I discovered Lamplighter via her husband, John C. Wright. His books are, simply put, amazing. And I was not disappointed in the least bit. LamplighterI discovered Lamplighter via her husband, John C. Wright. His books are, simply put, amazing. And I was not disappointed in the least bit. Lamplighter (her maiden name, I believe) is an excellent writer. The depth and epic proportions of the book are belied by the humble subtly of her writing.
Miranda is the daughter of the great Prospero, whom Shakespear wrote about so long ago. Though a young lady, Miranda herself is several centuries old and has lately found herself running the family business, Prospero, Inc., alone. One day she discovers a cryptic warning from her father, who has mysteriously disappeared, and sets out to warn the rest of her far-flung family. Partnered with an enfleshed wind spirit detective, as she tracks down each of her siblings more and more of the layers of mystery surrounding her father's disappearance are pierced.
As can even be glimpsed in this simple description, the story is built upon a mythology primarily derived from Shakespear, though there are many elements drawn from other major mythologies (Greek, Catholic, etc.). It seems like it would get convoluted and confusing, but Lamplighter manages to deftly move the story along while slowly and effortlessly revealing the mythological depth to the world she has created in her books.
And "books" it is. This is the first of a trilogy, and I would recommend not even opening this volume until you had the other two close at hand. As has happened to several of her husband's works, the publisher took a massive story and neatly chopped it into three parts. The end of this book barely has any level of resolution to it. All the major conflicts are still unresolved, and Lamplighter reveals another level of conflict even in the last few chapters.
With that warning in place, I do highly recommend the book. The reading just flows, the characters are vivid, engaging, and quite intriguing. In fact, for being an adult book, I was rather pleased at how "clean" it was. Though there is a level of romance, it is quite chaste, and the language is not profane at all. I would even go so far as to say it would be fine for any High School age teenager, and probably even any mature Middle School age children.
In the past I read a review which remarked that it seemed that Lamplighter was almost attempting to write "Christian Fiction." A claim which intrigued me. After reading this, the first of the trilogy, I think the jury is still out on the truth of that claim, but I can make a couple of observations. First, this is not a type of Ted Dekker or even C.S. Lewis "Christian" fiction. No, what Lamplighter has written here is set within a meta-narrative which is foreign to that of the Bible. It is rather close in some places. But, in a sense, it made me think of what Tolkien did with the Simarillion. To work in such characters as Elves, wind spirits, salamanders (fire spirits), the Water of Life, a Dante-esq Hell, and even Father Christmas (among many others) requires a different hierarchy of beings and even of creation.
Second, if a person goes into reading this trilogy expecting some sort of inspirational "Christian" fiction, they will be sorely disappointed and probably even offended. What Lamplighter is doing here is excellent, amazing writing and story creation/development. But because she chose to include such characters and to write the story she did, their very inclusion and nature begets a theology which is contrary to what is contained within the Bible. In my mind, this is okay because this is fiction on a grand scale, with not even a pretense of being very close to reality.
And lastly, early on in the book there was a short discussion on the person of Christ, what type of being he was and where he came from. I loved that she touched on this without trying to explain it all. For this book, at least, she left it a mystery. I am completely intrigued, of course, to see where she goes with it in the following books.
In conclusion, if you enjoy fantasy books - get the whole trilogy and block out a weekend to immerse yourself in it. If you just enjoy really creative stories, a good mystery, and don't mind some supernatural insanity - grab yourself a copy and curl up. This is an excellent book and I can't wait until my sons are old enough for me to share it with them!...more
That's all I have to say. I've enjoyed every one of the short story compilations for the David Weber's Honorverse, but usually there was a story wWow.
That's all I have to say. I've enjoyed every one of the short story compilations for the David Weber's Honorverse, but usually there was a story which I didn't care as much for or could have done without. Not so much in this book. I enjoyed everyone, and could barely put it down as I devoured the last three. And each story gets better than the last.
It starts off with "Promised Land" by Jane Lindskold, which centers around two characters. First, Michael Winton, the brother of the queen of Manticore who is trying to prove himself in the military on his own merits, and secondly on Judith, who was captured as a child by pirates and forced into a marriage with an older man when she came of age - and she wants to escape. I was already intrigued by the character of Michael Winton, and Lindskold does an excellent job of crafting and pacing the story. You know the paths of the two characters will cross, you just are not quite sure how it all is going to play out - which Lindskold does excellently.
The second story, "With One Stone," is written by Timothy Zahn, whom I think has never written anything bad. Honor Harrington plays a secondary role in this story, while the primary character is Rafe Cardones. The story takes place after On Basilisk Station, so if you've read that book, this is a neat follow-up story. All, in all, it builds to a neat little climax.
It's been a long time since I laughed as hard as I did reading "A Ship Named Francis," by John Ringo and Victor Mitchell. So often the ships and captains of the Manticorans (as well as their allies) are depicted in quite complimentary terms. But everyone knows not every ship is perfect, right? And there's got to be a ship where just about every element of "not perfect" come together, right? Well, in this case, there is. It's hard to explain, but I can remember vividly laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes and couldn't even read the words on the page.
"Let's Go to Prague" (John Ringo) has this spy-noir feel to it. I really enjoyed the story and was slightly disappointed when it was over - I felt like I'd been cheated out of more. It centers around two non-conventional spys (in enemy territory) who decide to go on vacation (in a better locale, albeit still in enemy territory). They stumble upon the defection of an admiral which has just gone south and end up on the run for their lives.
The last two stories were my favorites among many enjoyable stories. "Fanatic," by Eric Flint, is a masterful follow-up to "From the Highlands" (also by Eric Flint) from the compilation Changer of Worlds. Victor Cachat was a primary character in that story and he plays an almost primary character in this one. If you have read or are planning on reading Crown of Slaves and Torch of Freedom then you really should read first "From the Highlands" and then this story, "Fanatic." Flint manages an almost breath-taking pace throughout, and the ending is really a masterful turn of phrase and concept - it kept me chuckling to myself for hours afterwards.
The final story is the title story, "The Service of the Sword," by David Weber. A classic Weber tale. It centers around Abigail Hearns, who is also a significant character in Shadow of Saganami and Storm from the Shadows, and it takes place shortly before those two storylines. Basically Abigail is the first female from the planet Grayson to enter into naval training with the RMN (Royal Manticoran Navy. She's on her middy cruise and gets quite the baptism by fire. I couldn't stop reading - it was fantastic! Makes me want Weber's next book in the series all the more.
In conclusion, if you enjoy the Honor Harrington series, of all the short story compilations Weber has put together for the Honorverse, this is one I would highly recommend. If you don't know anything (or don't care) about the Honorverse or Honor Harrington but you still love a good sci-fi tale, you'll still greatly enjoy this collection....more
I was thrilled when I heard that Kathy Tyers was writing another book in her Firebird series. This book, though, is about the children of the primaryI was thrilled when I heard that Kathy Tyers was writing another book in her Firebird series. This book, though, is about the children of the primary characters in the previous book. In fact, Wind and Shadow could be read by itself, though some of the depth of the universe Tyers has created therein will be lost.
Within the first few pages it can easily be seen that Tyers has put as much effort into the creation and maturation of her vision of the Firebird universe as she does into the Star Wars books she is much more well known for.
The book starts right into the action, with the initiating event occurring within the first few pages. Kiel Caldwell, an apprentice priest inexplicably disappears within moments of stepping off a his ship. Wind Haworth, the diplomat who invited him, is thrust into a maelstrom of events which quickly spiral out of control with the arrival of Kiel's brother, a powerful psychic who is slightly hotheaded. The scope of the danger quickly goes beyond mere local consequences as political plots are unveiled.
As I started reading, the pages were initially turning out of curiosity, but a few chapters into the book the pace really started to pick up and before I knew it I was just devouring the thing. The ending is quite climactic and very much a fitting apex to the entire story line.
It's hard to actually call this a Christian book, because, in fact, the faith and beliefs detailed are not Christian, per se. One of the big 'what if's behind the entire Firebird series is 'what if Christ had not come 2000 years ago, but instead came many years after man achieved space travel?' All of the conflicts in Kiel's faith (as well as the other characters) are nearly exact mirrors of many struggles every Christian has, therefore the moral and ethical solutions and resolutions resonate with the Christian faith. But technically the faith is not Christian because there is no Christ (at least not yet) in the Firebird universe.
All in all, an excellent book. If you get a chance, read the other Firebird books first, but don't let that stop you from reading this one, it stands excellently on its own. An excellent work of sci-fi!...more
Solid trilogy. Since these were the first three books the author wrote, it was neat to see him dramatically improve as a writer with each book. The fiSolid trilogy. Since these were the first three books the author wrote, it was neat to see him dramatically improve as a writer with each book. The first really felt like a Lord of the Rings rip-off, to be honest. But by the third book you really could see that the LOTR was merely the inspiration behind what Brooks created.
Overall, I enjoyed the books, the second two especially. I would recommend this to fans of fantasy novels, especially teens/young adults....more
I had my expectations high because, well, this is John C. Wright. After picking up the pieces of my brain, which exploded somewhere in the latter thirI had my expectations high because, well, this is John C. Wright. After picking up the pieces of my brain, which exploded somewhere in the latter third of the book trying to wrap my head around the mere concepts Wright was using, I can honestly say that he exceeded any expectations I had for the book.
This is a continuation of A.E. Van Vogt's World of Null-A and Players of Null-A. I never even read the other book in the Null-A series by Vogt because it was much derided as not really following the quality or heart of the first two.
That being said, Wright does an excellent job of pulling in all of the first two books (as well as certain events/elements from the third) and fitting them all into a meta-narrative which manages to eclipse the vision of them all - in a good way. Wright always likes to up the anty, and he ups it about as far as one could in this novel.
As far as writing style and movement, Wright did his best to duplicate the pulp fiction style of Vogt. And for the early part of the novel he hits it dead center, but by the middle he's drifting conceptually beyond where Vogt was in his first two novels (though I have no doubt Vogt would have loved where Wright decided to take the storyline). But throughout the novel the pace is quick and doesn't really relent much until the last page.
All in all, an excellent read. A must-read for any fan of Wright or Vogt. A must read for any fans of science-fiction in general. I do highly recommend you read first World of Null-A and then Players of Null-A before diving into this because I think it will help you enjoy the world, characters, and story even more (never fear, you can snag a kindle edition of each for $1 each!). If you just want to read Wright's book, though, he has a very solid summary of all the books which precede his in this Null-A series at the beginning of his book.
I picked this up because the author is one referenced by many authors I greatly enjoy and admire. Specifically, John C. Wright, because he wrote a conI picked this up because the author is one referenced by many authors I greatly enjoy and admire. Specifically, John C. Wright, because he wrote a concluding book for the trilogy (with the blessing of Vogt's widow, if I remember right).
The book itself is a very easy read, and within the first several chapters you quickly realize that you are reading a book in which just about anything is possible because the author's imagination seems to have run quite wild. I greatly enjoyed this book, and can't wait to read the rest in the series!...more
Really solid book. This book brings together the story lines of the four different books that took place right before, during, and after War of Honor.Really solid book. This book brings together the story lines of the four different books that took place right before, during, and after War of Honor. Those are Shadow of Saganami, Storm from the Shadows, Crown of Slaves, and Torch of Freedom. To really understand everything that is unfolding in the Honorverse you need to read all of them before reading this book.
The book itself is much more focused on the political maneuvering and sparring that is taking place than the battles. Where War of Honor was one of the most insanely battle-packed Harrington novel (in my opinion), this is one of the least. There are a few battles, but they are quick and serve more to whet the appetite than anything else.
That said, the book was, as always, very well written and it proves a transition point for the culminating conflict that all the books in Weber's Honor Harrington series have been moving towards, so it was very fascinating to see he begin to bring all the various threads together.
I greatly enjoyed it - but I wanted to read the next book as soon as I finished because I know it is going to be twice as action-packed (I hope - hint, hint, Mr. Weber!)....more
A very interesting read. Considering the book is nearly 150 years old, it reads incredibly well even in a contemporary setting. It really helped me wrA very interesting read. Considering the book is nearly 150 years old, it reads incredibly well even in a contemporary setting. It really helped me wrap my mind around the differences between worlds of a single dimension, two dimensions, and how they would be interpreted and perceived by individuals from a three-dimensional realm.
It also has an interesting sociological commentary running throughout. It pretty much ended on a pessimistic note, though. I guess that makes it qualify almost for a tragedy....more
If you like hymnody, this is an incredibly comprehensive look at the rise of hymnody, specifically within Baptist churches, but it also touches on theIf you like hymnody, this is an incredibly comprehensive look at the rise of hymnody, specifically within Baptist churches, but it also touches on the rise of hymnody in the church at large. At times it feels like they are just working their way through one hymnal publication after another, which can get pretty droll. But if you are interested in church music and its development this is an excellent resource for understanding how many churches transitioned from little to no singing to doing full blown hymns and embracing the use of an organ.
All in all, not the most exciting read - but hymnody is not a subject that is really action-packed. But it is very comprehensive and as a historical resource for better understanding the development of church music it is extremely valuable....more
Awesome little book on dealing with Sin in one's life. He started with an awesome emphasis upon how it is through Grace one is saved and how it is onlAwesome little book on dealing with Sin in one's life. He started with an awesome emphasis upon how it is through Grace one is saved and how it is only truly through Grace that one can truly mortify sin. Yet, by the last portion of the book he has focused so much on his emphasis upon grace has been slightly eclipsed.
Even so, it was still an awesome and challenging read. Highly recommend!...more
Solid book. Definitely could tell the setting and science is starting to age a little, but nothing too much. The story itself is very intriguing and tSolid book. Definitely could tell the setting and science is starting to age a little, but nothing too much. The story itself is very intriguing and there were segments which I couldn't help but keep reading through. Good stuff!...more
Smith continues his epic Lensman series in First Lensman. ThTitle: First Lensman
Series: Lensman, Book 2
Author: "Doc" E. E. Smith
Genre: Science Fiction
Smith continues his epic Lensman series in First Lensman. The Arisians are continuing to monitor and influence the development of four different races in the galaxy, specifically interested in the human race from Tellus (or Earth). Where Triplanetary, the first book in the series, literally took the reader back to the very beginning of the conflict between the Eddorians and the Arisians, describing the initial developments in the Arisian's plans to ultimately destroy the Eddorians. That book was almost a collection of short stories, leaping through history and touching on various stories of two specific genealogical lines. In the latter part of that book Smith introduces the reader to Virgil Samms, who is the central character in this novel.
Samms, who becomes the First Lensman, is the driving force behind the development of first the Interstellar Police, which he eventually sees as inadequate for the job needing to be done. When the Arisians bestow the Lens upon him and pledge to provide more for all who are worthy, Samms finally has the incorruptible sign of authority needed and so moves on to establish the Galactic Patrol and the Galactic Council to oversee interstellar matters.
This book is quite a ride. Smith weaves quite a fantastic story, and he has a rather unrelenting pace. Though it was written in the '50s most of his technology is vague enough to mature adequately with age. Every now and then the way he perceives future technology (specifically that of computers) is definitely rooted in his understanding of computers at that time, and that causes the reader to hesitate a little - but then the story distracts you again and you realize you could care less about the tech because the story is so engaging.
Though most fans of this series will say - correctly - that it really takes off with Galactic Patrol, the next book in the series, this is no second-rate book. In fact, I recommend reading through the entire series chronologically. The books get better and better, in my mind, at least, as you go through the books in their chronological order in the Lensman universe (not chronological order of publication).
Overall I greatly enjoyed this book and would easily recommend it to anyone. Since it was written so long ago it is actually very clean as far as language and sexual material is concerned. I would just very strongly encourage anyone reading this book to get their hands on the other books in the series as well - they are classics in every sense of the word.
Recommended age: It is a very "clean" book in regards to language and sexual situations. There is a little violence, but even that is described "modestly", though the violence may not be so mild. Thusly, as soon as a child can understand the concepts within the book, they should be okay reading it....more
Triplanetary is chronologically the first book in E. E. Smith's classic Lensmen series. The first book published was Galactic Patrol. That book dropsTriplanetary is chronologically the first book in E. E. Smith's classic Lensmen series. The first book published was Galactic Patrol. That book drops the reader into a conflict which is already older than the earth itself, though it seems concerned with one particular Lensman, Kim Kinnison. Triplanetary goes back to the beginning and lays out the meta-narrative that particular story takes place within.
That being understood, this book, in the Lensman series, works about the same as the Silmarillion did for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings epic. In effect, it help you to understand why Kim Kinnison is so important, and why the particular battles that he fights in Galactic Patrol (and later books) is so important. Therefore at the least the first third of the book reads more like a historical (or almost fantastical) recounting than a science fiction novel. Then it highlights particlar stories about particular individuals that make up the geneological line which is so important to the Arisians in defeating the Eddorians.
The last portion of the book is more like the science fiction fare that E. E. Smith serves up in the later books of the series. All in all, it is quite an interesting book. I found it fascinating and engaging - though I must admit I was partially already under Smith's spell from reading about John C. Wright's love for this particular series in his blog.
The book reads almost as a collection of short stories which are woven together to form a background for the main stories to come later. And it was written in 1948, so the flavor is a little different from modern science fiction, but I found it fresh and clear - just fun! Since it was written in that era, there really is no objectionable content as far as language or sexual situations. There is violence, but it is so masked by inference as to not be really graphic. Due to that I wouldn't hesitate to allow my son to read this as soon as he could understand the concepts within.
An excellent book, and I highly recommend it. But don't read it alone - make sure you work your way through all the Lensman books so you can truly enjoy the classic that Smith has woven together here. ...more
This is quite an amazing book. The science, sociology, psychology - all of it! - is extremely well-thought out. And the pacing is rather incredible. NThis is quite an amazing book. The science, sociology, psychology - all of it! - is extremely well-thought out. And the pacing is rather incredible. Niven has quite a knack for moving things along quick enough for most of the book, and then really stepping things up a couple of notches for the huge climax. Great fun!
Humanity has finally decided to reach out to the stars and attempt to colonize a new planet. But being so far away, they've gotta freeze the people so they'll make it there at a decently young age. The first difficulty the colonists have to deal with is that some of them were affected by the freezing. But that is minor compared with what is awaiting them on Avalon, their new land. What seems a perfect place, at first, turns into a nightmare - complete with monsters!
There is almost a horror feel to the book, due to the violence and how incredibly horrific the "grendels" are. But it is definitely science fiction, through and through. Niven, Pournelle, and Barnes have done an excellent job crafting the science and technology of the people, as well as creating very intriguing and convincing characters.
This is the first of three books set in the Heorot universe. Beowulf's Children is a sequel to this. It actually takes place when the children born in this book get old enough to begin claiming the planet for themselves. If you enjoy this book, definitely get your hands on Beowulf's Children. There is also another book, Destiny's Road, which also takes place in the same universe, mentioning events from the first two, but which is not really a sequel or continuation of their storyline (at least the way I understand it).
There is a lot of violence in the book, but really no sexual material at all. There is a little inuendo or inference to sexual situations, but nothing specific and definitely nothing explicit.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It would probably not be appropriate for younger readers due to the violence as well as the much relaxed sexual mores of the settlement....more