Thursday, July 20, 2017

Memory Lane: "Mort" by Terry Pratchett

I continue my travels back through the Discworld with a book that I still believe is one of Terry Pratchett’s funniest outings, “Mort” ($9.99, HarperCollins).

What happens when Death decides he needs a vacation? Well, he hires an apprentice, of course. Enter Mort, a farmer’s son who thinks way too much for life on the family farm, and his father is only too happy to send him on his way.

His apprenticeship starts rather mundanely in the monotone lands of Death. He meets his new master’s daughter, who seems none too happy to have him around, and his strange servant, Albert. He soon discovers that Death has plans for him.

Things begin to go very wrong, though, when Death turns the Duty over to Mort for a night, and the young man must take the life of Princess Keli of Sto Lat, destined to be killed by an assassin. Smitten with her, Mort changes her fate, causing a ripple in the fabric of reality on the Disc.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" by Patricia McKillip

Even after 30-plus years of reading fantasy, there are still a few icons in the genre that I have not read. One of those was Patricia McKillip. With her World Fantasy Award-winning novel “The Forgotten Beasts of Eld” ($9.99, Tachyon Publications) up for its first e-book release in the near future, I took the opportunity to fix that oversight.

The sorceress Sybel has lived an isolated life in the mountains of Eld, with only the group of legendary beasts that she’s called to her and a nearby medicine woman named Maelga as family. Then a visitor, Coren of Sirle, shows up at her gate with a child. He is believed to be the bastard son of the Queen Rianna, a child that started a war between King Drede of Eldwold and Coren’s kingdom of Sirle.

Sybel takes in the child Tamlorn, who is later discovered to be the rightful son of Drede, and sets off a chain of events that will change her life and the lives of everyone that she touches in a whirl of love, betrayal and vengeance.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Review: "Sins of Empire" by Brian McClellan

Brian McClellan’s latest, “Sins of Empire” ($26, Orbit), takes us several years past the Kez-Adran War and the events of his outstanding Powder Mage Trilogy. The world has changed, but some things stay the same.

Vlora Flint leads the Riflejacks mercenary band, finding her current work in the Fatrastan countryside, putting down Palo uprisings for Lady Chancellor Lindet of Landfall and her enforcer Fidelis Jes, the Grand Master of the Blackhats spy organization. She is summoned back to the city for an unusual job. Vlora and her army are hired to root out and apprehend a revolutionary known as Mama Palo who is sowing discontent in the Palo area of the city, known as Greenfire Depths.

Her liaison with the Blackhats is accomplished spy Michel Brevis, in a much more public role than he prefers. Brevis has risen through the ranks of the organization, and may claim his prestigious Gold Rose through this assignment. That is, if he doesn’t earn a sword through the gut from his psychotic taskmaster Jes first.

Last, but not least, is Mad Ben Styke, a hero accused and convicted by Jes of war crimes. He’s believed to have been executed, but he survived the firing squad and now lives in a labor camp, hoping in vain for his parole. When he doesn’t get it, a mysterious lawyer named Gregious Tampo makes him an offer. All he has to do to earn his release is get close to Vlora and be prepared to do whatever is necessary.