A couple of months ago I bought Shadow and Bone, the first of the Grisha books by Leigh Bardugo. I opened it, saw a character list, and put it down again. I was absolutely not in the mood for anything even vaguely epic. A couple of weeks ago, after gorging myself on lots of fairytales and urban fantasy, I picked up Shadow and Bone again and read it in a day (well, honestly, it might have been two days — but it was fast). It’s that sort of book. I loved the Russian flavour to the novel without anything being overdone or heavy-handed. I also really liked the world, and the relationships.
The girl being brought into a world she had nothing to do with reminded me a little of Eon by Alison Goodman, another book I enjoyed very much.
Right off the back of Shadow and Bone, I started reading The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, which has to be — along with The Exiled Queen and The Grey Wolf Throne – one of my favourite ever stories. I love those characters and their relationships so much I dreamed them (which doesn’t happen often now I have other things to dream about, like my seven year old’s homework and the theme from Scooby Doo). So that was me started on one series, having thought I was sick of series.
The Seven Kingdoms is so readable and involving (and I say this without having read The Crimson Crown, despite a certain amount of hoop-jumping to get it) partly because of the characters. I rarely dislike a character — if there’s someone I’m supposed to identify with, pretty much I do. However, the characters in The Seven Kingdoms are wonderful. They are sympathetic and clever and fully-drawn. They have flaws but the flaws are not what defines them, and I really loved them completely.
To fill in the time between finishing The Demon King and getting The Exiled Queen, I read Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which I’d had on my Good Reads list for a little while but for some reason (probably partly the brief anti-traditional fantasy allergy) I hadn’t got yet. Anyway, it was completely fabulous as well, and I have been living in my own little world of fantasy with these two series, bouncing back and forth as I wait for the next book to arrive.
I have only good things to say, and the main thing is: read them for yourself!
Right now I am waiting for Quintana of Charyn and The Crimson Crown to arrive from Abe books. I feel kind of sad buying second hand since I know that means money doesn’t go to the authors, but everywhere in the UK is out of stock of The Crimson Crown and they don’t know when it will be in again, and Quintana isn’t released in the UK until the summer. So buying the books from the States and getting them sent over works out significantly faster and cheaper than buying them here. Which feels kind of illogical.
I know that bundling is something vaguely discussed these days as a possible future for books — so that when you buy a story on Amazon, for example, you also get the e-book. They’re doing it now with music and I cannot say how much I love it. I know it’s obvious, but if I had got the e-book as soon as I ordered The Crimson Crown, I would have been happy to wait the four weeks or whatever it’s going to be until the physical book arrives.