Mordant is a kingdom where mirrors function as magical devices capable of viewing other worlds and the Imagers that craft them have the power to translate both the objects and people they see in those mirrors into their own world. Imagers spend years expertly crafting their mirrors to achieve many powerful abilities, both good and evil, but one thing they always avoid making is a flat mirror. That is because anyone who sees their own reflection in a flat mirror, or attempts a translation in one, loses their mind. Imagers are also capable of performing auguries by shattering a mirror into pieces. The resulting shards of the mirror reveal glimpses of the future, although the resulting images are often subject to multiple interpretations. The Congery of Mordant has performed just such an augury and from the resulting images the Masters have concluded that a champion must be translated to save their kingdom from destruction. They have also seen that Apt Geraden, an expendable apprentice of little promise, should be the one to perform that translation. When Geraden enters the mirror to perform the translation he returns not with the expected champion but rather with Terisa Morgan, who he plucked right out of her Manhattan apartment building.
Catherine Asaro's most recent series set in her Skolian Empire continues with Major Bhaajan investigating the sudden disappearance of a wealthy woman from her own party. The house EI, (Evolving Intelligence), has no record of the exact minute she vanished and the destruction of the room almost looks like there was an explosion but there is no body or evidence that she left the house. Bhaajan has little to go on until another woman vanishes. Again the EI has no record and a woman in the next room heard nothing. This time the crime is personal for Lavinda Majda, the one royal that Bhaaj not only respects but actually likes. Thanks to her relationship with the crimelord Jak in the Undercity, Bhaaj slowly begins to unravel a conspiracy hidden among the Empire's elite. They are attempting to use ancient technology leftover from those who originally brought humans to Raylicon six thousand years earlier.
Book 2 of the Quantum Evolution series is an even bigger brain burner than the first one so don't pick this up unless your mind is in the right place. In The Quantum Magician, Belisarius pulled off the biggest con of his career and also walked away with the Time Gates, which could be the most valuable asset in the universe. He is back with Cassandra, the love of his life, and he has a also possibly reached a new state of evolution for his sub-species, the Homo Quantus, as he is the only one capable of seeing the quantum possibilities of the universe without having to enter a fugue state. So things are looking pretty good for him as he approaches the Garret, the homeworld of his people that he left long ago, just in time to see it destroyed before his very eyes.
After the last book ended with the second cliffhanger in a row the time has finally come for resolution. The war has been in the background while Tressa and company have been on their mission to rescue Suri, but the time has come to bring the mission, and the war, to a conclusion. Speaking of Suri, will she be able to escape her Elven captors? Even if she does escape, did she already doom everyone in her efforts to bring about peace? Will Brin get her hands on the Horn of Gylindora and bring it back to Nyphron in time for him to challenge for the throne? Does Malcolm's plan finally come together or does it all fall apart due to the unpredictable nature of people? This book has all the answers to these questions and more as Michael J. Sullivan wraps the series up with a tidy bow and leaves very little unresolved. So if you have enjoyed the series enough to reach this finale then know that you won't be left hanging for an outcome any longer.
Being a Lyctor isn't at all what Harrow expected and Ascension has brought her nothing but grief. The Emperor immediately arranges for some of the resurrected, who have been in stasis for ten thousand years, to be transported to the Ninth, her former House. However, as a Lyctor Harrow has little time to brood over their fate because she must begin preparing to join the other Lyctors in battle against the great Resurrection Beasts. Each beast started as the soul of a planet that was altered by that planet's Resurrection and now Harrow and Ianthe, the other new Lyctor, have only a year to become fully functional or they will likely die when the next Beast is engaged. Of course, that is assuming the other Lyctors don't kill Harrow first.
Because the marketing hype for Gideon appeals more to millennials it led me to avoid this book until I was desperate for something new. The publisher's blurb also gives the impression of yet another teen competition plot albeit with lesbian necromancers and dirty magazines this time. The first chapter does in fact mention dirty magazines, and there are in fact necromancers, but ignore the rest as the Post-Resurrection Empire is a unique and strange setting. The Undying Emperor, father of the resurrection, has spent the last ten thousand years fighting a terrible cosmic threat with the aid of his immortal Lyctors. For the first time he has issued an invitation to the eight noble houses to send their best necromancer, along with their cavalier, to attempt Ascension and become Lyctors to replace the fallen. The brilliant and psychotic necromancer Harrowhark sees this as an opportunity to save the dying Ninth House if she Ascends but first she needs a cavalier. Gideon only cares because the announcement interrupts her latest and best attempt to escape the Ninth and join the army but then Harrowhark offers her an irresistible deal. Help Harrow Ascend and she will not only sign the paperwork so she can legally join the army, but also have Gideon commissioned as an officer.
Age of Death picks up right where the last book ended, which is good since that one had a major cliffhanger ending. However, don't get your hopes up for resolution as Sullivan serves up another such ending this time as well. The characters are now front and center instead of the war and yet the stakes have never been higher. Tressa's group is well on their way through the "hidden passage" to the Elven capitol, where they hope to rescue Suri, but they need arrive before the Elves manage to get the secret of dragon summoning from her. It may already be too late though as Suri has some new Elven allies who have convinced her that teaching their leader to summon dragons is the best way to bring about peace. It isn't clear which choice for Suri will lead to the best outcome but there are plenty of interesting revelations that happen along the way.
What made this series unique at the start was the concept of trying to survive an apocalypse by living in the sky aboard airships. Once the focus moved down to the planet for the last two books there were times when the series felt like it had gone on a bit too long. The same storm related issues continue to arise over and over and the fights with the sirens have gotten old, but each time the story starts to drag a bit it is the characters that save the day. After a slow start to this one I was once again heavily invested in the outcome before it was over due to the characters and my desire to see them succeed. King Xavier has more enemies to fight than ever before, and that is saying something, and that means that humanity's future is as bleak as it has ever been. Certain Cazadores still resist his rule and cause internal strife while even larger external threats are organizing to come and take the Vanguard Islands for themselves. Once more we get a chance to find out if X, aka The Immortal, can live up to his nickname, or if time has finally run out for the dream of living on the surface.
When the second half of the series begins a number of years have passed in the war between the humans and the elves. The humans have pushed the elves back to the Nidwalden river but the tower of Avempartha has prevented them from advancing any further and it has been this way for years. Out on the open plains, the humans rule with their superior numbers and their dragon ally, but within the forest near Avempartha the elves always come out on top in any skirmish. All attempts by the humans to cross the Nidwalden river have resulted in disaster as the magic wielders within Avempartha can easily stop all crossings from afar. It is within this period of frustration that Persephone decides to seek peace with the Elven leader and he agrees to talk, but only on his terms. He will only speak with Suri, the human mystic who summoned the dragon, and he requires her to come alone to the Elven capital. Is this the best hope for a peaceful resolution or is it just a trap that could turn the war against the humans?
Students of military history know that there are fifteen proven ways to defend a walled city. Unfortunately they all require things like catapults, weaponry, and soldiers. What the capitol of the Robur empire has are nice thick walls, five hundred watchmen, a few gardeners, some gladiators, and the Corps of Engineers led by Colonel Felix Orhan. Sadly, they also have an enemy that numbers thirteen thousand with the best armor and swords the empire can buy. Felix could run away and become a farmer somewhere, or even join the enemy since they are also pale skinned "barbarians", but he chooses the third option which involves making up a sixteenth method for defending a walled city.