Book 1 of Ruins of Isulia is long but definitely worth the read. The author has weaved many things into the story; kings and queens, betrayal, secrets, love, action, history, technology, and brutality.
The book is an adventure that follows multiple characters that are fighting for survival. It has many things going on that I feel I can't summarize the premise well enough to do it justice. At first glance, when looking at the page count, the book might seem intimidating but while reading it, I never felt that it was too long. It has so much content that it never felt dragging to me.
From the very beginning, it was instantly clear that the author has created a story where the stakes are high. The plot of the book is interesting and moves forward quite naturally. There are a lot of cliffhangers and things that are kept secret at the start, but the author redeems them all. Everything has a reason that will be revealed at some point. I liked how these secrets kept me questioning and guessing along the way.
There's history, world, and infrastructure which I enjoyed. There's something familiar in the plot but also something new in it. Sometimes I wondered whether it was necessary to have all of that background information and worldbuilding in the book or could the author have taken something out without losing the essentials of the story, and put that focus more on the characters and the feels.
There were times when I got lost in the timeline of the book, especially in the end, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment too much. The themes were also sometimes a bit too underlined for my taste, but I could look through that too. The criticism I have about the story seems small on a large scale and never pulled me out of the book too much. Mostly I was in awe of all of the things and worlds that the author had created.
I think the strongest aspect of the book is the style. The writing is good, vivid, and clear. Overall the book is slower paced but the author can change the pace depending on the intensity of the scene. I generally enjoyed the easy pace it has going on as it focused well on what was happening each moment. Reading was easy and the writing was diverse and interesting. Everything flowed very well and made the reading a pleasure.
There's enough detail and description in the writing without it starting to get dragging. I was always aware of who was talking and what was the situation like. The dialogue mostly feels natural enough, even if there were places where some things were overly explanatory.
I think the tension was well written. The author knows how to write action scenes, but there is also a good balance between those and the scenes that focus on the drama between characters.
My first language isn't English so I'm not the best to rate correct grammar, but to me, it all seemed great and I have nothing to complain about it. The writing is easy to understand and everything seems to be where it should be. There was nothing in the grammar that lessened my reading experience.
Generally, most of the characters were alright and their characteristics were distinguishable from each other. But the story contains a large cast of characters and some of them felt too one-dimensional for me to really like them. There's not much time to focus on all of their personalities since there are so many of them. Some characters were left underneath the action without them having real substance. Sometimes I had trouble feeling for the characters and their distress.
I most enjoyed Xerath, Erik, and a couple of persons that appear later on in the book. They all seemed the most fleshed out of them all. Some characters, like Cara, felt a bit too one-note to me.
While I enjoyed the plot and the writing, getting into the characters took me some time. What I liked about them, was that they were flawed and never only good or bad. Some of the characters started with similar traits but ended up totally different, which I think was interesting. I also liked how the author introduced some of the characters, giving me first impressions that changed later on.
All in all, I enjoyed the read. It is vast but so interesting that it didn't feel long at all. The characters could be improved but the author's writing is well executed and smooth. Overall, I recommend this book to someone who wants to delve themselves into a huge story that has great worldbuilding, action, and drama.
An interesting and ambitious premise of sixty people waking up in a dungeon, not knowing how or why they got there. A nightmare to some and a dream to others.
Story: Sixty people wake up in a strange place. They have to learn new skills, investigate the place and work together. Rational thinking, training, making friends, exploring, teaming up, panic, trying to help others. These are just a few of the ways the people inside are trying to cope with the new situation.
The really basic premise of the story immediately reminded me of the movie Cube. Through that, the concept was familiar and easy for me to get into. The familiarity of the concept overall is one of the things I think makes the story easy and enjoyable to read.
The whole concept is really intriguing. As the story is still in its early stages, it will be interesting to see where it will go. It could grow out to be a fascinating study (which I kind of hope for) about humanity and behavior, but it can also just grow out to be a thrilling adventure without that kind of layer.
I really enjoyed the way all the people had to choose their classes and how they started to learn and train those new skills. It's really familiar and fun for a gamer. I couldn't help but think about what would I choose if I was in that situation. The use of magic also seemed interesting, even though at this point the subject was only lightly touched upon.
Style: The style is overall pretty good. The pacing and dialogue were solid, and the descriptions of the characters, their thoughts, and the place around them were very well written.
There were two things that threw me off from time to time. The story is generally presented in bigger blocks of text, which sometimes made it hard to follow and easier to lost track if my focus got distracted at all.
The other thing was that sometimes the characters were called by their first name and sometimes their last name. Even though the names were clearly marked at the start of a new POV, it still felt confusing.
I really liked how the author didn't just narrate the details of the place or the systems. Instead, they let us see those things through the character's eyes, and how they saw them. It made me more immersed in the story when I was looking at the new place through them and not just a block of text that described everything.
Grammar: Overall solid. There were small grammar errors here and there, and mistakes in the names like Reuben - Rueben, but nothing too big.
Characters: There are a lot of characters, but overall the variety of them seemed versatile, and the character traits were easily recognizable. I can't really say I liked one over the other. That is to be seen when the author gets further in the story.
The hard thing when introducing so many characters is that it's hard for me to really feel for them. Even though I read their thoughts and feels, it's still pretty superficial since we're with them so briefly. I wonder how far do I need to get in the story before I start caring for them. Or is this the author's clever way of hinting to me that I shouldn't even care for them? They just woke up in a strange place and are going to encounter monsters, which means some of them might eventually die. Who knows.
Summary: Overall an interesting read. Putting sixty people in one story it's an ambitious move. The story starts great and is intriguing, somewhat a mystery to see where it will lead in the end.
Riordan has a hell of a day (and the days after that), and it's a thrill to read. This story has a really interesting premise and especially a strong start that drew me immediately inside the story.
Story: The story is somewhere between a nightmarish action and a mystical adventure, following Riordan, a shifter who starts the story with a stroke of really bad luck, and ends up trying to fight himself out of all the trouble.
The story starts really strong, almost straight to the deep end of Riordan's bad day. I was thrilled when I started reading the story. It instantly pulled me in, not giving me much room to breathe before everything started going wrong. I really enjoyed that. It was such a thrill that after the starting chapters, the tension seemed to flatten. After the exhilarating start, I had a hard time trying to get into the rhythm again. The author had brought everything so close to me in the beginning, that I felt kind of estranged from what was happening after that, just following Riordan and Daniel without actually being as inside in the story as I was before. Luckily the tension picked up again later on after some chapters.
I really liked how the author described and handled the subjects of magic, the killing tree, shifters, and death mages. Everything was well thought-out and really interesting. I especially enjoyed the shifters, and that Riordan was a honey badger.
Style: The pacing of the story felt really good most of the time. There were just some places that I felt it was slightly dragging, but nothing that stopped me from enjoying it. What I really liked about the author's style, was how they described everything so well and thoroughly. It made me get fully immersed in the story. The character descriptions were also really good, giving me instantly a sense of what they looked like, their personalities, and how they acted. The characters were made really vivid just by the descriptions alone.
The author's style pulled me in really well. It's easy to read, coherent, and overall really diverse with descriptions and creating the world around the characters. They made me feel Riordan's pain and struggles vividly. I really felt for Riordan.
Grammar: Overall very solid. Vocabulary is good. I got nothing bad to say about this. The writing flows very well and is easy to read.
Characters: I have a bit of mixed feelings about the characters. I really liked Riordan, a grumpy man with a lot of past baggage, who didn't want friends and still ended up having one. Riordan was relatable in a sense of what he was feeling and how he struggled.
On the other hand, Daniel did almost nothing for me. He felt more bland, even though I got a sense that he was a young, lively (hah) and a witty character. Kind of a counterbalance to Riordan, whose purpose was probably to make Riordan slowly come out of his shell. I understood that Riordan cared for Daniel because he felt responsible, but I didn't really feel it.
Summary: I think this is a really interesting story with a thoroughly thought-out execution and intriguing mechanics of magic and shifters, creating a world next to ours that is full of intriguing mysteries. I really liked it!
Oh, Queenscage, what can I say. I was first meant to read only some of it, but I ended up reading it all.
If I had to describe this story with only one word, it would be intriguing. The author has created such an immense world of politics, plotting, and interesting characters that it's admirable.
The strongest points in the story for me are definitely the world-building and the author's style. I really like the style of writing. The grammar is really good and the writing flows with ease. There is a lot of information, backstory, characters, history, culture and you name it. Sometimes the amount of information seems a bit exhausting, but the story is so intriguing that I looked past it. The author has created a lot, and I'm in awe of that.
I'm not a fan of multi-POV, but it didn't bother me much in this book. It was because of the author's style of writing that let me enjoy the book nonetheless. The chapters have length, but I think they need to be so that the reader has a chance to fully get into the world. The story isn't progressing too fast for my taste either.
The characters are interesting, and even though there are lots of them, they seem complex and distinct from each other. Time will tell what characters will make it to the end. The MC, Seraphina, is strong and cunning, and I'm interested to read what will happen to her.
There is a lot going on in the story, and at first, it felt a bit heavy since the reader is pretty much shoved in the middle of everything. I wished that the story would have started with a chapter that let me first get to know the MC better (maybe the first interlude etc.), before being thrown in the middle of it all. I had trouble remembering who was who and if I had encountered some name before etc. but when I got further into the story, I was fine with it.
But all in all, this is one intriguing story! Heavy world-building and intriguing premise and plot with politics included. It is a book you have to fully focus on, but if you do it, you'll be rewarded.