Elder Epoch

by Zamil Akhtar

After reading Conqueror’s Blood I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep reading the Gunmetal Gods Saga. But I picked up Elder Epoch anyway and I’m glad I did. It puts the characters back in the center of the cosmos horror action where they belong.

The story was already complex, and in this book it grows even more so, reshuffling the powers of the world and adding threats from beyond the veil.

Akhtar calls it cosmic horror. I’d say it’s potion brewed from the Crusades, the Book of Revelation, and Lovecraft, with a fair few other influence seasoning the cauldron.

I guess I’ll keep reading.

Dead Man’s Hand

by James J. Butcher

In a modern world where witches and non-witches live together, a washed-up witch hunter’s old partner is killed for a magical artifact. Based on her last words, the Hunstman finds Grimsby, a witch who washed out of the Department’s training program and now works at a Chuck-E-Cheese ripoff restaurant entertaining awful children. Together they go searching for the killer and the artifact—and Grimsby’s spine.

Good read. It didn’t suck me in, though. I’m not sure if the story was lacking something, or if hard-boiled detective fantasy just doesn’t do it for me any more. But this is the first book in a series and I’ll probably pick up the next one at some point to see where the story goes.

For what it’s worth, the author is the son of Jim Butcher, who writes The Dresden Chronicles, and this book is a chip off the old block.

The Dragon Republic

by R. F. Kuang

The middle part of a trilogy can be hard. The first part is usually written so it can stand alone. But when an author starts the second part of a trilogy they are already thinking about the third, so it has to be a connector. It continues the story and sets up the finale, but it, too, has to stand alone to keep people interested.

It can work. The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the original Star Wars trilogy. The Dragon Republic might not be the best of R. F. Kuang’s trilogy, but it more than delivers. And it does what the second part of any trilogy must do: it makes me want to pick up the third book immediately.

The Poppy War

by R. F. Kuang

I read The Poppy War for the first time a couple of years ago, but I did not realize it was a series. As soon as I found out I bought the other books and re-read the first one to remind myself of the story.

Rin, an orphan who survived the genocide of her people, tests into the Sinegard military academy where she discovers her unique ability to summon fire before the Third Poppy War breaks out. This book is so very good, and I’m looking forward to continuing the story in The Dragon Republic.

Gallant

by V. E. Schwab

A dark, lovely book about a lonely orphan who sees ghouls everywhere and returns home to find Death waiting for her. And somehow, serendipitously, I happened to pick it up two days before Halloween.

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

by R. F. Kuang

I snapped up this book the moment I saw it, because I already loved R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. Babel is a hard book to describe but an easy book to recommend. But I’ll try to describe it anyway.

Babel is about communication, colonialism, cultural appropriation, and capitalism. It touches on so many of the conversations we have been struggling to have about those things—especially over the last few years. It is also about magic. The magic of silver working is literally lost in translation. It is a feast for word nerds (like yours truly). And it is a compelling story of unlikely friendships and reluctant heroes.

I loved it, and it’s going straight onto my book recommendations.

Gunmetal Gods

by Zamil Akhtar

An epic fantasy twist on the Crusades, with masked magi, angels right out of Revelation (think lots of extra eyes and wings), and a healthy dose of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.

I didn’t devour it, but I really enjoyed it and I’m starting the second book in the series right … now.

The Golden Enclaves

by Naomi Novik

El is basically goth Harry Potter, and in the third Scholomance book she has to solve the mystery of her boyfriend, the Scholomance itself, and the wizards’ enclaves in the void. Meanwhile, someone is destroying enclaves …

I still love these books. I don’t know if there will be a fourth one, but if there is I’ll read it!