Review: Jhereg by Steven Brust

Jhereg by Steven Brust
Jhereg by Steven Brust

Jhereg
Steven Brust, read by Bernard S. Clark
Audible Frontiers, 2012

The first of the Vlad Taltos novels, Jhereg, by Steven Brust has been on my “to-read” list for the better part of a decade and a half. Back in August, Audible.com released Jhereg (and just about all the other Vlad Taltos novels, via their increasingly impressive Audible Frontiers label. Jhereg introduces the readers to the assassin Vlad Taltos. Living in amongst a race of tall long-lived sorcerers called Dragaerans, Vlad has risen to a station of respect and power (if of a limited variety) despite his human heritage. Aiding Vlad in his endeavors is his Jhereg familiar Loiosh, earned after Vlad embraced the witchcraft of his human ancestors. The novel sees Vlad hired by a legendary figure called The Demon to track down a kill a thief (Mellar) who robbed the Jhereg Council (the clan that Vlad himself belongs to) of a great sum of money; so great a sum that if Mellar gets away the council will essentially be crippled.

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Review: Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

Nine Princes in Amber
Roger Zelazny, read by Alessandro Juliani
Audible Frontiers, 2012

I first came across Roger Zelazny’s Amber series when I played the Amber Diceless RPG my sophomore year of college. At the time, having only really played D&D it was sort of a revelation and its reliance on legitimate roleplaying (literally no dice to fall back on) was a bit of an adjustment though one that has positively influenced my approach to other RPGs since. It also remains one of my favorite RPG experiences to date. As the semester ended and our time in Amber was over I did what any self-respecting geek would do: went out about bought the enormous omnibus edition of all Zelazny’s Amber novels aka The Great Book of Amber. It was a strange experience having “lived” in Amber, so to speak, going back and reading the source material; a sensation that I’ve yet to replicate with other series. Now that I am years removed from that epic game of Amber and Audible had released newly recorded versions of the Amber books (though I still wish the author-read versions were available digitally) I’m slowly revisiting the series.

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Review: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (read by Susan Duerden)
Hacette Audio, 2012

Daniel O’Malley’s debut novel The Rook is another one of those titles that goes down as something I wanted to really like but ended up disappointing me on some levels. It is also one of those audiobooks that whose narrator I wasn’t particularly fond of and who I have no doubt influenced my opinion of the novel on a whole. There are aspects of The Rook I definitely enjoyed and its premise is something I definitely found intriguing but as a novel I didn’t feel it came together quite as nicely as it aught to.

The Rook is a supernatural action thriller mystery adventure. If that sounds like an improbable mashup you are asbolutely correct but O’Malley does a valiant effort at making it all stick together. However, his tendancy to richochet back and forth between various themes, tones, and plots often leaves the novel a scattered and somewhat inconsistant feel. The novel centers around Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced, incorrectly, like Tiffany but with an M instead of a T) who wakes up in the rain surrounded by dead men in rubber gloves and no memory of who she is. A mysterious letter in her pocket, apparently written by her pre-amnesiac self, sets her on a journey fraught with mystery danger and the startling revelation of the Britain’s secret history. I don’t want to explain too much more than that, mainly because the slow unveiling of who Myfanwy is and just what the organisation she belongs to does is one of the best things about the novel. I will say that this super-secret government organisation is staffed my many people who have unique and often strange gifts.

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Review: Spellbound by Larry Correia

Spellbound by Larry Correia
Spellbound by Larry Correia

Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles #2)
Larry Correia, narrated Bronson Pincot
Audible, 2012

Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles is rapidly becoming one of my favorite series and the only pulp noir urban fantasy series I’ve yet to come across. The series, which began in Hard Magic, continues in Spellbound picking with a flashback where a villainous active who feeds on the deaths of other magic users is dispatched during the last days of Great War leaving a trail of wreckage and death in his wake before he is eventually killed. It is a long while before the truth behind this man is revealed and it has massive implications for the world of the Grimnoir Society. Picking up a scant few months after the events of the first month Spellbound deals with the fallout of the events of the previous book. Needless to say spoilers for Hard Magic are below.

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Review: The Third Gate by Lincoln Child

The Third Gate by Lincoln Child
The Third Gate by Lincoln Child

The Third Gate
Lincoln Child (read by Johnathan McClain)
Random House Audio, 2012

If there is one thing I’ve learned about reading fantasy it’s that it has sort of ruined the way I approach most mainstream popular fiction particularly when said mainstream fiction contains sfnal elements. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the lighter science fiction and fantasy fare that populates the mainstream market but I think I tend to take a harsher stance on it than other readers. I rather enjoyed Lincoln Child’s 2009 novel Terminal Freeze, a sort of action packed monster movie type thriller that was just perfect for the long car ride on vacation. So, with a vacation looming once more I decided to give Mr. Child’s latest, The Third Gate, a try.

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Review: The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron
The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Eater
Rachel Aaron
Orbit, 2010

The Spirit Eater, Rachel Aaron’s thrid novel in The Legend of Eli Monpress series, once again picks up immediately after the previous book. However, whereas the previous two volumes placed a strong emphasis on Eli himself this latest volume places a stronger emphasis on both Nico and Josef. The events of The Spirit Rebellion and the Nico’s newfound ability to hear the voice of her demon have shaken her to the core. The demon’s decision to withhold Nico’s special abilities and Nico’s reluctance to talk to Eli about what she is going through shakes the thief’s trust in her and further pushes her into the arms of the demon. While the book focuses on Nico and the machinations of the Demon in the Mountain it also further explores the nature of the Shephardess, Eli’s mostly unwanted patron, and the enigmatic Sara the Council’s spymaster and troubleshooter. The Spirit Eater is so far the most fleshed out entry to the series and makes further strides in fleshing out the world Rachel Aaron has created and does so without sacrificing the energy and excitement of the previous volumes.

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Review: The Spirit Rebellion by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Rebellion by Rachel Aaron
The Spirit Rebellion by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Rebellion (The Legend of Eli Monpress #2)
Rachel Aaron
Orbit, 2010

Rachel Aaron is rapidly becoming one of my go-to authors for light, fun fantasy that will consistently plaster a smile on my face. A far cry from the scowling and grim-faced fantasy that I still enjoy Aaron’s The Legend of Eli Monpress offers a more jubilant take on the genre that offers an original premise and a surprising, and ever-increasing depth. My thoughts on the series’ first novel The Spirit Thief can be found here and I’m rather ashamed to admit how long its taken me to get around to listening to the series’ second book The Spirit Rebellion.

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Review: Invincible by Jack Campbell

Invincible by Jack Campbell
Invincible by Jack Campbell

Invincible (Beyond the Frontier #2)
Jack Campbell
Ace, 2012

A new Jack Campbell book is a drop everything and read, or in my case listen, affair. I have never been less than satisfied with any of the Lost Fleet novels and the most recent book Invincible is no different. For those who haven’t read the previous Lost Fleet series I highly highly recommend you go do so; particularly if you’re a fan of military science fiction. If you’ve read the previous series but haven’t jumped on board for Beyond the Frontier well…something is probably wrong with you and I can’t help. Both parties should be warned that this review will likely spoil both the previous series and the first Beyond the Frontier novel Dreadnaught.

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Review: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Hard Magic by Larry Correia
Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Hard Magic
Larry Correia
Baen, 2011 (Audible Inc., 2011)

I have probably noted Larry Correia’s name in passing multiple times each instance a vague contemplation of a Monster Hunter novel but it wasn’t until I saw a description Hard Magic that I decided to take the plunge. After serving the United States in war Jake Sullivan ended up serving time in prison. Not one to sit idle Sullivan has used his prison experience to hone and experiment with his magical gift to control gravity in a specific area. Jake’s unique skills as a “Heavy” bring him to the attention of J. Edger’s G-men and nets him a deal: his freedom in exchange for his assistance bringing down other magically powered criminals. In a way similar to Shadow Ops: Control Point, many people in the world of Hard Magic are gifted with specific magical abilities. Increased strength and durability, intangibility, teleportation, telekinesis, healing, and various other gifts exist alongside ritual magic to create a vast and fascinating web of possibility that make Hard Magic a constantly surprising and surprisingly complex read.

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Review: Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole
Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Shadow Ops: Control Point
Myke Cole
Recorded Books, 2012 (PB: Ace, 2012)

Shadow Ops: Control Pointby Myke Cole has been something of a critical darling amongst online reviewers. The premise absolutely sounds amazing: people have begun manifesting magical abilitys and in response the US government takes control of the individuals lives, they are after all essentially lethal weapons, and more or less press gangs them into the military service (or forces them to liven in what sounds an awful lot like a breeding experiment). The story follows Oscar Britton a military man intially tasked with bringing down “selfers,” people who go on the run after manifesting magical abilities, but who finds himself on the run after he himself manifests a rare, powerful and highly prohibited magical ability. Forced to join the Supernatural Operations Corps Britton must struggle with guilt of his own actions and with trying to find a place to fit in.

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