Tag Archives: #Godsandgoddesses

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Blood (Path of Fate III) (2006)

Path of Blood
Cover art by Alan Pollack
Religion, faith, beliefs seem to control so much of the world’s humans. We allow ourselves to be steered by goddesses and gods who promise all kinds of things in return for our unfailing loyalty. Political systems seem to have the same kind of hold on people. I see how soldiers willingly put their lives on the line in travelling to far-away countries on the say-so of their leaders. In both instances motivations seem to differ from anything from undying loyalty to simple greed (although greed might not be such a simple matter).

Path of Blood takes us into both these worlds. Yohuac and his absolute loyalty to the nahualli’s and the goddesses and gods of Cemanhuatl is disturbing in its completeness. Reisiltark is no different. Like heroes in a great many young adult sagas she will do anything to save her country from destruction. That she happens to be a more or less “good” person is a lucky thing for Kodu Riik. What if she had made the kind of choices that Upsakes had – who also believed that he was doing the Lady’s will.

In spite of seeing what a terrible person Aare is (and it would take a completely blind and deaf person to avoid that) the Lord Marshal of Kodu Riik is going to swear loyalty to the man the moment he takes the Iisand’s throne. To him it is the throne he is swearing himself to and not the man. But life is never like that. It is always the person we end up swearing ourselves to and the values that person emotes. That is if we are looking at tyrannies, monarchies or dictatorships. Whether we choose to follow that person out of our own free will or because we are forced does not really matter in the end. What matters is what price our loyalty ends up having. I doubt I would have the strength to gainsay a person like Aare. His way of ruling is much too brutal and frightening.

Fortunately there are sometimes alternatives. In the case of Path of Blood we have the followers of Reisiltark and the rest of the rebels. These are the ones that managed to escape the steel grip of Aare’s followers. They have set up camp by Mysane Kosk in the hope of helping Reisiltark heal their land. I think I consider people like these rebels brave. They are the ones who have the courage to stand up to a tyrant and have put their lives on the line for their freedom. Sadly that is the consequence of power-hungry people – one sometimes has to take up weapons to stop them maiming the place one lives in and the people one lives with.

I’m not certain how I feel about Reisiltark herself. I don’t know if I really believe in her. Perhaps she is too much the anguished hero. In that sense she and Yohuac are a perfect match. She fills her role as hero perfectly. Heroes are supposed to be larger than life, have amazing values and be able to make difficult decisions on who has to die when trouble arrives. This very good and very bad cast of people is part of what makes a young adult novel. In my head Path of Fate is very much a young adult novel. There is violence, gore and darkness, BUT very little of it is descriptive and the dark is interspersed with light.


Reviews:


<

p>—————————————-

My review of: 

  1. Path of Fate
  2. Path of Honor

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Honor (Path of Fate II) (2004)

Path of Honor - Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover art by Alan Pollack

One of the really interesting people in Path of Honor is Verit Aare. Verit Aare is the heir to the throne and eager to replace his father. As his father has been more or less absent the past six months, Aare’s lust for power is growing. Unfortunately for Koduteel (capital) and all of Kodu Riik Verit Aare is a psychopath/sociopath. While a lot of us have psychopathic traits, very few of us reach Aare’s level of sociopathy. According to Psychology Today one needs to show a lack of empathy (cold-heartedness, an inability to feel deeply); show a lack of shame, guilt, fear or embarrassment at ones actions; a tendency to blame others for their own failures, or no shame if confronted; show a strong ability to remain focused on a task; appear charming yet have a tendency toward pathological lying, and they seem comfortable even when found out; incredibly overconfident, as if they cannot fail; impulsive; incredibly selfish and parasitic; lack realistic long-term goals; and finally be prone to violence.

I feel certain most of you would be worried if a person like this lusted for the leadership of your country. Yet Aare seems to fulfil most of these criteria and for me that is the reason I find him especially fascinating and possibly revolting. Take how he treats his sister, the Vertina Emelovi, and what he does to his father’s hostage, Soka.

When Soka was nine years old his father had broken the terms of the hostage agreement. Something had to be done to avenge the wrong and it was decided that Soka would lose an eye. But the Iisand was not able to attend the removal and sent his son, Verit Aare, instead. Aare made the little boy remain awake during the procedure but had Soka drugged so he would remain docile while it went on. Finally, a map of Soka’s father’s lands was sown into the lid of his eye as a reminder of the deal. It had not been the Iisand’s intention that the procedure would be so cruel for the boy, but Aare liked the feeling it gave him.

Once again, Soka is in his power. Naturally, Soka is scared shitless. What will the Verit do to him this time?

On to Verit Aare’s sister. Poor Emelovi. She has to live with the man on a daily basis and he is not a good brother to have. Her fear of him is intense, yet he has kept his father duped as to the depths of his depravity. Perhaps that is because people tend to see what people want to see. Vertina Emelovi, on the other hand, is quite familiar with her brother’s cruelty. He expects nothing but complete submission. If she does not do what he tells her to, she suffers greatly. The first time she was made aware of that was when he killed her puppy because Emelovi had refused to dance with one of his friends. Since then, well. One does what one has to with such a maniac in the vicinity.

Aare does not like Reisil. He does his best to turn the court against her. Lucky him. Sodur (another ahalad-kaaslane team) has made his job much easier. On his part, Sodur did have the best of intentions. But what do intentions help when consequences are what determines the value of them. Poor Reisil, the consequences for her are stinky. Things are looking up for Aare when it comes to using his charisma and power-hunger against her.

Reisil is not completely alone. Kebonsat has come to court Emelovi on the chance an alliance between Kodu Riik and Patvermese might happen. Hmmm. Despite this task, Kebonsat does not forget his friendship with Reisil. Nor has Juhrnus. Reisil is thankful to have two such loyal friends on her side as it seems the rest of the powers of Kodu Riik have turned against her. But friends do turn up in strange places and sometimes lives change because of decisions one has made. She does have the “common people” on her side. But the common people do not have much power. Not really. Like us, the common people in Kodu Riik trust that the powers that be must be interested in the best of the country. Man, we are suckers, aren’t we.

Then two new powers turn up at court.


Reviews:



My review of Path of Fate

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Fate I (2003)

Path of Fate - Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover art by Alan Pollack

Magic. Not all fantasy books include magic, but a lot of them do. Path of Fate is definitely about magic. We have the bond between the ahalad-kaaslane, Reisil-Tark’s evolving power and the power of the Patvermese magicians. All of these types of magic come together and open up a discussion about power, politics, gods and responsibility.

My rhetoric question of the day is: If you have power, do you also have a responsibility for how that power is used? Hell, yes!!! But just because you have a theoretical responsibility does not mean that translates into having to answer for your use/abuse in the real world. We all know that. Even I know that and I am not the best person in the world when it comes to paying attention to what goes on around me.

Reisil-Tark’s greatest role in Path of Fate seems to be to put a light to the abuses of power going on in and around Kallas during the story. We join her as her own sense of responsibility grows and embeds itself firmly into her mind and heart. Watching her come to realise that the people around her are not what she had thought/hoped for is an interesting process. It hurts when people we trust betray that trust. More difficult is seeing how we, ourselves, betray the trust of others. Reisil-Tark has to come to terms with that side of herself as well. My experience is that the reality of myself is the most difficult one of face. Being able to say that I screwed up or need to change a part of myself hurts. The pain is in many ways similar to the pain I have experienced whenever there has been need for surgery. This is the kind of pain I am sensing from Reisil when she has to come to terms with herself.

Path of Fate is Reisil-Tark’s story. She is an enjoyable character who does her best to deal with the life she has been given. Finding her strength in a world where she is pretty much alone is a process and we get to follow her on that journey.


Reviews:


  • Series: Path of Fate (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451459504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451459503

Spencer, Wen: Eight Million Gods (八百万の神) (2013)

EightMillionGods1
Cover art by Tom Kidd
Really great cover

There is a reason I love Wen Spencer’s writing. Her characters are all odd-balls trying to fit in with the rest of the world. Some are more successful than others. Having pretty much grown up in mental institutions ensures that Nikki is going to have a harder time of it than most people. Having an obsessive compulsive disorder called hypergraphia isn’t helping Nikki fit in.

The driving compulsion to write; the overwhelming urge to write. Hypergraphia may compel someone to keep a voluminous journal, to jot off frequent letters to the editor, to write on toilet paper if nothing else is available, and perhaps even to compile a dictionary. Hypergraphia is the opposite of writer’s block.

The way Wen Spencer describes Nikki’s writing compulsion is pretty intense. At one point Nikki tells us that she would even use her own blood to write if the urge became too strong. Wow! That is some disorder to have.

For some weird reason, quoting law to some policemen was like hitting Superman with kryptonite. They just couldn’t cope with material from their home planet. (p. 1)

When Nikki’s mom drags along a police officer to have Nikki interred in a mental institution, quoting law to the police officer is one of the tools Nikki uses to get away. She does get away to Japan on a roller-coaster ride of gods, goddesses, super-natural creatures (like tanuki) and new friends.

But first things have to be resolved with the police officer and Nikki’s mom.

All mom’s are nuts, but some moms are crazier than others. While Nikki certainly has a pronounced form of OCD her obsession is fairly easy to satisfy. All her mom had to do was make certain that Nikki had the writing implements she needed. Being a Senator from a wealthy family (in the US that goes without saying) would also give Nikki’s mom the finances to make certain Nikki could get her education and help her with her obsession at the same time. That means that either Nikki’s mom is insane or maybe there is some other reason for Nikki being placed in a mental institution than the one Nikki thinks is true.

The blurb kind of gives the answer to that. Hah, hah – one of the many reasons I seldom include the blurb in my reviews.

When Nikki discovers that perhaps there is more to her hypergraphia than insanity, she is filled with relief and despair. Her relief is obviously from understanding that she isn’t nuts (well, not only nuts). The despair comes from realising that her horror stories are real, real, real.

What would it be like to realise that the story you had written about a person being killed by a blender was for real? It’s not the most common method of killing a person and to have that person be killed in the exact manner you had written – well that would freak me out. Then imagine finding out that the gods, goddesses and mythical creatures in Japan were real, and wanted something from you. Nikki freaking out is an understandable reaction. She does, but not in a major manner. In fact, her experiences with getting away from her mom’s attempts to get her into mental institutions serve her well in adjusting to her new reality.

“Eight Million Gods” was a fun story. There is an element of romance, but it doesn’t dominate the tale. Instead, we get loads of action, murder and mayhem. In other words, my kind of fantasy story.


Reviews:


Rigel, L.K.: Space Junque / Hero’s Material / Samael’s Fire (Apocalypto I) (2010)

Apocalypto
Edited by Anne Frasier/Theresa Weir
Cover art by Phatpuppy (link)
Cover design by eyemaidthis

I saw the old cover for Space Junque on Rigel’s site and much preferred this one. This cover is seriously cool. Phatpuppy is on my list of favorite cover artists (she’s got her Halloween theme going right now).

Why change the title so often? Weird. Rigel explains it (I still like the above cover best):

Hero Material is a prequel, the story of how the paranormal world in the Apocalypto series replaces the old unmystical normal world. The series proper is a paranormal fantasy, and all the action is definitely on earth or within the realm of the gods.

In fact, when the paranormal elements of Hero Material nee Space Junque kick in, it’s been a shock to a lot of readers, not expecting such things in science fiction. I blame myself for too-light foreshadowing. But I blame the old cover too.

Now the name has been changed again – to Samael’s Fire.

As you see above Apocalypto is meant to be a paranormal fantasy series. Samael’s Fire is the first step on that road.

Charybdis Meadowlark is living in a post-apocalyptic version of our world where the corporations have been able to play to their heart’s content and the environment has gone down the drain. Environmental terrorists, like the DOGs, aren’t making the Earth any cleaner. When we meet Char, she is fleeing Sacramento. Her friend Mike has warned her that the DOGs are about to bomb Sacramento and that she needs to get off Earth and into space.

From the very beginning many of Char’s experiences are about fleeing one sort of trouble after the other. Trouble seems attracted to her but unlike a great majority of people Char has incredible luck in how it affects her.

Charbydis is very much our main character. The story is told from her point of view and she is the one we get to really know. The only other person we get to know fairly well is Jake. Char meets him as he sells her coffee at the coffee kiosk.

From all of the other reviews I feel certain you’ve realised that Char and Jake become an item. There is instant sexual attraction on both sides, they don’t really like each other and both are beautiful people. Like so many other novels there is a sort of love triangle.

In space there is plenty of action, a lot of explosions, some fighting and meetings with gods/goddesses and shapeshifters. These gods/goddesses are like the older type gods: norse/greek/roman = pretty selfish and fighting each other for their worshippers. It is upon meeting the gods/goddesses that the shift toward fantasy slowly happens.

Samael’s Fire is a safe and fun read both for those who do not like explicit violence and those who do not like explicit sex.


Reviews:


  • File Size: 287 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Beastie Press (September 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0041T59IY

Heppe, Matt: Eternal Knight (2011)

Eternal Knight
Cover by Ken Hendrix

Matt Heppe has a couple of places you can reach him. One is his blog and the other is on facebook.

Hadde and the rest of her village, Long Meadow, live within the area of “The Wasting”. The Wasting is a mysterious condition that seems to afflict all life – plants and animals. For some reason the world is wasting away, leaving the land barren. While out hunting one day Hadde and her two companions discover an impending raid upon their village. They manage to send warning and thwart the invaders. One of the invaders has silver eyes that fade to black upon death.

Map Eternal Knight
Map by Steve Sanford

Hadde struggles with the village’s decision to slaughter their horses for food, and she goes hunting in hopes of finding food. A stag turns up that she follows. Hadde is led to a spot in the forest where the Wasting has somehow not taken hold. In this living space Hadde finds a gold pendant that bears the symbol of the goddess Helna.

All this sends Hedda to Salador for help for her village, whether it be temporal or magical. Along she brings Belor and their horses. Tragedy and adventure awaits.

Life is filled with difficult choices and tragedy. Pain seems to be part and parcel of life. Hedda is about to experience a lot of pain. Some of that pain is due to choices she makes while some of the pain is due to the choices of others. How she deals with death, violence, betrayal, friendship and love shows the kind of person she is. Like all of us Hedda is neither good nor bad but a combination of both. Finding her place in the world and discovering who and what she is creates dangers for her but also opportunities and growth.

I liked Hedda. She seemed so normal in an epic fantasy sort of way.

Eternal Knight seems to be targeted at anyone from young adult age and up.


Reviews:


  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461009839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461009832
  • ISBN: 9781452428444
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches

Harper, Tom: The Twelfth Tablet (2013)

The Twelfth Tablet

Greed is such a wonderful thing. It is as if some people think that if it sounds too good to be true, then it must be true. The Twelfth Tablet is the tale of a man who fell for such a scheme. As sometimes happens his falling led to murder and mayhem.

Upon closing the museum one evening Paul Mitchell meets a couple who make him an offer he cannot refuse. Ari and Valerie wish to see the museum’s Aphrodite statue in return for donating a large sum of money “to the museum”. Paul finds himself unable to say no to anything they ask. He tries but there is something strange about their touch that fills him with powerlessness and an eagerness to please.

Once he has said yes once, saying yes to their next request is less of a hurdle. Ari and Valerie want to know where they can find the Orphic Tablet and Paul leads them to it.

Paul is the perfect example of how we are all potentially able of deeds we thought impossible. I find Harper’s description of Mitchell’s self-destructive road believable. Tom has a tight pace and tension galore. We get plenty of action and fighting.

Excellent short story.


Reviews:

————————————–

Weber, David: Oath of Swords (War God) (1995)

Oath of Swords
Cover art by Larry Elmore

I have long been a fan of David Weber. By the time I discovered Oath of Swords I had already read most of his science fiction stuff. Weber has a varied writing background of which the War God series is his only venture into the world of fantasy – a good choice for him in my opinion.

Some of the violence in the novel was disturbing to me. This was the part that dealt with Sharna – one of the dark gods. Why this specific kind of violence is especially disturbing to me is difficult to understand. Maybe it has something to do with my religious upbringing? Because, in fact, the violent parts are not worse that a whole lot of other violence that I have read and not been especially bothered by. Just saying.

One reviewer wished Bazhell would have kept on fighting Tormak until the end. I kind of agree with that assessment. Bazhell is a stubborn old hradani and his fighting what the war-god wanted was fun. What the ending would have been like if he had resisted until the end is something only David Weber could know.

Oath of Swords is very much about being the outsider. Bahzell is a hradani hostage at the human court. He is extremely easy to spot – size and all. Like any outsider he is treated as less. But he does have friends at court and also support from some of the gods.

I enjoyed Oath of Swords a lot and have actually read it two or three times.



  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; later printing edition (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671876422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671876425

Thomas, Steve: Smite Me, Oh Dark One (2011)

Smite Me
Cover art by John Comegno

In the case of Smite Me, Oh Dark One the title was what made me read it. In the story we get a bit of existentialism and family troubles.

Acerbus, God of Darkness, is a fun god, one that plans for the long haul. Lux, the God of Light, is the one that takes himself terribly serious. He has long speeches and flowery sentences. Silly bugger. He really ought to use his brain every once in a while. Lux does say what the other gods want to hear, so they follow him. Sound familiar, anyone???

This is a 26-page great short story that lightened my mood and left me smiling. I will definitely read it again.


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.

dePierres, Marianne: Dark Space (The Sentients of Orion I) (2007)

Dark Space - Marianne de Pierres

Dark Space is the first novel in the four book serial called Sentients of Orion. Orion refers to the stars and sentients are all intelligent humans and non-humans residing there. Among those non-humans we find dePierres’ favorite little creatures, the tardigrades/water bears (called Sacqr by dePierres). Except dePierres’ Sacqr are a bit overgrown and fond of invading mineral-rich Araldis for food in the form of humanesques. We quickly learn that the Sacqr have been brought to Araldis for nefarious reasons.

Baronessa Mira Fedor is our man character. In Dark Space we follow her from the time she is about to graduate and become Pilot First (intuitive able to bond with the biozoon Insignia). Except Mira learns at her graduation ceremony that her ability is to be removed from her because she happens to be a woman. Women on Araldis are only appreciated for their child-bearing ability. Upper class women are not allowed to learn to defend themselves and are socialised into a sex-slave thought pattern from the time of birth. Mira Fedor is not quite at that point when we first meet her, but she is about to learn some pretty harsh lessons about survival and the dangers of such misogyny.

Don Trin Pelligrini is the spoiled, self-absorbed son of the Principe of Araldis. Trin happens to be the one who was supposed to receive Mira’s innate ability. His life until we meet him has consisted of getting what he wants, when he wants it and at whatever cost it may be to others. He, too, is going to learn quite a bit about his real worth to the world he lives in and possibly about his ability to survive. If survive he does.

Jo-Jo Rasterovich, is the first humanesque to meet the “god” Sole. His meeting has become famous and Jo-Jo has assembled quite a fortune due to it. Except something about that first meeting keeps on nagging at Jo-Jo’s consciousness. Why would this “god” wish to be discovered at the time that it was? What really happened that Jo-Jo seems unable to remember?

Tekton, the God-head, from Lostol gets exactly what he asks for in his meeting with Sole. What I have learned from reading extensively about fictional and real lives is that what we think we wish we had, might not actually be what we really want. Greed, ambition and paranoia guide Tekton’s wish. Let’s face it. Giving in to the three of them all too often brings out the worst in ourselves and often in others as well. No reason why dePierres’ Dark Space should be any different in that respect.

There is one thing I found really strange about dePierres’ creation. Humanesques of various origins are able to interbreed, making for interesting variations. I can see how they would be able to have sex in some cases, but breeding seems a bit far-fetched.

My view of the nature of people is pretty bleak, yet for most people alive life is bleak. If you have a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in, enough food and clothing and semi-safety you are better off than 70% of the world’s population. All of this makes it understandable that some of the choices made by the privileged 30% are considered cruel – not to mention the choices of the top 20 or top five % of the world’s population. Trin and Mira drop abruptly from the life of the privileged 1% of their world and join the rest of the people who fight to stay alive. Dark Space is bleak, filled with action and full of people learning to adapt or die. I liked Dark Space and struggled to put it down.


Reviews:


Dark Space on Amazon US