I’ve had my eye on Six Celestial Swords by T.A. Miles since before it came out. That cover caught my eye, and that alone landed it on my TBR pile. Being in the boxed set put it at the top. A fantasy version of China, the kingdom of Sheng Fan is under a severe threat. In order to avert disaster, the court official and sorcerer Xu Liang leaves home on a quest for four magical blades that will combat the rising dark forces. On his way, Xu Liang assembles many and varied companions, dwarves and elves among them. If this all sounds very Tolkienesque, well, it is, right down to the lush language and sometimes languid pace. Once you get past a few difficult early chapters-mostly because of the many Chinese names- you find yourself in the middle of a splendid adventure that takes some fascinating twists and turns before it’s done. I really didn’t want it to end, but fortunately, the next book in the series is already out and there’s another one coming!
The Last Mage Guardian is not Steampunk, though it has a little of that feel to it. Set in an alternate 19th-century Europe, this book’s world is both colorful and fascinating. Ardhuin is a young woman who finds herself the unprepared heir of her mage great-uncle. Domenec is a recently graduated university student looking for work. The book gets off to a bit of a slow start, but sparks fly-literally-when these two finally meet up. Their adventure takes them across the continent and into a dangerous, high-stakes situation that Ardhuin feels ill-equipped for. With the help of Domenec and a few other friends she takes on a shadowy conspiracy which seeks to overthrow a shaky peace between the various countries of the continent. The story took a number of fascinating twists and turns, and just when you think you know where it’s headed, it takes a different direction. Both viewpoint characters are unorthodox, yet appealing, and I enjoyed the romance, which was non-annoying. (always a plus for me) This is a series, but short one, with one book following this one.
I love a good western, so I was excited to read Kyra Halland’s Beneath the Canyons. It could just about be your standard western plot: ranchers versus miners, saloon brawls, a feisty cowgirl, a mysterious stranger who comes to town. Sprinkle a little magic over it, and you’ve got something completely different, and maybe even more fun. Silas Vendine is a mage bounty hunter, on the trail of a powerful renegade wizard. Lainie Banfrey is a rancher’s daughter who’s discovered her own magical talents, and the need to hide them before they get her in trouble. What follows is a rip-roaring chase across rugged countryside and some exciting magical brawls, a burgeoning romance woven throughout. The world is nicely developed without being overly complex, and it was one of those books where I just sat back and enjoyed myself. This is the first in a six-book series, and I’m looking forward to spending more time in this world and with these characters.
I’ll have to take a little break from the set and read some other things that have been piling up for me, but I hope to get to the rest eventually.by