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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

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Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
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REVIEW | Dragonfly Falling & Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Pyr)

If you haven't read my review of Empire in Black and Gold start with that as somethings below might be a bit spoliery. Or flip to the last paragraph to get my summation on both books.

To say that Dragonfly Falling is better than the Empire is putting it too lightly. After Empire my expectations were pretty high for Dragonfly Falling and it didn't just meet them, but knocked them out of the park with its decidedly militaristic tone. Dragonfly Falling picks up soon after the action of Empire In Black and Gold, which was a prelude of so much. While the first volume acted well to introduce a part of this incredibly rich world, some of its cultures, and an endearing cast of characters Dragonfly Falling blows everything up into Epic proportions. The battles get bigger, bloodier, and more intricate.

The Wasps while thwarted in their original plans are nonplussed as they change tactics from subversive to more straight forward means as they pit the Ant-kinden city-state of Vek against Collegium while they attempt to conquer other Ant-kinden holdings. Master Maker Stenwold's cadre of apprentices and wards again are cast to the wind as they try to unite the lowlands and defy the Wasps. This is no easy feat, but there are rumblings of troubles within the Wasp upper echelon as generals grab for power, which leads to some unexpected Wasp allies.

The majority of Dragonfly Falling is one big beautiful battle after another. We finally get to see the Collegium's techno innovations turned against other groups that shake their creators to their core with the repercussions. We also meet a few new characters who become very important as the series goes on including a very mad Dragonfly-kinden woman who is after a certain Wasp Major. Tynisa and Tisamon finally get some alone time with one another as they journey to the training ground of the Mantis-kinden in hope of Tynisa earning her heritage. If it is one things Mantis-kinden know it is how to make someone pay.

What becomes of Totho while not totally unforeseen plays out very nicely as his allegiance is tested time and again, but he finally gets to prove his worth even if it is for the wrong reasons. On the other hand Salma's role in things is all too predictable. I saw this coming from the moment he was first captured in Empire. and Cheer is being built up for a lot, but it still doesn't seem to be apparent just exactly what. This volume also has the B story of  the Shadow Box being sought after by the Wasp Empire and Achaeos trying to stop them. The Shadow Box is ancient and has a one ring kind of vibe to it at the moment where everyone wants it, but don't know precisely what to do with it.  Even though this is a long series in the planning each volume has a definitive end and beginning with a few things left over for the next go around.

Blood of the Mantis dials things back a bit after the in-depth action of Dragonfly Falling, but strives to widen the world as the Spider-Kinden lands and other unexplored parts of the world are uncovered. Don't get me wrong it still has plenty of action, but it is more on the level of Empire in Black and Gold with skirmishes or one-on-one fights rather than the big scale of Dragonfly Falling. Mantis is also the shortest of the series to date at a mere 300ish pages compared to the bulky 450+ pages of Dragonfly.

Blood of the Mantis takes to the skies as Cheer makes her way into the Spiderlands to see what the Wasps are trying to pull there. She meets up with an aviatrix, which sounds just a bit dirty every time I read it who leads her around the area. Cheer is finally becoming her own person this time around as she is more decisive, but still wary. The second main part of the story is Achaeos in hot pursuit of the shadow box in Wasp controlled lands we haven't seen before. We get to meet some new and very unusual Kinden in these parts and I can only guess what will go on when this group leaves their nesting ground.

Overall this is a series that doesn't disappoint. It has got everything a lover of Epic Fantasy could want plus offers many new and fresh innovations with steam-tech, but it is the world and cultures you'll keep coming back for as you meet the whole pantheon of insect Kindens throughout the lands and delve deeper into the back story as it unfolds. It definitely pays to read these books close together so some of the details and nuances of the characters aren't lost. The only problem with the series is the constant jumping around of points of view, but the author knows this is a big world and he is anxious to give you all the details. I give Dragonfly Falling 9 out of 10 hats and Blood of the Mantis 8 out of 10 hats. All of this has me wondering what is next as I'll soon be devouring Salute the Dark, which is the 4th book in the series. At this point the author hopes to do at least 10 total volumes in the series with the first 4 comprising one major arc so we aren't hanging open for some closures.

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REVIEW | Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
INTERVIEW | Lou Anders Editor of Pyr
REVIEW | Midwinter by Matthew Sturges
REVIEW | Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding