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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green

Review - The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green

As war spreads like wildfire, the Smoke Thieves face their greatest challenges yet.

With her father tightening his grip on the Northern Plateau, Catherine sends her loyal bodyguard Ambrose into the dragon's den on a desperate mission to disrupt the supply of smoke. In Calidor, Edyon and March face a future divided while, trapped in the demon world, Tash wrestles with the price of her past.

But as the battle for the human kingdoms reaches its climax, the demon realm reveals a final, terrible secret. One with the power to change the course of the war - and history - forever . . .

I really enjoyed this political fantasy adventure from Sally Green, the final part of the Smoke Thieves trilogy.

There's less intrigue, assassination, back-stabbing things going on in this installment than earlier ones, as now most of the main pov characters are fairly settled and relatively safe in their different camps. Catherine is ruling as queen in Pitoria, with confidence and good people around her. Ambrose is recovering from his injuries and trying to get back into her life. Edyon has been accepted as his father's heir in Calidor, though that is where we see the bulk of the book's political intrigue as he tries to figure out the court and his place in it. 

A lot of the focus of this novel is on relationships and resolution. It's about Catherine trying to decide between Ambrose and Tzsayn, and how to reconcile her feelings for both the men in her life, and it's about Ambrose dealing with this. It's about Edyon coming to terms with Marsh's betrayal of him, the feelings he still has for his old lover, and his relationship with his father. These issues really exploded in book two and it's nice to see them dealt with and resolved by the end of the trilogy. 

It's also very much a fantasy novel about war, and I really enjoyed seeing Queen Catherine trying to work out strategies and allegiances to defeat her father. Having Edyon in Calidor allowed us to see both sides of the long-distance negotiation, which was very effective.

The way the point-of-view characters have been scattered around the map is used as a very effective device to show us different parts of this large conflict. Marsh manages to place himself in the Brigantine boys brigade, giving us insight into the military forces of Brigantine and a very dramatic and exciting invasion. Similarly, Tash starts the novel in the demon world, giving us an important view of what is happening there too. As different pieces start to come together in the conflict it raises the tension having multiple angles on it. 

Overall, I felt like a lot of these elements were dealt with pretty quickly. The war doesn't drag on through numberless engagements, Edyon deals with one major piece of intrigue. Everything is resolved pretty quickly in the last few chapters. Some readers might find this a little light compared to some other fantasy epics out there. But I started The Wheel of Time when I was 18 years old. 23 years later I'm still waiting for Winds of Winter. The Smoke Thieves is an exciting, low-magic, political fantasy trilogy that is highly readable, fast moving and effective.


The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green is out now, published by Penguin.
I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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