I’m a fan of V.E. Schwab’s work, so Vicious is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and I’m so glad I finally got round to it this month! Especially because it lived up to my high expectations!
I also read Foundation this month, which is by Mercedes Lackey, an author I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. I always see her books in the fantasy section of Waterstones, and I loved the look of the covers, so when I noticed Foundation for sale on Kindle, I snapped it up. Unfortunately I found myself being a bit disappointed by this book, so check out my review below to find out why!
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
“He wanted to care, he wanted to care so badly, but there was a gap between what he felt and what he wanted to feel, a space where something important had been carved out.’
Victor and Eli were once best friends: brilliant, arrogant roommates at college, who discover the secret to developing superpowers. The secret is near death experiences, but when their work moves from the theoretical to the experimental, things escalate and a terrible series of events unfold… Ten years later, and Victor has escaped from prison and is on the run with his cell mate, and a young girl with a terrifying ability. His only goal? To find Eli, and take his revenge. But that won’t be so easy… Eli has spent the last ten years destroying those with extraordinary abilities, and has plenty of experience, not to mention an enigmatic sidekick…
As one of V.E. Schwab’s earlier, and slightly lesser known books, I’d expected this to be good, but perhaps not as good as the Darker Shade Of Magic Books. However, this actually turned out to be my favourite V.E. Schwab book!
I think it’s probably due to my love of anti-hero characters, because this book was full of them (except Sydney perhaps)! Victor and Eli in particular were both pretty murky morality wise, and their enmity towards each other was all the more interesting for it.
I especially liked how the format of the book – flicking back and forth between the past and the future – kept certain things from you, and made you want to keep reading to find out. For example, it takes a while to tell you how Victor ends up in prison, and how Victor and Eli fell out, not to mention how Eli goes from risking his life to become an EO to hating them so much he wants to destroy them all.
I also really liked the relationship between Victor, who it’s made pretty clear is a bad guy, and Sydney, whose just an innocent girl caught up in everything. It shows a slightly softer side to his character, and I liked the team of three with Victor, Sydney and Mitch.
I also thought the ‘magic system’, if that’s what you could call it, was very clever in this book. The idea of having to have a near death experience to gain superhuman powers made for an intriguing premise (on which V.E. Schwab certainly delivered!), and I liked that the powers themselves weren’t typical superhero powers. Instead of super strength and the ability to fly there was powers like the ability to cause pain and raise the dead, which made the whole morality thing around the use of these powers much more interesting.
Overall I really enjoyed this book! I loved the premise, I loved the characters and I can’t wait for the release of Vengeful later this year!
Foundation (A Valdemar Novel: The Collegium Chronicles Book 1 by Mercedes Lackey
‘And then came a flood of information that poured easily from Dallen’s mind into his, like water into an empty vessel…What a Companion was, and what a Herald was. What they did. Their place in the world, and what the world itself, this Valdemar, was all about.’
Magpie has been a slave in the gem mines of Valdemar all his life, until a mysterious stranger arrives and tells him that he has been chosen for a very special destiny. He is to be taken to the newly founded Collegium in Haven (the capital of Valdemar) and trained as a Herald, a person who dispenses justice throughout the kingdom, and carries important messages and the like. Stunned, he leaves the only home he has ever known to start a new life full of mystery and magic, although his new life comes with its own set of problems…
I didn’t exactly love this book, but the initial reasoning is kind of odd… When I began the book, I found myself enjoying the first few chapters, even though I felt it was kind of slow (the stranger who arrives in the blurb takes quite a while to turn up and get the story started!). However, shortly after Mags is whisked away from his own life, he meets a horse called Dallen, who turns out to be his Companion (a Herald’s special horse), and this is where it all fell down for me.
Literally as soon as a talking horse showed up in this book, my mind just seemed to say, ‘er, no, I’m not having it!’ Which is bizarre, because this is a fantasy book where anything could happen (plus I should have known there’d be a horse…I mean, look at the cover!) and technically Dallen and Mags only communicate through mind speech, so he isn’t technically a talking horse…
I think it was more the manner in which he was introduced, which seemed like an enormous, and not very subtle infodump to me (the quote I’ve included at the start of this review is from that part!). Mags literally touches Dallen, and both of them immediately know each other’s life stories, and Mags magically knows what a Herald is etc., and it just seemed like a super lazy way to impart information. It also meant they bonded as best friends and trusted each other immediately, instead of taking time to build a relationship, which seemed like a bit of short cut.
I don’t know why it bothered me quite so much, but from that point on, I just couldn’t really get into this book. For one thing, Dallen was a total know-all (as well as offending me by being a random talking horse!), and I never felt like you really got beneath the surface of Mags as a character, so I wasn’t overly invested in his story.
Not to mention the fact that very little actually happens in this book. It starts out slow and never truly picks up, with Mags simply getting to know the Collegium and making a few friends, and that’s about it. At the end of it, I didn’t feel overly excited about reading any more of the series, or even exploring the world of Valdemar any further, although I kind of feel like I should probably give it another try?
Anyway, I wasn’t a massive fan of this book, and was a little disappointed by my first experience with a Mercedes Lackey book. In a way I could understand why she’s such a successful fantasy author (it was a very traditional style fantasy book), but something about it just didn’t click with me, so I’m not sure if I’ll be reading any of her other books.
So have you read either of these books? What did you think? Should I try any of Mercedes Lackey’s other books?