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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 - Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

The legend begins.

In the ancient halls of the Imperial University of Carthak, a young man has begun his journey to becoming one of most powerful mages the realm has ever known. Arram Draper is the youngest student in his class and has the Gift of unlimited potential for greatness . . . and of attracting danger.

At his side are his two best friends: clever Varice, a girl with too often-overlooked, and Ozorne, the ‘leftover prince’ with secret ambitions. Together, these three forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms.

But as Ozorne inches closer to the throne and Varice grows closer to Arram's heart, Arram realizes that one day – soon – he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

I've never read any of Tamora Pierce's books before but I really enjoyed this tale of a magical university and three of the students attending it. 

Arram was a really interesting main character, and it worked well seeing him learn about the world of the university and its staff through his eyes. The descriptions of the classes and the teachers, antagonism with other pupils, fear over examination marks, friendships and romances were all dealt with really well. The Masters were particularly interesting, and I loved the hints and suggestions about strife between members of the teaching staff. A lot of it is rooted in recognisable prejudices, particularly around tribal magic traditions, which some staff were brought up using and others had little or no respect for. I loved how different students were guided along their own individual paths, whether it was with one-on-one teaching or small groups, and how we saw Arram going into the healing arts while Ozorne focuses on war and fire magic, and Varice on less-well-regarded kitchen magic.

I liked the descriptions of magic, the Art, and the different ways it is both depicted and used throughout the novel as Arram learns more about how to use his strength.

Varice was a fantastic character, and I loved her strength and attitude. Ozorne was more of a pain in the arse, but I feel like this is setting up later conflicts in the series. It never distracted from the narrative, but gave an opportunity to explore both racial prejudice and imperial propaganda first hand.

This novel doesn't shy away from potentially controversial elements. There's a lot of discussion in there about slavery, from various perspectives, and particularly through the gladiators in the arena. This sets up a potentially large future conflict as our main characters take different sides on the issue.

The gods too, the gods are awesome! I loved Enzi the crocodile god so much, and the Hag does some very foreboding foretelling. I'm quite anxious to see what happens to Preet too, one of the most adorable animal sidekicks I've seen in a while.

Tempests and Slaughter is an excellent magic school novel, and the first in a very interesting looking series.


Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce is out now, published by Harper Collins UK.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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