Ships From The West – Monarchies of God #5

Ships from the WestSynopsis (from Goodreads): In the five Ramusian kingdoms, an entire generation has lived in peace. But when old enemies clash, the fate of Normannia will be sealed-once and for all.

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“The Thrilling Conclusion!” Or so says the cover of the book. Was it thrilling? Maybe a little. Was it conclusive? No, not at all.

My initial impression of the book was that it was unnecessary. It starts off 15 years after the events of the first four books. The main plot of books 1 – 4, being the war with the Merduks, was concluded in The Second Empire. the whole time i was reading this book it felt more like the start of a new part of the series rather than a conclusion. the ending certainly wasn’t conclusive at all and left a lot of loose ends.

A lot of this book was spent introducing the next generation, the children of the characters from the previous books, and filling in what’s happened during the past 15 years. But, as is typical of most of the characters introduced in this series, the new people we are introduced to fall flat. They get so little of the spotlight that the reader never really gets to know them and what we do see of them is not essential to the overall plot of this book.

There is, however, a lot of action in this book. There’s a lot of slaughter and death, so if you like any of the characters, don’t get attached. they’re probably going to die.

What saved this book and made it worth reading, for me, was the character of Corfe. He is my favorite of all the characters and really get the spotlight. His journey in the book is probably the only reason I kept reading.

I give Ships from the West 2/5 stars.

The series overall, I give 3/5 stars. It had a good amount of action to the keep the reader interested, and the battle scenes were amazingly described. I enjoyed the character of Corfe Cear-Inaf and the sort of sub plot of the tragic love between him and his wife, Heria. They both suffer a great deal and never truly let go of the pain of losing one another.

As for what I didn’t like, I think this far outweighs the things I did like. There is a definite lack of strong female characters in this series. The female character I did like, gets very little page time, but at least what time she did get wasn’t disappointing.

The third person omniscient pov that this series is told in is, for me, very irritating. I don’t know which character is currently the focus from time to time and I find that confusing. I much prefer pov’s that focus on one person at a time.

There were a lot of loose ends that were left over at the end of book five, (the conclusion) and little things that took place that just seemed unnecessary.

I’m happy to be finished this series, and while I don’t regret reading it, this isn’t a series that I will keep to reread in the future.

Have you read this series? What did you think? Please leave any thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Fantasy Book Review – The Second Empire – Monarchies of God #4

Summary (from Goodreads): Religious wars, shapeshifter invasions, and political intrigue drive the fourth novel of this epic fantasy series.

*** May Contain Spoilers if You Have Not read Books 1 – 3 ***

I don’t have a lot to say about this edition to the Monarchies of God. The war with the Merduks continue and come to a head. Richard Hawkwood returns from the Western Continent with Lord Murad, Bardolin and a mere fraction of the number of people they set out with. We get a brief look at what they endured during their time on the other continent and their journey home.

As I was reading this volume, I felt that the subplot of Richard Hawkwood’s journey is mostly unimportant. It doesn’t really add to the overall plot. The main focus of this volume and the one before (The Iron Wars) has been the war happening with the Merduks. Everything else seems like a side note.

Other than Corfe, not many of the characters are relatable. Most of them get so little really told about them for the reader to form much of an attachment.

The descriptions of the battles are rather engrossing. The author is very good as describing all the sounds and sights of a battle. The boom of the guns, the jar of being hit with a sword, the horror of men being torn to shreds.

I give the Second Empire 3/5 stars and am curious how this will all come to an end.

Fantasy Book Review – The Iron Wars – Monarchies of God #3

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The Kingdom of Hebrion has been thrown into turmoil, following its release from the clutches of the Church. Its capital in ruins, its king in a coma, Isolla, Abeleyn’s bride-to-be, and Jemilla, his scheming mistress, step into the power vacuum. Both are intent on taking control of Hebrion for themselves and a fierce power struggle ensues. To further complicate things, the explorer Richard Hawkwood returns to Hebrion with news of a new continent in the west and something terrible lurking in his ship’s hold. This third book in the series continues the acclaimed saga of politics and religion in a world rife with magic, terror and war.

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***May Contain Spoiler If You Have Not Read Books #1 & 2***

The Iron Wars begins with a breathe of fresh air as we are introduced to Isolla, Princess of Astarac and betrothed of Abeleyn, King of Hebrion. She is the first strong female character in this series who does not use sex to get what she wants or gain power. Described as a plain woman with a large nose, she may not be a beauty but she does have brains. She allies herself with Golophin to care for Abeleyn after a terrible accident leaves him in a coma and commits herself to the good of her new kingdom. The Lady Jemilla is unfortunately still around, trying to gain herself a throne by claiming the baby she is carrying is the King’s heir.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the continent, Corfe is battling the Merduk hordes as well as his own country men. His King, Lofantyr, has no faith in him or his abilities to command, even though all of his campaigns have been successful. Corfe is probably the most interesting and enjoyable character to read about. His personality has depth, he earns the loyalty of his men instead of simply demanding it based on his rank.

Richard Hawkwood is mostly absent from the volume of the series, though his expedition is mentioned from time to time. Mostly, people assuming that he and all those who traveled with him are dead somewhere. Though Hawkwood was absent, I think throwing him into the midst of everything else that was happening would have detracted from the action already taking place.

Overall, I give the Iron Wars 3/5 stars.

Fantasy Book Review – The Heretic Kings – Monarchies of God #2

***May Contain Spoilers if you have not read Hawkwood’s Voyage***

Synopsis (from Goodreads): When a power-hungry fanatic wins himself a highly influential religious position, three resistant kings must fight a brutal war merely to maintain their thrones.

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Kings Abeleyn, Lofantyr and Mark have been excommunicated and labeled heretics by the new High Pontiff, Himerius. While the Merduk hordes have settled into a winter camp to wait for spring, Abeleyn must fight his way back to his kingdom in hopes of regaining his throne.

The Heretic Kings begins about where Hawkwood’s voyage ended. However, it doesn’t start with the characters I most wanted to know about, mainly Hawkwood and his expedition. A council has laid claim to Hebrion while its king is still away and soon nobles are maneuvering to take the crown. Abeleyn’s journey home is not an easy one. The other, “legitimate” kings are trying to rid the continent of the heretics, forcing Abeleyn to fight nearly every step of the way home.

In the monastery city of Charibon, two young monks come across an ancient text that will shake the very foundations of their faith. While Richard Hawkwood and his companions have reached the western continent and must now face new dangers on land.

If you read my review of Hawkwood’s Voyage (here) you’ll know that i found some of the authors descriptions long and tedious. While this book does have long descriptions, things have become much less tedious. There are battles being fought all over, from on the sea on ships to the middle of a humid jungle. This book has much more action to keep the reader interested.

The characters are beginning to show more substance, though only a few seem to get a spotlight. Abelelyn, Corfe and Hawkwood are the major players and we’re finally getting some growth out of them. Abeleyn especially, as he deals with being labeled a heretic and the fight to regain his kingdom. There are, however, even fewer female characters in this book than there were in the first and none of them are particularly likable or have much substance. This series has a mostly male cast and I don’t expect that will change in the next three volumes.

Overall, I give The Heretic Kings 3/5 stars and am looking forward to starting book 3.

Fantasy Book Review – Hawkwood’s Voyage by Paul Kearney

Synopsis (from Goodreads): In a land torn by religious war and chaos, rogue mariner Richard Hawkwood leads an expedition to find a lost continent where safe haven may be found. But before the explorers find sanctuary-they must first survive the journey.

Initially, I felt very drawn into this book as it begins with the Holy City being invaded by a foreign army and burning it to the ground. Author Paul Kearney is very good at describing setting and really painted a picture of the horrors of a city falling to an invading army.

However, these descriptions go on, and on, until I’ve forgotten which character is supposed to be  experiencing  all these things going on around them. These descriptions also go on for so long that my mind began to wander. There were times when this worked, such as when the city was burning or during a large scale battle scene. Other than that, it just felt tedious and rambling.

I could have gotten over this had the characters been outstanding, they were not, however, all that unique or likable.  Each character was just sort of what you would expect based on that characters social status or occupation. The nobleman behaved like a conceded nobleman, the ship captain behaved like a ship captain, the religious leader behaved like a pious religious leader, and so on and so forth. The female character (as few as there were) were even more lacking. There are a grand total of four female characters who are introduced. One is a slut who uses her body to manipulate men and get what she wants. Another is a pious woman who blushes and turns away at the sight of her husband’s skin. The third has very little told about her other than her name and the situation she is in. Honestly, she felt unnecessary. The fourth had the most potential but, unfortunately, that potential will not be realized.

I almost considered not finishing this book. So, why did I? Well, this is the first book in a five book series and I really felt like this book and all that happens in it, is leading up to something much more spectacular. The last hundred pages of the book were much more interesting as a large battle is waged and events transpire to push the plot forward.

Overall I give this book 2/5 stars and I hope that book two is more engaging.