Karl Schroeder’s Virga sequence is undoubtedly one of the best science fiction series in recent years, and in my opinion even among the best ever. It...moreKarl Schroeder’s Virga sequence is undoubtedly one of the best science fiction series in recent years, and in my opinion even among the best ever. It is almost like a small encyclopedia of science fiction in itself in that it showcases so many of the forms the genre takes – planetary romance, golden age adventure story, hard science speculation, singularity and steampunk. And the wonder of the series is that it pulls all those elements into a believable and even plausible whole and turns them into a compulsive read. I really cannot praise this series enough and it should be on the reading list of everyone with even a passing interest in what science fiction is, has been and can be.[return][return]This fourth volume is a bit of a departure for Schroeder’s series – Pirate Sun resolved all the threads of the various characters introduced in Sun of Suns. The Sunless Countries introduces a new main character, a historian named Leal Maspeth, and also shifts emphasis somewhat – there is a lot about the big picture in the rest of the galaxy here, and for its ending the novel even ventures outside of Virga for the first time; also, similar to the development of Leal in this novel, it has less swashbuckling and significantly more politics than previous volumes. It is not less of an exciting read for that, and I already pre-ordered the fifth volume, Ashes of Candesce.(less)
When a friend first recommended Larissa Ione’s Demonica series to me, I was more than a bit sceptical – paranormal romances about brothers running a h...moreWhen a friend first recommended Larissa Ione’s Demonica series to me, I was more than a bit sceptical – paranormal romances about brothers running a hospital for demons sounded more than a bit silly to me. Now that I’ve read four out of the five volumes in the series, I have to say – it is just as silly as sounded, but but I don’t care one bit. Larissa Ione does not seem to care either, to the contrary it is as if she not only fully embraced the silliness of her basic premise but accepted it as a challenge – “Just look what I can make of ludicrous concept like this, and wanna bet that I can make you enjoy it and beg for more?” It helps that the author has an extraordinarly fertile imagine, I can just imagine the gleeful cackle with which she comes up with yet another bizarre demon race to add to her impressive pandemonium, or invents some fiendish plot twist to keep her star-crossed lovers apart and delay the thankfully always happy ending.[return][return]This fourth volume concerns itself with the newly-discovered fourth brother Lore and his antagonist and eventual lover Idesse. With him being an assassin demon hired to kill a human the protector angel Idesse is bound to guard, there is a lot of initial conflict, and the plot that ensues is, while not springing any great surprises, nicely convoluted in the typical Larissa Ione manner, with various subplots feeding into it which give welcome occasion to re-introduce characters from the previous books. Throw in some action and several hot sex scenes and you up with another delightful installment in a series that has been highly enjoyable so far. Maybe it is precisely because the initial leap required to suspend disbelief is so big that once it is made one can just roll along with it and take this for what it is – great fun.(less)
Sin Undone is the fifth and nominally last in Larissa Ione’s Demonica series. Nominally, because the author’s current series, Lords of Deliverance, is...moreSin Undone is the fifth and nominally last in Larissa Ione’s Demonica series. Nominally, because the author’s current series, Lords of Deliverance, is set in the same universe and apparently shares some characters – in fact, there is some overlap in this novel already, with one of the titular Lords making his appearance here, and thus ensuring a seamless transition between the series.
As a result, Sin Undone does not convey much sense of an ending – sure, there is an apocalyptic plague that threatens to wipe out not just the werewolf population, but possibly all life, demonic and human alike. But our protagonists of course prevent that from happening (with a little help from characters from previous novels), and overall it feels very much business as usual for the series – another instalment in the ongoing saga rather than its epic culmination.
Which is not to say that the novel reads at all like a routine effort – it has the same mixture of twisted plot, steamy sex scenes and bizarre, over-the-top worldbuilding that made the rest of the series so much fun, and is every bit as enjoyable as the first four. I was just hoping for a bit more closure than “Now everyone in the family is happily partnered”, kind of more of a bang and less of a whimper (although I suppose it’s rather a moan, and a long and lustful one, at that). In the end, though, this is just a very minor niggle, and it likely won’t be too long before I start on reading Eternal Rider, the first novel in the follow-up series…(less)