When I reviewed Myke Cole’s first Shadow Ops book, Control Point, back in 2012 I found that the book had a great premise, a fascinating world and thrilling action. I was less than enthused with the novel’s main character Oscar Britton. In Fortress Frontier, the second Shadow Ops novel, Cole expanded the characters and the world by introducing Colonel Bookbinder. The split perspective of that novel, primarily between Bookbinder and Britton, made for some better reading and the expanded world made for amazing set pieces. Breach Zone takes things to the next level and (re)introduces Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorrson, aka Harlequin, as a central figure. After the events of Fortress Frontier, and with the previous Presidential administration on the outs, Thorsson has become the public “face” of the Supernatural Operations Corps (SOC). At the same time General Bookbinder has been moved into an advisory role thanks to his borderline “treasonous” actions in Fortress Frontier. All of that changes when goblins and other creatures, lead by Scylla, invade Manhattan. Pulled out of his PR position, Thorsson is placed in charge of the defense with limited support from SOC brass.
Malice is a debut novel from John Gwynne that travels a more traditional path than many novels in recent years. It’s a debut fantasy that reminds me very much of lazy summer days as a teen barricaded in my parent’s air conditioned home while pouring over the latest dictionary sized fantasy novel. Malice, in a way similar to Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, is a novel that seems written to bridge the gap between teens and adults. As a result Malice’s prose walks a middle ground as it tries to appeal to both teens and adults. Much of Malice is about set up as Gwynne details the signs and portents of a world teetering on the edge of a great (and mysterious) conflict. Ancient stone alters bleed and strange creatures stir in the dark places of the world. It actually takes a bit of time before a prophecy is revealed predicting an ancient struggle between the force of light, lead by the Bright Star, and the forces of darkness, lead by the Black Sun. Thrown into the mix of two diametrically opposed prophesied individuals are a number of magical objects, crafted in ancient times, which will be sought after by the Dark Sun and his forces.
Throne of Glass, currently consisting of Throne of Glass (2012) and Crown of Midnight (2013) [plus four prequel novellas available as e-books], may just be my favorite teen fantasy series so far. Seriously, I’m very excited about this series. Throne of Glass opens with 18-year-old female assassin Celaena Sardothien forced into slavery working mines in a prison camp when Prince Dorian and his Guard Captain Westfall arrive with an offer: complete in a series of challenges to become the King’s Champion and she will earn her freedom. Of course being the King’s “Champion” means doing the blackest of deeds serving the man who conquest ruined her life and sent her into the slavery. But the carrot of freedom is too tempting, particularly given the brutal conditions of the camp, and Celaena enters the competition. Over the course of the novel Calaena, whose life has been far from easy even before being exiled to a labor camp, steps into the quagmire of court life and a deadly competition. If competing for the title of Champion isn’t enough the palace, much of made of strange glass, is also plagued by a series of mysterious murders targeting the competitors.
Storm Riders is the second novel in the Dragon Brigade series by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes. It picks up right after the end of 2012’s Shadow Raiders and carries the plot forward. Much like the previous novel Storm Riders is a novel that I enjoyed but which I can’t seem to pinpoint why. Set in a world where the continents float on the mystical Breath of God, Storm Riders sees two nations with a bitter enmity towards one another struggling to come to terms with strange and powerful bat-riding raiders. Tossed into the mix of political intrigue and outright action is the fact that said bat-riders are wielding a form of magic that is heresy to even think about.
I snagged Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin when it was a Kindle daily deal and decided it would a be good time to try out Amazon’s Whispersync Voice. Ice Forged is a strange mash-up of genres that peaked my interest when I saw Gail Martin’s guest post about the novel over at Fantasy Book Critic. In her article Martin discusses the genesis of her novel and the notion that Ice Forged takes the premise of an apocalyptic novel and transposes it from its modern setting to a medieval fantasy world. In Ice Forged the loss of power and utilities (as you would see in a “modern” postapocalyptic novel) is replaced by the disruption of magic which in the world of Ice Forged has seeped its way into the everyday lives of most people.
I had high hopes for James Dashner’s Eye of Minds. The not-quite-cyberpunk Eye of Minds is the first a new Young Adult series by Dashner who gained some acclaim for his popular Maze Runner series. The novel follows a young gamer named Michael and his friends who spend a lot of time in the VirtNet; a simulated virtual reality. Michael has spent much of his time trying to earn access to a higher level of the VirtNet called Lifeblood Deep. Michael’s life changes after his run-in with a girl in the VirtNet who commits suicide, overriding the VirtNet safeties to actually die seemingly to escape some mysterious figure named Kaine. Shaken by this encounter Michael is soon after contacted by VirtNet Security to track down Kaine; saying no isn’t much of an option. Michael ropes in his friends Bryson and Sarah into the quest and the three set forth to track down the larger-than-life Kaine.