Category Archives: High Fantasy

Carnifex by D. P. Prior

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

CarnifexTitle: Carnifex
Author: D. P. Prior
Series: Legend of the Nameless Dwarf Book 01
Publish Date: January 15th 2016, Homunculus
Genre: High Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Publisher’s Description: For more than a thousand years, the dwarves have hidden away from the world in their ravine city of Arx Gravis.
Governed by an inflexible council whose sole aim is to avoid the errors of the past, the defining virtue of their society is that nothing should ever change.

But when the Scriptorium is broken into, and Ravine Guard Carnifex Thane sees a homunculus fleeing the scene of the crime, events are set in motion that will ensure nothing will ever be the same again.

Deception and death are coming to Arx Gravis.

The riddles that preceded Carnifex’s birth crystalize into a horrifying fate that inexorably closes in.

But it is in blood that legends are born, and redemption is sometimes seeded in the gravest of sins.
For Carnifex is destined to become the Ravine Butcher, before even that grim appellation is forever lost, along with everything that once defined him.


Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

It is rare to find a fantasy story centered around dwarves, and I enjoyed the world building. The dwarven world was captured quite well in my opinion. Their culture is an odd mix of Scottish and Viking. Masculinity is prized, but it is a matriarchal society. Outsiders are not welcome, and this has lead to a stagnation of their culture. But exciting things are about to happen whether the dwarves want to admit it or not. 

The characters were well written in my opinion, if not what we would consider traditional dwarves. Most of the dwarves I am familiar with live deep underground. These dwarves live very much like humans. I can’t decide if this adds to the story or takes away from it. But I think I am leaning more towards the non-traditional tropes adding to the dwarf mythos.

The plot was a little slow in places, but it is fun and adventurous. The battle scenes are not something to be laughed at. It can be extremely difficult to write a scene involving combat well. Prior’s are violent and gripping, however.

I will admit that when writing this review I had to step outside myself to write it well. I, personally, did not enjoy this story as well as I thought I would. That isn’t to say that badge4v5Carnifex isn’t a wonderfully written work because it is, it just wasn’t for me. I may try to go back to it at another time to see if my opinion changes. This also makes it very hard to rate. Because of my lack of enjoyment I really want to give it a three, however, I am settling on a 4 because it is well written and I may come back to it at a later date.

Other recommendations…

If you like dwarves check out these other great reads: The Dwarves by Markus Heitz, The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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The Fire Ascending by Chris D’Lacey

Luna wraps up her Last Dragon Chronicles read-along with the final book, The Fire Ascending.

Title: The Fire Ascending
Author: Chris D’Lacey
Series: The Last Dragon Chronicles, Book 07
Publish Date: April 5, 2012
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: The much anticipated final book in Chris d’Lacey’s NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Last Dragon Chronicles!

On Earth, at the battle of Scuffenbury Hill, time has been suspended. Dragons and their natural enemies, the Ix, are trapped in a bitter, unresolved conflict. But at the dawn of history, something is working to change the past — and the future. A mysterious force is rewriting the timelines, turning what was once legend into startling reality. But is David Rain strong enough to save himself and those he loves from being written into a deadly new destiny?

David, Zanna, Lucy, Alexa, and the Pennykettle dragons return, along with some new friends and enemies, to embark on their most dangerous, most thrilling, and most magical adventure yet. Bridging the magic of the first five books with the world and characters introduced in FIRE WORLD, this fiery and action-packed final installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles will have readers racing to the exciting conclusion.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna Lovebooks says…

The story line for The Last Dragon Chronicles is fairly good, especially the first three installments: The Fire Within, Icefire and Fire Star. But as the series goes on, it loses its whimsy and becomes way more metaphysical. I kept finding myself wishing for the silly mayhem and the little clay dragons that may or may not come alive that we saw in the first few books.

As for The Fire Ascending itself, it was my least favorite in the series. It started out interestingly enough but by the twists at the end I was not impressed. It does wrap events up but I feel like it was a cop-out in order to make things come full circle. The big battle between good and evil that I was waiting for never really happened.

I did like that the legend of Agawin and Guinevere goes into more detail – even if it is a different timeline. We get to see the events of the legends from the first few books playout as they would have – for the most part, again we have alternate dimensions and timelines. Upon looking at other reviews for this novel, it appears that most fans are in agreement that the first few novels of this series were the best and many became increasingly frustrated that the events took the turns they did.

While I would give the overall series a 4, I give this novel 2 dragons.

Other recommendations…

…you might try Doomraga’s Revenge by T.A. Barron, Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart, Black Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham

Flames Like Vines by Sara Raasch

In Cerie’s short-story, Winter and Angra may not be involved in the princess’s world yet…but that doesn’t mean Summer doesn’t have its own troubles.

Title: Flames Like Vines
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes, Book 2.5 
Publish Date: September 8, 2015
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Discovered on WattPad! Read here for free!

Publisher’s Description:

“She was part of Summer, and Summer was part of her, and this land wouldn’t abandon her too.”

Ceridwen Preben, princess of Summer, has spent her life plotting against her brother, Simon, the Summerian king. Simon has embraced the ruling family’s reputation for using their conduit to keep their subjects in a state of bliss, and has spent his reign slowly driving Summer into ruin, filling everyone with carelessness and letting them turn a blind eye to Summer’s rampant — and deadly — slave trade. But Ceridwen refuses to let her kingdom disintegrate, and with the help of her fellow rebel-in-arms, Lekan, she hopes to undo Simon’s lethal dealings.

But when Ceridwen uncovers Simon’s deadliest plot yet, she starts to realize just how deep magic runs — and that even though her kingdom is one of sunlight, with light, there always comes shadows.


Kat Mandu says…

I really enjoyed this side of the Summer plot line. Ceridwen’s point of view has always been one of my favorites through the whole trilogy, so I’m glad she got her chance to shine in this novella.

I don’t have too terribly much to say because I truly enjoyed it. The writing is flowy and descriptive, Cerie is as sassy as ever, and the growing threat of something stirring beneath the surface of Summer’s magic is a nice little cliffhanger. As I’ve read the entire series, I know just what that threat is, however, for spoilery purposes, I won’t divulge in too much.

I’m hoping other readers will enjoy this as much as I did. Plus it’s free! So go forth and read! 

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins, Ruined by Amy Tintera, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

The second installment in the Malediction trilogy has more action, intrigue, and magic than its prequel. Will Tristan figure out how to play the political mind games within Trollus before it’s too late? And can Cecile hunt down an immortal witch with the power to break the curse on her true love?

Title: Hidden  Huntress
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy
Publish Date: June 2, 2015
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Source: Purchased.

Publisher’s Description:

Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…


Kat Mandu says…

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! Please do not read on if you haven’t read these books. You have been warned!!! 

This is one of those trilogies that once you read the second one or third one, questions readers may have had in the book before it seem to clear up and get answered. For me, sometimes when I was reading the first one, I was so distracted by all the action of a particular scene that I find I didn’t quite understand what was happening until it was either mentioned or “remembered” by a character in the next one. I think after reading Warrior Witch, I may understand more of the events that occurred in Hidden Huntress.

That being said, I wasn’t necessarily confused about anything. I really, really loved how much this book had in it – from Cecily learning blood magic and breaking Tristan from the curse, to Tristan making a play against his father that the practically psychic king didn’t see coming; and finally, to discovering the real identity of Genevieve – aka Anushka. There’s a lot going on here and despite the length of the book, it tends to move fast and keep you entertained.

Though I’m not dissing the romance genre here, I did like that romance wasn’t the main focus on this, mostly a side mission as both characters seemed to realize their greater purpose could be to work together, love together, win together. The characters aren’t so lovey-dovey, and at some points even question their purpose together. But for the most part, they have their own missions.

I wish the fight scene with the dragon had been longer. It seems strange to me that Tristan was able to take down an entire frost dragon without assistance, while everyone watched. Though I do picture him as a younger version of Luke Evans now. Mmm. Sexy. Anyway, I get that he’s powerful, I just find it strange that everyone kind of stood around. In a way, I suppose he might have been the only one to do any damage to it but when he was talking about preparing to fight the otherworldly creatures, that must mean humans stand some small chance? I don’t know. That whole scene kind of threw me for a loop.

I guess the thing that didn’t quite make this a five-star rating for me was the huge spoiler alert included near the very beginning. In it, readers are aware that Genevieve is drugging Cecile and questioning her about the trolls and this is just such a major hint that I knew who the bad guy was automatically. I know that some authors like readers to know ahead of time what their characters don’t but I wish the mystery would have remained in this particular book. It kind of just snuffed out that elegant mystery for me that I would have appreciated so much more.

Overall, my thoughts are kind of everywhere with this one, as it is fresh in my mind. But I really enjoyed reading this one more than the first one. 

Our reviews in this series…

  • Stolen Songbird
  • Hidden Huntress
  • Warrior Witch *coming soon*
  • The Broken Ones *coming soon*

Other recommendations…

If you enjoy young adult high fantasy with a little bit of romance and magic, I’d suggest other trilogies like Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha series, The Elemental trilogy by Sherry Thomas, and Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire & Thorns.

Talking to Dragons by Patricia M. Wrede

Daystar is all grown up and off to the Enchanted Forest on his first adventure. Armed only with a sword and good manners, Daystar is kicked out of the house by his mother, Cimorene, and told to figure out what he’s supposed to do. But when it comes to the secrets of the Enchanted Forest, discovering your destiny isn’t always easy.

TitleTalking To Dragons 
AuthorPatricia Wrede 
SeriesEnchanted Forest Chronicles 
Publish Date: September 1, 1993
Publishers: Houghton Milton Harcourt
GenreMG/YA High Fantasy 
Publisher’s Description: Always be polite to dragons! That’s what Daystar’s mother taught him…and it’s a very wise lesson–one that might just help him after his mom hands him a magic sword and kicks him out of the house! Especially because his house sits on the edge of the Enchanted Forest and his mother is Queen Cimorene.

But the tricky part is figuring out what he’s supposed to do with the magic sword. Where is he supposed to go? And why does everyone he meets seem to know who he is?

It’s going to take a particularly hotheaded fire-witch, a very verbose lizard, and a badly behaved baby dragon to help him figure it all out.

And those good manners certainly won’t hurt!


Kat Mandu says…

Although this book was written by the author first, it’s actually the last in the series and takes place quite a few years after the events of the first three books. Daystar, the son of Cimorene, has no idea that it’s his duty to rescue his missing/sleeping father, Mendenbar, and all the while stopping the wizards forever. But first he’s gotta navigate through the Enchanted Forest.

Along the way he meets a very feisty fire-witch named Shiara, a couple elves, Antorell, and the old gang – Morwen, Telemain, Kazul, and of course, his own father. I find it’s interesting that his magic works a little differently than Mendenbar’s, but has similar effects, as it’s very good at getting him out of trouble.

This story has a lot of dialogue and kind of drags in certain spots where everyone is just arguing or plotting, but the plot is a lot more engaging and makes up for it. I’m very fond of the way the author kind of makes this a stand-alone novel, so that readers don’t have to read the first three to understand the story. Though, if you had read the first three, you’d probably know exactly what was going on and wouldn’t have to wait.

When I first read this series back in grade school, I actually read this one first and loved it, so I read the whole series backwards. It gave me a very different read and one I enjoyed. Now that I’ve read it in its chronological order, I realize that I probably missed quite a few details going backwards. 

Regardless, no matter how you read it, this is a great series for kids and adults. If you like some reimagined fairy tales, magic, and adventure, you’d love the Enchanted Forest chronicles. I know I enjoyed rereading it.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

If you like dragons, magic, and adventure, you might try Susan Fletcher, Tamora Pierce, or Diane Duane.