I’m actually quite disappointed with the number of books I read in November. I don’t know what happened; up until last month I was killing it with the amount of books I was managing to read each month and I was actually pretty close to completing my Goodreads goal until I hit a wall. I only read THREE books in November which is basically half of what I usually manage to read.
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Valour by John Gwynne
‘The Banished Lands are torn by war as the army of High King Nathair sweeps the realm challenging all who oppose his holy crusade. Allied with the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren, there are few who can stand against him. But Rhin is playing her own games and has her eyes on a far greater prize . . .Left for dead – her kin have fled and her country is overrun with enemies – Cywen fights to survive. But any chance of escape is futile once Nathair and his disquieting advisor Calidus realize who she is. They have no intention of letting such a prize slip from their grasp. For she may be their one chance at killing the biggest threat to their power. Meanwhile, the young warrior Corban flees from his conquered homeland with his exiled companions, heading for the only place that may offer them sanctuary. But to get there they must travel through Cambren, avoiding warbands, giants and the vicious wolven of the mountains. And all the while Corban struggles to become the man that everyone believes him to be – the Bright Star and saviour of the Banished Lands. Embroiled in struggles for power and survival, the mortal world is unaware of the greatest threat of all. In the Otherworld, dark forces scheme to bring a host of the Fallen into the world of flesh to end the war with the Faithful, once and for all.‘
This is adult high fantasy and it is the second book in a series known as ‘The Faithful and the Fallen’. It very much takes it’s inspiration from the likes of Game of Thrones in that we are following multiple characters, multiple POVs, and we jump backwards and forwards across the land that this series is set in. There is politics, there is magic, there are creatures of old…there is a whole lot that takes place within these books. Imagine every trope you’ve ever known within a fantasy book and you’ll probably find it in here!
It’s hard to say much without giving away any spoilers but I will say that although I enjoyed the story this did feel a little like a ‘filler’ book for me. There is a larger story arc beyond what our characters are facing and although there was the anticipation (and the knowledge) that something was going to take place in connection with this, it look a long time to get going.
If you like your fantasy filled with interesting characters and you don’t mind a slower building plot (albeit one that is well thought out and very readable) then this series is worth a try. I am looking forward to seeing where the next books take us.
SS-GB by Len Deighton
‘In February 1941 British Command surrendered to the Nazis. Churchill has been executed, the King is in the Tower and the SS are in Whitehall…For nine months Britain has been occupied – a blitzed, depressed and dingy country. However, it s business as usual at Scotland Yard run by the SS when Detective Inspector Archer is assigned to a routine murder case. Life must go on. But when SS Standartenfuhrer Huth arrives from Berlin with orders from the great Himmler himself to supervise the investigation, the resourceful Archer finds himself caught up in a high level, all action, espionage battle.’
I’m sad to say that I was really looking forward to this book but it absolutely failed to hit the mark. On the surface it appears as though it will be a dystopian style story, set in a world where the Nazis won World War Two and are now occupying Britain, with a murder mystery element at the heart. What this actually transpired to be was a book which read like a non-fiction; with lots of jargon and terminology on how the Nazi government structure would have looked, and the friction between the German army, the Nazi party and the Government in Berlin. The author obviously knows his stuff but I ultimately found the book to be a bore. The murder mystery took a back seat and was hastily wrapped up at the end and I just found it to be weak overall.
Not for me unfortunately and I think it is what caused me to hit a wall in terms of the books I read in November as it put me in a bit of a slump.
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
‘The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother’s dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn’s dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls — or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions … tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.‘
Having read, and really enjoyed, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier I went into this book with some level of expectation. In the opening chapters I was certainly not disappointed. Du Maurier knows how to create atmosphere and I was drawn right in alongside our protagonist, young Mary Yellan as she makes her way from the home she has known and loved to the bleak setting of Jamaica Inn. This was my book club’s choice for November and following our discussion it’s clear we all had the same view…it had so much potential but failed to actually go anywhere. It’s clear that this is one of du Maurier’s earlier works and she becomes a more accomplished author as she progresses. There were several storylines which could have made this book fly but unfortunately she doesn’t capitalise on them and it makes the ending weak.
This is interesting and readable; I liked the back and forth between Mary and her love interest Jem, but I thought overall it was a tad disappointing.
I’d love to know what you read in the month of November or what you are reading now?
Happy reading friends x