Writing and reading is a subjective art. What some folks will absolutely love, others will dislike. It is a bit like Marmite in the UK—normal people dislike it intensely, but some weird folks actually enjoy the taste of warm road surface and fresh roadkill upon their tongue. To each their own, I suppose.

Sowing is the fourth of the finalists we are reviewing (which brings us to the halfway point). We’ve nine books to read and review, chosen by blogs all over the fantasy-sphere, each with their own idiosyncratic taste in fiction. We’re reading them, noting our thoughts, and scoring them. We’ll take the average of individual judges scores as our final rating.


For Ariliah, life under the militarized Hulcondans is one of order and safety. Despite the soldiers’ ruthless policies, she trusts their judgment. They alone provide protection from the enemies lurking beyond the city wall.

For her older sister, Rabreah, every glance from a Hulcondan is a threat. Though even a whisper against them is treason worthy of death, Rabreah is determined to end their tyranny. Joining an underground resistance is her only hope—until she realizes she doesn’t know the people she’s aligned herself with at all. Unsure who to trust but unable to back out, she must work alongside the attractive yet infuriating rebel leader who reminds her far too much of the soldiers she hates.

But with subversive posters appearing throughout the city and people dying on the blade of an unknown assailant, the sisters’ world begins to crumble.

And as the line between friend and enemy blurs, both girls must face the truth: everything is about to change.


Like Aching God, our previous review, Sowing is a slow book that will appeal to some and turn others off.

There is a prologue that works to create a sense of tension even if we had no idea what was actually going on or why the character was putting up a poster. It was reminiscent of the graffiti scene in Life of Brian, but without the humour or the Romans turning up.

When the actual story begins, we learn these incidents of speaking out against the rulers of the city do seem to cause powerful people some concern. So much so that they burn an immigrant at the stake as a lesson to everyone else (who aren’t immigrants)—I suppose the spectacle and horror of it is supposed to put everyone else off the speaking out and from acting on the general malcontent in the city. Though, and just thinking it through, if you knew someone else was going to be burned at the stake, someone you didn’t know, never spoke to and cared nothing for, I’m not sure the lesson teaches as much (in its evil way) as it was supposed to.

Sorry, I digress. Which is an issue we faced in this book. There are too many wanderings and meanderings of the story and prose to keep the story tight, to keep it focused.

The beginning of the book does well to create some interest in the world and we’re introduced to the social structure quickly enough. One of our judges notes that a lot of names are similar and there is a tendency, amongst the prose and story, for us to become confused with who is who.

The author tries to get a romance going, creating some tension between characters, but it felt overdone and repetitive, which we felt was a shame. We waited for something dramatic to happen, for some action, some development of the story, however the lulls in the story dominated.

At the end of the book there is something of a cliffhanger which might encourage some to pick up the next book. Having a quick peek on Amazon, which we only do after reading and reviewing, we can see this book has picked up quite a few positive reviews, so I’ll simply say this book wasn’t for us and know I won’t be damaging the author’s career.

– – –

And with that we say goodbye to Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas. We have five more books to go, and Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe is still our book to beat! You can see our scores below and visit Mark Lawrence’s website for the total scores from all participating sites.

  • Aching God by Mike Shel = 6
  • The Anointed by Keith Ward = 3
  • The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  • Orconomics: A Satire by J. Zachary Pike
  • Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc = 4
  • Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe = 8.5
  • Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas = 4
  • Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer
  • Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon
  • We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson

Again, it is important to note that these are just the judges’ opinions on the samples we read. Others may view the books differently, that’s what makes writing and reading so much fun (and so infuriating). Keep an eye out for the next review!

Our judges are: G R Matthews, Julia Sarene, David Zampa, Jessica Juby, Rachel McCoy, Rakib Khan, and J C Kang. You can read more about each of them here.

Any queries should be directed to me, G R Matthews, via DM (Facebook/Twitter) or via the Fantasy-Faction website.


By Geoff Matthews

G. R. Matthews began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wits end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies after suffering the dual horror of the sounds of ABBA and the hoover (Vacuum cleaner) drifting up the stairs to wake him in the morning. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter. Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov. However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his hometown, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he picked up the Pawn of Prophecy and started to read - and now he writes fantasy! Seven Deaths of an Empire coming from Solaris Books, June 2021. Agent: Jamie Cowen, Ampersand Agency. You can follow him on twitter @G_R_Matthews or visit his website at www.grmatthews.com.

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