Southern Fire

Although I haven't read her other books, I have to presume that, with the amount of critical praise she's received, the previous books are better than this one. Southern Fire isn't a bad story, it's just there isn't anything memorable about it.

Daish Kheda, warlord of the Daish territory in the archipelago, sets out on a dangerous journey seeking a way to defeat the barbarians invading the neighboring territory using forbidden magic, without tainting himself by exposure to that magic.

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Mon Jul 18 13:22:23 CDT 2005 by storm2013. Comments

Smoke and Mirrors

This is the follow-up to Smoke and Shadows, and while much of the prior criticism remains the same, there are some good points this time around. The plot is something one would expect to see in a really bad horror movie: while filming an episode of the vampire detective show in a haunted mansion, the crew gets trapped inside by some evil power, and must survive until sunrise. Another formula plot, though the author pulls it off as well as can be expected. The characters though, even the hero, Tony, are cardboard cutouts rather than distinct personalities.

However, like a cheesy horror movie, Smoke and Mirrors is actually mildly entertaining, as long as a reader doesn't expect too much. The descriptions of the ghosts, whom Tony is forced to watch relive their deaths over and over, are suitably scary. Like characters in bad horror movies, these characters insist on doing phenomenally stupid things, inducing a reader to want to yell at
them. The main entertainment in reading this book - it's very funny. Tanya Huff fires off one-liners fast and furiously; some of them real gems, until the comedy actually becomes tiring.

Basically, if you are looking for an easy read that doesn't require any investment of thought or emotion on your part, and you like a mix of comedy and horror, this book may be an amusing option.

Wed Jul 13 13:04:03 CDT 2005 by storm2013. Comments

Queen of the Darkness

The final installment of the Black Jewels trilogy is by far the darkest and most intense. Those seeking to control Jaenelle attempt to start a war between the realms. Chafing at her refusal to fight, Jaenell's friends withdraw from her, believing her a coward. They forget that Jaenelle has absolutely no problem killing, usually rather...explosively.

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Mon Jul 11 11:43:19 CDT 2005 by storm2013. Comments

Heir to the Shadows

Heir to the Shadows, the second book of Anne Bishop's the Black Jewels trilogy, continues the story of Jaenelle, prophesied Dark Queen. Jaenelle has been rescued from her family's betrayal, injured in body and spirit, and slowly heals under Saetan's legal guardianship.

Daemon, fated to be her Consort, sacrificed himself to save and heal her, and is lost to madness as he wanders the realms. Only Jaenelle can bring him back, but, still traumatized by her ordeal, she doesn't even remember him.

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Mon Jul 11 11:31:39 CDT 2005 by storm2013. Comments

For the fantasy buffs...

An organization called ARMA, devoted to rediscovering ancient European martial arts, has spent some time and electrons testing various medieval weaponry and armor on pot roasts and the like.

Hat tip to Hell in a Handbasket.

Mon Jul 11 00:18:24 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

First draft of Dzur complete...

Yesterday I climbed into my hot tub with a bar of dark chocolate, some cashews, and a bottle of cheap champagne (Korbel). I discovered to my horror and disgust that I have somehow aquired enough of a taste for champagne that I can no longer afford it; the Korbel just didn't cut it. But what the hell. The occasion was the completion of the first draft of Dzur. Now, on to revisions.
Dzur is, or will be, the latest in Brust's Vlad Taltos series.

UPDATE: The author has stated that he thinks the book is scheduled for Spring 2006.  That sounds about right.  Looking forward to it!

Sun Jul 10 01:04:35 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Electronic Echoes of the Mind

I thought I'd read through the sample chapter; it's only fair to give an advertiser a fair chance.  My expectations were fairly low (it's the ebook thing; it's sufficiently cheap to publish an ebook that just about anyone can do it), and as a result I was pleasantly surprised.  The author has a good feel for humor and dialogue, both vocalized and internalized, albeit with some rough edges that a good editor could smooth over. 

If I ever see a physical copy, I think I'll browse a bit more.  It might be worth it.

Tue Jul 05 03:10:31 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

The Whim of the Dragon

Legend says that only three things can destroy the Secret Country: the Border Magic, the Crystal of the Earth, and the Whim of the Dragon. Only the last remains, as the five children are summoned once more to the land of their own make-believe. This time, however, it will be different. For as they fled at the end of The Hidden Land, the note they left behind will reveal them as imposters. Even a land of make-believe will not take well to being told what it is, and with the children they replaced among the dead, a charitable reception is unlikely.

Yet there are still mysteries to be unraveled. Is the Secret Country real, or merely a figment of the imagination? Who brought them there, and what was their purpose? To answer these questions, the children must face the whim of the dragon...

This final volume in the trilogy continues the solid storytelling and quality prose of the first two, while successfully answering many of the questions a more critical reader has been posing all along.

Tue Jul 05 02:25:31 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

The Hidden Land

The Hidden Land is the second novel in Pamela Dean's The Secret Country trilogy. Having accepted the Secret Country as real enough for the moment, the children must rise to meet the challenges they invented in the roles they were so eager to play in safe imagination. Yet they must do so without most of the strength and skills of the characters they are playing.

Prince Edward, the eldest of the five, now rules a country on the brink of war with the Dragon King. Painfully aware that he is only acting a role, he must lead his forces to victory while avoiding the growing suspicions of those around him. For if he is not Prince Edward, what has been done with the real Prince?

Tue Jul 05 02:13:14 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

The Secret Country

For 9 years, a group of five children have played what they call the Secret: a hidden world of make-believe, whose universe they have created for themselves, filled with dragons and unicorns and kings and dire plots and sorcerers both kind and cruel. All goes well as they wile out their summer hours inventing and improvising and practicing their lines, until one summer the children, now teenagers, are split up. It should be the end of the Secret, at least for that summer, and so it seems to be... until one of the children stumbles upon a magic sword lying within a hedge, and crawls through to discover herself in another world. The world of the Secret, their make-believe land suddenly turned horribly, wonderfully, real.

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Tue Jul 05 02:02:57 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Blood Price

A killer stalks the streets of Toronto. It kills by night; it drains its victims of blood. The papers scream vampire. But Vicki Nelson, ex-cop turned private investigator, doesn't believe in vampires. At least, not unless someone's willing to pay her to believe in them -- and it can't hurt to have one more person on the case, even if the killer turns out to be human. Somehow, though, in a fantasy novel it never does...

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Tue Jul 05 01:41:32 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Draegaera timeline updated...

It's now current through the end of Sethra Lavode.

Sun Jul 03 19:39:16 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Water Sleeps

Disaster. Betrayed by the rulers of Taglios at the very gates of the Glittering Plain, betrayed again as those few surviving members of the Old Company are just beginning to explore the mysteries they have long sought. Only Goblin and One-Eye of the Old Company have escaped the trap, joining with their Taglian brothers to continue the battle. Water Sleeps, the Book of Sleepy, details that struggle as it takes on the quality of a guerilla war. The Black Company are but a few men in hiding, but the Black Company will neither forget their fellow soldiers trapped beneath the Glittering Plain, nor forgive the betrayals that put them there.

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Categories Glen Cook

Sun Jul 03 15:02:28 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

She Is The Darkness

This, the Second Book of Murgen, continues to make use of Smoke's unusual talents to provide a broad perspective to the Annalist's recording of events following the end of the Dejagore siege. With the Black Company reunited with its Captain in Taglios, the time for the invasion of the Shadowlands has come, and preparations are moving rapidly. The intrigue is moving rapidly as well, for the Black Company has a long memory for betrayal, and the rulers of Taglios are beginning to think that their allies may just be worse than their enemies.

She Is The Darkness settles down considerably compared to the somewhat unsteady narrative in Bleak Seasons. As with the rest of the Black Company books, the prose is workmanlike rather than poetic, the narrative voice of a soldier rather than a artist. Yet the strength of the characters and plot shines through clearly, providing an engrossing tale of the infamous mercenary company just one step short of their long quest for Khatovar.

Sun Jul 03 14:21:06 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Sorcery Rising

Imagine a world in which Europe does not exist; the Vikings (Eyrans) trade directly with the Muslims (Istrians) at the fabled Allfair, and the Footloose, nomadic gypsy peddlers familiar from a myriad of traditions, converge to swindle them both with false magic, tall tales, and petty thievery. To the Allfair come the cast of characters, seeking adventure, excitement, a beautiful southern wife... and, of course, a handsome profit.

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Sat Jul 02 00:32:23 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

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