Tag Archives: #Loyalty

Johnson, Jean: Hellfire (Theirs Not to Reason Why) (2013)

hellfire - larger file
Cover art by Gene Mollica
Cover design by Annette Fiore Defex
Interior text design by Laura K. Corless

I started reading Hellfire and was immediately engrossed in the world of Ia and her Damned. Annoying really when a novel is this good. I believe I actually stayed up until 3 in the morning just because I did not want to go to bed until I knew how Hellfire ended. The ending was a sort of cliff-hanger – in the sense that the story did not end with Hellfire – yet not – in the sense that Hellfire had a conclusion.

…What if you could see the future? What if you foresaw that, three hundred years from your time, your entire galaxy would be destroyed in an overwhelming invasion? What would you do to stop it, when it would all happen long after you were dead and gone? (Jean Johnson)

Me? I don’t know if I would care enough to do anything about it. But what if the experience had been as if I, myself, had experienced the extinction of life? Sad to say, I’m not a particularly noble person. I doubt I could go to the lengths that Ia does in trying to protect the future of her galaxy. I doubt I would stay sane (well, as sane as I will ever be).

Does she see her life as the sacrifice it is? Oh, yes. What she had wanted for herself was to be a singer. Instead she became a soldier on her journey to ready the different breeds of people for the future. A future she would never experience herself. Her motivation? That was what being a pre-cognitive did. Especially being one as strong as she was.

People being the way we are, means we tend to disbelieve anything we have not experienced ourselves. Which is why Ia has let various creatures across the galaxy received snippets of her visions with information on how to avoid the potential future she wishes for them to avoid. This is where Ia’s type of pre-cognition varies from the type of clairvoyance that could be more paradoxical. Ia’s type shows a potential future based on a potential number of choices. By building on her reputation, prophecy by bloody prophecy, Ia has now arrived at Hellfire.

Upon reaching Hellfire Ia has gotten far enough on her journey that she has managed to convince the human authorities of her claims of pre-cognition. All it took was being right a certain number of times and they were more or less on her side. But three hundred years is a long time for most people to keep their minds on. It is the political games here and now that seem to matter, not what some great-, great- … grandchild of ours will be going through. Keeping the military leaders’ minds on what lays ahead is a challenge Ia has to win again and again throughout Hellfire.

With her ship, she and her crew travels around the galaxy recruiting more believers and fighting a whole bunch of battles.

For those of you who like technical details, you will get those. I haven’t a clue as to how likely any of them are, but they are nevertheless interesting.

For those of you who are fans of action and thrills, there are plenty of those as well. The above battles are only part of it. Ia gets herself and her crew out of various tight situations. While we already know that she, herself, has to survive until she has amassed a certain following, we don’t know who else gets to live along with her.

For those of you who like humour, don’t worry. We get plenty of that along with the bleaker moments. Jean Johnson has managed to lighten the story with some witty dialogue.

Finally, for those of you who like romance, there is that as well.

Add to all of this the writing of Jean Johnson and we have a novel that carries its middlehood well. I am certainly looking forward to Damnation.


Review:


  • File Size: 951 KB
  • Print Length: 479 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0425256502
  • Publisher: Ace (July 30, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009RYS0PW

My review of:

  1. A Soldier’s Duty
  2. An Officer’s Duty

 

McGuire, Seanan: Chimes at Midnight (October Daye VII) (2013)

Chimes at Midnight
Cover art by Chris McGrath
Cover design by G-Force Design
Internal dingbat by Tara O’Shea

I first discovered Seanan McGuire through her pseudonym Mira Grant. I enjoyed her Newsflesh characters so much that I wanted to give October (Toby) Daye a chance. Here I am seven novels later still reading about the adventures of changeling / knight / hero / granddaughter of Oberon: Toby Daye.

Why is it I like the October Daye series so much? My main reason has to do with the development of Toby’s character. Growth (whether for light or dark) in a character is what keeps me reading certain authors. If that development stops I move on. Thus far, I have had every reason to remain with October Daye and her faery world.

By now there have been so many losses and changes in Toby’s life that it is a wonder she is still up and about. McGuire has not given Toby the easiest life to live. Simple lives can be fun to read about but in the long run complexity is so much more fun. McGuire doesn’t slow down Toby’s challenges in Chimes at Midnight.

Once again, Toby discovers that just because something is bad for the changelings and for humans does not mean that the pure-bloods care. Some do, but faery who care about the lives of changelings and humans are definitely in the minority. So it has been throughout history. Many are the tales of faery interacting with people with devastating results for the person. Perhaps being immortal has something to do with that. At least that is an excuse we hear in Chimes at Midnight.

There is romance going on between Toby and Tybalt, but romance is not a major part of Chimes at Midnight. Action is. As with the other Daye novels, McGuire keeps her novels free from explicitness.

I liked Chimes at Midnight. When The Winter Long comes out I am going to buy it.

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Reviews:


  • Series: October Daye (Book 7)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756408148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756408145

Lindskold, Jane: The Dragon of Despair (Firekeeper Saga III) (2003)

The Dragon of Despair - Julie Bell
The Dragon of Despair
Cover art by Julie Bell

The Dragon of Despair is about messed up families, people who get a kick out of manipulating others, the struggle of a people to be recognized as a nation, divided loyalties and about Firekeeper trying to learn patience.

In terms of messed up families we are talking about poor little Citrine and her mother Melina. When Citrine got her finger cut off it did something to her head. It wasn’t the fact of her finger alone but the finger added to her mother’s seeming abandonment. Melina must be a prime example of a psychopath/sociopath.

Melina has established her position as the wife to the ruler of New Kelvin, Toriovico. She managed to marry him through her usual machinations and has him and most of his Primes completely in her power. Her reasons for this marriage does, of course, have to do with magic although it would probably be more correct to say that she wants all the power she can get and will use any means to get it.

What does this have to do with Citrine? For her own good King Tedric sends her along with the gang on their jaunt to New Kelvin. This time they are allegedly looking into setting up a silk-line from New Kelvin to Hawk Haven through the Kestrel and Archer families. This is the excuse for the presence of Edlin, Firekeeper, Blind Seer, Derian, Elise, Doc, Wendy, Grateful Peace (in disguise) and Citrine (also in disguise). Their real mission is to see if they can stop whatever it is Melina is up to.

To get Firekeeper and Blind Seer to go to New Kelvin, King Tedric has promised her that he will take care of the problem that has risen west of the Iron Mountains. Otherwise Firekeeper and Blind Seer would probably have gone to aid their family back there. But King Tedric feels this would only damage Firekeeper’s case with the nobles and even more importantly to him, he needs Firekeeper and Blind Seers abilities in New Kelvin.

West of the Iron Mountains a group of settlers has tried to get Bardenville up and running again. The Royal Beasts do not like this and are discussing what to do with the settlers. Only Firekeeper’s reassurance that King Tedric means to keep his promises keeps them from taking terminal action.

Firekeeper’s introduction to the human world and her struggles to understand the distinctions we make between different qualities gives us a better look at how weird human societies truly are. She still remains my favorite character (along with her companion Blind Seer). Derian follows with poor little Citrine in third place. Citrine is a person I have no trouble at all identifying with.

I am still reading to my son and he is still enjoying the tales in the Firekeeper saga. In fact, he grows impatient if I have to wait for the next book to arrive. I rather enjoy having been able to pass on the joy of reading to my sons. Stories have always been such an important teaching tool in society and the Firekeeper saga does a great job in that respect. Not only is Firekeeper an interesting and fun example to follow but Lindskold also manages to convey her respect for nature to me as a reader.


Reviews:


  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302595

My review of Through Wolf’s Eyes and Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart

Lindskold, Jane: Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart (Firekeeper Saga II) (2002)

WolfsHeadWolfsHeart-hc
Hard cover for: Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart
Cover artist: Julie Bell
WolfsHeadWolfsHeart-pb
Cover artist: Julie Bell

As you can tell I had a difficult time choosing between hardcover and paperback cover art, so I added them both.

Having begun reading to my son about Firekeeper we kept on going. Believe it or not, but quite a bit of snuggle time goes into around 600 pages worth of story. 600 pages is a lot of words. Sometimes I think the two of us get so caught up in how words and sentences connect that we forget to pay as much attention as we ought to. In my world that is only possible when the writing is tight and attention is paid to how writing is similar to music. Sometimes we have to laugh when I have trouble figuring out how to pronounce a name or two. What we do then is have a discussion on pronunciation and come to an agreement.

On to content. The Firekeeper Saga is about politics and relationships and coming of age if it is about anything. Sure there is action and fighting, but this is not what the series is about. I love action fantasy and science fiction and I love stories like the Firekeeper saga.

Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart is still about Firekeeper and Blind Seer’s emerging role as ambassadors between humans and Royal kind. On that journey some of Firekeeper’s illusions about the superiority of the Royal kind are torn down. Blind Seer seems more of the adult than Firekeeper in this regard and is in fact one of the people who challenges Firekeeper’s previous beliefs.

Derian is another favorite of this tale. I imagine Lindskold has made certain that I be aware of him. Derian is Carter made Counselor, a role he had never imagined and feels overwhelmed by. He is easily Firekeeper’s favorite human friend and a very faithful one.

Waln Endbrook is a really good bad guy. He is the ultimate bully – afraid of letting go of power and ready to step on anyone who gets in his way – especially if they are weaker than he is. One of the more fascinating parts of Waln’s character was the mental acrobatics he was willing employ in order to avoid blaming himself for anything. It was always something the other person had done or said that brought about trouble. I hate meeting these people in real life because they scare the shit out of me. But I have also learned, the hard way, the necessity of seeming strong around them.

Elise and Doc are the “hopeless romance” carriers of the series. Poor guys. So in love and yet bound by the strictures of society from having any kind of romantic attachment. Politics sure do stink at times.

We are also introduced to Firekeeper’s adorable adopted brother Edlin Norwood. Hugh Laurie in Bertie Wooster exemplifies just how I imagine Edlin speaks.


Reviews:


  • Published: August 24, 2002
  • File Size: 1100 KB
  • Print Length: 620 pages
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003G93YE6
  • ISBN-10: 031287426X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312874261

My review of Through Wolf’s Eyes

Marquitz, Tim: Requiem (Blood War III) (2012)

Requiem
Cover artist: Carter Reid
My favorite of the three

Requiem is by far the best of the Blood War trilogy. It seems as if Marquitz is finding his fantasy feet (although I doubt he ever lost them since feet are usually stuck on).

What I like about Tim is that we have little romance and lots of action. Tons of it in fact. The Blood War trilogy is after all about a war fought on all possible sides against overwhelming odds. Which is why I add my warning: Beware of blood and gore. War is ugly and so is this. There is no attempt at sugar-coating the brutality of warring parties in Requiem nor is there a glorification of the violence.

I retain my favorites from before: Arrin / Uthul and Zaree and this time I am adding Ellara (this is one resilient girl). Ellara is an orphan from Lathah who ends up helping orphan friends and the royal family in their escape attempts. She showed the kind of grit she had in Embers of an Age and has the same kind of gumption in Requiem. A girl to admire.

While Blood War is considered dark fantasy it is still full of hope. Maybe it is this hope that makes intelligent beings fight for their lives. My brain finds it mysterious to see the lengths of suffering people are willing to endure just so they will not die. But in Requiem we also see that for some people there comes a point when dying is an expression of hope.


Reviews:


  • Published: Oct. 21, 2012        
  • File Size: 424 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Words: 61,210 (approximate)
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009UDZRW4
  • ISBN: 9781301454877

My review of Dawn of War and Embers of an Age.

Marquitz, Tim: Embers of an Age (Blood War II) (2012)

Embers of an Age a
Cover art by Jessy Lucero

I think a fair criticism of Embers of an Age comes from Sylvain Martel (below). Sylvain comments on the way the various nations must be squashed together as the time from one to the other takes such a short while. I had the same thought while reading but had forgotten that disturbance as I was paying more attention to the characters themselves. It is true. The pace at which these characters must travel is immense.

My favorite character continues to be Arrin. He is so obviously a tragic hero who happens to be part of a story that seems to have very few happy endings. With all of the blood and gore Marquitz places us in it is difficult to imagine any of the characters having a Disney ending to their story – Arrin least of all.

Next to Arrin come Zalee and Uthul (the Sha’ree). Zalee and Uthul are daughter and father. Both are subject to the strange illness that comes with using magic contained in the O’hra but still choose to do so. Coming out from their homeland has brought home to them exactly what the Sha’ree have missed by absenting themselves for so long. I sometimes see that in my own life. Because I am fortunate in so many aspects of my life it is sometimes tempting to stick my head in the sand and become blind to the lives of other people. Maybe that is why I like Uthul and Zalee so much. They have chosen to raise their heads and see.

Sultae is my final favorite. She is obviously out to get revenge for how she has been wronged and she has become insane with that need and her understandable hatred. I get that feeling as well. Sometimes I have felt it myself and sometimes I have had friends and acquaintances who have wanted to destroy those who have wronged them so badly. While she does not take up much space in Embers of an Age, Sultae is an essential part of the story. Without her it would not have happened.

There is tons of fighting of one type or another. People are running from place to place chased by various creatures. Action is present from beginning to end and Marquitz ends this story on a cliff-hanger. There are still hiccups but the Blood War trilogy is getting better.

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Reviews:

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My review of Dawn of War

Carlon, Lee: The Dead God’s Shadow (The Bastard Cadre III) (2013)

The Dead God's Shadow1
Cover artist Lee Carlon

The Bastard Cadre serial just gets better and better. I think I am a sucker for the traditional Hero. I have to admit that I am a sucker for just about any type of character as long as they are well written.

One example of a well written character in The Dead God’s Shadow is the Death priest Avril has his gentle encounter with. Crazy or what? That is one dedicated priest. I don’t know if it is more fun to write about the “bad guys”, but in my head it must be. I cannot even say that the Death priest was a well-rounded character because he was utterly and completely boinkers. No more than some people out there, but still …

Obduron’s dad isn’t exactly a sweetheart either. I guess that in a world left as harsh as the one Avril lives in the term “survival of the strongest” does not necessarily mean that the strong are going to be nice. Probably quite the opposite in fact. Maybe it comes from holding power for as long as Valan has.

You must know by now that The Bastard Cadre is a post-apocalyptic tale. The land is  decimated and people struggle to hold on to life. Desertification seems to be huge in the area Avril travels through. Avril is one tough dude. He is like the Energizer bunny – just keeps on going and going and going. He retains a certain kind of innocence about him in spite of the many opportunities to turn into a cynic. I think he is the kind of person I would like to be.

I keep on wondering about those gods. Who exactly are they? They aren’t immortal and they certainly do not agree on matters. In fact they war against each other using humans to fight many of their battles. Right there we can tell that they aren’t very nice nor do they care about people. I feel like throwing a hissy-fit demanding to know right now what the rest of the story is. But authors are cruel people who like to keep their fans waiting and it seems Lee Carlon is no exception to that rule.

The Dead God’s Shadow is definitely dark and so is the humor. There is something so refreshing about dark humor that cannot be found anywhere else. Carlon is subtle about his points as well. They sort of sneak up on you (well, me).


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 297 KB
  • Print Length: 146 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Clockwork Samurai; 1 edition (30 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU  S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E96LAMI

I was given a reviewer’s copy by Carlon. The only preferential treatment I am aware of giving is to read the novel ahead of others on my general to-read list.