Wednesday 30 March 2022

#bookreview: Shadow and Sword | NK Carlson

Shadow and SwordShadow and Sword by N.K. Carlson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Reith sets off to hunt one morning, little does he expect to come back to find his town under attack. Following instructions, Reith sets off alone to the ruined city of Erador in hopes of reuniting with his mentor, Master Chronicler Vereinen. Instead, he only uncovers more danger - and an ancient sword of gold, silver, and copper.

Shadow and Sword starts off at a run, then doubles back a little to events that happened earlier in the day. I know the general writing advice now is to start in media res but this was a little...awkward, and could have just have started in sequence anyway because of the short time covered. Still, it works well enough. Reith gains sympathy as the young apprentice trying his best in unexpected circumstances; the Gray Man is a chilling villain, a vague, unsettling shadow looming over the towns of Coeden and Suthrond.

As Reith travels Terrahsohnen, the reader is drawn into a fascinating world where humans, dwarves, and elves once worked together before the dragons laid waste to Erador and left behind the scorched swath of dead land called Dragonscar. We don't know why - it's part of the unfolding mystery, along with the reasons for the current animosity between humans and elves and the growing evil.

Carlson's literary inspirations are maybe a little obvious here. Reith breaks out into a spontaneous rhyming song. There's a magical circle of trees that provide sustenance and safety for Reith as they whisper at him, reminiscent of the Ents. And then there's a voice that speaks to Reith, one that "had a memory from the dawn of time and ... could see into the future" which hints at Aslan.

And that's the thing. Shadow and Sword is an interesting enough read, but if I had one complaint, it would be that everything becomes a tad predictable at some point. What could have been an exciting plot twist came off to me as "oh, yeah, that was like what happened in [book]" which is maybe more of a "we have the same literary tastes" problem than anything else.

And so the novel ends with the convening of the fellowship, with the sword-bearer poised to bring light to fight the Shadow.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Saturday 19 March 2022

#CoverReveal and #Preorder links: The Tale of the Hostage Prince

After all the organisation I did for the release of Amok - which went astray anyway because of Malaysia's MCO - I feel like I don't have any concrete plans for launching The Tale of the Hostage Prince, other than my A to Z posts.

Mostly because I'm just sitting on everything being overwhelmed. And also slightly over-scheduling myself for March when I knew I was trying to launch a book. (Or maybe because I was launching a book?)


Launch day is now less than a month away, final files are at the printer or uploaded online, and I'm staring at April wondering if I've made a bad choice... 

So I guess it's time to reveal our lovely cover, designed by Jiwosophy!


Yosua wears an uneasy crown. Although he is now Raja of Bayangan, he still longs for the land of his birth where everything was much simpler…and less deadly. 

But peace doesn’t come easily, not for a twenty-year-old servant playacting at being king. 

With his parents brutally murdered and his uncle bent on revenge, Yosua must decide where his loyalties truly lie. With his only remaining relative and the kingdom he has claimed? Or with his best friend Mikal and the sultanate that raised him as a hostage?


Preorder now!

I've dropped pre-order prices to $2.99/RM12 for ebooks and RM35 for paperbacks in Malaysia. The international release for paperbacks is in the process - it has to go through some final checks before I can release it for sale. 



who don't mind subscribing to my slightly-neglected newsletter:

I'm trying out Smashwords' presale function, which means that you can get early access to the ebook like NOW! Before release day! If you click to subscribe to my newsletter, you'll even be able to get it at the pre-order discount of $2.99! (If not, you can still get it at the full price of $4.99.)

Tuesday 8 March 2022

#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal 2022: The Tale of the Hostage Prince

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Theme Reveal

Technically this post was supposed to go up yesterday. Practically, I only started writing it today. Well, it's still Monday somewhere in the world, I think?? But delay aside, I decided to kill two birds* with one stone with this year's A to Z Challenge.

You see, instead of organising a cover reveal and book launch tour, which takes massive coordination skills and time, I decided to use the A to Z Challenge as launch month for 

The Tale of the Hostage Prince

...which means content around the world of the Absolution series, teasers for the new book, writing insights, and basically a bunch of Yosua-related content!

The Tale of the Hostage Prince - 14 April 2022 - Teaspoon Publishing

The Tale of the Hostage Prince launches on April 14, because that's when L for Launch is. 

I'll be updating the index below as and when I start filling them up! :)

*No birds were really killed, promise. 


A for Absolution

B for Bayangan

C for Cast of Characters

D for Developing the Tale of the Hostage Prince

E for Emigration and Exile

F for Food and Drink

G for Guerrilla Theatre

H for Hostage Prince, with excerpts from Chapter 24

I for Identity

J for Justices, Mind-reading and the Secretkeeper

K for Kudus


M for Mikal, Maha and the Amok Strength

N for Nusantara

O for Obedience

P for Paderi, the Perantaraan Gift, and Suci

Q for Quills and that pesky thing called anachronism

R for Relka

S for Succession

T for Tuah

U for Uncle Jeffett

V for Vibes

W for War

X for Xenophobia

Y for Yosua