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.
As the newly chosen leader, Persephone must find a way to do the impossible and prepare the Rhunes (humans) for war against the Fhrey (elves) and their vastly superior weapons and magic. Not long ago the humans considered the Fhrey to be gods so going to war with them was unthinkable. That all changed when Raithe, now known as "the god killer," proved that the former gods could be slain. With the rebel elf, Nyphron, advising her on one hand, and Raithe offering different advice on the other, Persephone struggles to make the right choices with so much at stake. Ultimately siding against Raithe she decides to go with Nyphron's plan to attempt to take control of Alon Rhist, the elven stronghold on their border. Nyphron believes that this can be done without bloodshed due to his personal standing with the inhabitants, but if he is wrong the war could be over before it even starts. Nyphron seems to be offering good advice to Persephone but he is not without his own agenda. Since Nyphron and the other rebel elves still refuse to kill their kin, when the bloodshed starts it will be up to the humans to determine their own fate.
After giving us some insight into the cultures of the humans and elves in book one, this time around we learn a lot more about the dwarves. War is coming for the Rhunes (humans) and they are ill prepared to fight the elves for many reasons. Already 3 dahls (settlements) have been destroyed, including Dahl Rhen, and new chieftain Persephone finds herself leading her refugees toward Dahl Tirre. It is there that she hopes to summon all the clan chieftains together in order to elect a single ruler, known as a Keenig, to start fighting back. It is this process that exposes the many problems facing the humans, first and foremost of which is that they have very inferior weapons to the elves. This is where the dwarves come in, but unfortunately for Persephone and the other Rhunes the dwarves don't like them and gaining their help is not going to be easy.
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.