Sequel Sundays | Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell

I’m a bit late yet again but considering all the blog tours I’m scheduled for this month, I figured it’s better to post this month’s Sequel Sunday a day late (or six days early?). No one really cares about this except for me but still… it’s in the name, y’know?

But whatever. This month I’m finally going to talk about an ongoing fantasy series that’s, in my humble opinion, criminally underrated: Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger series. I raved about the first book, Spellslinger, about a year ago and I even described it as the Harry Potter antithesis that we didn’t know we deserve. No tea, no shade to The Boy Who Lived, of course. Just saying that Harry Potter’s story, compared to other fantasy books, is really quite underwhelming, even considering the younger target audience. Also, HP’s magic system is so basic that it’s walking into class late with the latest Starbucks monstrosity and constantly on the verge of cultural appropriation every time it speaks.

Anyway. On to the review!

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2018 Reading Challenge Highlights

It’s a few days into 2019 and I’m still trying to cross out a few of my 2018 to-do’s because that’s just how I roll. Time management? Don’t know her.

Obviously, I meant to have this up before the new year but for reasons unbeknownst even to myself, I wasn’t able to start working on this post until the day after the first day of 2019. I had a rough outline scribbled somewhere in my little notebook about a week or so ago but I didn’t bother typing it down until much later. Oof.

Anyway. I read 100 books last year and, although there were a couple of bumps in the road, I mostly enjoyed the books listed in my Reading Challenge. Some I enjoyed better than others but, for the most part, 2018 was a good year of reading for me. I started reading a lot of series/trilogies, a couple of non-fiction books, and new titles from debut authors.

Interestingly enough, I hadn’t noticed how often I reached for fantasy and high fantasy books until I looked back into my reading list. To be honest, making this list was a bit tricky because my genres weren’t as varied as I’d like. I couldn’t really include that many categories because most of the time it would turn out that I hadn’t really read that many books in a certain genre for them to count as a category. In some genres like horror and thriller, I hadn’t even read more than three books of the genre. It’s strange because horror and thriller used to be my favorite genres when I was a kid. Now I’m more into magic and stuff.

So, yeah, the categories on this Reading Challenge highlights is going to be a little paltry but whatever.

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Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell: Harry Potter Antithesis, Hard Magic Advocate

Just a little preface in case my actual message/review is buried in my haphazard asides: I LOVED Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger. It was riveting, emotional, and immersive. This book went far beyond my expectations and I went into this book expecting to like it. Spellslinger is a wonderfully magical book that stands out from other recent fantasy novels and is, in my opinion, offensively underrated.

That being said, watch me contrast it to possibly the most overrated fantasy series of all time.

I know that it’s trite and unfair to compare every book about a kid who can use magic to the Harry Potter series but hear me out for a second. Spellslinger might just be the anti-Harry Potter series that we didn’t know we needed. That’s right. I said it.

Whether de Castell intended it or not, most of the elements in the story are almost in complete opposition of everything the Harry Potter books stand for. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the two for a second. (Note: I’m looking at the HP series as a whole while only talking about the first book of the Spellslinger series. Uneven footing, yeah, but I feel like my point still stands.)

In Harry Potter, Harry was brought up in a strikingly non-magical household after the death of his parents. He starts learning how to wield magic and is quite a natural at wizardry. Harry quickly gains fame as a powerful wizard, though people expected nothing less from The Boy Who Lived. Harry immediately falls in love with the magical world and ultimately ends up putting his life on the line for his people. 

Spellslinger goes in  the exact opposite direction. Kellen grew up in a powerful magical family, both of his (living) parents accomplished mages in their own right. He was taught how to do spells since he was a kid but has always been rather mediocre at practicing actual magic (though he knows all the theories behind the spells to heart). Kellen quickly  gains infamy within his clan as the weakest initiate. And, one of the biggest contrasts to Harry, Kellen, over the course of the story, slowly realizes that the magical society that he has loved all his life is actually really, really shitty.

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What I Read in August

It’s the third day of September (at least I hope it still is by the time I get this done) and I’ve realized yet again that I’ve only published one blog post last month. Heck, besides just recently, I barely even opened my drafts folder to work on a post. It’s so annoying because I used to be able to blog so easily before. To be fair, I rarely put any thought or effort on my posts back when I was a wee “blogger.” My posts used to be just pure, unadulterated teenage drivel.

Now that I’m older I’m aiming for more, shall we say, substantial blog posts. Quality is what I’m going for on this blog, not quantity. I want to write blog posts that actually have some thought and meaning to them. Blog posts that I actually bothered to make an effort to be something worth reading. Blog posts that I can read back and not roll my eyes to oblivion for being so feckless and unnecessary.

Not this blog post though. This post is to just make sure that I don’t have two posts of the same subject (The Oremere Chronicles) published right next to each other. I don’t want people to think that I’ve done nothing since then.

So here are the books I read in August. It’s a mixed bag, this month’s reads. Graphic novels, a non-fiction account, two disappointing old timey books, and an absolutely magical magic book that I’m currently obsessed with.

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