Showing posts with label robert v.s. redick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robert v.s. redick. Show all posts

Monday, June 28, 2021

Review: Sidewinders (The Fire Sacraments #2) by Robert V.S. Redick


Sidewinders (The Fire Sacraments #2) by Robert V.S. Redick
Publication Date: July 6th, 2021
Hardcover. 672 pages.
About Sidewinders:

"The worst of rivals, the closest of friends, the two most wanted men in a war-torn world: Kandri and Mektu Hinjuman have cheated death so often it’s begun to feel like a way of life. But nothing has prepared them for the danger and enchantment of the Ravenous Lands. This sprawling, lethal desert is the brothers’ last hope, for they have killed the favorite son of Her Radiance the Prophet, and her death-priests and magical servants are hunting them day and night.
But there are dangers even within their caravan. Some of their fellow travelers worship the Prophet in secret. Others, including Mektu, have become obsessed with a bejeweled dagger that seems to afflict its owners with madness or death.
At stake is far more than the lives of two runaway soldiers. Kandri is carrying an encoded cure for the World Plague, a disease that has raged for centuries—while far from the desert, certain criminals have learned just how lucrative a plague can be. Are they using the Prophet, or being used by her? Who, in this game of shadows, can Kandri trust?"

I read Master Assassins, the first book in the Fire Sacraments trilogy, as an eARC from NetGalley back in 2018 and I immediately fell in love with Redick’s prose, characters, setting–pretty much everything about that book. It has remained one of my favorite books and I’d been counting down the days until we got the sequel, Sidewinders, ever since I put it down. I didn’t mind that wait at all because the end result was even better than I could have imagined. As a quick note, this review will not contain spoilers for Sidewinders, and I will do my best to stay away from major spoilers from Master Assassins, but since this is a review for the sequel, there will probably be minor spoilers for Master Assassins.

Sidewinders picks up pretty much right where we left in Master Assassins with our two beloved brothers making their way through the death-filled desert of Urrath on their journey to Kasralys to deliver a potentially world-altering document. Of course, this trip is nearly constantly beset by hordes of various entities wanting to kill them and it takes a level of determination and bravery (or perhaps simply desperation, if we're being honest) that I can hardly fathom for them to continue on with their journey.

The Fire Sacraments trilogy has plot bursting from its seems, as well as plenty of action and world-building to accompany, but it remains an incredibly character driven story. All of the characters shine so much in their own unique ways and it’s the smallest mannerisms and behavioral traits that really bring them to life. These characters are all very flawed as well, and I love that Redick really seems to call attention to that. For instance, the men are rather problematic at times in how they treat women, something that Redick has discussed before, and within the story those actions are challenged, especially actions that have been ingrained as firm notions in their heads regarding many of their previously held perceptions and ideas. Redick also works with these ideas in regards to how characters interact with those different from themselves and the world around them.

We once again follow a main POV from Kandri, and he remains a character that I find endlessly compelling. Kandri is the more stable of the two brothers and is technically the one I’d consider more logical and, well, not so crazy (although that could definitely be up for debate at more than a few moments). He is relatable in ways both positive and negative, the former because we can see where his struggles and motivations come from and are able to understand those, but also bad because of some less positive actions he undertakes or ways in which he treats his brother at times, and I think those are some darker elements we can all see in ourselves when we are feeling desperate and at our wit’s end. The way Redick conveys Kandri's emotion was so visceral, as well–I could feel his exasperation with his brother, Mektu, his deep, raw, unexplainable terror at the sheer thought and sight of the white child following him, and I could feel his sense of complete and utter despair at what to do at times and knowing that his options for survival were so limited and brutal.

Then there’s Mektu, who remains the same enigmatic, annoying, and frustratingly compelling figure that he was in Master Assassins. He is, at times, reprehensible, repugnant, bull-(and thick-)headed, always saying the exact wrong things.. but there’s also something about him that invokes a sense of.. compassion, perhaps? There are times when I want to reach through these pages and strangle him, but there are also times when he does something insanely genius and I want to hug him or regard him with a bit more respect than I previously did (before he does something stupid to make me regret that feeling). I am not sure exactly where or how Redick is going to conclude Mektu’s story or in what capacity it will take place, but I am helplessly invested in it and can’t wait to find out.

In addition to Kandri and Mektu, we are joined by a stunning cast of characters that add so much flavor and depth to this world. There’s Chindilan, my favorite uncle, Eshett, Talupeke, the elusive memory of Ariquina, and a ton of new characters that we meet as Kandri and Mektu join a new caravan to get through the desert, which is also often joined or interrupted by a variety of new and interesting characters. And because we have so many different groups interacting with the caravan and elsewhere, we get interesting dynamics across the characters and groups. Some may hate each other and want to kill each other, some hate and tolerate, some don’t care at all, etc., but the common thread is that everyone is simply unfailingly human–that, and the ever-present feeling that you can’t really trust anyone in this book to do what you might expect.

Outside of the characters, this book also opens up the world in a large way, one of which being an introduction to new POV characters, one featuring someone in Kasralys itself, preparing for an imminent invasion of the city. The second POV is from a retired general who is the one preparing to invade Kasralys. I loved these two new perspectives for a variety of reasons, the largest one being that it opened the world and allowed us to catch a glimpse of what life is like for those outside of Kandri and Mektu’s experiences. The other reason I appreciated these two character POVs in particular is because it allowed us to see both sides of a brewing conflict and understand what exactly may be happening and why, and also to make us feel more unsure about how to feel about everything. I loved the way that Redick incorporated these two new perspectives so seamlessly, as I felt a little unsure at first about being dragged away from Kandri’s narrative, but soon found myself enjoying these new chapters and the insights and expanded world-building that they brought.

Redick maintains the use of a very literary fantasy style, which, outside of the plot, characters, etc., is what I find the most captivating thing about these books. The writing is beautiful and effortless, providing plenty of description and narrative about what’s happening, but also withholding just enough so as not to overwhelm and to set up a framework that allows for the reader to make their own thoughts and explore the world and story in their own way. Redick utilizes plenty of classic tropes, but in such a way that I almost don’t recognize them at first or where they're played with in such a unique way that they are fresh and exciting.

He also employs plenty of dry humor and irony, both of which are things that I think have really cemented my personal ties to this book; when things are horrible and times are difficult, it’s sometimes the most morbid thoughts or words that bring this weird relief int he sense that this is still our life and we are in this together, even though we may have gut-churning anxiety or dread at what is happening around us and what may be to come. Does that make sense? Similarly, some of the things that Mektu does are absolutely absurd and truly not at all funny...but they still sometimes act as this sort of weird comic relief in a comic horror sense where all the characters know he’s awful, but they (and us readers!) can connect over that and just think, “ah, yes, that’s Mektu for you,” and continue on.

Much of Sidewinders continues the seemingly endless desert travel as in Master Assassins, but if you think traveling in a desert sounds boring, trust me when I say that there’s plenty of action going on in this desert to keep you busy. Desert settings are some of my favorite, so I appreciated that we got to spend more time on this journey, especially since we got to see so many more new lands and people to continue expanding the world. I think one of my favorite components of a kind is how the desert and the caravan act as two singular forces, where the desert is the overarching enemy that everyone must battle and make it through, regardless of their means or motivation, and the caravan itself carries many people from different walks of life that don’t always share the same viewpoints or motivations, which naturally leads to distrust, discord, and a lot of unpredictable actions. 

This desert is honestly just like a huge sandbox of horror with horrifying creatures and hostile enemies that seem to be waiting for our characters at every corner. I find myself constantly struggling to see how the characters will navigate some of the most dangerous or terrifying obstacles and horrible things that come across them, but Redick writes and plots in such a masterful way that I don’t know why I ever worry or try to figure things out myself. The twists are endless, but done so in a way that feels purposeful for the plot and not just included for some shock value, and I really love being able to read a book and genuinely be unsure about what’s next–there’s just something really exciting and comforting and terrifying about that, and I love it. 

The war themes that I mentioned being present in Master Assassins are also present in this book, as well as so many more. I think Sidewinders really added to the established themes and focused in on ideas of sanity and insanity and mental health in some forms, such as being unsure if you can really trust your own mind or the minds of others, and this fit so well with the general theme and nature of this book. 

As I've mentioned, the world and plot of the Fire Sacraments trilogy continues to expand in Sidewinders in momentous ways that I could never have predicted. You might think you might have an idea of what the plot is or where it’s going, but no, trust me: you don’t. There’s always more to this world and these characters, as well as side journeys and obstacle that pop up and change the course in irreversible ways. You will want to speed through this and keep turning the pages, but this book is full of so much nuance and careful writing that you can’t really speed through it; it requires thought and a need to savor the story and prose. But rest assured, this is not a hard book to read and you’ll finish it before you know it (and then be sad that it’s over).

Overall, I probably don't need to say this, but I've given Sidewinders a well-deserved 5+++ stars. I cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy, but I am also sad to think that it will be over so I'll sit and wait patiently for as long as needed because I know that it will be an incredible ending. I already want to re-read Sidewinders so I can soak everything up more.

 *I received a copy of Sidewinders courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* 

Buy the book: Amazon | IndieBound

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Friday Face-Face: Horizon

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
Horizon – “Your “beautiful” ship killed its crew, Doctor.”

Horizon was a fun topic to try to track down and I ended up deciding on The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick because I think the U.S. edition that I read has a fantastic example of an ocean-based horizon. The rest of these covers vary a decent bit, but I love the theme that inhabits all of them! There weren't a lot of different covers to showcase, but I still think it's a good variety.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy (Chathrand Voyages, #1)The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage, #1)The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage #1)
2009 US Hardcover | 2008 UK Hardcover | 2010 US Mass Market

La Conspiration du loup rouge (The Chathrand Voyage, #1)Spiknutí Ryšavého vlkaThe Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage, #1)
2009 French | 2010 Czech | 2009 Audiobook

My choice(s):
The Red Wolf Conspiracy (Chathrand Voyages, #1)The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage, #1)
I'm more drawn to the UK Hardcover on the right, but I do think the US one reflects the slightly more adventurous spirit of the story and the inclusion of the sword makes it more fun. But I seriously still love the blues and the ships in the UK one!

What cover(s) do you like the most!?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New-To-Me Authors That I'd Like to Continue Reading!

This week's Tell Me Something Tuesday prompt is: Debut authors/ New to me authors. What books have you read lately by new authors that you want to read more from? I've decided to continue a similar post I've done and feature some authors that I read for the first time so far in 2018 that I want to read more from. Keep in mind, I'm only including authors that already have other work out that I actively want to read, so any  new debut authors that I've read this year and loved (which there have been a lot!) won't be included--I'll be making new posts for those at a later date.

J.V. Jones
What I read: A Cavern of Black Ice (review)
What I would like to read next: A Fortress of Grey Ice & The Baker's Boy
Amazon | Book Depository
Amazon | Book Depository

Jonathan French
What I read: The Grey Bastards (review coming soon)
What I would like to read next: The Exiled Heir
Amazon | Book Depository

I was so impressed by The Grey Bastards that now I would really like to check out more of French's writing, even if it is pretty different.

Robert V.S. Redick
What I read: Master Assassins (review)
What I would like to read next: The Red Wolf Conspiracy
Amazon | Book Depository

Claire Legrand
What I read: Furyborn (review)
What I would like to read next: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Amazon | Book Depository

Robert Dinsdale
What I read: The Toymakers (review)
What I would like to read next: Gingerbread & Little Exiles
Amazon | Book Depository
Amazon | Book Depository

Colleen Oakes
What I read: Queen of Hearts
What I would like to read next: Blood of Wonderland Wendy Darling

Have you read any books by these authors? What authors have you recently discover that you'd like to read more of? Let me know!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday Double Feature: Tell Me Something Tuesday & First Chapter Tuesday

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week's topic: Are you more inclined/ less inclined to read books that are compared to other popular books or authors?

 To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if this sort of description affects me too much one way or the other. Unless a book's description is just extremely annoying or rubs me the wrong way, then I'm pretty likely to just ignore the comparisons and read the book anyway. Comparisons might occasionally make me interested in a title, but they don't generally turn me off from a book (usually because a majority of the time the comparison is off).

I definitely get annoyed by certain book/author comparisons, namely Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, etc. comparisons. Not everything is 'like Harry Potter for adults' or 'Game of Thrones meets [insert random book/movie here]'. How about we just don't do that? If an author was specifically inspired by a certain book or author that has a big franchise, then I'm totally fine with something akin to 'inspired by [whatever book] here,' but I don't think they should actively compare the book for no real reason. I know it's all about marketing and the average buyer is more likely to pick up a book that markets itself as similar to Harry Potter, but I wish we could stop doing that because if all the books that claimed to be like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones actually were, we'd have very little variety.

The most recent example of a time when book/movie comparisons ended up both intriguing me and thenn disappointing me was with Jay Kristoff's latest release, LIFEL1K3. One of LIFEL1K3's main advertising sell is: "It's Romeo & Juliet meets Mad Max meets X-men with a little bit of Bladerunner cheering from the sidelines." Now, I don't hate this. I think it's fun and it did make me pretty intrigued by this book, but it also sort of gave me too  many expectations. It almost spoiled the book in a sense by giving away so much about what it's like and what it's perhaps trying to be. It also really frustrated me because of how disappointed I was in the book because it felt so unoriginal (I'll expand on this in my review for LIFEL1K3, which should be up Thursday). This particular instance of comparing has both pros and cons and although I think it successfully piqued the interest of a lot of readers, it personally left me wanting and slightly annoyed. I will say that I prefer it to the generic Harry Potter type ones, but I still felt a bit disappointed by it.

Minor digression aside, my answer is that these comparisons do not influence me to read or not to read a book, but they will possible affect how I view the book and my enjoyment of it. If I'm expecting one thing going into a book and then I never find that specific thing, then I'm going to be confused and frustrated. What are your thoughts on this subject?

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach. This is meme in which bloggers share the first chapter of a book that they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Vicki's blog, or simply check it out to find more new books to read!

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick

"Chapter 1: Tarboy

1 Vaqrin (first day of summer (941)
It began, as every disaster in his life began, with a calm. The harbor and the village slept. The wind that had roared all night lay quelled by the headland; the bosun grew too sleepy to shout. But fort feet up the ratines, Pazel Pathkendle had never been more awake."
I read Robert V.S. Redick's neweest release Master Assassins earlier this year and completely loved it, so now I'm hoping to get started on some of his other works that I've yet to read. 

Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

"Chapter One: At the Funeral of John Bowie

Harrows, situated at the northernmost point of the Trail, savored its distance from the meat of the rabid road. It was easily the most affluent town in both counties; the homes of Harrows were larger, often constructed of stately stone, some with as many as ten bedrooms. The garden yards were as wide as the fabled Trail itself, some roofs as high as the willows. Even better: Harrows enjoyed more sunlight than the other towns, as the shadows cast by the arching of those willows concluded where the wheat fields began, just south of the border. Sunny and secluded, remote and rich, Harrows was a very desirable place to live. 

But that didn’t preclude its citizens from dying. 

John Bowie found this out the bad way."

I loved Malerman's Bird Box and I thought the premise of this book was really intriguing, so I was excited to jump into this one. 
Pre-Order: Amazon Book Depository

What do you think? Would you keep reading these books? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to turn off adblock to see it!)

*Excerpts are taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.