Tag Archives: #Godsandgoddesses

Jemisin, N.K.: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance I) (2010)

 

Lately, I have had reason to think about the many ways in which people surprise us. Usually, I find that the greatest surprises come at times of stress. Some people end up inviting strangers into their homes and others end up reneging on deals made. People we think we know, turn out to be just as unknowable as the rest of the world.

When Yeine arrives at Sky, people meeting her have already made assumptions about who and what she is. In the case of the full-blood Arameri, Yeine is ONLY a half-blood (dear, oh dear) and probably headed for servility. Except she isn’t. Yeine’s dead mother still seems to have plans for her daughter’s stay in Sky even though that same mother has not lived in Sky for the past 20 years. Finally, the gods and goddesses stuck in Sky have their share of expectations tied to their own idea of who Yeine is.

What I have discovered is that people aren’t as we think. Even close family members who we like to think we know well. All of the people with ideas about Yeine end up being wrong. Their own dreams and projections of self onto her, muddy their ability to predict her completely. Even the gods and goddesses. Or maybe especially the gods and goddesses. They are stuck in their aspects and change does not come readily to them. Nor does the idea of having been mistaken in their conclusions about a person.

But life is like that. Isn’t it. We all draw conclusions about others based on projections of self onto them. Changing whatever opinion we might have made is painful to the extreme. Sometimes enmity ensues and sometimes relationships become deeper after the rift heals. Finally, we become able to see each other as something more. In her search for answers about her mother, Yeine struggles with letting go of her pre-conceived ideas about her mom. In Yeine’s eyes her mother is a person who could do no wrong. Even at 19 Yeine still feels the same way. If that vision is challenged, Yeine is quick to anger. But slowly, ever so slowly, Yeine begins to know her mother, the person. Knowing that person is essential if Yeine is to discover who murdered her (and possibly getting revenge).

Perhaps The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Skygod’s Lover) is more about letting go than anything else. In addition to letting go of her ideas and dreams, Yeine slowly learns to let go of her fear. Fear is such a strong component of our personhood. It binds us into roles we may not want but ultimately fear to break out of. Change is frightening. Our own personal change is probably the most feared change of all – at least it seems that way to me. But Yeine discovers what most of us do when we embark on that letting-go process. For one, we generally do not die. More importantly, our fear lessens. Perhaps slowly, but nevertheless. So, too, it is for Yeine.

There is some sex and violence. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus available at Barnes & Noble

Jemisin, N.K.: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (location 2317)

“It was very bad if the council had resorted to recruiting men. By tradition men were our last line of defense, their physical strength bent toward the single and most important task of protecting our homes and children.”

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen I) (2005)

I know very little about PRC and Singapore. My knowledge has greatly increased since before reading about Detective Inspector Chen Wei, the snake agent, of Singapore 3’s Police department. Singapore 3 is a Franchise city. At the beginning DI Chen wonders whether there is another DI Chen in the other Singapores. I would really like to know what that means.

Obviously, Snake Agent would have to be either on a parallel version of Earth or in the near-future. Snake Agent is in the near future. In this near-future people are just moving away from the electric net to a bio-web. I think this belongs to something called biological systems engineering. The way Liz Williams describes the bio-web is true to real life. There is the glossy brochure that states that all of the participants willing and able and loving their job. Then there is the grosser truth of tubing back and front on the people keeping the bio-web going.

After contact between Earth and the super-natural world became visible, communication between them has bettered. Authorized personnel can f.ex. send e-mails between the Underworld (Chinese Hell) and Earth. Snake Agents from Earth and representatives from the Underworld can travel between the two worlds, which is how three of the characters meet.

Some time ago DI Chen rescued his now wife, Inara, from the clutches of her fiance. She had run away and somehow she and her retainer, a Badger, ended up with him. Inara, Chen and the Badger worry that she is still being hunted by the Underworld. Some of the people who could be on her trail are extremely dangerous to the health of the hunted. Turns out Inara is still being hunted by her power-hungry ex-fiancè. The Minister of Epidemics takes his job seriously and looks it. He is a demon willing to go to any length to increase his power.

Inara being kidnapped happens while DI Chen is on the main chase of Snake Agents. Ghosts of young, virtuous girls are disappearing on their way to heaven. The disappearance of one such girl is what led DI Chen to the rest. Unbeknownst to each other, part of Earth’s and part of Hell’s bureaucracy unite in finding the answer to this problem. DI Chen from Earth and Seneschal Zhu Irzh from the Underworld’s Vice Squad accidentally meet and end up kind of working together. At first the two help each other out without telling their bosses. Their working relationship becomes more permanent during Snake Agent. What the two discover can end up making scape-goats out of them.

I had fun with Snake Agent. It was a great read about the distribution of power, gender and the solving of several crimes. I was entertained from page one and out. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Snake Agent available at Open Road


An introduction to living in the Chinese cosmos

Hell in Chinese Mythology

The gates to Taizong’s Hell

Doing business in China vs. Singapore

Cultural differences between Singapore Chinese and PRC Chinese

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent – quote from page 199

Before Inari could protest, he slid his arms around her waist and lifted her up towards the ceiling. She grasped the edge of the opening and hoisted herself through, feeling uncomfortably exposed in the rags of her dressing gown.

“Please don’t look at me,” she said, embarrassed.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” the demon replied gallantly. She was sure he was lying,”…

McLeod, Suzanne: The Bitter Seed of Magic (Spellcrackers III) (2011)

 

Detective Inspector Helen Crane of the Metropolitan Police’s Magic and Murder Squad embodies the law of unintended consequences to me. As we saw in The Sweet Scent of Blood and The Cold Kiss of Death DI Crane is out to get Genvieve Taylor. Helen is a Witch. Genvieve a Sidhe. Crane’s hatred is not due to their two races, or rather not directly. In her youth Helen Crane went through a traumatic experience that has caused her hatred for both the Sidhe fae and for Vampires. Poor Genny hasn’t a clue why DI Crane is out to destroy her, but Genvieve Taylor is the one who has to live with the consequences of that long-ago experience.

Spellcrackers.com is both serial and series. If you want to understand the overarching story of the whys and whereofs of the search for a solution to the fae sterility problem you will need to read the preceding novels. But if all you want is a fun mystery then you can read The Bitter Seed of Magic on its own. That also goes for The Sweet Scent of Blood and for The Cold Kiss of Death.

Our mystery in The Bitter Seed of Magic has to do with the strange circumstances around the deaths of fae women. They turn up glamoured to look like human girls. At the very least all magic should have been washed away by the River Thames from which they were pulled. But this is not the case. Obviously magic is involved and because of its nature Genvieve becomes involved. At first only to remove the spells on their bodies. Then it becomes personal – due to the matter of the feud DI Crane has instigated.

Genny’s own past comes to haunt her. She meets long-lost relatives. Her nickname for one of them is Mad Max (no irony intended) and that should tell you what you need to know about him. Others of her relatives also make an appearance in Genvieve’s life, but I will leave you to find out just who they are on your own. Lets just say that Mad Max is not the only crazy family Genny has. Perhaps crazy is the wrong word for their personalities. Amoral might be a better one or maybe just ethically different seeing as none of them are human.

One thing our experiences with Genvieve Taylor shows is that curses are a whole lot simpler to cast than to undo. In fact that goes for all of our experiences in life. In general it seems to be easier to prevent than to fix. Poor Genny. Left having to fix the idiocy and thoughtlessness of others. She is not on her own though and that could help. Having friends does seem to make my troubles easier to bear. New friends turn up in Genny’s life making her troubles a little less complicated as well. She will need those friends considering just who is pushing Genvieve around. Phew. I am so glad I am not her. Boring is good is my motto when it comes to my own life.

But excitement in the form of stories and excellent authors is another matter. Suzanne McLeod not only makes Genvieve Nataliya Zakharinova Taylor  come alive for me but also very much makes me care what happens to her and her life and her friends.


Reviews:


The Bitter Seed of Magic on:  Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Books.A.Million, Chapters.ca, IndieBound, Penguin.com, Powell’s, The Book Depository


Read Chapter 1


My review of:

  1. The Sweet Scent of Blood
  2. The Cold Kiss of Death

Fae dictionary

dePierres, Marianne: Transformation Space (Sentients of Orion IV) (2010)

Manta ray: Alexander Safonov;  Space crafts: Dale O'Dell/Alamy;  Cover design: www.blacksheep-uk.com
Manta ray: Alexander Safonov;
Space crafts: Dale O’Dell/Alamy;
Cover design: http://www.blacksheep-uk.com

I haven’t really liked the other covers of the series that are like the one above. Nor have I liked the ones similar to the one below. But in the case of Transformation Space both covers have appealed to me. The bottom one is because of the eyes of the main model. In the above cover I love the details that reveal themselves as I review the picture along with the color combination.

Dum, da, rah, dum! The end is here.

 Like this … Nova projected a grave melancholia, a vast emptiness without end that made Mira want to weep.

<you know this? little one?>

We all know. Do you feel it too?

According to answers.com the definition of melancholia is:

Melancholia brings about a form of pessimism that sees the future as blocked and unchangeable. Such pessimism is accompanied by ideas of guilt and unworthiness, which find expression through self-accusation and can even give rise to delusion. …. Mental suffering engenders a continual desire for death.

How far would we be willing to go to get out of our melancholia? At what point does the melancholia cause us to tip over the boundary of no, nos? There are plenty of stories out there about just what happens to people who end up in this valley of bleakness in their attempts to relieve the pain.

The lovely thing about fiction is that the author gets to explore such subjects. The serial Sentients of Orion has explored the issue of how far one particular non-humanesque is willing to go in order to relieve its melancholia. Because its motivations and background is foreign and more or less unknown to us, we only get to see the effects of trying to relieve its pain.

The Sacqr are one of those effects. You know, the Sacqr are seriously bad-ass. Nothing kills them, except maybe something really big stepping on them. Weapons seem to have no effect and their voraciousness has no limit. Even Rast Randall is scared shit-less by them, and Rast does not frighten easily.  Being kept sensory deprived on the Post-Species vessel almost broke her but she pulled through and used her resilience to help keep the three survivors of that trip alive through Sacqr fun:

Jo-Jo’s muscles twitched with an uncontrollable desire to spring at the creature. Attack it before it could find him, surprise and aggression as his weapon. Not crouch here, shitting his pants, waiting for its maw to open and the bone-piercing stamen to extend down and skewer his skull.

Jo-Jo remembered how it was: ‘esque bodies flung across the floor of the food court on Dowl, Sacqr gorging on their body fluids. The adrenaline that had poured through him then now threatened to overcome his self-control, but Randall kept steady pressure on his head, pressing so hard that the pain across the bridge of his nose began to overshadow his fear.

How much garbage do you have to wade through in your life to be able to keep your cool in such a situation? There are people out there who go through similar experiences every day. Syria, Sudan and Eastern Burma spring to mind. Not much fun living there these days and I imagine what they have experienced is close to what the people of Araldis went through as it was invaded. Rast Randall had fought in plenty of conflicts/wars in her capacity as a mercenary leaving her with the tools to possibly survive what the Sacqr had to dish out.

I found myself admiring the inner strength Thales was able to dig up during Transformation Space. When I first got to know him, Thales seemed afraid of his own shadow. Yet by the end of the tale of the Sentients of Orion Thales emerges as a person who has discovered who and what he is and what price he is willing to pay to remain that person. That journey is one we all need to make. Some of us do. Some of us don’t.

Once again Marianne de Pierres caught me in the trap of her words and would not release me until Transformation Space was a done deal.


2011: Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Transformation Space


Reviews:


Transformation Space on Amazon Canada


My review of:

  1. Dark Space
  2. Chaos Space
  3. Mirror Space

Transformation space 1

 

 

dePierres, Marianne: Chaos Space (The Sentients of Orion II) (2008)

The Sentients of Orion - Marianne dePierres
Cover art by Wayne Haag

The end of Dark Space has left Mira pregnant, raped by Trin so he could ensure his progeny with a pure-blood noble from Araldis. Rast states it so well

“Women get raped,” said Rast harshly, her pale skin flushed with emotion. “Sometimes in war, sometimes just for the hell of it. That’s what happens.” She gripped Mira’s wrist and pulled her close. Then she hugged her tightly for a long moment.

“We’ll get your world back for you, Baronessa. But tell me something: are you sure you really want it?”

Not only did Trin rape Mira and send her off-planet to get help. While staying behind he makes certain to besmirch Mira’s reputation by claiming that she has run off. For Trin does not want Mira to become more popular than he. After all, that might endanger his own shot at becoming Principe after the war.

War, ambition, greed, death.

Trin is more concerned with saving his men than with saving the population of Araldis. Cass Mulravey sees that he has no clue that if he wishes to rebuild his world, he will need women to bear children. The two of them are at odds through all of Chaos Space. Only Djeserit’s attempts to broker a peace between them keeps them from open dispute. Until Trin has managed to finagle the loyalty of the women who have followed Cass, he has to at least give the appearance of working for the greater good. Perhaps all of this pretending will turn to true behavior eventually???

We find out who Djeserit’s mother is. Oh, dear! Poor girl. None of us choose our own parents, but some of us are left with worse parents than others. Bethany Farr is no ideal mother. She seems to have repented of sending Djeserit off and now wants to save Djeserit and thereby Aldaris. But will Bethany carry through or perhaps only work towards the redemption of her daughter until her next “love” comes along??

Insignia, the biozoon carrying Mira, turns out to have an agenda of its own. The vessel has repeatedly tried to get Mira to understand that it does not care about humanesques in general, only the ones with which it can communicate. When its contract with the Fedor clan runs out in the middle of an escape, Mira fully comes to understand how true and real that is.

Mira is one severely traumatized person who is thrown from one chaotic episode to the next. Needing to make decisions pronto goes against her socialization, and tearing herself loose from that socialization is incredibly painful for her. In Dark Space Mira learned to handle a gun, something that was forbidden to the upper-class women. In Chaos Space she has to learn to see through the fallacies of her traditions. Having worked my way out of fundamentalism, makes it easy for me to relate to what Mira must have gone through. Being brought up in a society where women are taught from a young age that they are less and also taught how to internalize this tradition and accept it as right and proper makes the reach through the fog of indoctrination severely painful and self-actualizing. Mira is forced to grow once she makes the choice to make her way through her fog and grow she does.

Asking for help is more complicated than Mira had thought. Naively, Mira had expected that explaining her planet’s situation to OLOSS would bring OLOSS to the rescue. But OLOSS is concerned with what is in it for them and want to get hold of Insignia so they can study it. Having read something about the history of our own world this concern with profit in the face of aid is nothing new. In fact, I wonder if the need to profit from another person’s tragedy is embedded in the human psyche?

DePierres’ writing is as riveting in Chaos Space as it was in Dark Space. Again I found myself struggling to stop reading.


Reviews:


Chaos Space on Amazon US


My review of Dark Space

Chester, Deborah: Realm of Light (Ruby Throne III) (1997)

Cover art by Dan Craig Cover design by Rita Frangie
Cover art by Dan Craig
Cover design by Rita Frangie

Just a reminder. The Ruby Throne trilogy is a serial and, therefore, the individual installments need to be read in order.

Why do we do the things we do in life? My personal opinion is that the system of propaganda we grow up with focuses our attention on some matters and away from others. Pleasantville becomes a constant state for us rather than a place to visit when we need to rest from reality. When two systems meet, dissonance arises and our minds and bodies begin the fight of where we are going to end up.

For Caelan and Elandra that end stop was a place where they chose to confront their veils and try to strip some of them away. The tools they have utilized thus far on their journey through life are no longer adequate and must be exchanged for others that will cause more pain in the short run. Growing pains, I believe such hurt is called.

On the journey through the hidden ways Caelan makes Elandra drink her cup of veiling while he chooses to see the world of Lord Beloth for what it is. But as their journey together through the kingdom of Beloth continues Elandra fights her veil and comes through choosing to see what is rather than hide from it. For both of them the truth is frightening but at least both of them finally have the opportunity of seeing what is.

Who survives and who dies is something you will have to discover for yourself.


Reviews:


  • Series: Ruby Throne
  • Mass Market Paperback: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441004806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441004805

My review of:

  1. Reign of Shadows
  2. Shadow War

Chester, Deborah: Reign of Shadows (Ruby Throne I) (1996)

Cover art by Mary Jo Phallen
Cover art by Mary Jo Phallen

Lessons to be learned.

Every experience life throws at us teaches us a lesson. Sometimes those lessons are only applicable to ourselves and our own lives. For others the understanding they draw from their experiences might potentially affect a whole world. As the Ruby Throne trilogy is an epic fantasy, we expect the main characters to fall into the latter category. Epic fantasies have the tendency to make those lessons as harsh as possible for the age group intended.

For both Caelan and Elandra these life-lessons include deception, demon-magic, beatings and servitude. Elandra and Caelan withstand the horrors of their lives with the qualities that epic heroes have: honor, courage, stubbornness and an innate belief in the rightness of their intended actions. As usual, both make mistakes and suffer for those mistakes (when Caelan ignores the bell that one time too many).

We get to know Caelan best. I think about 2/3 of Reign of Shadows is about Caelan’s experiences at school, his experiences immediately after school and his experiences four years down the road. We get to know Elandra during her Cinderella period and while staying with the Penestricans.

Indications of their challenges come through Caelan’s meeting with the haggai and Elandra’s encounters with Hecati. Both serve to introduce us to the baddies of the empire of Emperor Kostimon. The biggest baddies of them all are Lord Beloth and Lady Mael (evil deities bound by the good gods). Neither haggai, Hecati, Lord Beloth nor Lady Mael are creatures/people/deities one wishes to encounter. Unless you are into that sort of thing of course. And some of the people we meet in the novel are into some or all of these creatures.

I enjoyed Deborah Chester’s writing. She kept me interested throughout Reign of Shadows. Her take on epic fantasy was fun and age appropriate. Although  some of the violence was harsh, it wasn’t gory. Reading Reign of Shadows I knew that down the road something would have to happen between Caelan and Elandra but exactly what wasn’t given. After all, Caelan’s and Elandra’s places in society were moons apart when the novel ended.

It has been many years since I read this trilogy the first time, but I believe I enjoyed it as much now as I did then.


  • Series: Ruby Throne
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (January 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441011667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441011667

Fisher, Jude: The Rose of the World (Fool’s Gold III) (2005)

Cover left: Matt Stawicki Cover right: Steve Stone
Cover left: Matt Stawicki
Cover right: Steve Stone

Boo, hoo 😥 my son and I have finished the trilogy. Each time we finish a series, I wonder if our reading adventures will continue or if this was the last time. Time passes and change comes to us all, even to my family.

Finn (Katla’s twin) is a right bastard. He was the kind of child that tortured cats. You know, that kind of guy. Then life catches up with him. Something happens to us as we grow older. Whether we solidify or become like waves seems arbitrary. Finn solidified and in the end that turned out to be unfortunate for him.

As a reader, I appreciate it when I get a look at the propaganda system an author has grown up during without getting the feeling that the writer is trying to push her points of view down my throat. In fact, I love that because this has not been one of my strengths. Jude Fisher manages it.

So, Death! Death is for many an unwanted companion. For those who encounter Tanto Vingo and Tycho Issian the opposite could be said. The evil twins might be one term that applies to them – except their motivation is different. Tycho is trying to eradicate all the “evil” from the world by burning people while Tanto gets his kicks from torture and mayhem. Just hearing their names brings terror to the hearts of the people of Istrian. A worse combination could probably never have been invented.

Tanto’s favorite victim is Saro. Saro was gifted/cursed with an overly active empathic ability toward the end of Fool’s Gold. Since then, he feels and sees all that goes on in a person at the time that he touches them. I wonder what it must be like to have such an ability? Pretty freaking terrible I would imagine. After Tanto figured out what was going on, Saro was mentally tortured. Once Saro was brought back to Jetra, he was physically and mentally tortured in the prison/torture chambers of the Miseria (Jetra’s infamous prison).

Katla’s physical, emotional and attitudinal journey is huge in The Rose of the World. She continues to be my favorite. Her resilience and stubbornness help her survive what seems to break her sisters from Rockfall. Her mother is the same. Both have to overcome prejudices and fears that have not been encountered previously. Mam likes this gritty little chit of a girl who maintains such a strong will to live true to herself.

The one I pitied the most was Aran (Katla’s father/Bera’s ex-husband). Being caught in a geas is a terrible thing. Once you are caught in its spell there is no escaping until you have done whatever this magically imposed command tells you to do. You will sacrifice anything to get to the end of it without realising how much you are giving up. It is as if something has possessed you and you become unable to impose your own will. Aran’s story is a story of both being a victim of his possession and a victim of circumstances. Poor guy.

The conclusion was magical indeed. Not much reality used to get us there. I haven’t really made up my mind as to how I feel about it yet. But it fits with Ms. Fisher’s intro to the novel.

There were happy parts and sad parts to the novel. Gruesome parts and satisfying parts. A whole lot of obsessed people causing mayhem and destruction. All in all a trilogy I recommend.


Reviews:


  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition (3 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743440420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743440424
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 17.2 cm

My review of:

  1. Sorcery Rising
  2. Wild Magic

Diemer, Sarah: Our Lady of Wolves (2012)

Our Lady of Wolves

Our Lady of Wolves adds itself to the list of bleak stories I have been reading ever since I discovered folk-tales way back in my childhood. Bleak and grim stories about people having to deal with the  harsher sides of life, some of them quite horrible. Like the decimation of Kelly’s village. But life is like that. Sometimes there are no happy endings, only less worse ones.

Kelly’s faith in her Lady of Wolves was rewarded albeit differently from what she had thought but in line with Kelly’s prayers. A wonderful story about 26 pages long showing us desperate moments in a bunch of desperate people’s lives.


Reviews:


Our Lady of Wolves is available at Smashwords

Fisher, Jude: Sorcery Rising (Fool’s Gold I) (2002)

Sorcery Rising
Right jacket: Paul Young
Left jacket: Michael Whelan

Another reading aloud project is on its way. This time my son and I have had the honor of reading Jude Fisher‘s tale about the world of Elda.

Sorcery Rising was a pleasure to read out loud. Ms. Fisher’s words were a joy to pronounce and join together in rows and rows of images. Each time one of the old Norse words appeared was especially fun. Here in Norway we are still taught the meaning of some of the language. On Iceland old Norse is almost intact – enough that the Islanders can read the old texts. Anyways, old Norse is incredibly fun to speak. See sample at bottom of post.

Reading aloud is a strange experience. When the person I am reading to is one who appreciates both the snuggle time and relief from the hard work that comes with dyslexia, I feel as if what I am doing is making life better for at least one person. Jude Fisher made that job simpler for me by making her words flow.

Katla is a fun person. She is her father’s favorite and somewhat indulged. In a sense I guess she could be called a free soul, or at least a person who seems to be themselves fully. Climbing rocks, metal-working, teasing and being teased by her brothers, having her mother despair of Katla ever becoming lady-like, and prone to be impulsive. I can see why she would get into serious trouble. And she does. The kind that gets you burned if you are an Istrian.

Katla, herself, is Eyran. While less patriarchal than the Istrians (who hide their women from the public sphere), the Eyran fathers still have control over the lives of their daughters. Freedom goes only so far, and that length is decided by men. Physical strength matters. While Katla is strong from her smithy-work, she is easily taken down by the men around her. Her twin, Fent, is one who likes to pit himself against his sister.

Twins, yet so different of temperament. Where Katla is impulsive, Fent is volatile. Both seem to be touched by the super-natural. Their expressions of that power differs greatly. Fent fears and hates what challenges his beliefs of humanity. Katla seems to take life as it comes.

Halli, their older brother is the sibling that is set to inherit when their parents die. With that comes a sense of responsibility. Or perhaps Halli is naturally stable. He is going to need it in the times to come.

Their father, Aran, has been touched by magic and not in a positive way. Poor guy. Normally Aran is a man known for his common sense and stable nature. With the geas placed on him he becomes driven and irrational. His children do not understand what is going on and they fear and despise the changes in their father.

Saro Vingo is the younger brother in the Vingo family of the Istrian world. As a younger brother he is always being held up and found wanting against his older and extremely handsome brother, Tanto. Tanto is a douche-bag, a cruel user of people and animals.

Tycho Issian is an interesting character. The man is obsessed with Falla, the goddess of the Istrians. When his daughter, Selen, tries to stand up to her father, Tycho is willing to send her to the daughters of Falla if she does not obey his will. But his obsession is about to change.

Sorcery Rising is somewhat explicit, both sexually and violence wise, but not unduly so. I think its target audience is from older young adults and up.


Reviews:


Sorcery Rising available at Amazon


Cooper, Elspeth: The Raven’s Shadow (The Wild Hunt III) (2013)

the_ravens_shadow
Illustration by Dominic Harman
Design by Sue Michniewicz

You know, Ailric is a douchebag. He is about as power-starved as you can possibly get and Tanith is his way to the throne. Talk about being willing to do and say anything to get his way. Humans are less than dirt to him and his jealousy knows no bounds. As if he has anything to be jealous about. Tanith tells him over and over and over again that she is not interested and could he please stop touching her. Being the third in line for the throne of the “elves”, Tanith feels pressured by many of the folks at home to bind herself to Ailric as the joining of their two families is seen as a good match.

According to Psychology Today a person with a narcissistic personality disorder is one who is arrogant, lacks empathy for other people, needs a lot of admiration. Narcissists are cocky, self-centered, manipulative and demanding. They are focused on unlikely outcomes (I don’t know – like becoming consort to Tanith) and feel they deserve special treatment. For some reason they have a high self-esteem – which goes along with their arrogance. If their self-esteem is threatened they may become aggressive (like Ailric’s threats and actions toward both Gair and Tanith) even though their self-esteem is rooted in the bedrock of who they are.

Holy cow, this is soooo Ailric. He manages to match all of the qualities. Like I said: a complete and total douchebag.

Gair is your basic good guy. He’s not perfect, not by a long shot. In fact he is feeling pretty murderous when it comes to Savin. I get this need for vengeance. Not that anyone has ever effected the killing of one of my loved ones, but there have been people I would have liked to, at the very least, beat up. People who hurt my children in any way come to mind – even if mine are adult now. In real life I prefer the good guys (and women). I happen to be married to one of the most decent men on earth. Like Gair they are all flawed in some manner, but something shines through. This strange quality is what Ms. Cooper manages to catch in her writing. Someone like Gair is often presented in a manner that makes me wriggle uncomfortably due to their unbelievability. But Ms. Cooper stays far, far, far away from that trap. Gair is a guy I would like to hug just because he is huggable. I guess he could be good-looking but that is not what I am remembering – and I finished The Raven’s Shadow at 6 am this morning.

I kid you not. I am 49 years old in a few days and I read through the night. What’s an old woman doing with an all-night-read? Shame on you Ms. Cooper for keeping me up all night. That seldom happens any longer, but I just had to finish. Now I have to wait another year or two for the next installment. What I have just done is a basic case of hurry up and wait. Oh, well. Old age is no guarantee for learning from experience. I choose to blame it all on Ms. Cooper. No personal responsibility at all – oh no!

Teia is the other extremely interesting main character. Poor girl. Once it was discovered she had the talent, she has had to be extremely careful about letting on how strong she was/is. Not only has she needed to watch out for the clan speaker, but she has also had a less than ideal relationship with the clan chief. Well, relationship is a bit strong. Before she was 16 he abused and raped Teia until he had impregnated her. Good thing she ran away even if it did lead to her becoming banfaith of the Lost Ones. A banfaith is a prophetess or oracle. Understandably, Teia feels awfully young for the kind of responsibility she holds. In a sense she is considered next to Baer (their chief) in authority. The Lost Ones ask for her guidance on where to travel which is kind of natural as Teia sees where they need to go. Where the Lost Ones need to go is to the enemy to warn them of the pending invasion.

Ytha is Teia’s old teacher. She is the one who should have made certain that Teia received proper training for a Speaker. But Ytha is afraid of what would happen if someone has more power than she. Anything (including murdering people perceived as obstacles) is acceptable to achieve her goals. Ytha’s goal is to lead all of the Nimrothi clans into the old home-land – together with her chief Drwyn as chief of chiefs. I would not like to get into her way.

Elspeth Cooper’s writing has appealed to me from the beginning. She is one of those rare people who has a gift. In all likelihood Ms. Cooper works hard to provide us with a novel of this quality. But, you know, there is that extra indefinable something that gifted people have.

———————————–

Reviews:


  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575134380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575134386

My review of:

  1. Songs of the Earth
  2. Trinity Rising

Cooper, Louise: Daughter of Storms (The Daughter of Storms I) (1996)

Daughter of Storms cover and map

I have placed Daughter of Storms somewhere between a children’s novel and a young adult novel. Children from about ten and up (maybe even younger) would probably like Daughter of Storms. The characters are “goodies” or “baddies” and the plot is straight forward. The characters we get to know best are Shar, her friend Hestor and uncle Thel. Uncle Thel is the leader of the rest of the baddies, while Shar is our young heroic girl who manages to save the day with her extraordinary powers.

In Shar’s world magic is tied together with ceremony and ritual. The gods’ purview is taking care of the non-human matters, such as creatures from the fifth plane and up invading the world. Humans have to take care of human matters. But the gods of chaos, of which Yandros is one, sometimes stretch their own rules a little. It depends of how they are feeling. There are the gods of order (who sound rather staid to me) and the gods of chaos (who I find more interesting).

Shar is the kind of girl who stands up for herself and isn’t afraid to defy her uncle’s authority when needed. On her side we find cats. For some reason cats seem to love Shar. Good thing she isn’t allergic. Along with their love comes an ability to communicate with Shar. Their shared communication is challenging as the thought-patterns of humans and cats differ. But there is communication. This is one power I have always wanted. Not just the power to communicate with cats, but the power to communicate with dogs and cats.

Thankfully Shar also has two friends to help her in her endeavours: Hestor and Kitto. Hestor is a Circle Initiate (deal with elemental magic) and Kitto (who is the child of a brigand). At one point, these two turn out to be vital to the survival of Shar.


Review:


Sold by Abe Books

Gimpel, Ann: Earth’s Blood (Earth Reclaimed II) (2014)

Artist: Kelly Shorten Interior book design: Cera Smith Editor: Angela Kelly Line editor: Jenny Rarden
Artist: Kelly Shorten
Interior book design: Cera Smith
Editor: Angela Kelly
Line editor: Jenny Rarden

First of all I am going to talk about going off on tangents. My thing is words – Autism is part of me. That means that sometimes the sound of a word in my head or the way it feels in my mouth sets me off on a chase. One of the words in Earth’s Blood that set me off was Lemurian. The Lemurians are also called the Old Ones and are hated by both the Celtic gods, of which Fionn is one, and Aislinn. But the name Lemurian. It keeps on going round and round in my head. Part of it has to do with lemurs. Lemurs are soooo cute/adorable/sweet (maybe not) and all of those adjectives that we give animals that look like them. The other part was when I started looking for things to do with Lemurian on the net. Wow, there is actually a whole belief system centered around the concept (see links below). People are fascinating.

Sometimes when I read a novel one of the characters begins to annoy me. Once I realise what is happening I stop and ask myself why. This time it was Aislinn’s way of handling her situation that got to me. I was getting more and more frustrated with her until I finally stopped and looked at what it was I was projecting. Surprise, surprise. Thinking is problematic to my imagined self.

One of the things that bothered me was all of the sex between Aislinn and Fionn. This is coming from the woman who claims that she wishes there was as much sex (vanilla kind) in novels as there is action. In Earth’s Blood there is. But it bothered me and here is why: Conditioning. My child-hood religion is very orthodox. Sex is no exception to the rule. That in itself makes the whole concept of reading about it – even when it is as well written as Ms. Gimpel writes it – problematic. Oatmeal has a really great poster on the subject. It is funny and incredibly sad at the same time.

My other problem with descriptive sex was my childhood. I was sexually abused by some of my relatives and that scarred me and made sex less than fun for a long, long time (my poor husband). Once I realised what was going on in my head and emotions I could let go of the pain. Sex is good for me now. I got so turned on by some of the scenes that I dragged my husband upstairs and had some adult playtime.

The other thing that annoyed me was how volatile Aislinn was. Once again I had to stop myself from reacting and instead looked at what on earth was causing such a strong emotion in me. One of the things going on between Aislinn and Fionn was a whole lot of insecurity about their relationship from Aislinn’s side. No wonder, considering how it all came about and all of the challenges thrown their way (an understatement if there ever was one). I looked at my own insecurities when it comes to people and especially my husband. Being an autist is a challenge when it comes to a relationship – both for me and my non-autistic husband. My husband is the kind that shows his love through action and not through words. For me that is incredibly cryptic. My thinking muscles are severely challenged when trying to interpret what is going on in our relationship. We have been together 25 years, so I ought to have caught on by now, but you know – some people are just slow.

The other thing that caught me was what happened when Aislinn discovered she was pregnant and the following abortion. The myth about pregnant women being volatile is no myth. Sometimes our hormones take over completely and there isn’t much we can do about it. Add to that the new relationship between Aislinn and Finn and Aislinn just beginning to open her sealed chest of grief over her many losses in life thus far – and my feelings about Aislinn changed.

Is there action in Earth’s Blood. I realise that the above might have made you think otherwise, but there is plenty of action. Plenty, plenty, plenty. And like the sex it is detailed but not explicit (if that makes sense). The dark gods (another concept that sent me off on a tangent) and the old ones used to fight each other. But in their craving for control over the earth they have pooled their resources for the time being. Power is such a seductive thing and power is what both the Old Ones and the Dark Gods want. Power over the people and power to consume the earth’s resources.

By destroying anything to do with technology they have handicapped humans. And by killing off people without magic they have reduced the population and the potential number of people who could rise up against them. These are the creatures the Celtic gods and Aislinn and their bond animals have to fight. But when one of those Celtic gods is a dragon there is hope. Especially when that dragon does what she does best and goes off on a mission of rescue. I like Dewi. She is a cranky, self-important, stubborn, independent and insecure dragon who is terribly lonely as the only dragon left on earth. I believe she is my favorite character.

Anyways, Earth’s Blood affected me and helped me realise something about myself. That is probably one of the more important things an author can achieve. My imaginary hat off to Ann Gimpel.

I have to add one comment here. If you are one of those who struggles with talking to your teenagers about sexuality, I recommend letting them read this series. There is a lot of action and a whole lot of wholesome and fun sex in it. Sexuality is shown as something fragile in new relationships while also showing how turned on by each other people are at the beginning of a relationship.


I’ve reviewed an ARC copy, so Earth’s Blood is not out on the market yet. For a description:


My review of Earth’s Requiem


Lemuria/Lemurians (not connected to the Lemurians of the novel but I got off on a tangent.):