Archive for the 'Fantasy' Category

28
Sep
08

Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind

MY NAME IS KVOTHE

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature–the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

The voice carries the story and makes the story. In anybody else’s hands, this would be nothing more than backstory, because there is precious little that actually happens in this book.

If I had not wanted to read this book to find out why authors like Terry Brooks and Ursula K. LeGuin blurbed the book, I wouldn’t have gotten past the first ten pages and wouldn’t have finished the book. It may take other readers less time to be snagged by Rothfuss’s voice, in which case they are going to settle in for a good solid read.

The Name of the Wind rates 4 out of 5.

19
Sep
08

C.L. Wilson: Lord of the Fading Lands

Long ago, in the magical holocaust known as the Mage Wars, the immortal Fey and their allies fought to defeat the grasping evil of the Elden Mages and their dark-gifted supporters. During those wars, in a fit of grief-induced madness caused by the death of his mate, Fey shapeshifter Rain Tairen Soul nearly destroyed the world in a blaze of tairen fire.

Now, a thousand years later, the fierce Fey king must fight to save his race from the brink of extinction and once again stop the evil rising in the homeland of his enemies, the Eld. The key to his success lies in the mortal city of Celieria, where the Mage Wars began, and with a young woman whose soul sings to him in ways no woman’s ever has, whose presence reawakens the primal fury of the tairen within his soul, and whose vast, untapped power can either save or destroy him and his people.

I saw this at the library and picked it up because of the hype. I wouldn’t have made it through if I didn’t want to understand the hype.

It’s an interesting book. I’d have loved it maybe 5-6 years ago.

What’s not to like about Ellysetta? At the start of the book, she is someone nearly every woman has been at some point in their lives. They feel ugly, they are never going to get married, and they feel trapped. Excepting the second bit, I totally get it.

Then Rain comes along. Rain the soul mate. Rain thinks Ellysetta is beautiful, perfect etc. So does the rest of his people — at least the ones we meet in this book.

Wouldn’t you WANT to be Ellysetta?

I would, but I don’t think Ellysetta has much of a personality. Maybe it gets better in the next book, but there’s my one book and you’re out on your ear rule. Wilson’s voice isn’t anything special for me.

As for Rain… He never becomes anything more than a jumble of emotions of wanting Ellysetta, being the man who nearly scorched the world and being the last Tairen Soul. It never clicks into a single character.

Lord of the Fading Lands rates 2 out of 5.

09
Jun
08

Marie Brennan: Midnight Never Come

England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs.

But a great light casts a great shadow.

In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second Queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above. In the thirty years since Elizabeth ascended her throne, fae and mortal politics have become inextricably entwined, in secret alliances and ruthless betrayals whose existence is suspected only by a few. Two courtiers, both struggling for royal favor, are about to uncover the secrets that lie behind these two thrones.

When the faerie lady Lune is sent to monitor and manipulate Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham, her path crosses that of Michael Deven, a mortal gentleman and agent of Walsingham’s. His discovery of the “hidden player” in English politics will test Lune’s loyalty and Deven’s courage alike. Will she betray her Queen for the sake of a world that is not hers? And can he survive in the alien and Machiavellian world of the fae? For only together will they be able to find the source of Invidiana’s power — find it, and break it . . . .

Midnight Never Come is a historical fantasy that’s also an interesting take on faerie lore. I don’t generally pick up historical fantasies or historical anything, for that matter, but this one had what for me was an interesting hook, the twining of the lives of the Queen of England and a faerie Queen.

On that count, Midnight Never Come does not disappoint. The author handles the politics and the intrigue with a deft hand, moving seamlessly from Elizabethan England to the world of evil faeries and then back again.

A book that starts out quietly, Midnight Never Come builds in an elegant crescendo to a powerful finish, much as both Lune and Deven grow as characters into what they finally become. It’s definitely one of my favorite faerie books of the year.

Midnight Never Come rates 4 out of 5.

01
May
08

Alan Campbell: Iron Angel

In Iron Angel, the second book of the Deepgate Codex, we meet the other sons of the goddess Ayen, and we travel to the other side of the world.

It feels almost as though we’ve taken one big step backwards from Scar Night’s finer focus on Dill and Rachel, such that in Iron Angel, we look at the bigger picture, but without losing the pacing and certainly not the feel of being balanced on the knife edge of action.

It is by far a better book than Scar Night–which incidentally, I appear to have forgotten to review. It is less…rough, for lack of a better word. The story flows, rather than occasionally stopping and starting around passages of lovely description.

The worldbuilding is, again, amazing. It’s not only the level of detail, but also that the details given to you are just enough for you to draw your own pictures without dragging the book down, something I felt was an issue in Scar Night.

And all this is capped with what I consider to be an glorious ending. There will be people who will disagree with me, but I think it is a pitch-perfect ending for this book.

Iron Angel rates 4 out of 5.

(The publisher sent the book to me.)

I’m giving away a copy. I do think this book is that good. Comment to put your name in the draw.

07
Dec
07

Diana Pharaoh Francis: The Cipher

Welcome to the Crosspointe, the hub of the Insland Sea, where gold runs like water and the balance of politics shifts uneasily between the monarchy, the majicars, and the Merchants’ Guild–a land where dangerous majick courses through the black waters.

A member of the royal Rampling family, Lucy Trenton possesses a most unique talent: the ability to detect majick and those who wield it. She has kept her ability a secret all her life to avoid bringing scandal to her family, but lately Lucy has grown careless. When she recklessly uses her gift to locate a valuable and treacherous majickal cipher, she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous intrigue that threatens her life–and the life of every person in Crosspointe.

And to make her troubles worse, she’s also kept her secret from a most persistent suitor, dashing and mysterious ship captain Marten Thorpe. And now she desperate needs his help…

In some senses, the only thing that makes Lucy Trenton unique is her talent. She’s a woman with a job she enjoys, a close-knit if blue-blooded family, and she’s happy, more or less. But she also has the two things that all good protagonists must have: an interesting mind that Diana’s translated into an interesting voice and strength. This makes her a character who grows on you, whom you become more attached to and start rooting for.

One of the high points of the book for me is Marten, because I didn’t actually think he was going all the way with it. How many times have we read a book where the possible-hero-cum-possible-bad-guy actually commits the horrific deed? In this, The Cipher definitely does not disappoint. I’m disinclined to believe that Marten should be forgiven this quickly, or that he managed to get over his gambling addiction so easily though. Shouldn’t there be more struggle or something?

The ending of the book comes off as more of a beginning, one that will take us on a grand adventure with Marten and Lucy, and I for one, can’t wait for the next book.

The Cipher rates 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure: Diana sent me the ARC.

03
Sep
07

Nalini Singh: Caressed By Ice

Explore new heights of sensuality in this return to the world of the Psy—where two people who know evil intimately must unlock the good within their icy hearts…As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna…Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

Caressed By Ice is the darkest of the three books out so far in the Psy/Changeling series.

It’s a very tightly wound book, with breaks that let you glimpse the overarching storyline without changing the focus of the novel, which is, of course, Brenna and Judd.

Nalini is one of the rare romance authors whose series moves forward in every novel, and for me, that is a very big part of why I love her work.

Judd did come across as rather more one-dimensional than her previous heroes. He is Psy, and he is a Psy who seeks to hold onto Silence, which probably contributes to why I think he’s more 1-D. I did get rather irritated with his “I can’t do this..Silence that…” Can’t help but wonder if less would have been more in that respect.

However, whilst I do think that Caressed By Ice is weaker than the previous two novels, I still very much want the next book (hint hint, Nalini! *g*). After all, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll love all the books in a series equally, right?

Caressed By Ice rates 4 out of 5.

21
Jul
07

Joely Sue Burkhart: Survive My Fire

Trapped as a dragon for centuries by a curse impossible to break, Chanda is consumed by rage. Her heart broken, her life ruined, her entire tribe dead by her own actions, she never expects the warrior outside her lair to know the secret of her curse. Let alone that she will fall in love with him.Jalan survives the White Dragon’s teeth and claws. He survives her fire. He even survives her love. But he doesn’t come to break her curse or win her heart. Not exactly. His dark god will spare Jalan’s tribe–if the White Dragon is sacrificed.While Jalan must choose between the love of his heart and the safety of his tribe, Chanda realizes she may at last break her curse forever.

If she’s willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all.

It’s dark. It’s got dragons. It’s got bloodshed. It’s got writing so beautiful, tears come to your eyes.

And I’m so jealous that I didn’t write it myself, I’d probably put sugar in her petrol tank if she weren’t so nice. (Hey, it rhymes!)

What makes Survive My Fire shine is that you can see that Joely’s put everything she had, and then some, into it. You can tell that it is written by a woman with passion for her craft and a gift for storytelling.

It should be noted that I felt that the book kicked into high gear from the second scene. This doesn’t mean you should skip the first scene–you shouldn’t because the rest probably wouldn’t make enough sense to you then–just that you should at least continue reading past the first scene.

On top of being a friend of mine, Joely’s also just one of those writers whose voice is like crack for me. So there’s no grade, but since I think her voice is like crack, it’s kinda obvious what she’d get, don’t you think?

If you’re still not convinced–in which case I would never be able to get a job as a bookseller–check out the excerpt below. Her writing speaks for itself.

Continue reading ‘Joely Sue Burkhart: Survive My Fire’

13
Mar
07

Saskia Walker: The Strangeling

One woman alone holds the power…

…to undo the hundred-year-old curse of an invincible army of dead men who wait to prey upon the living. Maerose, a beautiful, resilient maiden must drive back the evil spirits by mating with a man of faith on the dark night of Samhain at the very gates of the underworld. Her dormant magic can only be unleashed by willing submission to her predestined lover . . . but a mad man aligned with the demonic forces of the underworld threatens to possess her in his place.

The Strangeling reads like a fairytale. A dark, sensual fairytale.

It’s the kind of book you want to read curled up by the fireplace in winter, perhaps with a nice cup of hot chocolate in your hand.

I found that the second half of the book was better than the first half, largely because there is some degree to which you have to suspend belief, but I think it’s very much worth reading through to the end.

FWIW, it was easy for me to suspend belief because Saskia’s voice works very well for me. I will be getting more of her books.

This rates 4 out of 5.

07
Mar
07

Gail Dayton: The Compass Rose

One desperate call to the gods…
One blast of extraordinary magic…
One gift of unimaginable power…The legends of the Godstruck were just that – legends. Until, in an attempt to defend her people, Captain Kallista Varyl called on the One for aid and was granted abilities such as no one had seen in centuries.

Now Kallista has been charged with a new destiny as one of the most powerful women in the land- but her power is useless if it cannot be controlled. Mastering her “Godstruck” abilities is the first step. The next, learning that she cannot unlock the secrets of the Compass Rose and defeat her nation’s enemy alone. And finally she must stop a demon-possessed king….

The Compass Rose: fourfold magic barely understood-or contained….

The Compass Rose is the first book in Dayton’s Rose series.

I think I expected a book with more risks taken than this, and that if I hadn’t expected more, I would have liked this book a lot better. IOW, it seems…well…tame.

I think Dayton handled the polyamory aspect quite well. You see the slow shifts as the ilian begins to meld.

I would have liked to see more of the worldbuilding.

But where this book really fails for me is Kallista, the main protagonist. I didn’t finish the book rooting for her.

This rates 3 out of 5.

05
Jan
07

Holly Lisle: Talyn

I didn’t love this book. I thought I would. I’m a huge Holly Lisle fan, and I’ve been eagerly waiting it’s release in paperback for a long time.

Even if that wasn’t the case, Talyn‘s got the type of plot and blurb that will snag my attention. So I would have gotten it anyway.

But for all that I admire the book’s craft, something about the book doesn’t reach me the way previous Holly books did.

This rates 3.5 out of 5.

15
Nov
06

Tamara Siler Jones: Valley of the Soul

More Lars…oh, Lars… Yes, I’m obsessed with Lars. And I think Jesscea is one very very lucky girl.

Some might think that tightly written isn’t the right word for a book that is over 400 pages long. But it is a perfect adjective for Valley of the Soul.

One of the things that has most impressed me so far is that Tambo manages to keeps the series fresh, while taking us a deeper into both the psyches of the main cast and the world she has created.

May there be many more Dubric books.

This rates 5 out of 5.

12
Nov
06

Douglas Clegg: The Priest Of Blood

Slow. Boring.

It’s a very epic type of book, and the voice matches the book.

Maybe it’s that I’m not in the mood for something like that.

Maybe I didn’t like the (unreliable) narrator. Nothing really happens to him until the later half of the book when he becomes whatever.

I’d actually have cut most of the first half of the book. I think it could have helped Clegg to write it, but I don’t think it’s necessary for the reader to read it. He could have shown soooo much of it without actually putting it in the book if you ask me.

I blame that on Mo, who told me that I should cut all of it from my first book.

This didn’t get a zero because I didn’t HATE the book and because I can appreciate the craft and skill.

This rates 4 out of 10.

08
Oct
06

Michelle Sagara: Cast In Shadow

Elianne, having left the fiefs, has changed her name to Kaylin Neya.

She is a Hawk now, but still haunted by her past.

Sounds familiar? It is. Practically every heroine in current female-centric SFF has a dark past.

But the world Michelle has built is very interesting, and I like that she takes risks with her characters. The characterization is very well done–you can see Kaylin maturing through the book.

The three male characters jostling for the lead are all very intriguing. Nightshade (here we go again with the nightshade/belladonna thing) whom we don’t get to see enough of, Tiamaris who appears to be less obedient to his Emperor than most might think and Severn who’s been paying for an unforgiveable crime.

I fully plan to get the next book, Cast In Courtlight, though I’ve heard that it’s not as good.

This rates 8 out of 10.

This is my review for Angie‘s TBR Challenge.

22
Sep
06

David & Leigh Eddings: Crystal Gorge

OMG.

Do you know what the copyeditor didn’t catch? 4 replieds in 1 mass-market paperback page.

Freaking amazing, isn’t it? And if it was Mrs and Mr Eddings who STETed the replieds…

I couldn’t enjoy the book after that! I saw dialogue tags everywhere!

What am I going to do? I haven’t started on the Malloreon yet (and I desperately want to read it) and I’ve a feeling I’ll see tags everywhere too.

This rates 5 out of 10.

22
Sep
06

Janine Cross: Touched By Venom

I like her writing.

And I thought I was going to follow the trilogy.

But halfway through the book, I suddenly put it down and it took me two weeks to go back to it.

I finished it, but I feel that Cross’s protagonist is a tourist. Everything happens to people around her. I keep waiting for her to do something, but she’s yet to do anything.

This rates 6 out of 10.

28
Aug
06

Sarah Monette: Melusine

I had been looking forward to this book.

I suppose I was expecting something different after seeing the Jacqueline Carey blurb, but I was disappointed.

I enjoyed the book. Sarah writes beautifully, and the worldbuilding is to be envied.

Curiously enough, I liked Mildmay the thief better than I did Felix Harrowgate the wizard. But Mildmay was also shown in a more heroic light than Felix, so I suppose it balances out.

I don’t know whether I will be getting the sequel, The Virtu, but I’d certainly suggest that you give Melusine a try.

This rates a 8 out of 10.

12
Jul
06

Catherine Asaro: Primary Inversion

Asaro is one of the few SF novelists whose work I truly enjoy–and possibly the only one who wins or is nominated for awards like the Nebula or the Hugo,

Primary Inversion doesn’t disappoint. Even if I don’t understand the tech part of it–don’t worry, there isn’t much.

I highly recommend this book, whether you’re an SF fan or not. Also, there’s a romantic subplot that ends happily, if that helps you decide.

04
Jul
06

Alma Alexander: The Secrets of Jin-Shei

Jin-Shei is “a pledged sisterhood of female friends who are not related by blood.” (copied from the book’s glossary) It speaks to me because when I understood what the phrase meant, it immediately brings to mind my own sisters of the heart. I imagine any woman who reads this will agree.Life is difficult, and this book respects that, is true to it. It’s a tale of the costs of friendship, and the sacrifices that have to be made.

And this book made me cry.

It’s something that happens about once in several blue moons. I can’t remember the last book that made me cry.

I’ll remember this book because of that, and because of Alexander‘s beautiful writing.

16
Jun
06

Tamara Siler Jones: Threads Of Malice

This book was even better than Ghosts In The Snow

It’s dark, it’s twisted, it’s tormented.

It’s the sort of book where you can’t wait to find out what happens next, but at the same time, you are almost afraid to turn the page. What if something happens to Dubric? Or Lars (*drool*)? Or Dien?

If you’re a lover of dark fantasy, you absolutely must get hooked onto this series.

Threads of Malice is definitely a T&T Recommend!  

Also, Tamara is our November 15th interviewee.  

13
Jun
06

Rachel Lee: Shadows of Myth

I'd read one of Lee's romance novels, and I think one more she wrote under her real name of Sue Civil-Brown. Neither impressed me.

I was hoping Shadows of Myth would be better. And it was.

But definitely not worth the full trade paperback price.

It's the first book of a series, and unfortunately, it reads like a PROLOGUE to the series. Nothing really happens in the book, and the cast of characters reads like that of the archetypal fantasy Quest book.





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