Cover Reveal: Ashley Nixon’s CANNON

I’m excited to unveil the third and final cover in my CUTLASS TRILOGY.

 If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first two books in my Trilogy, here they are:

CUTLASS

Cutlass AmazonNotorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

AMAZON


FLINTLOCK

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Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake.

Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.

When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

AMAZON

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Last but not least, if you haven’t read CUTLASS or FLINTLOCK, please to not read the blurb for CANNON.

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CannonPoster-2

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Blurb:


The king is dead, the Network is destroyed, and Barren Reed has been exiled by the Elders of Silver Crest. To make matters worse, the black spot–a curse of dark magic–continues to devour him. It’s true purpose is still unknown, but one thing is certain: It will corrupt Barren in the worst way.

With her greatest secret revealed, Larkin Lee flees Maris. Accused of slaying the king, there’s only one place to go–Silver Crest. But Barren isn’t happy to see her, and their reunion leaves more questions unanswered, including whether they have a future together.

As Datherious rises in power, Barren and Larkin must work together to find the fifth Relic to complete the King’s Gold and prevent Datherious from obtaining control over dark magic, but the black spot has other ideas, and the closer they get to finding the final Relic, the more corrupt Barren becomes. Larkin finds herself in a head to head battle with the only man she’s ever loved and the reality is harsh–only one can walk away alive.

ADD ON GOODREADS!

Alight, that’s all done!

Let me know what you think!


AshleyNixonAuthorPhoto

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. When she’s not writing (haha, like that EVER happens!), she’s probably working out or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go. Type your paragraph here.

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL: Ashley’s Review

clockwork angel

Title: CLOCKWORK ANGEL

Author: CASSANDRA CLARE

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 512

Synopsis: Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Review:

I have read THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS SERIES (just the first three), and I have to say that I liked THE INFERNAL DEVICES more. I’m not sure why–maybe because it didn’t feel like urban fantasy, not that I dislike urban fantasy, but there was just a magic to this world I really enjoyed.

First, I’ll discuss Tessa. I liked Tessa alright, but I also wanted her to be more…modern for her time. She restricted herself to the social constructs of the period even when her circumstances were clearly extra-ordinary. I just wanted a little less ‘well, women aren’t supposed to do that.’ Other than that, I really liked Tessa. Any book-loving individual could relate to her.

Now, Will Herondale was just like Jace in my opinion and maybe *spoiler alert* you could argue that it’s because they’re related, but I don’t really think that’s fair. Will and Jace are the same person, they just have different accents (unless you’re using Jace from the movie). Anyways, I still liked Will even if he was a jerk. I always want to hate the jerks who can’t figure out what they want, but Will is a wounded kid. There’s *something* dark about him, and he’s really trying to hide his true self. You can call it cliche, but I still love it.

Then there’s Jem. Oh, Jem. You’re so sweet and beautiful and you’re so kind. I can sense a love triangle forming, and Tessa’s not the only one in the middle of it. Jem is dying and it’s really sad. He’s truly the only person Will cares for, and he’s very nice to Tessa. Tessa should love Jem, but I don’t really want her to love him…

I loved Charlotte. I felt like she was a very strong female character. Jessamine got on my nervous but she was supposed to, and Henry was very fun and whimsical.

The plot of the story was good–I enjoyed trying to figure out what Tessa was, and I liked the idea of the clockwork army that was neither of heaven or hell. That was another thing that I enjoyed about this book–I didn’t feel overpowered by the whole good and evil bit, or the angel and demon. None of them, the shadowhunters or downworlders were inherently good or evil, and the war bubbling between them was very much rooted in truth. The downworlders felt oppressed under the shadowhunters, but the downworlders were going against the accords.

I’m definitely ready to read CLOCKWORK PRINCE.

4 stars

4star

 

Nicole’s Review: THE WAY OF SHADOWS

Since the fourth book in Brent Weeks’ LIGHTBRINGER series is inching closer and closer to its planned 2016 release date, I thought it’d be fun to turn back the clock and share my review for the very first Brent Weeks book I read–the first in his Night Angel trilogy, THE WAY OF SHADOWS.

Way of ShadowsTitle: THE WAY OF SHADOWS

Author: Brent Weeks

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Grimdark fantasy

Pages: 645

Synopsis: For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

Review:

This book was flat out amazing! It tells the story of Azoth, a young street rat who sees his chance to get out by apprenticing himself to reknowned assassin (aka wetboy) Durzo Blint. Through his training, Azoth becomes Kylar Stern, a low-ranking aristocrat with new friends in high places…and the skills to kill. One problem – wetboys don’t have friends.

THE WAY OF SHADOWS is gritty, it’s action-packed (be prepared to read the last 200 pages in one sitting!), and it has twists that even I couldn’t see coming. Not many books can keep me guessing, but this one did. You know those moments when you’re reading a chapter and you realize you’re physically sitting up straighter because the story has just punched you in the gut? Well, you get a lot of those in this book.

I’m a character girl, no question, and THE WAY OF SHADOWS has one of the most fascinating characters mixes I’ve ever read. I fell in love with Azoth from the very first sentence.

These are real, flawed, hurting, wonderful people. There is a depth here that stole my breath several times. From Kylar and Durzo, all the way down to the secondary characters. There are only a handful of authors who can make me forever remember a secondary character who gets only one scene. Brent Weeks does it! He also comes up with one of the most awesomely horrible bad guys ever. I loved hating this guy!

One of the things I really enjoyed was the way Weeks writes from the periphery. Even at their best, Kylar and Durzo are, for the most part, in the shadows of the kingdom. They’re not in a position to make big bold moves. We never really see things from the POV of those in power, but we know them and love or hate them based on Kylar and Durzo’s reactions.

Weeks also writes so that the reader eventually pieces together all the details…but the characters never do. It created such a cool dynamic!

When I originally read this, it was the best book I’d read that year, and it remains near the top of my all time list. Brent Weeks is a master, and this is one of those rides that leaves you breathless and thinking “Holy crap, I wish I could write like that!”

Five stars.

5star

Find this book on Amazon.

Ashley’s Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

tuomdTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

Pages: 480

Synopsis: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.

Review:

I asked my co-worker to recommend a book that had supernatural elements, featured a girl in High School, and a romance. She suggested THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.

I fell in love.

THIS BOOK. I don’t even know where to start. I’ll just begin with Mara.

After Mara wakes up in the hospital, she learners her best friend, Rachel, her ex-boyfriend, Jude and another girl named Claire were killed when a building collapsed. Mara doesn’t initially remember what happens, but she’s haunted by visions and terrible nightmares. After the incident, she and her family move to Florida where she starts at a new school. There, Mara struggles with PTSD. She also meets the infamous Noah Shaw.

My co-worker gave this comparison of Noah Shaw: He’s Spike from Buffy. He’s even British. There are stereotypes of the male love interest in YA: Noah is a bad boy, he’s rich beyond belief, has an absent parent/parents, BUT, no matter Mara’s crazy (or what she believes is crazy) he sticks with her. He’s how she breaks the surface after drowning (nice cover reference, huh). They’re a beautiful and tragic couple and I love them.

I have to say that I also admired Mara’s brothers. They were hilarious, they were also supportive of Mara…almost in an I-can’t-believe-you’re-sibligins kind of way. Meaning, they NEVER fought. I don’t think Mara could take much fighting. She already didn’t get along with her physiologist mother, fighting with anyone else in her family would have broken her.

Now, let’s discuss plot. We are working with an unreliable narrator which means I never knew if Mara was telling the truth or not, and just when I thought I knew exactly what was happening, I didn’t. You still won’t see the ending coming, even if you’ve believed it at some point while reading the book.

I loved the subtle splash of supernatural in this book, I loved Noah Shaw, and I loved Mara Dyer. On to read the rest! 5 stars!

5star

Friday Fandom: The Musketeers

The MusketeersA few months ago, my cousin sent me this pic of a DVD cover she’d found while browsing Barnes & Noble. We immediately agreed it was a show we MUST watch! So, I thought it’d be fun to bring her in on the commentary for this week’s Fandom for The Musketeers. Welcome Katie!

Though The Musketeers isn’t technically fantasy, it DOES have exceptional worldbuilding, character depth and caliber of writing/production so we’re saying it TOTALLY qualifies for a fandom spot.

Here we go!

 

The story

For me, the musketeers is a theme I’ve always been drawn to since childhood – like King Arthur and the roundtable, or Robin Hood and his merry band. It’s a great assortment of adventure, romance and chivalry with a side of bromance, so I was excited to see how BBC would freshen it.

Katie: It is an incredibly solid show. Everything fits together. Everyone’s vision is so clear, the directors, the writers, the costumer. And everyone’s individual visions have all come together to create this incredibly authentic, believable and amazing world. Everything down to the very last detail fits together seamlessly and never leaves you wondering about a certain plot hole or anything.

The characters

Katie: The characters themselves are incredible. They are well written, excellently portrayed and incredibly believable. And the best part is, they’re human. Each of them have incredible strengths and yet they’re not constantly achieving everything they set out to do. Even the “bad guys” have redeeming qualities and the “good guys” have flaws. The Musketeers are yes, the heroes and the savers of the day, but not without group and personal consequences. They get hurt, emotionally and physically. Their actions take a toll on them. This show does an excellent job of keeping our heroes grounded.

  • d’Artagnan – The kid of the group! He waltzes into the Musketeer camp looking for revenge with no idea what larger scheming he’s just stumbled into. The show does a wonderful job of showing his loyalty, his coming of age, and his admiration of the Musketeers. Plus, Luke Pasqualino’s facial expressions are to die for!
  • Athos – From the very first head-in-bucket moment, we loved his character! He’s loyal to the core, but oh so tortured and brooding. His history with Milady is cast perfectly in this adaptation. I also really like him as a somewhat reluctant mentor figure for d’Artagnan. His dry wit is hilarious. In fact, the repartee among all the characters is second to none. And the acting–for the love of Alexandre Dumas–the acing is excellent!
  • Porthos – We love Porthos (Well, as you can see, we love them all!). He’s the most swashbuckling of the gang and, though he works his strong London accent in 17th century France, BOY DOES IT WORK! He gets some great one-liners, cool battle sequences, and a heart of gold. Plus, a surprisingly complex backstory.
  • Aramis – It says a LOT that he pulls off the chivalrous lover archetype without it ever feeling like a stereotype. He’s passionate about his country, his brothers in arms, his rifle … and other things too. Like ladies. And his queen. But the show brilliantly anchors him with a couple of fantastic twists that bring his “lover” consequences home to roost. He’s got a huge heart and a strong faith. When you think chivalry, you think Aramis.
  • Cardinal Richelieu – At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the far more understated take on this character vs. Tim Curry’s gleefully exuberant villainy in the Disney version. But it works fantastically! The cardinal’s tension between wanting power and wanting to empower his country at all costs is fascinating to watch.
  • Rochefort – In the running for one of the creepiest villains ever, yet so elegantly conniving you can’t help being mesmerized.
  • King & Queen – It sounds simple, but these actors are exceptional in their roles. Even you’re yelling at their actions, it’s a delight to watch because they utterly transport you to that period.
  • Constance – A badass in training and, somewhat contradictorily, the main source of steadiness for d’Artagnan and the others. One thing I didn’t like as much about the Disney version was its mild approach to Constance. She gets her wings in BBC’s adaptation (And guns! And disguises!). The show does a good job balancing her quiet, sometimes feisty strength with the jaded badassdom of Milady De Winter.
  • Milady – One of the best female assassin characters ever written, she shines in nearly every episode. The love/hate tension between her and Athos is breathtaking to watch. Milady knows her way around multiple weapons, is beyond clever, and gets THE BEST period costumes!
  • Treville – He’s the loyal captain of the Musketeers and everything you’d want in a leader while remaining fallibly and endearingly human. He breaks out a few badass moments himself and, every time the king doubts the Musketeers, Treville takes the brunt of it. By the end of the first season, you’re ready to have his back as quickly as Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d’Artagnan!

Katie: The actors blow my mind. As someone trying to be an actor, I would be honored just to be a cup bearer in this show!

The four men playing the Musketeers work seamlessly as a unit and yet do this great job of bringing forth their own personalities. And yes, you can stereotype them if you’d like. “Porthos is the big cuddly bear/funny guy.” “Athos is the brooding, intellect.” “Aramis is the romantic artist.” “D’Artagnan is the newbie with honor, fighting for a place in the ranks, and has a bit of that young lover vibe as well.” But you’re never slapped in the face with these stereotypes.

They have me completely invested in every one of their stories. I am genuinely concerned about the outcome of these characters, probably to an unhealthy point. Haha! Even when you dislike a character, you appreciate the actor so much, you can’t quite fully hate them. It’s beautiful. In this world we don’t have just good guys and bad guys. Everyone has a bit of both in them and a TV show that addresses that and shows us that in its characters gets big points in my book.

The world

I love it when a show takes the time to get small details right, and The Musketeers nails it!! From period details and recreated streets to the myriad of Musketeer weapons, viewers get some really cool elements.

Katie: The costumes are actually time period and accurate (Sorry Reign.) They address issues of society, mainly rich vs poor and the role of women, but they also note that there were people who rebelled against it and got away with it. Without going too much into it, these women are strong. Super strong. Equally as strong as the men. But like the men, have their own flaws as well, mainly the way society portrays them. The locations where they shoot the show are beautiful. The dialogue is poetic and believable. Everything. Just everything about this show is spot on. 

You can tell the entire cast has put in their training, and it pays off beautifully. And BE SURE to watch the DVD extras for behind-the-scenes footage of how it’s all created. Amazing! Sign us up for prep school please!

The weapons

Katie and I are particular fans of their handy back daggers…and the swords…and Aramis’ rifle…this could go on a while. The show’s choreographers are among the best we’ve seen, and several scenes involve sequences using multiple individual weapons in succession. It never feels staged, forced or overdone.

Katie: It’s entertaining. It makes you think. It shows us history while paralleling life today. It has strong characters, both male and female. It has great baddies you love to hate. It has romance, comedy, enough twists to keep you guessing. And well, let’s just say it once so we can get it over with…it has an incredibly attractive cast.

As you can probably tell, we could talk ALL DAY about how much we love this show. But why read our praise when you could be watching it for yourselves? Go! The Musketeers await!

Nicole’s Review: PROMISE OF BLOOD & THE POWDER MAGE TRILOGY

Is this not the most gorgeous cover ever? I LOVE the excerpt lines on all three of the trilogy's covers. Brilliant!

Is this not the most gorgeous cover ever? I LOVE the excerpt lines on all three of the trilogy’s covers. Brilliant!

Title: Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, The Autumn Republic

Author: Brian McClellan

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 608

Synopsis: It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king…
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

It’s up to a few…
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved…
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed PROMISE OF BLOOD and the entire Powder Mage Trilogy! Brian McClellan pairs highly compelling characters with a gritty setting that seems an alt mix of the French and American Revolutions era. It’s one heck of a fun read!

While each of the POV characters is well written and engaging, it’s Tamas and Taniel (individually and in their dicey father-son dynamic) that kept pulling me on. They’re very different and intriguing each in his own way.

Taniel is young, already a frontier war hero, but a little anchorless and hot-headed. It’s a fun combination to read, especially when McClellan pairs him with a feisty mute frontier mage named Ka-Poel. Their chemistry is delightful, all the more so because it’s unspoken.

Tamas is the brilliant veteran Field Marshal who simultaneously rallies the country and seeks revenge for his murdered wife. He’s borderline arrogant, carries of a burden of responsibility that makes Atlas look like a lazy child, and somehow always seems to find the solution. He’s one of those leaders who does what needs doing no matter the cost and, even when I didn’t like or agree with him, I still admired him and wanted others to follow. I LOVE seeing characters like this done well!

McClellan also does an excellent job blending his magic system with the technology and weapons of the time–guns and guillotines, not the chivalrous longswords of traditional fantasy. Instead, soldiers known as powder mages can internalize gunpowder themselves and manipulate its effects in battle in a range of skills that unfold into incredible fight sequences. They’re just plain cool!

The world of PROMISE OF BLOOD includes a few other “magics” as well. Privileged are those who can touch an essence of magic known as the Else. They fill the role most familiar from other fantasy series, where characters can “tap into” the magic and wield it at will. Part of what I loved about the Powder Mage trilogy, however, was these traditionally high-power mages weren’t front and center. They’re side characters–important, to be sure–but they take a back seat to the far more fascinating military prowess of the Powder Mages.

I also enjoyed the “Knacked” class of magic users in the trilogy. These are everyday folks who happen to be very gifted in one specific area (i.e. having a knack). Not needing sleep. Having a perfect memory. McClellan takes full advantage of the Knackeds’ abilities, and it’s brilliant! Olem, Tamas’ right hand man who requires no sleep, is one of my favorite characters.

The presence of Knacks left me wondering why we fantasy authors have overlooked this simple trick in the past.

If I had one nit-pick it’s that I wanted a little more creativity in the naming of places and landmarks. Everything (and I mean everything) stems from the country’s name of Adro – the capital city of Adopest, the Adsea, the Addown River, etc.

But, beyond that niggle, McClellan’s world is beautifully and deeply crafted, anchored in detail. It has to be since so much of the stakes revolve around saving the nation of Adro. McClellan adds multiple high fantasy layers, with warring gods and prophecies, but at its heart, the Powder Mage trilogy is about soldiers’ love for their country and the lengths to which they’ll go to keep it free and alive.

And I absolutely loved it!!

5star

Five stars.

Find this book on Amazon

 

The SEVEN REALMS SERIES: Ashley’s Review

thedemonkingTitle: The Seven Realms Series (4 books)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 2272

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.

***

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling exilequeenat Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

***

graywolfthroneHan Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

***

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and thecrimsoncrownHanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

 

Review

THE SEVEN REALMS SERIES is probably one of my favorite series. Did it take me a long time to read? Yes. Why? Well, THE DEMON KING started off slow. I mean, I’m pretty sure it took me about eight months to finish it. That said, something kept me going. I really wanted to know what those silver cuffs were on Han’s wrists. I wanted to know how in the world Han and Raisa were going to work out. I definitely didn’t want Rasia with Micha Bayar because no. By the time I got halfway through the book, there was no putting it down. Onto THE EXILE QUEEN—this was a much faster read. I wanted to shake Han for his rash behavior, but I loved that he was loyal to Rebecca a.k.a. Raisa. I did feel like their relationship was a little insta-love, but Han and Raisa just work so well together I didn’t really mind. The only part of THE EXILE QUEEN that made me mad was how easily Raisa agreed to go with Micah toward the end. Maybe it’s because I hate Micah *shrugs*.

THE GREY WOLF THRONE may easily be my favorite book. It’s different from THE DEMON KING and THE EXILE QUEEN in many ways. The setting feels different, the tone feels different—more determined and melancholy. There is a distancing between Han and Raisa that hurts my heart, but Raisa wants to be queen and she wants to do a good job. Han is empowered as well, and I felt like I really saw him become the leader and the street lord in this book. I saw Han for what Han really was—someone who was tortured, someone who really understood that gritty part of the world that we like to ignore. I liked when Raisa was back in the castle, and seeing her go up against these older men who clearly thought they’d have the upper hand. I also liked seeing how they tried to defy her—even try and kill her—yet she still persevered. I felt like THE EXILE QUEEN was definitely Raisa’s time to shine.

THE CRIMSON CROWN had me on edge the entire time. I loved Han’s determination to marry Raisa because he loved her and for no other reason. He was still pretty reckless, but the way he took on the Wizard Council showed all of his strengths and weaknesses. I was irritated with Han for not sitting down with Raisa to have a conversation about all the double crossing he was doing—then again, if he had, there’d have been no drama, and isn’t that why we read books?! Raisa was also very forgiving. Part of me found this strange, as I felt she should have been a little more angry with Han. Part of me also realized that this just showed how much Raisa truly trusted Han, and that was really endearing. This was completely Han’s book, and if anything demonstrated how Han and Raisa were destined for each other in a way that wasn’t annoying.

I love coming to the end of a series and reflecting on how the characters have changed throughout their journey. My initial impressions of Han were that he was hardworking, determined, and really wanted to be good, but the claws of his street life still had a hold on him. He’s also an outcast and doesn’t really seem to fit in in Maris Pines or in his own home. By the end of the series, he’s made a place for himself, won the person he loves most in the world, and has proven he’s a strong leader.

I loved it.

5star