Tag Archives: fantasy

Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin (Code of Rainbow #2)

Title: Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin

Author: Weiqi Wang

Series: Code of Rainbow #2

Soarame is busy learning all he can at school so that he can become an Expert wizard and start to uncover some of the secrets in his life. But when a threatening message appears, he realizes Rodka, who already graduated and left, is in danger. Soarame and his friends are determined to help, even though they can’t leave campus. Magic can do many things . . .

I really liked this. The beginning is a bit rough, as it’s not immediately obvious there was a timeskip from the previous book, so I was a bit confused at how much farther along everyone was. But I soon settled in for an enjoyable ride.

Soarame has grown up some, and so have his friends. There’s little hints of romance here and there, although both Soarame and the girl he likes are terminally shy and unable to make the first move. The Dragons and Empires team he was dreaming about in the previous book is now a reality, as his magic has advanced enough to make him capable of playing in more than a practice match.

I liked Eric, too. He’s a new addition to Soarame’s group of friends and his team—the missing Darkness player that Halgon should’ve been, if Halgon were there. Like many of Soarame’s friends, he’s got his own share of secrets. As with Halgon, the revelation of those secrets casts an interesting light on all of his earlier actions.

The magimals remain as cute and funny as ever. They’re still pretty young, but they’re big enough to help out more. I also liked seeing the wild ones, although I imagine taming a wild one might be more successful if you didn’t approach them with demands to basically become slaves. They are intelligent enough to see that as a very bad idea.

Overall this was another excellent story, and I can’t wait for the third book to be released.

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Soaring Flame and the Dragon-Transcending Magimal (Code of Rainbow #1)

Title: Soaring Flame and the Dragon-Transcending Magimal

Author: Weiqi Wang

Series: Code of Rainbow #1

Soarame possesses an unusual gift: he can see the colors of magic. Trained by a wizard, then sent to a school, he works to master the various gifts he has in the hopes of one day finding out more about his family. But not everyone he meets wants the best for him, and his gifts have the potential to cause a lot of trouble.

I really liked this. Soarame is an innocent and happy child, and despite the bullies and hardships he runs into, he largely maintains that hopeful and positive outlook. He’s greatly gifted, for sure, but his ability to see magic is actually only a small part of this.

This can also lead to a lot of humor, like the scene where Soarame is filling out his college application. He’s told to choose between a number of schools, and uses a completely arbitrary set of criteria to make his choices—which confuses the administrators so much he gets called in to explain.

I also loved how Soarame ends up as the only boy in a major dominated by girls. It’s a twist on the usual trope, and it’s equal parts awkward and hilarious. My favorite part was how the teacher keeps redirecting the conversation when he says something unintentionally shocking (the various uses for water magic).

The sport sounds like fun, and I like how it ties into a major historical event. Interestingly, though, Soarame doesn’t actually compete in any real sense. He’s a fan and working to form a team eventually, but at most he’s just able to run a practice match, because right now his powers aren’t good enough to deal with higher-graded wizards.

Finally, the magimals (magical animals) add another interesting facet. The category is very broad, so we get a lot of (terminally cute) baby magimals showing up later in the story. It will be fun to see how they grow up (and how much trouble they cause along the way).

Overall this was an excellent read, and I’m looking forward to the next book. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Color of Magic (Discworld #1)

Title: The Color of Magic

Author: Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #1

Rincewind was a washed-out wizard—someone who never graduated, can’t really use magic, and has nothing more than a facility with languages to his name. Then he meets Twoflower, a foreign man who claims to be a tourist. A man who flashes absurd amounts of money around like it was nothing. Sensing opportunity, Rincewind volunteers to translate for him and show him around, but little does he know what “tourist” actually means . . .

I decided to revisit this after many years. Rincewind has never been one of my favorite Discworld sub-series, but that’s in comparison to the other Discworld books. On its own, this is a funny look at a hapless wizard stuck escorting an unintentionally dangerous man through every imaginable peril. It only takes about five minutes after they meet for Rincewind to realize there’s a problem: when Twoflower expresses interest in seeing a real live bar fight.

Twoflower has this rock-solid belief that he’s only an observer, and can therefore “participate” in events that Rincewind then has to figure out how to keep him alive through.

In terms of the Discworld books in general, this is where it all begins. And that shows, sometimes in ways you can’t really blame this book for (because this WAS the first) but that feel odd now that I’ve read pretty much all the rest of them. The Patrician feels a bit off from his later characterization (though since they never give a name it’s possible this isn’t even the same one). Death is another character that changed a bit in later books; he’s more human here, and at one point seems to be killing a few things out of frustration rather than because it’s their time. As I said, that’s really not something to knock this book down about, but it does feel off since I’m more familiar with the later books.

Overall this is a good read, especially if you like humorous fantasy. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 6 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 6

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime never intended to get involved in the war between the demons and the humans, but when the royal capital is attacked while he’s in it, he can’t help but get caught up in things. In addition, conspiracies are multiplying like crazy: Aiko’s been kidnapped because of what Hajime told her, some of the people around the palace have been acting very strangely, and some classmates are not what they seem.

This volume continues the trend of excellent fight scenes. Some of them are the expected curbstomps—the invading army was pretty much doomed when it picked a city Hajime was in—but Hajime is starting to attract the attention of higher-level fighters who can match or exceed him in combat, which keeps the overall book more interesting.

Aiko had some good moments too, although I still dislike how she’s basically falling in love with Hajime over something he did while she was dying.

I’m a bit mixed on the other student conspiracies, though. Some of this has been set up over the course of a few books now, and it was nice to see how that plays out, but others just felt like the author went “Welp, you need to be evil now.” I don’t entirely buy the reason or the behavior because there was just no clue ahead of time. (And no, the nameless student segments hinting that someone is evil don’t really count for me, since we can’t see it in the person’s behavior otherwise, and those scenes could just as easily apply to others.)

Overall if you’ve been enjoying the series so far, this is another good entry. I rate this book Recommended.

Gods and Kings (Eve of Redemption #9)

Title: Gods and Kings

Author: Joe Jackson

Series: Eve of Redemption #9

The time has come at least to open the Temple. But in some ways it leaves more questions than answers. A conflict spanning thousands of years is reaching its tipping point in the present day. Kari and her allies must coordinate multiple plans over multiple worlds as they fight to overthrow the demonic Overking.

It’s hard to summarize this book because there’s so many characters and so many plot threads. Almost every chapter drops some major revelation or advances something critical. And a lot of the things hinted at did not turn out at all the way I expected (particularly regarding Max’s father). I would definitely recommend catching up on the other books before reading this one, as it drops you straight into the action and never lets up.

I love that the gods are pretty much uniformly good in this series. They’re not the conniving, selfish manipulators so many other books use. They have different focuses, different forms, different worlds, but they have an underlying unity of purpose. And they all care for their believers. Which is one reason that although faith is hugely important in this series, it’s not restricted to a single group.

I also love that Gil gets a fanclub (richly deserved). The werewolves continue to be one of my favorite parts of the series. And Starlenia’s reaction to finding out she can’t inherit the “curse” is hilarious.

The humor stays strong. One of my favorite lines was this:

“Perfect. As for everyone else, I’d say Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, but since that list apparently includes sleeping with demon kings, I’ll just leave you to fend for yourselves.”

Overall, this is another strong volume in a fantastic series. Start at the beginning and work up to this one for the full impact. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 5 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 5

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

It’s time for Hajime to return Myu to her mother—but new locations inevitably mean new problems. An oasis town is suffering from a contaminated water supply. Two new dungeons await, pushing Hajime and his companions to their limit.

For the first time, we have a good look into the demon’s perspective. And Hajime meets someone he can’t overpower or avoid, who is competing with him to conquer the ancient labyrinths and obtain their powers.

I also liked the way Hajime gets roped into helping out around town far more than he originally wanted to. Certain types of problems are very easy for him and his party to solve, which makes him feel like it’s not a big deal, even though it’s still things others find impossible to duplicate.

I’m still not a fan of the harem antics, but at least there’s enough other stuff going on to balance it out. Myu’s mother is of course added as another candidate, and Kaori is working on integrating herself with the group.

Overall, if you’ve liked the previous ones this is a good next step. It throws a few more interesting things into the mix, namely the demons, and has plenty of good action scenes. I rate this book Recommended.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 4 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 4

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime has rescued Will from an army of monsters, but no sooner are they home then the trouble starts all over again. This time it’s Myu, a small slave girl Hajime inadvertently rescues. And she’s not the only one in trouble—Kouki and the strongest of the transplanted students are still pressing towards the bottom of the Great Orcus Labyrinth, and they’ve stumbled into far more than they can handle.

Given that last book only a few of Hajime’s classmates found out he’s still alive, this book has a second (and equally amusing) reunion—this time including Kaori, the girl who never stopped believing he’d survived.

I really like how Hajime challenges Kouki’s heroism. To some extent, Kouki has the Hero class because he really is heroic. But his weaknesses are equally glaring, and have been pointed out since the first book: his inflexible thinking, his inability to even see things that don’t match his assumptions, and his lack of resolve. I love that Hajime points out Kouki’s unwillingness to kill an enemy has more to do with his own unwillingness to see someone die and not compassion or mercy.

Endou’s stealth skills were also good for several laughs. “And just who are you calling the king of invisibility!? I’ll have you know that the automatic doors at stores open for me one-third of the time!”

Kaori’s crisis at seeing Hajime alive but almost totally different was one of the best parts of the book. She’s waited and suffered so much for this moment, and yet it’s nothing like what she wanted it to be. She can’t keep her promise to protect him. In fact she’s rejecting who he is now more than anyone except Kouki.

Overall this is one of the better books in the series, as it mostly eschews the pandering for some solid plot development, intense action scenes, and strong character moments. I rate this book Recommended.