4 & 5 Star SciFi and Fantasy Reads of 2018

Here is my annual post to list the top rated (by me) books I read each year.  For 2018, these include both books I read and listened to, as well as, novellas and short stories.  I pulled this info from my Goodreads profile.  Needless to say, all of these are highly recommended.

5 Star:

  • Hand of Mars (Starship's Mage #2) by Glynn Stewart

  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

  • Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington #14) by David Weber

  • The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemison

  • Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

4 Star:

  • Children of the Nameless (Novella) by Brandon Sanderson

  • Cartwright's Cavaliers (The Revelations Cycle #1) by Mark Wandrey

  • Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

  • Dominator (Vicky Peterwald #4) by Mike Shepherd

  • Kris Longknife's Relief: Grand Admiral Santiago on Alwa Station (Kris Longknife #15.6) by Mike Shepherd

  • Through Hell Should Bar the Way (Lt. Leary #12) by David Drake

  • Admiral (Kris Longknife #16) by Mike Shepherd

  • Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7) by James S. A. Corey

What am I looking forward to in 2019? Same questions as the previous couple of years: where is the Song of Ice and Fire #6 Winds of Winter, The Kingkiller Chronicle #3,  and Gentleman Bastard #4?  Looking forward to Through Fiery Trials by David Weber, Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey, Siege of Stone by Terry Goodkind, and ANYTHING by Brandon Sanderson (Starsight?, Wax & Wayne #4).

The Black Magician Trilogy

Instead of reviewing each book in this trilogy individually, I decided to complete all 3 books and then do a single overall review.  It was the story itself that caused me to do this, as after reading the first book, I had mixed feelings and felt it was to soon to make a decision regarding.  Overall It was just OK.  I am not seeking out the second trilogy.

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<SPOILERS>

The series focuses on a Sonea, a young poor orphan slum girl from the wrong side of the tracks (walls) that learns she has magic and follows her as she develops into a young women thrown into the mechanizations of the Magicians Guild, higher society and higher magic.   


The first two books in the series seem to be more adolescent novels than adult.  The first half of the first book is about Sonea on the run from adults (Magicians) thinking they all want to kill her, and the second half is about bad adults trying to set her up for a fail to prove their superiority due to wealth & status.  It was an essay on the prejudices and bigotry of the rich and privileged against the poor.  Basically the moral of the story is that the rich and privileged will become worse than the underprivileged to prove their superiority.  Other than that, when I finished I thought "what is this really about?".  I had no idea, so no review because I committed to reading all three so I kept going.


The second book seems to be only about Sonea being teased and abused by other children while the adults do nothing.  It is stalking, harassment, physical and mental abuse driven by one (again) rich and privileged student.  That is really all their was for a majority of the book.  The secondary arc in this book is a story about the Magician Dannyl coming to grips about his sexuality.  Bringing this in as a plot point seems only for the purpose to provide more moral questions than just class war.  But does not seem to really help the overall story. Yes there are some developments in the two arcs that moves towards a darker and greater story involved, but it is very far in the background.  Again I finished this book and thought "why is this moving so slow?"


I knew there had to be more than just these teen angst and class/culture war stories.  Something else was going on and just hints are given in the first book and expanded in the second.  You finally get a slight view of darker things happening.  So I held off on my review.  That said, the first two books did have a lot of character development, but the plots were frustrating.


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Once I started Book 3, it explodes.  Really.  It takes two books to set up everything?  Would I say it was worth it?  Probably not (OK, no).  But the 3rd book takes off early.  The overall plot is revealed, a back story withheld is suddenly known, all of the tidbits slowly released in books 1 & 2 collapse into a stronger and more powerful plot.  What was hidden is revealed and we can finally get on with a worthwhile plot.  It is non-stop action which leads to a satisfying completion.  


That said, there are still annoyances.  The arc involving Dannyl really can be removed from the whole series as his personal struggle accounts to nothing in the 3rd book.   A lot of the books writing was devoted to this issue for no real reason other than adding more moral and ethical questions without plot affect.

I really loved the last book.  Really did not like the first two.