Thursday, April 25, 2019

Review: "Grey Sister" by Mark Lawrence

One of the most glaring absences in my 2018 reading was Mark Lawrence’s “Grey Sister” ($7.99, Penguin). Lawrence’s books have been a fixture of my end-of-year favorite reads list going back to 2011, but he was missing last year simply because I didn’t get to it. I’m happy to say I’ve remedied that, and with three more books this year, I could make up for it by giving him multiple spots on the 2019 list. This one certainly earns one entry.

Nona has moved up a class at Sweet Mercy, and her troubles start on her very first day in the new dorm. She runs afoul of a Joeli Namsis, a member of one of the ruling families who wields great influence at the convent and has it in for her new classmate. She has the power to make Nona’s life miserable and possibly even get her banished, which could turn out to be a death sentence since the Tacsis family still wants vengeance for a son slain by her hand in battle.

External forces are not Nona’s only problem. Tortured by the death of her friend Hessa, she continues to explore the caves beneath the convent looking for a clues to find Yisht, who stole the shipheart and killed Nona’s friend in the process. Keot, a blood-thirsty demon who possessed her after the killing of Raymel Tacsis, doesn’t make things any easier for her as he urges her to choose the violent solution to any issue.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Review: "Son of a Liche" by J. Zachary Pike

Disgraced hero Gorm Ingerson and his dysfunctional party are outlaws, but they may also be the only hope against an army of the undead in J. Zachary Pike’s “Son of a Liche” ($5.99, Gnomish Press).

Caught in a set up at the end of the previous book, “Orconomics,” Gorm and his band are hiding from the law, but there are bigger threats than assassins’ contracts and the rewards plastered everywhere on badly-drawn posters.

The heroes follow the trail of the Guz’Varda tribe of orcs to try to make amends for the disastrous consequences of their last quest. But the Guz’Varda have joined the Red Horde, a band of shadowkin set on returning to the old ways of violence and pillaging. At the same time, the necromancer Detarr Ur’Mayan (who happens to be the father of the band’s noctomancer, Jynn) has raised an army of the undead and is marching across the kingdoms, aggressively recruiting on the way.

The outlaws may have the secret to stopping both threats, but they’re not going to make any friends among the world’s powers that be by doing it.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Review: "Iron Gold" by Pierce Brown

Thanks to reduced reading time in 2018, there were some big books on the stack, from authors that I really love, that I didn’t get to read. Unfortunately, as you can see from the time between reviews, that’s carried over into 2019, but I’m trying to make up for it.

I’m starting with Pierce Brown’s “Iron Gold” ($17, Del Rey).

It’s been 10 years since Darrow led the revolution that overthrew the reigning Golds and was supposed to create equality for all of the colors. But things haven’t worked out as planned. The fledgling republic finds itself still entrenched in a long and bloody war, and many are weary. The prosperity intended for the low colors has not come to fruition with many living in poverty and squalor. The situation has led to a new faction in the republic, the Vox Poppuli, with Darrow’s one-time friend and ally Dancer at the forefront in the senate.

Darrow is also tired and determined to win the war once and for all. To that end, he drops an iron rain on Mercury, in direct defiance of a senate order to stand down, and plans to take the battle to Venus to put an end to the Ash Lord once and for all. His actions, though, set events in motion that may turn the republic’s greatest hero into its most-wanted outlaw.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Review: "The Armored Saint" by Myke Cole

Not being much of a military SF fan, I hadn’t read Myke Cole until the Tor newsletter offered “The Armored Saint” ($14.99, Tor) as a holiday gift to subscribers recently. It arrived just as I was finishing my previous read, and being a metal fan, I couldn’t resist the title. (I don’t know Cole’s musical preferences, but I like to at least think it’s a reference anyway.)

Heloise has grown up in a small village under an oppressive theocratic regime. The Order roams the land, striking fear into everyone, as they hunt and kill those who use magic. “Suffer no wizard to live” is the mantra, and with good reason. Magic can open a portal to Hell and allow demons into the world. At least, that’s what Heloise has always been told.

Then she and her family are called upon to participate in an act known as a Knitting where they are the last line of defense against a village the Order has judged to be tainted by a wizard. What she sees on that night rocks her to her core.

Monday, December 31, 2018

My favorite reads of 2018

There’s not a lot to recap as the calendar runs out on 2018. It was a slow and strange reading year for me. It was a year of less reading time and more DNFs than I can ever remember. I probably abandoned more books than I finished.

Wrapping up

Even some of those that I stayed with disappointed. A couple of series that I had enjoyed in the past came to very unsatisfying conclusions for me, but I felt I had to see them through. One bright spot in the series conclusions is also the first of my favorite reads of the year (not No. 1, mind you, just the first to be mentioned).

“Assassin’s Fate” by Robin Hobb. This was a very bittersweet book for me, so much so that I put off reading it for a long time after its release. I’ve known and loved FitzChivalry Farseer for more than two decades, and I felt certain this would be my last journey with him. It was not a perfect book nor the best in his tale, but it was, at least, a satisfying conclusion.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Freebies: "Christmas Eve" by Jim Butcher

Just in case you guys missed it like I did on Christmas Eve, Jim Butcher released a new Harry Dresden story in the spirit of the holiday season.

Still hopeful that we'll see "Peace Talks" in the coming year, but it's a really good story and some Dresden is better than no Dresden.

Read it here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Review: "Wrath of Empire" by Brian McClellan

In a year where I have almost as many DNFs as finished reads, it’s nice to have a few authors you know you can count on. Brian McClellan is one of those, and “Wrath of Empire” ($27, Orbit), the second book in his Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy, did not disappoint.

The Dynize have occupied Landfall and have their sights set on the rest of Fatrasta and the remaining godstones so that they can resurrect their fallen god. Taniel Two-Shot, known as the Red Hand, and his companion Ka-Poel, a Dynize bone-eye sorcerer, are determined to see that doesn’t happen, and he’s using every resource he has available.

In Landfall, Michel Brevis is working with the remaining Blackhats, despite having betrayed them, to try to get families smuggled out of the city and to safety as the Dynize round them up. When he gets a visit from Taniel, his mission changes. He’s to find a Dynize informant named Mara and get her out of the city. When his cover is blown, he finds himself in bed with the enemy to try to complete his mission.