Review: Ruins by Orson Scott Card

Ruins by Orson Scott Card
Ruins by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card
Simon Pulse, 2012

Have you ever read a book that was almost compulsively readable yet you can’t decided whether it was good or not? For me Orson Scott Card’s Ruins is such a book. Picking up almost immediately after 2011’s Pathfinder, Ruins continues the journey of Rigg, Umbo, and Param as they search for the truth behind the world of Garden and uncover the mysteries of the Walls which segregate it. Rigg, as readers learn in Pathfinder, has the ability to see the paths of the past, where living creatures have left an imprint on the world. Trained by a machine-man to be able to read people and societies Rigg departed on a journey that saw him join up with several other children who have abilities similar to his. The interaction of the time manipulation powers of Rigg, Umbo, and Param allows them to cross the previously impenetrable border between their home and the next wallfold. This is where Ruins picks up as the three powered teens along with the soldier/scholar Olivenko and Loaf begin to explore their second wallfold.

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Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Cold Days by Jim Butcher
Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Cold Days
Jim Butcher
Roc, 2012

Cold Days is another Dresden Files book. If you don’t know what that is you’ve either had your head buried in a hole somewhere or just have zero tolerance for urban fantasy. In either case you should probably do something about that since the Dresden Files is one of the most consistently entertaining series in fantasy today. Truth be told my most major complaint about a book starring Harry Dresden is that it ends and that Jim Butcher should write faster. This sort of complain isn’t really fair to Jim Butcher who has put out one book every six months for many many years. With the end of his Codex Alera series he is down to about one a year now but that is a far more consistent release schedule than certain in the world of fantasy fiction. In truth, along with Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher is an author whose pace and consistent quality make me strongly doubt whether either of them is human or some new superior species.

If you haven’t read any Dresden Files books you should probably stop reading at this point and go pick up Storm Front (heck, if you like pictures, try the graphic novel) and read that. You continue reading at your own risk.

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Review: Gearteeth by Timothy Black

Gearteeth by Timothy Black
Gearteeth by Timothy Black

Timothy Black
Red Rose, 2012

Gearteeth by Timothy Black was a review request that sat in my inbox for a long time before I noticed it. When I did, and I read the books description, I decided not to request a copy from the author but rather went ahead and grabbed the Kindle version. Gearteeth is an alternate steampunk history set in 1910. In 1890 the United States was ravaged by a plague that transformed humans into ravenous werewolves, a plague the rapidly spread to the rest of the world. The remnants of humanity lead by a secret order of scientists founded by Nikola Tesla, the Tellurians, aided humanity by helping them escape the confines of gravity taking many of the great cities into the sky on telluric currents. The novel opens up 20 years after humanity has taken to the skies and introduces readers to brakeman Elijah Kelly who serves on one Wardenclyffe’s biggest thunder trains: Heaven’s Grace. The “Double Ts” chase thunderstorms in order to get energy for the floating city. Cut off from the other salvation cities (as the floating towns are known) Wardenclyffe and its Thunder Trains eke a hardscrabble living off the energy of the storms and off the scraps left behind on the surface.

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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Lani Taylor
Little, Brown and Company, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a book that I picked up and really wanted to like. A strong female lead with a mysterious past trained in a variety of skills from martial arts to foreign languages and a unique setting in the city of Prague had me hopeful for something new and exciting. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is that new and exciting thing to a certain extent but at the same time there is a sense of overwrought emotional melodrama that seems to pervade the entire novel. Laini Taylor opens things up with a tongue in cheek scene involving our blue-haired lead Karou and her now ex-boyfriend, it seems he runs “vampire” tours of Prague playing up on the current vampire craze that prevails in popular culture. I rather enjoyed the playful stab at the vampire theme so prevelavent in the Young Adult demographic. It manages to provide a knowing head nod without managing to feel like mockery.

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Review: Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country has been one of my most anticipated reads since it was announced. While I definitely loved the First Law Trilogy it was Abercrombie’s previous novel The Heroes that really blew me away. Where as that first series was a riff on a conventional quest fantasy turned on its head The Heroes was an epic tale of war that was at in many ways both sprawling and constrained. The Heroes laser tight focus on a single battle (the preparations, the battle itself, and the aftermath) allowed for Abercrombie’s talents to shine and I grew quite attached to the multitude of characters offered in that tale. The jacket text and initial descriptions of Red Country set in the distant frontier of the same world as Abercrombie’s previous novels and hinted at, quite strongly, the return of one particular character. Red Country, despite its fantasy trappings, is heavily influenced by westerns and leans quite heavily on the notion of revenge.

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