This is an interesting mix between the recent fad for teen post-apopocoliptic books (like Enclave) and moder...moreGenre: Young Adult Fantasy (Vampire Novel)
This is an interesting mix between the recent fad for teen post-apopocoliptic books (like Enclave) and modern vampire novels. Our heroine, Tana, wakes up in the bathtub, having passed out at a party, only to realize that the entire party has been massacred by vampires, who may still be in the building hiding from the sun. In groping for a plan, Tana stumbles on two more surviving victims -- her recent ex-boyfriend gaged and tied to a bed, and a vampire chained near him, but just out of reach. Partially because of the chained vampire's warning, Tana realizes that Aiden (her ex) has been bitten and is now "Cold" (e.g. infected with the vampire virus and lusting for blood and if he does get it, will become a vampire himself). She still decides to rescue both of them (and in doing so possibly becomes infected herself) and they all set off towards the nearest Coldtown - a quarantined area where any vampire or anyone possibly Cold is locked away. For life.
The world set-up (that vampires and vampirism has been forced out into the open in the last 20 years because a vampire had been seduced by all the romantic notions about vampires in modern media and started leaving his victims alive, thus creating an epidemic of baby vampires that the government's response was to attempt to quarantine the situation) is interesting but the portrayal of vampires and the portrayal of life in the quarantine area is not particularly unique. What really fascinated me about this book was the emotional storyline. Tana is pulled in many directions at once, and like many of us her decisions don't reflect reasoned out logic but the emotions and/or social realities of the moment. I found her an interesting and complex, though completely understandable character. I found her commitment to the people she was with highly admirable, even when they didn't deserve it. I also liked the "flashback" chapters where we see the story (sometimes the distant past of the story) from Tana or some of the other character's viewpoints. I thought it added an interesting depth and counterpoint to the choices Tana was making. (less)
This is the second in the Vlad Taltos series, although if you follow internal chronology it predates the first novel, _Jhereg_. This is...moreGenre: Fantasy
This is the second in the Vlad Taltos series, although if you follow internal chronology it predates the first novel, _Jhereg_. This is the story of Vlad as a young turf Boss, experiencing his first boundary dispute with another turf boss in the Jhereg. If you liked the first novel in the series, you'll probably like this one, as it has the same kind of pacing and humor, and many of the same characters appear. In fact, this is the book wherein Vlad meets and woos his wife (or from some points of view, is wooed by her, at knifepoint). I actually think the pacing and tension build more evenly in this book then in _Jhereg_, but Burst is having to do less world-explanation, which may account for the difference.
I remember being utterly fascinated by these books as a teenager, because how could I like the hero, he is an assassin after all!?! But now, as an adult, I don't find that a particularly vexing moral quandary, so I now find the books a good yarn, and the world interesting, but there's not a lot of substance or insight to them. (less)
Nita’s parents are unsettled by the amount to devotion that Nita and Kit are giving to their wizardry, so they ship Ni...moreGenre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Nita’s parents are unsettled by the amount to devotion that Nita and Kit are giving to their wizardry, so they ship Nita off to Ireland to visit her aunt, not really understanding that if Nita goes “on call” in Ireland, she will be obliged to work. Before leaving they finagle a promise out of Nita not to come back to visit Kit. Of course, when Nita arrives she finds Ireland rather different magic-wise from the States – being seeped in magic it’s hard to do anything without being affected by “overlays” from older wizardries. And of course, Nita almost immediately gets put onto active duty. The stakes on the new assignment seem somewhat lower than the previous couple books, however because it’s closer to home (psychologically) the tension remains high as Nita, Kit and a whole new team of wizards struggle to defend Ireland from the Lone Power. (less)
I expected to love this book, because I adore the first two books in this series – I have re-read my copies into tatters. I did li...moreGenre: Urban Fantasy
I expected to love this book, because I adore the first two books in this series – I have re-read my copies into tatters. I did like this book… but… of course, the first time I read Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground I wasn’t nearly as charmed as I now am – they have become some of my favorite books, which you can’t tell from my initial reviews.
I think the reason I am not as charmed by this book is that while Charles and Anna’s relationship is central (or rather the tangle Charles has made of it) the solutions to that tangle are external to the pair of them rather than internal – so it feels like they’re unsuccessfully spinning their wheels which is a bit frustrating. Thus, it is actually the serial killer story that propels the book forward – and while I guessed the villain immediately, that didn’t really matter as suspense wasn’t really part of that dynamic.
I will say I am absolutely panting to read the next book in this universe, after the political bombshell that’s dropped at the end of this book! (and it’s totally unfair that I have to wait until spring of 2013!) (less)
This was extremely well written, however, you’ll notice I’ve only given it three stars. While it’s not exactly a depressing story, neither is it uplif...moreThis was extremely well written, however, you’ll notice I’ve only given it three stars. While it’s not exactly a depressing story, neither is it uplifting. The pacing is slow, as suits a road story. It has the same kind of slow episodic pacing as Sandman, with the same kind of “ambiance” cameo-stories. I enjoyed them, but it’s not really a novel you can just blow right through; I continually needed to put it down and take a breather.
The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. When people came to America, they brought versions of their gods (and other assorted mythological creatures) with them. But these creature’s powers wane as people’s beliefs wane, and new gods of technology, media, etc. rise to take their place. The book follows the Shadow (a recently released convict) as he stumbles into this world in the wake of Mr. Wednesday who seems to be attempting to orchestrate a rebellion against the new gods. The name Wednesday is derived from "Odin's (Woden's) day”; following Mr. Wednesday around does not give one a very warm feeling towards the Norse god – he is a superb confidence man, and proud of it. Shadow, however, is a straightforwardly nice guy, and we never quite learn all of why he became involved in the farrago that lead to his incarceration, other than that he did it to protect his wife, Laura. I think I’m somewhat conflicted about this book, just because Laura’s betrayal at the beginning carried such a huge emotional punch that hung over the rest of the book. After that, I couldn’t be surprised by any of the subsequent betrayals. (less)
I found this a rather slow to read. I think it was because the book switched point-of-view characters between Jame and her 10-years...moreGenre: High Fantasy
I found this a rather slow to read. I think it was because the book switched point-of-view characters between Jame and her 10-years-older twin brother Tori, Highlord of the Kencyrath every chapter. I just wasn’t that interested in Tori, despite finding Jame’s chapters fascinating.
I’m not sure why I found Tori’s chapters slow to read… part of it may be that he’s a bit “oh woe is me, my life has been so unfair” which is true but tedious. Part of it may be that Tori doesn’t change or grow – he’s prejudiced from start to finish no matter the facts… this is understandable given his upbringing but again, no fun to read. Finally it may be that he never really acts, he just reacts to the machinations of the other Highborn and the machinations of Gerridon (and the “dark side”). Jame may bungle things, but she acts. The affects of her actions are not always what she wants (in fact, usually accidental destruction), but her intentions are honorable, even if she considers her knee-jerk reactions suspect.
Anyway, this book picks up where God Stalker left off; Jame leaves Tai-Tastigon, and from there the entire story is traveling; Jame to reach Tori (to give him their father’s sword and ring) and Tori to reach the battlefield to stop the Horde in time. During this journey we learn a whole lot more about the history of the Kencyrath – which becomes rather personal for Jame… We learn about Gerridon Highlord who 3,000 years ago tempted his sister Jamethiel Dream Weaver into the great betrayal that was “The Fall of the Kencyrath”. We also learn more about the Kencyrath’s migrations between worlds, and particularly about hurried emigration to the world of Rathillien following The Fall. Plus we get bits and pieces of Jame’s missing memories.
Despite my complaints the climax was very satisfying and there are plenty of loose ends to look forward to into the next book. (less)
I had high hopes after finishing the recent Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story which has a plug for this series at the end… I’m not sure why I found the...moreI had high hopes after finishing the recent Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story which has a plug for this series at the end… I’m not sure why I found the story disappointing; it may be because the heroes and villains were so very black and white, or it may be because I find Bucher’s depiction of politicking to be blunt, awkward and rather unbelievable, or it may just be that Butcher’s still figuring out how to use the third-person voice. Of course, I had trouble getting into the Dresden novels as well, so I will probably keep reading.
The story itself is quite action-packed with a number of different strands. It all starts with Tavi and his uncle Bernard tramping out to collect the sheep that Tavi “forgot” to bring in the night before. Their straight-forward task is interrupted by a marat (a non-human race that have a history of trying to conquer the Calderon valley). Meanwhile, back at home a conclave of stead-holders is gathering in order to determine the guilt of one of their number in what may be a capital case, and tempers are hot. Tavi’s aunt, Isana, is to be the judge, but is having trouble controlling the situation. Separately from all this cursor-in-training (a kind of spy with magic) Amara has discovered that her mentor, Fidelias, is a traitor to the crown and has been sent speeding to Calderon valley to spike his plans. Add a dash of magically dangerous weather and shake well. (less)
At the end of the book Uriel says that the answer is not as important as the journey, which seems to sum up this...more**spoiler alert** Genre: Urban Fantasy
At the end of the book Uriel says that the answer is not as important as the journey, which seems to sum up this book very well; for all the action is as frenetic as usual for the Dresden books, this one is fairly introspective. For example, after 13 books we finally get the story regarding Harry’s break from Justin DuMorne, and are reminded of the threat/mystery of He Who Walks Behind. I’m sure that will come up in later books.
Most acutely, Harry is forced to ponder the results of his actions vis-à-vis the red court: (A) he killed them all and is therefore really a monster. (B) To defeat them he was willing to sacrifice the world – which was gruesome in the abstract but actually included sacrificing Molly, which hits Harry much harder. (C) Killing the entire red court left a power vacuum for other supernatural nasties to take advantage of, thereby causing a lot of pain and death to innocent bystanders. Harry repeats the refrain, “How many other men’s daughters died because I saved mine?” multiple times. Granted, I’m not sure what he’s learned from the experience given that he claims later that even knowing the results he might’ve made the same choice anyway.
Because Harry spends the book as immaterial and unable to easily interact with the mundane world he has a chance to “scout ahead” and follow up the initial set of bad guys beleaguering Karrin et al. Since he can follow without being detected Harry comes to see them as people and victims themselves, despite the death and destruction they caused. Later in the big show-down he continues to see the bad guy’s flunkies as victims. This isn’t hugely different from his attitude in previous books but it will be interesting to see how and if this attitude continues in later books.
Another refrain that was repeated throughout this book is that Harry himself was trained to combat wizardry using pain by both the Leanansidhe and Justin DuMorne. He didn’t use pain in Molly’s training, and this may have been a disservice to her. The Leanansidhe does use pain to train Molly, and Molly has progressed to White Council levels of competency in just 6 months. However, Harry seems very reluctant to recognize the reasons behind his apprentice’s progress, so I’m not sure if anything will come of that refrain.
I spent half the book wondering why we hadn’t seen Thomas, whereas we had seen most of Harry’s other friends/allies – granted the portraits are pretty depressing, since both Karrin and Molly have been in downward spirals since Harry’s death (as well as Chicago in general!) However we do get nice cameos of all of them (including Thomas) at the end which leaves the book at a high note emotionally. Even if it is ironic that now that Harry’s back among the living, his friends are convinced he’s dead. (less)
This book reminds me of Kushiel’s Dart, not because the characters or story are similar but rather for the lushness of the world building. Elliott her...moreThis book reminds me of Kushiel’s Dart, not because the characters or story are similar but rather for the lushness of the world building. Elliott herself describes the book as “Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure with airships, Phoenician spies, the intelligent descendents of troodons, and a dash of steampunk whose gas lamps can be easily doused by the touch of a powerful cold mage.” All of which makes it sound like a mish-mash – but it works!
The book is set in what looks like the Low Countries from the maps, but it doesn’t bear much resemblance to the historic Low Countries due to the addition of another political force: mages. Magic runs in families but its inheritance is spotty, which means that unlike most fantasy worlds, magic is not the purview of the aristocracy. Instead the two groups with the strongest innate magic, the Celtic tribes and the west-African tribes, combine their powers and essentially create a second group of aristocracy headed by magic Houses (rather than direct family dynasties). The Celtic-Mande traditions drastically change the cultural landscape.
However, it is the early 19th century and the proletariat is restless; an industrial revolution is starting and technology is advancing in leaps and bounds. The magic Houses are opposed to many of the advances but radical scientists and natural historians are touting the air-ship technology and exploration and the people of Adurnam are enthusiastic.
All of these forces are in the background for Catherine Hassi Barahal; the only history that affects her (so she thinks) is the ancient conflict between Rome and her people, the Phoenicians (actually they call themselves the Kena’ani, but Rome got to write the history books, and called them Phoenicians). Unfortunately, the Phoenicians lost and are now a persecuted minority group, relegated to being merchants, messengers, guards and spys. Catherine, of course, has been trained in the family business, but her most studious efforts are saved for reading her dead father’s records of his work and exploration. Sadly, the books describing his courtship of Cat’s mother and her own birth are missing – leaving Cat to fill in the blanks.
Cat’s life is given a sharp turn when Andevai, the most powerful mage of his generation in the Four Moons House, arrives to collect on a bargain Cat’s aunt and uncle made years ago to give the eldest daughter of the Hassi Barahal house as sole wife to a mage of the Four Moons House. Neither Cat nor her slightly younger cousin Beatrice knew of the bargain. Nonetheless Cat and Andevai are magically bound together in a union breakable only by death, and Cat is whisked off. The adventure starts from there… and I can’t wait for the sequel! I liked this one so much that I’m going to have to start reading Elliott’s backlist. (less)
This book feels odd because there’s nothing that Rachel is investigating; instead the entire book is Rachel trying to avoid captur...moreGenre: Urban Fantasy
This book feels odd because there’s nothing that Rachel is investigating; instead the entire book is Rachel trying to avoid capture by various people/groups. In the first chapter she’s nearly sized by a lunatic demon. In the second chapter she has a run-in with the coven of moral and ethical standards. Then there’s a bit of a breather before the next summoning yanks Rachel into more hot water.
While I enjoyed watching Rachel’s fraught relationships (with Trent, Nick, Al, Pierce) and Jenks’ situation was immensely tragic, the emotional development wasn’t enough to carry the entire book. Plus, I really miss Ivy who spends most of the book “off camera”.
I am hopeful that this book is setting up things for the next book… so I will continue reading the series, but I can’t recommend this book as a stand-alone novel. (less)