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Stephen R. Lawhead’s Eirlandia Trilogy (Review of In the Land of the Everliving + In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows)

Today, I’m sharing a sort of merged-double-review with my thoughts on the last two books in the Eirlandia trilogy, also known as one of my favorite series in a long time.

GIVEAWAY

ALSO! If you’re reading this before 9/15/22 and have a US address, you can enter a GIVEAWAY for book one in this series! Drop by my other blog where I’m celebrating my nine-year blogiversary (as of 9/9/22) with a giveaway of a hardcover copy of In the Region of the Summer Stars!

And now, read on for my thoughts on book two and three!

Title: In the Land of the Everliving + In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

Series: Eirlandia trilogy, book 2 and 3 (Book 1: In the Region of the Summer Stars; read my review here.)

Fantasy / Celtic Fantasy • Adult (but teens would enjoy too) • published 2019 and 2020 by Tor Books • 316 pages and 286 pages (hardcovers)

Date read: 2021 and 2022 • 5 stars (would give 6 stars if I could!) • Favorite character: Conor mac Ardan • Source: Barnes & Noble

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Note: This is a review for the second and third Eirlandia novels.

This series set in ancient Ireland has been a massive homecoming for me, and when I say these books mean a lot to me, that’s quite an understatement. Mr. Lawhead’s writing, characters, and world together form a magnificent tale across three novels, and I wanted to LIVE in these books. After reading each one, and ever since, they echo in my mind—“We’re your home,” they say. Each of these wondrous Celtic fantasy books has made it onto my top-favorite-books-of-the-year lists for the last few years. I simply adore Conor mac Ardan’s adventures in this green and magical land my heart aches for.

The setting of Eirlandia made me feel SO AT HOME. I want to live there. The green hills, the raths, the noble characters… The Irish language, the names, the words… The writing sings across the page and drew me fully into this land of wonders and that indescribable feeling of being home at last. *hugs it*

And then the people who inhabit Eirlandia and nearby shores! I love their hospitality and how there are good-hearted people—a breath of fresh air in fiction these days. (And the comeuppance of certain devious characters… OH YES.) The De Danann—just loved them. I loved the bards and druids and wise councilors. So much. I loved the faery people and their mysterious feel—perfectly Fae and Elven (in a Tolkien way) and Welsh and I loved how they feel a perfect part of the land.

I adore Conor mac Ardan and his friends so much! I also love how noble and heroic they are, despite their struggles and the war they find themselves entangled in. Conor is a hero I’d follow to the end and I love how much he’s grown from the first book, all the way to…well, no spoilers. 😉 But he’s magnificent! Also, the dialogue and the HUMOR of the banter between certain characters—it makes me so happy! It’s dry and Irish humor and I’m HERE for it. *grin* I have to mention Fergal, Donal, and Aoife specifically, because they’re all fabulous.

This is mostly a general review of the last two books as a whole, but I have a couple of specific things to mention for each of them.

  • BOOK 2: IN THE LAND OF THE EVERLIVING — I loved seeing more of the faery people! They were fabulous. I already touched on that, but had to mention it again. The other most favorite thing in book two…has to be the lightning scene. OH MY WORD. It was the most epic thing. 😀 *beaming* I won’t say more because spoilers, but I just had to comment on it because it was absolutely awesome.
  • BOOK 3: IN THE KINGDOM OF ALL TOMORROWS — Firstly, there are a couple of ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT legal proceedings which . . . sounds boring . . . but Y’ALL. It was so good! So, so good. Especially the second one which absolutely made my day. *grinning so hard* The other thing that especially stood out to me about book three was the ending. The epilogue, the final chapter before that, and the last couple of paragraphs of the chapter before that…they were incredible, and gave me feels (in the case of the final chapter, which I don’t want to say much about for fear of spoilers but it was a timely chapter for me when I read it), and there’s so much intriguing about especially the epilogue that I probably need to re-read to unpack properly, but…anyway, I loved all of it so much. I’m not saying all readers will feel the same way I did, but those last few chapters meant a lot to me. I absolutely adored them.

Overall, these books meant so much to me, and the writing, Irishness, epicness, and characters all combined to absolutely steal my heart and make me feel completely at home. I felt seen. It’s a very “me” series. I connected with it so hard. I will love it forever! I, for one, found it to be incredibly enjoyable and meaningful all at once.

I 100% recommend this series! It’s just really good! Go read it!

(I also highly recommend the audiobooks.)

Don’t forget to drop by my other blog to enter the giveaway for the first book!

Leave a comment and make my day! I love chatting books with y’all!

You may also enjoy my reviews for other Celtic fantasy . . .

My reviews for Lawhead’s Bright Empires series . . .

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow by Arthur Daigle (Review)

Today’s review is for one of my top-favorite books of all time! I’m so excited to finally get to review this book, which was my most-anticipated release of 2022!

Yes, indeed, Jayden and Dana are back and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

(Or, you know, you can skip ahead to the links section and just buy yourself a copy — or a copy of book one if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading that one yet. You need this series in your life!)

Title: Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow

Author: Arthur Daigle

Series: Dana Illwind, #2 (Book 1: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows. Read my review here!)

Fantasy • YA and up • 2022 • 308 pages (paperback)

Read August 21, 2022 • 5 stars (I’d give it 6 stars if I could!) • Fave character: Jayden! • Source: Amazon (Note: I also beta-read this before publication, and read the chapters as they released on Booksie before that. So this is my 4th read and I still want to read it again!)

GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor’s Booksie AccountAuthor’s Facebook

I ADORE THIS BOOK AND CAN’T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH! GO READ IT! That’s the short version. 😉

You know those books, series, and characters that you love SO much that you can’t properly express it in words? Well, this book, series, and Jayden and Dana are that for me. I seriously just love these characters SO MUCH and will follow them anywhere, and this series is up there with a select few on my list of very-top-favorite books! (Tolkien’s, Howl’s Moving Castle, Paper Crowns, and these two books. That’s the list.)

Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow is just SO GOOD! I feel like it’s a bit like Diana Wynne Jones meets Lord of the Rings, because it’s hilarious AND epic, and there are only so many books that can pull that off. Plus it has a distinctive FEEL that I can’t really explain but makes it a favorite of mine. It’s such a unique, fun book. I adore the cleverness of the plot, writing, and dialogue (so quotable!), and how we’re getting deeper into this world and all its kingdoms and monsters and intrigue (with doses of humor and epic characters, of course!). Everything’s building into a crescendo and I’m very much looking forward to the final book one of these days!

Jayden and Dana have gone from smaller, more disconnected adventures fighting monsters and lower-level villains, to being pulled directly into the center of an intricate web of war and magic and nefarious plots. Seeing them hold their own against all of that, while each growing in their own ways, had me glued to the page in breath-holding delight.

Plus, they’re just the best characters! Jayden and Dana make the BEST pair, like Holmes and Watson or something. So classic and perfect!

Jayden is snarky, courtly, and dangerous at turns, and woe to any wrongdoers (human or otherwise) who draw his attention—especially if Dana doesn’t redirect his rage to keep the destruction to a minimum! XD Jayden is simply one of my top-favorite characters of all time, and I have the HARDEST time describing this unpigeonholeable character, but he’s superb and always has the BEST comebacks in witty dialogue, and having another whole book with him was a TREAT. He has a haunted past and a bit of an anger management problem when he sees injustice (don’t worry, Dana’s helping with that—when SHE isn’t as angered by the injustice as he is…), but he’s on the side of right and is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a wonderful quote in this book, by a very wise character: “I see a heart of gold wrapped in rusty chains. Break them off for yourself and those who need you.” Probably one of my favorite lines about Jayden! It’s perfect for the journey he’s going on. I just love him so much.

I mentioned Dana a few times in there because they’re so tied together in the story, and I love how they help each other see each other’s weaknesses and help overcome them, but also show each other their strengths and encourage that. It makes me happy! They’re an excellent pair of friends and Dana is just the sort of person one wants at one’s side. It was fascinating how things become sort of personal for her by the end (not to be spoilery…), and how it shows how far she’s come in these two books. She’s got to be one of my favorite female characters of all time. I love how she’s full of the BEST common sense and is much more down-to-earth, while Jayden and others around her are being dramatic. The interplay there is SO much fun. XD She’s sturdy and no-nonsense and is becoming quite the swordswoman, but I love that it’s simply her good-hearted way of doing the best she can and helping others.

It was intriguing to have “interlude” chapters seeing what the villains think of what Jayden and Dana are up to (even when they don’t always know it was Jayden’s fault. XD), plus there’s a new character who is verrry interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him…

Some other random thoughts: The whole section set in the kingdom of Bascal was one of my favorites! It was such fun! The ball scene and a certain sword-update were fabulous. There’s the return of some fan-favorite characters from the first book (Lootmore, Suzy, Prince Onus!), and new, intriguing ones I’m very curious about (Cassandra, Malcolm, Palan…)! And not to get into spoilers but there mayyy have been a dragon involved at some point… I loved the Brotherhood of the Righteous and Father Firepower. I also found the shadow magic to be pretty neat—just a really cool magic system that Jayden is VERY good at. The fluffy fox!! Plus goblins being mischievous and also more organized than expected… The goblin-gate was hilarious. XD

I’d be here all day if I mentioned all my favorite things, but that’s a few of them, and particularly Jayden and Dana’s banter and dialogue, which is 100% pure GOLD! *grinning*

DANA ILLWIND AND WAR’S SHADOW is book 2 (book 1 is DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS) and I think I liked this one even MORE than the first one, if that’s possible. It was amazing to come back in this second book and be immersed once again in more Jayden and Dana goodness. ^_^ I’ve been following Jayden and Dana on their adventures for some time now and these stories never cease to make me happy!

I’ve read both books four times each (once you count reading them in serial format, then twice-through beta-reading, and then reading the final published version aloud—because I have such a fun time doing all the voices and sharing the stories with my siblings, which is the highest honor a book can get from me, that I have to give it a dramatic reading to my family) and I never get tired of these adventures. I anticipate re-reading both books soon, just like I read and re-read Howl’s Moving Castle. Some books are just so delightful to revisit, and this is definitely one of them!

In short, this book is funny, clever, and deep in unexpected ways, with a dash of spooky, and inhabited by two of my favorite characters ever. It’s just SO good and I adore it to Other Place and back! Seriously, just go read this.

If you love epic fantasy with well-built worlds, whimsical/humorous fantasy that’s a little tongue-in-cheek satire (think Discworld, Magic Kingdom for Sale, or some of Diana Wynne Jones’s books), and unique characters who will steal your heart, you absolutely MUST check out the Dana Illwind series! 10/10 recommend!

Leave a comment and make my day! I love chatting books with y’all!

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Kate’s Informant by Sarah Holman (Review)

I don’t read many mystery novels, but I’m addicted to this series, so here’s a review for the latest one! There were some unexpected feels but otherwise I loved most of it!

Title: Kate’s Informant

Author: Sarah Holman

Series: Kate’s Case Files, #6 (Read my reviews for book 1, book 2, and book 3)

Thriller / Contemporary / Mystery / Christian Fiction • NA • 2022 • 160 pages (Kindle)

Read June 4, 2022 • 4 stars • Favorite characters: Patrick and Thomas • Source: Amazon

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The first three-quarters of this book I absolutely ADORED! I think it was the funnest Kate’s Case Files book yet. The bantering dialogue was delightful and spot-on, which is always my FAVORITE about these books, along with the fun team of characters! I love all of them, and the character interactions are the best—and like I said, I think all of that was the best so far in this one!

So yes, I really, really enjoyed most of the book! It made me SO happy to be back in this series, which I like to think of as a crime show, just clean and in book series format; what’s not to love? The mysteries and characters and dialogue are the best and keep me flipping the pages in each book, especially this one!

I highlighted so many hilarious moments in my Kindle copy. XD SO. MANY! This cast is just gold! XD I stayed up late to finish reading it, and I had only meant to read the first few chapters that night, but I couldn’t stop and next thing I knew, the book was over!

I…will say that I was super upset about something that happened near the end. I literally spent the last quarter of the book in denial and it was only in the last few pages I realized it was real and I could hardly read I was crying so hard. It hit especially hard due to some stuff in my life this last year and the aftermath of the book was that I was so sad I couldn’t sleep and just listened to music in the dark for hours instead. So yeah, not gonna lie, it was devastating. I was shocked.

So, personally, I knocked a star off for that—even though the rest of the book was probably my favorite so far (so many good character moments!)—but that’s not to say others won’t enjoy the book! Because, yeah, it may just be a me-thing. I personally read for enjoyment, not for feels, and the first three-quarters of the book was definitely enjoyable! ^_^ But the last quarter just hit me so hard (and I haven’t been able to read new books since, except for work, so I’ve been re-reading comfort reads so I know what’s going to happen, haha). It made me feel deeply, because it got me SO invested in these characters. Which is clearly a testament to the author’s skills.

I definitely had to wait a few months to recover from these feelings (which I have mostly done) before I could write a fair review. XD Because…yes, in fairness, I LOVED the rest of the book, and I actually super suspect good things will come out of this tragic happenstance, so I’m definitely looking forward to future books in the series! I think they’re going to be amazing and I can’t wait to come back to hang out with (most of… *sobs*) these characters again. ^_^

Leave a comment and make my day! I love chatting books with y’all!

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Review: Truesilver by DJ Edwardson

I have returned from a too-long blogging hiatus with a bit of an updated look to my review posts (shiny new things!) and a review for a delightful YA fantasy novel, Truesilver!

(And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a hardcover copy of this book!)

Title: Truesilver

Author: DJ Edwardson

Series: Swordspeaker Saga, #1 (Book 2, Rimewinter, coming spring 2022!)

Epic Fantasy • YA (enjoyable by anyone) • 2021 • 318 pages

Read August 2020 • 5 stars • Fave character: Kithian • I copyedited this but loved it enough to buy the hardcover

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Ranger’s Apprentice meets the Wingfeather Saga, with a dash of Prydain, in this delightful saga of a one-time shepherd boy who becomes bearer of a sentient sword.

In this masterfully woven tale, the bright threads of a lush and original world and generous doses of both whimsy and peril twine together to tell the story of a cast of colorful characters who stole my heart.

Seventeen-year-old Kion came from the lowliest roots and was pulled into a journey of action-y adventure, deadly danger, and a high calling awaiting him. With his trusty friend the smith Zinder — a loyal sidekick if ever there was one, who makes up with wit and quickness (and fabulous hats and lock-picking skills) what he lacks in size — at his side, Kion is a hero I’d follow through perils thick and thin.

And this book and its soon-to-release sequel, Rimewinter, abounds with just the sort of adventure that keeps you flipping pages, all while soaking in the rich tapestried detail of the writing and world.

Hint: the sword is my favorite! It’s worth reading the book just to meet the sword! Not even kidding. But I don’t want to give any more away. You’ll just have to discover it for yourself!

(Some action/violence/war. Otherwise clean. Teens of any age would love the book, methinks!) If you’re tired of endless romance in the YA section, this is a fun one to pick up. 😉

Truesilver is the first book in a Noblebright fantasy adventure series. I recommend this one to any reader looking for a rousing good tale full of heart!


Giveaway

If you missed it, check out my giveaway for a hardcover copy of Truesilver! (Giveaway open through February 28, 2022.) And said post also features the cover reveal for the sequel, Rimewinter!

Also! Let me know what you think of the new look for my review posts!

Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Audiobook Tour: Minstrel’s Call Fantasy Series!

(photo by me)

🎧📚 Audiobook Tour! 📚🎧

I posted about this on Instagram as well but wanted to share it here also today!

I’m SO excited to be sharing about this amazing fantasy series which I ADORE and is now available in audiobook form!

Y’all, I love this epic fantasy series by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt so much! I’ve read the Minstrel’s Song saga twice (well, three of them; need to find time for a reread of the last one!).

It has DRAGONS and other fantastical creatures, quests and amazing characters, humor and song . . . It has everything!

It also features two of my favorite characters of all time, Brant the warrior and Kiernan Kane the minstrel! They’re amazing. That is all. 😍

LINKS

If you want to read my reviews of the books, check those out by clicking the covers below!

Yoriens Hand - Cover Reveal Medium

The Series

  • King’s Warrior
  • Second Son (prequel)
  • Yorien’s Hand
  • Minstrel’s Call

(Also, for the record, I read Yorien’s Hand first. XD So, chronologically, I read them backward — Yorien’s Hand, King’s Warrior, Second Son — except for Minstrel’s Call which one should definitely read last. ;))

(photo by Jenelle Schmidt)

About the Minstrel’s Song series by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

From time immemorial a world has endured the struggles of the mighty. Creatures of myth have been hidden away for centuries waiting to take their place. But will they be conquerors or protectors?

The Minstrel’s Song chronicles the story of heroes pitting their will and strength against the hidden, personal, and ancient foes seeking to dominate a world poised for a new era.

About Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin —which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia — with her knight-in-shining armor and their four hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.

Thanks for reading! Do you like audiobooks? Let me know in a comment below!

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Blood of the Seer by C.M. Banschbach (Review)

Happy release day to Blood of the Seer, only my most anticipated release of 2021! *flailing* The first book was my favorite read of 2019, and this one is even better if you can believe it (believe it), so here’s my review! (Also known as me shrieking to the hills and flailing forever and a day, but anyhoo . . .)

Title: Blood of the Seer (The Dragon Keep Chronicles, #2)

Author: C.M. Banschbach

  • Date read: January 23, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars (all of the stars!)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: NA
  • Year pub: 2021
  • Pages: 324 (e-book)
  • Series: Book 2 in the Dragon Keep Chronicles. Book 1 is Oath of the Outcast—read my review of that one here.
  • Fave character: Rhys/the Baron, a.k.a. my smol floof of anger management issues
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher. This review is my own independent and fair evaluation.

Links

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleAuthor’s WebsiteSwag Preorder link (through 2/16/21)Signed Paperback

The smol floof of anger management issues that is the Mountain Baron/Rhys is back in this spectacular conclusion to the duology that began with Oath of the Outcast! YOU GUYS. OH MY WORD. This book—THIS BOOK. Just—I don’t even know if I can be coherent enough to review it, especially without spoilers, but let’s give it a shot. I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK AND THIS SERIES SO MUCH.

The stakes and everything have scaled up in this one and everything climbs to another level, as if Oath of the Outcast was the amazing setup and this one drags us deep into a whole new level of epic. DID I MENTION EPIC? (*whispers softly* Epiccccc.) Again, I don’t know how much to say to not spoil things . . . But I’ll just say that you want the Baron and his Cairns on your side if there’s a war going on, or at least not NOT on your side. *grinning*

The scope is broader, we have new characters and already beloved ones, there’s kind of a war on, Rhys is trying not to deal with stuff he really needs to deal with (but being totally awesome in the meantime), and there’s more going on with the Seer/bond/vision world thing which is so fascinating and I shall not spoil. Also, lots of things that only get hinted at in book one are front and center and it’s fabulous. *cackles*

CHARACTERS! Of course, we have our Mountain Baron himself, Rhys MacDuffy (shhhh, he says that’s not his name because banishment, but pffft, details), and he’s still an absolutely growly, terrifying, amazing outlaw with a heart of gold that’s slooowly emerging more than he wants it to and is still prone to go stabby on you if you’re evil or, you know, annoy him. RHYS IS MY FAVORITE FOREVERRR. He’s just the best and following him through all he goes through is just—my feels! He’s my smol floof of anger management issues (yes, I named him that) and I love him so. He totally makes these books. 😀 His arc and story are my favorite.

Then we have Sean, the Seer of the title, and he’s such a cinnamon roll and the brother feels with him and Rhys are realll. I love seeing more of him and finding his fierce side but he’s also just such a goodhearted guy and he and Rhys will do anything to protect each other even if they’re not “supposed” to be brothers and they’re just liiiife. (Brother tropes are the best, hush.)

Alan! Alan is another great almost-bro of Rhys and the loyalty is fierce with this one. His humor and happy-go-lucky, laid-back, chill-seeming self are the perfect recipe to make us laugh (or make Rhys pretend he’s annoyed at him), but he’s also got a bloodwrath warrior side. Alan makes the bestest friend and we all need an Alan, for reals.

Also, new characters! Brother Ennis is a fantastic new addition and I love him so much (this guy! So good-natured, always ready with a soul-seeing remark or a staff to smack with), and there are more of the Cairns who we get to know better and they’re also amazing. (I mean, terrifying. But amazing.) We’ve seen the Cairns a bit in the first one (especially Bryn, Rorie, and Jes, my friendsss!), but they are SUCH an intriguing bunch, and I love how unique they are. *can count off like ten of them by name with info about them but will restrain myself* They’re terrifying outlaws but they follow their Baron anywhere, and it is just the most amazing tight-knit band of bloodthirsty outlaws Celts, essentially. I love them so.

And Ajax, the Baron’s mastiff—aaahh, this dog! He’s basically Rhys’s emotional support loyal hound and it’s great. Everyone needs an Ajax, too. Then there’s DAMON who’s another favorite (oh my word, Damon) and involved with my favorite fantasy trope. *grin, grin* They’re just all amazing! *collapses* Not to mention a certain side antagonist has a veryyyy interesting arc and it’s my favorite. Ahem. (I know I keep saying everything’s my favorite. WELL, IT IS.)

It’s just the greatest cast! AND ALL THE INTERACTIONS AND SNARK (the snark, though) ABSOLUTELY GIVE ME LIFE.

There are some powerful scenes and arcs that give me all the feels and draw me in so hard. Also, I beta-read an early version of this a few years back, and reading the final version was such a rush of coming home as I read these vivid scenes that were already coiled deep in my heart like a beloved dragon and sprang to life. (May I just draw your attention to some clifftop scenes and the castle and standing stones and some Baron-being-dramatic scenes—oh, boy, the TENT, and the forest-court bit—and Damon scenes, and the epilogue scene, and I’m gonna stop now before I list everything.) I just got SO excited to rediscover this book now that it’s published and it was EVEN BETTER and I’m blown away and already want to re-read the duology, even though I just re-read Oath before diving into Seer. (The back-to-back reading experience was amazing, binge-reading them in just over a day.) I know it’s a series I’m going to want to come back to and read again!

It was such a perfect, satisfying conclusion. I adore how it ended. Just. All of it. It. Was. Perfect. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. It was everything I wanted and just wrapped up SO WELL and I’m utterly pleased. 10/10 would read about Rhys and this world for a DOZEN books but at least the two we have are absolute perfection, so there’s that. 😀

This one definitely goes down as one of my favorite books and series! Brothers, outlaws, an incredible cast, the Baron (of course!), snark, soul-deep journeys, an awesome fantasy/Celtic feel, and the sheer epic of all of it combined. What is not to love? IT’S. SO. GOOD. I adore, adore, adore this book and I hope it will amaze and delight others as much as it did me. *hugs it forever*

Blood of the Seer is a magnificent conclusion to a stunning Celtic fantasy duology about redemption and brotherhood that you absolutely need in your life!


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Talk to me! Do you like Celtic Fantasy? Are you excited for this one? (Or have you not read Oath of the Outcast, in which case you muuuust!) Thanks for reading! 🙂