Book Review: House of Blades by Will Wight

Here’s another on my list of self-published fantasy gems. I’ve been finding so many of them that it’s kind of weird to keep calling them gems. Clearly, there’s a lot of good stuff out there in self-published land. Is it outnumbered by stuff that’s not so good? Probably. But if you know what you want as a reader, you can find stuff you’ll like. I’ve never bought the whole “wading through tides of crap” argument. Generally, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to separate the crap from the stuff I’d actually like.

I chose this particular book because I found it in my Goodreads recommendations after finishing another self-published fantasy that I really enjoyed (it might have been Mitchell Hogan’s A Crucible of Souls, which is no longer self-published). I’m glad that I gave Wight a chance.

This is fantasy that definitely has a traditional feel to it in some ways. The plot is relatively simple. It’s a training/quest story. On the surface, that makes it sound like a thousand other fantasies out there. What separates this book from many others out there is that Wight developed a fascinating system of magic. In that way, it reminded me of something by Brandon Sanderson. The way he handled his magic also made the training section great fun to read. It wasn’t endless studying of spells. The main character developed his abilities through facing dangerous situations. He didn’t really have any guidance, and that made it all the more exciting.

For most of the book, this was a solid 8/10. I liked it, but it wasn’t blowing me away. Then we hit the last 30 percent or so. From that point on, it was constant action, and I got that frantic feeling I love getting during well-done action scenes. That feeling, combined with some interesting revelations at the end, pushed my rating up to a 9/10.

If you’re a fan of the modern Grimdark movement in fantasy, this story probably isn’t for you. But if you, like me, are longing to see modern takes on classic fantasy, this is a great read. I should warn you that it also might not appeal to you if you’re not a fan of young adult fantasy. While I wouldn’t call this book a YA fantasy, it did feel like one at times. For me, that isn’t a bad thing, as I also love a good YA fantasy.

Overall, I was very happy with this one, and I will read more by Wight. I’m especially intrigued by his newest series. I love the idea of looking at a conflict from both sides.

Rating: 9/10

An Update

I’ve been gone for a while. I hope I can stop doing that soon. It’s been a bit of a strange period for me. I’ve been adjusting to the demands of school, work, and writing. In the last month, I’ve made some decent progress on The Shadowed Land. It is now roughly 2/3 of the way done (well, the first draft at least). I might actually be closer to the end than that. My word count goal is just a rough guess of what I think the book will be in the end.

I’m happy with the way it’s turning out. As usual, I have a nice healthy dose of action. For me, it’s just not a story if I don’t throw in some battles and monsters and chase scenes.

The Shadowed Land is perhaps the most challenging book I’ve ever written. I’m balancing four stories in one, and that’s more than I’ve ever done before. My usual number is three (or fewer in the case of my middle grade fantasy).

Speaking of which, I’ve been working a little bit on that middle grade fantasy. It’s titled The Man in the Crystal Prison, and it’s kind of a “what if” game with Harry Potter. Instead of a low-tech magical world, I’ve decided to merge magic and technology into one. In my mind, that can be even more exciting. It combines my two favorite genres: fantasy and science fiction.

But I probably shouldn’t talk too much about that one just yet. For now, my focus is on the Empire of Chains series and the Sunweaver series. The God War series, starting with Watersong, will probably factor in at some point. I’ll have to see how much I can manage to do without driving myself insane (oh, the joys of stress and mental illness).

While I hate to admit it, I’ve been going back and forth again on self-publishing. Today, I decided I should go through with it. Let’s hope that decision sticks this time. I’m tired of wondering how I would do.

I really think I can make this work. My biggest doubts aren’t about the books. I think they’re ready.  No, it’s the marketing that terrifies me. I definitely have an online presence. I’m a member of some writing and genre-related forums (an active member, I should note). But I’m still getting the hang of Twitter. I have close to a hundred followers, which is pretty good when you consider that I haven’t been all that active.

I also know some other authors who’ve done the self-publishing thing with decent success. I can always ask them questions. It’s just terrifying (as I’ve probably said many times before).

So that’s what’s been going on with me.