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To Honor You Call Us: Surprisingly good military science fiction

To Honor You Call Us by H. Paul Honsinger

The term “military science fiction” has, at times, been misused. The military part of the science fiction gets lost, and in essence you have something that loosely approximates combat in the future. To Honor You Call Us, book one of H. Paul Honsinger’s MAN OF WAR series, is not cut from that cloth and it was almost shockingly good.

Max Robichaux is a young Union Space Navy Lieutenant with a history. He’s made mistakes in the past, both in terms of his military career and some extracurricular activities. The great thing about Max is that he is not afraid to fight and take chances. The bad thing about Max is that he is willing to take chances.

The human race is engaged in a war with an alien species known as the Krag, a zealot race determined to exterminate us because of an insult to their faith. The war has raged for many yea... Read More

City of Masks: A promising start to a new fantasy trilogy

City of Masks by Ashley Capes

Whenever I see the words "book one" or "first in a series" on the cover of a book, I'm always a little leery about whether or not it's going to end on a cliff-hanger. There's a difference between a trilogy that's essentially just one story divided into three parts, and a trilogy that's composed of three relatively self-contained tales.

As the first in THE BONE MASK TRILOGY by Australian poet Ashley Capes, City of Masks is enough of its own story to leave you satisfied, with just enough plot-threads left over for the next book to continue. So if you're like me and have an aversion to cliff-hanger endings, rest assured that you won't find one here.

In keeping with the trifold theme, there are three major POV characters at work in City of Masks, each with their own distinct storyline. Though two of these ... Read More

The Providence of Fire: A sequel that improves in all ways on the first

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

I have to admit, I groaned a little bit upon opening the envelope with my ARC of Brian Staveley's The Providence of Fire. "Six hundred pages? Really, man?" might have slipped out as well. I liked the first in the series (The Emperor's Blades) though I thought it had some flaws, giving it a solid three-star rating. But I had some serious doubts about a six-hundred page follow-up. Well, apologies to Mr. Staveley. The Providence of Fire earned every one of its six hundred pages and then some, showing itself in all ways an improvement on book one. After The Emperor's Blades, I was interested in what followed but after The Providence of Fire I'm excited and impatiently awaiting book three.... Read More

The Price of Spring: Finale of one of the best fantasy epics in recent years

The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham

Note: We're re-running this review as a way to highlight the audio version which was recently released by Tantor Audio. Kat listened to that audio version and completely agrees with everything Bill says here in his review. So, she'll just add a few comments at the end:

I’ve been a big fan of Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet and The Price of Spring, its concluding volume, confirms my view that it is one of the more original and best-written fantasy epics in recent years.

If you haven’t read the third volume, An Autumn War, stop reading here as you’ll run into spoilers for that book.

As has been the pattern in the series, the story picks up years after the events of An Autumn War. Otah and Maati r... Read More

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

In the world of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine, gods are reborn amongst men every ninety years. They live as immortal beings for two years. Then they die. In between, humanity wonders what it meant to have gods walk among them, or whether the so-called deities were in the end anything more than trickery and illusion.

That is what is called a killer premise. It’s clever, packed to the gills with opportunities to express themes from subtle to blatant, and most of all it’s good, fantastical fun. Even better, The Wicked + The Divine — at leas... Read More

Golden Son: I can’t wait for the concluding volume

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

There’s not a lot to say about the plot of Pierce Brown’s Golden Son, the sequel to the fantastic Red Rising, because outside of the density and complexity of the story, which would necessitate a lot of summary space, Brown fills the novel with so many twists, turns, backstabs and back-back stabs that it would be difficult to offer up a synopsis that both gives a true sense of what happens and does not at the same time give spoiler after spoiler. So let’s just say the plot is, well, dense and complex, is filled with twists and turns, and is almost entirely (but not quite entirely) a strength in the book. And we’ll move on to why it is an excellent follow-up that suffers not in the least from the dreaded second-book-of-a-trilogy syndrome.

The plot picks up two years after the close of Red Rising (btw, r... Read More

Across The Nightingale Floor: So much more than advertised

Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

The tagline stamped across the cover of Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor is ‘One boy. One journey. One hidden destiny.’ Not only is this toe-curlingly clichéd, but it’s also pretty deceptive. It’s too reductive, too suggestive of the bog standard hero’s journey every fantasy fan has seen a million times. The book’s plot is complicated and surprising; its backdrop of a political feudal system riveting; the delicate Japanese-style landscape and customs are intricate. Across the Nightingale Floor, the first book in Lian Hearn’s TALES OF THE OTORI, is so much more than one boy, one journey, one hidden destiny. It’s fantasy at its finest and characters at their richest.

The story is introduced by Tomasu, our rather serious protagonist, who narrates the sacking of his village. He ma... Read More

Traitor’s Blade: You had me at voice

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

In a recent review, I described how often times an author will win me over from the start with an unusual structure, and how this can make me more lenient toward any flaws I might encounter. The same is true for another aspect of writing — voice. Give me a character with a strong, distinctive, winning voice, and usually (though not always), I’ll happily follow said character through a minefield of potential pitfalls. Well, I fell in love pretty immediately with the voice of one Falcio val Mond, the first-person narrator of Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade, and though the book had a few problems with regard to plot and pace, I cheerily disregarded them, fully won over by Falcio’s character and storytelling persona, which was full of wit and charm and a healthy dollop of heavy emotionality. Read More

The City on the Edge of Forever: Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay

The City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison, Scot and David Tipton, illustrated by J.K. Woodward

“The City on the Edge of Forever” is almost universally considered one of the best, if not the best, Star Trek episodes. Famously penned by Harlan Ellison, and nearly as famously changed quite a bit, IDW Comics has come out with a comic of Ellison’s original Hugo-winning teleplay. Done in five installments via collaboration between Ellison and Scot and David Tipton, and illustrated by J.K. Woodward, the end result makes for a fascinating read that stands on its own with the eventually produced episode.

The general plot is of course similar to the TV episode (warning, spoilers to follow, if one can spoiler a 40-year-old story). A crewmember from the Enterprise beams down to the planet below, travels through a time portal to 1930s America, and changes histo... Read More

An Autumn War: Even more exciting than the first two novels

An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham

This third novel in Daniel Abraham’s LONG PRICE QUARTET is even more exciting than the first two novels. In the first book, A Shadow in Summer, we saw the Galts (the enemies of the city-states of the Khaiem) destroy the industry of the Khaiem’s most glorious city, Saraykeht. In the second book, A Betrayal in Winter, the Galts attempted to get control of the city of Machi by killing off the Khai’s sons and installing their own man as Khai. However, the failed poet Otah, the youngest son of the Khai, managed (with the help of his old friend Maati) to uncover the plot and become Khai in Machi.

Fourteen years later, the Galts have not given up. That’s because they still suffer from the way they were treated by the Khaiem generations ago when the Khaiem’s andats destroyed Galt and turned part of their land into a vast wastelan... Read More

Horrible Monday: The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman

The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman

The Necromancer's House, by Christopher Buehlman, is a scary, funny, fast-paced urban fantasy novel with a rich voice and likeable characters. With its multiple viewpoints and several satisfying reveals along the way, it is one of the most well-crafted and exciting books I have read in a while.

Buehlman tells the story of Andrew Blankenship, a charming, brilliant modern wizard who drives an antique Mustang, wears his long black hair in a samurai bun, and goes to AA meetings regularly. He lives in the woods of upstate New York, in a house stocked and protected with ancient magic, much of it stolen from Baba Yaga in Soviet Russia. He's in love with his lesbian apprentice, sleeps with a rusalka (a mermaid in Slavic myth), and is served and protected by the reanimated heart of his dead dog in the body of a wicker man. To put it simply, his life is not without ... Read More

Stardust: Full of magic and whimsy

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Despite only being a modest 50 000 words, Stardust sure packs one hell of a punch. Originally published as a comic, Stardust tells the story of the village of Wall. In Wall there is a wall, and behind this wall is Faerie. Every nine years a Faerie market is held, and it is the only time that gap in the wall is left unguarded for villagers of Wall and Faerie alike to come and go as they please. Full of magic and whimsy, Stardust will transport readers into a magical wonderland spawned from the genius of Neil Gaiman.

Dunstan Thorn is a resident of Wall when the Faerie market is about to take place. An influx of visitors, weird and wonderful, have borne down on the village of Wall in anticipation, for the boundary between the worlds is about to be opened, an event that occurs only once every nine years. He offers a v... Read More

Midnight Riot: Took me entirely by surprise

Midnight Riot (aka Rivers of London in the UK) by Ben Aaronovitch

Editor’s Note: Rachael is in the UK where this book is titled Rivers of London, but for consistency on the site, we’re showing the US cover.

Every now and then a book will come along that will take you entirely by surprise. It may change your perception of what it is possible for a book to do: stories you didn’t know could be told, lengths you didn’t realise the imagination could stretch to. Rivers of London did just that. Before I really knew what I was getting myself into, I was immersed in the seedy supernatural underworld of London crime.

The story is told by young police officer Peter Grant, who is about to be transferred to the Case Progression Unit, a branch of the London Met that specialises solely in ... Read More

What is a Superhero?: A nice introduction to superheroes

What is a Superhero? by Robin S. Rosenberg and Peter Coogan (editors)

What is a Superhero?, a collection of 25 essays edited by Robin S. Rosenberg and Peter Coogan, doesn’t aim to present “the” answer to this oft-asked question. Instead, it throws open to the door to an array of answers (some of which are directly contradictory) from people across a wide spectrum of fields: philosophers, psychologists, comic book creators, cultural critics, etc. If, as is almost always the case in any collection, the individual essays vary in quality of insight, depth, and style, taken as a whole, What is a Superhero? makes for an always enjoyable and sometimes insightful or thought-provoking read.

The book is divided into four broad sections: a definition of the superhero centering particularly on the three-legged stool of “mission, powers, and identity,” an examination of the role of “context, culture, and c... Read More

Ender’s Game Alive: A new way to experience Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card

This review assumes you have read Ender's Game, or are familiar with it, so it may contain some spoilers for Ender’s Game.

Before becoming one of the of most accomplished science fiction authors of his generation, Orson Scott Card worked as a writer of full-length plays for BYU, where he studied. He also wrote audioplays on LDS Church history. It follows from his experience then, that when Orson Scott Card set his sights on adapting his hit novel Ender's Game into Ender's Game Alive, a full-cast audioplay, the result could be nothing less than that classic novel deserves.

If you've read the novel you know how it goes. Ender is the third child in a time where a couple is only allowed to have two children. Supposed to have the same geniality his brother and sister h... Read More

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