Friday, December 05, 2014

Review: "Veil of the Deserters" by Jeff Salyards

Events begin to take shape and become a little more clear in Jeff Salyards’ second volume of Bloodsounder’s Arc, “Veil of the Deserters” ($24.99, Night Shade Books).

I was intrigued by the first book in the series, “Scourge of the Betrayer,” and the way that Salyards slowly doled out information to our viewpoint character, the scribe Arki. In this volume, Arki has gained more confidence from his commander Braylar Killcoin and the other soldiers and isn’t quite as in the dark.

In the midst of a plot to cause chaos in a neighboring kingdom, Braylar and his Syldoon warriors receive surprising visitors. A pair of Memoridons – memory witches – arrive to order the company back to their homeland in the name of the new emperor.

One of the Memoridons, Soffjian, just happens to be Braylar’s sister, but the reunion is not a happy one. The siblings are uneasy in each other’s company at best, and openly hostile toward each other at worst. Unfortunately, Soffjian may be Braylar’s only hope for surviving his cursed flail Bloodsounder.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: "Fool's Assassin" by Robin Hobb

It’s been a little while since we’ve caught up with FitzChivalry Farseer. At the end of 2003’s “Fool’s Fate,” it seemed that his tale might be done. But 11 years later, Robin Hobb returns to the tale of our favorite reluctant royal bastard assassin in “Fool’s Assassin” ($28, Random House), the first volume of The Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

Fitz has retired to a quiet life at Withywoods as holder Tom Badgerlock. He’s married to his childhood love Molly and has little to do with the politics of Buckkeep Castle any more, even though his former mentor Chade Fallstar keeps trying to drag him back in.

While he misses his old friend, the Fool, terribly, life is mostly good for him, but things can change quickly and Fitz is about to be reminded of that.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Review: "The Red Magician," by Lisa Goldstein

Though it was a National Book Award winner in 1983, the recent reissue of Lisa Goldstein’s “The Red Magician” ($7.99, Open Road Media) was my introduction to the tale.

Kicsi, a young Jewish girl living in Hungary during World War II, dreams of adventure and exotic locales. So she’s naturally taken with a strange, red-haired wanderer calling himself Voros who comes to town and is invited by her father to dine with the family. Voros has traveled the world, and Kicsi longs to hear about his adventures.

Voros gets on the bad side of the controlling local rabbi when he breaks a curse the rabbi has placed on Kicsi’s school because they teach classes in Hebrew and because of Voros’ attempts to warn the people of the town that disaster is coming.

The feud is the talk of the town, but the evil that’s about to descend on Kicsi’s family and friends will make the skirmish between the two magicians seem unimportant.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Review: "Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues," by Diana Rowland

I was looking for a quick, fun read for a busy week when I remembered how much I enjoyed Diana Rowland’s first White Trash Zombie book. It just so happened that I had the second, “Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues” ($7.99, DAW) loaded on my Nook, and my decision was made.

Becoming a zombie has been good for Angel Crawford. Once a drug addict and on probation for possession of a stolen car, she’s turned her life around. She’s straightened herself out, found a steady job that she enjoys at the coroner’s office – which has the added benefit of giving her access to the brains she needs to survive – and is even dating a police officer.

But as with most things in Angel’s life, that peaceful existence can’t last for long. A mysterious death at a local research lab rocks her world after the body that she’s delivering to the morgue is stolen from her at gunpoint. The event puts Angel in the headlines and pulls her deeper into the complicated politics of the zombie world.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: "Red Rising" by Pierce Brown

When I started Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” ($25, Del Rey), I spent a lot of time thinking that I’d read this book before. By the end, though, Brown had used some great storytelling to leave me hanging on every word.

Darrow is a Red, the lowest rung on the social ladder. He’s a miner in a colony on Mars, but not just any miner. Darrow is a Helldiver, which means he goes into the dangerous caverns – filled with explosive gases and deadly pit vipers – to harvest all-important Helium-3. He and his kind are pioneers, collecting the element that makes terraforming possible and paving the way for the human race to colonize the stars, where all of the Colors will live in harmony.

Or so he’s been told.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Legend of Drizzt: "The Third Level," read by Greg Grunberg

I hit the first bump on my audiobook journey with the third tale of this collection, “The Third Level,” read by Greg Grunberg of Heroes and Alias.

The story focuses on one of Drizzt Do’Urden’s arch-enemies, the thief and assassin Artemis Entreri. “The Third Level” tells of Entreri’s early years in Calimport and his meteoric rise from a teenage street thug in a poor neighborhood to a lieutenant in Pasha Basadoni’s thieves guild.

The story establishes the cunning and commitment of the young Entreri, and gives us a few glimpses of both the life that led him down this path and the ruthless man that he will one day become.

I always liked Entreri, as his mind seemed just as sharp as his blades, and I looked forward to the times when he locked horns with Drizzt because they always made for some magnificent combat scenes – one of R.A. Salvatore’s greatest strengths.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: "Hollow World" by Michael J. Sullivan

I almost didn’t want to read Michael J. Sullivan’s “Hollow World” ($15.95, Tachyon Publications).

Don’t get me wrong. I love Sullivan’s work. His tales of the Riryia are some of my favorite fantasy discoveries of recent years – the kind of rousing, old school adventure tales that brought me to the genre in the first place. Now, he suddenly shifts to science fiction, a genre that I don’t read often and am very picky about what I do read.

But the Riryia tales were too good for me not to give “Hollow World” a go, and, oh man, wow.

Ellis Rogers leads an unhappy life. He’s stuck in a loveless marriage and has been since the suicide of his son, a tragedy that he’s still trying to cope with. Now, he’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is looking at six months if he’s lucky.

During his years of misery, Ellis has secretly built a time machine in his garage. With the news of his impending death, he decides to go against his character, throw caution to the wind and crank up the machine for a trip 200 years into the future. He misses slightly.