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A Cruel Thing: A Tale Of American Spirits is a war novel by American author C.S. Miller. Beginning during one of the earliest battles of the American Civil.
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I also thought Eli promising the wind spirits favour from other people was funny. I love Eli's interactions with the spirits. The story revolves around Josef's kingdom. His bounty had been raised, and he saw it for what it was, a call to come home. His mother had been sick and he ordered Josef to do his duty, that is to father an heir to the throne. To Nico and Eli's surprise, they discover that Josef had been married.

In his defense, it was done in his absence. Nico was heartbroken over this and over the prospect of Josef fathering a child with his wife. However, things are not as they seem. Josef had been falling asleep during inopportune times. This made him suspicious and he enlisted Eli and Nico's help. Also, the heir to the kingdom and guards had been murdered making Josef look bad. He already had a reputation for it. It turns out that it was his wife. She was a sleeper agent for the Immortal Empress assigned to destabilize the kingdom.

Her mother had been poisoning the queen for ten years.

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This all came out but not soon enough. The queen died, stabbed by a knife. Josef and his wife fought with the subjects cheering on the wife. Josef wasn't well liked because of his reputation and absence while the wife had been living there for a long time. It was only when Eli asked the wind spirits to carry the voices that the people heard her confession. Josef managed to defeat her with the Heart of War. However, the threat doesn't end there.

The empress was spurned into conquering the kingdom in the name of the shepherdess. Benehime wanted Eli desperate enough to call for help even if it meant waging war. They held on for a very long time. Josef attacked the ships. Nico killed Den the warlord. In doing so, she became a new demon and was injured very badly. There were a lot of casualties including Eli's spirit. It was a hopeless situation. The Spirit Council finally came and held the attackers at bay. However, the empress was very determined to prove herself and forged on.

When Miranda's last attack failed, she lashed out at Eli. At this time the empress revealed that she was a star cluing in Miranda about Eli. She blamed him and guilted him into action. He finally broke and gave up. He went to meet the empress and wrested the spirits from her. Benehime came down and took him away.

Oh, don't forget depressing. I usually like it when series start out kind of lighthearted and get more serious as the story progresses. However, the reason this didn't work for me this time around can be easily summed up. I thought she was kind of fun when she was always chasing and loosing Eli and then when they had to team up together. But I've never really liked her. And …Well, that was disappointing.

And now, right now, I hate her. All high and mighty, know what's best shoving someone back to their abuser! I really hate her. Josef I flat-out don't like. Right from the start he was one of those 'stoic swordsmen' characters and those are exactly the type of characters I never like. The apparent character development in this story made me like him less, because, really, I have little respect for him finding out what I did about his past and he is kind of cruelly oblivious in his treatment of Nico.

Besides, every time Josef starts in with his wanting to be the greatest swordsman in the world and his talk of a sword cutting what the swordsman wants it to, I keep thinking of: Benehime She is a total creep. Especially without a little detail like destroying the world in the process. And I won't even go into my special hatred of Sara 'morality is relative'. Didn't I like anything about the book? I absolutely adore his character and want to go back to when he was unequivocally the main character in the story. Also, I do admit, I rather like the interesting turns that Nico's character is taking.

That being said, this story is mostly about Josef, Miranda and a new character, the Empress. Oct 10, Joseph rated it really liked it. It occurs to me that I committed a grave injustice in my review of The Legend of Eli Monpress , the omnibus collection of the first three Eli Monpress novels -- I mentioned Eli himself and his companions Josef and Nico, but I completely neglected to name Spiritualist Miranda Lyonette, his would-be nemesis and sometimes reluctant ally. And all of the spirits she has helping her, not least of whom is the spirit-hound Gin. Anyhoo, so after the relatively world-shaking events at the end of the previ It occurs to me that I committed a grave injustice in my review of The Legend of Eli Monpress , the omnibus collection of the first three Eli Monpress novels -- I mentioned Eli himself and his companions Josef and Nico, but I completely neglected to name Spiritualist Miranda Lyonette, his would-be nemesis and sometimes reluctant ally.

Anyhoo, so after the relatively world-shaking events at the end of the previous book, we now embark upon events that are even more world-shaking, during the course of which we learn Josef's back story. Which I won't tell, because that would be spoiling.

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But anyway, on the other side of the ocean is the empire of the Immortal Empress, whose probing attack was barely beaten back, at great cost, a generation ago, and who now for Reasons, most of which revolve around Eli himself has decided to come back and finish the job, beginning with the island nation of Osera, where our heroes find themselves drawn. And in the meantime, on the mainland, there's all kinds of infighting going on between the Spiritualists and the wizards who serve the Council because what better time for infighting than in the face of overwhelming invasion?

Not much in the way of actual thievery this time, and events are considerably less light-hearted, but no less engaging. There are hardly words to describe how I feel right now, but I'll give it a go. At first, I was disappointed with Spirit War. I enjoyed seeing a lot of things from Josef's perspective, but there wasn't enough Eli to suit me. But the end-- oh the end!! Honestly, the last third of the book was an emotional roller coaster, and there aren't enough words on earth to explain how the ending made me feel. It's nice to see things finally all coming together, despite the dark er turn the nov Oh.

It's nice to see things finally all coming together, despite the dark er turn the novels are taking which I love, don't misunderstand! Augh, there is so much I want to say, but I'll wind up spoiling the entire book for you Overall, a very solid, very entertaining addition to the Eli Monpress saga. I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I wanted to strangle people It is an emotional investment and a wonderful novel. Rachel Aaron does it again!

Highly recommended to all! Nov 29, Amyiw rated it really liked it Shelves: Wow, this was great, other than the cliffhanger ending. Also Niko is something else but we don't get to get the whole picture. The ending is abrupt so we don't know how it pans out after the war ends. What politics happy and how the Kingdom fares. It is pretty much all in the air other the end to the war.

Argh, so two parter since the Wow, this was great, other than the cliffhanger ending. Argh, so two parter since the next is the end of the series. I liked this one probably the most. I know some didn't like the direction Joseph took but he was always independent and aloof. In the end he really did step up though. Not totally sure with the wife but after the first night, it was obvious that she wasn't affected so must be in on it. That Joseph agrees to father a child and leave, well I've heard worse in royal families and he, at that point, trusts his wife. She has been pretty much keeping the Kingdom together.

But when the Empress comes That is what really matters. Eli is such a whiner at the beginning of the book that I almost stopped reading. He is like a little child. We know he is a Robin Hood in disguise but he sounds like a petulant teenager, or maybe pre-teen. Luckily petulant Eli doesn't stay very long and serious issues take over. Wow this was a ride and in the end, Eli was forced to play his hand. Miranda has no idea of anything and speaks out her ass like a fanatic.

She tries to arrest Joseph before even understanding the situation and then refuses to believe it until it is pounded into her head. You kind of hate her and her holier than you attitude. Eli is a thief and I get that he is a criminal but Not only does he treat spirits well but better than she does. So, all the people really take turns in this. I thought Miranda would've figure out that she didn't know everything but we are left cliffhanged on whether she realizes what Eli did in the end. Now I don't have time to read the next one until next month which is only a few days away.

Hopefully it is just as good. Glad I didn't read this when it came out. Jun 08, Mihir rated it it was amazing. For one, most of the plot points become spoilers for previous books, secondly it becomes a bit harder to keep repeating why you like this world or the over all series and lastly the highs of the previous volumes keep raising the bar of expectation to its zenith. So in spite of all the afore mentioned reasons, the Spirit War, book four in the Legend Of Eli Monpress series completely enthralled me and has lead me to believe Rachel Aaron is an author destined for dollops of fame and success.

So for those readers who haven't read the first three books, consider yourselves warned. The Spirit War opens after the tumultuous events of the Spirit Eater but the prologue once again gives us a look into events past, focusing on Josef and how he procured the Heart of War. These characters are Den the Warlord and Nara the Immortal Empress, these two have a connection and Den is looking to catch the Empress on her word.

He does manage to find her as well as subvert her mood to his wishes and its from here the basic plot begins. This peculiar bounty alerts Josef to his family and heritage summoning him and they journey back to Osera wherein a whole new cauldron of troubles awaits them. Miranda on the other hand, has gone with Slorn and soon gets to know one of the fundamental aspects of the world they inhabit.

This book contains many plot threads, some singular and concerning a particular character and others that focus on many and concern everyone. The basic gist is that the Immortal Empress has decided to reclaim a title that she deems she has lost and her fury has been refocused on Osera wherein the heart of the story lies. Josef as a character has always been intriguing and in this book we learn a lot about his past, his choices and the main reasons why he has become the man he is today. There are a few answers given but now everything hinges on the last book as it will have answer every question that has arisen so far as well as end the saga on a thumping note.

But going by the way things have panned out so far, I have every confidence that the author will surprise us and end the saga on an enthralling note. We have had some pointers previously, however in this book we get a lot more information about it.

The Spirit War

Also this leads to an even more dangerous conclusion as all is definitely not well in the world and not only do the great spirits know it, but the humans are slowly realizing it as well. The character cast is the biggest one featured so far and suitably so as there are multiple plot threads in this book and the author admirably handles them all.

This book was a lengthy one however it does not waste any of its pages, the increased length serves to encompass a huge story that is action packed and character driven at the same time. Characterization is always important with an increased cast and in this book the author admirably showcases all characters with their flawed but understandable viewpoints.

The characters who have been in the background so far like Slorn, Sara, Tesset, Etmon Banage, etc are given more page time as per the story dictates and this was a smart move on the author's part as they reveal more about the world and a bit about the secrets of the world as well. The only complaint I could have from this book is while Miranda in the previous books has always been a headstrong character, in this one she comes off as bit over zealous. Usually portrayed as "feisty" and protective of her spirits, but herein, I felt her character came across a bit shrill in the climax.

This is just my observation and many others might think otherwise on it. Rachel Aaron spectacularly writes about the world wherein spirits are alive and part of everything. She makes the characters come alive and entraps the reader amidst her literary creation. Thought this book is not the way to start the series, it is a fine indicator of how good a writer she is. Mar 16, Piroska rated it really liked it.

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  7. It's been ages since a book made me cry. I like this series more and more, there's character development, the story is really good and the the hints about the surprises to come are perfectly placed. The only problem is Miranda, whose character is doing the exact opposite of development.

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    She doesn't think just follows and sometimes jumps in to do something without really thinking it through or caring It's been ages since a book made me cry. She doesn't think just follows and sometimes jumps in to do something without really thinking it through or caring about the consequences. I really wish she would sometimes listen to Gin or Eli or anyone except for Banage, who's also kind of a douchebag. I still like her, but I hope she won't stay this one-dimensional and blindly faithful for the next book. Everything else is great, Josef and Nico always put a huge grin on my face.

    Dec 02, Nathan rated it really liked it Shelves: First posted here With truly horrible covers and very little publicity, the first three books of Aaron's series flew completely under my radar for a long time. It wasn't until they were put together in an omnibus, The Legend of Eli Monpress, that I discovered this very fun series.

    Eli Monpress is the greatest thief in the world, and his ultimate goal is to get enough notoriety to have the largest bounty ever placed on his head. He is doing so in a world were every thing has a spirit, with some pe First posted here With truly horrible covers and very little publicity, the first three books of Aaron's series flew completely under my radar for a long time. He is doing so in a world were every thing has a spirit, with some people having the ability to persuade or control them for their purposes.

    After a fairly cartoonist first book, the quality in book two went up, followed by a third book that took the story down a much more serious path. Which leads to The Spirit War, forth book in the series. While the series isn't turning into a dark tale and has kept some whimsy, this book defiantly keeps the more serious tone, with stakes that are higher than ever. The heist plot lines are gone, and while Eli and his crew still have the skills needed to be great thieves, those skills are now needed to save the world.

    While Eli is still present, this time the story is more focused on Josef, the swordsman of the group, who is called back home to take his place as Prince of an island nation, surprising his friends in the process. Of course Nico the third member of the group and Eli have no choice but to follow along, where they soon find themselves helping prepare for war against the Immortal Empress, ruler of half the world. This is not a complex book, reading more like an adventure tale. The joy in it come from the three main characters slowly learning a new piece of each others past, enormous clashes between spirits, and the different way's the groups less lawful skills come in handy in each situation.

    As a continuation of the series I can't recommend this book enough to people who are yearning for fantasy that is fun and less grim than the average series. The ending was the best of the series, even if it ends with a cliff-hanger. With an epic confrontation brewing, the ending would have seemed too simple if Aaron hadn't done so well in showing what a sacrifice was needed to make it happen. Some small things hold the book back. Intrigue is not a strong point, and the first third of the book suffers from trying to include it. All the politics and betrayals were way too easy to spot, i knew who was going to cause problems almost from the character introduction.

    And as unique as the "everything has a spirit" angle is, it is often conveniently forgotten to advance the plot. Tries to be fun, good banter between characters, a strong ending. The spirit angle has constrained the author in some ways, and the politics truly are cliched. Jun 25, Nayan Patel rated it it was amazing Shelves: While Eli wants nothing more than an increased bounty on his head, Josef is forced to return to his homeland and take up his title as the Prince of Osera and fulfill his duty to provide the rightful heir to the kingdom.

    The book is written from multiple PoVs and while the last one revolved around Nico, I was def Overall: The book is written from multiple PoVs and while the last one revolved around Nico, I was definitely intrigued enough by the wielder of the "Heart of War". While some of the earlier books felt lighthearted due to Eli's "naughty" behavior, this book wears a somber tone due to the impending invasion by the Immortal Empress.

    I can't even start making a list of things that I liked about this book since it was so good. Rachel kept giving the reader glimpses into Josef's past while never letting the pace slacken. It is also quite difficult to place this book in one particular genre, since there is enough of action, intrigue and emotion to keep the reader glued to the story.

    If you have read the series, DONT miss this book and if you haven't, drop whatever you are reading and start here Jun 10, Jenni rated it it was amazing Shelves: There is no way I can be objective about this book because I've been waiting not-so-patiently for it for ages. And I have to say, it did not disappoint, which is a big thing, given how high my expectations had built. I loved it to bits. There is so much new information and a lot of interesting backstory and the last third of the book is non stop. The only thing wrong was that the book ended. How cruel to make us wai There is no way I can be objective about this book because I've been waiting not-so-patiently for it for ages.

    How cruel to make us wait until November!! Suffice it to say, if you're a fan of the series, then I think you'll love the book as well. I've already started my reread. Jan 19, Cathy rated it really liked it Shelves: I really like this series. It's more action than anything else, generally light and an easy read, but with touches of thoughtfulness that add enough depth to keep it interesting. And I like the way pieces of the big picture keep being gradually revealed, it definitely has kept me very curious while each individual book has had its own interesting story as well.

    This one had a good twist with Josef's past. I liked how he responded to his mom and the situation on the island. And I really felt for p I really like this series. And I really felt for poor Nico, finding out about the wife was rough, even though they had never even met; she's so young and naive in many ways.

    And yet, for a really long book there wasn't a lot of character development, again. It's mostly action, and filling in pieces of the puzzle. There also wasn't a lot a lot of Eli and his mischief in this one. And poor Miranda is always the last to know, about a lot of things. I'm kind of tired of her always being a dupe, I'd like to see her take control of something. I still love Gin, of course, minor character though he is; how could I resist what's essentially a giant talking mystical greyhound?

    The moral questions were interesting though. When the enemy is legitimately terrifying and doesn't respect anyone's rights, is it OK to use similar tactics? It was good use of fantasy to explore real world issues through what really is otherwise just a fun story.

    Is there room for idealists in wartime? Are there moral lines that just shouldn't be crossed, even of it means losing? It's nice in a book when good triumphs over evil and the point gets made that morals need to be upheld and that there's always a better way to do things, but what if there isn't? What if upholding your morals actually meant losing to the monsters?

    Not just dying but getting enslaved or seeing the ones you love tortured? Are there really lines that shouldn't be crossed? Anyway, in the book there were the constant tensions between Spiritualists Miranda and Banage on the one side and Sara and the Council of Wizards on the other and how they think it's appropriate to use spirits. There was also Slorn vs. They were interesting questions that could be interpreted to apply to issues in our world.

    I really like how fully developed the world and the system of magic were. There's so much depth to the story at this point, it's quite fascinating. It has the ring of mythology with the stories of the gods and stars that are being revealed and yet there's a feeling of realism that's really interesting. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the series wraps up in Spirit's End in November and finding out what's really on the other side of the sky and how all plays out.

    Sometimes reading can be addicting.

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    And I don't mean that in a cute, instagramy, way. I mean that feeling when you just can't stop reading. Not because you enjoy it but everything on paper is better than real life. I'm a firm believer in anything that bring people joy has the power to make people an addict. Even in the darkest days of my depression I read. To try, to get myself to feel anything. And I couldn't stop. I clung to reading as if that was the only thing keeping me sa Sometimes reading can be addicting.

    I clung to reading as if that was the only thing keeping me sane. Maybe in a way it was. Now after a long time I feel my mind is in a good space. I can just enjoy stories. But even better I can feel them again. I can gasp, cry, laugh and curse again. And feel my emotions. I feel like I can put a book away without fearing the outside world of that book.

    This story made me feel. Which, truth to be told, I did not expect from this series. Lack of ships aside, The Spirit War is the best Monpress book yet. From a character perspective, things are getting really fucking intense. Also from a plot perspective actually. Mostly, I want to give Eli a million hugs. I really like it obviously, but I find that the writing style makes it easy to put down until the end when shit starts going down.

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    Aaron will switch focus at the end of each chapter and go to a new character, which keeps me from really focusing on the book. The end, though, was madness. Also, even though I predicted the ending, it was still really startling and intense because um how are they ever going to get out of thisssss? Well, that and Benehime going to the special hell. My video reviewing the whole series can be found here: The last three books felt like they were growing a little predictable, but this one really seems to have sent the story off in a new direction that's focusing on the more interesting aspects of the world the Shepherdess, the nature of spirits, etc.

    I really enjoyed the scenes i My video reviewing the whole series can be found here: I really enjoyed the scenes in the Shaper mountain, and I'm particularly interested in learning more about the nature of the sky. Here we are, hurtling through space on a disintegrating planet, presided over by maniacs, hunkered down in front of the TV with our loved ones, hoping for the odd moment of levity before the end comes.

    What are we given by way of a salve? We have seen women gagged and lined up on a scaffold in a mock execution in order to school them in the consequences of dissent. Flesh has been burned, tongues cut out, spirits broken. We have endured the agony of a pregnant June zapped by a cattle prod, force-fed and shackled. Like so many others, I was awestruck by the first season, which captured a moment in time and successfully funnelled its rage outwards at a world in which women are indeed silenced, controlled and killed by men. It has left us as mere rubberneckers, peering stupidly at the carnage.


    Should we be surprised?