The One Kingdom (The Swans’ War #1) by Sean Russell

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In a kingdom long without a king, two great enemy families desire the prize of rule. The machinations of the Renne and the Wills have already sundered a troubled realm. And now, generations on, their intrigues could drown it in blood. (taken from the back of the book)

Written exceedingly well, this series belongs on the shelf next to greats such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and Tad Williams. It’s the sort of story world I happily get lost in, peopled by characters that are flawed, dangerous, brave, loyal, and incredibly real.

There are multiple story-lines in this book that seem very disparate, but eventually become tangled up in interesting ways. A good chunk of this book follows the Hero’s Journey, through the character of Tam. Tam is one of a group of traders, hoping to buy more horses and, ultimately, return home wiser in the ways of the world. It’s a very hobbit-esque origin, without being a rip-off. Unfortunately for Tam and his friends (but fortunate for the reader), the wide world has other plans.

At the same time, Toren Renee is the first of his house to hope for peace. It’s a hope that is threatened on all sides, as those from both the Renee house and the Wills plot to prevent that. Never come between a powerful person and his feud.  On top of the political intrigue, there’s an unwanted marriage in the Wills family, and- underneath it all, an ancient and powerful revenge story that threatens everything.

One of the things I loved about this book is that it doesn’t rely on quick slash ’em up battles. Any action is there to further the story. Because of this, the pacing can seem a bit slow at the beginning. Trust me; the setup is worth it. The prose drew me in, and the way the characters evolved kept me interested. The ending of the first book had me rushing to grab the second.

A good chunk of the book takes place on the river Wynd. Normally books that involve sitting on boats or ships for long periods of time bore me, but such was not the case here. The river itself is an intriguing, and sometimes creepy, character. I love when a setting becomes more than just the backdrop!

If you’re a fan of The Wheel of Time series, like a good fantasy, or just want a well-written book, don’t pass up the chance to grab The One Kingdom.

My One Year Blogging Anniversary

Fair warning: this post might well veer from nostalgic straight into saccharine. I’ll try very hard to avoid that, but brace yourself.

One year. Wow! When I started up my book blog, I honestly didn’t think that it would become such a big part of my life. My husband suggested that I try blogging since I talk about books so often. Also, I’m pretty decent at recommending books to people that they end up enjoying.

With trepidation, I thought I’d give it a try. And, guess what? I love it (I’m sure my husband is about to say “I told you so”). I’m still learning and there was so much that I didn’t know starting out. For example, I had no idea that bloggers were able to read ARCS in the first place. I figured that was a magazine reviewer only thing. I also had never heard of blogging tours, book tags, and had put zero thought into having a reviewer policy. All of these things have been explained to me by an amazing group of bloggers and blog-promoters. Which leads me to my next big surprise: friends.

I was pretty sure that I’d be shouting into the void, so to speak. I still can’t believe that so many people read my blog and comment. I love getting comments! I’ve also suddenly found myself with several awesome new friends. Friends that won’t roll their eyes when I get a little too excited about ye random new release? Priceless! Although, to be fair, you might all be rolling your eyes, but of course I can’t tell. Well, I’m going to keep believing that you aren’t. Ha!

There are so many incredible-sounding books that I’ve added to my insurmountable “to be read” list thanks to bookbloggers. I like to think I’ve added a few new ones to others’ lists. It’s a great feeling, knowing that there’s a whole community of book-lovers that I now get to count myself a part of.

Of course, I still give way too many unasked-for book suggestions to my friends in person, but having the ability to be overexcited online and have people read my ramblings is pretty stinking amazing.

So, happy blogging birthday to me, and THANK YOU to everyone who has encouraged me, answered my asinine questions, and who reads my blog posts. You’re all fantastic!