Beautiful World of Books – The First Third of 2022

We’ll get back to the Wheel of Time next week, but today I wanted to do something a wee bit different. See, I really enjoyed last year’s recap post where I laid out the covers of all the books I’d read in 2021, so I figured I’d do one each quarter of 2022!

Except, well, I kinda missed the whole quarter thing, so maybe I’ll do thirds instead. Anyway, these are all the books I’ve read this year. Enjoy!

Shadowdance – the Beautiful World of Books

With the release of The Bladed Faith coming next week, I thought it might be nice to take a look back at some of David Dalglish’s previous series to see just how far we’ve come. Now, as the author has written and published waaay more than just a handful of books, we have quite a few options for this. The the most recent Keepers trilogy, preceded by the Seraphim one. Then there are the shared universe ones. In chronological order: the Breaking World trilogy; then the Shadowdance hexalogy (that’s 6—not including the Cloak and Spider prequel), whose own timeline overlaps the Paladins’ tetralogy (that’s 4); and at last the Half-Orcs heptalogy or septology (which is 7). That’s… a lot of books.

Now, it’s fair to say that Dalglish is one of my favorite authors, but even I haven’t read all his stuff. And while I’ve read and reviewed at least some of his stuff on here, I’m willing to bet that many of you are only kinda aware that he exists. And likely weren’t aware that he’d published nearly 30 books.

To be fair, a lot of these were self-pubbed, and haven’t been repubbed by any major outlets. But they still carry the same quality as most of the rest of his works—although the early ones are a bit rough around the edges.

Anyway, while I’ll try to work through these series fully, for now let’s focus on my original favorite, my first introduction to Dalglish—the Shadowdance series.

This was a tricky one, as only four of the books were self-published before being picked up fully by Orbit, so there are four self-pubbed entries—plus the Cloak and Spider novella. Also, two of them have different names. Though actually, it’s more than just that. Books #3 & 4—A Dance of Mirrors and A Dance of Shadows—were originally published as A Dance of Death and Blood of the Underworld, books where Dalglish changed the titles on because he did significant restructuring and rewriting so that the stories don’t really match up anymore. They’re actually quite different than the others, if I remember correctly, though it’s been a while since I read them. You used to be able to find the two self-published versions on Dalglish’s website for free—if you were curious—though I’m not sure if that’s still a thing.

Self-Published Shadowdance

Orbit Shadowdance

So, which do you like better: the classic fantasy vibe that the self-published ones have, or the more uniform, if stylized decoration upon the Orbit ones?

Rockton by Kelley Armstrong – The Beautiful World of Books

You’d be forgiven for not realizing it, but Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton series came to a close in February of this year with the release of the Deepest of Secrets. February was jam-packed with releases, so I almost missed it myself. In fact, it wasn’t until Mogsy’s review of it that I found out it was the final book.

Though I guess it makes sense. Just how many murders can one stage in the remote Yukon wilderness, where the population of moose almost surely exceeds that of humans? Now I haven’t read the latest book yet (or #6, for that matter), but does that mean that we can’t take a look back on the seven covers that have led us to this point?

Well, I’m doing it anyway.

Now I’m going to post two separate sets of seven. The first are those covers from Minotaur Books. The others… are… kind of a collected set from other publishers in English. I don’t know why, but there were some that I couldn’t find covers for from one certain publisher that I’d never heard of. So… yeah, two sets of seven.

Rockton (Set #1)

Rockton (Minotaur Books)

So, which do you like better? The Minotaur ones or the… others? Personally, I’d pick most of the others, but not absolutely all of them.

Well… maybe all of them.

By the way, just in case you were curious, check out my reviews for the first 3 books in the series below! I uh kinda skipped #4, Watcher in the Woods (as in I DNFed it), but my review of Alone in the Wild should be out sometime soon—maybe by the end of March.

• Review of City of the Lost

• Review of A Darkness Absolute

• Review of This Fallen Prey

Until next time!

The Tchaikovsky Novella – Beautiful World of Books

I seems like every year I’m reading one or two Tchaikovsky novellas a year, thinking “Wow, I should really read more of his stuff”—only to read more of his full-length novels and thinking “Wow, why do I like this guy again?” Now, I’ve heard that it’s mostly his recent stuff that’s the problem. That it’s too dry and political. And dry. And boring. Now I’ve also heard that Shards of Earth is different; a return to his older work, his better stuff.

Still, Adrian Tchaikovsky has been pumping out one or two good novellas a year, which is quite impressive considering he’s also writing full-length stuff. For the last four years I’ve read one per—all of which have been excellent—a trend that has extended through this year. So here’s the art of the Tchaikovsky Novella:

And there they are: all the Tchaikovsky novellas from recent years! Do you have more to mention that I failed to include? I probably missed some, the way the guy keeps churning them out. Personally, I’ve read 5 of these 9 so far (the final five, while I haven’t read the first four: Ironclads, Elder Race and either Expert System ones). How many have you read? Or even heard of? And if you’ve never heard of Ogres before now, don’t worry—Tchaikovsky’s latest novella comes out the 15th of March, 2022. And it is as excellent as his recent work, I assure you;)

Beautiful World of Books – Traitor Son Cycle

This week’s beautiful covers come courtesy of Miles Cameron, for his gritty, high fantasy epic series, The Traitor Son Cycle. These five books are highly intensive (sometimes too much so) and amazingly detailed, with unrivaled weapons and equipment expertise coming out of the Dark Ages. There is a bit of a mid-series lull, but it both opens and closes very strongly. The covers are also quite lovely, though while the US (Orbit) ones tend to focus on the title character Red Knight himself, the UK (Gollancz) instead include some mythical beast for him to fight. Well, you’ll see.

Orbit Books

These are strong and gritty knightly poses. As the quote on the cover of the first book states: Forget George and the Dragon. Forget fancy knights and daring deeds. Slaying dragons is a BLOODY business. These covers are very much like that. There’s a very dose of black around the edges, and shadows galore. There’s a knight in full armor, a sword stained red. It’s almost like the artist knew that their work would adorn a grimdark series. While I do like the Gollancz covers better for their inclusion of a beast or two, I do vastly prefer the font on these covers!

Gollancz

These… well, I like these a lot better. Yes, I actually prefer the use of black and shadow in the US covers that help convey the gritty tone of the texts, but it’s hard for me to argue with the UK’s rendition of mythical beasts. Especially A Plague of Swords—because who doesn’t just love a kraken?

Well, that’s this week’s pick for beautiful covers! Next week I’ll once again be featuring the work of Miles Cameron in his second fantasy series, Masters & Mages, so get hyped for that! If you’re familiar with them—great! Because I haven’t actually read those. These, I loved—mostly. But they’re a bit dense and take a while to get through. And they can get a bit dry when the author descends into one of his military equipment or court etiquette spiels. I’d still definitely recommend the Traitor Son Cycle, especially for lovers of high fantasy and grimdark alike, just be forewarned that it can be a bit… heavy, at times. Hope you liked these covers! But which set did you prefer? And have you read these books, or want to read them?

The Long War – Beautiful World of Books

I’ve read A.J. Smith only twice before—having stalled in the middle of not one, but two of his series’ sequels. The trilogy he’s currently writing is the Form & Void trilogy, but the one that started it all was the Long War tetralogy, a series of epic, dark fantasy novels Smith wrote; set in a world he created over several years of tabletop gaming. While I’ve been having issues getting into the books themselves, the world is very finely crafted and vividly imagined. And while I continue to hear good things about the series, I’m not sure this is a story I’ll ever experience to fruition.

But I can show off the covers.

The Long War

To be honest, while I find the cover of the Black Guard somewhat interesting, the next two—the Dark Blood (#2) and the Red Prince (#3) (not to mention the Tales omnibus)—are rather boring. Weapons, by themselves, are a bit overplayed in fantasy books, and maybe as a result somewhat pedantic. That said, I quite like the axe adorning the cover of the World Raven. It’s probably my favorite of the four.

Form & Void

These all stick to the same basic sea-theme, but since they’re waaay less generic than the Long War covers. And I kinda like how well they go together.

I’m still planning on continuing the Form & Void trilogy (I need to restart #2, The Sword Falls sometime soon), but I might not ever come back to the Long War. I know Drew would be somewhat disappointed in this decision as I seem to remember him really liking this series, but has anyone else read it? And what do you think? Also, what’d you think of the covers—favorites?

Beautiful World of Books – The Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries

After last weekend’s review of Smoke and Ashes, I thought I’d do the Wyndham and Banerjee Mysteries on this week’s BWoB, as many feature quite pretty (or if not, interesting) covers. While a few I find disappointing—for they seem to cast Colonial India as a drab (which it wasn’t), depressing (which it very much was, depending on who you were) place—through their use of unflattering yellows and browns, in general it’s a bunch of lovely covers depicting an even lovelier series. And I do so love when a good book is matched with an equally good cover!

A Rising Man

Vintage (2016) • PegasusVintage (2020)

I have no idea who did any of the cover art for these, so if you do please do let me know. As much as I love both the first two, I hate the 2020 release from Vintage enough to make up for that. I won’t go into the reasons why—I just don’t like it. The 2016 Vintage is probably my favorite, but the Pegasus is a close second. This is the only book in the series I didn’t prefer the Pegasus covers on.

A Necessary Evil

Harvill SeckerPegasus

I had to uncrop this specifically to get the flowers to show. So they won’t match up, something that is kinda driving me nuts. But the addition of red blooms here to break up the green and brown of the jungle is what makes this one of the loveliest covers in the series, in my opinion. While there’s nothing wrong with the opposing cover, the Pegasus one features a character shrouded in the shadows of the jungle around him, something that lends itself directly to the lead’s experience in the text.

Smoke and Ashes

PegasusHarvill Secker

The most recent book in the series I’ve read is always my favorite to date. But—other than possibly the most recent Shadows of Men—I’d say it has the blandest covers. Though the smoke and indistinct shadows of the Pegasus copy did relate very nicely to the actual text.

Death in the East

Harvill SeckerPegasusVintage

The strongest covers of the series feature in Book #4—Death in the East. I’m not sure which one I like the most, and that’s okay. They’re all good, and all for the enjoying! While I’ll probably never own this in physical form, ideally I’d like to have all three of these covers (provided I also had somewhere to put them).

The Shadows of Men

VintagePegasus

The most recent release from Abir Mukherjee finds Wyndham and Banerjee traveling to Mumbai (Bombay) investigating a murder. Here, both covers go for the same stylized arch, the so-called “Gateway of India” (yes, I had to google the name). The background colors are a little different, but neither instills any real feeling of hope. One feels very much overshadowed by dread (at least that’s what I think of when I see the red and black clouds like wildfire), while the other’s drab overtones speak more of hopelessness.

My favorites here by far are the Pegasus covers—the shadowy figure, the cursive text done in an opposing color, the use of color and light. What do you think?

Fantasy from Richard S. Ford – Beautiful World of Books

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Engines of Empire, I’ve decided to move some things around and feature the fantasy novels of Richard S. Ford on this week’s BWoB. To date the English author has published 7 fantasy novels (including the forthcoming Engines) under an extensive variation of Richard S, R.S., or Richard Ford. He also has an ongoing historical series out under the pseudonym Richard Cullen, but we’re going to skip those for now.

Steelhaven

As some of you are no doubt aware, I’ve recently finished Steelhaven—to mixed opinions. Anyway, there are six English language covers for these books: two for each. The colored ones grace the original Headline covers, while the white ones one from the reissued kindle editions.

War of the Archons

War of the Archons is the second series from Ford, and one—while languishing on my TBR—that I’ve yet to get around to actually reading. Thus I can only judge these books by their covers alone, and… well, I judge them to be a little better than the first series. So, by the transitive property… the books must be a little better? I’m sure that the math there is solid, so it must be true.

Age of Uprising

Now going into the most recent book here, I was curious to see if any of these series connect. If they’re set in the same universe, or involve any of the same characters however, I haven’t seen any indication of it. So I’m pretty sure they’re all different. And this IS probably my favorite of them all, so I guess it stand to reason that this would be my favorite book of his to date!

But I guess you’ll have to check back Tuesday the 18th to find out;)

Have you read any of these? Which do you think you would, if any? And how do you like those covers?

Alex Verus – Beautiful World of Books

For this year’s series reread, I’ve selected Alex Verus, a series of a dozen urban fantasy novels written by Benedict Jacka. It’s pretty much perfect as there are 12 books: one for each month. While I’m not 100% sure how closely I can stick to it, I at least hope to get through the first nine (those that I haven’t posted reviews for), and coordinate each for its own separate month. That said, there’s a decent chance I’ll end up bingeing a few in a row (or maybe the whole series)—but I guess we’ll see. For now, let’s just look at the covers and dream.

Ace

These are the US covers for the Alex Verus series. All twelve are here—Fated, Cursed, Taken, Chosen, Hidden, Veiled, Burned, Bound, Marked, Fallen, Forged, and Risen. While I don’t have a strong preference as to which covers I like better, I am partial to these because they’re the ones that bedeck my own shelves:)

Orbit

The UK (Orbit) covers often have two styles, but they weren’t different enough that I considered separating them into alternate blocks. Also as far as I can tell, one doesn’t span the entire series. This is the style that you’ll see in Fated, Taken, Chosen, Hidden and Veiled; with the entire cover the same hue and shading and the Jim Butcher quote adorning the bottom half. The others take this bottom and slap on a map of London which I quite like, albeit one tinted in whatever color the book features. If you look closely you’ll find the alternate covers have this map as well—though it’s much more indistinct. But as I said, I don’t think this style spans the entire series; I could only find it for the first half or so. Personally I like the later style better. More character, or something.

And that’s all 12 books of the Verus series! Have a favorite, or do you like both of them? Have you read this series, and if so, how many times have you been through them? Mostly I’ve only read each once, though I’ve reread Bound twice, somehow. If you haven’t heard of them/read them by now, do you think this might change your mind? Honestly, this is probably my favorite urban fantasy series, just based on the level of consistency. Both it and the Dresden Files are amazing, but some of the latter weren’t nearly as good as others. A few in the Alex Verus weren’t as strong as others, but never dipped below four stars, while Dresdens’ (particularly some of the later ones), ranked around three.

Hopefully you’ll check back at least once a month to hear my thoughts on each book, assuming everything with the reread goes well. This month’s review of Fated will probably come at the end of the month, as I have a couple ARCs to make it through first!

Beautiful World of Books – All the Books I Read in 2021

I’ve read [however many] books this year!

I’ve no idea exactly how many books I’ve read. I had some serious trouble working this out and kept forgetting books and taking them out and reworking them all and trying to sort it so that the covers I liked most were featured in the bigger slots. Okay, okay, I read 64 books. Hopefully I read another to counterbalance Murder by Other Means so it doesn’t look so silly on its own there (I DID, I just forgot to add it in lol). Otherwise, just enjoy the covers and take them all in! Did you read many of these? Did you read ANY of these? What’s your favorite?