The Darker Road (Wandering Series Book 1)

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  3. How to get to Madeira
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Cris learns that his entire existence has been engineered for generations, and that his own son is the savior to end the war, essentially wiping out an entire race. Veil of Reality spends a lot of time grinding through the technicals of the story. This allows for time to see Cris and his son react to their orchestrated destiny. The supposed villains are given highly relatable arcs in Veil of Reality.

The government officials residing over Cris hate to break the bad news to him, yet are steadfast in their goal. They know the consequences and the pure evil of their actions, yet are committed to a cause for the sake of humanity.

The alien villain in the war is also willing to find a compromise with the humans, to which many of his subordinates passionately disagree. It makes for a lot of conflict, and thus, a lot of drama. The first books in the Cadicle series hit the mark in many aspects. The more original take on the planet-bound youth who desires something more is a smart move.

The simple fact that there is such a massive time gap between the two books allows for major shifts in character since they have changed over years. This is one instance where a series truly needed to be a massive sci-fi epic, and thus earns the title of 'space opera'. The scale and stakes of the story can only be fathomed in a massive world which spans galaxies. Cadicle could have easily relied on sci-fi tropes like space battles, blaster shoot-outs, or other material staples of the genre to be an enjoyable story.

The series instead uses these tropes sparingly in order for the reader to appreciate such moments more.

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It reminds me of use of lightsabers in the original Star Wars trilogy. Presence of a lightsaber typically implied a special moment, one which could be appreciated and not overused. Cadicle uses its exciting action scenes sparingly in order for the reader to appreciate them more. It instead relies on its characters and story to keep the momentum going.


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Duboff already has a great series going with just two books. She has crafted a saga with Cadicle which is littered with potential for prequels and obviously sequels, as there are five more books in the series. Rather than relying on the tangibles of its genre, it uses the scope of its own world to its full advantage for the sake of the narrative.

You can purchase Architects of Destiny from Amazon here. You can purchase Veil of Reality from Amazon here. What is the typical go-to means of describing a good sequel? You guessed it! Simply refer to it as "the 'Empire Strikes Back' of the series". Back To The Future is its own self contained story which hints at a continuation. Back To The Future Part II functions on its own as a sequel, but the ending drives on the fact that the over-arching story of Back To The Future needs to be concluded in a third installment.


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  4. This is very much the backbone to the plot of the second novel of the Scholar and Sphinx series, even though the device somewhat works against it. Fang of Fenrir begins eighteen months after Shades of Nyx. David Sandoval is happily married living in Paris, and business is well.

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    He is sent on a journey to find a means of curing his aging, only to discover that a dark creature is after him and something he owns. David is accompanied by a new ally, a witch named Baba Yaga, who begrudgingly agrees to assist him on his quest. Anyone who gushed over the whimsical and nonsensical fantasy world Cook presented in Shades of Nyx will love it all the same, if not more, here.

    After such a zany first installment with off-the-rails logic, I had no idea how such a world could be more imaginable, but it still manages to deliver through awe inspiring mythology and magic. The world of S cholar and Sphinx is also much darker this time. With more threatening villains poised against the characters, the darker tone feels appropriate. The first novel played it safe for the most part, and while the second is still clean and appropriate for children, it does deal with some darker, sometimes gorier themes.

    The introduction of Baba Yaga was much needed, as she is an all-around lovable character. Her magical abilities feel appropriate to assist the characters when necessary. She is with David for a majority of the plot and her presence brings something new to the story. They have great chemistry together, almost better than David and Acacia in the first book, and they both console each other in their weaknesses and struggles. I was without a doubt excited to see so many faces return, but most of them are the same people they were at the end of Shades of Nyx. After so much outstanding character and relational development seen in the first book, there was much to be desired from the sequel.

    Where Fang of Fenrir ultimately falls flat is in its plot. This book, for it's length, needed to be more jam-packed with some excitement. I get the feeling that this and the third book should be one long arc, but are instead split into two shorter parts. The story opens strong, and the entire first act is very well orchestrated.

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    The darker tone is on full display, and readers get a sense of the stakes threatening the characters. The second acts becomes sluggish after its opening, and mostly involves characters going to various parts of the world to find items with little to no action. With that, the climax, though well handled and grand in scale, doesn't feel earned. The goals of the villains are also extremely confusing. Not only is there a new villain, but a villain from the first book returns, and a reincarnation of another villain from the first book appears as well.

    It's a great match-up, and all of them essentially have the same goal of defeating the hero characters, but they also seek control of the world in their own ways. It not only creates a disconnect between the reader and the villains, but it gives the hero characters too much busy-work and exposition in order to defeat them which is why the second act can be so slow. I have no doubt that the villains will come full circle in the third novel, but there could have been some more clarity in this one.

    Much of what was good about Shades of Nyx is still there, and there is plenty of it to be enjoyed.

    The cliffhanger at the end has me curious and excited as to how the series will conclude. Perhaps I simply need to finish the series to appreciate the overall arc. But with a slow second act, minimal character development, and some confusing villain goals, it leaves much to be desired after such a strong predecessor. As of the time of this writing, I have pages to go.

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    So far, I hate it no pun intended. For one, the length has every reason to be daunting because it is entirely too long for what it tries to accomplish. A book so well-renowned as blood-curdling, it is too monotonous to inflict any real terror for me as a reader. In some sense is safe to say that the work gained its popularity due to the miniseries of the same name starring Tim Curry. The popularity of said miniseries is likely what green-lit the upcoming remake in the first place. I will admit that I have a soft spot for King, which is another excuse for why I decided to read IT in the first place.

    His nonfiction work, On Writing, is without question the reason why I ever aspired to take up penmanship. This was the first Stephen King book I ever read, so, naturally, I expected everything he had put to paper to be a masterpiece; his critics would agree. My most dangerous takeaway from all three of these books is that I considered them to be top-tier literary quality due to the amount of credit I gave King for On Writing.

    I thankfully read plenty other works with literary merit before reading IT. A simple glance at his reviews by some of the most world-renowned journals of the late 20th century gives the impression that King will go down in history as the Charles Dickens of our time. He certainly already has from the standpoint of financial success.

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    But is this reception completely bogus, or is it just my opinion? Well, first and foremost, it is my just opinion, but more importantly, many agree with me on this matter.