Book Review

Howling Dark - the stakes get bigger in The Sun Eater series

Posted by Lore on Fri, 05/19/2023 - 23:36
Howling Dark Book Cover

Hadrian Marlowe has managed to free himself from his gilded cage and is now in a position to pursue his dream of seeking peace with the Cielcin. For 400 years the Sollan Empire has been at war with the alien Cielcin and it has now become a war that both sides have inherited rather than started. Because of this, Hadrian thinks that if humanity could just find the Cielcin leadership it might be possible to discuss peace with them and end the bloodshed. Rumors indicate that the path to finding the Cielcin lies with first finding the lost planet of Vorgossos, and that is something Hadrian has been pursuing for decades without much success. He has been chasing down one rumor after another and has nothing to show for it except yet another "promising" lead. With the limited support he has from the Empire eroding quickly, Hadrian finds he is at a crossroads. He must either commit treason against the Empire in order for it find peace or give up on his dream and return to his former captivity. For Hadrian Marlowe, that is no choice at all.

Tower Lord - new viewpoints and plotlines for A Raven's Shadow

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 05/13/2023 - 00:28
Tower Lord Book Cover

I really liked Blood Song and was hoping for something similar in its sequel, Tower Lord. The first book was basically Vaelin's life story in his own words. Tower Lord attempts to follow its many plots from all sides which makes it a less coherent novel. The story picks up from the end of Blood Song with Vaelin's return home. As a returning hero, or notorious warrior depending on your point of view, the new King appoints Vaelin as Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches. Vaelin would prefer to search for the missing Brother Frentis, the only dangling plotline from the previous book. Instead he finds himself dealing with aggressive tribes, petty feuds, and a woman out for revenge. One guess which is the most dangerous. Then there is Frentis who finds himself in thrall to a foreign sorceress and Princess Lyra who is determined to find him even if most people think he's dead. The Scribe Venier, who recorded Vaelin's tale in Blood Song, is now serving an Imperial General and relating events as they return the favor and invade Vaelin's country. All of this is the fallout of the traitor and Vaelin's actions in Blood Song but it leaves little room for the character development that was so engrossing in that first book.

Empire of Silence - the start of an epic sci-fi series

Posted by Lore on Fri, 05/05/2023 - 15:26
Empire of Silence Book Cover

The Sun Eater is a series that chronicles the life of Hadrian Marlowe. The official blurb says "The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives - even the emperor himself - against Imperial orders." So this is one of those series where the reader knows that the protagonist is not going to die because he is the one telling the story of his life, something I am not a fan of, but it does come highly recommended so I decided to give it a try. This is a far distant future where Earth has been destroyed and since become the basis of the dominant religion, and humanity has spread among the stars using ships capable of interstellar travel. So it is epic in scope and the quoted blurb sets the stage for big things to happen, but it all starts with Hadrian as a young noble who resents his parents and wants no part of the gilded future that is available to him.

Tongue Eater - strange new worlds abound in Mage Errant Book 6

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 04/29/2023 - 05:52
Tongue Eater Book Cover

Hugh's world has been completely shattered. His teacher Alustin betrayed him and turned Hugh's pact with Kanderon into her downfall. He also stole the cruelest weapon their world has ever produced, the Tongue-Eater, which is capable of stealing a language and rendering its speakers mute for one or more generations. Sabae always suspected that they were a means to an end for Alustin, but not even she predicted his quest for revenge against the Empire would lead to such blatant treachery. With Kanderon presumed dead, and only one injured council member left, Skyhold is broken and leaderless. Hugh is convinced that Kanderon isn't dead and he is willing to do whatever it takes to help her, while his friends concoct a desperate plan to stop Alustin before he unleashes the Tongue-Eater. It's a plan that will literally expose them to multiple new worlds in the process.

Firefly: Carnival - not so easy money

Posted by Lore on Fri, 04/21/2023 - 22:50
Firefly: Carnival Book Cover

Firefly: Carnival is the 6th book in the series, but chronologically it would be first because the events in it occur during the time of the original TV series. That makes it a pretty standalone novel with a unique setting for telling a fun story because the planet Bethel has a definite Las Vegas vibe going for it. On Bethel, Carnival is approaching and that means three days of non-stop partying, but that's not the reason why the crew of Serenity have arrived there. Mal and crew have taken on a security job that requires them to guard an important shipment of minerals, which should be a piece of cake. Of course, even when Mal is trying to be on the right side of the law, things don't go according to plan. The shipment is stolen and the crew of Serenity finds themselves split up, with two of them taken hostage by the owner of the lost shipment. If Mal doesn't come up with the 500 platinum required to pay for the shipment, then those two will be executed, and local law enforcement won't do anything about it. This puts the rest of the crew at odds and it results in a lot of arguing over what the plan should be. When that fails to produce a viable option, multiple schemes are taken on by various crew members, each trying to earn some quick money before it is too late.

The Siege of Skyhold - epic battles in Mage Errant, Book 5

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 04/15/2023 - 04:41
The Siege of Skyhold Book Cover

Hugh and his friends survived the City of Ithos but Hugh was badly injured in the process. Kanderon's enemies are coming for her, the Splinter, and the Tongue-Eater, which she's had since she originally used the Splinter. She keeps it in the Skyhold Vault with the other things that should never be used. That is, after all, the true purpose of the Librarians Errant of Skyhold, to collect dangerous items and remove them from the world. Back at Skyhold they are preparing the defenses but with most of the Council killed by Bakori there is one wounded councilor, one admitted traitor, and Kanderon who has been gone dealing with Ithos. They may be weaker than usual but Kanderon built Skyhold with strong defenses and she has strengthened her alliance with the other Powers of the Erg desert even if many of them cannot leave their territories.

Memory's Legion - more stories from the Expanse universe

Posted by Lore on Sat, 04/08/2023 - 02:16
Memory's Legion Book Cover

I rarely read or listen to novellas, even when I like the series they are a part of, because they are usually too short to be satisfying. I am also of the mindset that if the stories were any good then they would have found their way into the full length books of the series. However, when I really like the series and the author puts out a collection of the short stories/novellas as a full sized book, then I will sometimes bite. I did that for The First Law series and it turned out just ok. So with no other options available for more stories in The Expanse universe I decided to give Memory's Legion a try. It contains 8 short stories that are spread across almost the entire story arc of The Expanse, and for the most part they are all worth your time. Some start a bit slow but once you get your bearings then each one is interesting enough and they are actually long enough to feel relatively complete. So if you want to spend some more time with Amos Burton, Bobbie Draper, or Fred Johnson then here's your chance.

The Lost City of Ithos - its return might be the end of the world (Mage Errant 4)

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 04/01/2023 - 03:27
The Lost City of Ithos Book Cover

Sabae thought that Kanderon and Alustin used her and her friends as bait for the demon Bakori, but it turns out that Bakori was not really considered a serious threat. Kanderon and Alustin admit they were wrong about that but they were actually busy preparing for a far worse threat. Given that hundreds of students and most of Skyhold's powerful council died to Bakori, that's saying something. No one knows why the ancient Ithos Empire that once conquered the entire continent suddenly fell apart hundreds of years ago. It fell because they killed the mate and children of a young sphinx named Kanderon who then used her crystal and planar affinities to create what she calls the Splinter, which exiled the capitol of Ithos to a far distant world. She knew it wouldn't last forever but hoped the population would die before the Splinter ran out of power and the city returned. There's no way of knowing when it will reappear, but more than one faction wants to be there when it does. An Empire that opposes the Great Powers like Kanderon wants both the Splinter as well as the Ithos weapon known as the Tongue-Eater. Unfortunately Ithos poses a far greater danger than those powerful items. Kanderon later learned of a race known as the Cold Minds, that devour whole worlds in an effort to escape death. When Ithos returns there is a good chance it will bring the Cold Minds with it, and they devour whole worlds.

Hell Divers X: Fallout - screw saving humanity, it's time for revenge

Posted by Lore on Sat, 03/25/2023 - 03:33
Hell Divers X: Fallout Book Cover

I've felt for a while now that this series has gone on for too long, but after the shocking events of the last book I must admit that I have been eagerly waiting for this one. Fallout is also an excellent title because fans of the series know that Rolo's shocking betrayal is going to result in King Xavier becoming an unstoppable force bent of revenge. X is old, and he is losing the support of many of those around him, but he is called The Immortal for a reason. Rolo thinks X is dead so he has no clue what his actions have initiated. Of course Rolo's betrayal was the most devastating event of the last book but it wasn't the only thing that went sideways. Michael has also been deposed as leader of the Vanguard Islands by Charmer and Roger is MIA after the fall of Outpost Gateway. It all adds up to humanity being on the brink of extinction but I don't really care about any of that, Rolo needs to die.

The Fires of Vengeance - the time for revenge has come

Posted by Lore on Fri, 03/17/2023 - 23:59
The Fires of Vengeance Book Cover

Queen Tsiora is a young and unproven leader, so her willingness to ignore the caste system of the Omehi people is making her a lot of enemies. She prefers to name the most capable people to key roles and that includes Tau, who has been named Queen's champion even though he is a lesser. Decisions like that have sparked a rebellion as the Noble caste resists her changes and offers up her sister as the "true queen." This would be problem enough for any ruler, but it is happening at a time when the Omehi people are about to be attacked by a stronger enemy, so fighting amongst themselves is only going to result in their ultimate doom. This dire scenario is bad for the Omehi people, but it is an opportunity for Tau. This infighting provides him a path to the revenge he seeks against Abasi Odili, the Noble who killed his father. Abasi is leading the rebellion in order to maintain the status quo that gives him a permanent advantage over lessers like Tau, and therefore Queen Tsiora has ordered Tau to kill him. That will be no easy task but Tau is ready to sacrifice everything, and everyone, to make it happen.