Greetings readers! As we speak, the sun is shining and the temperature is that perfect balance where we could spend most of the day curled up outside with a book. There are so many on our TBR lists including a few that will be coming up here on the blog that we need this weather as long as possible.
This week, we bring you our many thoughts (mostly good we swear) for Victoria Aveyard’s newest book; Realm Breaker! It’s been a long wait since we first heard about it but our copies finally arrived in the mail and man did we binge read this week. As always, click that read more button after the synopsis and enjoy! We will warn readers… There are some spoilers as we couldn’t not talk about one of the big twists. Sorry but not sorry y’all!
“A strange darkness grows in Allward.
Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.
She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:
A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.
Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.”
E: Now THIS is the fantasy adventure I was hoping for with the Blood and Ash series. It's funny because when I started Realm Breaker (RB) I was like holy shit, the brain power required for this is something I’m not used to.. and I loved that. We get this medieval kingdom vibe with the knights and castles and clothing, then Aveyard throws in magical bloodlines, immortals, assassins, pirates and a crazy crone. It's a lengthy 550+ pages but for me the story flew by. It was so intricate with the world building, I really needed the map that went with it (which is stunning btw).
A: Oops did I forget to send the mini map that came with the copy I sent you? The one now hanging on my wall, laminated? Sorry about that… Anyways I agree with everything you said and more. Epic fantasies are my absolute favorite to read because I want to know everything about the world and the characters. Big thick books don’t scare me unless I start reading (ahem From Blood and Ash) and literally every character is annoying and nothing noteworthy is happening.
E: One thing that stood out to me was how plot driven this book was. I found it refreshing that I wasn’t getting a 500 page book about characters' inner workings and dramas. The book is still character focused, and their fleshed out nicely but the plot is not an afterthought, as I felt about quite a few books this year (*cough* Kingdom of Flesh and Fire *cough*).
A: As a writer, I constantly struggle with feeling like I need to write more than I actually need to. Realm Breaker really helped me see how easy it is to just jump to the action and the calm scenes when they are absolutely needed. It really helped the pace and keeping the plot moving while we still got to know the characters intimately.
E: I should mention that though I once did own the entire Red Queen series -- which I gave to Ashli … I didn’t finish the first book or continue with the series. It wasn’t the right time for me to read them but after RB I feel like I should try again because Victoria is such a good writer!
A: Just let me know and I can send the first one back to you to borrow haha I have way too much to reread before I can reread the Red Queen series.
E: I liked that there was no romance in this book, though we do get hints of possibilities in the future books. You all know how I love enemies-to-lovers so I am dying for Sorasa to grab Dom and kiss him because she knows he would be outraged haha.
A: I kinda wanted Sorasa and Sigil to have a little something between them. That would be the ultimate enemies-to-lovers and I want it to happen sooo badly. But Corayne and Andry… They are two sweethearts totally born to be together and I want Valtik to ordain their wedding.
E: Oh my god, can you imagine what kind of rambling, rhyming ceremony that would be . I love that idea
E: From the prologue I was hooked, and man was that brutal. I knew I’d have to pace myself a bit as the world was built around me and this book didn’t disappoint. There were a lot of info dumps and heavy description but in this stance I didn’t mind it at all, it really added to the richness of the world for me.
A: When I read the prologue I totally needed a moment. Likely because the brain fog was strong and it took sooo much thought to get through that prologue. Ended up fully reading a totally different book and then coming back for the main story. But it did its job for sure as it really brought forth the world and what our characters were getting into. In the interview with Chapters/ Indigo, Aveyard did say that her publishers wanted her to narrow it down even further than she did and what we get is maybe half or even less than it originally was!
A: We have to give mention to my darling witch Valtik. When I first did Epic Read’s quiz as to which character I was, I got Valtik. Then I got Sorasa which makes me happy because I adore assassins to death, but I am very proud to also have gotten Valitl. She is such a no nonsense woman who knows what she wants and totally has the answers but makes the characters work to figure them out themselves. I would totally play the same games if I was in her shoes though I am more likely to give in and snap at the characters when they take too long.
E: I really liked the vibe that Valtik brought. She infused the story with more supernatural aspects even though her contributions were absolute gibberish. Is it weird that I sort of want to be her whenI grow up? But maybe not as wild as she is. I need a little cottage in the woods for my herbs and teas and potions. But I also wanna be a crazy old lady with insights in the future, spouting nonsense and watching people try to decipher it...
A: I know you’re going to have feelings about this Erin so I’ll let you dive into the ingredient side but omg Andry and his tea! I could totally see you acting the same way and carting around a teapot just in case.
E: I loved that moment and it was so endearing to me. It totally changed my perspective of Andry. As I was reading, I really wanted him to step up and be the warrior I had envisioned him being based off the prologue. But he is such a soft boy and I can’t wait to see more of him. I am 100% in agreement that I would be Andry in this case with my loose leaf tea blends and cups and teapots. Just the other day I used my sister’s home office for work and she laughed at me for bringing three tea blends along. But I had to! I didn't know how I would feel until I got into the workflow, and therefore which blend I would want. Jeez.
A: What the hell happened with my darling Queen Erida??? I understand her actions because I am that dark soul who would have done the exact same thing but she did it soooo quickly. I’d have taken at least a day or two to get to know him in general and discuss his plans and make a legit binding contract to ensure my own wellbeing and role in their plan.
E: Erida started out as a Queen on the Rise and damn… did she rise. I wasn’t prepared for her to be that ruthless and calculating. I really liked that twist because I had her along the same lines as Corayne, and had thought that they would even work together to find the Spindle. But that wouldn’t have brought Erida the power she sought, so good for her I suppose haha.
E: Since we’re on the topic of Erida we should discuss our main bad guy, Taristan and his weird wizard Rowan. I really liked him as the source of evil for the book, though I almost find him kind of dull at times? Not sure if that's the right word. He didn't seem insanely wicked, more like he had a goal to achieve and off he went. The fact that he’s related to Corayne adds a layer to the mix that I enjoyed. I got major creepy vibes from the red wizard (is that what he was called?) He was slightly more terrifying than Taristan because he was unpredictable and I wasn’t totally understanding of his motives… despite his rather fierce devotion to Taristan. I appreciated that we didn't have an instant love connection with Erida and her Prince. It was a business arrangement and a marriage of convenience, not love. Though it does seem like Erida expected him to fall for her,and there were whispers of a romance to bloom as we go forward.
A: I have a feeling we will get more about Rowan coming up… I see him as a side-kick that ends up being the actual villain. This book was very much focused on the heroes and how they start their journey so I hope we have more for the villains coming up so we can see their journey as well. That wedding night scene… I wanted something raunchy sooo bad between Erida and Taristan and I rarely am that eager for something erotic. But as I said earlier… I’d be in Erida’s shoes. The villains always get into my soft spot and I root for them.
A: Yet another thing that Aveyard made me crave that I normally shy away from is any sort of scene on the high seas. For you, our lovely readers, let me let you in on a secret… Erin hates that I can’t get into/ avoid pirate tales. She loves Fable and other piratey/ mermaid books and I can’t stand them. But I was totally there for Corayne, her mother, and the ship scenes! Maybe I can blame Critical Role for that since part of their latest campaign takes place on the high seas and so does one of my closest friend’s Pathfinder campaign that I love getting updates about? Fyi, this Pathfinder campaign that my friend is in… Her character Lyra is the captain of the ship and with the amount of close calls I hear about, I want in on this action! But back to the book... What I loved was the sea serpent battle. Corayne really shined even though she was tied to a mast for safety by Dom. Her knowledge of the sea from her infamous mother literally saved their butts along with Andry’s new found courage in battle.
E: I can agree that sometimes the whole mermaid telling idea gets old but I’m glad you’re coming around to the theme of pirates and sea voyages! They’re so much fun. Still a sore spot that you didn’t like Fable but I’ll let it go one day lol.
A: I want to talk about Dom but other than him being an elder and basically immovable (other than by six guards which I am guessing was mainly due to number?) I just didn’t see the point of him. He was a pretty boy bodyguard? Another voice to the story? I’d have been ok with him dying in the prologue. Sorry, not sorry. I would much rather we had switched out his point of view for Taristan’s and just had Dom as a background character like Charlie. And added Valtik and Sigil’s points of views because I want inside their minds!!!
E: I think I agree with you as well. It was sort of like he was there for the rough spots they wouldn’t have been able to get out of without the help of an immortal tank. Maybe that’s why there’s all the banter between him and Sorasa. Gotta keep him interesting. But honestly, I didn’t really get the point of the immortals and their role in the plot, other than bringing the Spindle issue to Corayne’s attention. I haven’t experienced a character so vanilla in a long, long time. Hopefully he adds more to the story in the second book.
Hope to see you all again next time when we talk about the gorgeous magic and parties in The Chosen and The Beautiful by the wonderful Nghi Vo. We just might have a little interview to include with Nghi herself so you don’t want to miss it!