Tag Archives: timandra whitecastle

2016 Reading Update, July

We’re just past half way through the year and I’m well ahead of target. By last update, back in May, I’d already raced past the half-way point on my goal, and now I’m closing in on the finish line (not that I’ll stop when I reach 26, where would the fun be in that?) So let’s see what I’ve been reading lately.

The list so far

Here’s what I’ve covered in previous updates:

  1. Cadfael: Monk’s Hood, by Ellis Peters (Edith Parteger)
  2. Cadfael: St Peter’s Fair, by Ellis Peters (Edith Parteger)
  3. Key Under Blue Pot and Please Milk the Goat, by Marie Sever
  4. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  5. Cadfael: The Leper of St Giles, by Ellis Peters (Edith Parteger)
  6. The Fire Mages’ Daughter by Pauline M Ross
  7. Cadfael: The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters (Edith Parteger)
  8. The Mages of Bennamore by Pauline M Ross
  9. The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
  10. The Plains of Kallanash by Pauline M Ross
  11. The Magic Mines of Asharim by Pauline M Ross
  12. The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift
  13. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
  14. Echoes of the Great Song by David Gemmell
  15. The Dragon’s Egg by Pauline M Ross
  16. The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O’Brian
  17. The Letter of Marque by Patrick O’Brian

Recent Reads

And here’s what I’ve read since May’s post:

18. The Errant Hours by Kate Innes

Set largely in Shropshire, this book falls under my “local reads” sub-goal. It’s an historical adventure/romance following Illesa, an impoverished young woman with nothing to her name but a valuable book, and no family but a brother in need of rescue. An exciting and enjoyable read, made all the more special by the familiar setting.

19. Iceland Defrosted by Edward Hancox

Two in a row for “local reads”, as Ed is from Shropshire. I bought this book a couple of years ago at his book launch in the local library but only just got around to actually reading it. It’s written in a casual, friendly tone, with the author’s love for Iceland raw on the page, and I though I’ve never been there I found I was falling in love with Iceland too thanks to the sincerity of Ed’s prose and the lively descriptions of the places he visited.

20. Touch of Iron by Timandra Whitecastle

I reviewed this fantastic novel in full here. It’s a brilliantly woven tale packed with excitement, with a thoroughly relatable protagonist and a rich world. I can’t praise it enough, and I hope it does well in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off 2016, which I think is a fantastic way of showcasing the best indie fantasy around.

21. The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O’Brian

and

22. The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O’Brian

Yes, I’m still reading them in pairs. When O’Brian ends a novel with his protagonists stranded on a deserted island, how can I not immediately read the next? I’m really loving this series and when I finally get to the end I will no doubt start again at the beginning. It took some getting into when I first started reading it, but now I’m more familiar with O’Brian’s style, and less likely to give up on books than I was back in 2009 when I started reading the series, I am certain I will enjoy those first few books more on a second reading than I did on the first.

23. A Star-Reckoner’s Lot by Darrell Drake

I’m counting this. I read it, it counts. Darrell has employed me to proofread his novel and so that is what I have done. Towards the end I had to consciously slow down and remind myself to pay attention to the words, how they’re spelled, how they’re punctuated, the syntax and flow, and so on, because my mind wanted to race ahead and find out how it would end. The first two thirds of the novel is a bit slow burn, plenty going on but it’s difficult to see where it’s heading, but the seeds are sown and once they sprout quite a tale unfolds. Look out for it when it comes out, folks. Here’s Darrell’s website if you’re interested.

Up next

If my local library can get in the book I am looking for, I’ll have a few Charles Stross titles popping up in my next few reading updates. And there are a few books on my shelf I really should get around to reading at some point. Plus if anyone else on the SPFBO 2016 wants to send me a free ARC I’ll definitely be receptive to that.

Review: Touch of Iron by Timandra Whitecastle

Touch of Iron is the debut novel and first part in the Living Blade series by Timandra Whitecastle. It follows Nora Smith and her twin Owen as they flee superstition and rumour in their home town and find themselves caught up in a dangerous quest for a legendary weapon, mixing with an exiled prince, a mysterious half-wight, rough warriors and sinister magic-users.

I was given an ARC of this book.

touch of iron
That’s a pretty damn awesome cover.

Touch of Iron is also one of the books involved in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off 2016.

Okay, so, first I’ve got to say this: I love Nora. She is such an enjoyable protagonist to follow. She’s full of fire, she’s exciting, she’s relatable and she’s immense fun to read about. I found myself thinking “yeah, right” when she’s told not to do something and rolling my eyes when she did it anyway – then grinning stupidly as I read the antics she got herself into and how she got herself out of them.

And there are plenty of antics to be had. The world of The Living Blade is a magical and dangerous place, a beautifully crafted setting bringing in elements of real-world places and times as well as being inspired by the rich array of worlds fantasy has to offer. It truly is a fantasy world in the best traditions of the genre, melding human communities, dramatic landscapes, dangerous threats and unsettling beliefs into a remarkable setting that frames the story beautifully.

The story is fast paced and full of action as Nora and Owen criss cross the continent pursuing their dreams, fleeing their fears and chasing down the Living Blade with the exiled Prince Bashan, who seeks to wield it to reclaim a throne stolen from him. The witty, engaging narrative makes for enjoyable reading that drew me in and wouldn’t let go – not that I wanted it to.

Whitecastle has included numerous tributes to some of her favourite fiction too, but in subtle ways you wouldn’t notice unless you were a fan too. Including a few allusions to my favourite animated TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender. They’re well done – enough to make me smile upon recognising them, without disrupting the flow.

I am thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to read Touch of Iron and enjoyed every moment of it. Once I started it was hard to put down, and in fact this may be the fastest I’ve read a book this year – under 36 hours from the first page to the last, and then I read the afterword because I didn’t want to put it down! It can hardly be surprising, therefore, that I rate it 10/10.

I hope Touch of Iron does well in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.