The fifth and final book in Madeleine L’Engle’s TIME quintet is An Acceptable Time, a story about Polly, the daughter of Meg and Calvin, th3.5 stars.
The fifth and final book in Madeleine L’Engle’s TIME quintet is An Acceptable Time, a story about Polly, the daughter of Meg and Calvin, the kids we first met in that now-classic children’s science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time. (Polly is also featured in a different L’Engle series about the O’Keefe family, and An Acceptable Time is the fourth and final book of that series. Slightly confusing, I know.)
One autumn while Polly is visiting her famous grandparents at their house in the country, Polly begins to see people who shouldn’t exist whenever she’s near that big rock where Meg and Charles Wallace used to go to think and watch the stars when they were kids. One of the people she sees is a girl who looks like a Native American and turns out to be a druid. There are also men carry... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
Despite believing what Bill said about the “shampoo-rinse-repeat” nature of Modesitt’s COREAN CHRONICLES, I gave Alector’s Choice, the fourth book in the series, a try since it has just been released in audiobook format by Tantor Audio and they sent me a review copy.
If you’re interested in reading Alector’s Choice, you should know that you don’t need to read books 1-3 first. Alector’s Choice begins a trilogy that’s a prequel to the rest of the series. In fact, if you haven’t read the other books in the series, you are likely to enjoy this book a lot more than I did since my main complaint is that it’s too similar to the previous novels.
The story follows two protagonists. The first is Mykel, a competent soldier who gets caught up in a war that he doesn’t understand. His superior is an idiot and Mykel has to figure out how to do his duty, which is to obey his superior, while still holding true to his moral code. The second is Dainyl, an alector who, like Mykel, is also rising in the ranks of his peers. Also like Mykel, he has reasons to hide his magical skills from others. Both men are confused about the changes that are occurring in Corus and what their roles in those changes might be. Are they being set up as tools? Or scapegoats?
Unfortunately, I have to say that I completely agree with Bill about the repetitiveness. Mykel is indistinguishable from Alucius, the hero of the previous three COREAN CHRONICLES novels. The way his power starts to develop, the way he wills arrows to their targets and makes things explode, the way he interacts with his superiors, the way he treats the soldiers under him, the way he mops his forehead, the way he knows where enemies are but doesn’t know how he knows — it’s all the same. Modesitt even uses the same story-telling techniques, such as the way he tells us what other characters think of Mykel by having Mykel overhear what they say to each other as he walks by a crowd… everything was so familiar and, for that reason, disappointing.
On the positive side, the addition of the second protagonist was helpful to change things up a bit (but not enough) and to give a different perspective of Modesitt’s world. Also, I think readers who like this series will be happy to learn a little about the ancient history of Corus. It’s so secretive that even the alectors don’t know how they arrived on their world or how long they can continue to live there. I’m a little curious about where this is going.
The audiobook (Tantor Audio) is mostly well narrated by Kyle McCarley. I say “mostly” because his voices for women and young boys are unappealing. I don’t think listeners would imagine Mykel’s love interest to be a desirable woman because of McCarley’s sinister sounding voice for her. But he does a great job with the men. (Oh, and, as usual, there’s some atrocious cover art on the audio version.)...more
In Dzur, the tenth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, Vlad is finally back in the city of Adrilankha. I suspect that most fans will be thrilleIn Dzur, the tenth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, Vlad is finally back in the city of Adrilankha. I suspect that most fans will be thrilled to return to that decadent cosmopolitan city; it’s just so much more interesting than watching Vlad roam around the countryside. Fittingly, each of the chapters in Dzur is named for one of the items Vlad is served at his favorite restaurant during a gourmet meal that runs parallel to the main plot of Dzur. (Vlad, an assassin by trade, is quite the foodie and, while he dines, he often points out the analogies between preparing a gourmet dinner and preparing to make a hit.)
Taltos is the fourth novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human crime boss in the fantasy world of Dragaera, where3.5. Excellent audio.
Taltos is the fourth novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human crime boss in the fantasy world of Dragaera, where humans are short of stature and lifespan compared to the species that rule the world. Taltos is actually a prequel to the previous novels (Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla) in which Vlad tells us about an incident that happened years ago while he was solidifying his reputation as a new crime lord. One of his lackeys tried to cheat him, so Vlad went after him instead of letting the guy get away because he didn’t want to seem weak to his rivals. The man fled to Castle Black, an elusive floating castle owned by the Dragonlord Morrolan. Vlad followed. This is how he met some of the main characters who we already know from the previous novels, including Morrolan, the powerful sorceror... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
3.5 stars. Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Phoenix, the fifth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, is a turning point in Vlad’s story.3.5 stars. Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Phoenix, the fifth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, is a turning point in Vlad’s story. By the end of this book, his life will have changed drastically. The story begins as Vlad is stuck in a situation that he might not be able to get out of alive. In desperation, he calls on Verra, his patron goddess, for help. She saves him (or so it appears), and in return she demands that he sail to the island kingdom of Greenaere and assassinate its king. Vlad can’t refuse, and so he goes. This sets off a series of events that eventually lead to a Teckla revolution in Adrilankha. During all the turmoil, both Vlad and his wife Cawti, a member of a rebel group, are captured and rescued more than once, and both have reason to believe they don’t have much longer to live. The usual crew is there to help, though, including Kragar (Vlad’s assistant), Loiosh and Rocza (his jhereg... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
Athyra is the sixth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. If you haven’t read the previous books, you should probably skip this review2.5 stars.
Athyra is the sixth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. If you haven’t read the previous books, you should probably skip this review until you’ve read Phoenix so that I don’t spoil its plot for you. I’m listening to Bernard Setaro Clark’s narration of the audio versions (Audible Studios) of VLAD TALTOS. Athyra is 8.5 hours long on audio, though I increased the playback speed, as I always do, so it was shorter than that for me. Bernard Setaro Clark’s narration continues to be excellent and I recommend the audio format for this series.
Orca is the seventh book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. It’d be best to stop here if you haven’t read the previous books. We don’t want to s2.5
Orca is the seventh book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. It’d be best to stop here if you haven’t read the previous books. We don’t want to spoil anything, do we?
Okay, so you should recall that Vlad Taltos, everyone’s favorite Jhereg assassin, is wanted by his organization because he betrayed them in order to save his wife from the executioner’s ax (or whatever implement the executioners in Dragaera use). Vlad has given up his territory and is on the run. In the last book, Athyra, he met a boy named Savn who helped him defeat a necromancer. Because Savn used a Morganti weapon to kill the bad guy, Savn is now witless, and he’s been that way for a year. Feeling responsible for Savn’s condition, Vlad finds a woman who may be able to heal him. In return, Vlad will try to find and stop the person who is trying to get the ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
Dragon is the eighth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. As you’re reading the series, it probably doesn’t matter when you read Dragon since iDragon is the eighth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. As you’re reading the series, it probably doesn’t matter when you read Dragon since it’s really a stand-alone story which tells of a battle that occurred earlier in the series’ chronology, just after the events of Taltos, which was a prequel to the first three VLAD TALTOS novels. (As you can see, the books jump around in time). But Dragon is not one of the better volumes, so I wouldn’t recommend, say, reading it first and basing your judgment of the entire series on this novel. Read Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla and Taltos first.
"My heart gave a thump. It had been doing that a lot lately. I wished it would stop. I mean stop giving random thumps, not, you know, stop." ~Vlad Tal"My heart gave a thump. It had been doing that a lot lately. I wished it would stop. I mean stop giving random thumps, not, you know, stop." ~Vlad Taltos
Note: This review contains spoilers for previous novels in the series.
Hawk is Steven Brust’s fourteenth (and latest) novel about Vlad Taltos, a charming assassin living in Dragaera. Over the past 31 years, fans of this series have been through a lot with Vlad and Loiosh, Vlad’s flying reptilian familiar.
We first met Vlad when he was at the top of his game, running the Jhereg criminal organization of Adrilankha. Then he married Cawti, who also used to be an assassin but later became a social revolutionary. The change in her worldview was too much for the marriage to handle and they separated, but that didn’t stop Vlad from betraying the Jhereg in order to save Cawti from being executed. ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
Rebel Angels is the second volume in Libba Bray’s trilogy about Gemma Doyle, a teenage girl who attends a finishing school in Victorian England. The mRebel Angels is the second volume in Libba Bray’s trilogy about Gemma Doyle, a teenage girl who attends a finishing school in Victorian England. The magic she inherited from her mother, a member of the secretive Order, allows her to enter the Realms, a beautiful fantasy world where she is able to control her surroundings. In the first volume, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Gemma arrives at school after her mother’s death and deals with all the usual things you’d expect to find in a YA novel about a boarding school. At first she is shunned by Felicity and Pippa, the two most beautiful and popular girls in the school, from whom she must bravely and nobly defend her roommate Ann, the overweight unpopular scholarship student. (These characters are present in just about every YA boarding school novel I’ve ever read.) When Felicity and Pippa find out that Gemma can ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi......more
The Sweet Far Thing is the final book in Libba Bray’s GEMMA DOYLE trilogy about four girls at a boarding school in Victorian England. Gemma has inherited a magic that allows her to cross over to the Realms, the fantasy world that’s the source of her magic. She and her friends Felicity, Pippa, and Ann have been trying to keep the magic safe from people who might use it to unleash horrors upon the real world, yet Gemma has promised to share the magic with the people who have helped her so far. In this book she must figure out how to do both of those things at the same time.
As The Sweet Far Thing begins, Gemma and Felicity are getting ready to finish school and enter genteel society where eventually they’ll be expected to take on the roles of wives and mothers. Ann will suffer a worse fate — she is to be the governess for a wealthy cousin’s brats. All three girls feel powerless, which is why they sometimes use the magic for both noble and selfish purposes. It’s easy to see how they could be seduced by the power of the magic.
As the girls are contemplating their futures, the East Wing of Spence Academy, which burned down twenty years ago when Gemma’s mother lived there, is being rebuilt. An old gypsy woman who lives in the woods tries to warn the workers and the headmistress that rebuilding the wing will open our world to evil powers. Meanwhile, when Gemma and friends visit the Realms, they find that Pippa, who now lives there, is acting strangely. In fact, everyone is acting a little strange and Gemma has no idea who she can trust. Alliances are shifting, people she thought were friends turn out to be enemies, and vice versa.
In my opinion, The Sweet Far Thing is a mess. I liked this series best when it dealt with the mundane world of Victorian England and the way that three young girls struggled with their lack of power in their society. Bray does a nice job with that part. When she brings in the magical elements, however, everything becomes nebulous and unstructured and, unfortunately, most of this long (way too long) book is about the fight over the magic of the Realms. When we visit there, I never feel grounded. It’s not clear what Gemma and others can and can’t do with the magic, why Gemma sometimes chooses to use the magic and sometimes doesn’t, who can and can’t use it, and what the rules are for its use. Also, we’re never sure until the end who’s on which side and people seem to keep changing sides and motives, at least in Gemma’s mind. I wasn’t sure why some important things happened the way they did or why Gemma’s friends were sometimes being so immature and disloyal. There are other specific plot elements that really didn’t work, but mentioning them would give away some of the plot’s twists. I’ll just say that I was never convinced about anything that was happening. I felt that way for hours as Gemma wallowed in confusion and indecision for hundreds of pages before finally dragging the story to an unpleasant and unsatisfying (but merciful) ending.
Though the GEMMA DOYLE series started off well enough with A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels, they don’t stand alone and they are not good enough to justify reading this insufferable ending. The audiobooks I read were brilliantly narrated by Josephine Bailey, but even her gorgeous voice couldn’t make me enjoy The Sweet Far Thing. Therefore, I just can’t recommend this series....more
Wisp of a Thing is Alex Bledsoe’s second stand-alone novel about the Tufa, an ancient race of magically gifted swarthy rural folk who live in the Smoky Mountains of Cloud County, Tennessee and may have descended from the Tuatha Dé Danann. You don’t need to read the first book, The Hum and the Shiver, though it’s worth your while and you’ll get a little more out of Wisp of a Thing if you recognize a couple of characters who make cameo appearances in this second book.
This story focuses on Rob Quillen, a musician who became popular after the country watched him experience a personal tragedy on a national TV reality show. Rob has come to Cloud County because a mysterious man told him that’s where he can find a song of healing. He knows it’s a long-shot, but Rob has nothing else to do and nowhere else to go.
As soon as Rob arrives, he realizes that strange things happen in Cloud County. The first person he meets is a feral girl who lives in the woods. Then he meets a vacationing couple that he hears fighting before the wife disappears. There’s a Tufa man who seems to have special power over women and another man who thinks he should make decisions for the whole clan, but there’s also a small cadre of women who wield some sort of magic that gives them a quiet but obvious authority. There’s a family of mean “white trash” folks, a disappearing graveyard, a dangerous cave on the side of a cliff, and an ancient curse that will take effect when the wind tugs the last leaf from the Widow’s Tree.
Rob unwittingly gets involved in all of these weird events and the treacherous factions of the Tufa as he faces the truth about himself, deals with his guilt and loss, and searches for a song that might mend his broken heart and let him move on. His experience with the Tufa will change him, but his presence among them will also, in turn, change the Tufa. Wisp of a Thing is a lovely haunting fairy tale about love and loss, the pressure of culture and tradition, and the power of language, music and dance. The characters are intriguing, the plot is mysterious, and the prose is evocative. The unusual rural Southern setting is dark and eerie. Next time I travel through the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, I’ll be on the lookout for those suspicious black-haired swarthy people, and if they start singing, I know I’ll be entranced.
I liked Wisp of a Thing even better than The Hum and the Shiver, mainly because I liked Rob and some of the other characters more than I liked Bronwyn, the protagonist of that first book. If you liked The Hum and the Shiver, you must read this one but, again, you don’t have to read The Hum and the Shiver first. Wisp of a Thing stands alone well enough. The audio version of Wisp of a Thing is narrated by Stefan Rudnicki who is perfect for this role. As always, I loved his performance....more