Fire and Thorns – by Rae Carson

I have finished with university, almost definitely for good, and I’m very very conscious of the fact that I’ve written… almost no reviews for Un:Bound since starting uni almost three years ago. I’ve certainly not written any since the big move to the new site.

For reasons best left to the privacy of my twitter account (@katheubeck) I am under house arrest at the moment and since I’m at my parent’s house, that means I’m stuck in a village with just three streets and no Co-op.

My first real foray to proper book-reading has started with Rae Carson’s debut novel, “Fire and Thorns”, published by Gollancz. It follows the story of young princess Elisa, who has grown up babied, fat and lazy. Even though she bears the Godstone, a sign that God has chosen her for a life of heroism, she has never pursued adventure and was encouraged to stay out of harms way.

On her sixteenth birthday, she’s married off to the handsome king of a huge nearby country, but finds that although she has been married off as part of a treaty, the king keeps their marriage secret, and instead openly courts the beautiful Condesa Arina. Spurred by her own thirst for knowledge, and suspicions that there is more to the legend of the Godstone than she knows, Elisa finds herself drawn further and further into an age-long war she didn’t even know was happening, a war that she is a part of whether she likes it or not.

The book is split into three parts, each following a different ‘role’ of Elisa’s as her journey goes on. In part 1, she is the intelligent but lazy scholar, trying to make the best of a bad situation. She tries to prove that she’s capable of being a Queen to her new husband whilst learning as much about the Godstone as possible… until she’s kidnapped.

Part 2 follows her survival in the desert, and the realization of her own significance as the war rages on. She becomes a tactician, and a survivor.

In the third and final part of the book, Elisa really comes into her own. She stops relying on others to carry her through, and becomes a leader, a figurehead of war.

The copy I have is an uncorrected Manuscript proof which I was given as an Un:Bound reviewer at some point last year. I need to say a big SORRY to my boss/benefactor/dictator/religious leader at Un:Bound that it took me so long to get this review done but… you know… the final year of university is supposed to be time-consuming. At least other people tell me this.

Now before I say anything else about whether I enjoyed the book or not, I want to be absolutely clear. I started reading at about midnight for a bit of a wind-down before bed. I didn’t stop reading until I finished the book at 4.30 the next morning.

I absolutely loved it, but I was so engrossed in it that I didn’t realize how MUCH I loved it until I reached the end and realized there were birds singing outside. The characters that I got to know, and their exploits that I was so much a part of took such hold of me that I wasn’t even able to THINK about the real world (by which I mean the internet) until about ten minutes after I finished the book and had let it all sink in.

In many ways this is aquite traditional coming-of-age story; a teenager is pushed from the nest and learns to fly alone, learning more about their true identity along the way. Yes, we know that story, it’s every teenage fantasy book that is already on our shelves. Except for one or two…

But the wonderful thing about this book is that it takes everything that makes those books wonderful and introduces that little bit more. Elisa doesn’t just strike out on her own; she builds on the advice others give her, she befriends those who have wronged her, she is completely aware of her own limitations and knows when she needs others around her. Elisa starts the story as a clever but lonely girl whose only friends are the two handmaidens her father pays to keep her safe. She ends the book respected, wise and loved.

As a fantasy novel with a female protagonist, told in the first person and some feminist elements, I’ll admit “Fire and Thorns” might struggle with some within the male demographic, but the sheer depth of the characters we meet will enthrall anyone who reads it, of any age or gender. Carson’s realistic but readable approach to war and politics, both at the front lines and within the government, takes the perspective of a sixteen year old and brings you into the adventure with remarkable skill.

I’m told that this is the first installment of a trilogy and I really really hope I can get my hands on the next book as soon as possible, preferably before I’m forced to storm Gollancz and take Rae Carson hostage as my own personal book-writer.

Do the right thing, Rae. Give it to me now for the good of mankind.

Review | The Ambassadors Mission by Trudi Canavan

Trudi Canavan “The Ambassadors Mission” Review

With the war over, what do you do with the peace? The Nation of Kyralia has had its society changed by the war, from the lowest peasant to the mages to the politicians. This is most marked in the city of Imardin, where the former purges or forcible removing of the “Lower Class” have been stopped and people of lower birth with the right skills can now join the magicians guild. With this social change comes a new problem, the spread of a mind altering drug called Roet which is stretching its tendrils to stalk the upper and lower classes alike. Amongst this, the cities Thieves, a group of smugglers, merchants and racketeers of varying backgrounds and amounts of honour are being picked off, one by one, by a foe only known as “The Thief Hunter”.

And that’s without even looking into relationships with the former hostile nation…..
This is the shifting background to The Ambassadors Mission, the beginning of a new story arc following on from The Black Magician Trilogy. And all of the above is gleaned by reading the book, without breaking the flow of action or plot, as I’ve not read the Trilogy.
The tale encompasses all of the above threads, winding them together with a great cast of characters who all have well expressed personalities. There’s Cery, one of the Thieves who is trying to stop the Thief Hunter before the man stops him for good. He’s presented as a lively man, in the late prime of his life who delivers the story from the city street level.
Sonea, an old friend of Cery, was destined for a different life. The events of the war plucked her off the streets and placed her into the halls of the magician’s guild as one of the rare “Black” or “High” magicians, who work by drawing power off other people. At least, I think that’s the case. It’s one of the few things that doesn’t come through that clearly, sadly. Anyway, having reached the guild, she’s working hard to improve the lot of those she left behind and provides the story with its section of magic and intrigue.

Furthering the intrigue is her son, Lorkin, who is going to assist the latest ambassador to Sachaka, as well as historical uses and forms of magic. However, he has a problem, in that he’s the son of the man who defeated Sachaka in the last war…. Finally, the ambassador also has his own flaw- he’s a “Lad”, or homosexual, posted to a country that frowns upon the concept of love between men….

With such a diverse and interesting cast of characters and the plot twining the fates of two detailed, interesting and fundamentally different nations, The Ambassadors Mission proved to be a true page-turner of a read with well paced and described action, intriguing politics and excellent story telling throughout. I found the book an excellent read, and I’m strongly inclined to go back and read its predecessor which, coincidentally, is previewed at the end of Lord of Fire and Air which I aim to review shortly!

Regards to all,
Kerl

Press Release | Moonlands by Steven Savile

I’ve been sent the official press pack for the Moonlands Diaries which I reviewed on Young & Un:Bound. I loved it and think you will too
———————–

Has an eerie feeling in the air ever teased chills from your spine? Have you been deep in thought and suddenly shifted topic entirely, unable to explain why? Is it possible, at least once in your life, you had to look twice to verify what you saw? Then it’s possible you’ve been a part of it already.

Welcome to London – the magical city where all is not as it seems. Where the unexpected is expected by those who know to look for it. Ashley Hawthorne has lived here all her life and like everyone else who’s grown used to the city, it holds no special meaning to her. That is, until that fated day she is willed an odd looking key – a key that not only unlocks her past, but her present and future as well. Suddenly, boring old London is turned into an otherworldly labyrinth where her first step could be her last. With frightening creatures intent on tracking her down and strangers who claim to have known her all her life, how can a teenager who doesn’t even know who she is, hope to survive the dangers that await?

“Savile’s newest work symbolizes the spirit of Young Adult adventure reading! Bold and unexpected – Moonland Diaries is a thrilling read for everyone who needs a break from the mundane. Savile proves he can write anything he wishes.”
- Ashley Knight, author of Fins & Fathom

Foxrain AB teams up with bestselling fantasy author Steven Savile for the epic and groundbreaking multimedia reading experience, Moonland Diaries. The project, which will initially launch as a series of richly illustrated novels, will be supplemented online, with apps and other exciting developments that take advantage of modern technology to give the most immersive experience imaginable.

The Moonland Diaries takes place in modern day London, but as the heroine fifteen-year-old Ashley Hawthorne soon discovers it’s a world quite different from the one we are all so familiar with. The city holds ancient gates and passages to the Moonlands – a world that is both fantasticly beautiful and deeply sinister. When wolf-like creatures enter our world through the gates, intent on killing Ashley, these two worlds collide. She is forced on a wild and terrifying adventure that could cost Ashley her life as well as her heart.

“The Moonland Diaries is a wonderful project that perfectly encapsulates the ethos of Foxrain. The company is all about telling classic stories of fantasy and horror, but with contemporary and completely unique take on them, both thematically and in terms of delivery. Readers will be able to experience the Moonland Diaries across all media platforms, making it the ultimate storytelling experience for the smartphone generation. To be able to create this universe together with a brilliant and versatile writer like Steve is nothing less than a dream coming true.” Says Foxrain CEO Michael Stenmark.

“I was drawn to Foxrain for Moonland Diaries because it was immediately obvious we shared a common belief that stories can (and in this day and age should) transcend traditional paper and ink, and even e-ink, into completely immersive universes. As a writer it’s a wonderful feeling to watch other incredibly talented artists and developers run with the ideas in your head and create wonderful rich imagery that just makes everything feel more alive,” Steve explains.

Foxrain AB is a publisher of primarily children’s and young adult fiction based in Stockholm Sweden-
Steve Savile is a multiple award-winning and bestselling British fantasy writer living in Stockholm Sweden.

www.moonlanddiaries.com

Review | The Traitors Gate by Sarah Silverwood

The Traitors Gate
by Sarah Silverwood

The second on her first YA series, The Traitors Gate picks up the story of Finmere and his friends Christopher and Joe where The Double Edged Sword leaves off. If you haven’t read the first book this review may contain spoilers.

Starting with a sense of relief and celebration after the recent victory in the Nowhere some of the Knights are less confident their troubles are over. The three boys are all changed by the experience, Joe particularly altered by his new burden, leaving some distrustful of him.

When people are found infected with a madness that Tova the Storyholder saw and the sky darkens with an unnatural storm it becomes obvious it isn’t over. The biggest battles are still ahead. With knew Knights on board and unusual new allies the three boys and the Knights are entering a fight between good and evil for both worlds.

The first book was fantastic, a real adventure set between worlds and between childhood and manhood for the boys at sixteen. Traitors Gate continues all of that but is darker and more treacherous taking turns neither the boys nor the reader expects. Silverwood doesn’t pull punches either, no coddling the reader with the promise that good always triumphs, sometimes evil gets exactly what it’s looking for and sometimes good finds itself with the most unlikely warriors on it’s side. There is madness and horror as well as courage, there are senseless tragedies because face it the world is cruel and people caught up in frenzy of grief and anger can do truly awful things. Nothing is what it seems and it’s all to play for.

I am eagerly anticipating book three and the conclusion of Finwick’s journey.

Press Release | The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen

“I know if you try to explain it, whatever reason you come up with, it’ll be wrong.”

‘The Office of Lost and Found’ is now available in hard copy. Published as an ebook
through Anarchy Press, VHK has now made the book available through Lulu for
those who still crave the pleasure of a physical book.

Available now as paperback with a version of the ebook cover and as a hardback with the original ‘logo’ cover, these editions of ‘The Office of Lost and Found’ include notes and sketches by the author not previously released.
Paperback: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-office-of-lost-and-found—paperback-artwork-edition/16801793

Hardback/Casewrap: http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/the-office-of-lost-and-found—logo-cover—casewrap/16534562

eBook Link (Anarchy Books): http://anarchy-books.com/books/the-office-of-lost-and-found/

A new trailer is available to view and embed on You tube

Release Video link: http://youtu.be/HKKvNbangrA?hd=1

Release Video Embed:

POD is by it’s nature a little more expensive but costs have been kept as low as possible and the extra content makes these versions well worth it.