The Archimage’s Fourth Daughter: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.

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The Archimage’s Fourth Daughter by Lyndon Hardy, Magics # 4

Excerpt:

Alodar placed his hands on Briana’s shoulders, paused for a moment more, and then said softly, “The answer is no.”

“You can’t do that!” Briana yelled back. “Even the Archimage has limits to his power. You admitted as much yourself. You cannot order me around like some serf of an Arcadian lord.”

“I do not order you to stay because I am the Archimage,” Alodar said. “I do so because I am your father.”

Briana felt the anger well within her like a brush fire suddenly out of control. She clinched her teeth so as not to say more. The library page had a key to this council chamber, she thought fiercely. It might take more than a single kiss to get it, but that is what she would have to do.

Brief book description:

A group of residents from a magical world have found a way to pass into another realm, but then lost contact. The archimage and his council need to find out what happened. They plan to send someone to find out, but his youngest daughter instead journeys there to discover a new world without magic. Instead the residents use technology. Briana has to find these offworlders and find out what they’re up to. Then she has to find a way to keep them from destroying her world.


Y’all. This book. I don’t even know where to start.

Let me start with the good: The part I really liked was when Briana came through to the “new world,” which was of course, modern Earth. Briana is has grown up in a medieval male-dominated style world, living a sheltered and privileged life due to her father’s status. She has servants, she has magic, and she has money.

When she gets to Earth, she has none of that. Instead she winds up living on the streets and in shelters at first, because she doesn’t understand how money works, she has no documents, and knows no one. She’s befriended by a homeless man named Eddie who takes her under his wing and shows her how to survive. Before long, she’s finds a place where she can wait tables and earn a little cash while she tries to figure out her next move. This was definitely the best part of the book. Not only was her struggle real, but it gave the author a way to discuss some modern day social issues, like the problem of homelessness, the divide between rich and poor, and problems with unjustified police engagement. I think this could have been taken even further, and really would have made a great book just by itself.

But it wasn’t the main part of the book. We then get into these bad guys. Who are they? Why have they been on earth so long and what is their problem? I don’t really know. They were just really unpleasant. I had a hard time seeing them as much of a threat. They never come above ground! How much damage can they do? And I’m not exactly sure what they looked like. The writer said they had tusks or something, they weren’t human. I’m not sure Briana was either, but she passed as human. I didn’t really get it. How had these dudes managed to survive for a hundred years, living underground with their weird wasp things?

Briana finally meets some humans who can help her with her quest, which I had almost forgotten by this point of the book, and that brings up the next set of problems I had with the book. Briana. I just didn’t like the girl. When she was lost on a new planet, I felt sorry for her. I could only imagine how disorienting that must be. But for someone who’s supposed to be smart, she sure took a long time figuring stuff out. She’s so stuck in her old world way of thinking, that she can’t tell when a man is hitting on her.

She chats up a guy because well, plot, and the next thing you know, she’s invited herself to move in with him. He’s kind of a creep, so he thinks, “Hey, hot girl I barely know, sure you can move it with me if you move into my bed.” Like she’s JUST introduced herself and he’s already trying to get her clothes off. But honestly, what would most guys think? This strange girl wants to move in with you? Slow down!

So sure, he’s a creep. But then she is all offended that he expects sex. She just wanted to move in with him and have him drive her places and buy her food. In return for what? Does she help with school work or house work? No. This other random dude who moves in too does that. She accuses him of using her, but he’s just there to solve her problems.

I really lost interest in the second half of this book. The plot sort of limps along and the bad guys are bad and we get an epic battle at the end, but it wasn’t worth it. I was really disappointed. This is book 4 in a series, but the series has been on hiatus for a long time, and I was assured I could jump in at this point, so I didn’t read the previous book. It might have made a difference to me, but I just can’t imagine that I’d want to go back and read them now. If you are into magic-based fantasy, I would say don’t start with this one. Try his first book, Master of the Five Magics, which I guess is about Briana’s father. But I’m moving on.

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2-to-Read

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This is not me. Just FYI.

I just read two fun books in a row, both YA, both ones I would recommend.

The first is The Plastic Magician by Charlie M Holmberg. I’ve blogged about her before, even did a giveaway of one of her books. (Speaking of which, I should do another giveaway soon!) So it’s no secret that I enjoy her writing. This book is an add-on to her Paper Magician series, but introduces an entirely new main character. Here’s the synopsis.

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg returns to the enchanting world of The Paper Magician.

Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…

My take:

Alvie is a young German American woman who can’t wait to learn magic. She’s even chosen her field – The newly emerging study of plastics. She gets chosen for a very prestigious apprenticeship in England and sets off. Not a lot of plot going on here, but Alvie was so much fun as a character and the world was so engrossing that it didn’t bother me that the villain was really obvious. There was a light romance – very light – but it was a sweet one. I would recommend it to lovers of light fantasy.

Which brings me to my second book, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I saw this recommended by a Good Reads friend, so when I saw a copy at the library, I had to grab it. It’s based on this extra-dimensional library that maintains the language and literature of the worlds. Cool, right? Here’s a synopsis.

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author. One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested–the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something–secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option–because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself.

My verdict:

A fun romp that goes completely over the top. Vampires and airships and far and alternate worlds all combine in this crazy little book. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I was in the mood for slightly goofy fun and this book was just what I needed. Irene and Kai are great characters and there’s still plenty of mystery left for the next book. It’s the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

Review: The Shape-Changer’s Wife

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Title: The Shape-Changer’s Wife

Author: Sharon Shinn

Genre: Fantasy

How I got this book: Found it in a thrift store

“From the national bestselling author of The Samaria Trilogy…this is the novel that launched Sharon Shinn’s career and inspired Peter S. Beagle to call her “the most original writer of fantasy since Robin McKinley.”

Aubrey was a student of the fine art of wizardry. But the more knowledge he acquired, the more he wanted to learn. He traveled in search of the greatest master of all, the gifted shape-changer Glyrenden. From him, Aubrey expected to discover the secret of long-lost spells and the mysteries of arcane magic.

But there was one discovery he never expected, a mystery he risked every thing to solve. Her name was Lilith…”

Review:

I’m so glad I found this book! I’ve read some short stories by Sharon Shinn, so when I found this book at the thrift store, I picked it up. The premise really intrigued me.

This is one that I don’t want to spoil, but I found it completely captivating. Our young Aubrey is very talent at magic, but he has much to learn about people. He wants to learn the magic of transformation, and there’s no better wizard at that than Glyrenden. Aubrey is prepared to work hard and study, he’s even prepared for a few personality quirks on the wizard’s behalf. He’s not prepared for the strange household or the way the town people hate them.

This is the author’s first book, but it’s still in print and available on the Kindle. If you like fantasy, especially the work of Peter S. Beagle, I would definitely recommend this one. It’s a stand alone title and it’s not very long, but it’s just charming.

The Demon King: A Review

6342491Title: The Demon King (Seven Realms #1)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Genre: YA fantasy

Synopsis:

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

Review:

If that description sounds like a classic fantasy trope, the Farm Boy made good and the Ruler in Exile, well, it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, this book takes a lot of the tried and true and makes them interesting.

Han also goes by Hunts Alone or Cuffs, depending on whether he’s up the mountains with the clans or down the hill in the city. Either way, he’s a tough, independent guy who’s used to looking over his shoulder. But now, with what seems like half the queendom looking for his blood, it’s time for him to put his childhood behind him and grow up. If he can survive that long.

Princess Raisa also needs to grow up, but this time, I mean she needs to stop being such a spoiled brat. I really wanted to shake her and tell her to quit making such stupid decisions. But then, I’m an adult and she’s only 15. She’s allowed – expected, even – to make a few mistakes like kissing the wrong boy. And wow, does she ever make mistakes.

Both Han and Raisa are caught in political maneuvering beyond their control. Wizards are tired of the tight controls that have been placed on their power. Sure, a wizard nearly caused the end of the world 1000 years ago, but times have changed and they want to be in charge again. Raisa’s mother, the Queen Marianna, is weak and easily influenced, just when a weak ruler would cause the most trouble for the land. Stubborn as Raisa is, no one could call her easily influenced.

Chima has a talent for writing realistic YA characters and relationships you care about. That’s not to say the writing is bad. It’s not. But it’s the plot and the characters that shine. I think she could have done a better job with the setting, at least with the clan. But the city is easy to imagine.

I would definitely recommend this series. I started it on audio and got so aggravated at not being able to follow the story fast enough that I got it on ebook as well. So that should tell you how much I liked it! A little bit predictable at the end, but I’m looking forward to the next book.