My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Review: The Sword Unbound

The Sword Unbound The Sword Unbound by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the Lands of the Firstborn series
Previous Review of The Sword Defiant

It has been long enough that some of the details from the first book were starting to fade, so I checked out an audiobook to refresh my memory before starting this one (it came back quickly). The performance was fantastic, so add a star if you are considering the audible version (I have already added this to my wishlist). At just over 600 pages each, there is quite a lot of story in each to be enjoyed … and the length provides an opportunity to engage in fantastic character and world-building with a wonderfully complex plot … except most of the former happened in the first book … making the sequel drag a bit for the first half of this book. That is not to say that there is nothing new in the world, just that the story has moved to refining what is already known instead … with a few welcome surprise revelations to keep it interesting (not all of which were welcomed … with one nearly enough to abandon the book … although it was eventually resolved to my satisfaction). 

As for the characters, we return with to the reluctant hero Alf and his black sword (spell-breaker) and his sister and nephew (which provide the two primary PoV) trying to thread the needle between former allies who were only united when Lord Bone was the big bad (proving the unity of “The Nine” more a convenience than functional) despite Alf’s efforts to preserve that particular illusion … in that respect, we see a chaotic and very believable (and extremely frustrating) political environment that starts out interesting but quickly becomes tedious. In fact … there is more than enough navel gazing and generally questionable decisions by the main characters to be very distracting (with little to no character growth for the MC). This includes a side bar with the merc/bandit Bor that I didn’t really care for, but eventually realized that it had its place with all the other moving pieces setting up the strong climax. We do see a lot more of Olva (and her “son” Derwyn) and that left me wishing this was more of the story. While not quite as good as the first in the series … by the end it was all worth it and I am looking forward to the conclusion.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheSwordUnbound #LandsoftheFirstBorn #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.