Book Review: The Graverobber’s Sword

A Dungeon’s and Dragons like adventure with a crude as it gets hero, a dutiful sword, and a lot of heart.

By Jessy Jordan. Get it on Amazon!

The Graverobber's Sword

ZEPHELOUS IS AN INSTRUMENT of destiny, an awakened sword passed from hero to hero to combat the ever-looming threat of chaos and darkness. That is, until its previous wielder met his untimely end without naming a successor. Now it lies in wait, clutched in the death-grip of a friend, waiting for a new hero…

KERA NO-CLAN DOESN’T BELIEVE in heroes, destiny, or sobriety. Spending most of her life running from her past, she has little aspirations beyond her next drink. She spends her waking hours robbing graves and pawning what she finds to fuel her hazy nights, with little consideration for tomorrow. Little did she know that one grave–one sword–would change her life, whether she wanted it or not.

She is now forced to face a destiny that she has been unknowingly hurtling towards, racing against time to face the consequences of her own actions while hating every second of it.

What I expected:

Going into Graverobber’s Sword, I was prepared for a sort of buddy tale shared between a sentient sword who digs destiny and greatness, and his new wielder who doesn’t.

This wasn’t it though.

What I got:

A Dungeon’s and Dragon’s like adventure campaign that occasionally goes off the rails.

While the book starts out as I’d expected and we’re focused very much on Kera and Zeph, it quickly takes a turn before they (or we) can get comfortable. Not saying Kera was anywhere near comfortable. Neither was Zeph. Because hoo-boy, Kera is a mess. And that mess meets Smith and his daughter and then we get to see just how much of a piece of work she really is.

Right about thereabouts, I almost put the book down. Kera’s distrust for others and her absolute disregard for anyone but herself came to a boil and really, really tested me. But then I didn’t — and I got to admit that I admire the author for getting that reaction out of me and convincing me to keep reading anyway.

After introducing us to Smith and his daughter and the disaster that follows, the book takes another turn and all of a sudden we’ve got a Quest and a band of reluctant campaigners on our hands. Each member of the group is unique, comes with their own baggage, and they spend the rest of the book unpacking said baggage in mostly very unfortunate circumstances.

By the time the book was over, I’d grown to care for all of them, with Will probably being my favourite. And then I realised there’s a sequel, so I guess I am gonna have to go and check that out.

Bit like you should check out this one.

Get it on Amazon!

Book Review: The Firemage’s Vengeance

This is the third book in the Academy Journals by Garrett Robinson. Get it here on Amazon. And the whole Academy Journals here.

Image result for the firemages vengeance

Hoo boy.

The third book following Ebon and his friends through their exciting (too exciting) life, doesn’t waste any time. It throws us right back into the thick of a conflict that runs so much deeper than personal vendettas.

Haunted by the choices they’ve had to make at the end of The Mindmage’s Wrath, Ebon, Theren, and Kalem are now more than ever in need of a big hug. Seriously. Mages they may be (mages in training, at least – except Theren, she’s scary good) but they’re young still anyway, and yet shoulder a world of secrets and pain.

Which doesn’t get any easier when the Academy is once again under attack, and they’re back to solving riddles and chasing a villain. They take personal responsibility really serious, even with their own heads on the line this time around.

Luckily, they’re not alone. And no, I don’t just mean Mako. Though, yes, Mako is there. Of course he’s there, and IreallywanttoknowmoreaboutMako,okay?

By now, our young heroes gathered a comforting supporting cast around them, from a lover turned rival turned ally, all the way to nobility. And it doesn’t matter how brief their appearances might be, they are all compelling characters that help complete a picture that comes together from a complex set of puzzle pieces.

I suppose that highlights one of the things I’ve truly enjoyed about this series: How everything has consequences and how Ebon’s life, his struggles, are all really just a small part of something much greater.

Firemage’s Vengeance feels like a pot that’s just been about to boil over and really mess up your stove, but then you get there just in time and prevent disaster at the last second. Sort of. Some spilled out and now there’s a stinky crust under the pot, but the worst of it got contained. And also you’ve now got this really delicious mystery food ready to eat later, even if you have to scrape the stove.

… okay, I don’t know where I was going with this comparison. Something about how the book allows for Ebon and his friends to thwart a villain, to save lives, and yet it sets the stage for much greater things to come, things way past the academy’s walls – and so much closer to Ebon’s heart than before.

It’s a great book, okay.

It’s a great series.

If pressed to find something to nitpick, then maybe I’d whine a little about how Kalem didn’t grow nearly as much as Ebon or Theren did, remaining a relative constant voice of reason with a side of coward. Which isn’t a bad thing, to be fair. They needed him. And we needed him, in particular to show us how just far out some of their plans really were.

And that’s it. That’s how much of the Academy Journals we got right now, which makes me a relatively sad Taff, since I’d really like to see how this continues (AND MAKO) right away. But patience is a virtue and all that, so I’m going to try my hand at this and maybe go read some of the other books in the Underrealm setting.

Whiiich you should do, too.

Just saying.

Book Review: The Mindmage’s Wrath

This is the second book in the Academy Journals by Garrett Robinson. Get it here on Amazon. And the whole Academy Journals here.

The Mindmage’s Wrath picks up right where the Transmuter’s Alchemist’s Touch left off, with our young goldbag Ebon and his friends ready to get into more trouble while the Seat around them is still recovering from the final events of the first book.

I liked Alchemist’s Touch well enough already. It was good, it really was, and you know what? This one is Gooder, with Ebon growing into more of himself page by page, and the world revealing itself to us in greater detail chapter by chapter. We meet his sister. See more of his family’s politics, and especially where his aunt fits into all of it.

But you know what’s best? Mako! MakoMakoMako! There is more Mako! I swear I was making little giddy noises every time he made an appearance, and by the end I was convinced he’s my favourite and I’ll be one sad Taff if something happens to him.

Except Mako is, of course, not what this story is about. He’s just someone that Taff gets incredibly excited about.

Instead, this time, Ebon and his friends are faced with a murder in the Academy, alongside with the thefts of dangerous artefacts that could threaten more than just the Academy, but the Seat and the entire world itself. It’s a delightful little whodunit with a healthy sprinkle of more political intrigue around the goldbag families of Underrealm.

The pacing in which the murder mystery unravels is great, and I liked how the reader is given a chance to piece things together themselves, which gives us a chance to scream at Ebon from outside the pages if we figure it out first.

Again, I’d love to recommend this book. It’s a great follow up to the first one, sets us up for great things to come, and please can I have more Mako?

Book Review: The Alchemist’s Touch

This is the first book in the Academy Journals by Garrett Robinson. Get it here on Amazon. And the whole Academy Journals here.

The Alchemist's Touch: A Book of Underrealm (The Academy Journals 1) by [Robinson, Garrett]

Ebon is an (at times painfully) shy sixteen-year-old boy, who has lived a sheltered life under the thumb of his wealthy and cruel father. His family name carries a lot of baggage with it and seems to be universally feared, though we don’t quite find out why. Not yet, anyway.

Oh, and he’s an Alchemist. Errr, Transmuter, sorry. Except he never got to practice his magic, since that was just one of those things his father forbade him to do. Right along with growing a spine, apparently. Or speaking up. Or having an original thought. Really, his dad is a dick.

Poor Ebon. But hey! He gets his greatest wish, that one thing he’s dreamed of for so long and is allowed to attend the Academy, where he promptly tries to play catchup since he’s about six years late to the party. It’s okay though, ’cause for some reason the benches and stuff in the room made for ten year olds fit him, too. Or maybe he was just awkwardly squeezed into them and had to hunch the whole time. That’ll do a number on the posture.

Ebon is… a little inconsistent at times, though it sort of makes sense, considering how he’s so far behind on being allowed to be himself. Fortunately, he manages to make friends at the Academy relatively quickly. He also makes enemies though, naturally. In particular there’s one going by the name of Lillith, and I admit that their rivalry (if that is what we want to call it) is probably the only thing that I didn’t enjoy much. It came out of no-where and felt just a little too unreasonably cruel and “Ha ha, high school kids, amirght?

Are we really that horrible to each other? Wait. Don’t answer that.

His friendships, on the other hand, feel well deserved and organic, and I liked both Theren and Kalem reasonably well. Ebon, of course, needs them both, and it isn’t until long that he’s swept into a conspiracy hatched by his father. Or so we are led to believe, because there are still questions unanswered by the end. Even for Ebon, who decided to try and unravel the mystery, his two friends by his side.

It goes reasonably well. Sort of. Kind of.

Overall, I liked this book, though I am finding it a little hard to place? It’s not a story about a magical academy, for one. Even though it takes place in one. It’s also not really a coming of age sort of story since Ebon has still so much room to grow. It’s also not one entirely about personal growth in his craft, considering he barely manages two proper spells throughout the entire thing. Adventure? Kind of? Maybe? Mystery? Hmmm, getting there. A bit of political intrigue?

Alright, it’s probably all of the above. Plus, it’s just generally a really nice read. I’m glad I picked it up.

… and, just for the record, my favourite character in the whole thing is Mako and I want to know more about him. Which one of the reasons why I will keep reading through the series, hoping to uncover more.

Book Review: The Botanist’s Castle

Goblins, ghosts and giant beanstalks! One small boy. Not enough chamomile tea…

The Botanist's Castle

Life for William Meriweather is pleasant but rather dull, until his father takes a job at the Botanist’s Castle.

Before long William is thrown headlong into adventure as the Venus man-traps develop a taste for kitchen-boys, the dryads take over the library and the breakfast toast is burnt to a crisp.

A magical children’s book in 102 pages. Available on Amazon. It’s imaginative. Uplifting. And makes you smile.

The Botanist’sCastle by Hesketh Tolson is both charming and sweet, and reminded me of the books I probably should have read as a child.  And it leaves me wondering: Just how much does the author love plants? 

William, the books protagonist, allows us to come along with him and his father, as they set out on a fantastic journey into a world of intricate magic and fascinating flora (and fauna), which ranges from beautiful, delicate, to down-right terrifying.

What stood out most to me was the effortless world building, and how I was given the opportunity to see William’s world through his young, unbiased eyes.  Right from the first page on, I was left wondering:  Is William’s father just pulling the boy’s leg?  Or is magic real?  And with undeniably fantastic style, I was let in on the world’s secrets, bit by bit.

Are there some editing errors?  Yeah, there are, but they are rare, and greatly outmatched by the otherwise evocative and easy to read style.

So, have a read.  I would definitely recommend this for anyone who wants to dive into something innocent, delightful, short, and smoothly paced. There’s little in there that didn’t make me smile, from the side characters we get to tour a certain castle with, to the resolution to problems William faces.