Meaney, John: Dark Blood (2009)

Dark Blood

The Tristopolis series about Lieutenant Donal is an incredibly warm and tense mystery. In Bone Song, we see Laura (Donal’s boss and lover) ends up deader and Donal with her heart. “Dark Blood” sets out to discover the whereabouts of the magicians responsible and we follow Donal’s journey towards that end.

We get to see descriptions of loyalty, friendship, love, grief, betrayal and a whole lot of magic throughout the novel. John Meaney is a top-class author who manages to portray a world of complexity and three-dimensionality.

Some of the descriptions inside are quite vivid and that makes me recommend this for teen-aged and upwards. Death-sentences in Tristopolis just aren’t carried out as nicely as the ones on this earth.

This is definitely a read-again novel.

Lowe, Helen: The Gathering of the Lost (2012)

The Gathering of the Lost” is book no. 2 of “The Wall of Night” series. Helen Lowe has done an excellent job on the follow-up of the first book in the series “The Heir of Night“. She manages to draw the reader in and does not let go until the last page. As teen-lit this is really good. The story is fairly complex and surprising (perhaps) in its twists and turns.

Through various journeys, Lowe leads us to Malian and Kalan. We get to see where they stand in relationship to each other and to the quest they set out on 5 years previously. Saving the Derai (and perhaps the rest of the world) from the fierce Swarm will not be simple. Discovering where the lost clans are takes time, and time is precious.

As in The Heir of Night Malian’s choices will make the difference in the outcome of the coming battle.

Lowe, Helen: The Heir of Night (2010)

“The Heir of Night” is book no. 1 in “The Wall of Night” series. It’s a typical hero’s quest type of story meant for the age group 10 and up set on another world. This is an excellent example of teen-lit. Lowe’s writing is excellent. She grabs hold of the reader and does not let go.

If Night falls, all fall…

Malian is the heir to the clan of Night. The Wall of Night keeps out the Swarm – a traditional enemy. One night the keep is attacked by members of the swarm and they specifically seek to destroy Malian. During this battle Malian discovers that she has powers that will make her an outcast, and she has to decide whether to use them. This choice is the beginning of Malian’s quest.

Malian’s character is the most interesting one. Kalan, the acolyte, is part of a cast of hated power users (the kind of power that Malian has). His and Malian’s friendship is unexpected to them both and vital to the development of the story. As both he and Malian have to deal with the consequences of her choice, the world of humans is on the edge.


The Heir of Night has won the international Gemmell “Morningstar” Award 2012 for Best Fantasy Newcomer

McBain, Ed: Alice in Jeopardy (2005)

I’ve seen several readers on Amazon  complaining of McBain‘s treatment of “Alice in Jeopardy”. Just because McBain has strayed from his “Precinct” characterization does not mean that the quality of his writing has diminished. It is as it has always been, good quality mystery prose.

This is a fun mystery. The “bad” guy is a surprise and Alice, our heroine, is fairly three-dimensional. Alice’s two children are kidnapped, and this is the story of getting them back and finding the bad guy.

There is plenty of action and psychology, necessary ingredients in a mystery. McBain was truly one of the better mystery writers out there.

Freeman, Lorna: Shadow’s Past (Borderlands III) (2010)

How is it that some authors write a series and as they go along their books maintain high quality and re-readability while others end up with muck in the end. Lorna Freeman’s books are in the first category. Her books continue to be fun to read, leaving me happy at the end of them – glad to have read them.

Shadows Past continues shortly after The King’s Own. Rabbit keeps on being flung into unexpected situations (trouble-magnet that he is), challenging his loyalties and his ability to trust others. He is still delightfully naive yet wise. Everyone has their own plans on how to use Rabbit, but he keeps on being true to himself. When an offer of marriage turns up, King Jussom takes Rabbit to check out the offer.

The Borderlands series has no pretensions of immortality. But this is a series I keep on reading, gaining nuggets of wisdom and good old entertainment.

Freeman, Lorna: The King’s Own (Borderlands II) (2006)

Lorna Freeman is still going strong in “The King’s Own”, the second book of the “Borderlands” series.

The King’s Own continues shortly after Covenants ended. Rabbit’s journey into the mastery of magic continues. Towards the end of Covenants we see that Rabbit’s abilities as a magician make him one of the stronger magicians in the Borderlands. Along with his lack of control, Rabbit discovers that people are suspicious and fearful of his new-found abilities. The discovery of death magic in the same city as Rabbit and the king heightens the suspicion of him. Once again, Rabbit has to prove himself.

Rabbit’s character is fun. He is true to himself, confused, naive, foolish and wise – I guess just like most people are. Perhaps that is what attracts me about his character. Rabbit is someone I wouldn’t have minded being in my early 20’s. That aside, Freeman is simply a great writer. She has the gift, no doubt about it.

Freeman, Lorna: Covenants (Borderlands I) (2004)

I love Lorna Freeman’s writing. I’ve read the whole Borderlands series several times.

I’ve tried several times to figure out what there is about this series that I like so much. The first thing that comes to mind is the quality of Freeman’s writing. It draws me in and refuses to let me go. In the ocean of average authors, Freeman is a lighthouse. Her books are clean. This is a rare quality today. Explicitness is seemingly sought after by the masses, at least when I consider the many authors out there. No sex and nothing gory. How amazing is that? Along with the naive worldliness of Rabbit, his tricky mentor – Faena Laurel, the respected captain Suiden and his nemesis Slevoic – we get served a story full of action, humor, wisdom and fun. I’m left a happier person each time I read her books.

“Covenants” is book no. 1 in the series about Rabbit. This is the story of how he comes into his magic, his discovery of familial relationships and his willingness to be true to himself.

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