Dang it, now I have to track down all of Caitlin Kiernan's books. I understand this is a spin-off from one of her novel series, but it stands well eno...moreDang it, now I have to track down all of Caitlin Kiernan's books. I understand this is a spin-off from one of her novel series, but it stands well enough on its own. From reading this and her first novel, Silk, it seems that Kiernan has a talent for creating characters who might be delusional, actually in touch with the supernatural, or both, and never letting the reader completely in on what's real and what isn't. What that does in this instance is to add a very interesting wrinkle to an old-fashioned monster-hunter saga.
Dancy Flammarion wanders the South slaying creatures of the night with a kitchen knife at the behest of a scary guiding angel who may or may not exist. She's guided to a small town in South Carolina completely overrun by a legion of monsters that would give Hellboy pause, and is then left to deal with it entirely on her own (except for the questionable help of a talkative raven). What I want to know is why isn't this comic an ongoing monthly? Because now I definitely want there to be a volume 2.(less)
I know that a lot of people like this book. I wanted to like it too. I started out liking it, then about fifty pages in I realized I'd been tricked in...moreI know that a lot of people like this book. I wanted to like it too. I started out liking it, then about fifty pages in I realized I'd been tricked into reading a paranormal romance novel. Normally I'd have quit right there, but my book group is discussing Greyfriar this month, so I made myself finish it. Around the halfway point, I got over my ire and started enjoying the book for what it was, and not what I'd hoped it would be when I started. I'm glad I did, too - the climax of the book is really well done and sets a good hook for volume 2.
So what do I have against paranormal romance? Well, in this case... It starts off well with a human Princess under attack and on the run from an army of vampires. And let me say, I like these vampires. They're inhuman, alien monsters, with a psychology quite different from that of mere mortals. The world-building, what there is of it, is intriguing and drags you into the novel. And then...
The Princess is rescued by a Dashing Rogue who turns out to be... wait for it... a Prince in disguise. If you suddenly ask yourself, "What is this, a Disney movie?" you might understand how I feel. You might also suspect that you can predict every single story beat from that point on by applying the "beautiful, conflicted princess meets handsome superman with a dark secret" formula, and you'd be right.
I could go on about a few other pet peeves that Greyfriar rubs the wrong way, such as making every single character who isn't royalty a cardboard cutout, etc. but I won't. I know there's an audience out there for this sort of thing, but I'm not in it. I would, however, recommend this novel to any paranormal romance fan who wanted to sample something a little edgier than the normal bodice-ripper.(less)
Been putting off this one for a while, but I do enjoy Solomon Kane's particular flavor of bad-assery. Which is good, because otherwise there's not muc...moreBeen putting off this one for a while, but I do enjoy Solomon Kane's particular flavor of bad-assery. Which is good, because otherwise there's not much here in the way of plot. The original Howard stories were steeped in mystery, but that mystery usually had a rhyme or explanation at the end. In the Dark Horse version of Kane, he just wanders the world and occasionally gets attacked at random by hell-spawned beasts of the pit, only because Solomon Kane is the kind of guy that sort of thing happens to.(less)
It seems like I've been reading a lot of sword n' sorcery lately, but nothing modern that was such a rousing, uncomplicated, straight-up adventure as...moreIt seems like I've been reading a lot of sword n' sorcery lately, but nothing modern that was such a rousing, uncomplicated, straight-up adventure as Shadow's Son. It even opens up with what I'd characterize as a James Bond pre-credit sequence, for Pete's sake.
This is a book that gets straight to the point and sticks with it all the way through. Caim is an assassin haunted by 1) the murder of his father and 2) an invisible waif who only he can see. He also has mysterious shadow-based powers that he can neither explain nor control. Anyway, Caim gets hired to kill this guy, but someone else kills him first and Caim gets stuck rescuing the daughter of the man he was supposed to be executing and... Well, you get the idea. It's the kind of hard-boiled story that you'd be just as likely to find in a gangster or detective novel as in the fantasy department, and the fight scenes are second to none.
The ending leaves it open to infinite sequels, of course, but what I like is that instead of departing on a quest to save the world, or even a small part of it, Caim's overarching journey seems to be one of self-discovery, with the occasional ass-kicking thrown in for good measure.(less)
While there are many, many things to like about this book, I'm forced to admit that it's my least favorite of the Black Company novels so far. Probabl...moreWhile there are many, many things to like about this book, I'm forced to admit that it's my least favorite of the Black Company novels so far. Probably because the Black Company isn't in it.
The Silver Spike is a coda of sorts to the original Black Company trilogy, which ended with the Dominator defeated and buried in the Barrowland and the remaining survivors of the Company riding off into the sunset. This book opens up with a gang of scummy bastards digging the Dominator's soul back up again and setting another wave of evil events in motion.
In essence, The Silver Spike is a tightly plotted crime novel in an epic fantasy setting, which is a really cool idea if you think about it. The problem is that Cook never gives us a character we can root for. Case, the narrator of the story, is likable but so peripheral to the action that we never really care or feel that he's in danger. As for the rest of the cast, there are characters we'd like to see die, characters we don't care about, and a few supporting players from the first three Black Company books.
In a big way, The Silver Spike feels like it's tying up loose ends from the first three books that were never that loose to begin with. The central premise is excellent, but the story may have worked better if it hadn't been tied into the larger Black Company mythology.(less)