QTL – The Most Anticipated Books Of 2021

This week 2020 is finally rolling to a close and we have been spending some time resting, recuperating, and catching up on a number of books from this year. Yet, the show must go on and we have been furiously planning a site refresh and scheduling all of our content for 2021. In the midst of doing all of this we built a pretty comprehensive calendar of all the fantasy, sci-fi, and other books we want to keep an eye on – and discovered that 2021 is shaping up to be a very strong year for books. This is nice, given how difficult 2020 has been. While we were making this list, we figured it might be fun to highlight some of our most anticipated books for those of you who don’t want to spend a week digging through every single publisher release schedule. We have listed them in release order, not in order of excitement. We have provided cover art where available.

maskofmirrors-cover-664x1024-11) Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick – release date 1/19/2021 by Orbit: Renata Viraudax is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future. But as she’s drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.

51nihz4w52l2) The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers – release date 2/16/2021 by Harper Voyager: With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop. At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through. When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

51ucj27xfcl3) A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine – release date 3/2/2021 by Tor Books: An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options. In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity. Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

97812507570504) The Helm of Midnight by Marina J Lostetter – release date 4/13/2021 by Tor Books: In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power–the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city with a series of gruesome murders. Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question. It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.

61bym0xuusl5) Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer – released on 6/1/2021 by Tor Books: The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end. Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location. The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction could ever dominate. So that the balance held. The Hives’ facade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that facade is slipping away. Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone, Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints scramble to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.

42291958._uy1550_ss1550_6) Play of Shadows by Sebastian de Castell – released on 6/24/2021 by Jo Fletcher Books: Damelas Shademantaigne picked a poor night to flee a judicial duel. He has precious little hope of escaping the wrath of the Vixen, the most feared duellist in the entire city, until he stumbles through the stage doors of the magnificent Operato Belleza and tricks his way into the company of actors. An archaic law provides a temporary respite from his troubles – until one night a ghostly voice in his head causes Damelas to fumble his lines, inadvertently blurting out a dreadful truth: the city’s most legendary hero may actually be a traitor and a brutal murderer. With only the help of his boisterous and lusty friend Bereto, a beautiful assassin whose target may well be Damelas himself, and a company of misfit actors who’d just as soon see him dead, this failed son of two Greatcoats must somehow find within himself the courage to dig up long-buried truths before a ruthless band of bravos known as the Iron Orchids come for his head.

813aula04fl7) The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik – released on 7/6/2021 by Del Rey Books: At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules. The next installment of last years incredibly popular deadly education.

desert-torn-asunder-final-lg-768x1159-18) A Desert Torn Asunder by Bradley Beaulieu – released on 7/13/2021 by DAW: The final book in The Song of the Shattered Sands series closing an epic fantasy saga for the ages, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action. The plans of the desert gods are coming to fruition. Meryam, the deposed queen of Qaimir, hopes to raise the buried elder god, Ashael, an event that would bring ruin to the desert. Ashael means to journey to the land that was denied to him an age ago, no matter the cost to the desert. It now falls to Çeda and her unlikely assortment of allies to find a way to unite not only the desert tribes and the people of Sharakhai, but the city’s invaders as well. Even if they do, stopping Ashael will cost them dearly, perhaps more than all are willing to pay.

9) The Pariah by Anthony Ryan – released on 8/24/2021 by Orbit: Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army. Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?

10) The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie – released on 9/16/2021 by Gollancz: Chaos. Fury. Destruction. The Great Change is upon us. Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

978125021734911) Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune – released on 9/21/2021 by Tor Books: When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

And here are some additional books that we are super hyped about that don’t have details out yet:

  • Blood of the Chosen by Django Wexler
  • Fury of a Demon by Brian Naslund
  • Furious Heaven by Kate Elliott
  • Leviathan Falls by James SA Corey
  • Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft

Ashes Of The Sun – Hotter Than Plasma

517sguwkonlDjango Wexler presented me with a conundrum after finishing his newest book, Ashes of the Sun. Ashes is the first book in the Burningblade & Silvereye series, and on the one hand, Ashes is really good, and I am frothing at the mouth to get my hands on the next book in the series. On the other hand, Ashes tells a perfected version of a story I have seen in numerous fantasy books and makes me feel like I wasted days of my life reading other lesser books when I could have just read Ashes and saved time. So as you can see, I both love and resent this book for making other authors look like amateurs.

Ashes of the Sun has a number of plot elements that you have likely seen in existing fantasy stories. The world of Ashes is this post-apocalyptic fantasy hellscape. The reader learns early on that there once was a war between the Chosen – (over)zealous elemental magic users with divine power – and the Ghouls – biomancers with a penchant for sculpting flesh and machine into powerful combinations. The war between the Chosen and the Ghouls ravaged the lands and ended up killing both of them by the end of the war. Now, the only surviving semblance of either faction is a group of mages that served the Chosen, called The Twilight Order. The Order consists of humans who have a connection to magic at birth and are gathered from families at a young age by force to be trained as warriors. The Order’s job consists of essentially monitoring old magic and artifacts from the war and policing them so they don’t end up in the hands of regular humans. Part of this monitoring involves the tracking down and removal of Plaguespawn, bioweapons left laying around that eat people if they aren’t dealt with.

The protagonists are siblings that are separated at a young age. The prologue starts with them living on their family farm – Gyre, the older boy, looking after some livestock while Maya, the younger girl, runs around being a cute toddler. This gets interrupted when a member of the Twilight Order comes to scout Maya for initiation. When The Order mage tries to take her from her family by force, Gyre stands up to the caster and gets horribly maimed. While Maya ends up dropped into The Order for the next twelve years, Gyre starts to explore remnants of Ghoul technology left over from the war to enhance his body. The two siblings naturally end up on opposite sides of a very complicated conflict and must sort out the best way to move forward.

The thing about Ashes of the Sun is it has enormous depth. It’s a little difficult to explain, but the book’s power comes from all the small details. Nothing about this book is surface level; everything has been meticulously considered and thought out, breathing a huge amount of life into the world and characters. The world is fascinating and the Ghouls and Chosen have a lot of flavor. The clash of magic and technology is easy and intuitive for the reader to grasp, and neither side is painted as a black and white villain. The post-apocalyptic landscape is original and engaging. Reading about how salvagers dig for relics, or how the surviving humans retrofit the Chosen and Ghoul cities after the war to meet their needs, is enthralling. Every part of this world just aggressively pulls you in and makes you want more – and the worldbuilding isn’t even the best part.

My personal favorite thing about Ashes is our protagonists, Gyre and Maya. Both are complex, relatable POVs that go through an enormous amount of growth, and you can very clearly understand how they were shaped by their different upbringings. Most importantly, their relationship with each other is complicated, interesting, and believable. I have read around five “sibling on other sides of the war” stories in the last few years, and this one makes the rest look like they are bumbling around in the dark. Gyre and Maya have the perfect balance of love, respect, and distrust of one another and it’s like falling into an immersion riptide. And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that each protagonist has a colorful and memorable support cast that I hated at first, but would die for by the end of the book. Wexler’s ability to grow characters is impressive.

In addition, the plot of the book is exciting. This is not a slow read, with the pacing resembling an out of control brushfire. The book bounces you from small conflict to small conflict while using the time to slowly expose the reader to the world and how it works. By the time you are able to take a breath, the larger objectives and mysteries start to come into focus and the scope expands to a much larger scale. On top of this, the action is awesome. Maya and the rest of the order fling the elements about in flashy and explosive ways, while Gyre and the Ghouls build these nightmares that stretch the imagination and boggle the mind.

I aggressively recommend Ashes of the Sun as one of the strongest books to come out in 2020 so far. I was a fan of Wexler’s older work, but Ashes is a noticeable step up in worldbuilding, characterization, and general prose. I have earmarked this as one of my most anticipated series in years and I highly recommend that you don’t sleep on this one. Come see what all the buzz is about in this climactic first book in the Burningblade & Silvereye series.

Rating: Ashes of the Sun – 10/10
-Andrew

The Infernal Battallion – A Devilish Delight

Happy publication day Django Wexler, and congrats on finishing The Shadow Campaigns with your fifth and final installment, The Infernal Battalion. To celebrate I thought I would write a review (possibly thanks to the lovely advanced copy I got from netgalley in exchange for an honest review). The Shadow Campaigns has been a very difficult series for me to holistically rate. It has had both intense highs (with every action scene gripping my heart) and unfortunate lows (I don’t care how realistic it is, the logistics of moving an army through winter is not exciting). It is a series that seems to take two steps forward, one step back, for me and has alternated books I love with books I am neutral on. I wasn’t crazy about the fourth book in the series, The Guns of Empire, but The Infernal Battalion has reignited my love for this series like a demonic manifestation in an oil reservoir. If you are unfamiliar with The Shadow Campaigns, you should go pick up a copy of the first book, The Thousand Names, and come back to this once you have read the first four books. The following will have some mild spoilers, so turn back now.

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For those of you still around, let’s talk. I have worried since the end of book one that the finale of this series might be a let down. I feel like almost all protagonists who have a magic power that “cancels other magic” have the same ending – everyone buys time to give them a window to punch the magic villain who is overpowered as all hell. Winter certainly felt like she was going to fall into that category going into The Infernal Battalion, especially given how strong The Beast is. I am happy to say that while there is a little bit of the trope in Battalion, Wexler knew how to make things feel fresh and new. The strength of this series has always been more on its character development and action than its plot, but the ending of the story certainly wasn’t bad.

Speaking of great character development, Battalion completes the character arcs of every character in wonderfully fulfilling ways. The large and colorful cast all get interesting, unexpected, and satisfying endings. I was so worried how Jane’s story was going to end, because I assumed it had to go a certain way, and Wexler subverted my expectations completely and I loved it. Janus’s story is finally revealed in Battalion, and it lived up to my enormous expectations. All the love interests of the various cast panned out in satisfactory ways, and I got to the final pages and just wanted to pull everyone in for a massive team hug.

Additionally, the action in Battalion (something that has always been steller in the series) continues to meet the lofty bar established in The Thousand Names, with some really exciting solo fights as well. Wexler has a real talent for magical combat and one of my major complaints for the series is that there wasn’t more of it because the small snippets had me cheering aloud as I read them. Wexler’s dedication to historical accuracy of large battles is much more fun in a book like Battalion where there are large scale conflicts every few pages, compared to The Guns of Empire – a book that felt like it was mostly about the logistics of not dying to winter. I am super curious to see what Wexler will do next, because with his action scene skills I feel like just writing a story of a giant magical battle tournament would be incredible.

All in all, The Infernal Battalion ends The Shadow Campaigns on a really high note. It is a series with amazing characters and great action that will keep you up at night. While there were occasional pacing problems that really hurt the flow of the series, overall I think it is a fantastic read. Wexler clearly has an incredible talent for writing and historical accuracy, and I cannot wait to see where he goes next.

Rating: The Infernal Battalion – 8.0/10
Rating: The Shadow Campaigns – 7.5/10

-Andrew

The Guns Of Empire – Learning To Lose

25845201The Guns of Empire, by Django Wexler, was one of my most anticipated books of 2016. The predecessor, The Price of Valour, was my #3 book from 2015 and pushed The Shadow Campaigns to one of my all time favorite series. With that in mind, Empire had big shoes to fill and I was concerned that it might not live up to its predecessor. Unfortunately, in some ways my worries were warranted, as The Guns of Empire is a weaker book than Valour. However, it certainly wasn’t a bad book and there is still a lot to like. As this is a review of the 4th book in a series of 5 there are some mild spoilers from book 3, so do not read on if you want to remain pure.

When we last left our intrepid cast at the end of book three, they had declared war on the church of Elysium and vowed to march to the church’s mountain fortress and make them pay for their sins. The book follows our group of three, Winter, Marcus, and Res as they lead and accompany the army north through treacherous woodland to wage war on a new set of foes. The real issue I had with The Guns of Empire is that it feels like a book entirely designed to set up the series finale. While I can forgive a certain amount of ramp up approaching the end of a larger series, a bridge book still needs to firmly stand on its own merits as it builds to the finale. The first half of Empire exists to drive home the idea that our protagonists are fallible. We see them make mistakes, regret their choices, and feel the first bits of doubt since the beginning of the series. Though I agree that they had too much hubris, the book spends a long time driving home a point I got in the first few pages. In addition, the second half of the book spends an inordinate amount of time setting up the final villain of the series. The villain is exciting and a great new direction for the series, but it still feels like too much time was spent introducing them.

On the other hand, Empire still follows through with many strengths of the earlier books such as: a truly one-of-a-kind group of protagonists, excellent setting, a creative magic system, and great writing quality. Res, the Vordan Queen, still continues to be one of my all time favorite characters. I wish I could read a book just from her POV, but Winter and Marcus are a blast as well. Wexler has a way with character development that feels organic. His protagonists evolve a great deal as people throughout the novel in ways that feel right for the events and settings. Character reactions to death, loss, and romantic difficulties feel refreshingly realistic and helped immerse me in the story more fully. However, while the character growth was great, Wexler’s expansion of his world had some bumps on its journey.

The fourth book continues to expand the ever growing world map of The Shadow Campaigns, and introduces us to multiple new countries. I felt some frustration with the book as the introduction of the novel led me to believe I would get to see new places and cultures that Wexler had dreamt up; and while we do get to explore some new cultures, it was not nearly to the extent I was expecting, or compared to what we saw in previous books. The magic system continued to impress, with a myriad of interesting new demons our cast had to contend with. However, a large part of the book revolves around dealing with the environment on a march which I found less satisfying that the smart political intrigue that was the highlight of earlier novels.

Despite my complaints, I still really enjoyed The Guns of Empire. It was an exciting book with a great cast and continued to raise the stakes in an interesting plot. I do, however, feel it could have been better and did not quite reach the high bar set by The Price of Valour. One thing The Guns of Empire did accomplish in spades was pump me up for the final book of the Shadow Campaigns, and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it. With all the setup out of the way I have complete faith that Wexler can deliver a stunning conclusion to this great series.

Rating: The Guns of Empire – 8.0/10

The Best Of 2015

The time has come for ‘Best of 2015’ threads and to reflect on all the wonderful books I enjoyed over the year. This piece will address my top 10 reads published in 2015, but is missing some of the amazing older books I read throughout the year. I read roughly 80 books this year, about half of which (40) were published in 2015, and the following books are my top picks. I found the new releases this year surprisingly less powerful than many sequels. Last year I gave over half the top 10 spots to new releases, whereas this year only three made the cut. It has been a year of very powerful sequels, in particular second installments of series. With that said, let’s talk about some of 2015’s gems and please note that some of the blurbs link to my full reviews of the books.

 

2354736410) Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien De Castell – one of my top five books from 2014 was Traitor’s Blade, the first of the Greatcoat series, for its incredible humor, emotional impact, and great cast. The follow-up, Knight’s Shadow, was a great addition that explored some large growth in the trinity of main characters, while still keeping the same powerful voice and tone from book one. The plot evolved nicely and the general quality of the book stayed consistent with Traitor’s Blade, but there was slightly less emotional impact in the second novel. With two demonstrations of consistent talent I am eagerly awaiting De Castell’s third entry, Saint’s Blood, in 2016.

 

234444829) The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – The first of the three entries on the list to not be sequels. The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a story of cultural warfare and a young girl whose home is eaten by an oppressive republic in her youth. To fight back, she becomes a cog in the great machine that is the republic and tries to bring it down from the inside. While suffering from some pacing issues, The Traitor Baru Cormorant brought a ton of new ideas to fantasy warfare and is a very different journey than your typical fare. The book has a fast pace start and end, but suffers a little in the middle. Regardless I am looking forward to more from Seth Dickinson.

 

twelve-kings_final-sm2-200x3008) Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu – The first of a new epic fantasy based in an Arabian setting. The story follows a girl named Cena, a gladiator in Sharakhai, as she tries to survive in an incredible city ruled by twelve kings in the center of a desert. The book had a very slow start but picked up pace rapidly after the first 20%, continuing all the way to the last page. With Bradley having found his groove I cannot wait to pick up the sequel to see where the story will go.

 

51pmvmp67ol-_sy344_bo1204203200_7) The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis – I read a lot of good historical fiction this year, with The Mechanical taking the win by a small margin. With its original setting, steampunk science, and character growth it was a refreshing read that distinguishes it from its competition. The story of The Netherlands and France has had me looking for historical fiction of a wider subject than WWII or England. The sequel, The Rising, releases next week and I will be picking it up immediately.

 

208838476) The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan – The only finale to make the list, The Autumn Republic finished off a series I don’t feel close to done with yet. McClellan’s world is gigantic, and with the close of this series I feel like we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Despite the ending feeling a little too quick, McClellan has finished a series to be proud of that maintains a high quality and exciting ride the entire way through.

 

 

61j8lp2b-eol-_sy344_bo1204203200_5) Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey – The Expanse novels are rapidly becoming my favorite purchase every summer (as they are released consistently every year in June). This series has now released five out of its nine novels and I have been blown away every single time. Every novel follows new perspectives, new challenges, and pushes the conflicts to new heights. I do not know how Ty Franik and Daniel Abraham are going to top the levels of panic and excitement Nemesis Games gave me, but I have said that about every single release. The books continue to both be a continuation of the greater series, and almost completely self contained at the same time. If you haven’t picked up any of The Expanse series yet, or have been waiting to read more, I highly encourage you to do so.

 

157044594) Firefight by Brandon Sanderson – Published early in the year, lots of people have overlooked this sleeper. Steelheart, a novel about powerless humans hunting super heroes, was a surprise hit with me. I decided to read it on a whim, despite not loving the premise,  and was blown away by the result. That being said, the first novel was very self contained and reached a pretty definite conclusion at the end, giving me a lot of concern where Sanderson was going to take the series or if it could remain good. The fact that Firefight is so much better than Steelheart was very hard to process at first. Sanderson takes his winning formula from book one, and makes it deeper, more intense, and simply a lot cooler. Sanderson’s talent for weird magic is on point with his collection of interesting super powers and the plot has a lot more emotional weight than it did in book one. The finale, Calamity, comes out next February and is one of my most anticipated books for 2016.

 

233463353) The Price of Valour by Django Wexler – The Shadow Campaigns keeps creeping up my lists the more and more I think about it. The third installment of five, The Price of Valour is proof that Wexler can learn from his mistakes and has no shortage of imagination. The Thousand Names, Wexler’s debut, was an incredible flintlock fantasy about a remote military campaign that was fast, exciting, and surprising complex. Its sequel, The Shadow Throne, was an attempt to expand the world from the first book and double the cast. While The Shadow Throne had a metric ton of new things I liked, it also felt like it lacked the exciting pace and style of Wexler’s Debut;however, The Price of Valour has it all. With the pacing and intensity of book one, and the amazing cast from book two, the third Shadow Campaign novel is the strongest so far and continues to unravel the gigantic web of mystery that covers the series.

 

220552832) Half the World by Joe AbercrombieHalf the World is the strangest book on this list to me. The second novel of The Shattered Seas trilogy, it stands miles above its prequel and sequel. Half a King (book one) and Half a War (book three) were both good Abercrombie novels (for those of you who know what that means) but neither is close to the level of Half the World. The second novel follows two perspectives, Brand and Thorn, that play off of one another in a truly magical way. It is the story of two people finding their place in the world, realizing who they are, and going on a journey. I have never seen better use of multiple perspective and the book led me on a emotional roller coaster from start to finish. This book is definitely one of Abercrombie’s finest pieces of writing.

 

91ishiycq1l1) Golden Son by Pierce BrownRed Rising is a really enjoyable book. It simultaneously steals all the things that are good from series like The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones,  and Ender’s Game while also creating both an imaginative and original setting and an exciting plot. It could simultaneously be described as a guilty pleasure, and an imaginative look as space colonization and class segregation. Red Rising had a pretty damn good thing going for it at the end of book one, and sets itself up to just reuse the incredibly powerful formula again in the sequel Golden Son… and then Pierce Brown decided to throw all of that momentum out the window and go in a completely different direction. The result is a book that felt like a massively different experience from Red Rising with the connecting theme being that both books are incredibly good. I was so confused as to why Pierce Brown would ditch his Red Rising gold mine until I was 10% in and read the entire book in one sitting. This book made me feel like a child again, discovering the wonder of reading for a first time and blowing my mind at every twist and turn. The finale, Morning Star, comes out in February and I highly recommend you check the series out.