Hamilton Book Tag

I’m deep, deep in dissertation writing hell. I can’t do anything that’s going to stretch my brain too much, like putting down coherent thoughts about a book. So when I saw this tag over on Thrice Read I thought it’d be fun. Like the girls there I’m obsessed (obsessed) with Hamilton, but I’m sure you can enjoy this post without knowing the show.

Alexander Hamilton: Favourite Flawed Hero

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I have a few contenders for this, so here are a couple of honourable mentions (you can tell already I’m going to be bad at this tag shenanigans):

Mia Corvere from Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight: the only reason Mia didn’t win this was because I am in fear of gushing too much about this book. Not so much in fear that I won’t mention it whenever I get the chance. I have many feelings about Mia, but you can read my full review here.

Locke Lamora from Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard series: I love Locke. I think he’s a great flawed hero, too smart and too stupid for his own good, the bravest coward out there. But part of what makes him great is his friendship with Jean, and it’s their relationship that makes him do all the things that make me love him. (Full review here)

Delilah Bard from V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series: cross-dressing thief with dreams to be a pirate and go adventuring. Awesome.

So finally, the winner is:

Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles: The Name of the Wind is one of my all-time favourite books, and an enormous part of that is Kvothe. He is a legend of his own making, a musician, a genius and a wizard of sorts. He also screws up royally. He and Alexander Hamilton have a lot in common.

King George III: Favourite Villain

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Ozymandias from Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: sorry if this is a spoiler (you can read my review of this here). The smartest man in the world, who uses destruction to create peace.

John Laurens: Favourite Supporting Character

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Rhy from V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series: Prince Rhy seems like he should have been a hero in his own story, but his best friend/adopted brother Kell is the one with magical powers, off having adventures. The complexity of his relationship with Kell is great, but he is a well developed character on his own. Lots of fun and feelings to be had.

Hercules Mulligan: Character who snuck in and stole your heart

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Noah Czerny from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle (review to come): I know I’m not alone in this. Basically any of the Raven Boys fit this description, but Noah is perhaps the most tragic.

Marquis de Lafayette: Best Friend OTP

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Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen from The Gentlemen Bastard series: as mentioned above, these guys have the ultimate friendship. It gets them into a lot of trouble. A lot.

Elizabeth Schuyler: Doomed OTP

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Sonea and Akkarin from Trudia Canavan’s Black Magician’s Trilogy (review here): I still love Akkarin and Sonea. I miss them. I have to re-read these books. Their love story is secondary to the plot, which I like, and is built on both of them being trapped in a secret neither of them wanted, making them pariahs and alienating them from their friends, but which they know is necessary to save everyone. They’re heroes, they’re badass. I love them.

Angelica Schuyler: Baddest Bitch

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Lada from Kiersten White’s And I Darken (review here): Baddest. Bitch. Out there. Right now. Mia Corvere is a close second, for slightly different reasons.

George Washington: Favourite Parental Figure

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Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter books: NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!

Says it all, really.

Thomas Jefferson: Character with all the best lines

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Johannes Cabal from Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer (and all subsequent books) by Jonathan L. Howard: The first two and a half pages were enough to make me fall in love with Cabal. He’s witty and sarcastic and dry and so, so clever.

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And that’s it. My first ever tag! Hope you enjoyed. Back to normal reviews soon. Maybe before September. Maybe after the dissertation. Sob.

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

nevernightcover.jpgThis.

Book.

Though.

Stop what you’re reading – are you reading right now? Put it down. Go pre-order this book. Then go finish your book ASAP so you can be ready for the first installment of Jay Kristoff’s new fantasy trilogy. It’s gonna be a good one, guys. Oh boy. I can’t believe I have to wait for the next one.

Considering it is now a week before the release date for this book, and I spent all weekend ranting to my friends about how good it is to the extent that they all bought it for themselves at the HarperVoyager stand at YALC and could recite the release date themselves, unprompted, I felt it was finally time for a full review.

Synopsis

Mia Corvere is ten years old when she experiences death for the first time. When her father is executed as a traitor, Mia barely escapes his failed rebellion with her life. Swearing vengeance on those who destroyed her family, she fights to survive and makes her way to the Red Church, the school for assassins. In order to become a Blade, Mia must best her classmates in the arts of steel, poison, thievery, and the subtle arts (seduction, steeeamy). But there is a killer on the loose at the Red Church, and Mia must be extra vigilant if she wants to fight to the top of her classes, become a Blade, and ultimately, just stay alive.

Things I liked

We’ll start with the basics.

The setting: The Red Church is a twist on the classic magical school, the ruthless anti-Hogwarts for the post-Potter generation. The world itself is a collision between Ancient Rome and Merchant Prince Venice (as described by the author), an imagined world as if the Republic had never been overthrown. Religious fervor dominates the republic, and its leaders are determined to destroy the Red Church and its Blades once and for all. Coincidentally, it is these same leaders upon whom Mia has sworn vengeance for executing her father and destroying her family. She certainly does not lack ambition.

The freaking front cover: Am I allowed to include this? What a stunning work of art. Designed by the incredible Kerby Rosanes (whose Instagram you should follow, here). What I haven’t mentioned so far is that the world of this book is lit by three suns, meaning that true night rarely falls – unless you’re at the Red Church, of course. The three suns begin on the front page and wrap around the back. I hear they’ll be moving around as the next books in the series come out, like orbit and stuff (thank God there will be more books in this series).

Moving on to the characters.

Mia Corvere: what a protagonist. Never flinch, never fear, never forget. It is not just Mia’s determination and ruthlessness that make her an incredible character to ride along with. It is also her companion, Mr Kindly, the cat-who-is-not-a-cat, who makes her fearless but not to the point of stupidity, and the way she forms relationships with other characters. This is not the story of a friendless, brave hero, the outcast. Mia and her classmates all have their own tragedies, their own reasons for joining the Red Church. They all had to fight to get there and they all have to fight every day to stay. Mia lives her life in the shadows because the shadow answers her when she calls, but she is also funny, bright, clever, sometimes warm and, surprisingly often, kind. She also smokes cigarillos like a bleedin chimney.

The tutors at the Red Church: but I won’t talk too much about them. You should meet them for yourself.

The potential Blades, a.k.a Mia’s classmates: Tric, Hush, Ash. Their stories. Their tragedies. Their triumphs.

I could go on and on here, so I’ll just talk about one more thing.

The narrative voice: the worldbuilding takes its time, it lets you in little by little, as you need to know – but there was no sense of deus ex machina here, no convenient get-outs. The narration is nuanced, gentle when it needs to be gentle, rich when it is rich (steamy when it is steeeamy), and sharp in the midst of action. There are some extremely dark moments in this story but the humour when it comes (which it does, frequently), is excellently judged. The story and worldbuilding are aided by Pratchett-esque footnotes, which sometimes fill in histories you didn’t know you wanted with amusing anecdotes – usually ending up with someone getting themselves killed through a disaster of their own making – and sometimes simply revel in the occasional absurdity of what is happening to our protagonist. I thought these footnotes might be intrusive and break up the flow, but I was happily mistaken.

Things I didn’t like

Um.

Yeah. Um.

I’m sure it’s going to be a very long time until there is another book and I don’t know what I’ll do until then? That’s kind of a thing I don’t like?

Should I read this book?

Please, please, please do. I’m pretty sure this is the best fantasy book I’ve read since The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is no mean feat. Make this the next fantasy you read.

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