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Friday, October 6, 2017

The Third SPFBO Semifinalist Update (by Mihir Wanchoo)


With the first & second semi-finalists already chosen, it was high time that we went through the other titles. I have to apologize in this regard as work had caused my reviewing to take a backseat. Cindy had a family emergency which also took most of her time. As I had explained in my 2017 SPFBO introduction post. We’ll be ideally selecting one book semifinalist from every five books. These book groupings are random and sometimes we might have no semi-finalists or we might have more than one in one group.

As with our previous two lots I’ve tried to read at least five chapters or 20% of the book (whichever was longer). So here are my concise thoughts on each of them:

The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh – This book was the third book based on the blurb and the excerpt and this book completely blew me away. The story is set in pre-historic times and features a Greek girl among Vikings, and Norse gods of yore. Plus she has to navigate her survival there with just her wits and her stories. The author’s characterization and lovely prose made me a fan and once I finished it. This book was a straightforward semifinalist for me. More to come in review next week…

Dybsy by A.M. MacdonaldDybsy is an interesting fantasy-SF hybrid story that I enjoyed reading but ultimately I couldn’t select to go forward. Let me be clear, the author has made it a very simple story to follow and the pace is terrific as well. The one thing that’s mars the read to a certain degree is the simplistic characterization. This book would be better enjoyed by 14-year old me but 34 year old me didn’t quite enjoy it to the same degree. A valiant effort and the author has to be lauded for this imaginative hybrid story with shades of Ender’s Game & Ready Player One (though with a lot less  pop culture references).

The Defenders' Apprentice by Amelia SmithThe Defender’s Apprentice is a classic fantasy story that will certainly have its fans. Amelia Smith does a good job of introducing her world and the relatable POV characters however its scope is limited because of the very predictable storyline. This is not a dig against the book and it certainly is for younger readers of fantasy. However for most genre readers (like myself) it doesn’t offer anything startling or original to mark itself out. A decent story that I liked but couldn’t really say that it would make me pick up the next book.

The Hiss of the Blade by Richard WrithenThe Hiss Of The Blade was a book that I had high hopes for as I often enjoy darker turns of fantasy. This book was a bit on the shorter side and while it offered some dark thrills. It didn’t quite seem that cohesive plot wise. I liked how the author set up the story with a gruesome murder and the noir shades to the story were very interesting however the characterization was a bit flat. Overall this is a story with some terrific scary bits to it but the execution wasn’t all that good which is why the story seemed more than a bit dry and I couldn’t care much for it.

The Woven Ring by M. D. Presley – This was another surprise for me as while the blurb seemed intriguing, this book blew me away completely. Let me be clear, this book has its odd bits to it but so far in the three years of SPFBO and among all the titles which I’ve read. This book has the best world-building showcased that I’ve ever come across. Not to say that’s the only plus point but featuring a dual storyline akin to Mark Lawrence’s Thorn trilogy. The author gives us a superb female anti-hero who will make readers admire & dislike her in equal parts. This book for me is the biggest surprise in SPFBO and I’ll be talking more about it in the proper review next week. Think Mark Lawrence's edgy characters meets Brandon Sanderson's worldbuiding skills and you will have an exact answer to what awaits within...



So there we have it, for the first time ever, we have two semifinalists chosen. The Songweaver’s Vow & The Woven Ring are two fantastic titles that SPFBO has unearthed and you all should be reading them pronto to see why they are so special IMHO.

Also I’ll be interviewing both the authors as well so look forward to their thoughts on a variety of topics…

3 comments:

Cindy said...

Thank you for stepping in and handling this round Mihir!

MD Presley said...

Thanks so much, Mihir. I'm admittedly drunk at the moment, but am currently considering getting your last Mark Lawrence/ Brandon Sanderson quote tattooed on my arm so I can see it every time I'm at the keyboard.

And to anyone who's thinking of ordering The Woven Ring - It's going to be on sale next week (Nov 11-13) for $.99 (or pence/ whatever). So budget accordingly.

MD Presley said...

PS, I meant OCTOBER 11-13, not November.

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