Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: "Rise of Empire" by Michael J. Sullivan

There’s a fundamental shift in “Rise of Empire” ($14.99, Orbit), the second volume (or, if you want to get technical, the third and fourth books) of Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations.

The first, “Theft of Swords,” was a fun romp with his pair of rogue heroes, the noble Hadrian Blackwater and the less-than-noble Royce Melborn. In “Rise of Empire,” things get a little more serious and involved. But that’s also a good thing.

As the book starts, the royal empire has taken control of most everything. The church has put the puppet empress Modina – known to our heroes as the village girl Thrace who hired them to save her village from a dragon-like creature in the first book – on the throne. Only Melengar and a band of Nationalists stand between the empire and complete domination.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Review: "Phoenix Rising" by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine

I readily admit to not being very well read in the steampunk subgenre, or very interested for that matter, but there a few things that caught my attention about Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine’s “Phoenix Rising” ($7.99, Harper Voyager).

For one, there was a pretty familiar name on the cover. I was part of fantasy writers’ e-mail list with Morris some years ago and was introduced to his other books “Morevi” and “Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword,” both of which I enjoyed, through that list. The main reason, though, was that it just looked like a fun book. And it is.

Wellington Books, the archivist for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences who prefers his files and organization to action, has been kidnapped and whisked to Antarctica by the secret organization the House of Usher. Field agent Eliza Braun is given the task of quietly eliminating the possibility that Books will reveal the ministry’s secrets. When she sees him, though, she has a change of heart and decides to rescue him instead – very loudly and with lots of dynamite.