SFD starts like just an unusual fictional period piece. It does not take long, however, to see the diamond in the rough in Elizabeth Moon's heroine Paksanarrion. Set in the "usual" medieval fantasy setting, this book is like other fantasies as Tarzan might have been to Jane Goodall. Paksa is an ordinary soldier - a woman no less. This most unusual book chronicles her initiation and trials as a warrior in a style unusual to fantasy. The story is told from the soldier's POV, not the POV of rulers and generals. Depiction of Paks' evolution as a soldier employs military strategy as a backdrop - quite convincing. I gfound myself sneaking reads between checks on my work. The definition of a good book? Can't put it down. I rated it 4 because I thought that character development and application of psychology could have been stronger. That said, it's Moon's first book. Very promising indeed. Try it for new flavor in fantasy.
Few fantasy books explain how those on the side of evil got there. In
War, we see the further evolution of children born normal but who led psychologically brutalized lives into fighters of the dark. Apparently in ages past Galdirene and the non-magic human world lived in peace under "dragon law" until an evil wizard (think Lucifer, et al.?) turned his magic away from light and betgan anepic struggle that eventually destroyed both sides. But it did not completely destroy
Galdrilene, as much of it was underground and survived the final battle. Galdrilene and its dragon law represent equal opportunity and universal literacy, mutual respect for all regardless of social class, gender equality, and other values which bind together a utopian society. The dark side, on the other hand, offers elites a chance to preserve their exploitive rule. All of this said, Tears Of War is a fast-paced and cleverly written epic fantasy in which ordinary people who have magic are trained to perfect it and, in the process, have life-changing experiences which thrust them into roles they had never before contemplated. Trosper's clever plot and imaginative characters belie that Tears is only her second book Narration is very capably done. Valerie Gilbert differentiates her characters well with accented speech. Yet the audiobook begged for a male narration partner to handle the male voices. In all, the book's plot and its development and characterization merits a very solid 4. The book held my interest throughout . However, I did wish for a more highly strategic and organized war effort. Galdirene may be somewhat of an egalitarian society where authority is lightly administered, but the good guys fought the dark without a well defined strategy and proper planning. All of the combatants were very new in their roles, so maybe it's understandable that their efforts were born of trial anderror. This said, for most of the first two books, two 600 year old people and a very mature dragon were nominally in charge, but seemed to provide only mentoring and aid when someonewas in need. The citizen turned wizard happens too quickly to be really believable. Even with these minor flaws, I look forward to the lastbook in the trilogy with relish.
Audra (A.D.) Trosper shared thef fantasies in her mind with a reading audience in her debut fantasy novel Embers At Galdrilene. Her work reminds me of Eursula K. LeGuin's early works combined with a heaping serving of modern gender-neutral fantasy. In the book, good and evil play outin the clash of colored dragons and shadow (black dragons - and their riders. If I had any criticism of this gbrilliant first novel it's that the only grey readers saw was a black dragon which failed to make a complete transformation to black from its natural silver. C.S. Friedman is one of the few fantasy writers who is adept at presenting good and evil as a dynamic, not a static state. All of this said, anyone who likes a fast paced, gripping story told with warmth an compassion will like Embers and its sequel Tears Of War. Ms. Trosper is at work on the last book in the trilogy.
AOL is a witty, inventive book, performed by one of the best narrators in the business. Some reviewers give the book a rap because it is too short for them - only about ten hours. I did not expect more,given Brandon Sanderson's focus on his magnum opus, the final WOT volume. That he had the time to craft this big novela/little book is one huge credit to a guy who must love to write and write to love. Sanderson shows more humor in this book than he has shown in any of the others, with the possible exception of his young adult novels like Alcatraz And The Evil Librarians. While Alcatraz was a clever theme, AOL is downright side splitting at times in the banter between Wax(imillian) and his sidekick
Wayne (Wax and Wayne). I found the book to be a highly credible appetizer for a likely new Mistborn series. Sanderson continues his highly inventive magic - from eyeglasses in Alcatraz to energy-giving jewels in The Way Of Kings to the acrobatic moves of allomancy in the original Mistborn works and now in AOL. No atrium in this one, folks but you don't miss the super-metal. AOL brings a modern twist to allomancy and ferrochemie (found in the original Mistborn trilogy. AOL is economically written and fast paced. The book held my attention throughout. The book departs from the medieval sword and sorcery so prevalent in fantasy. Set in the new world some 300 years after the Final Empire, it has an early 20th Century technology. It's more mystery than fantasy, too. But who cares? AOL is one ripping good yarn with no obvious flaws save too little focus on developing strong female characters. Michael Kramer is at his very best in this book. A hard act to follow. As engrossing as AOL is, though, I still have my sights set on the #2 Stormlight book.
Moon's Pax stories get better as she moves along the thread spun by story telling the lives of Pax's friends - Kieri, Doran, Jandelier, Arvin et al. Echoes Of Betrayal is competently written in a pretty straightforward manner in a fast paced drama which brings out heroism, treachery, intrigue and a few surprises like a dragon attempting to heal Stammil's eyes then taking him into service, for example). I missed Pax in the prior book in the series Kings Of The North - and still do. But aside from some Pax homesickness, EOB filled my reading time in a most fulfilling way. I like Moon's sense of justice and appreciate her sword and sorcery presented as passing violence. With Moon, an ex-soldier, you always see conflict and violence in an ordered, disciplined fashion. EOB is much like her other books, in that bad and good are locked in mortal combat, psychological as well as physical. EOB may not be great literature, but it is a well crafted fantasy tale which will entertain and leave the reader feeling that s/he has been in the company of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
It took me six months to read Dance With Dragons. It started slowly, ever so slowly. We trudged here and there with Tirian as he passed from wine barrel to luxury to a boat ride with some strange characters to imprisonment and on and on. I just could not maintain the proper attention span to read this book continuously. Yet I was so invested in the series (A Song Of Ice and Fire) that I kept reading. I was rewarded, though the book dragged once again in the chapter dealing with Denaries. The book is filled with surprises and misdirection and picks up a lot of the loose pieces left in other series books (the young Stark girl, young brother Bran, the female knight who was hung but may not have died permanently and so on). Martin's story-telling is superb at times, though the "dance" drags at other times. Throughout, though, he's remarkably innovative in his fantasy creations and thorough in character development. He has a true villain in Ramsey Bolton, who is far more cruel and uncaring about others than even Searcey could ever hope to be. Dance ends strongly, in my opinion, with Denaries poised to return to center stage and with continued military and political machinations still roiling the land in Westrus. I think Dance is only a 4, despite its numerous strengths. I do, however, look forward to
book Six in the series.
The Way Of Kings is a superbly crafted work which demonstrates Sanderson's unfolding maturity as a writer. The vision is grand, the plot complex, surprises many. The book did drag a bit at times, especially during flashbacks. Overall, though, Way of Kings begins what will likely be a multi volume series in a grand way. I could not help compare the book with the vivid characters in Mistborn,
Sanderson's first major work.
Though it took awhile to really become involved with them, I found WOK's characters to be intriguing and
quite complex. Like Mistborn, good and evil are not quite so distinct as, say, one finds in Terry Goodkind or Robert Jordan. Frankly, I prefer Sanderson's nuances to Goodkind's political preaching. Narration is superb; Kramer and Reading are a great team. My 5's always leave me wanting more, full of questions about future directions and with a real warmth about the triumph of Good and Honorable.
I almost didn't read the first book in the Isaak series. Reviews were all over the map, from 2 to 5. But I'm glad I did. I enjoyed the intrigue and plotting and found the mix of technology and sorcery intriguing. Canticle is a much better written book, in my opinion. It does not have a lot of sword and sorcery, but it has a tightly woven plot, suspense, well developed characters and a slowly revealing story line. The book's two chapters of climax are superb. Narration is magnificent. I await the third book, Antiphon, which was just published. Audible, won't you order it? Scholes is a rising talent, one whose work is on par with other rising stars such as Brandon Sanderson.
Sanderson and Kramer team up on a first rate fantasy that will surely mark a high water reading experience for fantasy lovers. Michael Kramer is a naturally husky-voiced narrator with an excellent command of voice impersonations. There is nothing not to likeabout the entire trilogy of Mistborn. It's an action packed, thoughtfully developed and highly imaginative rendition of the fantasy genre of the sword and sorcery variety. Sanderson has done himself proud with this trilogy, in my opinion. Still in his 30's, he has much ahead. Mistborn is no ordinary sword and sorcery thriller, as Sanderson brings some of life's big questions to bear in the interaction of his characters. What are humanity's limits, it's gifts? Granted, there is little intellectual discussion but one is reminded of ancient Greeks in their interaction with their gods. Above all, Sanderson is one of the most imaginative writers I've encountered. Reading him is a joy which will linger long after the last word is read. A solid 5, this trilogy ranks with my favorite reads (including the works of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind and George R.R. Martin.). I'm looking forward to Sanderson's next contribution to Jordan's Wheel Of Time saga.
Vatta's War, the series name, started slowly, with a narrator who did not vary voices much and with perhaps some unnecessary detail. This said, sticking through Book 1 got me hooked on the series. And Cynthia Holland grows on you. Her "gravely" voice is perfect for a space wardrama, I think. She got better at differentiating characters from themselves and from prose, too. Moon has a super ability to write about war and diplomacy, and she employs it to the hilt in this series. Moon's battle scenes are classic, superbly done, in my opinion. She creates engaging characters, too..people who stay with you for some time. It helps, of course, that her characters have the hero in them brought out by the action. All of this said, it would have been useful to know more about the origin of the "pirate" force. They did not seem to have a point other than greed and hatred. This said, seldom are things so black and white in real life. Book 5, Victory Conditions, brings the series to a climactic and successful conclusion...but there is room for a sequel a la Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth and Void Series and Moon's own Paksenarrion series. Space is a big place! Why did I rate the book a 5, when I rated the first one a 3? I use a "visceral involvement" indicator to make my judgments when I rate books. Victory Conditions was hard to put down. That's a 5 in my book.
The series started slowly for me. I had to force myself to keep on through
the first part of Book 1. With book 3 and now this one, I find myself engrossed in the characters and the crafty plot which brings them together. I rated this book a 5 because it is an engrossing SF read with plenty of action. The space battles are marvelous faire. I am as engaged with Kyara Vatta as I was with Paksenarrion in Moon's first series The Deed Of Paksenarrion. What's better, other characters, like Raf, Stella, AuntGrace et al. are equally engrossing. This said, maybe the book is just too good to be real...none of the good main characters have been taken out (yet anyway), as one would find in George R.r. Martin's books, for example. But I really don't mind. There is a place for the good guys to win..and to keep on winning after taking some lumps. Moon's military background is especially useful in making the series plot realistic. There really is such a thing as the "fog" of war. The bonus in this book? The character Ransom, a rich and glorybound young man every bit as swashbuckling as Errol Flynn might have been. Ransom is not comic relief, but he does illustrate Kai's ability to weave an effective fighting force from "found" material. Only one notable flaw, and that maybe by design. Moon's universe is peopled only by humans, as different as they might be, but humans nonetheless. I find myself reading this book at lunch hour and every break I can find. Now, to me, that's a 5 by my most important measure...engagement with the book. .
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