Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

Magician’s End-Raymond E. Feist

May 26, 2013

Magician’s End
Raymond E. Feist
Harper Voyager, May 14 2013, $29.99
ISBN: 9780061468438

With the death of King Gregory, the Congress of Lords meets to select the new ruler of the Kingdom of the Isles. However, there are no blood ties so an obvious frontrunner does not exist. The Congress remains divided as to who should be anointed. While they dither, civil war seems imminent as the royal place in Rillanon is threatened. Hal the Duke of Crydee, his brothers Martin and Brendan, and Jim Dasher Jamison and his grandfather Lord James struggle to prevent the war.

Meanwhile Pug the Master Sorcerer, his son Magnus, Nakor, and Miranda struggle to escape the devious trap sprung by the Adversary. This foe has sent his only viable opponent to a different plane of existence with no chance of ever coming back to periled Midkemia. Inside the impenetrable Grey Tower Mountains, a deadly assault on the Star Elves has begun as the Adversary continues his plan to achieve his only goal: oblivion.

The supposedly final fantasy in the three decade long Riftwars is a fabulous fitting Feisty finish to an overall exciting saga of thirty books. The enjoyable storyline is for the most part fast-paced even with reflective asides and ephemeral encounters with characters not seen in a while. Although the fifth of the Riftwars series targets fans only as Magician’s End is no place to start nor is the Chaoswar Saga (see A Kingdom Besieged and A Crown Imperiled), Raymond E. Feist ends with a bang not a whimper.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of Dragons-Robin Hobb

April 27, 2013

Blood of Dragons
Robin Hobb
Harper Voyager, Apr 9 2013, $27.99
ISBN 9780062116857

The Elderlings human-dragon hybrids reestablish the lost city of Kelsingra so that the young dragons they have pledged to protect can thrive. However, most of the fledglings cannot fly across the river to their new sanctuary, which leaves them exposed. The dying Duke of Chalced needs dragons to live; thus he has hunters stalking the beasts so that he can extract their life sustaining attributes.

Meanwhile the ancient dragon queen Tintaglia also struggles for her life after a vicious attack by Chalced mercenaries seeking blood for their duke. Her followers scream for war against the humans who committed this audacious atrocity. At the same time the Elderlings search for Silver so that the dragons do not lose their memories of their true form especially within a city filled with species’ memories.

The latest Rain Wilds Chronicles epic fantasy involves a vast rotating cast so that the engaging storyline always seems slightly off kilter yet works for those who read the previous entries (see Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven and City of Dragons) as the depth makes the world of Hobb seem genuine. Fans will enjoy the confrontation between the good (Thymara), the bad (Chalced) and the ugly (Hest).

Harriet Klausner

Sword-Bound-Jennifer Roberson

February 8, 2013

Sword-Bound
Jennifer Roberson
Daw, Feb 5 2013. $25.95
ISBN: 9780756407964

Trained at the Alimat Southron School, Tiger swore his allegiance to the sword-dancer code of honor. His mate Delilah comes from the north where vengeance led her to training as a sword-singer. They are considered the best at their respective skill; together they seem invincible as legends while outlaws in their respective lands.

However, Tiger’s adult son Neesha accuses him of becoming too “domesticated” and challenges him to prove the legend on a quest with the lad and Del. Irate at the affront, the sword-dance instructor insists they cannot leave because of his two years old daughter Sula. Neesha scoffs at his alibi claiming his dad had become a soft family man. As sword-dancers challenge the teacher to the death, Umir the Ruthless offers a reward for the capture of his enemy Tiger, who used magic to render useless his grimoire. Loved ones make perfect hostages.

The latest Tiger and Del fantasy (see Sword-Sworn and Sword-Born) is more a family affair as the twenty-something Neesha brings out the best and worst in his dad while Sula manipulates both her parents. Initially leisurely-paced, the storyline accelerates as Umir seeks revenge against his adversary, but never forgets forcing Tiger to deploy magic to free his tome of spells. Series fans will enjoy the superb Sword-Bound.

Harriet Klausner

The Silent Dragon-Irene Radford

February 4, 2013

The Silent Dragon
Irene Radford
Daw, Feb 5 2013, $7.99
ISBN 9780756407940

In Coronnan, Dragon Crown King Darville and the Council of Provinces argue over allowing magic to return to the kingdom and over whether the monarch’s fourteen year old daughter Rosselinda should immediately marry in order to birth the male heir. Recently Darville has been beset by accidents that as a pattern indicate assassination attempts.

At the University of Magicians, Chancellor Jaylor refuses to promote his son Glenndon to journeyman in spite of the power the lad possesses because the apprentice is mute. Jaylor ignores that Glenndon’s telepathy is so powerful he does not need to speak to communicate. Darville orders Glenndon, the illegitimate son he had with Brevelan the witch, to come to court as the ruler names the lad his heir to protect his young daughter from an unwanted marriage. Confused as he always thought Jaylor was his sire, Glenndon arrives in Coronnan City greeted by raging councilors who loathe the outsider for his blood interferes with their plans. They barely understanding they and the citizens will turn deadly hostile if they learn of his magic or his silence.

The latest Dragon Nimbus tale (see The Glass Dragon, The Perfect Princess, The Loneliest Magician and The Wizard’s Treasure) is an engaging political fantasy. The interesting beleaguered hero becomes abruptly caught up in ugly court intrigue that makes the university in-fighting look tame. Although the theme of a naive youngster becoming overnight the successor to power has been used before, readers will enjoy Glenndon’s efforts to adapt as an unwanted stranger in a strange land.

Harriet Klausner

Eye of the Wizard-Daniel Arenson

January 1, 2013

Eye of the Wizard
Daniel Arenson
Moonclipse, Nov 29 2011, $10.99
ISBN: 9780987886408

Thirteen year old Scruff Thistle notices the shadow moving outside his family’s home. He forces his irritated younger brother Neev to look out the window; Neev sees the same thing, a beautiful woman who stares back at the siblings before proclaiming: “You will die, Scruff.” His sister Jamie screams waking up, their Mother and Father. The grobbler attacks but Father kills it. He tells his family he must leave as Dry Bones the evil warlock and his grobbler horde finally arrived at their village. Before the night ends, the three siblings become orphans vowing vengeance one day.

Five years later, a coven expels Neev the novice from their ranks as a loser for conjuring up fearsome looking Romy, a child demon with rabbit ears who likes ribbons and considers her new warlock as her mommy. Scruff wants to become a knight but the now seven footer refuses to use a sword so is considered unfit for warrior duty. The opposite of Scruff as she loves using a sword, Jamie also wants to become a knight, but that occupation is male only. The pair is exiled from the village. On their trek away from their home the siblings meet Cobweb the Spiderling banished from her clan due to a severe lisp. The teen quintet forges a team of mercenaries Bullies for Bucks even as Dry Bones stalks the Thistle threesome.

The first Misfit Heroes fantasy is an amusing yet dark coming of age tale. The fab five are fully developed with diverse personalities while sharing the “misfit” stereotype for not fitting in the acceptable norm. Although the dialogue at times can be inanely cutesy, fans will enjoy the satirical Bullies for Bucks’ heroic misadventures.

Harriet Klausner

Scent of Magic-Maria V. Snyder

December 11, 2012

Scent of Magic  

Maria V. Snyder

Mira, Dec 18 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778314189

Everyone believes that the last known healer Avry of Kazan is dead after saving the life of King Tohon’s strongest adversary Prince Ryne from the plague that devastated the Fifteen Realms (see Touch of Power).  However, she and Kerrick of Alga, who saved her life when her villagers decided to execute her, go on separate missions though both share the BHAG of preventing evil Tohon from ruling in terror over the Fifteen Realms.

In disguise as she knows there are plenty of people who want her dead starting with General Jael, Avry joins the forces of Tohon’s enemy High Priestess Estrid as a troop instructor in silent movements; unaware that Tohon has created new invincible soldiers who are already dead.  She also plans to reconcile with her sister who is on Jael’s staff. 

Prince Ryne sends Kerrick to the wilds north of Alga to investigate whether the barbarians are invading his realm as rumored.  A pact signing with Tohon by his brother leaves a stunned Kerrick left with too small a force to repel the invading northerners; let alone protect his Alga Realm from the duplicitous ruler.

The second Healer fantasy is a strong thriller with plenty of military and political intrigue.  The Snyder Realm feels real partly because the romance between Avry and Kerrick remains muted as the focus is on the seemingly upcoming war; for the most part they are apart.  The storyline is fast-paced switching subplots (and locals) at times to abruptly, but fans will relish the further adventures of Kerrick and Avry as they battle the malevolent minion of Tohon the terrible.

Harriet Klausner

How to Drive a Dragon Crazy-G.A. Aiken

September 5, 2012

How to Drive a Dragon Crazy

G.A. Aiken

Zebra, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420108903

 

Eibhear the Blue dragon is part of the fierce Mi-runach special military unit who take on missions that no one with a sane mind would dare.  His current assignment is to escort General Izzy the human, who fights for Queen Annwyl, home.  The feisty female warrior was attracted to Eibhear but that was ten years ago before he joined the Mi-runach.  

 

Izzy worries about her younger sister Rhianwen whose magic increasingly seems out of control.  She and Eibhear enter the deadly Desert Lands to meet with her malevolent grandmother the witch, the only person Izzy knows who could aid her troubled Rhianwen.

 

The latest Dragon Kin romantic fantasy (see The Dragon Who Loved Me) is an engaging amusing entry starring two previous support characters who prove they can hold a storyline together while mocking and bickering on their way to grandma’s house.  The action is fast and furious though the relationship between the protagonists is more straightforward than usual as no rivals soar to cause triangulation tsuris while also transitioning into the next generation.  Fans will enjoy this jocular second chance at sarcastic love.

 

Harr4iet Klausner

Cast in Peril-Michelle Sagara

September 5, 2012

Cast in Peril

Michelle Sagara

Luna, Sep 18 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780373803507

 

In the Elantra Empire, Private Kaylin Neva feels she has a strong opportunity for a promotion with the scandalous information she found re the Exchequor.  Kaylin dreams of a larger flat, which a raise would make possible; as currently she shares her efficiency apartment with the last known female dragon Bellusdeo and an egg to be hatched.  When someone tosses a bomb into her one room abode, the egg absorbed most of the energy and thus dramatically reduced the impact.

 

Lord Nightshade wants Kaylin to accompany the Barrani on a journey to the Land of the West March.  The private agrees as leaving the city reduces her chances of death by assassin.  However, her companions allegedly have been connected to the vanishing of citizens from Tiamaris fief so if Kaylin wants eventually to go home, she better watch her back.

 

The latest Chronicles of Elantra fantasy (Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight and Cast in Secret) is a terrific fresh entry as readers and the heroine leave the empire for the first time.  Though less thematic cautionary re de facto racism than Cast in Fury, the fast-paced and explosive storyline is an entertaining thriller starring a strong protagonist.

 

Harriet Klausner

Black Bottle-Anthony Huso

August 17, 2012

Black Bottle

Anthony Huso

Tor, Aug 21 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765325174

 

Lovers Caliph Howl the blood mathematician mage and Sena Iilool adept of the Shradnæ witches control Stonehold.  However, during the combat, Caliph died and soon afterward Sena, using an incantation from the ancient  Cisrym Ta tome, brought him back to life.

 

Word spreads to the nearby empires in the south whose monarchs want the Cisrym Ta and will sacrifice anyone to obtain it.  Arriving from Pandragor, Taelin Rae wants to establish the Nenuln Church in Stonehold but feels she must kill the evil Sena who is an affront to God.  At a time when Caliph is expected to attend a regional leader summit, a plague has crippled Stonehold and there is the enigmatic Uncle Nathaniel, who works in mysterious ways as he assists his nephew with ancient enemies.

 

The sequel to The Last Page is an entertaining but convoluted high tech fantasy with much of the action occurring from passive sources like dreams and books.  Caliph and Sena are courageous champions while the mystery of Nathaniel enhances the tale.  Still not for everyone, fans who relish the convergence of math, science and fantasy in a complicated but difficult to follow thriller will enjoy Anthony Huso’s blood magic.

 

Harriet Klausner

Brachman’s Underworld-Vlad Vaslyn

August 14, 2012

Brachman’s Underworld

Vlad Vaslyn

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jun 10 2012, $17.13

www.createspace.com

ISBN: 9781463698911

 

Raging Delilah Brachman visits Lowell General Hospital to see her dying father the colonel; whom she has not seen in twelve years.  He apologizes for pushing her away when she was twenty, but Del tells him to stuff his too late at being there for her.  Still she gives him hope that she forgives him but sarcastically dashes it with euphoria that he is dying.  Del leaves only to get caught with a little boy in a crossfire between cops and a felon; she shields the child with her body.

 

When Del awakens she learns the only decent thing she did in her miserable life has given her temporary in-betweener status with six days to find a way to avoid oblivion.  Her ticket is to ride the Tuesday Train while awaiting judgment.  In her take no prisoners style Delilah battles Noc the diabolical lonely demon and Honest Jack the torturer.  Combating this pair and other hellish, heavenly and outside entities is child’s play for acerbic Del who holds all with contempt as she rips asunder horns and halos by tearing away their veneer.  However, Del faces internal strife when she meets Lucy who offered her friendship and is attracted to Kevin as her manta is the only good relationship is no relationship.

 

Sarcastic Delilah brings freshness to the afterlife in Other Lowell and Lowell with her attitude towards others humans, demons, believers, etc. as she makes Don Rickles seem more like Mother Theresa.  Readers will surprisingly go from believing Del gets what she wrought to empathizing with her as her emotional defense mechanism in life and death is hammering others.  The acrimonious protagonist makes Brachman’s Underworld a unique reading experience.

 

Harriet Klausner