Flights of Fantasy

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