Flights of Fantasy

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Divas Las Vegas – Belinda Jones

Category: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

This is not my usual thing at all, but it was free with a copy of Cosmo and I’m never one to look a gift book in the pages.

Jamie and Izzy are 27, working in crap jobs and dating generally crap men. A series of crap events decides them, and they head for the glamour and glitz of Vegas with one goal in mind, marriage.

First off, why is the mad friend in these books always called Izzy? That aside, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a realistic look at how life can be as one approaches thirty at an ever increasing pace, with peer and family pressures all around, to settle down, with a good job and a steady man (or should that be the other way around?). But what if you don’t want a boring desk job but something more, and why should you settle for a good man when there may be a great one still out there somewhere.

It’s a fast paced, wild ride of a novel, but at the same time it has some very deep messages for the reader. About learning to understand yourself, reassess relationships that you’ve had with people for years (such as girlfriends from school) and understand just what it is you want from your life.

The story is very well written, humorous and fun, but serious and poignant at just the right moments. Having been to Vegas myself, I recognised many of the sights and places that Jamie and Izzy see and visit, and they are described in such detail that I’d be amazed if the author had never been there herself.

All in all, this is a lovely book to read, so much so that I was up until 2am finishing it because I couldn’t put it down.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Darkover - Marion Zimmer Bradley

Category: Fantasy

This isn’t a single book but a series written about the same world. Rather than try and review each book individually I decided to be lazy and lump them all together in one big review.

Darkover is a planet with a red sun and four moons. Settled by humans when their colony ship was forced to land there instead of travelling on to its destination. The people on the ship were looking to create a colony without technology, a return to a simpler way of life, and they found it, just not where they expected.

Over the centuries they have remained at a pre-industrial, occasionally feudal level of society, in which roles have reverted to a patriarchy. There are two women-only societies, but most men and many ‘decent’ women regard them with varying levels of scorn or disgust.

The planet was also home to an indigenous, humanoid species, intelligent and, as they discovered, actually cross-fertile with humans. However children from such unions are slow to mature, long lived, and more often than not, neuter.

These aliens known as Chieri or fairy-folk also introduced the settlers to a local mineral called a starstone. In the hands of certain people these stones awakened latent psi abilities and allowed them to develop. Over the centuries a separate caste of people evolved who had these powers and they came to be considered superior to those who had none, eventually becoming the ruling class. These powers were used for many things including communication, and to perform tasks that would have been done by heavy machinery back on Earth.

There are many books in the Darkover series covering several centuries of history. These novels were not written in a historically chronological order. In fact the chronologically first book, Darkover Landfall, was actually written quite late. In the front of most of the books you will find a list of all the titles available, in chronological order and grouped by the era in which they take place. I will reproduce this list at the end of the review.

While each book or grouping can be read independently of the others, it does pay to read them in chronological order if possible. It helps to give you a growing familiarity with the world and it’s people. In the later books they refer to ages past where things were not as good as they are now, and these references are far more vivid if you have actually read the books that cover that era.

I discovered the Darkover world many years ago and I frequently revisit it. They have been favourites of mine from the first. I don’t quite have all the books but I’m working on it. Some of them are out of print and can be quite a bugger to get hold of.

Sadly MZB died back in 1999 but over the years she had forged connections with a large network of other authors who had written short stories for the anthologies, some of whome she had helped to get started in the business. Because of this, Darkover novels are still being written by some of these other authors. Some of these were aleady in progress when she died and otherss have been written since. So far I have only read one of these but I have to say that I think MZB would have been proud of the way her world is being kept alive.

Series Rating: 8/10

Darkover Series:

The Founding
Darkover Landfall

The Ages of Chaos
A century after the founding, the world is ruled from the towers by those with the strongest telepathic powers and a breeding program is in place to produce those with powers that are stronger still, with terrible consequences.
The Fall of Neskaya (with Deborah J Ross)
Zandru's Forge (with Deborah J Ross)
A Flame in Hali (with Deborah J Ross)

The Hundred Kingdoms
After the age of chaos, still suffering many of the aftereffects, the land is divided into a multitude of small kingdoms. Towards the end of this era one man tries to institute a compact such that no man may use a weapon that does not bring him into equal risk.
Two to Conquer
The Heirs of Hammerfell

The Renunciates
In the Ages of Chaos there were two societies of women who refused to abide by the patriarchal nature of their society: the priestesses of Avarra and the Sisterhood of the Sword. Over time these two groups combined forces to become the Order of Renunciates, otherwise known as Free Amazons.
The Shattered Chain
Thendara House
City of Sorcery

Against the Terrans - The First Age
The terrans rediscover Darkover and the inhabitants and realise that they are actually a Terran colony, however the Darkovans are not so eager to acknowledge the fact.
Rediscovery (written with Mercedes Lackey)
The Spell Sword
The Forbidden Tower
Star of Danger
The Winds of Darkover

Against the Terrans - The Second Age
Once the shock of rediscovery wears off, the younger generation of Darkovans is more eager to learn about Terran ways, and their own ancestry.
The Bloody Sun
Heritage of Hastur
The Planet Savers
Sharra's Exile
The World Wreckers
Return to Darkover
Exile's Song (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
The Shadow Matrix (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
Traitor's Sun (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)

Short stories edited by MZB aimed at 'filling in the blanks'.
Domains of Darkover
Four Moons of Darkover
Free Amazons of Darkover
The Keeper's Price
Leroni of Darkover
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover
The Other Side of the Mirror
Red Sun of Darkover
Renunciates of Darkover
Snows of Darkover
Sword of Chaos
Towers of Darkover

Friday, April 29, 2005

Alta – Mercedes Lackey

Alta – Mercedes LackeyCategory: Fantasy

This is the second book in the series, after Joust.

Vetch is nearly home. His desert travels are almost over. However he still thinks of himself as Vetch, the Altan serf not Kiron, dragonrider to Avatre. This is what he must learn to be as he arrives back in his homeland and makes his way to join the Altan Jousters.

There Kiron finds a welcome, a new home and willing champions of his new methods of raising and training dragons. As he creates a new dragon wing, composed of young riders who raise their dragons from the egg, he learns more about this city and land that is now his home. He learns about the Altan rulers, the priests and priestesses of the various gods and about the Mages who hold themselves superior to all Altans.

He also learns more about the reasons behind the continuing war between Alta and Tia.

Where Joust introduced us to this new world and the lives of the people within it, and set the scene for things to come. This book throws you to the literary lions. Full of new, appealing characters and many complex situations, it grabs you by the imagination and refuses to let go. Not even at the very end of the book as it leaves you begging for the next one.

Why do publishers insist on releasing books in hardback first?

Rating 9/10

The series:
Sanctuary (Hardback only)

Joust - Mercedes LackeySanctuary - Mercedes Lackey

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Joust – Mercedes Lackey

Joust – Mercedes LackeyCategory: Fantasy

Vetch is an Altan serf owned by a Tian master. His family once owned the farm he now lives on as a serf. When the Tian army came they took control of the farm and parcelled it out to their own people, along with Vetches family, as Tian law states that no one may own land who does not own a serf who was originally tied to that land. However there are no Tian laws governing the treatment of such serfs.

Vetch has a miserable existence until the day one of Tian’s dragonriders, known as Jousters, lands at the farm in search of sustenance. Seeing the master’s harsh treatment of Vetch he decides to appropriate the boy to become his new dragonboy.

Vetch finds himself thrust into a new life caring for the dragon of Tian’s most well known Jouster. He discovers that even an enemy can be human. He also learns how to raise and care for baby dragons and starts planning to turn the theory into practice to gain a dragon of his own.

Another wonderful story from one of my favourite authors (I’ve mentioned that once or twice haven’t I *grin*) A new world and new characters with all the passion, colour and life that you would expect from this writer.

There are many levels to this tale. There is the sweeping drama and adventure of a struggle against the odds. There is the story of a boy growing up surrounded by his enemies. There is the tale of a man, who fights for his country and yet has no real love for the life he leads. There is layer upon layer woven together so skilfully that you can lose yourself in the narrative without realising that you are also absorbing many lessons on life.

More please.

Rating 8/10

The series:
Sanctuary (Hardback only)

Alta - Mercedes LackeySanctuary - Mercedes Lackey

Monday, April 25, 2005

Green Rider – Kristen Britain

Green Rider – Kristen BritainCategory: Fantasy

Expelled from school for the offence of humiliating the son of one of the Dukes of the realm, in a fair fight, Karigan decides that she is going to put her case to her father in person, preferably before the school officials get the chance.

Running away: on the road she meets up with one of the king’s messengers, a Green Rider. Normally an unremarkable occurrence, this meeting is marked by the fact that the rider is dying, pierced by two black arrows in his back. Before he dies he persuades Karigan to complete his mission and ride to the King carrying the messages that must not fall into enemy hands.

Karigan is a naive, headstrong girl and a well-written character. Unlike so many (less believable) novice adventurers she is not ‘instantly competent’. She falls into one bad situation after another, through ignorance and inexperience, and each time she wins through it is in a believable way within the framework of her character and the world she inhabits.

Another thing I like about this book is that it doesn’t have quite the traditional ‘happily-ever-after’ ending that you might expect, but I won’t spoil it by putting any more detail here.

It definitely ends with unresolved issues and there is a second book to follow it, which I shall be looking out for next time I go book shopping.

Rating: 6/10

The series:
Green Rider
First Rider’s Call

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Outstretched Shadow – Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

The Outstretched Shadow - Mercedes Lackey and James MalloryCategory: Fantasy

The Golden City of Armethalieh, City of Bells, jewel of the land, place of plenty, where Mages rule and the people want for nothing.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it.

Kellen is an apprentice mage, destined to become one of the elite ruling class in a society where mages control everything, magic runs everything, and women are considered to be little better than animals for breeding more mages.

Kellen is a teenager, bored, dissatisfied, and uninspired by his studies: a very dangerous combination indeed.

It is clear from the start that there is something not quite right about the perfection of Armethalieh, and it becomes very clear over the first part of the story just what that something is. By the time the inevitable confrontation occurs, you are just as ready to escape as Kellen, which makes the wild ride that follows even more thrilling as you ride the pages alongside him.

The characters are wonderfully well written. The disillusioned teenager, the arrogant controlling power-hungry ruler, the older more experienced tutor, the intelligent companion and the frighteningly cold, calculating and thoroughly evil enemy. Oh yes, you didn’t think you’d get away without meeting the enemy, did you?

A truly excellent collaborative novel between one of my favourite authors and another who looks fair to join her on that list.

Rating: 9/10

The Obsidian Trilogy
1. The Outstretched Shadow
2. To Light a Candle (only in HB at the moment)
3. [unknown title]

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan

Altered Carbon - Richard MorganCategory: Science Fiction

This is the first book I have read that has been recommended to me by one of you lovely people who read my reviews (thanks weenie )

This is high tech sci-fi meets gritty old detective story. On one side you have a future in which a persons memories and personality are stored in a chip in their spine, the contents of which can be downloaded from their body (sleeve) and stored on a computer. This consciousness can then live in a virtual world, or it can be re-sleeved in their own body or any other currently vacant body.

On the other side you have Takeshi Kovaks, a criminal turned special-ops turned criminal, currently serving an electronic jail term. His time in prison storage on Harlan’s World is cut short when he is extracted, transmitted to Earth and re-sleeved. There he finds himself forced into the employ of Mr Bancroft, a rich ‘Meth’, who wants Kovaks to investigate a murder, the murder of Mr Bancroft.

Restored into a clone sleeve from a backup copy of his consciousness, he now has no memory of the 24 hours prior to his death, but he is convinced that the police conclusion of suicide is wrong and that in reality someone murdered him, and he wants Kovaks to find the killer.

This story is well written and full of rich descriptions and characters, and the contract between the high and low tech and the rich and the poor lifestyles can be startling at times, and yet are ultimately what make to book such a fascinating read.

I would warn potential readers that it does contain some quite graphic scenes of violence, so if that sort of thing bothers you then avoid it, otherwise read it, it’s worth it.

Rating 6/10

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Lord of the Isles - David Drake

Lord of the Isles - David DrakeCategory: Fantasy

In a world where magic is tidal, with centuries between high tides, the power is reaching a peak once more. The last time this occurred, the conclusion of a battle and the results of magical repercussions saw the land of Yole sink beneath the seas, never to be seen again.

Now refugees from that time are appearing again, ready to continue the fight.

Tenoctris is one such refugee, literally washed ashore at Barca's Hamlet. With her arrival several of the hamlet's inhabitants find themselves caught up in danger and adventure, and dicsover that they are far more than mere peasant stock.

This is a reasonably well written story with good characters, but it's nothing new. It has all the usual elements of a fantasy novel (maybe a few too many) but there's no hook, no sparkle, nothing to make it stand out from all the others.

It was an entertaining read and I will read the rest of the series eventually, I'm just not in any hurry to do so.

Rating 5/10

The series
1. Lord of the Isles
2. Queen of Demons
3. Servant of the Dragon
4. Mistress of the Catacombs
5. Goddess of the Ice Realm
6. Master of the Cauldron

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster Bujold

Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster BujoldCategory: Fantasy

While events in this book take place after those in Curse of Chalion, it does not follow on as such, so this book can be read without having read that one first.

This book follows the fortunes of the Dowager Royina Ista, the mother of Iselle who is now the ruler of Chalion.

With the death of her own mother, she finds herself in very real danger, that of being 'loved' back into insanity by those around her who believe her still mad, and who only wish to care for her and prevent her from hurting herself.

Ista however, is no longer mad and is starting to feel smothered by the constant care. She plans her escape in the form of a religious pilgrimage ostensibly to ask the gods to bless her daughter's marriage with a son. Although the pilgrimage is merely a device to effect her escape, Ista finds herself once more caught up in the machinations of the gods and an unwilling recipient of their gifts.

This is another great book from this author. It manages to maintain the continuity of the world without dragging out the stories of previous characters beyond their satisfactory conclusions.

The world of Chalion's gods is explored again but in far more detail than before and it makes for a fascinating read. Again the characters are full of life and energy, and they pull you along through the story like a child leading you to the sweetie counter.

I can't wait for the next one!

Rating 7/10

The series:
Curse of Chalion
Paladin of Souls

Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster Bujold

Friday, March 25, 2005

Sea of Silver Light – Tad Williams

Sea of Silver Light - Tad WilliamsCategory: Fantasy

This is the last book in a series of four, preceded by City of Golden Shadow, River of Blue Fire and Mountain of Black Glass.

John Dread has somehow managed to take over the Grail network by torturing ‘the other’, and has started to rampage through the simworlds, corrupting and destroying them for his own amusement, while searching for Renie, Martine and their friends.

Orlando is dead, killed by The Other on the mountain. Renie, !Xabbu and Sam find themselves now wearing sim bodies that match their own physical appearance, and in the company of Felix Jongleur the head of the Grail Brotherhood. The others are gone, scattered through the network.

The network itself then starts to break down. They find themselves separated and in a land based on a mish-mash of children’s tales, nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and The Ending is coming.

Quite an exciting and enthralling conclusion to the Otherland series. All the questions are answered eventually, although it does make for frustrating reading at times, as getting the answers is a bit like pulling teeth.

There are more than a few revelations but it does all make a very strange kind of sense in the end.

Given the length and complexity of these novels, I don’t know if I’ll ever read them again, but they are worth the effort of reading them once.

Rating 7/10

The Otherland Series:
1. City of Golden Shadow
2. River of Blue Fire
3. Mountain of Black Glass
4. Sea of Silver Light

City of Golden Shadow - Tad WilliamsRiver of Blue Fire - Tad WilliamsMountain of Black Glass - Tad Williams

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mountain of Black Glass – Tad Williams

Mountain of Black Glass - Tad WilliamsCategory: Fantasy

Once again I would strongly advise reading the ‘previously’ section at the start to refresh your mind about the events in City of Golden Shadow and River of Blue Fire.

Paul Jonas is now Odysseus in a simworld based on the Iliad. Receiving a message to make for the walls of Troy he sets out on his journey.

Orlando and Fredericks find themselves in Anubis’s Egypt. On the way to the capital they have a vision and receive the same message although neither of them is sure what it means.

Renie, !Xabbu and the others are stuck in an unfinished simworld. The lighter device has been stolen and there seems to be no way out.

This is the third book in the series. It follows the travels of all the parties trapped in the simworlds as they make their respective ways through searching for a way into the correct simulation for Troy.

Outside, Sellars manages to finally make his escape from the military base. The detectives searching for the killer in the Merapauni case discover more information about the person known as John Dread. John himself continues to hunt the people trapped in the simworlds, and the members of the Grail Brotherhood prepare for The Ceremony.

Many questions are answered, but many more are raised in this book. Gradually tantalising snippets of information are parcelled out to the reader. Just enough to keep you interested while at the same time not providing quite enough to allow you to figure out just what is going on.

With a very dramatic ending you will find you have to read the last book in the series just to find out what it’s really all about.

Rating: 6/10

The Otherland Series:
1. City of Golden Shadow
2. River of Blue Fire
3. Mountain of Black Glass
4. Sea of Silver Light

City of Golden Shadow - Tad WilliamsRiver of Blue Fire - Tad WilliamsSea of Silver Light - Tad Williams

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Somebody to Love – Kate Rothwell

Somebody to Love - Kate RothwellCategory: Romance (Historical)

Araminta is a chef, and a damned good one. Previously employed by Timona’s father (in Somebody Wonderful), she now works for Linder Kane, working towards her dream of owning her own restaurant. Aware that the household has a dubious reputation and is used for gambling parties, she is amazed one day to see Griffin Calverson at one of the parties.

Griffin is equally surprised to see Araminta working for such a shady character. He is there working to discover evidence of Kane’s dealings so as to bring the man down.

Araminta has had a yen for Griffin since she first met him, but because of her heritage and his past attitude towards her, she feels that there is no hope for her with him.

Griffin gradually realises that he is drawn to this darkly beautiful woman, but sees her only as a potential mistress and nothing more.

The sparks between these two characters just fly off the page. The story oozes with drama and intrigue, desire and passion. Griffin and Araminta are two very strong personalities and the clashes between them make for a gripping read. This story sensitively illustrates the social attitudes and mores of the time while never at any point being offensive.

Araminta’s background is explored more fully, after being briefly introduced in Somebody Wonderful.

I really like it when a romance author expands on a secondary character from a previous novel and gives them a story of their own. It provides a comfortable feeling of continuity in a genre more known for standalone novels.

It is not necessary to have read Somebody Wonderful before reading this, but I’d recommend it anyway. One should never pass up a good romance.

Rating 6/10

The series:
Somebody Wonderful
Somebody to Love

Somebody Wonderful - Kate Rothwell

Monday, March 14, 2005

Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold

Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster BujoldCategory:Fantasy

This is the first novel by this author that I have read, and it was a pleasure to do so.

Cazaril has been many things in his life, the latest being a slave. Now he returns to the castle in which he was a page as a child, a broken man. He returns in the hope that the lady will remember him and grant him some small position within the household so he can live out his days in quiet and comfort.

The Lady does indeed remember him and appoints him to be the personal secretary-tutor to the Royesse Iselle, her granddaughter and the sister to the present heir to the throne of Chalion.

When Iselle and her brother are summoned to Chalion he finds himself thrown into conflict with the very men who conspired to make him a slave, the men who now conspire to gain a kingdom. However the gods of Chalion also have an interest in the royal house and in Cazaril himslef.

I found this to be a well paced tale set in a world with credable secular and religious characters and beliefs.

The religion of Chalion plays a large role in the story and is well presented with interesting detail about the five gods and their roles within the pantheon.

With well written characters, a lot of political intrigue and the whims of the gods this is a story that captures the imagination and carries it all the way to the final full stop.

Rating: 7/10

The series:
Curse of Chalion
Paladin of Souls

Friday, March 11, 2005

Industrial Magic – Kelley Armstrong

Industrial Magic - Kelley ArmstrongCategory: Supernatural

This is the fourth novel by this author, following on from Bitten, Stolen and Dime Store Magic. You don’t have to have read the first two but I’d recommend reading the third one before this one, and it would help to have read all three in order.

Right, to the plot.

Following about 6 months after the events in Dime Store Magic. Paige, Lucas and Savannah have settled down temporarily. Paige is trying to start a new coven and Lucas is continuing his work as a lawyer.

When a vicious killer starts hunting down Cabal children Lucas’ father tries to enlist their help in tracking down the killer, totally ignoring the fact that Lucas wants nothing to do with his father or his problems.

Despite her intention to support Lucas and the general bad blood between witches and sorcerers, Paige finds herself drawn into the investigations. Gradually with the help of some new friends and some old ones, they discover just what can motivate a murderer.

This is another great book in the series. More about Paige and Lucas this time, Savannah takes a back seat. With further developments in their relationship and the introduction of Lucas’ family this is a fascinating story on many levels.

While this book lacks some of the explosive action and excitement of the previous novels, it more than compensates with increased depth and exploration of the characters and the world of the supernatural in which they operate.

Towards the end of the book it sets thing up nicely for the fifth in the series, Haunted, by introducing the reader to the characters who will feature within. A nice little teaser, I look forward to reading the whole thing.

Rating: 8/10

The series:
Dime Store Magic
Industrial Magic
Haunted (due out May 2005)

Bitten - Kelley ArmstrongStolen - Kelley ArmstrongDime Store Magic - Kelley ArmstrongHaunted - Kelley Armstrong

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Somebody Wonderful - Kate Rothwell

Somebody Wonderful - Kate RothwellCategory: Romance (Historical)

You can’t beat a good romance novel when you’re feeling wistful or unappreciated. It’s even better when the characters are as colourful, lively and opinionated as the ones found in this novel.

Timona is a damsel very much in distress. Waylaid in one of New York’s many alleys by a group of thugs bent on things best not considered. Michael McCann is a New York City cop who hears her screams for help and charges to the rescue.

Mick’s initial impression is of a worldly street woman, maybe a little more educated than the average lady of the night. Timona’s first impression is of a gentle caring Irishman who would give someone his last cup of tea and a home to the ugliest mutt on the planet.

As an Irishman straight off the boat, Mick is immediately mistrustful of Timona’s English accent and becomes more so when he discovers that Timona is not what he first thought, but is in fact a wealthy woman. Timona however has already decided that Mick is the man for her and she sets out to win him over.

It’s very refreshing to read a period romance about relatively ordinary folk living difficult lives rather than lords and ladies in English castles. It is clear that a lot of research has gone in to making the setting as accurate a representation of the time as possible. For someone, like myself, that knows very little about America in that time period it only serves to add extra interest to an already intriguing story.

So far Kate has published two printed novels, this one and the follow up Somebody to Love, however she has also published several novels online. Visit her website for more information.

Rating: 6/10

The series:
Somebody Wonderful
Somebody to Love

Somebody to Love - Kate Rothwell

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The High Lord – Trudi Canavan

The High Lord - Trudi CanavanCategory: Fantasy

This is the final book in the Black Magician trilogy after The Magician’s Guild and The Novice.

As Akkarin’s chosen student and hostage, Sonea feels trapped. The other students resent her for the perceived privilege that they feel should rightly have gone to one of them, and she would happily hand over to be free.

Despite the High Lords references to an ancient enemy, this being his reason for studying and practising the black arts, Sonea cannot help but wonder it he is telling the truth or just making excuses for his perversions.

Now there are murders occurring in the city. People found dead with hardly a mark on them, certainly not enough to explain their deaths. However to those in the know they appear to be the work of a Black Magician. Is Akkarin responsible?

A wonderful conclusion to the trilogy. The story pulls you along through each twist and turn. Some things that happen are predictable, others are wholly unexpected and serve to keep you thoroughly engrossed.

Yet again I found myself unable to put this book down, and while, at the end, I had a great sense of satisfaction, of a story concluded, I was also sorry that it had come to an end.

I await with eagerness for the author’s next work, which is due, according to Amazon, in February 2006.

Rating: 8/10

The Black Magician Trilogy:
The Magician's Guild
The Novice
The High Lord

The Magician's Guild - Trudi CanavanThe Novice - Trudi Canavan

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Novice – Trudi Canavan

The Novice - Trudi CanavanCategory: Fantasy

Picking up after the events in The Magicians Guild (what do you mean you haven’t read it! Go and read the review), the story continues…

Sonea is about to be initiated as a Novice and is understandably nervous. Not only does she have the more mundane concerns about how her fellow novices will treat her, but she also has to worry about the High Lord finding out that she knows about his practice of Black Magic.

Very soon Sonea is embroiled in her studies hampered at every stage by the attentions of her fellow students. They have taken exception to having a street dweller in their class and are determined to make life miserable for her.

However these problems are nothing compared to what happens later, when other events take a frightening turn for the worse.

Trudi Canavan continues to embroider a rich tapestry of a story full of colourful and detailed characters. I really lost myself in reading this and found it very hard to tear myself away from its pages.

The story flows wonderfully and you will find yourself torn between hurrying to reach the next page, to find out what happens next, and wanting to linger on the current page, to take it all in, afraid of missing some subtle nuance. I can’t wait to read the last book.

Rating: 8/10

The Black Magician Trilogy:
The Magician's Guild
The Novice
The High Lord

The Magician's Guild - Trudi CanavanThe High Lord - Trudi Canavan

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Seeds of Betrayal – David B Coe

Seeds of Betrayal - David B CoeCategory: Fantasy

This is the second book in the Winds of the Forelands series, after Rules of Ascension.

The story continues with Tavis and Grinsa pursuing Brienne’s killer into the neighbouring kingdom of Aneira. There they discover that Aneira is suffering it’s own problems akin to those plaguing their homeland.

Back home, Lord Kentigern is trying to upset the monarchy by claiming that he did not agree to step aside in favour of the now king. He is claiming that since the Rules of Ascension have been broken, they should be thrown out completely. This has the desired effect of dividing the kingdom between his supporters, the King’s supporters and those who wish to remain, or appear to remain, neutral.

The conspiracy continues to gather momentum, however more and more Eandi are becoming aware of it, and the general mistrust of the Qirsi, and specifically of the advisors, is growing. Added to this are the rumours that the conspiracy is run by a Weaver.

This book continues the massively tangled plots and schemes from the first book. It then proceeds to make things even more complex by moving to a second kingdom with even more characters to keep track of.

Once again I found myself struggling to read and finish this book. It did managed to pique my interest a little in places, but whether sufficiently to make me want to read the rest of the series, remains to be seen.

A good narrative style but an overly convoluted story for my liking.

Rating: 4/10

Winds of the Forelands Series:
1. Rules of Ascension
2. Seeds of Betrayal
3. Bonds of Vengeance (due Feb 28th 2005)
4. Shapers of Darkness (due late 2005)
5. Weavers of War (due 2006)

Rules of Ascension - David B Coe

Monday, February 14, 2005

Rules of Ascension – David B Coe.

Rules of Ascension - David B CoeCategory: Fantasy

I have read this author’s work before in the form of the LonTobin Chronicles, which I really enjoyed, so when I saw new books by him I pounced.

Unfortunately I think the best I can say here is ‘average’.

The story is based in a medieval feudal style society populated by two peoples, the Eandi and the Qirsi. The Qirsi are a race of sorcerers with varying powers who invaded over 900 years before and lost because they were betrayed by one of their own. The powers they command are varied and most only have one or two. Some have all and are known as Weavers, however there have been no weavers since the end of the war as the Eandi have killed then all and their families. Many Qirsi now hold positions of advisors to the dukes of the land and many others travel the land performing gleanings or fatings for it’s people.

However Qirsi born as weavers have learned to hide and so there are actually weavers in the land again and they are not happy with the current status quo.

Oh how I struggled to read this book and I’ve struggled with writing this review. The story is incredibly complex and the first problem I encountered was trying to decide who the main characters are. Once I realised who they were I then discovered that I had absolutely no feelings for them one way or the other, I really didn’t care what happened to them. This is bad; my caring about a character or characters is what makes me keep reading. This was then made worse by the profusion of secondary characters, all of seemingly equal importance. Many of the character names are similar or long and many have titles. This only adds to the confusing nature of this book.

I bought the second book in the series at the same time I bought this one and I have to say, at the end, it did managed to pique my interest sufficiently to make me read the second book. However I also have to say that I will not be reading it again.

If you enjoy books with complex plots and twists and many many characters, then by all means give this one a try, the writing is still good.

Rating: 4/10

Winds of the Forelands Series:
1. Rules of Ascension
2. Seeds of Betrayal
3. Bonds of Vengeance (due Feb 28th 2005)
4. Shapers of Darkness (due late 2005)
5. Weavers of War (due 2006)

Seeds of Betrayal - David B Coe

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Dime Store Magic - Kelley Armstrong

Dime Store Magic - Kelley ArmstrongCategory: Supernatural

I'm not classifying this one as Horror even if you will find it in that section in the bookstore. It's just not.

This follows on from her first two books Bitten and Stolen. If you haven't read them the follow the links for their reviews. You really need to have read them before reading this.

Now, back to the plot, and what a plot it is...

Paige has returned to her life with the Coven taking Savannah with her to be trained, however the Coven Elders don't take to Savannah, despite her Aunt being one of them. So when Leah appears on the scene with a Sorcerer lawyer to serve a notice of proceedings to take custody of Savannah, Paige is told by the Elders that she should let her go.

Paige finds out that the person suing for custody is claiming to be Savannah's father but she is suspicious and vows to fight the battle. However when the Cabals get involved and bring in a couple of half-demons and a necromancer to take custody of Savannah, Paige's home town suddenly gets a rude awakening to her nature and everything starts to go horribly wrong.

With each book I have read in this series I have found myself more and more gripped by the story. This time I found it very difficult to put it down, so much so that when reading on the way home one night, the tram had been stopped at the terminus for a couple of minutes before I realised we were there!

A lot of that comes from the increasing familiarity with the characters. They have always been very well written and after three books they start to feel like family. The writing too just keeps getting better and I can't wait to pick up the fourth book in the series.

Rating: 7/10

The series:
Dime Store Magic
Industrial Magic
Haunted (due out May 2005)

Bitten - Kelley ArmstrongStolen - Kelley ArmstrongIndustrial Magic - Kelley ArmstrongHaunted - Kelley Armstrong