In the main trilogy of the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, Lady Felicienne is one of the "point of view" characters that plays a key role in determining the outcome of the story. This prequel novella gives you some insight into how she acquired her role in service to the Emperor. Lady Felicienne started as a private investigator in the capital city of the Mahruse Empire and her knack for the game Dominion starts to get her noticed. Dominion is a board game that is played across the empire using a board with 3 tiered levels and a wide variety of pieces, making it very complex and strategic. The annual tournament in the capital is so popular that the Emperor himself meets the winner and this event is the backdrop for this novella.
To review a book a read 25 years ago would usually require reading the book again. Perhaps the greatest recommendation I can offer for A Song For Arbonne is that 25 years and thousands of books later I remember it well. Arbonne is land of wine, music, and very fine seaports coveted by its landlocked neighbor Gorhaut. Unfortunately for the aging Countess who rules Arbonne the bulk of her armies belongs to her two dukes who have been on the verge of civil war for years. Enter Blaise of Gorhaut, an ordinary mercenary in the employ of one of Arbonne's lesser barons and let the game of thrones begin.
The time has finally come for humanity to make a last stand against the Phage and they plan to do it in an all or nothing attack that puts everything on the line. This is what Senior Captain Jackson Wolfe has wanted for a while now and the renegade captain is finally going to get his way, so why is he having second thoughts about the plan? It is a dream come true to have a powerful ally in this fight against the Phage but Wolfe knows all too wlel that if something is too good to be true then it probably is.
Sci-fi authors do love their tropes, especially when they write a series focused on the discovery of an overwhelming alien threat, which has been done many times before. Invariably, after it becomes obvious that humanity is not prepared and faces a real possibility of being wiped out, the story turns inward and the human infighting commences. This is also where I sigh as the story goes on a tangent from the storyline that has my attention; however, much like he did in book one, Joshua Dalzelle embraces this typical trope and finds a way to deliver a compelling story anyway. This means that Call to Arms is more about human interactions than it is about the alien threat looming in the distance, but it is still worthy of your attention and it does set things up nicely for the series finale.
I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started this book as I was in a hurry and quickly selected what I thought was a fantasy book from my long list of pending reads. My expectations were initially satisfied as the book started with an assassin named Caine doing what assassins do and I started to get my bearings in this new fantasy world. However, upon completion of his mission Caine was suddenly transported back to a futuristic sci-fi world and I found myself being disappointed that this wasn't the fantasy tale I thought it was. Luckily though, Matthew Stover instead provided me with an interesting cross-genre story that successfully straddled two genres that I love and he won me over in the end with a compelling story.
There is nothing all that unique about Warship. The formula used here has been done before and many of the usual tropes are included: a grizzled captain with secret bottles of alcohol in his closet, dysfunctional leadership back home in command, an old ship that is about to be retired, and one last mission that puts the ship off in a part of space by itself where it comes across a serious threat to humanity. Despite all that, I must admit that Joshua Dalzelle does it all in a way that just works for me. This is solid old school "single ship against crazy odds" sci-fi and when it was all said and done I was eager for more of it
With the events that occurred at the end of book 2, The Shadow of Cincinnatus, the stage was set for an epic showdown between the Federation and the Outsiders. The Federation has stood for over 1,000 years but it is riddled with problems that may not have any answers. Emperor Marius remains dedicated to the ideals of the Federation and he has shown that he will do anything to protect it, but that very attitude is likely to be his undoing. Despite his failing state of mind, and the deep economic and social flaws that are fracturing the Federation, there is still one thing that can ultimately unite them - a fear of subjugation by aliens. Along come the Outsiders who are offering progressive economic and social changes that are attractive to many, but they have allied themselves with multiple alien races and that is a bridge too far. This book reveals once and for all which of humanities many flaws will ultimately dictate the winner in this epic fight for the future.
Guy Gavriel Kay offers up a solid fantasy tale with plenty of plotting and intrigue from cover to cover. The 9 provinces of the Peninsula of the Palm are shattered by war and find themselves split under the rule of 2 sorcerers from foreign lands. Four provinces have fallen to each sorcerer with only one remaining independent, which makes this province the key to the fragile balance of power. This tenuous situation has gone on for almost twenty years and this story tells the tale of the spark that sets off the powder keg.
Marius Drake has always believed in the ideals of the Federation and has done everything within his power to ensure that the human planets stay unified. Marius knows that a strong Federation is required for humans to remain the dominant race in the known universe, so he must make sweeping changes now that the corrupt Grand Senate is a thing of the past. He also can't ignore the threat of the Outsiders out on the Rim. Lucky for him that he has his protege, Roman Garibaldi, who he can send out to the Rim with the main fleet while he takes care of things on Earth. Of course no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy and the Rim is a very long way from Earth.
Right from the start this book thrusts you into the fight for humanity's future as Earth finds itself under assault. Of course Earth is the most heavily defended planet in the human Federation so it is unthinkable that anyone would attack it, which is why the defenders of Earth find themselves so unprepared for such a bold move. The reader experiences the initial battle, and the rest of the story, from two very different perspectives - one being Admiral Marius Drake, who surprisingly finds himself coordinating Earth's defense, and Roman Garibaldi, a promising student in the naval academy who is about to graduate into service. These two men will do their best to maintain the human Federation that has shaped mankind's existence for hundred of years, but ultimately, they will both need to wrestle with the fact that the organization they are fighting for may not be worthy of survival.