Review: Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Red Sister is the third of Mark Lawrence’s books that I’ve read – and you know what they say, third time lucky. That was definitely the case here, as I completely fell in love with the book. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Prince of Thorns, which I read with my online book group, but I enjoyed Prince of Fools a lot more. However, Red Sister just completely blew me away.

I can’t resist a good origin story, nor stories containing assassins, and Red Sister is both of these. It follows a young girl called Nona, who ends up at the Convent of Sweet Mercy after several unfortunate events. However, this is not any old convent, and the Sisters are not normal nuns. Many are ‘Red Sisters’, trained in the arts of fighting, and this is what Nona is on the path to become. Just look at this opening line:

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.

Doesn’t that just intrigue you? I read the first 170 pages of the book in one sitting, absolutely enthralled by the world Lawrence had created, and what Nona was going through. Nona as a character is quite mysterious for much of the novel, she is perhaps almost as unfamiliar to the reader as she is to her classmates, but that certainly kept me reading. One of the things that made me eager to read this book was that it was centered around female characters, rather than a largely male cast. And within this cast of women and girls, there are some fantastic characters. Nona’s friends and their relationships are great, with rivalries soon becoming friendships. The Nuns are an interesting bunch – some kind, others cruel – so basically just like real teachers!

I have to admit that when I first started reading the book, I hadn’t realised that the protagonist was so young. However, this was not an issue – she therefore has plenty of room to develop, and due to the conditions in which she has grown up, she is very headstrong and mature for her age. I suppose in the sort of world that many of them have grown up in, childhood ends very early. The book is quite slow, and not much really happened in terms of ‘big’ events during the first half. This, to me, was actually pretty perfect. It meant I really got to explore the world Lawrence had created, learn along with Nona and her friends, and I got to see more of the ‘school’ setting (another story element I love!). There were flashes of the future in between, showing a huge and possibly catastrophic event, which only made me want to read even faster, even more in one setting to find out how this could happen.

Overall, Red Sister was an absolutely fantastic read, definitely one of the best series openers I have read in a while, and one of my top reads of 2017 thus far. Mark Lawrence has created something completely different from his other books with this series, so even if you did not get along with his other work I would absolutely recommend that you try Red Sister. If it’s already on your ‘to read’ list, then hurry up and grab a copy! I’m already anticipating book two, but looks like I’ll be waiting a while – so maybe I’ll continue on with Lawrence’s The Red Queen’s War series, to tide me over.

I also just want to extend my thanks to Mark Lawrence himself, who got in touch with me via Facebook to offer me a (signed!) ARC. I was ecstatic to receive this message, and so glad for the opportunity to read this book. I also need to thank Mark for being responsible for quite a bit of my blog traffic – a while ago he linked to my review of Prince of Fools on Reddit, as a review by someone who enjoyed the book but did not like Prince of Thorns. I’m still receiving blog traffic from that Reddit post, so thank you, Mark! 🙂


Review: The Demon King (The Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

The Demon King had long been one of those fantasy books I was aware of, knew SO many people who raved about it, yet I pretty much ignored it. It sat on my ‘to read’ list for a while, despite sounding amazing, and despite endless wonderful praise from my bookish buddies. However, recently I’ve been trying to make more use of my local library. The library itself has very little, but since I can order books from anywhere in the county for free and pick them up from there, I’ve been grabbing ten books at a time, scouring through the library catalogue and cross-referencing with my Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf. The Demon King happened to be available, and so, by this twist of fate, I ended up reading it much sooner than I probably would have otherwise.

Let me just say: I am so, SO thankful for the county library inter-loan system. I devoured this 500 page fantasy novel in two days. I read it during my commute, not looking up once, and would have happily stayed on the bus and gone round in circles all day just reading if, you know, I hadn’t had to go to work… Inconvenient, much?

The Demon King centres around several characters. First, there’s Han Alister, also known to the Clans as Hunts Alone, or to the people of Fellsmarch as Cuffs Alister, streetlord of Ragmarket. Han is the son of a laundress who has turned to petty crime in order to provide for his family, but he also has connections with the Clans outside the city – the Clans being tribespeople who have connections with the land. Second, we have Princess Raisa, princess heir to the throne of the Fells (MATRIARCHY YES), who isn’t content with her position. I really liked Raisa – instead of being a spoiled brat who wasn’t happy with her lot, she was shown as someone who perhaps just wanted to live a simpler life, but was also kept in the dark about how her people were treated, and how they saw their monarch. She aspired to be a warrior queen, and was basically so determined and always prepared to do whatever it took. Other characters include Amon Byrne, Raisa’s childhood friend and son of the Captain of the Guard, and Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard and a Draco Malfoy type character that you might want to slap across the face once or twice.

I have to admit, any plot twists or events that were meant to be shocking did not work – everything was quite obvious. But this did not spoil the magic for me. I was just so enamoured by Fellsmarch, the Clans, Raisa and Han’s separate missions and just about everything else that was going on to care. I feel like The Demon King is a fantasy novel that would work for both fantasy lovers, and those who aren’t sure about the genre – it’s not overly complicated, but it also evokes those classic elements of the genre. There’s no other way of saying this: it gave me the warm fuzzies.

This book had just the right amount of magic and swordplay for me, and I cannot WAIT to move on to book two. So, The Demon King isn’t a huge epic Tolkien-esque fantasy, where the world is crafted perfectly from the bare bones, with hundreds of years of history and made up languages and just about every family tree from peasant to royalty. But it is a magically crafted novel that allowed me to escape into this fantasy world, forgetting everything around me, and sometimes that’s all you need.


Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Tell me that any book is similar to Harry Potter, and I’ll be on it like a shot. The blurb of Nevernight makes reference to Hogwarts – actually saying that the Red Church is nothing like it – and how right it is. However, to all those fans like myself who grew up with Harry and might occasionally enjoy the darker, more graphic fantasy – this is it.

I’ve got to admit, I haven’t known what to make of Jay Kristoff for a while. I basically instantly dismissed Stormdancer, his first novel, because he said in an interview that he did all the research for his Japanese-inspired world on Wikipedia, which didn’t exactly reek of professionalism. But then I read Illuminae, Kristoff’s science fiction not-quite-a-novel (told through chat logs, reports etc), co-written with Amie Kaufman, and really enjoyed it. So when Nevernight first appeared, promising a darker, more seductive world of fantasy than other recent releases, I was rather draw to it. The hype was hard to ignore, and I have a thing for assassin stories. What is it about these types of people that makes them so compelling to read about? And compelling this was.

Nevernight basically went straight into the ‘action’, as it were (wink wink nudge nudge), opening with our protagonist losing her virginity to a male prostitute. Through a series of flashbacks that contrast with the present day, we learn more about Mia and why she is on this murderous path. From the beginning, the violence was graphic, the sex was detailed and the cursewords coming left, right and centre – and I LOVED IT. This book is so, so brutal (if you’ve been reading about Nevernight on social media, you’ve probably heard all about people going crazy for page 553) and literally everything that happened was the complete opposite of what I expected. Kristoff does not hold back.

Mia as a character was interesting. She was a bit of a broody teen, but that was realistic. Having read several different fantasy series where young adults are trained to be killers, I have to say that this has so far been the only one where the characters really confront what they’re doing, and also seem to accept that, whilst it’s not right, it’s what they need to do. I’m not sure entirely how to express this, but Mia felt constant in terms of her personality. She never really once felt like a teenage girl who just happens to know the best way to kill someone, and spends the rest of her time contradicting that side of herself. She knows she is a murderer, and nothing is sugar-coated. The rest of her classmates are the same – thieving, seducing, bribing and more to get what they need. It is a competition in a school of assassinsnothing is going to be easy.

I enjoyed the world-building, a sort of Italian/Roman inspired world, and I’m interested to see what other cultures might be used in the sequel. Also, friendships and relationships were formed that just felt so natural and easy-going, which of course then made certain events even more painful to witness. My only issue with the book was the footnotes – there were a few too many and some were rather long, distracting from the main story. I know that they’re there for world-building, but they felt a little too much like Kristoff was trying too hard to be Pratchett-esque.

Apart from that, Nevernight was an absolute delight – if that’s what you can call a book filled to the grim with guts, gore, graphic sexual encounters and enough swearing to make Malcolm Tucker blush. If you’re bored of fantasy where the characters are all firmly on the side of Good, and are looking for something with perhaps more immoral than moral, Nevernight might be just the ticket.


Sci-Fi Month 2015: Review of Zer0es (Zer0es #1) by Chuck Wendig


This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.


3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Zer0es was a fun, rather over the top read, and unlike anything I’d ever really read before. I’m not sure how many books I’ve read about hackers – I’m pretty sure this was the first (and since then I’ve now read two more…). Opening with our five ‘Zeroes’ being recruited (or rather apprehended) by the US Government, it easily set up each character’s personality. The hackers are given the option to either work for the government as ‘whitehats’, or go to prison. They each, sensibly, choose to become ‘whitehats’ (the ‘good’ hackers, or rather those working for the government), and form an elite team. However, once their work begins they start to discover secrets, secrets and more secrets…

I’m actually really struggling in writing this review, as you can probably see by its length. This is definitely a ‘disappointed, expected more’ kind of three stars, and there isn’t that much I feel I can comment on. This is the most useless kind of review, where a book doesn’t make me feel any kind of strong negative or positive feelings, but unfortunately that’s how Zer0es was for me. This book felt like it was lacking something, and it didn’t quite pull me in enough. What ultimately let the book down for me in the end were the characters. The five ‘Zeroes’ felt very 2D, there wasn’t much to them past their hacker personas, or else they felt a little stereotypical. I particularly wanted to slap Reagan, a typical internet troll. Maybe that’s the reaction the author was going for, but as a reader I don’t really want to feel aggravated whilst trying to get through a book…

However I can’t fault the action in Zer0es. Despite much of it comprising of people sat at screens, typing rapidly and furiously, Wendig’s writing somehow made that into something very exciting and gripping. Whilst I won’t be continuing with this particular series, I won’t let it stop me from trying out some of Wendig’s other writing.


Review: Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence


4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

When Prince of Thorns was chosen as my book group’s Fantasy Book of the Month, I read it with great excitement, only to be rather, well… disappointed. I’d heard so much about the series and Lawrence’s writing, and I was sad that it just didn’t work for me. The main issue was Jorg himself – so when I heard about a new series from the author, based around a completely different character, I jumped at the chance to sample some more of his writing. And this time? I understood what all those other bloggers and readers had been talking about!

Whilst Jal is not your ‘typical’ hero, that’s kind of the whole point. He’s a spoilt brat of a prince, a womaniser, selfish and thoughtless and honestly a bit of a coward. But that’s what makes this book so fun – Jal manages to get himself into all sorts of trouble, with his mischievous personality and witty, dry sense of humour. It was so refreshing to have a hero who wasn’t the ‘chosen one’ or ‘pure’. Although he has his flaws, he is a good person deep down and visibly develops along his journey. Snorri as a companion of Jal worked really well: the two juxtaposed in terms of size and morals – Jal as a manipulative young man who is just living for the day, and Snorri as a loyal and protective father and husband despite his burly and sometimes terrifying appearance. Snorri’s back story was really heartbreaking. He was built up to be this threatening, violent Viking and then we saw his true side and the whole reason he was on a journey.

As for the setting, I always found the sudden contrast between the medieval feel of the culture and the sudden modern elements that were introduced towards the end of Prince of Thorns to be a bit… well, odd. But this time round I enjoyed it much more, particularly because there was a major concentration on mythology and legend.

I feel like Prince of Fools contains some of the funniest, most self-deprecating lines in fantasy fiction (apart from perhaps the work of Terry Pratchett!), with Jal’s frequent quips and fast wit. It had me laughing out loud, which I have to say, fantasy fiction does not often manage. Some of this was achieved from the post-apocalyptic world itself, e.g. as Jal and Snorri make their way along a train track towards a tunnel, Jal thinks to himself that a train must have been a fearsome beast to have had the strength to plough a hole through the mountain.

I’m so glad I got a review copy of this one, as it gave me another chance to try out Mark Lawrence’s writing – which I enjoyed a whole lot more this time. I’m definitely up for reading the rest of the book in the series, although I hope the ending of Prince of Fools doesn’t open up an opportunity for Jal to become more like Jorg…

Giveaway, Guest Post, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Guest Post by Author Nick Cole


Today, as part of Sci-Fi Month, I’d like to share a guest post, written by author Nick Cole. Nick’s most recent work, The Wasteland Saga, a collection of his three novels, has been published by HarperCollins. Thank you also to HarperCollins for contacting Nick on my behalf. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Conan in the Post Apocalypse

Guest post by Nick Cole

A few years back I wrote a novel called The Old Man and the Wasteland. I had some good success with the initial Indie Explosion and was asked by HarperVoyager to produce a sequel. I agreed.

The Old Man and the Wasteland is the story of a salvager surviving in the Post American Apocalyptic Southwest. He’s only had one book to read for the last forty years and that book is Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. It’s adventurous and meditative. It’s close to Jack London and it falls in style somewhere between Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway. Or at least that was my intention. A lot of people liked it. So, for the second book I wanted to give people a bigger taste of the New American Dark Ages as set forth in the first book. I wanted to show its savagery and civilizations. I wanted to show what mankind does to itself after forty years of lawlessness and survival by any means. To do that, I needed another character besides the Old Man, the hero of the first book. I needed someone who was half savage, half civilized. Someone who was introspective and possessed a greater perspective than just the regional, local politics of some outpost survivor. And because the New American Dark Ages are especially violent, I needed a warrior.

I’ll stop there.

Here’s how I wrote the first book. In a nutshell, I’m a big fan of the Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. I was playing a Post-Apocalyptic video game called Fallout 3. One day I thought, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be neat if Santiago’s story (yes, that is Hemingway’s fisherman’s name) was set after a nuclear war?” That was the jumping off point for my book. Instead of it being Santiago, it became an Old Man whose favorite book is the one Santiago is the hero of: The Old Man and the Sea. In fact my Old Man liked Santiago so much, he’d become such a real friend to my Old Man, that he’d begun to talk to Santiago as if he were real.

How did I become such a big fan of The Old Man and the Sea? Well, I fell off a building. Yes, I fell off a building and broke my arm one summer and I had to spend the rest of the summer sitting by the pool and reading since I couldn’t go in the water. I can read a lot, about a book or two a day. So of course I began to frequent a used book store because of the expensive nature of my addiction, and that is where, one hot afternoon when the old book smell seemed like a sweet blanket in the back of the store, I discovered The Old Man and the Sea.

It resonated within me. I was down and out. I’d gotten out of the Army and I was floundering. People were giving up on me. I had given up on me. Exactly like Santiago in Hemingway’s book felt on the morning he began to row out farther into the gulf than he’d ever gone before. He would either catch the big fish or never come back. So, it was a very inspirational story to me. It’s a good book. You should read it. It’s very short.

I was also reading a lot of other books that summer. Among which, I discovered the works of R.E. Howard, a little known West Texas pulp writer who no one ever heard of while he was alive. He wrote prodigiously and died tragically young. If you’ve heard of Conan the Barbarian, he’s the guy who developed the character. Conan was a long process for him. If you read some of his earlier works you begin to see other characters that are early models of the black-haired, blue-eyed Cimmerian, Conan. Most people have an idea of Conan in their heads and it’s  probably a poor idea due to the movies that have been made and the actors who have portrayed him. So, to set the record straight, Conan is, yes, a barbarian. In modern terms, he comes from a group of survivalist/preppers that have decided the ways of civilization don’t work for them and they choose to live high in the mountains, out of the reach of gentrified society. They eschew wealth and the finer things in favor of strength, competence and self-reliance.

Now, Hollywood has a tendency to see the word “Barbarian” and immediately cast a stereotype. “Dumb, stupid, hulking, muscle-bound, savage, prone to reasonless rage,” might read the casting call breakdown. Conan, this is not.

In the Hyperborean world, the world Howard set Conan in, Conan is often a fish out of water. Citified ways and customs seem alien and stupid to him. Lies, deceptions, and connivery lack the importance of integrity, one’s word, and the contests of skill and strength he prefers to measure himself and others by.

And here’s the really amazing thing about Conan: Howard wrote him as having a high IQ. No formal learning, no education, but a vast intelligence. Which is a stunningly brilliant character choice. The execution comes off almost flawlessly because Conan can never realize he is actually smarter than everyone else. His actions must prove it, which fit nicely with his outmoded, at least in Hyperborea, moral code. Thus Conan has an affinity for languages and tactics and reason. His mind is unclouded by the petty politics and social mores of a dozen competing world views that we find in the Hyperborean world. Everyone perceives Conan as a savage because of his dress, his lack of connections, his outlander appearance, his brute exterior. They perceive him thus and they immediately assign him a small role in their worldview, which is their first big mistake.
Everyone underestimates Conan because of his appearance.

Here’s a typical Conan Novel scenario: Conan wanders into a town. Conan drinks a lot, eats a lot, and meets a pretty and shamelessly immoral woman. Conan then needs money because what the drink and the food haven’t seen to, the pretty immoral woman has made off with. Conan’s massive intelligence often fails its saving throw when a comely wench enters the story.

Now, within the novel there’s probably some kind of power struggle going on in the town, region, or kingdom. Plans laid are coming to fruition. Both sides perceive Conan to be little more than a pawn in their evil schemes to attain power. Both sides try to at once enlist and/or destroy Conan. By the end of the novel, Conan has most likely:

a.) slain a lot of people
b.) turned the tables on both sides and ended up making off with all their money and prizes which were the focus of each faction’s efforts
c.) He’s met an even prettier, not so immoral girl.

Did I mention a lot of people get killed very violently?

So, I had my character archetype for the next novel in The Wasteland Saga. I called him the Boy. He’s disabled. One side of him is super strong, but the other side is withered because of all the nuclear background radiation. He’s got an affinity for the savage pidgin-speak of the mass of tribes that have formed in lieu of civilization. The Possum Hunters. The Psychos. The DeathKnights… etc. And he’s really good with weapons and tactics. His mentor is the last surviving U.S. Soldier. Staff Sergeant Lyman Julius Presley. Together they’ve journeyed across the entire United States to arrive in the overgrown ruins of Washington D.C. to see if the government has survived the nuclear annihilation of the entire planet.

There’s some Conan in the Boy. He’s a peerless warrior. He’s often underestimated because of his disability. He’s been raised by the last living voice of an America that disappeared in a blinding flash. He’s a fish out of water in all of these bang and rattle salvage outposts. He has no tribe, no people, and no language that isn’t someone else’s. And yet he must live. He must live one more day, each day, relying only on his wits and strength to survive in a world gone into savage darkness. But there are other aspects to the Boy. There’s Shakespeare’s Romeo. Because what young man doesn’t fall in love at least once and sometimes forever? And then there’s a little of “us” in the Boy. Because like us, the Boy is trying to find out who he is. Just like we are, every day, in every thing we do.

We’re trying to answer the question of who we are.

The Savage Boy is the story of a young man trying to answer that question in a world no one today would recognize. There are hints and rumors and shadows of what once was, among the fallen skyscrapers and crumbling roads of the New American Dark Ages. And like us, like Howard’s Conan, we must fight to survive one more day, every day, and maybe we will find the answer to all our questions. Maybe we will find out who we are.

About the Novels

Years after a nuclear holocaust, a sense of normalcy has settled over the post-apocalyptic wasteland that was once Yuma, Arizona, and the survivors don’t need to fight for life quite so hard. But one Old Man has nothing but his survivor’s instincts. Nothing but those, his bad luck, and a battered, read and re-read copy of The Old Man and the Sea. A cross between Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Old Man and the Wasteland takes readers on an odyssey into the dark heart of the Post-Apocalyptic American southwest in an incredible tale of survival and endurance. One man must survive the desert wilderness and mankind gone savage to discover the truth of Hemingway’s classic tale of man versus nature.
Armageddon has long since happened; a thermonuclear apocalypse has ravaged the landscape of America and turned it into a wilderness straight out of the Dark Ages of man. Barbaric tribes run rampant and dole out chaos and terror with no regard for the morals, safety, or sanity of others. In the midst of the hellish Wasteland, a young soldier boy is tasked with a final mission from his dying commanding officer: go to California and join up with members of a fractured army. With nothing but his horse and lessons from a dying man, The Savage Boy undertakes an epic journey across the Wasteland—from which he may never emerge.
The Old Man returns… only to set out on his most dangerous journey yet. With his granddaughter in tow, he sets out across a post-apocalyptic wasteland to free a group of survivors trapped beneath a mountain in the underground bunker at NORAD. They trek across the desert, riddled with the terrors of insane vagrants, infected with radiation poisoning, and head into the dangerous tribal territory of the Apaches, rescuing a mysterious Boy in the desert along the way. This is King Lear as viewed through a gritty, post-apocalyptic lens, and the madness becomes tangible as our heroes confront the infamous and unsettling King Charlie—a maniacal fool bent on the nonsense of utopia.
Published in one volume as The Wasteland Saga, you can find out how to purchase the book here.

About the Author

Nick Cole is a working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can often be found as a guard for King Phillip the Second of Spain in the Opera Don Carlo at Los Angeles Opera or some similar role. Nick Cole has been writing for most of his life and acting in Hollywood after serving in the U.S. Army.


Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing the prize, which is one copy of The Wasteland Saga. The giveaway is US only I’m afraid, sorry to my readers from elsewhere! (giveaway removed after migration to WordPress)

Review: The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett


4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I devoured the first two books in this series, so when I saw the ARC of The Daylight War on Edelweiss I immediately requested it. And reading this ARC has shown me just how badly I get on with the Kindle.

This is a book I’d been anticipating since I finished The Desert Spear. One that I couldn’t wait to start – but even then I didn’t pick it up until June, despite getting a copy of the ARC at the beginning of the year. And I didn’t finish it until a couple of days ago, in early September.

But I’m not actually sure if it was just the fault of the Kindle.

Whilst I can’t fault Peter V. Brett’s wonderful writing style and vivid imagination, there was just something about this book that just didn’t match up to the other two. We spent a vast majority of it in the past, with Inevera – which whilst explaining her behaviour and perhaps justifying (some of) her actions, really made me feel like there was far too much background. In fact the book barely advanced time wise, because so much of it was spent in the past.

I also got irritated by Arlen and Renna, eventually. Their relationship was sweet at first, and it was nice to see the real Arlen Bales that I knew from the first book, rather than the Warded Man, but their way of talking to each other started to bug me. This volume of the series certainly tends to focus a lot more on relationships, with even Rojer getting some action. He lost my respect though – although he may have been embracing Krasian culture, it felt kind of… creepy.

However, Leesha was her usual headstrong self, and has some problems she will have to face in the next book. As well as this, we will see the conclusion of the cliffhanger – and I can’t decide if that frustrates me or gets me excited for the next book!

Sorry this review is so short. I didn’t take very comprehensive notes because of the time it took me to read it, plus I read a large majority on a long train ride home so didn’t manage to make any notes during that time. I just want to express that The Daylight War keeps up the wonderful world-building of the first two books, whilst lacking most of the excitement. There was just far too much of the past, and not enough of the present, where the demon threat is. Although some of the developments (Rojer’s talent in particular) were exciting, it fell flat compared to the action of the first book in particular.

However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a four star rating. Keep writing, Mr. Brett.