The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
In The Last Continent, Terry Pratchett sends Rincewind and the Unseen University wizards to Xxxx (Fourecks), which, the narrator explains, is not Australia.
In Interesting Times, Unseen University wizards inadvertently sent Rincewind to the Counterweight Continent (China), and now they inadvertently travel into the past of Fourecks — the Last Continent being created on the Discworld — while trying to figure out the Librarian’s name. Ponder Stibbins is the first to realize that the wizards have traveled into the past, and he warns the wizards that they must be careful to not change the future. Certainly, they must not kill one of their ancestors. But why would they want to do that? interrupts Ridcully. The Archchancellor argues that they’re already in the past, changing things, so the changes have already happened. And so a continent is created. The wizards meet t... Read More
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The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
I picked up The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill because its plot summary piqued my interest:
Takahiro O’Leary has a very special job…
…working for the Axon Corporation as an explorer of parallel timelines—as many and as varied as anyone could imagine. A great gig—until information he brought back gave Axon the means to maximize profits by changing the past, present, and future of this world.
If Axon succeeds, Tak will lose Samira Moheb, the woman he has loved since high school—because her future will cease to exist. A veteran of the Iraq War suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Samira can barely function in her everyday life, much less deal with Tak’s ravings of multiple realities. The only way to save her is for Tak to use the time travel device he “borrowed” to transport them both to an alternate timeline.
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A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany is not convinced when her peer Annagramma explains that magic is a power that signals one’s status. In Annagramma’s view, the witches study arcane and obscure subjects in order to set themselves apart from society, and all of the other young witches seem convinced by her reasoning. Tiffany may not admit it, but she is insecure about her status among the young witches. Secretly, she wishes to reveal her power to them. The hiver understands Tiffany, and when it takes over her mind, Tiffany makes her wishes come true.
In A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany travels to join her new mentor, Miss Level. Like all old witches, Miss Level is a unique sort. She has two bodies, and a spirit named Oswald cleans up around her cottage. Miss Level may be strange, but she has a kind heart, and she takes care of her villagers. Tiffany’s lessons are going well, though she does not like to wear black, she h... Read More
Masks by E.C. Blake
Like The Hunger Games,E.C. Blake’s Masks is the beginning of a "young adult friendly" trilogy about a young female protagonist who must overcome an oppressive system and defeat an evil dictator. In the isolated island-world of Aygrima, every adult must wear a magical Mask. Should the Mask-wearer think any disloyal or rebellious thoughts about the Autarch, then the Mask will reveal their crimes to the emperor’s private police force. Our heroine, a fifteen-year-old girl named Mara, looks forward to apprenticing to her father to become a Maskmaker in service to the Autharchy. She eagerly awaits her own Masking but — gasp! — the Masking ceremony goes awry, and she is swept off with the other teenagers who fail their magical test of citizenship. This initial premise is the most original and interesting piece of the book. The rest of the novel is a series of oh-no-she’s-been-caughts followed by whew... Read More
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
The Light Fantastic is a direct sequel to Terry Pratchett’s first DISCWORLD novel, The Color of Magic, in which we met the failed and cowardly wizard Rincewind, his traveling companion Twoflower (a rich and naively brave tourist), and Twoflower’s animated sentient Luggage. I believe that The Light Fantastic is the only DISCWORLD novel that’s a direct sequel of a previous novel.
The reason Rincewind is such a poor wizard is that he’s got a dark powerful spell (“the eighth spell”) lodged in his brain and it won’t let him memorize any other spells. Nobody knows what the eight spell is for, but Rincewind is pretty sure that nobody wants to find out. At the end of The Color of Magic, Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage had tumbled off the edge of the Discworld which is a flat disc held up by four elephants standing on the bac... Read More
The Etched City by K.J. Bishop
The Etched City is a story about a deteriorating tropical city whose denizens include the monstrous, the deranged, and the metamorphic, circling each other in rainy alleys and hot cafes. It’s been lauded as an intelligent and alluring novel. Bishop has been compared flatteringly with Miéville and Moorcock. While The Etched City certainly has plenty of brains and courage, it may be missing its heart.
The book opens on the dusty fringes of civilization, in a desolate Western landscape distantly reminiscent of King’s DARK TOWER books. Gwynn and Raule, our not-heroes, were both on the losing side of a recent civil war, which has left them ... Read More
The Time Traders by Andre Norton
Ross Murdock just can’t follow the rules, so he keeps getting in trouble with the law. He’s arrogant, rebellious, independent, smart, competent, and proud. That makes him the perfect recruit for the government’s secret Time Traders program, so when they offer Ross the option to either join up or go to jail, he doesn’t have much choice. Ross has no idea what’s going on with his new job, but he figures he’ll be able to escape. That turns out to be a lot harder than he expected — because they’ve sent him back in time! Ross’s job is to figure out how the Soviets (“the reds”) are getting their advanced technology. The U.S. government thinks they are getting it from somewhere in the past and Ross must try to find their secret base in a Bronze Age society. Stubborn and hard to defeat, Ross Murdock is the perfect man for the job. But this job isn’t easy — it’s a constant fight for survival.
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The Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon
Horty Bluett is only eight years old, but his short life has already been utterly miserable. One day, after suffering at the hands of his classmates and his adoptive parents, he runs off and joins the carnival. The only thing he carries is his sole possession — a jack-in-the-box doll named Junky. Junky has hard shiny eyes and Horty gets nervous and sick when Junky isn’t around.
At the carnival, Horty finally finds acceptance among some of society’s outcasts. For the first time in his life, he feels like he’s part of something — that he’s participating in life instead of watching it go by. As Horty gets older, he begins to realize that there’s something weird about the carnival. The man who runs it, who everyone calls Maneater, has some sort of genetic research going on and he may be a danger to Horty and to the world in general. And it all has something to do with Junky’s strange jewele... Read More
Undead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson
“Oh. This sucks. This totally and completely sucks. The vampires all hate me and everyone’s trying to kill me!” ~Queen Betsy
Undead and Unemployed is the second book in MaryJanice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series. In the previous book, shallow and too fashionably-conscious Betsy died, came back as a vampire, and managed to kill the vampire queen, which makes Betsy the new queen. Her roommates and friends are determined to make sure Betsy gets the kind of royal treatment she deserves, but Betsy has no interest in fulfilling her exalted role. She just wants to work at her new dream job as a salesperson in the shoe department at Macy’s. But when someone starts killing vampires in her city, her consort Sinclair insists that Betsy do something about it.
As I mentioned in my review of Undead and Unwed, the first QUEEN BETSY book, I ... Read More
The Osiris Curse by Paul Crilley
The Osiris Curse is the second book in Paul Crilley’s YA steampunk series TWEED AND NIGHTINGALE. While much of this fast-paced adventure seemed obviously borrowed from works like the Librarian movies, Doctor Who and even China Mieville’s book The Scar, the two protagonists are charming and the story moves along at a good clip. Crilley raises some moral questions that should make early-high-school aged readers think.
Sebastian Tweed and Octavia Nightingale are two young people who have been taken under the wing of Queen Victoria’s mysterious Ministry. Tweed’s father was a con-artist who taught his son the trade, but there was a secret to Sebastian’s identity, and its revelation (in the first book) has left young Tweed questioning his purpose and his existence. Octavia, who works for the London Times as a researcher and cub reporter is searching f... Read More
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
Solange Drake is about to turn sixteen and she just wants to be a normal teenager. That’s hard enough when she’s got seven big brothers hovering over her, but what really sucks is that she knows she’s going to die on her birthday. If she’s strong enough to survive the Bloodchange, she’ll return as a powerful vampire — the only female vampire born (not made) in centuries and, according to an ancient prophecy, she’ll be the rightful vampire queen. She doesn’t really want to be queen, but there are plenty of people who are hoping she’ll oust Lady Natasha, the evil pretender.
Solange has lots of support — her seven gorgeous brothers, her powerful parents, several bodyguards, and her best friend Lucy who may not have any supernatural stuff going on, but who’s got enough guts and spunk to hold her own. Solange has enemies, too, of course. Not just Lady Natasha and her evil minions, bu... Read More
The Legacy by R.A. Salvatore
As I’ve been doing these reviews, I’ve tried to point out a few things about THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT series. First, these books are fun, diverting, and lively. Second, they’re… uh… not very good. Now when I say “good,” I am of course referring to the Literary definition of good (that’s Literature with the capital L, Literature the genre, that I’m discussing now). It’s problematic in a number of ways that one genre has set the standard for what constitutes “good” writing, but that’s just where things are right now, and like it or not it’s about the closest thing to an objective measuring stick that we have. There are things Literature likes: deep characterization, subtle nuance, lush prose. THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT has none of those things. The series’ virtues are swift-moving action, camaraderie, breathless fun, and occasionally some decent plotting. Unfortunately, Literature would prefer its... Read More
Crossed Blades by Kelly McCullough
Kelly McCullough’s FALLEN BLADE saga is a fun and fast moving fantasy series. I love a series that can incorporate humor along with the requisite action, magic and evil bad guys who need to be defeated. McCullough keeps things mockingly amusing by never letting the hero’s head get too big.
Crossed Blades tells the story of Aral, one time Blade of Namara before her fall. Since the death of his goddess, Aral’s life has been sad and dark, but the arrival of certain people and events are forcing him to drag himself out of the low life he has sunk to. With his new quasi-apprentice Faran keeping him on his toes, Aral is not yet ready to run into Jax, another former Blade of Namara, and his ex-fiancé. But Jax needs help. She has been through hard times and people who she is responsible for are in danger. Despite the risks and their unpleasant history, she has come to Tien looking for Ara... Read More
Three by Jay Posey
Three is Jay Posey’s first novel and Book One of the LEGENDS OF THE DUSKWALKER series. “Three” is also the name of the main character, which made reading the book a little confusing, and will probably make this review confusing, too.
I enjoyed Three up until the last forty pages, where Posey tried to wrap everything up, and filling in the things he hadn’t seeded earlier in the book, creating the effect of a deus ex machina. More seriously, I have to say the Main Villain was a big stereotypical disappointment.
In a post-apocalyptic world, the man named Three is a Mysterious Drifter who connects with a Hot Chick in Trouble (her name is Cass) and her Magical Child, Wren. She is being chased by the Big Villain and his team of secondary villains. Three agrees to help her as they head toward a city called Morningside, one of several fortified towns that exis... Read More
The Warrior of World’s End by Lin Carter
Lin Carter wrote derivative pulpy adventure stories in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and others. I think of these as second-rate but I pick them up when I find them cheap at Audible — they’re short fast-moving stories with imaginative scenery and lots of action. In a Lin Carter novel you’re sure to find a sword-wielding man with sweaty “thews,” a scantily-clad girl who needs to be saved, and lots of scary monsters. Usually this takes place in some fascinatingly impossible setting such as on the boughs of gigantic trees, under a volcano, in a lost city, or on an uncharted planet.
In The Warrior of World’s End, a down-and-out godmaker and his wife are traveling through a desert when they find a large... Read More