Tag Archives: Dark vs light / good vs evil

Somogyi, Jeffrey M.: Some Summonings Are Suspect (2011)

Some Summonings are Suspect

What should have been a brief, bloody battle wound up lasting for hours – partially due to the Robes’ fervor and zealotry in defending their cause and partially because of the Armoreds’ fervor and zealotry to their cause… but mostly because no one remembered to bring weapons that night.

It was a grisly scene of hand-to-hand combat. Since neither of these factions was all that skilled in personal, up-close, manual de-life-ing, the majority of the battle resembled high-school slap-fights. And it takes more than a little bit of time to slap someone to death.

These two paragraphs best describe why I enjoyed Some Summonings are Suspect. All 13 pages are pretty much this irreverent and silly. Not smiling was impossible and it feels really good to finish a story with a smile and a giggle. I love it when authors treat us humans as the silly creatures we are. Humans aren’t the only ones who are treated with humor. Mr. Somogyi‘s demons are a treat. I had a fun time with this short story.


Reviews:



First published as “An Indifferent End” in Cthulhu Sex Magazine Volume 2, Issue 22, 2005

Reine, S.M.: The Darkest Gate (The Descent II) (2012)

The Darkest Gate1
Cover by S.M. Reine

I think my favorite part of The Darkest Gate is the way S.M. Reine writes Elise’s pain. Her emotional baggage is at least ten sizes larger than her and the manner she deals with other creatures (human or not) reflects that. Emotional pain eats you up and makes itself so much at home that you forget that it is there. But your interactions will reflect the depth of your pain and the extent to which you work to keep a lid on it. For once the lid comes off, man. Well, it’s an experience.

Elise’s awkwardness is not only due to her emotional pain. As we get snippets of her past we see that the main focus of her parents has been to train her to fight and to repress her feelings. At 14 James found her (see Death’s Hand) and her career as a kopis began. No wonder Elise has no time for the niceties.

Another factor influences Elise’s interactions with others. In 1999 (as you will discover in this novel) Elise went to a gynecologist to figure out what her problem was. Her discovery shocked her and created another wound to place in her casket of pain.

How much influence this next factor has had on Elise’s way of dealing with the world, I do not know, but I imagine quite a deal. The life of kopis and aspis is not an easy one. It requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. There is no glory and no wealth in the life of keeping humanity safer from other creatures. At one point James tells us that:

“hope for was dying in the service of mankind. The idea of being able to settle down was equally tempting and disappointing, since he knew it was something he couldn’t have. He couldn’t afford to eat on many days.”

We get several realistic descriptions of their situations. My parents grew up with poverty, my dad with hunger. When they speak of the harsher parts of their childhoods I find myself amazed to see the people they have become and the lives they have been able to provide us. I see some of their pain reflected in the writing of S.M. Reine.

When you are placed in such a position, some of us find ourselves willing to do things we might not otherwise do. Our practical sense of survival takes over. In 1999 Elise, not James, was the practical one of the two and decided she had to do the job Mr. Black offered to pay for. Doing that job and the consequences that derived from it led to the situation the retired kopis and aspis find themselves in when 2009 comes around. One might say that James and Elise’s lovely rear ends are being royally bitten by the past catching up with them.

I think I am going to leave you with that. Well, that and (as you have probably guess) I LOVED The Darkest Gate.


Review:


  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1937733076
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Red Iris Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0080RED3U

My review of Death’s Hand

Kreitzer, Laura: Shadow of the Sun (Timeless I) (2010)

Shadow of the Sun
Cover art by Igor Šćekić.

I chose Shadow of the Sun from the Kindle free reads list exclusively because of its cover. My reasoning was that someone who would go to the trouble of getting such an awesome cover would make certain their writing was good as well. Yes, I have been burned at times by this less than stellar logic.

Most of the reviews of Shadow of the Sun have been favorable. I have included a couple that are not. For once I had an incredible amount of reviews to choose between and that makes me think that there is probably a larger market for paranormal romance than there is for the stuff I usually read.

From the beginning of this story the main character, Gabriella, reminds me of Sheldon in “The Big Bang Theory“. She is extremely intelligent about theory but not always as intelligent in social relations. I like it when the main character isn’t all Mary Poppins because we are all rude idiots about some things in our lives.

Gabriella is considered an expert on all things super-natural. For the most part the super-natural part of it is faked. Not this time though. Consider yourselves introduced to the three angels in her laboratory. Of course, the angels are beautiful. And, of course, Gabriella is beautiful as well. That kind of goes with the territory of paranormal romances although it is unnecessary in my mind. And, since this is a paranormal romance there is bound to be a love triangle of some sort. What do you know, there is. I guess the reason I choose to be critical of the triangle version presented in Shadow of the Sun is because it seems formulaic.

On to the rest of the story. Shadow of the Sun is much more than romance. We get plenty of action and that is what kept me reading. I liked the whole idea of all of the angels who were conscious beyond a certain point in time having no memory of what Halos of the Sun were. That is what the trio dug up in Italy are. Collective memory loss or memory tampering is not something I think I have come across before. This collective memory loss places the three angels, Gabriella, Joseph and Karen (another angel/FBI agent/?) against the rest of the angels.

The ending turns Timeless into a serial – we are left with a cliff-hanger. Shadow of the Sun was good for a first novel.

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Reviews:

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  • Published: Sep. 29, 2011
  • File Size: 524 KB
  • Words: 107,500 (approximate)
  • Print Length: 524 pages
  • Publisher: Revolution Publishing Inc. (February 26, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0076QK65K
  • ISBN: 9781937790998

Bunn, Christopher: The Wicked Day (The Tormay Trilogy) (2011)

Cover art by Alexey Aparin

The Wicked Day is Christopher Bunn‘s conclusion to The Tormay Trilogy. As this trilogy is a serial it would be wise to read The Hawk and His Boy first, then The Shadow at the Gate and finally The Wicked Day.

There are times when I find myself wholeheartedly able to recommend books for children. There are a couple of criteria I feel they need to fulfill. Violence and love stories have to be within certain parameters. Morals and ethics should be discussed without the discussion being obvious. (I like that in adult novels as well) Preachy authors are a pain. The flow of the written language should be such that I like the feel of reading to a child. I realise not every person in the world understands what I mean by that, but I would assume that a fellow autistically traited person would. It is all about word-texture.

Bunn fulfills all of these criteria in his Tormay Trilogy. The plot itself is pretty basic – light battles darkness/light almost loses/light prevails. I guess when life is boiled down to its most basic ingredients, life for humans is pretty much about the battle between light and darkness. One of the things I liked about this trilogy is Bunn letting us see that a person can contain both light and dark. We are not wholly one or the other.

Bunn’s characters are likeable. The story of Jute and his companions is continued. Not everything that happens in the novel is happy but there is an ending that brings the story to a conclusion. I have enjoyed my experience with the world of Christopher Bunn.

Bunn, Christopher: The Shadow at the Gate (The Tormay Trilogy) (2010)

Cover art by Alexey Aparin

Once again Christopher Bunn manages to catch my interest with his characters in The Tormay Trilogy. In The Shadow at the Gate the battle between dark and light continues. As this is a serial, you will have to read The Hawk and His Boy first to make sense of the story. Ronan and Jute had their incident during a break-in in The Hawk and His Boy. Unexpectedly, the robbery goes awry for both Ronan and Jute. The intention behind using Ronan (the Knife) was to prevent Jute from ever talking about the job. But both Ronan and Jute had their lives turned upside-down during that robbery.

In The Shadow at the Gate Ronan is commanded by the Silentman to get Jute back, or else. Ronan goes after Jute. But Jute is not easy to find. He has hidden well realising his precarious position. The kid wants to live, voice in his head notwithstanding.

Levoreth Callas arrives at the castle with her aunt and uncle. She is slowly waking to the necessity of battling the Shadow. But discovering where the Shadow resides, and in whom it is residing, is going to take all she has.

All three characters have allies/helpers that both hinder and aid them in their quests. Dunn keeps a nice pace in his story and manages to make the novel interesting for both young and old. I have forgotten what it is to be ten years old. It would be interesting to hear what a ten-year-old would take from the story of young Jute and the rest of the gang.

Bunn, Christopher: The Hawk and His Boy (Tormay I) (2010)

Cover art by Alexey Aparin

Christopher Bunn begins the Tormay Trilogy with the tale about Jute and his unknown protector. Just who/what this protector is becomes clear in the first chapter of The Hawk and His Boy.

I usually compare myself with the characters of the books that I read. Are we very dissimilar? Is there anything in the story that resonates with me?

Another thing I do is try to figure out how likely the scenario is. Not the whole magic/supernatural thing, but the interaction between various characters. Is there any chance of people acting the way they do in the particular piece of literature I am reading? The answer to those questions determine how I view the author’s passion for her/his work.

Another very important factor for me is words. Are there many mistakes? Do I feel a lot of editing has gone into the novel? Does the author know how to move from word to sentence to paragraph to chapter (or the flow as I call it)?

My mother and father grew up under harsh circumstances. They have both seen how life can force people to commit desperate acts. Jute’s life at the time we meet him is wholly believable. His circumstances have made him a thief and a very good one at that. Unfortunately, being good at something can be dangerous for the expert. Chances are you might be “asked” to do something dangerous.

Jute did that dangerous deed and things went about as one would expect in a fantasy novel – not very well for him. But surprising things can get you out of trouble and into boiling water. That is where Jute ends up – over a very hot fire in a bubbling cauldron.

For Ronan the Knife his job with Jute makes him want to leave his business and change his life around. Is that even possible when your adult life has been spent doing a job that is guaranteed to make you enemies? We shall see.

The third character I want to mention is Levoreth Callas. She is a strange one. As it turns out she is even stranger than one might think.

So. What exactly resonated with me in The Hawk and His Boy? Jute’s character in general. His life is terrible (according to my standards), yet he retains his curiosity and optimism.

In Chapter 6 Bunn writes a scene that could have ended up in overkill, yet he manages the balance needed to keep on writer’s tight edge. Not always an easy thing to achieve.

Christopher’s passion for his work is easy to see in the way he puts his words together so carefully.

Briggs, Patricia: Sianim series

Map of Sianim by Michael Enzweiller

Patricia Briggs was born in 1965. Her joy in storytelling manifested itself early, and scaring her friends (including her husband Mike) was one of her funner hobbies. Patricia kept her story-telling abilities alive through college and her life in Chicago. When she and Mike moved to Montana she got the peace and quiet she needed to finally sit down and write, and she was able to publish Masques in 1993. Then Steal the Dragon followed as her next novel. After that one novel has followed the other. In the Sianim series Wolfsbane was the last one published thus far in 2010.

For best effect, the books should be read in this order: Masques, Wolfsbane, Steal The Dragon, When Demons Walk.

MASQUES (1993)

My version of Masques is the reworked one. Patricia Briggs writes a foreword warning the reader of this. Due to the years that had passed since the first edition of Masques, Briggs and her editor felt it appropriate to remove some of the traces of an author’s first attempt. The book is supposed to be full of clichés, but I’m lucky because I would not recognize a cliché if it bit me on the backside of forever.

Geoffrey ae’Magi is gaining in power and followers. Ren, the spymaster of Sianim sends Aralorn off to see about a death-threat to the magician. At the time, Aralorn felt that switching places with one of the other slaves would be a good idea. With green magic as hers, she is able to change her physical appearance. But while at a party the Archmage is holding for various dignitaries, Aralorn changes her mind. She has been placed in a cage wearing the illusion of a snowfalcon form the ae’Magi has created. But one of the visitors seems to see through the illusion. The King of Reth comes up to Aralorn asking if she is in need of help. She says no.

After the party the Archmage asks Aralorn a few questions. His magic is such that he can do the most horrendous things to people and still have them adore him. Aralorn is not sure how long she will be able to endure her stay with him. When she discovers that his plans for her include her demise, she decides to run.

With her companion Wolf and her war-horse Sheen, Aralorn decides to find a way to fight the great and beloved Archmage’s evil magic.

WOLFSBANE (2010)

Wolfsbane is a tightly-coupled sequel to Masques, and won’t make much sense by itself. Masques had not been a hit and Steal the Dragon hadn’t done all that well either. Briggs wrote Wolfsbane for her own enjoyment and left the book on her shelf. Eventually, she brushed the dust off it, and got it published.

Wolf has been missing for a few weeks and Aralorn has been dreaming dreams of his childhood. Someone seems to be looking for him in them.

Aralorn’s father has died, and Aralorn goes to attend his funeral. She has been gone from Lyon’s keep for ten years and finds it extra difficult that the circumstances are so sad. When she sees her father’s body, Aralorn discovers that Lyon is not quite dead. Instead, some kind of black magic seems to be involved.

STEAL THE DRAGON (1995)

Steal the Dragon is the second book Patricia Briggs wrote. It wasn’t a great hit at the time, but did better than Masques. It has since become more popular.

Steal the Dragon is set a little later than Wolfsbane. Geoffrey ae’Magi is already dead, but not for very long.

In Sianam Ren, the spymaster, decides to send Rialla (former slave from Darran) and Laeth (brother to an important Lord in Darran) to Lord Karsten to try to prevent another murder attempt. Both are highly motivated to do so (Rialla after some convincing) for different reasons.

When they get to Lord Karsten’s keep they play their roles as slave and master. When another attempt at Lord Karsten’s life occurs, they become worried for his safety. Then Rialla’s old master turns up at the keep and the two of them realize that they have probably stepped into a hornet’s nest. It turns out they are correct.

WHEN DEMONS WALK (1998)

When Demons Walk seems to be a while after the previous three installations in the Sianam series. Like the others, When Demons Walk is light and entertaining reading. Patricia Briggs has her own style that is apparent in all of her novels. She is a good author, the quality of her writing is solid and her characters entertaining.

Sham is an orphan from one of the take-overs of the Prophet of Altis. The Cybellians have taken over Southwood, and Sham is left to thieving. Her master (she is a magician/wizard) does not approve, but he does recognize that other venues might be more dangerous.

Sham is surprised when she meets up with the Lord of Southwood – Lord Kerim. He is more likeable than she had thought, but still one of the enemy. But when attempts are made at various people’s lives (which include killing her master and trying to kill Lord Kerim), Sham put enmity aside and gives a helping hand in finding the culprit.

Hmm. All four books in the Sianim series are interesting additions to Briggs’ archive. I liked them. Like I said, Briggs does solid work. Michael Enzweiller’s maps are a great addition to her website.


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