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.