One of the weird by-products of having a TBR so extensive it’s gained sentience is the number of fantastic series I’ve started, but never finished. I’m generally a canny laser-focused reader; a lot of the time I’ll start a series and just binge it through to the end with very little in between. But since falling through the looking-glass that is Book Twitter and the reading/blogging community in general, the sheer number of books bursting onto my radar has been over-fucking-whelming. In the best possible way of course, but it has resulted in me being distracted by a shiny new discovery on more than one occasion and the number of unfinished series is mounting. So, in an attempt to get the list under control, here is Part One of The Great Unread.
SWORDS AND FIRE by Melissa Caruso
This series is so so good. I discovered Melissa Caruso on Twitter and picked up THE TETHERED MAGE without knowing a great deal about it other than I liked the author and it was set in a Venetian-inspired world with FIRE WARLOCKS! So I mean, instant buy-in from me, but beyond that I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. And hoooo boi I got in very deep, very quick.
In the Serene Empire of Raverra, magic is tightly-controlled and all those born with the mage mark are seized by the government as children and raised in The Mews as ‘Falcons’, to be trained and used as weapons of war. Zaira is a warlock who has evaded conscription by living as a street urchin for most of her life, flying under the radar of the Falconers who would seek to capture her and draft her into the military. Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Born into a world of political machinations and court intrigue, she is a scholar and heiress to one of the most influential political positions on the Raverran council. Their lives change forever when a chance encounter binds these two young women together, and as war looms in the empire and Zaira is unwillingly turned into a weapon, a single spark of her balefire could turn their city into a pyre.
I actually plan on re-reading the first two books before finishing up the series with THE UNBOUND EMPIRE, primarily because I want to review the full series and want them to be fresh in my mind, but also ’cause I loved the first two books so much I’m just excited to relive them again!
THE SACRED THRONE by Myke Cole
This is another series I’ll be re-reading in order to fully review for the blog. And with THE ARMORED SAINT and THE QUEEN OF CROWS totalling 456 pages between them, these are shorter reads that pack a whole lot of emotionally wrecking story into their small page count.
Myke Cole is another author I discovered on Twitter, through his frequent humorous interactions with Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig, so when I came to read his fiction I almost had the expectation it would be similarly light in tone. I was very, very wrong. Myke is a writer who is not kind to his characters. Not at all. THE ARMORED SAINT tells the story of Heloise, a village girl living in a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, where the ruthless Order exist to prevent the practice of magic by any means necessary, and are willing to slaughter as many innocent people as they must in order to prevent this greater evil. After she witnesses the Order brutally massacre the population of a neighbouring village, Heloise is spurred into action against the Order and risks bringing down their wrath not only on herself, but on her family and her entire village.
I devoured the first two books in one sitting each. The books are short, the pace is frantic and the stories utterly compelling. THE KILLING LIGHT only released in November, so this one at least hasn’t been languishing on my TBR for too long. Seriously excited and nervous to find out how Heloise’s brave resistance to the Order ends, because having read the first two books, I now know how brutal and unforgiving Myke Cole can be to his characters…
EMBERS OF WAR by Gareth L. Powell
The first two EMBERS OF WAR books are literally some of my favourite space opera novels of all time. Gareth L. Powell has been compared to Iain M. Banks and the Culture novels but I honestly think these books are even better. Gareth has succeeded in elevating the traditional pulp setting of space opera and giving it serious depth. EMBERS OF WAR and FLEET OF KNIVES are packed full of perilous space adventure, while simultaneously having some of the best-written characters of any novel of any genre I’ve ever read.
The first book begins with the final moments of the galaxy-spanning Archipelago War and follows several former combatants as they come to terms with the horrors they experienced in the fighting and try to make new lives for themselves in the aftermath of the conflict, while rushing headlong towards the locus of the next big interstellar war.
LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS is set for release in late February 2020 and is one of my most anticipated books in a long long while. So if you haven’t read the first two yet, now is a great time to jump in and, if you need any more convincing, check out my reviews of EMBERS OF WAR here and FLEET OF KNIVES here.
Thus concludes Part One of The Great Unread. I’ll be back next week with four more (yes, FOUR MORE!) unfinished series I hope to finish sooner rather than later. And no doubt there’ll be many more iterations of this format in the future when the TBR starts taking its relentless toll again, but for now I wish you all very Happy Reading.
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