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Welcome to the December 2020 reading wrap-up. It’s now January, the year that was 2020 is over, and I think most of us are relieved that it is.
Now, I don’t think 2021 is just magically gonna be better (that’s just wishful thinking), but I have hope that things will look up at some point.
As far as December goes: it was a pretty relaxed month to be honest. Sure, I had to push a bit with work so I could enjoy my holidays. But I did finish what I wanted and I went into full relax-mode over Christmas and New Years.
Not gonna lie: going back to work was a bit tough.
Anyway, I do have quite some mini reviews here for you!
First off, I finished The Belgariad, (you can find my review of book 1 here, and of book 2 here). So I will share with you my thoughts on Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, and Enchanter’s Endgame.
Other than that, I’ll also share my review of Opaque, a YA (though, not really) Fantasy Romance, and We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under the Skies.
I’d hoped to have finished Godsgrave in December, but I’m still reading it. So that review will have to wait until January.
Read on for my mini-reviews of these Fantasy & Sci-Fi books I read for my December reading wrap-up, and decide what to read next. 🤓
Table of Contents
Mini-reviews December 2020
Magician's Gambit by David Eddings
Genre: YA Epic Coming-of-Age Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
In the third book of The Belgariad, our companions are finally, finally, going to the place they need to go to retrieve the orb. As it turns out, Zedar, the thief, has given the orb to Chtutchik, a grolim priest and a faithful follower of Torak.
As is now the custom, the journey brings them across new lands, even more dangerous than before. Ce’Nedra is still very much confused about it all, while Garion is still coming to grips with being a sorcerer himself, refusing to learn more. The journey takes them through empty, haunted lands, to the Vale of Aldur himself, and the deep caves of the mystical Ulgo’s. Every step closer to the land of the Murgo’s, where Chtutchik is sitting with the orb.
In Magician’s Gambit, we get some more chapters from Ce’Nedra’s perspective, which I thought was quite interesting. We get to know her a bit better, all her insecurities and peevishness. I think it was a good choice; otherwise, we’d just think she was a spoiled Princess. Though I’m not gonna say she isn’t, at least there is a bit more to her than that.
The Ulgo’s were a fascinating people to read about, living in their caves in almost complete darkness. They’ve somehow made a home for themselves there. Amongst them is Relg, a complete zealot. He brings for some sad yet also funny moments.
This book’s momentum was a bit higher than for Queen of Sorcery, with a pretty epic battle at the end. However, there was one fight between Silk and someone-I-won’t-yet-name that was hinted at during the book. And when that fight happened, it was a bit anti-climactic: it was almost too easy.
So, after this book, it’s safe to say that we’ll get at least one resolution of the quest, so that’s pretty cool. And it’s just a solid sequel. This book gets a full 5 stars:
Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings
Genre: YA Epic Coming-of-Age Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
The saga is almost complete by the ending of this book, but still, one thing needs to happen. Now that Garion and his friends have recovered the orb, there’s still something that needs to be done. The King of Riva needs to touch the orb and put it in the sword that still hangs in Riva’s Hall of Kings.
So, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler since it was pretty clear from the very first book, but Garion is obviously that actual Rivan King. Which somehow, he hadn’t quite figured out himself yet. But the company sets out to Riva after barely escaping the events at the end of Magician’s Gambit. They even pick up a new companion, a Marag woman, a race thought to be extinct.
There are other implications of Garion being the Rivan King, of course, one that he hadn’t thought about himself. But Ce’Nedra most certainly hasn’t forgotten: they’re going to get married.
On top of all that, there’s also still one challenge left to face for Garion: Torak himself. Can he ever defeat the One-eyed God? And how can he do it without spilling thousands of lives?
Castle of Wizardry is again a story that completely immersed me. The Rivan’s are a peculiar folk, with a different appearance on the outside than what is within them all. And that’s all because they’re supposed to protect the orb. Brand, the warden, has a slightly more prominent role, and we get to know him as quite the conservatist. Which naturally is quite the opposite of how Garion sees the world.
The book is a bit slower since most of it is centered around their journey to Riva and the whole coronation and setting up the engagement. But it does pick up at some point, so don’t worry about that!
I won’t spill any more words to it: if you’ve come this far, you’re going to want to read them all. Also, a full 5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Enchanters' Endgame by David Eddings
Genre: YA Epic Coming-of-Age Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
It is the final book of The Belgariad! While Garion, Belgarath, and Silk are on their journey to Torak, Princess Ce’Nadra has stayed in Riva with Polgara and their other friends and raised an army for the upcoming war.
In this final book, we again get some diversity in viewpoint, where we sometimes see things from Ce’Nedra’s perspective and other times in Garion’s perspective. We occasionally see the things happening in the other Kingdoms, where the woman are now ruling in the absence of the Kings since they’re all busy going to war.
All in all, I can say it was a pretty good conclusion to what I thought was a highly entertaining book series. We get the build-up to Garion’s and Torak’s show-down, and the show-down itself was short but sweet. Then, there is the battle between the Alorn kingdoms and the Angaraks, which was also exciting to read. I do love a good battle-scene or two (or three).
What can I say? Read the conclusion and let me know your thoughts about the books! For me, this book also gets 5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies (We Are Voulhire #1) by Matthew Tysz
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy
I received a free copy of the book through Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review.
We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the first book in a larger epic fantasy series. The book is mostly an introduction to the world, the characters, and the larger story setup. Because of that, the pace was a bit slow, but the story still held my interest, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
As is common in epic fantasy, we follow multiple characters. In this first installment, Galen and Lord Eldus were the most prominent ones. Interestingly, the chapters from Galen’s perspective were written in first person, while the other chapters were all written in third person limited. This might hint at Galen being the narrator of the entire book as he relates what’s happening throughout Voulhire.
There are a couple of things happening in Voulhire. Galen takes a boat from the Lands of the Princes to Magnum Caelum in Voulhire. He inherited his great-uncle’s forgery and is thrilled to start a new life, away from the lands that are always at war. When he arrives, Galen meets Rowan, his uncle’s executor, who helps him get started and acclimated to life in Voulhire.
Second of all, there was a great mage called Meldorath, who used to be a general and a King’s friend. Meldorath became the Lord of a small town called Hillport, where he committed some atrocities. The story goes that Meldorath died through suicide after being called to the King. So, Hillport needs a new Lord. The job falls to Lord Eldus to help the town get back on its feet. But will he be able to protect the town against the Riva Rohavi, a notorious band of terrorists, now that the threat of Meldorath is gone?
In the book, we get a sense of the world Matthew Tysz created. The world felt like a more modern version than the usual Medieval realm fantasy stories take place in. It seemed to be more centered around the Industrial Age, where the world is just learning about the steam engines’ potential. This also means that there are universities, schools, medicine, and courtrooms. Apart from that, there’s also magic in Voulhire. This magic comes from the realm they call Caromentis. A mage is someone who can draw power from that world.
All in all, this first book of the Voulhire series was a great start, with Galen already being my favorite character. I loved the world the author created and am very curious to see where the story goes next. The book was also edited really well, as I couldn’t find any grammatical errors.
In total, I give this book 4/5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Opaque (Scion Saga #1) by Calix Leigh-Reign
Genre: NA Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Superpowers
Publisher: Cayélle Publishing/Surge
I received a free copy of this book from onlinebookclub in exchange for an honest review.
Opaque by Calix Leigh-Reign was a book with an interesting premise, but for me failed in the execution. The book is a Young Adult fantasy novel told from the perspective of Adam and Carly.
The story is about Adam, who struggles with some very dark desires, and how his life changes when Carly enters it. He’s immediately attracted to her but doesn’t understand why. Carly feels the same, strange pull when she’s around Adam. She’s a Descendant from an almost extinct Russian bloodline, with mutated genes that give her extraordinary abilities. Descendants are identifiable by their glowing Limbal Rings—something that Adam can also do. This doesn’t seem possible since Adam is not part of the Russian line. Carly has her suspicions and dives into Adam’s history to find out the truth.
From the start of the story, I wasn’t pulled in. The story builds very slowly, which is fine, except that I didn’t feel all the scenes truly added tension. While the book contains some interesting scenes and good action, the final climax felt rushed, especially considering how long it took to build up to this point. The whole ‘final battle’ was over in one short chapter.
We begin the story from Adam’s point of view, and I’m not sure this was the best choice. He’s not a likable character, as he feels better than everyone else and calls all other people ‘animals’. Not to mention the darkness that’s inside him, where some things I found quite uncomfortable to read. A character like Adam can work in a book—I’ve read and enjoyed other books with sociopathic-like main characters—but only if it’s set up well. This wasn’t the case in Opaque.
While Adam goes through the most change of all, what bugged me about it was how all his dark and disturbing behavior was brushed off. Everything he did was justified; even things that should be unforgivable, or at least a lot more difficult to get over than Carly did. Her quick acceptance of it all seemed out of character for her.
It might have been different if the story started from Carly’s perspective, as I did enjoy her chapters more. She was kind, tough, and brave—a far more typical YA character. She didn’t have much of a character arc, though.
I do think the author did well in terms of world-building. The supernatural abilities are explained from a more scientific origin that makes the powers believable. Other than that, there’s a good deal of detail about the different powers, how they are used, and more.
Calix’s style of writing, however, is not for me. It felt overly complicated—as if the author tried too hard to make it sound literary. In any case, it is not a YA book in terms of writing, and possibly also not in terms of content. Especially the dialogue felt clunky, and I doubt that actual teenagers talk the way Adam and Carly do. In terms of errors, I must say I couldn’t find any, and it seemed like the book was well-edited.
So, all in all, it had an interesting premise and the supernatural elements were original and developed well, but the writing style and the characters didn’t work for me. However, while this may be true for me, it doesn’t mean others can’t enjoy this type of book. So if you are looking for a slightly darker YA-type book (though it’s probably more New Adult), this might still be a book you’d enjoy. I would, however, read the first chapter on Amazon to see how you feel about the style of writing.
I give this book 2/5 stars:
Other Blog Posts
New On This Blog
🍁 If you’re interested to see what my End of the Year reading goals were, you can check out my End of the Year 2020 Book Tag
Book Recommendations, Reviews & Bookish stuff on other blogs
🍁 five book recommendations at standcorrectedediting for those who love Arthurian legends
🍁 A great review of Guild of Tokens, written by Yvonne at the coy caterpillar reads, which you should check out if you enjoy urban fantasy where the characters are in some real-life D&D quest.
🍁 Looking for fantasy books with strong female leads? Check out this article by Alice at alchemy bookshop.
🍁 For some recommendations on Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance books, you can look at this article by Leisha at Literary Leisha.
🍁 For more January releases besides Fantasy and Sci-Fi, you can have a look at these recommendations by Christine from the Uncorked Librarian.
🍁 Nathalie at nsmirage has made an extensive list of Fantasy books with some great action. She even made a nice overview to see how the books compare.
That's it for the December Reading Wrap-Up of 2020!
I hope you enjoyed my reviews or any of the other recommendations and blog-posts I linked here. I hope it helps you choose your next read for January 🙂
As for myself, I’ll keep reading Godsgrave, and I started on Wild, Dark Times, which was a request from the author. The rest of my January readings is actually still pretty open. Perhaps I’ll start one of the books still standing in my bookcase.
How about you? What did you read in December? Any favorites? And what are you planning to read in January?
Let me know in the comments!