and balance the Wheel once more, but she won't be able to do this if the Grand Vizier has his way.

Plot: Without spoilers, Naime starts the plot of this book by sending a letter to the King of Destruction House offering negotiations to reunite their people and balance the wheel. Makram, an extremely powerful destruction mage and Prince of Destruction House, acts as an ambassador.

Why it's great: This book succeeds in so many ways.

  • Naime is one of the most mature and competent FMCs I've ever read about. She's extremely smart and has a strong sense of justice. She is a very capable leader and easily the best choice to be ruler, but she faces the sexism and greed of men much older than she is. Not to mention the trauma of seeing her father decline is very heartbreaking. You really feel for everything she goes through in this book. And the stress of her tenuous situation just leaps off the page at you while you read.

  • Makram is a fantastic MMC. He's easily the most powerful mage in this book, but instead of acting rashly or using his power to further his goals, he always errs on the side of caution and patience. Once he gets to know Naime, he understands how intelligent and competent she is and the first emotions he feels for her are complete and total admiration. He comes to love her with a foundation of deep respect, and that's not something I see very often in romance plots. There are many times in this story where he could simply wipe people out with his power and achieve his goals through force, but he uses his influence to support Naime instead of himself and it's wonderful.

  • This book has complex villains and I don't want to get too spoilery here, but: every character is fleshed out and has deep motivations for what they are doing. The villains do some really shitty things that are properly foreshadowed and paced in the plot, and almost always it is up to Naime to use her intelligence to figure out how to manuever through it all.

  • Once you read this book, you'll know exactly what the rest of the series is about and you can tell just from this first book that the the author has planned ahead for each book in the series.

I don't want to say too much more for fear of being spoiler-y, but I just had to shout out this series for being so great and I don't see a lot of people talking about it.

You should read this book if:

  • You like epic fantasy with high stakes
  • You like stories involving political intrigue, espionage, and characters that have to use their intelligence rather than brute force to tackle obstacles
  • You like slow-burn romances that are truly romantic and not just insta-lust
  • You like powerful men who support their woman
  • You like competent FMCs
  • You like stories about about fighting for justice despite all the obstacles thrown your way; having faith that you can work hard to make the world a better place
18:46 UTC


Bingo Crimes: duplicate authors (with mini-reviews)

Welcome back to Bingo Crimes, where I read a rule-breaking collection of books and hope to land on a legal card at the end. I try to finish my reviews in a timely manner, so naturally my batch from June to mid-August is arriving at the end of November.

Our broken rule this time (rules here):

You may not repeat an author on the card EXCEPT: you may reuse an author from the short stories square (as long as you're not using a short story collection from just one author for that square).

T. Kingfisher showed up twice for the Hugo readalong, so she's on my card twice for now (and I’ll be breaking the duplicate author rule again as soon as I get to the next Murderbot book). I’m also continuing to toss more novellas on the stack, along with graphic novels. Longer reviews (with content warnings and recommendations for other books) are on my Bingo 2023 shelf.

Bingo Crimes 2023: Duplicate Author

The Crane Husband, Kelly Barnhill (novella)

I was intrigued by this novella, a loose reworking of the Crane Wife fable that brings a folkloric style to a story of domestic abuse and family struggle set in a dystopian near-future Midwestern setting. I'm not sure I loved it, but I'm glad I read it: this one is artistic and has some hauntingly beautiful passages about feeling helpless to protect people you love from their own decision. It’s recently been selected for a December book club discussion– I’m excited to see what other people think there.

Squares: Literary Fantasy/ Magical Realism, Novella, Published in 2023, Myths and retellings (HM), Book Club

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, C.M. Waggoner (novel)

fantasy/mystery/comedy/romance about a fire witch from the streets who's pulled into a bodyguard job and then into a larger adventure. The first third of the book is fantastic. Pacing sags in the middle (too many side characters, plot is maybe more complex than it needs to be), but I enjoyed myself. It's also cool to see Delly, the main character, start in a place of wanting to be an unapologetic gold digger after a rough childhood: normally those characters are shallow villains. I loved her f/f romance with Wynn, a half-troll who fights like a demon and talks like Bertie Wooster.

Squares: Title with a Title, Queernorm setting, Book Club

The Deep, Rivers Solomon (novella)

Another novella, this time about the wajinru, a sea-dwelling people descended from captured African women thrown overboard on the transatlantic crossing. The story focuses on Yetu, the historian who carries six hundred years of suffering alone and is breaking from the strain. Amazing concept-- I think it's a bit repetitive in the middle, and I wanted to see more of the memories, but this feels very different from anything else I've read, and that's my favorite thing to say about a book.

Squares: Novella, POC Author, Coastal/Island Setting (HM), Book Club

Squire, Sara Alfageeh & Nadia Shammas (graphic novel)

This is a lovely YA graphic novel that starts out as a story about knighthood and ends up as a story about imperial propaganda and the ongoing cost of war. I think I would have liked it more if it covered a longer span of time, to let a few plot points be slower and more subtle, but it's already a chunky book! Beautiful art throughout, with a lot of Jordanian and Bedouin influences-- the author and artist put a lot of love into this.

I would have been absolutely obsessed with this at fourteen, but I still found a lot to appreciate from an adult perspective.

Squares: Title With a Title, Set in the Middle East, Young Adult

Witch King, Martha Wells (novel)

I went into this story with high hopes, but ultimately I didn’t click with it: you may have better luck if you’re interested in epic fantasy. I simply didn't love it the way I had hoped to. Goodreads says this one took less than two weeks, but it felt like a month of reading time through endless action scenes and explanation of this world's history. Wells is always great about worldbuilding without exposition bricks, so I could generally follow the people and magic styles involved-- I just completely failed to care about most of them.

Falling in love with Murderbot's series took about a page. Getting into the Raksura books took a few chapters, but now I'm hooked. At the end of Witch King, I was left feeling like this book is a pale shadow of what I loved about Wells's other work. Your mileage may vary if you love epic fantasy, but I kept going "ooh, wait, that's a great detail" and then watching the most tantalizing pieces sail away, never to be mentioned again.

Squares: Title with a Title, Angels and Demons (HM), Published in 2023, Queernorm Setting (HM)

The Mimicking of Known Successes, Malka Ann Older (novella)

This detective story was great fun. It's a loose Sherlock Holmes riff set on "Giant" (Jupiter). The author makes creative use of Jupiter's heavy-gas atmosphere to blend old and new technologies for a futuristic gaslamp mystery. It's also very cozy-- not in the sense that it's always comforting, but there's a lot of huddling away from the weather with tea and scones and investigative notes. I took a few chapters to click with the style, but I once I did, I really enjoyed myself.

Definitely recommended if you want a winter mystery to read while you're watching the snow from the comfort of a pile of blankets: I'm interested to see the sequel to this one.

Squares: Published in 2023, Novella, Mundane Jobs (HM)

Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (novella)

This discussion kicked off the Hugo readalong in style. I loved the noir style of the opening and the way Helen takes pictures of magical traces. I confess that my interest in a story drops as soon as angel/ demon politics come into view, though, so the back half of the story was weaker for me. Recommended if you’re interested in a story with a strong historical sense of time and place.

The first few chapters were fantastic, everything I love about urban fantasy with noir-detective style, but I'm still on the fence about how much the ending worked for me. The atmosphere of 1940s Chicago is great, though, and I'd recommend this for fans of sapphic historical fantasy (if you don't mind some period-typical homophobia).

Squares: Book Club/ Readalong, Novella, Angels and Demons, POC Author

Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)

This was just a good read and a rare example of a story where the original text and the adaptation (in this case, an animated Netflix movie) are both good, but in profoundly different ways. (Neil Gaiman's Stardust is my favorite example here: I enjoy both formats, but it might as well be two different stories with the same title.) Both versions focus on a villain and the strange girl who announces that she's his new sidekick (a delightful dynamic).

The comic/ graphic novel story is more episodic, sometimes just focusing on weird little moments in the way that fun indie comics do. It also explores the ways that Nimona is genuinely unsettling, sometimes violent and unhinged, and provides a lot more background humor. In the movie, Nimona is driving most of the comedy, but the comic's world is more absurd around the edges, with background characters cracking jokes and the characters really leaning into the tropes they inhabit. This all makes for a weirder story overall, one where people are more complex and harder to forgive.

Squares: Superheroes (arguably), Bottom of the TBR, Young Adult

Babel, R.F. Kuang (novel)

This was one of my most interesting reads of the year, and one of the hardest to rate or describe. In short: in this slightly alternate history, a young boy is taken from Canton after the death of his family and raised to work as a translator in Britain’s elite tower of Babel, a translation institute that wraps magic in silver. As he grows into adulthood, he struggles with his role as a cog in the imperial machine. I adore the linguistics, the arguments about faithfulness and betrayal and lost meanings: it feels historical, sincere, and not interested in providing easy answers.

On the other hand, with the exception of Robin, our protagonist, the characters feel more like archetypes or sketches than real people: to me, that weakens the emotional impact of some major twists in the story. It’s a thoughtful book about empire and exploitation, though, and one that would lend itself to great group discussions.

Squares: Magical Realism/ Literary Fantasy (HM), POC Author

What Moves the Dead, T. Kingfisher (novella)

Another entry for the Hugo readalong (truly a goldmine of good discussions). This tale is a creative reworking of Poe's “The Fall of the House of Usher.” I found myself wanting a slightly longer story or a little more uncertainty to the ending, but there are some genuinely chilling moments here: I don’t think I’ve ever found the image of hares standing up so sinister.

I’m interested to see where Kingfisher goes with Alex Easton next, though I don't think the ending stuck with me the way that truly excellent horror does. It's an enjoyable read, just perhaps not the most memorable one... but the lack of heavy gore and similar content may make this a good pick for people who don't normally read horror.

Squares: Book Club/ Readalong, Novella, Horror (HM), Myths and Retellings (HM)

The Surviving Sky, Kritika H. Rao (novel)

I picked this up for the FIF September discussion (my backlogged library hold came through without warning) and have such mixed feelings about it. The setting is amazing: the surface of the planet is torn up by devastating storms called earthrages, destroying everything in their path, so people live in flying cities that are built and steered by architects with the power to transform plants into any shape and structure in their life cycle.

On paper, I also like the story focusing on a troubled marriage instead of a new relationship, but by the end I was firmly in favor of the two leads building separate lives. There’s also a lot of heavy explanation of the techno-magic system that feels wasted once the back half of the book pivots into heavier mysticism and a complete rewrite of the rules. In the end, I’m just glad to have gotten a cool techno-druid square completion out of this one.

Squares: Book Club/ Readalong, Druids, Published in 2023, POC Author (HM)

A Mirror Mended, Alix Harrow (novella)

I think that this read suffered from the excessive number of fairy tale retellings/ fusions/ remixes I've read previously, but overall I thought that this one tried to do too much at once and doesn't quite stand out from the pack.

I would have been happy to see this story focus on one of the elements it introduces, but they're all somewhat scattered. In book one, we saw the focused story of Zinnia’s life changing; in book two, we see a lot more worldhopping, a sexy-evil-queen romance, and some underbaked attempts to repair her friendships after vanishing rather than have hard conversations. It's a lot! A 300-400 page book might have been able to make everything work, but this left me thinking that this should have been split into two novellas to make a fairy tale trilogy (or even a longer series). There’s some interesting work here around people trying to escape or rewrite their own stories: I just wish the best parts of that had had more room to breathe.

Squares: Book Club/ Readalong, Multiverse/ Alternate Realities, Novella, Sequel

Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher (novel)

This was the first Hugo novel finalist in our discussions that I hadn’t read before we got started, and I think it was an interesting winner. It’s the story of Marra, the forgotten third princess who’s lived as a nun for years, getting swept up on a quest to save her sister. The story’s greatest overarching strength is the way it feels like a retelling of old stories without being bound to the story beats of any particular tale. It's like Kingfisher went and rummaged through the supply closet of fairy tales and folklore and built something new with those pieces: three siblings trying to conquer a challenge in turn, three impossible tasks, trying to solve the riddle of a maze, and so on. This feels like a fairy tale retelling but also completely its own story, which gives it a freshness that I just don't get from retellings of fairy tales that are also Disney movies.

I had mixed feelings about the worldbuilding and sometimes about the way the humor blended with everything else (did we really need the bone dog licking its non-corporeal balls?), but overall I enjoyed this one and I’m interested to see what Kingfisher does next.

Squares: Book Club/ Readalong

Thanks to everyone who recommended something to me in this batch! I know that the first four definitely joined my TBR list thanks to the Tuesday review threads. Fingers crossed that I remember to put the next reviews together sooner.

The Too Many Novellas post included reviews for these books:

  • Uncommon Charm, Emily Bergslien & Kat Weaver (novella)
  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi, Shannon Chakraborty (novel)
  • Witches of Lychford, Paul Cornell (novella)
  • Things in Jars, Jess Kidd (novel)
  • Untethered Sky, Fonda Lee (novella)
  • Sunshine, Robin McKinley (novel, re-read)
  • Prosper's Demon, K.J. Parker (novella)
  • Ormeshadow, Priya Sharma (novella)
  • Ogres, Adrian Tchaikovsky (novella)
  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson (novella)
  • An Unnatural Life, Erin K. Wagner (novella)

And that’s a wrap for this batch! Let me know if you'd like to know more about any of these books, and I'd welcome recommendations for the rest of bingo.

17:52 UTC


Bookclub: The Hand of God by Yuval Kordov Final Discussion (RAB book of the month)


In November we're reading The Hand of God by Yuval Kordov u/uberllama

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/119272086-the-hand-of-god

Sub-genre: Post-apocalyptic science-fiction/dark fantasy horror

Bingo squares (I'm new to this so apologies if I get anything wrong):

  • R2, C3: Angels and Demons
  • R2, C5: Horror
  • R3, C1: Self-Pub
  • R3, C3: Pub in 2023 (Hard Mode: debut novel)

Length: 90,000 words/378 pages


November 03, 2023 - Q&A

November 17, 2023 - Midway Discussion

November 30, 2023 - Final Discussion


17:45 UTC


Book recs for someone with many/difficult criteria

I've loved reading since I was a child, but as I've grown older it's harder and harder to find books that hit that same sweet spot, so I thought I'd branch out and ask around before going down the Goodreads lists rabbit hole again. Beware I have a few criteria though.

  • Female main character or majority female POVs.
  • Well written women. No books where I'd roll my eyes at how the women are portrayed.
  • Mature, serious and adult. Humour is fine, but I want the themes to be mature and the characters to be adults in a world of consequences for their actions.
  • Romance is fine, but friendships are better.
  • No gratuitous sexual violence. It can be part of a story, but not just to give a male character a woman to save.
  • Preferably based on non-eurocentric culture. It's not a dealbreaker, but I like some diversity.
  • I like thicker books that are part of a series.
  • No YA, no wishfulfillment, no insta-love, you know the drill.
  • Books I won't read because I know I won't like them: WoT, Malazan
  • Books I've read and wasn't that impressed with: Assassin's Apprentice, Priory of the Orange Tree, Sabriel.
  • Books I'll probably read: GoT, A Wizard of Earthsea.
  • Books I've read as a child and still enjoy: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Fablehaven, The Golden Compass (just the first one).
  • Books I've read as an adult and liked: Stormlight Archive, Daevabad Trilogy, First Law, The Rage of Dragons

As a last note, I'm particularly drawn to dragons, pirates, fleshed out magic, thorough worldbuilding and characters who feel alive and aren't stupid. Thanks in advance!

17:23 UTC


What do you make of Lamb’s ending in Red country? (Character ramble, spoilers for The First Law book 6)

Having completed RC, I’m left a bit wondering about the arc of our favorite Northman. Clearly, there is an enjoyable subversion of “the hero riding off into the sunset” in this being an easily dubious “hero” of whose companions he leaves are a new mixture of hateful/disillusioned with him, and definitely having his own selfish motivations in leaving and what he expects to find, but I do think it is still notable as a net step forward in his characterization.

In the OG trilogy, I think it’s fairly easy to see that Logen’s main problem (aside from being an all around violence enjoyer and sometimes an indiscriminate psychotic killer when in duress) is that he is not a realist, and despite wanting to change and be a better person, he continues to put himself in situations where his worst will come out. We see it in RC too, as he nearly kills Roe and shy in the dragon people caverns before being restrained, and when he does snap back, he weeps for what he had nearly done.

In context of this, I think the ending does demonstrate some growth on his part, while simultaneously casting away all the good he’s done as Lamb, as who is Lamb without his children now? It seems pretty clear to me that leaving at the end is something of an excuse to avoid the responsibility of holding himself back and remaining cramped on a farm as a family man, the idea that more people might come for him seeking trouble seems dubious at best, who else but Shovers would have it in him to track down TBN?

Still, I think it does demonstrate a growth in Logen that he knows that he cannot simultaneously stay and cannot resist his bloodthirsty nature, whether trouble comes or not, as Eider says he is someone who just is trouble, and Shy and temple are people who attract trouble. Now that Lamb’s got a taste of his old vices, having felt joy when coming back to the razed farmstead, it seems like he’s a certainty of eventually bringing about trouble, and in that context, the most responsible thing he can do, such as he is, is to leave before he ruins things.

Shy and Temple, however bad their pasts and what they’ve done there, are at their hearts people who want to and can do good. Logen, though he doesn’t think he is, is well aware that people would be right to call him evil for what he’s done and can’t help himself finding his way back in to. It’s this sort of mythic divide between the wayward trying to live right, the incorrigible, and the children that lets me read the ending in a more mythic phrasing, complete with how TBN is himself a mythologized figure, complete with all the western imagery, plot beats, set pieces, and the riding off into the sunset.

In those five, the book establishes a number of dualities, shy and Temple are complimentary reflections of each other, Ro and Pit embody a varied awareness of innocence—Pit for the most part empty-headed and passive, while Ro is far more impressionable in realizing disparities and awful of the world as she is torn from place to place and family to family. Lamb is interesting in that Logen has always had this dual-identity thing going on between being a fairly amiable Northman at constant war with his worst possible self, and frequently loses.l, TBN seemingly a manifestation of what at his core is wrong with him and this typically detached well of bloodlust that at times has completely flowed over when I’m near-death states for Logen, and completely saturated him as seen in the sharp ends story made a monster

Still, it suprised me how condemnatory the ending is despite the ending. He’s certainly a beloved character, but Abercrombie really doesn’t pull his punches with Logen/Lamb, from cementing in the very first scene of The Blade itself that Logen is perpetually falling in a circular motion of attempting to change, increasingly aware of the futility in his own case. It was a good ten years he acted the coward, avoiding any kind of trigger towards violence until he saw a veritable reason to revert, yet he was unable to make that attempt again once the children were rescued, and he found in Temple a paternal stand-in for himself and more appropriate companion for Shy.

His last line admitting he never disagreed when shy called him a coward is interesting because it is both true that he is unable to take the hard path as Shy and Temple were able to, and remains a coward in being unwilling to stay with the family, however it’s also just about the most realistic we’ve seen him be. He is no longer that gentle giant he was for ten years, he’s a man who doesn’t take off his sword, and was flatly disappointed I think by both Shivers’ turning him down and the reflective growth from the other man. He lusts for blood yet, and knows I’ll will come through trouble he will bring upon the family if he stays, altogether the people he leaves are good people, and he is not.

Cowardly as it is not to be the better person he could be and was for quite a time, I think it does demonstrate growth in how he is able to, un unlike in previous books, remove himself from the places he’ll do the most unintended damage. If he cannot change who he is, he can at least leave.

Does he deserve to be able to ride off into the sunset as he does? Is this a death sentence for the suggestion of his better self? Or is this just a more stylized version of him falling off a cliff again.

I’m still wondering what to think about this ending and my overall stance on the character, as Abercrombie’s certainly written it in a way to consider.

What do you make of his it?

17:22 UTC


Gunmetal Gods Series?

I read Gunmetal Gods and really enjoyed it. I’m interested in reading the other two books that have been released, but have heard mixed reviews.

I’ve heard that the second book, Conquer’s Blood, doesn’t follow the same characters and has a different tone. Has anyone read all three books in the series, including Elder Epoch? Does the third book bring the stories of the first two together, or is it an entirely new set of characters? Is Elder Epoch the final book in the series?

Thoughts on the series in general?

17:13 UTC


Under appreciated things authors do

A lot of the conversations here return to the same authors again and again, which is fine, but it can also mean the same things get said about the same authors, which is boring. Of the usual suspects, what really excellent quality of their work do you find to be seldom commented on?

As an agnostic myself, I’ve always been impressed with how nuanced Brandon Sanderson’s fictional faiths can be. We may disagree our conclusions, but I’ll never accuse him of leaving the topic of religion unexplored.

Neil Gaiman writes those small moments of emotion just so, so well. Whether a promise to manage the impossible with one’s (after)life (“If we can, then we will.”) or that kind of thunderous realization that shakes a character to their foundations (“She no longer loves me.”), it’s those subtle moments that keep me yearning to return to the worlds he builds.

Despite the sometimes painfully insightful commentary, Terry Pratchett’s prose is so warm and kind. If my life weren’t clearly a lost Kurt Vonnegut novel, I’d like to live in one of his.

What aspects of an author’s work do you feel sometimes go under appreciated?

16:40 UTC


Has there been fantasy books written about the Terracotta Army?

This is an overly specific request but I just can't get the idea out of my head.

The first emperor of China Qin Shi Huangdi is famous for being so paranoid of death and what comes after that he commissioned the legendary terracotta army whom the paranoid ruler thought would escort and protect him in the afterlife, whatever that may be.

Has there been any epic fantasy written where we follow Qin Shi Huangdi in the afterlife leading his army? The terracotta army miraculously working as advertised with either the statues coming to life or real people loyal to the emperor taking the place of the statues.

16:39 UTC


What is your classic fantasy novel or series

I've always wonder what other people's favorite fantasy book is, I have a lot of good fantasy book i like to read like Throne of Glass, Narnia, Harry Potter, and more but what is yours?

16:22 UTC

15:44 UTC


ISO research-focused fantasy!

Hi all! I'm looking for stories that are very research/archives focused, with the plot centering around revealing a 'truth' about the past to a community. Bonus points if the powers that be don't want the 'truth' to be revealed and are after the main characters.

15:24 UTC


Good Discussion Podcasts?

Hey, are there any good fantasy or sword and sorcery discussion podcasts? I’m looking for some good literary discussion on books in the genre. Most of the booktube/booktok stuff I’ve seen is one person talking at a camera, so I was thinking maybe podcasts would have more of what I’m looking for. Just sort of a two folks chatting to each other about a book, or conventions of the genre type situation. For the TTRPG/crowd, the Fear of a Black Dragon is kind of the tone I’m seeking.

Anyone have a direction they can point me in?

15:20 UTC


Finished The First Law and... I should've seen this coming

So, I'm a long time fantasy reader trying to become an author, and I decided to try The First Law because Abercrombie is both hilarious and I find his character voice excellent (Logen's and Glotka's voices are incredible).

But now that I'm done with the series I just kind of feel like shit 😭

Not just because of the grimdark intent, but more because of the cynicism bleeding into other stories. Other stories i like now seem hilariously naive or childish, when I didn't find them to be before? Even expecting people to try to do good or stand up seems... wrong? Because it all goes in a circle back to being bad again?

Even A Song of Ice and Fire felt at least... I'm not sure what the difference is. People got what they deserved often times? Here, it feels more like you're encouraged not to do good, because there's no point, and your flaws rule in the end.

Bleh. Abercrombie is incredible, but I'm gonna need some time to recover. I personally write some grit, but nothing near this level of realistic and hopelessly dark. So now I don't know if I can "get away with" writing things with more hopeful messages, or if that's just naive.

Edit: To clarify, my main worry is about my own "gritty-but-hopeful" stories are naive when put in the perspective of cynical realism. Should a character really get to both do good and not be destroyed by it? That kind of thing.

13:23 UTC


Has anyone read The Grey King by Susan Cooper?

It's the first in The Dark is rising series I have read so that might have made my confusion worse but in the later part of the novel the main character Will has this sudden revelation about a character named Bran Davies that he is King Arthur's son and his mother "sent him to the future" but I've never understood how she did that.

If anyone's read it would they be able to explain?

13:11 UTC


/r/Fantasy Daily Recommendation Requests and Simple Questions Thread - November 30, 2023

This thread is to be used for recommendation requests or simple questions that are small/general enough that they won’t spark a full thread of discussion.

Check out r/Fantasy's 2023 Book Bingo Card here!

As usual, first have a look at the sidebar in case what you're after is there. The r/Fantasy wiki contains links to many community resources, including "best of" lists, flowcharts, the LGTBQ+ database, and more. If you need some help figuring out what you want, think about including some of the information below:

  • Books you’ve liked or disliked
  • Traits like prose, characters, or settings you most enjoy
  • Series vs. standalone preference
  • Tone preference (lighthearted, grimdark, etc)
  • Complexity/depth level

Be sure to check out responses to other users' requests in the thread, as you may find plenty of ideas there as well. Happy reading, and may your TBR grow ever higher!

As we are limited to only two stickied threads on r/Fantasy at any given point, we ask that you please upvote this thread to help increase visibility!

13:00 UTC


/r/Fantasy Monthly Book Discussion Thread - November 2023

Welcome to the monthly r/Fantasy book discussion thread! Hop on in and tell the sub all about the dent you made in your TBR pile this month.

Feel free to check out our Book Bingo Wiki for ideas about what to read next or to see what squares you have left to complete in this year's challenge.

13:00 UTC


Any good political fantasy books released in 2023?

There aren’t many

11:23 UTC

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