Ever since I read the first novel in this now 11 book long series about Rachel Morgan I have been hooked. How Ms. Harrison manages to keep up the quality of her writing is beyond me.
In Ever After the story is mainly about Rachel, quite a bit about Trent and Jenks with some Quen and Al thrown in. The rest of the players have minor parts this time and some of them are only mentioned in passing.
I have been wondering if I would be able to make decisions based on “the greater good”. Could I harm an individual I knew/liked/loved to save the many? Rachel faces this choice in Ever After. She faces this same choice in just about every single one of Kim Harrison’s stories about her.
Rachel is an interesting person. She is an outsider among outsiders, the peg having to accept that she will never fit into any of the holes. If I was going to choose a main theme for the series it might be how to figure out how to accept your inability to fit in. I felt Rachel managed to do that in The Undead Pool. Like all people who get to that point, the Rachel we now meet is safer in her knowledge that she is who she is. That helps when trouble keeps on following her around.
In many ways Rachel’s life stinks royally. Yes, she is an adrenaline junkie. As with all other addictions, I am assuming that your fixes need to be larger over time. If there is one thing Rachel cannot complain about in Ever After, it is the dose of trouble Ms. Harrison feeds her. Ka-boom, ka-boom, ka-boom. From one fire to the next Rachel tries to keep up dragging along her leaking bucket. Ms. Harrison loves doing that to her Rachel.
Another thing Rachel has discovered she needs in these past few years is friendship. Being friends with Rachel is difficult but rewarding. Once you have her for a friend it takes an awful lot to lose her. All you have to do is ask Nick. He has done his utmost to turn her against him (although he does not see it that way). Nick is one of those persons who is never at fault – never. He and Ku’Sox are alike in that regard and as such make a pretty good team (or maybe not).
What must it be like to think that you are never to blame for anything? I get that most things in life are plain luck of the draw while others are a direct result of what we have done. From what people say to me, the majority seems to find it incredibly easy to see its own flaws. I’m finding myself completely mystified at how a person is able to accept absolutely no blame but be glad to take credit for good things happening. Narcissism is one of the weirder disorders out there and Nick fits the bill in so many ways.
As usual, you get no synopsis from me. There is as always with Rachel Morgan action, character growth, justice, unfairness, tragedy, mystery, love and closure. You can read Ever After without reading the other novels in the series, but why deprive yourself of that much fun?
The Sable City is a winner. It is full of humour, tension and action. You know, it is strange how placing a few words on a piece of paper (e-book in this case) can bring such joy to a person like myself.
At the beginning of “The Sable City there was an episode that convinced me that this was a novel for me:
“Matilda Lanai was among them, though at the time Block knew her vaguely by face but not name. Of about typical height for a young Miilarkian woman, she was however paired against a fellow Block recognized and even knew by name as Kauna, a full-blooded Islander with a creamed-coffee complexion and a mass of black hair to his waist. While of only moderate size for a water buffalo, Kauna was an excessively large human. Block had known enough Island men of the type to suspect that later in life the big fellow ran the risk of turning astonishingly fat, but at nineteen years of age he was a chiselled mountain of a man. Stolid in nature, but capable of accidental bursts of breathtaking power.
That hot day last Fourth Month, Matilda Lanai had found herself on the business end of just such a burst.
Block’s attention had been elsewhere, but everyone in the room heard Kauna cry “Tilda!” in sudden alarm. The dwarf turned and saw the big man frozen with one knee on the mat and his arms fully extended, watching wide-eyed as the bare feet of his sparring partner kicked the air. This did nothing to prevent her sailing out head-first through an open cargo door, and dropping out of sight. Four stories up.
Block was on the other side of the room, and well past his sprinting days. As he crossed to the cargo door the dwarf had time to think at least she went out on the water-side, but then he also had time to wonder just how far the timber cart path extended out around that base of the building the hand pier-like over the water. Pretty far, he reckoned.
As everyone converged the one apprentice who had been next to the open doorway gaped, then cheered. She alone had seen Tilda clear the wooden edge of the pier forty feet below by the narrowest of margins. One more inch, as the girl laughingly told the crow later, and Tilda would have lost nose, nipples, and kneecaps.
Her classmates cheered, but the young woman with the sodden mop of black hair plastered to her face and shoulders did not look up. Nor did she flop gasping onto her back, as Block expected. Instead, she paused on all fours for only a moment. Then she was up, and running, along the warehouse and around the corner toward the nearest door giving backing inside. She left a trail of wet footprints slapped across the hard wood her nose had missed by a hairsbreadth.
The apprentices blinked after her, then looked around at each other. Their eyes finally settled on Kauna, who had stood up straight but not yet taken a step closer to the doorway out of which he had pitched his classmate.
“She’s all right?” the big Islander finally stammered at everyone, but one man with Varanchian-blond hair answered.
“You are going to find out in about two minutes.”
Matilda Lanai was of the mixed-stock know in the Islands as “Ship People.” Lighter in complexion than a Full Blood but with features typical of an Islander, with a rounded chin, broad mouth, and flashing eyes of a brown so deep the occasionally looked black. The looked that way now as she skidded to a halt, swiped her clinging hair out of her face and over her shoulder, and locked her narrowed eyes on Kauna’s wide-open ones. Tilda’s chest heaved and she stood with her feet apart, silent except for her breath and the drops of water pattering the floorboards. She held her hands loose at her sides, arms toned by boundless youth and a hard year of Guild training.
Kauna looked at the silt, then back at Tilda, then around at his classmates. They now stood father away from Kauna than was Tilda, for the young Guilders-in-training had been drifting away steadily since she appeared, with nary a squeak from the floor.
The big Islander nodded once, twice, then straightened to his full lofty height. He gave Tilda a short bow. Kauna turned, took two long strides into a dead run, and launched himself out through the open door with a great whoop, arcing majestically out over the pier and falling feet first into the water below.”
And that was how Captain Block found his travelling companion. Captain Block himself is a dwarf of the traditional fantasy type. His loyalty lies with house Deskata, one of the merchant families of Miilark. When the last living leader of the merchant family asks him to bring back their sole blood-line heir (who just happens to have been exiled), he and Tilda go off to the continent to find the proverbial “needle in the haystack” and end up having to follow the mercenary Dugan around to find the lost Islander.
Most of the story is told from Tilda’s point of view and much of it deals with personal and physical journeys. Getting to know Tilda has been fun. She shows us that she is capable of changing her attitudes while holding on to her values. Perhaps being trained as an assassin (among other things) has given her an extra appreciation for the sacredness of life that I know I do not have. Her love for Captain Block shines through. Perhaps he is some kind of father figure to her while away from home. Block also lets his love for Tilda shine through his gruffness. Being centuries old has made it necessary to keep a certain distance to the people he encounters, but Tilda seems to be able to reach through to him and give him back a part of his life that he had not known that he was missing.
I liked Duggan and the lessons he brought into Tilda and Block’s lives. His ability to annoy and charm the two of them is admirable. He might not be the rapscallion he tries to convince them of but there is certainly a ruthlessness there that his mercenary life has left with him.
But The Sable City is not only about the trio. Other people turn up, as is only proper during a quest that ends up in a fabled city supposedly full of treasure.
Axman Zebulon Baj Nif ends up being saved by a Samurai, Uriako Shikashe, and a Far Western healer, Amatesu, from certain death after they had attacked his unit to find him. They bring him with them so he might be a translator for their mistress – Nesha-Tari. This quartet end up adding another member in Phineas of the wizard circle. They are all going to the Sable City along with a couple of other characters who end up being gorgeous Brother Kendall Heggenauer and Father Luis Coralle of the Brothers of Jobe along with the daughter of a duke. Finally, there are dragons, mercenaries and a likeable demon by the name of Lord Dalin.
The Sable City is the kind of fantasy that has its roots back to the days of The Odyssey. As such it is a recipe for writing that has stood the test of time. It is strange that I keep on reading new novels in this genre considering how many of them I have read. But I never seem to tire of them – as long as the author writes well.
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.
Once again Ilan has to leave the life she has known so well. Her feelings are conflicted and prickly. With her she tries to bring her mother’s brooch. But Terrac takes it from her. Terrac decides to leave the criminal elements as well. He feels as though he is losing himself, or rather who he had hopes of being (a man of peace).
The Fist had been waiting for suckers to come back and get their stuff at the camp and Ilan and Terrac turned out to be those suckers. Terrac gets captured while Ilan manages to escape.
Ilan and her bow bonded in Magic of Thieves. Its strange qualities and seeming awareness puzzle Ilan and she sets out to find help in figuring out what this magic is all about. If there is one thing I have learned in my long acquaintanceship with fantasy and science fiction it is to be wary of objects that seem to have mysterious powers. They always end up getting you into trouble.
Betrayal of Thieves was a pretty good fantasy read. I like prickly Ilan. I sure would not like to find myself in her position. For some reason I always look for common ground with the characters of the various novels I read. No matter how evil or how good they are, there always seems to be something I can recognize. Ilan and Terrac are just average people and therefore pretty easy to connect with. Terrac’s changes are interesting. Maybe I will continue reading this serial.
What would happen if you were offered the world and you didn’t want it? I think about that sometimes. Am I happy with the life I have?
I loved Hjorn. Here he finds an axe that promises him “the power thou seekest” and the poor fellow isn’t looking for any more power than he already has. His only response to the talking axe is “That’s unusual”. “Thou wilt rule the world” the axe says and Hjorn just shrugs.
Hjorn’s character is wonderful. This guy is about the most down-to-earth person I have ever met. The battle of wills that ensues is hilarious.
Scott Fitzgerald Gray has done an amazing job in building up his two main characters. They complement each other so well. Whoever heard of a needy axe? Well, now you have. What a great story this was!
I love it when I get such detailed information on the cover art. The knife is very appropriate to A Space Between.
Scott Fitzgerald is a demanding name to give your child. Talk about pressure. Fortunately Scott Fitzgerald Gray manages to live up to the expectations of his name.
A Space Between is a dark short story. Talk about dysfunctional family. Love, secrets, betrayal, ambition and murder are all part of the game.
Charan and Jalina make an interesting set of siblings. Their love/hate relationship is what drives A Space Between. Add to that the accidental death of their father and we have the recipe for an interesting tale.
I found myself liking Charan and Jalina. Their love and the murder are very much against societal mores, but society is a fluid thing shaped by its members. Their discovery of two magical artifacts changes their ability to see each other.
It was strange reading A Space Between. Gray’s writing was so beautiful I forgot to pay attention to what I was reading. I got caught up in the flow of the words. I have said this before and probably will again: There are some advantages to being within the autism spectrum. Because my “thing” is words I get the pleasure of finding myself lost in them. A Space Between was a word autists/aspergian dream.
For those of you who aren’t that lucky rest assured that the quality of Gray’s writing is high.