Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist is one of the books that I really hoped I would love. A supernatural thriller/horror novel targeted a general audiences its press material initially put me off due to its comparisons with The Historian a novel whose nostalgia drenched narrative felt more like a travelogue than a horror novel. Pyper’s novel never comes even close to a similar level of eye rolling nostalgia and manages to tell a passably good story along the way. The story of The Demonologist centers around Milton and Paradise Lost expert Professer David Ullman whose unique knowledge of Milton’s most famous work made him famous and seen him consult on some rather fascinating cases in the past. A mysterious offer to visit Italy offers Dr. Ullman and his daughter a chance to escape his impending divorce and offer them a chance to bond. Ullman’s experience in Italy tests the bounds of his skepticism and the seeming suicide of his daughter sends him on a quest to rescue her from the clutches of beings who Ullman has spent his life believing don’t exist.
Howard Andrew Jones’ debut novel The Desert of Souls was one of my favorite novels of 2011. The Bones of the Old Ones , released just this January , takes up bare months after the first novel left off. Asim and Dabir have taken up positions in the city of Mosul and as an uncanny cold grips the desert city the two long time friends find themselves called to action once more this time to aid the mysterious Najya; a woman hunted by a cabal of ancient sorcerer-assassins. The Bones of the Old Ones, even more than in Jones’ first novel, is a pure and unadulterated Swords and Sorcery novel.
Featuring mysterious magicians, a beautiful woman in danger, and two very human yet extraordinarily capable heroes The Bones of the Old One rockets forth at breakneck pace barely pausing for a breath as our two hero manage to stay a hairsbreadth ahead of the villains. Whereas the first novel saw Jones taking time to introduce our Asim and Dabir he all but disposes of that formality here spending what felt like a very brief chapter reacquainting readers with the two protagonists before thrusting them into danger.
I feel like at this point my relationship with the Honor Harrington books is beginning to resemble my late 90s relationship with The Wheel of Time. I feel like I both dread and anticipate each new release. While the series never meanders in quite the way the middle books of Robert Jordan’s series do I still find a certain lack of satisfaction in each of Weber’s newer Honorverse novels. Over the course of each novel that sense of excitement and satisfaction waxes and wanes but the long(ish) gaps between novels makes what feels like a lack of forward momentum somewhat disheartening. The latest novel in the Honorverse, Shadow of Freedom, continues that trend. A Shadow of Freedom overlaps a bit chronologically with A Rising Thunder with the effects of the Oyster Bay attacks trickling out to the more distantly stationed Manticore fleet helmed by Michelle Henke. The novel focuses on the aftereffects of Manticore’s aggressive response to its being attacked on its home soil.
Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole is the sequel to the author’s debut novel Control Point. Control Point was very much the tale of Oscar Britain and through him served to introduce the readers to the Supernatural Operations Corps. Unfortunately, this was also my problem with the novel I didn’t like Oscar. While there were times in the novel where I certainly sympathized with his plight more often than not I had serious issues with his decision making process. Fortress Frontier sees Cole broadening the scope of his world as the plot delves deeper into the various aspects of the Supernatural Operations Corps and the other “latent” people around the world.
Fortress Frontier primarily divides the story between the fugitive Oscar Britain and his crew (the former members of Shadow Coven plus the healer Teresa) and Colonel Alan Bookbinder, newly latent. The opening chapters of Fortress Frontier take place over the same time span of Control Point as Colonel Bookbinder first manifests his magic and finds himself gated out to FOB Frontier. Much like in Control Point readers get to witness the stark difference between a characters former life and their experiences in the SOC. The perspective in Fortress Frontier is shifted somewhat since Bookbinder, as an officer, offers insights into SOC operations that Oscar Britain never could. Things take a different turn as Fortress Frontier catches up with the finale of Control Point and the change of pace is refreshing.