The Ciphers of Muirwood

Shortly after I posted my review for The Banished of Muirwood, I received an email from the publicist letting me know that the second book was up on NetGalley! That’s never happened before, so I immediately went and grabbed it! Absolutely, yes I want to read that second book, slam bam thank you ma’am!

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Jeff Wheeler’s first Covenant of Muirwood book just came out on August 18, so he is not wasting any time releasing these. From the sound of his Author Note, his third one is already in the works (and Goodreads says expected publication 2015), so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is already written. He’s even talking about a third trilogy! I really have got to get my hands on the first, and pronto!

I mentioned in my last write-up that the king seemed a bit like Henry VIII. This theme only gets more pronounced in The Cipher of Muirwood–in fact, it’s downright obvious that Henry was a major inspiration for Wheeler’s fantasy. He has banished his very devout daughter, Maia, and her mother (who is even named Catrin) so that he can marry a new heretic woman–very much an Anne Boleyn character, only with previous children of her own. There’s a slimey chancellor Crabwell who is a deadringer for Cromwell. And even a modest lady-in-waiting named Jayn Sexton that the king can’t seem to keep away from.

While I found those parallels amusing, they aren’t really the focus of the story at all. Just something fun for an Anglophile to pick apart. The real basis of the trilogy is the deep threads of a magical sect of religion that has been passed down to Maia through the maternal side of her family. The journey she takes in Banished brings her to Muirwood Abbey, where she must take her Maston test and fulfill her destiny. And she must do it quickly, before Whitsunday and the arrival of her father and a potential war.

My doubts about the slow start of the first book were completely dashed in this second one. I am almost jumping up and down with anticipation of the third, and if I didn’t already have a full pile of books on hold at the library right now, I’d probably see if they had the first trilogy. I may just have to buy it on my Kindle the next chance I get. Guys, if you love fantasy, you need to be reading Jeff Wheeler. Just do it.

 

Netgalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Releases September 15 2015.

 

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Bring Up the Bodies

Henry VIII. No matter your opinion of the man, no one can deny that he and his court are immensely fascinating and dramatic. If only there were reality TV in the 1500s–could you imagine the Real Housewives of The Tower? THAT would be worth watching. (Hey spoofers…someone please do this. Please!)

I fell in love with Henry’s court when I first watched The Tudors on Netflix several years ago, and while there were several dramatic liberties taken, it let me down a rabbit hole of information hoarding. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the period.

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Somewhere in there, Hilary Mantel published Wolf Hall, her first book from the perspective of the formidable Thomas Cromwell. I was completely enthralled. Cromwell is like all of the Lannister’s in one brain. Jaime’s weary eye, Tywin’s crazy intelligence, Cersei’s power hungry ambition, and Tyron’s book sharpened wit. Not to mention Littlefinger and Varys’ connections and abilities to find out really just about anything about anybody.

In Wolf Hall, you see Anne Boleyn’s utter domination over Henry and his court…and Katherine’s subsequent demise. And now in Bring on the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s second Thomas Cromwell book, you get the same sneaky ambition as we watch Anne Boleyn’s scheming come to a bitter end.

Mantel’s second book is just as well written as the first. Cromwell has always been an intriguing character to me. Not quite villainous, but definitely Slytherin in nature. He is out for his own skin, furthering his own cause, even using his son to do so. He is normally a background character in every other rendition of this court’s history, but Mantel brings him to life. I love the stream of consciousness narration that she gives him–not quite third person, but it’s all in his head, talking to himself.

If you like Game of Thrones, you will like this book. As I’ve mentioned, I draw a lot of parallells in the court and Cromwell to Martin’s characters (although I have read that he wrote it about the War of the Roses, which was before this period). Also, if you like Philippa Gregory, then you probably already know this storyline, as told by the women. You’ll really like this book, if you’re interested in a different perspective. Just be sure to read Wolf Hall first. There are some nicknames in Bring on the Bodies that will make more sense if you do.

I really hope Mantel continues this series! I look forward to reading them!

 

Fulfills PopSugar #46:  A book written by an author with your same initials