Series Review

The Troy Rising series - Tyler Vernon to the rescue!

Posted by Lore on Fri, 05/26/2023 - 22:06
Live Free or Die Book Cover

The Troy Rising series is a humorous take on the standard Sci-Fi scenario of humanity's first contact with an alien race. As is often the case, things don't go well for Earth as we are outclassed both technologically and militarily when the Horvath come to claim our resources. Earth's governments have no recourse but to comply to the alien demands, and Earth becomes a subservient planet. The Horvath control the space orbitals and there is nothing that humans can do from the planet to fight their way free. Enter Tyler Vernon, entrepreneur and maple syrup king, into the story and things start to change. Tyler Vernon not only steps up to save Earth, but he also saves this entire series of books. He is an interesting, opinionated character that isn't willing to allow Earth to remain slaves to the Horvath. Any time the  series focuses on Tyler Vernon and his plans to use maple syrup to save the Earth then it flies by and is a joy to read or listen to.

Starship's Mage - a series that blends the best elements of Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 12/31/2022 - 02:46
Starship's Mage Book Cover

In the 23rd century humanity achieved faster than light travel, not through engineering, but with genetic experiments that resulted in human magic. A trained Jump Mage can teleport a starship up to one light year every few hours, and in the Protectorate of the Mage-King of Mars they are essential. Damien Montgomery is a newly certified Jump Mage and Rune Scribe of only average power. He never mentions that he doesn't need to study runes to identify a spell because he can actually see magic and what it's doing. But in order to prevent his crew from being murdered by pirates he uses his unique ability to save the ship, and suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in the interstellar Protectorate. In addition, the alterations he made to the cargo ship are very illegal so the crew is now running from both the law and the pirates. If you enjoy political conspiracies, and lots of combat in space complicated by a little magic, you might enjoy this.

Mistborn - the 2nd Era comes to a close with The Lost Metal

Posted by Lore on Sat, 12/10/2022 - 04:49
The Lost Metal Book Cover

The Mistborn series started way back in 2006 and felt rather complete at the time. It was unique for many reasons, but one of the things that stood out was the detailed magic system that used various metals to generate amazing powers. Allomancers are able to metabolize metals and do amazing things with them, leveraging different metals in various ways. Most people gifted in this way burn only a single metal, but very rarely someone is able to burn them all, and such a person is called Mistborn. Little did I know at the time, but author Brandon Sanderson had a plan to keep the series going in a rather unique way. He wanted to take this magic based society and move it forward through time to explore how industrial and technological advancement would mix with magic. The Alloy of Law kicks off the 2nd Era and introduces two very entertaining main characters in Wax & Wayne, taking place a full 300 years after the original. This series combines a Wild West vibe with the Allomancy of the original series, adds in even more magic systems, and then expands to explore the Cosmere in a detailed way. Does it all add up to something worth your time or does Sanderson take it all a bit too far?

The Murderbot Diaries - cynical, ironic, sarcastic, and occasionally touching

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 12/02/2022 - 20:07
All Systems Red Book Cover

No one likes or trusts SecUnits, especially a SecUnit, and most especially Murderbot who hacked it's own governing module and now has to worry about detection as well as rogue SecUnits. Technically, it's a rogue SecUnit itself. which are usually easily identified by the trail of dead bodies but before it could start killing helpless humans it was distracted by the entertainment serials it downloaded. Turns out it would rather watch soap operas while going through the motions of its job than kill the clients it's contracted to protect. Not that it's never tempted, humans are definitely irritating. Murderbot's narrative is cynical, ironic, sarcastic, and occasionally touching. Its adventures are full of action but also include a running commentary on the foibles of human nature. Hence, the irony and sarcasm. 

The Elric Saga - the 60th anniversary of an influential fantasy saga

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 10/21/2022 - 19:13
Elric of Melniboné Book Cover

Elric of Melniboné, along with the sword Stormbringer, is the most influential of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champions. The first Elric story, The Dreaming City, was published in 1961 and created the trope of the fantasy anti-hero with a burdened soul. These tales of his adventures as he wanders the world in a futile quest for spiritual peace have influenced countless works in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. That description fits superheroes like The Hulk, and while I'm not sure Elric influenced the comics, there is a definite resemblance in the television series of the 1980's. The multiverse concept pioneered here is seen in the works of authors like Brandon Sanderson and the place that brings spiritual and mental peace, Tanelorn in this multiverse, is echoed in Guy Gavriel Kay's references to Fionavar. The conflict between Lords of Chaos and Order was the basis for Louise Cooper's The Time Master series. References to the series and Stormbringer appear throughout popular culture including music, comics, and even lines in television series such as Game of Thrones. "But are the books actually good?" My answer: It's complicated.

The Seven Swords - fantasy novellas with an RPG feel

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 06/03/2022 - 22:04
A Pilgrimage of Swords Book Cover

If you're in the mood for a grimdark fantasy but would prefer something quick and easy to read, this is the series for you. The Seven Swords is a stands out for its unique settings, elaborate world building, and short format that is reminiscent of Moorcock's books of the late 1970's. This is a harsh unkind world with plenty of gods, magic, and, obviously, swords. Everybody has secrets but none are worse than Guyime's bloody past and the sword that made it possible. He believes his soul is beyond redemption so he's willing to die for a chance to destroy his sword. But the fabled Seven Swords are indestructible by mortal means so he sets off on epic pilgrimage. There is plenty of action, betrayal, and death along the way.

The Annals of the Chosen - The Wizard Lord, The Summer Palace, and The Ninth Talisman

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 04/09/2022 - 00:39
The Wizard Lord Book Cover

In the land of Baroken it is the Wizard Lord's duty to protect the land, people, and magical ler. Since hunting down rogue wizards is one of their most important duties they are gifted with a set of talismans, ler that have been bound to an object, to ensure they have the most power. It was not long until the wizards of the Council of Immortals realized that those talismans would make it very difficult to deal with a rogue Wizard Lord, a Dark Lord. They created a second set of talismans that would be linked to those of the Wizard Lord and given to talented individuals who would act as a team to take down Dark Lords. The talismans of The Chosen as they are called enhance their natural abilities with specific magics according to their role in the team but they also bear a curse. When one of the Chosen dies the Wizard Lord loses the power of his linked talisman so should he kill all of the Chosen he is no more powerful than other members of the Council. They think they have covered every possibility. They are wrong.

The Murder of Crows - a superpowered post-apocalyptic trilogy

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 03/11/2022 - 18:49
See These Bones Book Cover

In the Free States people love their Capes, the superheroes that defend them. With a few very notable exceptions Capes have a short life expectancy so they established the Academy where kids interested in becoming Capes can train. They also learn how to market themselves and take advantage of any vid and merchandising deals that come their way on the off chance they survive long enough to retire. Damian's father doesn't have a cool villain name like Cemetery Sally or Crimson Death and a body count of one isn't impressive for a necromancer, also called Crows. He only made headlines because he went mad and killed his wife in front of their five year old son Damian. Crows are the most hated Powers for obvious reasons and there has never been a Crow Cape or even one at the Academy and no one wants him there now. Half of his classmates are too frightened to get near him and the other half think they should kill him now before he starts murdering people. But Damian is determined to stay in the hopes that learning control will prevent him from going insane like every other Crow. If not he hopes they can stop him before he does too much damage. As Damian says at the beginning, it's a shame they couldn't do either.

Alex Benedict Series - Sci-Fi with a dash of mystery

Posted by Sevhina on Sat, 02/26/2022 - 02:12
Seeker Book Cover

Three thousand years from now Earth is mostly desert and is little more than a quaint tourist destination for history buffs. Humans have spread out across the stars colonizing as they went with varied success and even survived first contact with an alien race and the war that followed. That means there are a lot of historic relics just waiting to be found by antiquarian Alex Benedict and his pilot Chase Kolpath. In addition to brokering deals for his wealthy clients Alex spends chasing down rumors of lost colonies, missing ships, and even people for profit. This doesn't make him popular with museums and those who feel he's nothing more than a graverobber. In the eight book series Alex and Chase have dealt with a wide variety of puzzles and frequently narrowly avoid dying because there is always someone who would prefer that those unsolved mysteries remain unsolved.

The Graceling Realms - Bitterblue and Fire

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 12/24/2021 - 19:00
Bitterblue Book Cover

Author Kristing Cashore made quite a splash in the YA Fantasy genre with Graceling. It's a good book but so standard for the genre that its mostly forgettable except for the world defining gracelings, people blessed with an extraordinary ability with the physical mark that their eyes are two different colors. It can be virtually anything but the most feared are those with mental gifts which brings us to the worst of those, King Leck, who used his Grace to brainwash and control an entire country. His assassination in the book Graceling leaves his daughter Bitterblue as queen of a people who have no idea how much of their past is real and have to live with the horrible things they did under his control. As Bitterblue delves deeper into the secrets of the past she discovers her father was worse than she ever imagined and quite literally a Monster from beyond what they thought was an impassable barrier. The companion novel Fire takes place on the other side of the barrier in a strange land with Monsters instead of Graces with their own story of Leck that will bring the two lands together.