Review: A Betrayal In Winter by Daniel Abraham

A Betrayal In Winter by Daniel Abraham
A Betrayal In Winter by Daniel Abraham

A Betrayal In Winter
Daniel Abraham
Tor, 2008 (mmpb)

A Betrayal In Winter is the second book in Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet and is set fifteen years after the events of A Shadow In Summer.  A Betrayal In Winter is, if anything, a text book example of how to write a politic heavy novel in a fantasy culture.  While A Betrayal In Winter doesn’t chance the “slow burn” pacing Abraham employed in A  Shadow In Summer the familiar characters made it much easier for me to settle into the book and the new characters were complex, brilliantly drawn, and familiar enough that I found myself looking forward to their chapters/pov as much as Itani and Matti.

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Review: Offworld by Robin Parish

Offworld by Robin Parish
Offworld by Robin Parish

Offworld
Robin Parish
Bethany House, 2009

I had never heard of Robin Parish prior to reading the review blurb for Offworld in Publisher’s Weekly.  The idea behind the novel, the first astronauts to visit Mars return home only to find Earth abandoned, all people and animals having suddenly disappeared, sounded intriguing.   Bethany House, for those that don’t know, is indeed a publisher of Christian fiction not necessarily known for its stirring sci-fi/fantasy catalog and faith certainly colors both the plot and characters of Parish’s book to a certain degree.  In truth the importance of faith, the belief of the characters that they are being driven by something larger than themselves as well as their trust and reliance on one another, lends a certain strength to the characters and events in the novel.  On the other hand certain elements of faith and spirituality clash slightly with the novel’s science fiction roots and might frustrate some readers. However, in Offworld, Parish has managed to craft an entertaining and engaging story that follows a group of likable characters on an exciting and mysterious journey. Continue reading “Review: Offworld by Robin Parish”

Incoming Fall

As August is nearing its end I find myself, as per usual, gripped by my late summer video game malaise.  Despite being in the midst of several unfinished games I find myself frquently unwilling to attempt anything beyond some mindless Guitar Hero or some forrays into the pacific front in Battlefield: 1943.  The latter, while an entertaining and well polished game, has enough minor flaws that when combined with my own console FPS suckitude makes it as much an exercise in frustration as anything else.  Hopefully the latest patch for the Witcher has solved the crash bug that had stalled my play previously and I noted that the first DLC for Red Faction hit last week, meaning its about time I finished liberating the red planet from it cruel oppressor.  However, despite these unfinished games and an amount of free time stretched perilously thin, I find myself staring down a gauntlet of releases in both books and games that is rather frightening (a guantlet that, despite a brief pause for breath during the November/December holiday season, looks to kick up again come January).  I figured I can spend some time sharing some of the titles in both books and games that I’m excited about. Continue reading “Incoming Fall”

Review: A Shadow In Summer by Daniel Abraham

A Shadow In Summer by Daniel Abraham
A Shadow In Summer by Daniel Abraham

A Shadow In Summer
Daniel Abraham
Tor, 2007 (mmpb)

I’ll confess that A Shadow In Summer is a book I started once before and just couldn’t get into.  While the series has been well received by readers it has largely remained below the radar despite its solid reviews.  While I certainly had my own difficulties in getting through the book, particularly the first hundred pages or so, in the end I found it quite a satisfying read and I plan on continuing on with A Betrayal In Winter within the next few weeks.

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Review: Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls
Chris Wooding
Orion UK, 2009 (Surprise, no US date that I’ve seen)

Take one part Firefly, one part steampunk, one part magic and shake it all up.  The results are something like Chris Wooding’s Retribution Falls.  Darrian Frey is the “captain” of the Ketty Jay, an airship whose crew of malcontents and rejects barely scrapes by doing odd-bits of mostly illegitimate work.  Frey, who cares more about his ship than the lives of his crew, takes a job offer to rob a loaded airship and has every intention of keeping the money to himself; crew be damned.  Unfortunatley for Frey, and the rest of the Ketty Jay, things go horribly awry and the hapless crew finds themselve pursued from all quarters.  Retribution Falls isn’t a novel that is going to cause major introspection but what it will due is take you on damned fine adventure that’ll have you laughing, cheering, and cursing at each twist and turn.

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Review: By Heresies Distressed by David Weber

By Heresies Distressed by David Weber
By Heresies Distressed by David Weber

By Heresies Distressed
David Weber, read by Jason Culp
Tor/Macmillan Audio, 2009

By Heresies Distressed is the third novel in Weber’s Safehold series.  For the uninitiated the plot revolves around the planet Safehold where, centuries prior, a group of colonists and scientists fled the merciless G’baba (sp?).  In order to avoid detection by the G’baba it was decided that the colonist’s memories would be wiped and the technology level reduced to something more akin to medieval times.  Unfortunately for the colonists control of the project was taken over by Langhorne who set himself, and his allies, as an archangel/deific figure.  Other scientists rebelled against Langhorne’s unethical actions but were cut down by orbital weapons.  Now, centuries later, Safehold is home to the Church of God Awaiting who follow the “theological” teachings of Langhorne and his archangels.

The first two novels focused on the cybernetic being Merlin Athrawes, a sort of  failsafe left behind by “good” scientist Pei Shan Wei, as he attempts to steer the kingdom of Charis towards an industrial revolution while simultaneously trying to uproot centuries of religious indoctrination.  In Off Armageddon Reef, Charis fought off the combined forces of several nations thanks to the technological innovations brought on by Merlin though they lost their King in the process.  Declaring an official Schism with the church Charis, under the leadership of King Caleb, begins the slow march to empire adding several key areas to its domain in By Schism Rent Asunder.  Now, almost an empire in truth Emperor Caleb has launched an assault the Princedom of Corrisande and it’s long-time ruler and long-time ruler Prince Hector.

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Review: The Island by Tim Lebbon

The Island by Tim Lebbon
The Island by Tim Lebbon

The Island

Tim Lebbon

Spectra, 2009

Tim Lebbon’s Noreela books, starting with 2006’s Dusk, are books that have always caught my eye but I somehow never managed to find the time to read.  The same can also be said for Lebbon collaborations with Christopher Golden.  Now, however, it seems I’ll need to pay a little more attention to Lebbon’s work as I found The Island to be highly entertaining and thrilling blend; a lot of fantasy with a dash of both science fiction and horror made for some interesting reading and I’ll be curious to see where Lebbon takes Noreela in the future.

After a failed mission results in the death a number of innocent children, and his commander and lover, Kel Boon deserts the clandestine Core and hides himself in the fishing village of Pavsmouth Beak.  He makes his living there as a woodcarving, falling in love with the local witch Namior feels he has finally escaped his past.  Unfortunatley the sudden disastrous appearance of a mysterious island could possibly be the alien threat that the Core has been trying to thwart and Kel Boon must once again take up the mantle of soldier and determine the nature of the threat that this island represents.  Read on for more though be warned that minor spoilers are inevitable…

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A Post in Which I Discuss “Brick”

Brick (2005)
Brick (2005)

On our rainiest day on vacation we spent a considerable amount of time watching the series Kitchen Confidential (pretty funny, too bad it was cancelled after airing only 4 episodes) on Hulu.  Unfortunatley for us every episode had the same commercial for upcoming indie film 500 Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel.  A commercial that, after roughly 4 episodes, started to become a bit tiresome.  While I still would love to see 500 Days of Summer it did get me thinking about the film “Brick” which also starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Gordon-Levitt, who most viewers likely recognize from his series long stint on 3rd Rock from the Sun, has been making a career starring in smaller, though well-produced, movies for the last couple of years.  Though I haven’t really been following his career too closely the 2005 film Brick is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of those films that I feel slipped through the cracks over recent years.

Set in a modern day California High School, Brick is an old school detective story in every way.  When Brenden is suddenly contact by his ex-girlfriend just before she disappears he suddenly thrust into an all-consuming quest to find out what happened to her.  Along the way he butts heads with various factions around the school.  From the vice pricipal, to football jocks, to a primadonna theatre princess, to junkies, to the local drug runner there isn’t anyone or anything Brenden fears in his quest to uncover the truth behind Emily’s disappearance.

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Review: The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan

The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kiernan
The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kiernan

The Red Tree
Caitlin R. Kiernan
Roc, 2009

H. P. Lovecraft was a writer who managed to overcome his faults (frequently racist overtones and often stiff language) and evoke an atmosphere of dread and despair that turns even the hottest summer day into something dark and chilling.  Many writers have written works based on the mythos of Lovecraft, many others have written clever homages to his fiction (see “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar” by Neil Gaiman) but few, if any, manage to capture or even expound upon the atmosphere of horror and fear of the unknown that Lovecraft so handily elucidate.  At least that is what I though before having first encountered Caitlin R. Kiernan’s novel Threshold.  And while I haven’t followed every bit of fiction she has written still remains the only author who manages to truly evoke those same sensations of dread while at the same time managing to do so in a voice entirely her own.  If Threshold only hinted at this fact, then The Red Tree reveals it to be true in the most, dare I say, cyclopean of ways.

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