Following up on his smash hit The Martian, Andy Weir brings us to the Moon instead of Mars this time around, but he does it in the same science heavy sci-fi manner. Set in the near future, this novel focuses on Jazz Bashara, a young woman who barely ekes out a living in the city of Artemis, which just happens to be on the Moon. Jazz has been raised on the Moon from a young age, so living in a coffin sized apartment and eating various flavors of algae is normal to her. However, she is often exposed to the much more extravagant lifestyles of the rich tourists who come to visit, as well as the wealthy business people who also live there, and she wants to move up. Jazz has a plan to make that happen and she has been known to work outside the law as needed when opportunities arise. When the chance of a lifetime comes along in a high-risk, high-reward score, she just can't resist.
The framework is purposely familiar but the unique setting makes this Arthurian based fantasy stand out. There's no evil half siblings and incestuous children here, only quality writing focused on combat mechanics, how the "magical" element works, and the value of self acceptance. Pal is an idealistic young man who dreams of becoming a Champion and performing heroic deeds. He is also a Maker, one who can mentally enter artifacts left from the Ancients and sometimes rebuild them with the necessary minerals. With his homemade Shield, based upon an umbrella, and Weapon, probably a mining drill, he sets off from the rural node of Breune for the capitol of Dun Add to join the Champions with his dog Buck. There has never been a Champion who is also a Maker but he sees that as no obstacle.
I don't ordinarily review books available that are available only in audio format, but since this one is offered up free direct from the Michael J. Sullivan's website, it seems worthy of being mentioned. The Riyria series of books is great Fantasy story telling and the audiobook versions are even better than the written word because Tim Gerard Reynolds does the narration. This short story may only be an hour long but it will certainly give you a taste of what this combination of author and narrator is capable of.
Royce and Hadrian are back and this time Royce's past actions result in a unique opportunity for the duo that is sure to put them at odds. The wealthy merchant Gabriel Winter has tracked down Royce (no easy task) because many years ago he experienced the "Year of Fear" when Royce terrorized his home city of Colnora. He has sought out Royce because he believes that his daughter is dead at the hands of her noble husband and he seeks retribution. He wants those responsible to pay in blood and offers up coin for every body that Royce produces; however, if it it turns out that she is alive then he is also offering a fixed sum for her safe return.
To my dismay Persepolis Rising starts a full thirty years after the end of the previous book, Babylon's Ashes. I found myself instantly unhappy that the writing duo known as James S. A. Corey had decided it was time for the crew of the Rocinante to be getting old. All of a sudden my favorite characters were spending time complaining about the aches and pains associated with aging instead of kicking ass and taking names. Luckily the authors also put forth an intriguing story line that makes it easy to set aside such concerns. When everything goes to hell, Holden and company prove that despite their age, they aren't done just yet.
Brandon Sanderson finally delivered Oathbringer, the highly anticipated third entry in the Stormlight Archive, and amazingly this volume is even bigger than the first two. As the books get bigger so does the scope of the story being told and that is almost hard to believe. Each of these books would be an entire series for many other authors and the truly amazing part is that Sanderson has 7 more entries planned before he is done. This book focuses on Dalinar Kholin and the events throughout his past that shaped the man he has become. Dalinar bears the nickname Blackthorn and it is time to learn why that is.
Daniel Abraham does not disappoint as he delivers an excellent finish to his epic fantasy series The Dagger and the Coin. The war has raged on for 4 books and it is finally time for it to end, one way or the other. The spider priests have led Antea to the brink of destruction and their ability to manipulate the truth has most everyone in the kingdom blind to that fact. As the armies of Antea's enemies close in seeking retribution, Cithrin devises a desperate plan to save the day but it may be too late to pull it off. This one is full of build up that leads to one final gambit with the future of the kingdom of Antea at stake and Daniel Abraham delivers a clever and satisfying conclusion when it all finally plays out.
Daniel Abraham continues to deliver an engaging story as war rages on for Antea. As readers of the series will have guessed by the title, Clara comes to the forefront in this book and house Callium becomes the focal point. Clara has lost her husband to Lord Regent Geder's wrath, one of her sons to Geder's banishment, and a second son to the spider priesthood. The bottom line is that she has had enough and decides to take action to prevent Geder from ruining what little she has left. Underestimate Clara at your own peril.
Book 3 of The Dagger and the Coin series continues the war against the spider goddess with all the main characters back and advancing their storylines as you would expect. The power of the spider goddess priests to always detect when someone is lying is central to the story and this ability takes on new meaning as one starts to realize that the actual truth can take many forms. This fact muddies the water and many of the characters have to adapt their understanding of what the real struggle is. This book is all about those changing perspectives as the "war" is fought in many different ways.
Daniel Abraham really steps it up in book two of The Dagger and the Coin series and he provides the payoff for all of the foundation work that he did in the first book, The Dragon's Path. All of the main characters return and with their background's now firmly established, their storylines all move forward in significant ways. When their paths finally begin to cross then the story really picks up steam as the kingdom of Antea finds itself the likely victim of an ancient prophecy come to life. The spider goddess is finally making her return to the world and she plans to make Antea her new home.