"Will the magic return?" is a question that has a dual meaning for me when it comes to this book as it applies to both the storyline and the series itself. Those who read the first book, Ice Forged, know that the main characters are on a quest to return magic to their homeland and this book follows through on the resolution of that storyline. However, for me the question also applies to the series itself as the first book started strong but did not maintain my interest level throughout. So I moved on to book two with the hope that the quest would be a successful one and that the magic of this series' strong start would return to my reading experience as well.
Iron Gold, the latest book in the Red Rising series, shows us how the rebellion from Morning Star has resulted in a new age of peace and harmony for mankind. Ummm, no. In truth, the war is far from over and establishing a new Republic is a lot harder than just disposing of the old leaders. The old color-based system is entrenched in society and the concept of accepting everyone as an equal is far from a reality. This is just one reason of many that the newly formed Republic finds that the challenges of peace can be more difficult to overcome than those of all out war.
Kelley Armstrong has been a successful urban fantasy writer for years before she wrote City of the Lost. It might be billed as a sci-fi thriller but the "sci-fi" is definitely a stretch, although, it takes place so far from normal civilization that it has that feel.
Casey Duncan murdered a man. Not in the line of duty as a homicide detective, nor in self defense. She's not even sorry he's dead, although she feels guilty about the lack of guilt, so to speak. Her best friend has an abusive ex-husband who won't leave her alone. Both of them need to disappear for a while and they apply to join a hidden community off the grid. Her friend Diana has no special skills but they desperately need a detective, even one who murdered, because they may have a serial killer. Casey's job is to figure out whodunit in a town where everyone is hiding behind a fake identity to protect their pasts, and some have even bought their way in with criminal pasts far more sordid than Casey's own.
Velant is a penal colony hidden away in the frozen wastes of Edgeland, an inhospitable location on the edge of the world where the King of Donderath sends the convicted of his domain. Those banished to Velant never return, so it is a fate just short of death to be sent there, and for many it turns into a death sentence. The prison is ruled by an oppressive governor who uses his warden mages to keep the prisoners in line and ensure they continue working in the ruby mines. Those prisoners fortunate enough to survive their sentence of servitude in the mines still don't get to return home when they are done, instead they earn a ticket of leave which makes them a colonist in a small town near the prison that remains under the rule of the Governor. This town barely survives at the best of times and during the 6 month long dark season it must rely on the regular supply ships from Donderath to keep everyone alive. However, it seems that those ships have stopped arriving for an unknown reason, and the long dark is approaching...
Nobody can explain why, but it has become almost impossible to murder anyone. 999 times out of 1000 when someone is murdered their body just disappears and they reappear alive and well at home. They have full memory of the events that led to their death and in all other ways they are in the state they were in 12-24 hours prior. Of course this fundamentally changes human society and this short novella tells the story of a "missing person" police investigation taking place within this interesting world.
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.