The cruise ship Intrepid is just about out of fuel and this forces their hand even though they would prefer to remain far away from land at this point. A nearby island has offered to trade fuel for food, and they claim they have not been affected by the rage virus, but can these islanders actually be trusted? It really doesn't matter because with the number of Parasitics locked up on the ship if they run out of fuel then they will no longer be able to keep them contained. The monitoring of the Parasitics has also revealed some very disturbing behaviors that show they aren't just mindless killers and then of course there are the Symptomatics - infected individuals who are able to hold back the rage from taking control. With few guns on board and threats inside the ship and out it is clear that the situation has reached the breaking point.
The Age of Myth kicks off a new series from Michael J. Sullivan and it takes place thousands of years before the excellent Riyria Chronicles. The Fhrey are a race of elves with a 3 thousand year long lifespan, although their numbers are rather limited, and the humans have worshipped them as gods for as long as anyone can remember. The humans, known as Rhunes, are rather backwards when compared with the Fhrey, but they do multiply at a much higher rate. This is why the Fhrey ensure that the Rhune numbers are kept in check by keeping the various clans constantly at war with other. All of it adds up to a that life is full of hardship for the various human clans, including limited food. A lack of local game causes Herkimer and his son Raithe to risk venturing into Fhrey territory and there they encounter one of their gods, a Fhrey named Shegon. This meeting does not go well for them since they should not be where they are and it is the spark that sets into motion events that make war between the Rhunes and the Fhrey an almost certain outcome.
Once again the galaxy's strangest inhabitants are staying at Getrude Hunt Inn but at least Dinah now has Sean to help her control the chaos. Sweep With Me is somewhere between a novella and a full length book and takes place at the same time as book four. Dinah is still recovering from the traumatic events and dealing with the consequences of what happened in One Fell Sweep. First she has to get through the three days of the Treaty Stay, the annual celebration where the Inns honor the galactic treaty that protects Earth. During those three days the Inn must accept any guest including a flock of Koo-Ko (space chickens) trying to settle a religious debate, an infamous Medamoth warlord claiming he's on a pilgrimage, and one of the mysterious Drifan from another dimension. Its a mix of the serious and ridiculous that culminates in an epic display of power that Dinah and Sean have to keep hidden from the rest of Earth.
The second book picks up right where the first one left off with things seemingly settled down aboard the cruise ship Intrepid but with a flock of infected birds headed their way. The ship has come to grips with the fact that animals all around the world have become violent and after finally containing their own pet related issues they are starting to think that being at sea is going to be a real advantage. Then the birds attack and they come to the realization that the rage disease not only turns animals violent but it can also infect humans. These humans come to be known as Parasitics and they are just as bloodthirsty as their animal counterparts. Now being aboard that cruise ship isn't quite the advantage they thought it might be.
Guy Gavriel Kay has written many good books but my favorite is The Lions Al-Rassan. As always with Kay the writing is superb, the world feels completely real, and the characters are compelling. Religion, politics, poetry, and three memorable characters are all about to collide and be torn apart as Al-Rassan is poised to fall under a weak king. Centuries ago the Asharites, fanatic worshipers of the Stars, came across the sea from their desert land and conquered Al-Rassan. Ammar ibn Khairan is a poet, warrior, and an advisor to kings. He is also an assassin on behalf of those kings. But Al-Rassan cares more for commerce these days than faith and the desert fanatics see them as little better than infidels and consider Ammar one of the worst. Rodrigo Belmonte is a noted general of one of the three Jaddite kingdoms that border Al-Rassan to the north. The Jaddite horsemen, followers of the Sun, are restless and want more glory, more land, and to exterminate the Kindath, who worship the Moons, and are tolerated in civilized Al-Rassan. Jehane bet Ishak, a Kindath physician, finds herself caught between gathering armies and two great men as the three of them are thrown together one fatefull night just before their world crumbles.
Ted and TJ Williams almost miss their transatlantic cruise due to a volcanic eruption and the resulting impact on air travel throughout Europe. As they adapt their travel plans to reach their ship on time there are a number of curious events going on around them. First there is a dog attack that occurs when they are picking up their rental car, which is particularly impactful to TJ who was traumatized by a dog attack in her past. Then there is an aggressive flock of birds that kills an elderly couple and finally as they board their cruise ship there is a pack of rats that terrorizes the port and causes the massive ship to set off early without the full complement of passengers and crew. At this point Ted starts to piece together the relationship between the volcanic eruption and the animal behavior and he thinks that sailing across the Atlantic might have saved them from a real disaster until the news starts coming in about volcanoes erupting all around the world.
An alien fleet was on the way to take our planet since early in the first book and most of the story thus far has been focused on the struggle between the aliens already here and our attempts to prepare for that bigger invasion. Things have change greatly for the nations of Earth since we became aware of the threat and the geo-political landscape is no longer the same. TASC, the independent entity responsible for preparing our defense and affiliated with no country, has no qualms about using advanced technology to manipulate the countries of the world into supporting its agenda. At first I thought it was nice to see this independent agency running things to avoid the usual in fighting between countries, but since TASC is made up of humans of course it happens anyway. With the moment of the alien arrival now finally here, is the reader rewarded with a payoff worth all the time invested in the series so far?
Given that this is Brandon Sanderson it is no suprise that the world and magic of Warbreaker are both unique. However, he wanted this book to be the opposite of what he did in the Mistborn trilogy so it is messy, chaotic, and full of surprises. There are four distinct point of view characters. Siri, the unwanted princess who is sent to marry a king that was born dead. Vivenna, the responsible princess who prepared for that marriage and thinks she can rescue her sister by inciting a rebellion. Susebron, the God King, who was stillborn and Returned, hides his self-doubt under an indolent and irreverent attitude. And finally, there is the enigma Vasher, the mysterious man with an unknown agenda but amazing skill in the magic called Awakening. In the city of T'Telir the enemy is well hidden, no one is what they seem, and accepted knowledge is often the opposite of truth.
Now that the threat of a deadly alien virus being dropped from space has been eliminated the focus turns towards finding the remaining alien agents. Eight alien agents arrived in secret during the first book and they all assumed human identities allowing them to seamlessly blend into the population. But after two of those agents decided to fight on the side of humanity the odds are quite different. The double agents were able to take out two others before their betrayal was discovered but so that leaves four remaining but it won't be so simple to deal with the rest. With a massive alien fleet already en route to the Earth we have only ten years left to prepare and the remaining four alien agents will do everything they can to make sure we aren't ready.
This series continues to develop both in seriousness and entertainment with Blade being the snarkiest yet. At the end of book three Arland, who swears he's nothing but a simple warrior, eloquently asked Maude to marry him. She said, maybe? Arland is the epitome of a young male vampire and the pride of his House and Maude has experience with being the human bride among vampires. She wants to make sure that his House, and especially his mother Lady Ilemina, accept her and her half vampire daughter Helen. They both arrive on his home planet in the midst of a treaty wedding between two rival Houses being hosted by House Krahr as a neutral third party. They are of course up to something and have set their sights on House Krahr's shiny new mobile battle station. In a culture where the wrong words require a duel to the death Maude finds herself playing the clueless human to draw them out.