Mini Fantasy Reviews | The Tiger and the Wolf, The Emperor’s Knife, and Short Stories from Hogwarts

I’m back with more mini reviews for you all! Today, I’m actually reviewing 3 fantasy books I’ve read recently. I just don’t have all that much to say about each of them, but I still wanted to let you guys know what I thought of the books. 

the tiger and the wolfThe Tiger and the Wolf (Echoes of the Fall #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Published: 11.02.2016 by Pan Macmillan
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★

Synopsis: In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming. Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She can’t disown half her soul, so escapes – with the killer Broken Axe in pursuit. Maniye’s father plots to rule the north, and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger, a time of testing and broken laws. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. But what spark will set the world ablaze? 


I’ll start by saying that there’s a theme for the books I’m reviewing today. I thought they were “meh”. They weren’t bad, not at all. But they weren’t great either. There was nothing special to grab my attention, to be honest.

This story had so much potential. The shifter clans of different animals are so intriguing! Especially the history. The tigers who used to rule the Northern Crown on the World, until the Wolves took over. There are different Wolf-clans, each with their own chieftain, but there is one ruling person in general. There are Snakes, Bears, Coyotes, etc. It’s really interesting, especially because they all have some traits we associate with those animals as well. I do think that a lot of the potential here wasn’t fulfilled. 

I wasn’t really attached to any of the characters. I thought Broken Axe was really intriguing, and he’s the biggest reason I kept reading. Maniye wasn’t a bad or boring character, I just didn’t relate to her at all. Characters are incredibly important to me because when I don’t feel attached to them, I tend to not be captivated by the plot either. That was exactly the case here. I wasn’t captivated by the story. To be honest, I felt like there was no big plot-climax. You know what I mean? I didn’t feel like this story was building up to something, and it left me with one overall question: what was the point?

Like I said, I don’t think this is a bad book. I will definitely be trying some of the author’s other works because I’ve already enjoyed one other book by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Empire in Black and Gold. But I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series. This book has quite a high average rating on Goodreads though, so you may want to try it and decide for yourself.

EmperorsKnife_Press_Corrected02.inddThe Emperor’s Knife (Knife & Tower #1) by Mazarkis Williams
Published: 27.10.2011 by Quercus
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★

SynopsisThere is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon’s law…but now the pattern is running over the Emperor’s own arms. His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon’s agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor’s only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court’s stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an aging imperial assassin, the Emperor’s Knife. As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who once saw a path in a pattern — a path that might save them all.


Like The Tiger and the Wolf, I felt “meh” about this book. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I don’t have the need to finish the trilogy, but I already own the second book. Dilemma…

I think this book had a lot of potential, but I didn’t really like the execution of it. I was intrigued for several reasons: geometric patterns across the skin that make you do someone else’s bidding, an Emperor with a dead family, the Prince locked up and a Windreader. Those all sound so promising!

But instead, I felt like there was something off about this story. First, it seemed like I was watching the story unfold from a distance instead of being there with the characters. Second, while you’re reading, it feels like there are chunks of time missing. The characters develop but I think it was unrealistic. For example: Sarmin has spent almost his entire life locked up in his room without seeing anyone. And suddenly, he has the ability to stop the biggest threat his empire has ever faced? I don’t get it. The characters changed so suddenly, I couldn’t really follow anymore. The only character I could understand was the Knife. Third, I didn’t understand parts of the history or backstory. Why did all the brothers have to be killed? Why not Sarmin? Maybe I missed it or just forgot in the past month, but I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it. 

short-stories-from-hogwarts-2Short Stories from Hogwarts: Of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore Presents #1) by J.K. Rowling
Published: 06.09.2016
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★

SynopsisThese stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous hobbies profile two of the Harry Potter stories’ most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K. Rowling also gives us a peek behind the closed curtains of Sybill Trelawney’s life, and you’ll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way.


When I heard about the three Pottermore Presents books, I immediately went to Amazon to pre-order one. I chose this one, because of Minerva and Remus. They are some of my favorite adults of the Wizarding World so of course I had to order short stories about them. By the time September 6th rolled around, I’d actually already forgotten about it. Imagine my surprise when I opened my Kindle app. 

Of course I loved learning more about my favorite Hogwarts professors. I even thought Silvanus Kettleburn’s part was interesting! It allowed me to get to know them better. I never would have thought Minerva McGonagall had gone through such hardship in her life. I felt for her, I really did. And I already loved and felt for Remus. 

But my biggest criticism is: this book’s name is really misleading. These aren’t short stories, in my opinion. They’re more like: short biographies? It’s not told in a story format, but merely in a text providing you with the facts. I hope you understand my meaning.

Ranking Harry Potter

In the beginning of June, I saw an amazing post on Anne’s blog, Books, Baking and BloggingShe ranked the Harry Potter books, from her favorite one to her least favorite one. Disclaimer: before any of you get horrified, my least favorite Harry Potter, is still one of my favorite books ever. In the Harry Potter series though, I happen to love the others more. I asked her whether I could create such a post as well, and she said it was no problem. So here we are. I’m about to do the most difficult thing ever: rank Harry Potter.


I think the final book is my absolute favorite one. Not just because you can finally see all the threads of the story connect, but because of the growth of the characters. My babies have gotten so mature, smart, kind and strong people -and I adore it. I also love that the other side characters (Neville, Ginny and Luna especially) have their own story arc separate from Harry. We may not get to read it all directly, but we do know how strong they are on their own, how smart, independent and good people they’ve become.


I’ve always had a soft spot for this one, mainly because I loved reading about the tournament. But also because I had never even thought of the other wizarding schools all over the world before reading this one for the first time! Which is a shame, because I’m not from the UK. I should’ve thought about where Belgian wizards and witches get to go. This is also the first time that Harry has to deal with a break in his solid friendship with Ron. It’s about jealousy, forgiveness -and everything that comes with being a teenager.


It took me a while to truly appreciate this one. When I was young, this was one of my least favorite books in the series. I don’t really know why, so I can’t explain it, but I felt like not that much exciting wizarding stuff happens here. Now, I can appreciate it much more. This book is the true start of Harry’s “substitute” family. Lupin, Black, Granger, Weasley, Hagrid. They’re all part of his family now, but this book creates the foundation for the love and support Harry will get later on. 


I do love this one, trust me. This is where the true backstory and explanation starts, where we delve deeper into Voldemort’s life. It will always be interesting to me. But because it is a lot of backstory, the action is left for the end-part of the book. 


This book is really interesting, because for the first time the Wizarding World doesn’t back Harry up. They don’t believe in him. And that influences his life greatly. Combined with a teenage Harry who is growing up… Don’t kill me, but Harry is a bit whiny and rude to his friends in this one. I completely understand why, don’t get me wrong. I’d be the same. But it does affect the reading experience. 


I do love this one because it introduces us to the Wizarding World for the first time. It will always hold a special place in my heart for that. And you get to learn more about the world alongside Harry. But because it is the first one, the story is just starting. The following books have much more complexity and character development.


Yes, this is my least favorite one. Always has been. I have no idea why, to be honest. I can’t really explain it…

So here we are, I did it! I ranked Harry Potter from my most favorite book, to my least favorite one. Like I said, please don’t kill me, I absolutely adore all of them. It’s still -and always will be- (one of) my favorite series.