I got the ebook of this with a title Pendant of Power (as is shown on the cover) when it was offered for free at Amazon. In the front matter it's stat...moreI got the ebook of this with a title Pendant of Power (as is shown on the cover) when it was offered for free at Amazon. In the front matter it's stated that a different version had been published as Laying the Odds. A foreshadowing, perhaps, of things to come.
The story has strong characters and a lot of action--mages and spells and battles....
Although "magick" is a big part of the book, I didn't appreciate the writers turning geldings into mares, or renaming the evil interlopers 2/3 through the story. Other glitches, too, in the story line and editing; perhaps the other version, Laying the Odds, was better done.(less)
I really enjoyed James Edward Fryar's book, Patrick Patterson and the World of Others. It's a fresh voice and a different story from SciFi I've recently read.
So we're in the present, with aliens among us, and we don't even know it. Patrick didn't know it either, until right before his thirteenth birthday. Then he gets to meet these aliens--up close and personal, and some are pretty gruesome.
Fryar seamlessly melds the fantastic into the common place, and accepting the story is easy. The characters help with this, as they are believable--especially their emotions. The story moved along well, but wasn't predictable. There were a few glitches (aren't there always?), but offset by some nice language. I particularly like the overall presentation; what is shown in the prologue, was important to the entire story, and ties up nicely at the end.
But it isn't quite The End, because Patrick, after he escapes the nasty, alien baddies, still has to make his trip to a distant planet (the true World of Others) and face his destiny. I look forward to the next book.
The language and vivid descriptions really kept me reading. Joss Llewelyn builds a very visual world, where the environment and characters are interesting and strong. Full of action, I expect this fantasy novella to be a real hit, especially with younger readers. (less)
I chose Pamela Freeman’s Ember and Ash because of the world-building elements suggested in the overview. I was not cheated here at all and was introdu...moreI chose Pamela Freeman’s Ember and Ash because of the world-building elements suggested in the overview. I was not cheated here at all and was introduced to a rich work with eleven domains, each with their own environmental attributes as well as spiritual beliefs. But each Domain is under the influence of the Powers--main elements of nature--even when the people don’t recognize this.
The story develops when the Power, Fire suddenly denies fire to several Domains, beginning with the Last Dominion, where Ember and her family reside. To have the all-important element returned, Ember must travel to Fire Mountain to placate Fire. Her entourage includes Ash and Cedar, brothers who become vital to a successful quest. Ember refers to them as her cousins, but she isn’t truly blood related.
Especially dominant are the characters of Ember and her parents, Martine and Arvid. Ember starts as a privileged girl who gains maturity as the story progresses. This transformation influences her decision-making in a well paced logical way. Her mother Martine is from an old line of seers; her strengths and that of her lineage come through well. Arvid, Ember’s father, is conflicted by his position as Warlord of Last Domain and his love for his wife, who it appears has been deceitful with him. The emotional interactions between the two, and the events that caused them, are some of the most powerful in the book.
Many of the early chapters that detail the travels of Ember’s group are also used to elucidate the beliefs and magic associated with the various regions of this World: The Great Forest, Starkling, and Ice King’s Country are all vividly presented.
The lifestyles of the various places are well defined, but the attempt to explain the interrelated histories of each gets a bit muddled. Several chapters are told from the view points of women who travel throughout Last Domain to prepare people for the hard times ahead without fire. While these were interesting, I felt distracted from the events involving the main protagonists. By the end of the book, I felt Freeman included too much information--some of which prompted my puzzlement about the story’s ending.
I also found the official overview to be quite misleading. Ember doesn’t strike out for retribution, but is following the orders of Fire—orders necessary to restore fire to her people. Fire’s reasons become convoluted from Chapter 2 to the end, where a new elemental power is introduced; that’s one of the puzzlements I had at with the ending.
But overall, Ember and Ash is a story of quest and transformation with lyrical writing and strong characters. It provides an interesting trip into an intriguing and well-thought-out world. (less)
Stories about wizards and sorcery aren't usually my preference; the interesting title and cover compelled me to take this from my public library shelf...moreStories about wizards and sorcery aren't usually my preference; the interesting title and cover compelled me to take this from my public library shelf. I was not sorry. Elizabeth Bear's story about a wizardry power struggle was--enchanting :-)
Protagonist Bijou, is an artificer who creates and animates creatures from bone, gem and other inanimate objects. She is old, and her thoughts and struggles with her infirmities are well told. The reader will also sense she has a "past." This aspect of mystery is enhances when her former apprentice and colleague, Brazen the Enchanter, brings her a feral child with a withered and festering arm. Bijou agrees to help the child, although she feels discomfited by the circumstances. Her worries are substantiates when she discovers a purposefully placed item in the child's rotting hand that is causing the limb deterioration. She suspects who has done this, but isn't sure why.
In this well-written novella, Bear gives three points of view: Bijou, Brazen, and the child Emeraude. Bear moves effectively from one to the other in clearly-delineated passages that add dimension to the story. The writing and vivid descriptions quickly immersed me in this magical world, from Bijou's workshop and her intricate companions she constructed, to the surrounding City of Jackals. I enjoyed the book, and the brevity seemed fitting for the story. Too much more could have been too much. (less)
I downloaded the Kindle edition after seeing the cover on a Kindle Boards thread. I commented then, Wow, that cover will sell the book, and it sold me...moreI downloaded the Kindle edition after seeing the cover on a Kindle Boards thread. I commented then, Wow, that cover will sell the book, and it sold me. I started reading this book in late October (what is listed as my start date is really the finish date), and it was a start-stop situation, because I have never ever before read a sword-and-sorcery or fantasy book; so this was a first.
Mr. Dalglish is a very good writer, with well-drawn characters and scenes. The action was nonstop, and even with the many characters, I had no trouble following the story. Part of the genre, of course, are the battles and their inevitable bloodshed. These were also well rendered, although at times I felt a bit set-up--a scene developed merely for the chance to add another throat-slitting fight.
I give a big +5 on the writing; +5 on development of the very intricate plot; +4 on character development. But for my personal response, It would have to be a +2. Averaging in my other "stars" ends up with a +4, and I think the book deserves that, my personal feelings withstanding. For readers of fantasy, especially the sword-and-sorcery type, this is an excellent book. Many glowing reviews are already on line from readers who are more knowledgeable of the genre than I.
A Dance of Cloaks was well written, but just not my thing. Bravo to the cover designer for pulling me in!(less)