The Combat Codes – MMA (Magical Masters in Asskicking)

The Combat Codes, by Alexander Darwin, is the latest in a series of new-age magical school stories with fresh settings and ideas on what constitutes a school. In this case, the reader will find themselves presented with a mashup of MMA fighting and your typical zero-to-hero schoolboy coming-of-age story. Darwin’s injection of passion for gritty…

The Will Of The Many – The Strength Of The Few

Just as I was getting tired of magical school stories, I found myself presented with possibly the best one yet. Some years it is difficult to know which books will be in your top picks and other years you get standout paragons of excellence, like James Islington’s The Will of the Many. Islington already rates…

The Golden Enclaves – Flashy Finish

I was looking forward to the third and final piece of The Scholomance Trilogy, The Golden Enclaves, with lukewarm excitement. Though Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education charmed the pants off of me despite its lore dumping and endless tell not show, the second book, The Last Graduate, had big ideas that interested me less than…

Daughter Of Redwinter – Two Headstones Way Up

Introducing another surprise hit for 2022, Ed McDonald’s Daughter of Redwinter. I have read McDonald’s other fantasy series, Raven’s Mark, and enjoyed myself greatly. There was definitely room for improvement, but the core of his last series was great (you can find reviews about it here) and McDonald has a real talent for bringing life…