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Stephen Aryan

Autor(a) de Battlemage

13 Works 720 Membros 11 Críticas


Obras por Stephen Aryan

Battlemage (2015) 224 exemplares
The Coward (2021) 139 exemplares
Bloodmage (2016) 94 exemplares
Chaosmage (2016) 66 exemplares
Mageborn (2017) 64 exemplares
The Warrior (2022) 40 exemplares
The Judas Blossom (2023) 35 exemplares
Magefall (2018) 30 exemplares
Magebane (2019) 23 exemplares
Of Gods and Men (2018) 2 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
Locais de residência
West Midlands, England, UK
Juliet Mushens (Caskie Mushens)



I received this novel from Angry Robot Books, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review: my thanks to both of them for this opportunity.

Historical Fantasy always offers me the double joy of reading an interesting story and of learning something about aspects of the past I knew little or nothing about: in the case of The Judas Blossom, that past is represented by the westward expansion of the Mongol empire in the 13th Century.

Hulagu Kahn, grandson of the famous Genghis, is carrying forward his ancestor’s dream of an all-encompassing empire, and as we meet him he’s in the process of completing the conquest of Persia: unfazed by the attacks of the guild of the Assassins, bent on stopping his advance, he pursues his grand plan with ruthless efficiency, conquering city after city, each success culminating with the unleashing of his soldiers on the hapless inhabitants in a frenzy of murder and pillage. His one disappointment comes from the youngest of his sons, Temujin, whose warlike instinct are practically non-existent: trying to earn his father’s attention and respect, Temujin embarks on a quest that will lead him to wield an unexpected power that will ultimately test his mettle as a man.

Kaivon is a Persian general, angry at the defeat of his people but at the same time conscious that rebelling against the invading Mongol army would be a hopeless task. With an unexpected flash of intuition, Kaivon understands that such a mighty foe could be destroyed only from within, so he chooses to attach himself to Hulagu’s army and bide his time until he will find the proverbial chink in the armor of his enemy.

And finally, Kokochin is a young Mongol princess whose tribe has been utterly obliterated for refusing to obey the ruling Kahn: sold into slavery, she’s now the latest among Hulagu’s wives and at first she seems resigned to her fate, until she finds herself drawn into something bigger than herself and quite worthwhile, a means of getting revenge against Hulagu for all of her losses.

I completely (and happily) lost myself in The Judas Blossom, one of those well-balanced novels where plot and characterization blend seamlessly into a page-turning story of intrigue, politics and personal journeys that feel vivid and cinematic - and quite compelling, despite the brutal, unforgiving background depicted here, one where conquest and destruction are the rule of the day and stop at nothing to achieve the dream of an empire encompassing all the known world. There are several sections where the readers are made privy of the consequences of conquest: streets littered with debris and rotting corpses, beautiful homes or works of art wantonly destroyed by the ravaging conquerors, the worst of humanity exposed there for all to see.

The Mongols might be the main protagonists of the story here, but they are certainly not the heroes, nor is their leader Hulagu: if at first one might sympathize with him, targeted by assassins on one side and supported by faithful subordinates or by his loving “war wife” (the one who always follows him on campaigns) on the other, once we see him through other people’s eyes that image changes drastically. He is a man given to murderous fits of rage and possessed by the unyielding determination of fulfilling his grandfather’s dream, and to that end he’s ready to sacrifice everything and everyone. It’s in his dealings with his son Temujin that his worst qualities come to the fore, at the same time highlighting Temujin’s struggle to find his own way in a world where he does not fit. The young man’s journey is a heartbreaking one, because he does everything in his power to try and gain the recognition - if not the affection - of his father, and once he seems to find something that might prove his value (a threat that introduces the only element of magic in the story) he finally understands that he’s only a tool, and that his quest is a fruitless one. The moment when he decides to “never again to seek his father’s approval” is a poignantly touching one, and it also made me eager to see where this newfound realization will take this character next.

General Kaivon is a man divided: on one side he wants revenge for his people’s defeat and submission to the Mongol horde, on the other he’s fascinated by Hulagu’s determination, and his unstoppable drive. Kaivon plays a very dangerous game, and one that forces him to terrible compromises when he must play the part of the aggressor against people like his own, but at the same time he enjoys the cat-and-mouse strategy in which he’s able to sabotage the Kahn’s plans while acting the part of the faithful retainer. The role of the double agent is indeed a precarious one, particularly where Hulagu’s famous temper is concerned, and several of the passages where Kaivon plays out his schemes kept me on edge from start to finish: it will be interesting to see how - and how far - his plan will take him…

Princess Kokochin gained my sympathy from page one: alone and destitute, with few prospects aside being one of the many playthings for the Kahn, she discovers an unexpected way of finding her own path and exacting revenge for her lost family. I liked to see how daring she could be, and also how stubborn in pursuing her goals or defying the constrictions of her role and status, and I admired her composure in the dealings with Guyuk, the Kahn’s first wife and ruthless manager of his affairs. All of the main female characters in The Judas Blossom are strong, determined women who manage to promote their own agency in a male-dominated world, their best representation being the mysterious Twelve, a group of highly-placed conspirators who work in secret to thwart the Mongol aggression.

There are many layers in this novel, from the personal journeys of the various characters to the depiction of war and conquest to the political agendas and power posturing that create a vivid, vibrant world built on historical foundations and reinforced with engrossing fictional narrative: for such a large-scope story it turned out to be a compelling, well-paced read that ended with a huge twist which left me eager to know what will happen next. Highly recommended.
… (mais)
SpaceandSorcery | Jul 18, 2023 |
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Kell is the twice savior of the Five Kingdoms. He traveled to the North and defeated the Ice Lich. Now, a true hero he has the chance to settle down as king of Algany. That is till his friend, the Alfar named Willow, comes to court to remind him of a promise to help her people. Now Kell must travel to a distant land leaving his wife and son behind to deal with a growing crusade.
This is book 2 in The Quest for Heroes duology, and I have to say I wish there would be more. The world that Aryan has created is fascinating and I feel that we have merely scratched the surface. I would love a deeper dive look at what is truly going on off page.
I found the characters interesting. They all had interesting narrative arcs, especially Queen Sigrid and Odd. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Odd was definitely the stand-out character for me. So many questions are left unanswered about him, and in the end, that’s okay. The answers did not really matter to the character. Knowing wouldn’t have changed his actions.
While the other viewpoint characters shone, I did find Kell to be a little lacking. The last book was all about his trauma of being “a hero” and wrestling with what it meant to be a coward. In this one, he is rather out of focus. His internal struggle was seemingly resolved in the last book. Now he is dealing with his “reward” and the fears of being an absent father. Yet, there seems to be not a lot for him to do. This is not his story anymore.
I found that Aryan had a great way of writing fight scenes and combat in general. I never found myself confused about what was going on, instead could clearly imagine the fight happening. Overall, I found the prose to be fantastic and perfect for the story being told.
In the end, I loved this book. It was a fun adventure with some fascinating characters. If this is the ending of the series, then it ended well with just enough answers to leave the reader satisfied, but enough mysteries to let them imagine. Definitely worth a read, especially for those that want a different take on a “chosen hero sent out on a quest.”
… (mais)
The_Book_Kaiju | Jan 16, 2023 |
This starts as yet another novelised role-playing session featuring a big bad who is slaughtering all around him (and his end is a bit deus ex) but I cared for several of the characters and was interested in their choices and why they were making them. Some of the motives aren't as obvious as others and the story left a few hanging questions, like, how come there were so few mages in the world and what was going on with them that they were disappearing and what was going to happen when more of them die. And then there's Vargus and who he is and how he does what he does. And Talandra who has to deal with a crown and battles and love and loss and sometimes all at the same time.
It's an interesting story and I'm curious about the world.
… (mais)
wyvernfriend | 3 outras críticas | Jul 15, 2022 |
You keep going 'what the heck is going on' and you realize that there really is a point but the author keeps you off kilter to keep you guessing. The different characters and their points of view help to start to develop the whole picture. Definitely want to read the next book in the series.
pacbox | Jul 9, 2022 |



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