Sievers turned his lapel out so Denton could see him reaching for a small, slender tin. He crouched and opened the tin on the floorboards, then stepped back. Inside, a large stainless steel and glass syringe. The liquid inside the syringe burned with the colors of molten lava.
“You already know what this is,” Sievers said. “And you’ll need it, if you intend to live long enough to find what you’re really looking for.”
Denton took a step toward him. “You’re using my people to get what you want.”
For the first time, Sievers smiled. White teeth flashed between his black beard. “And you are doing precisely the same.”
Colonel Wolfram Sievers and Lieutenant Denton have lived a long time. Both are willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve what they want. For Denton that seems to be world domination through Project Gate. Sievers appears to be playing another game. That game could be called chaos. Peace would probably be boring business for his superiors. Obvious suspects for such superiors might be arms manufacturers who may or may not work with biological/genetic research firms like Intero. As far as I can tell, the various countries (certainly many politicians) in the Helix world (and real) are simply pawns in the hands of these entities.
As I have said in previous reviews, one of the major appeals of Farrugia‘s stories is that they could happen. Reactions of the general populace would probably (and do) fit his description of the election of the Purity party’s leadership into Poland’s government. Fear of people with genetic mutations is increasing among the population, thereby legitimizing the Purists going after our “heroes” with the aim of targeting/turning off their mutations.
In Exile, Sophia met an operative from the Fifth Column who self-destructed when Sophia attempted to de-program her. This time around, she meets a completely different type of agent. Who or what these new operatives belong to becomes a pressing question. So does the question of DC’s loyalties. Will Jay, Nasira, Damien and Aviary be able to infiltrate Intero’s data system and what about finding Val. How is that going for Olesya and her team? And who the hell are the Benefactors?
From the various links, you would be correct in presuming I had fun with Interceptor. There is so much going on, I cannot help but dig. At the same time, I do have to stop digging and write a review. Once again, definitely recommended.
Farrugia provided me with a reviewer’s copy of Interceptor.
At the outset I want to make you aware of the British English / Scottish English phrasing and spelling in Wolves and War. NOT American English!!! Because of the sometimes young phrasing, I feel Wolves and War is meant for young adults and up. While harsh at times the violence is not descriptive. There is some romance, but it is about as innocent as romance can get. What you do need to remember (sort of a warning) is that Wolves and War is about war and war is anything but nice.
On to the fun stuff.
I really enjoyed Wolves and War. At times I hurt because of the terrible changes to the lives of some of the women and children. War’s nature is gruesome. I have NEVER experienced it myself and am speaking solely as one who reads and listens and watches. What amazes me time and again is what people are willing to put up with if the alternative is death. Often I have wondered why people choose to live rather than kill themselves when their lives become so miserable. Some of the lives on the Southern Continent end up being what I would call gruesome. Yet, somehow life is chosen. Why?
Wolves and War does not answer my why. In fact, it leaves me there with my questions. Ms. Rae has done a brilliant thing in doing that because I do not really want another person to answer all my whys. I don’t even need there to be an answer to my whys.
Wolves and War is a space opera type of Science Fiction – character and world-building is more important than technology.
When the Argyll has to land on the Northern Continent the crew and settlers have to abandon ship before it sinks leaving them without most of their doodads (I know, an extremely technological term). Until war comes to the Northern Continent life is somewhat easier there than on the Southern Continent and the lack of metals is compensated by making tools with a metal-like hardwood. Necessity is the mother of invention even if that invention is a re-invention of old earth weapons. Their smith makes swords, shields, helmets, armour, crossbows and something he calls a contrap:
… was able to fire pre-loaded arrows a fair distance and thirty at a time. The arrows were loaded into a wooded frame he called a magazine that was placed on the main frame of the contraption itself. The firing mechanism was spring-loaded and the magazine was drawn back and then loosed. Distance and trajectory could be altered by the manipulation of wheels and cogs.
All of this preparation would have been impossible without the Aboriginals of the planet of wolves. The Lind are great hulking beasts about the size of a horse but with the look of a wolf about them. They are furry, snouty and have paws. Somehow both the Lind and the Larg of the Southern Continent have developed telepathic abilities along with the ability to form words. The word thing made me think that their snouts must be formed differently from a wolf’s.
What interested the Linds at first about the humans is how humans use their hands and the seeming connection some of the Lind have with some of the humans. Being able to communicate via mind and words is essential in making the humans believe that the Lind are sentient creatures.
Tara is the first human to meet a Lind. Kolyei is a Lind that feels a connection with Tara. Tara is not alone in this ability. On the Northern Continent Tara and Kolyei and Jim and Larya are the two vadeln pairs we get to know most. Tara is only 12 at the time she and Kolyei meet while Jim is in his 40’s. Their Lind bond-person is pretty well matched age wise and this is a good thing as these bonds seem to be for life and so deep that one part does not wish to live if the other party dies. A lot of animal-human bond stories seem to have this as the down-side of bonding. On the up-side is an understanding of the other race’s traits and language along with a deep sense of being loved unconditionally.
I enjoyed the way Ms. Rae tried to not sugar-coat anything for me as a reader. Granted, the fighting was not as gory as fighting really is, but it did not have to be for me to understand the costs of the war between the Southern and Northern Continents. She also did not try to hide the problems that would arise with 20,000 male prisoners escaping into an environment where females are on the run and only 300. When the leader of the prisoners is unscrupulous, well – things go as they pretty much have to go.
Being a colony vessel, the Argyll crew and passengers did not have the same dilemmas nor the same type of people to work with. Without a doubt, that is where I would have wanted to be. Both the North and the South end up with aliens and a landscape that fits with the humans landing there. Any other option would have seen the humans from the Argyll killed and possibly the Lind of the Northern Continent in pretty bad shape as well. As a reader I am glad Ms. Rae chose as she did.
The Left Hand of God trilogy has kept me thinking. I fell hard from book one and Hoffman has kept me going all the way through The Beating of His Wings. I have had to take a couple of days to digest the series properly. Hoffman’s essay at the end of The Beating of His Wings added to my thinking cauldron.
There is something devastating about having reality thrown in my face. What really started me thinking was Hoffman’s description of his Catholic school being less than two miles from Oxford. That got me thinking about my trip to New York ages ago. I’m the kind of person that easily gets distracted from staying on the short and narrow. My mom and I wandered off the beaten path a couple of blocks and started encountering the homeless. Just two blocks away from a regular business street people had to live on the street. That started me thinking about other cities where there are so many homeless that they are everywhere. Cities where the level of crime is so high and the police are part of the criminal world. Onward my thinking went to the discoveries made at the Dozier School for Boys or the abuse found to be rampant in Catholic schools and orphanages.
Back to The Beating of His Wings. What Mr. Hoffman does is hold up a mirror to society. Sure he wraps it in post-apocalyptic paper, but he is basically saying: see the world as it really is. I have friends who claim that my view of the world is too dark. After all, they themselves have not seen or experienced the underbelly of society. What my friends do not realize is that the underbelly of society is in fact the part of the ice-berg that is below water and that they live in the tiny part that remains above the water line. Perhaps one needs to experience the darker side of humanity in order to appreciate just how much space it takes. Or maybe we have to take a closer look at ourselves and our own potential for darkness. I have never really had need or my darker side once I was old enough that I realized it was there. Now, though! I might not have the abilities of the trio of Cale, Henry or Kleist, nor the power or influence of the Materazzi or Vipond, but the wells are there.
While reading all three books I have felt kinship with our trio struggling for survival. They are so incredibly damaged but no more damaged than a great many children of today. And why is the world like this? Well, in the world of Hoffman we see the old story of fanaticism and greed or corruption and power-hunger. On the side-lines are all of the victims of these four drugs, victims whose only concern is survival by any means. And who among us would be able to stay true to our morals and standards once our lives or the lives of our loved ones were on the line?
I sometimes wish the world was different, but perhaps it is as Idris Pukke says to Thomas Cale:
In the paradise that you’ve decided to believe in as your ultimate goal everything comes to you without much trouble and the turkeys fly around ready-roasted – but what would become of people even much less troublesome than you in such a happy place? Even the most pleasant-natured person would die of boredom or hang themselves or get into a fight and kill or be killed by someone who is even more driven to madness by the lack of struggle. Struggle has made us what we are and has suited us to the nature of things so that no other existence is possible. You might as well take a fish out of the sea and encourage it to fly.
My daughter and I have now started on the Firekeeper Saga. We had to try a few novels I have on my shelves before she found one that sounded right to her. Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold caught her ear. The deed is now done and I had to begin reading Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart right away.
As you probably understand, my daughter has given her wholehearted approval of the series thus far.
Rumours and stories of children raised by wolves have not been uncommon. In most of them the person found is wild and untamable. Firekeeper is certainly wild when she is discovered by Earl Norwood and his group of merry men. Not quite human, not quite wolf.
In the real world I imagine a child would not have survived living with wolves. To them we are prey and no wonder. But in Jane Lindskold’s world there are Royal Beasts. Royal Beasts are a step up from their cousins (the wolves we know). Several qualities differentiate the two. Royal Beasts are larger, more intelligent and even havea bit of magic. Nor is Firekeeper your regular human. She is able to understand the language of beasts, any beast. Her ability with human talk, however, has been lost to her – due to causes that become apparent as the series continues.
In this novel we get to see human society from the outside, Through Wolf’s Eyes. Human societies make little sense to me. There are strange rules and restrictions (written and unwritten). Sometimes it seems as if some person just said “let’s try this” one day and then that was the new tradition. To one who does not even consider herself a human, human society would seem even stranger. Yet Firekeeper slowly understands that similarities exist between her Royal Wolves and humans.
Lindskold writes pretty well. I felt at times that Through Wolf’s Eyes became a bit wordy and felt my daughter’s attention waver. Then Lindskold would get through the rough patch and off we went again. We struggled with Alistair’s recitation of monarchies – especially when it was impossible to spot a good reason for this. Although the novel is step shy of flowing it still reads well aloud.
Perhaps the reader should not be too young. The complexity of the novel is the only reason I say this. If you like political maneuvering, sub-plots and lots of threads to keep straight, this is the book for you.
First of all – the cover. Michael Whelan is the artist. When you go to this link you will get a look at how cover artists work and how little they actually get to work with. And still he manages to provide something that captures the dynamics of the novel.
My goodness, what an ending to a series I have loved. I do not think I was alone in worrying when Brandon had to finish the Wheel of Time series. My worries were laid to rest with his first installment: The Gathering Storm. A Memory of Light is amazing. No wonder Sanderson teaches creative writing.
What is it that makes A Memory of Light so good? As I have told you in my About page, I am terrible at analysing. Really, really bad. But there are aspects to the art of writing that I might have gotten a feel for.
A Memory of Light is tight. It’s not difficult to see that this novel must have been edited time and again to get that flowy feeling that I always go on about. There are very few mistakes and Brandon shows us that you can write a novel more than 900 pages long and still feel as though you could have read more.
The jump from character to character is flawless. Perrin‘s over-carefulness, Mat‘s playfulness, Egwene‘s “I know best” attitude and Rand’s “I must die” attitude are all incorporated into the writing without detracting from the plot.
Be prepared for fighting, lots and lots of fighting. We are, after all, at the ending of the world and the final battle. People die. People I have grown to care about. I hate that, because I really do love the quirky set of The Wheel of Time. But I see the necessity of it. I still hate it.
Once again we are exposed to friends who betray and friends who risk their lives for you. In a sense, that is what The Wheel of Time has been about for me. This group of four (five) characters from Two Rivers stays loyal to each other in spite of huge differences of opinion. Friendship, what a precious gift to bestow on each other.
I am going to say something I do not often say: Please read A Memory of Light. You’ll have to read the first 13 novels for it to make sense, but it will be worth it. That is how good I think A Memory of Light is.
I think the reason I like Tavi’s character is because he is a bit crazy. Just crazy enough to see possibilities where the rest of us aren’t able to. Me, I lack that piece of genius that I sometimes meet in other people. Not often, but enough times to know how precious that ability is.
Tavi sees allies in traditional enemies, possibilities in impossibilities and hope where the rest of us give up. (Yes, I do realize he is a fictional character!) Sometimes people like this can be terribly annoying because giving up can be soooo tempting. He does annoy his friends at times. But this trait is also what has brought enemies to help and now another enemy needs to be brought into the battle against the Vord.
In Princep’s Fury Tavi discovered once and for all that the Vord were impossible to talk with/to. Their only aim in life is to convert Alera into Vord (land and creatures). However, the first Vord queen is a bit off for a Vord. She has limited the number of queens and made them sterile to boot. This gives Tavi some hope that Alera might prevail against them in the end.
Invidia Aquitaine is still fighting on the Vord queen’s side while her husband is the leader of the people left behind in Alera. The First Lord is dead and Tavi needs to hurry back to resolve the succession question at the same time as he utilizes any and all means to prevent the further spread of the Vord. But to do that he needs to take down the queen and that is quite a task. Thankfully, his old allies and family are still alive and fighting for the survival of Alera.
Princep’s Fury is the fifth and penultimate book in The Codex Alera series. What can I say about this series now that it is almost over? One thing that is obvious is that Jim Butcher‘s writing is getting better and better. Hard work does pay. I’m hopeful that Jim benefits from this. As a reader, I certainly do. Having read books of all kinds for around 40 years, I have certainly learned to spot and appreciate which authors are serious about their craft.
Tavi has set off with his regiment to assist the Canim with the Vord in their homeland. With his usual tolerance of the Ocean, Tavi vomits his way quite a ways accross the Ocean. Thankfully he has good helpers who assist him whether he wants them to or not. Once they get to the land of the Canim, both Varg and Tavi discover that the situation is a bit more dire than Varg had thought and hoped.
Back in Alera the Alerans are finally realizing that the Vord are real and they are coming to get them. Unfortunately, that usually means that the Vord are about to take over your whole country and population. As we might have guessed by the previous books, the Vord Queen that started the ball rolling this time around is not quite as Vordish as she should have been. This might just be the factor that ends up being a saving factor for the Alerans, Malat and Canim.
Not all Alerans are able to help the First Lord as they are fighting for their lives to save their own people. Which is why Isana is sent north by the First Lord in an attempt to make historic peace between Alerans and Ice-men. Her work might very well be the feather that will tip the scales in the Aleran’s favor.
There is as much action in no. 5 as there has been in the previous four books. Political in-fighting is not quite as extreme as necessity binds people together to an extent.
Jim Butcher‘s series, TheCodex Alera, is well worth a read. Captain’s Fury is book number four in the series. In it we meet a Tavi two years older from who he was in Cursor’s Fury.
The hard work that Butcher puts into his books shows. He himself says that being and author is about work, work, work and not giving up even if you are rejected. I guess I must have been wrong about the Muses just dropping into people’s heads and taking over their hands.
I love it when I can tell that an author has worked for my pleasure. How selfish is that? However selfish, it is true. There is just something incredibly wonderful about an author that takes hold of me and brings me into their text.
That is the kind of author Jim Butcher has become.
Tavi is yet a couple of years older. As a character, Tavi is a warm-hearted person. Somehow he feels that friendship is possible with everyone and works toward that end. Unfortunately, not everybody agrees With that point of view. Senator Arnos is one such person. His goal in life is to destroy Tavy but also to destroy the Canim with what he considers Aleran superiority. Boy is he in for a surprise.
Sadly, Tavi will be impacted (in the shape of Captain Rufus Scipio) by Arnos’ scheming and Tavi’s captaincy hangs in a thread. When Tavi discovers who he really is, his life is not made any simpler.
The First Lord is quite a schemer himself. He knows that he is more or less alone in his battles and seeks a quick resolution to the problem of Kalare. That means that Gaius will have to og undercover and absent himself from the political infighting in Alera. To assist him in his quest, the First Lord brings along his faithful Amara and her Bernard.
I Guess it is about time that you saw who on Earth writes this Codex Alera series. Jim Butcher is obviously showing his more serious side in this photograph of he and his dog.
I’ll admit that this is not a recent Picture, but it is a fun one.
So, Codex Alera and Cursor’s Fury.
Tavi is getting older, and hopefully wiser in his understanding of his abilities. In The Furies of Calderon we got to know the 15-year old boy whose greatest wish was to study at the Academy in the city of Alera. Through his deeds he reaped the reward of just that. A couple of years later, we meet Tavi again. This time he is a student at the Academy and wondering if perhaps he should have wished for something else. But his presence proves vital in securing the safety of the First Lord – as it should when Tavi is the main character of the series. Academ’s Fury shows us a boy who has grown in maturity and understanding of his abilities.
In Cursor’s Fury Tavi has aged once again. His and Kitai’s relationship has deepened and both are committed to each other. Not everyone is pleased with the relationship between human and Marat. Another relationship that not all who know Tavi are pleased with, is his relationship with the Canim leader Varg. But Tavi’s thought is that friendship is a whole lot better than the shedding of blood.
The First Lord sends Tavi off to learn from one of the Academy’s more controversial teachers. The ways of the old Romans need to be explored (yes, indeed, the old Romans). Somehow it seems they managed without using Furies and it seems the First Lord deems it necessary to discover how they got by. Tavi doesn’t want to leave Kitai and his friends, but as a Cursor and subject of the First Lord he does not really want to say no either.
So, off he goes. And somehow – read and find out – he ends up being an under-cover legionare in the First Lord’s army fighting for his life and the safety of Alera.
There is plenty of action. Plenty of it, interspersed with humour and romance and intrigue. Spies and deception are part of the story and one of the greater deceptions will affect Amara and Bernhard as they tottle off to save hostages from Lord Kalare. I guess tottling might not be the appropriate term here – read and discover why.
Another brick of a book – 614 pgs brick – but a fun brick. If you are into action, this is the book to read.
Academ’s Fury follows Calderon’s Fury as book number two in the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. You know the saying, “you should be careful what you wish for”. Well, Tavi has gotten his wish, and it is proving a bit more of a handful than he would have liked. For one thing, going to an Academy where he is the only one without a fury among obnoxious kids is less than fun. But the upside is that Tavi does meet kids his own age that he likes and he also learns quite a bit.
In addition to his studies, Tavi is also the First Lord’s page and is studying to be a cursor spy. Both are taxing his strength but he is growing in knowledge and hopefully wisdom.
Kitai and her father discover the disappearance of the Vord from the Wax Forest. Dorago looks for the long-time enemies of the Marat and he is worried what their disappearance means. While he is looking he sends Kitai to “watch” (all is revealed in the book). The Vord will include Bernhard, Amare and Isana in our tale.
And then we have the Canim. There is an ambassadorial retinue living at the First Lord’s palace. The ambassador’s name is Varg. Jim likes to make the story lines of the Codex Alera pretty complex. Part of that is probably to keep the reader on their toes, but it is difficult to tell his story without bringing in the various people involved. So too, the Canim.
The ambassador seeks the First Lord’s help, but due to circumstances around the First Lord that is going to prove extremely difficult. In fact, getting help from the First Lord for anyone at all is going to be a challenge in Academ’s Fury. But fear not, Tavi is here. OK! It might not be quite that simple, but Tavi is, after all, the hero of this series and that means that he has to do impossibly heroic deeds.
The problem with so much art on the net is that it is difficult finding just who to credit with it. If you press on the picture above it will take you to one site, and I hope that is the correct one. If not, someone will have to tell me.
While reading these books, I have been trying to place their age group. Sex wise they are pretty safe. I would probably give the books a PG rating for that (only because of how strict the US public is). When it comes to violence I’m having a bit more trouble. How graphic is graphic and where do I draw the line? Well, I don’t really know. There is violence and it is descriptive, but it isn’t what carries the story (at least not in Academ’s Fury). I guess I would say that the reader should not be too young, but it is OK for a teen-ager. But I am ancient, so what do I know?
Anyways, after that struggle, I want to say that Academ’s Fury is fun and fast to read (for a given definition of fast). The book is around 600 pages long and you don’t read that in one go. Butcher’s language flows along its river of words without drowning me in anything unwanted.
Today was a first for me. I had to check my blog to see if I had written about Jim Butcher’s books. Maybe I should read less.
Most people probably connect the name Jim Butcher with the urban fantasy series Dresden Files. This was my introduction to Jim Butcher. I’m not certain where I found out about The Codex Alera, but I remember that one of the comments I read was that this was the better series. So why not give it a try.
The Codex Alera is very different from Dresden Files. The Dresden files are each around 300 pages long while the Codex Alera carries approximately 600 pages of text. That gives the story time to flesh itself out. It could have ended up with fiasco, but Butcher does an excellent job.
What I think has happened is that Butcher has happened upon something that gives him a chance to shine. And shine he does.
We meet Tavi, a furyless human in a world where most humans have at least some ability to use the furies of the world. The furies are something along the lines of elemental spirits that can be used by humans. With them they gain various abilities to very different degrees. The furies are called water-furies, air-furies, earth-furies, metal-furies and fire-furies. The humans who control these elemental spirits are called crafters.
While Tavi is the main character of the series, he does have a lot of people helping him on his journey. One of them is his uncle Bernard. Bernard is a retired legionare who has become Steadholter in the Valley of Calderon. He is responsible for the welfare of those who live within the boundaries of his steadholt. Bernard is known for being a fair leader. To Tavi, Bernard is his hero, someone he would like to emulate. When Bernard becomes hurt due to Tavi’s carelessness, Tavi has to look beyond himself and try to make matters better.
Isana is Tavi’s aunt. Her goal in life is to take care of Tavi and to ensure his reaching adulthood in a safe manner. But she will not get her way in The Furies of Calderon. Tavi has seen something he should not have and becomes hunted.
Amara and Kitai are people whose importance will become more apparent as the series progresses. In The Furies of Calderon they play supporting roles. Amaray is a cursor (spy/messenger) for the First Lord Gaius. Kitai is a Marat – a race of non-humans that Tavi and his family come into contact with in various ways.
The Furies of Calderon is an incredibly fun action/adventure/magic-filled high/epic fantasy novel that shows Jim Butcher at his best.
Under Heaven affected me profoundly. I believe it was the depth of Shen Tai’s mourning for his father and his offering to his father’s spirit that moved me most. Imagine setting yourself the task of burying all the bones from a battle twenty years past in order that those spirits might find peace. A more appropriate place for restless spirits than a battleground I cannot imagine.
Kay went on to say that he’s interested in how the course of a person’s life can change in a moment, and how “small moments and events can ripple outwards.” Whether it’s an individual or the life of a people, he pointed out, “significant consequences can begin very inconsequentially. That’s one thing that fascinates me. The other thing that fascinates me is how accident can undermine something that’s unfolding, something that might have played out differently otherwise.”
To Kay, “the human condition is redolent with this aspect of randomness, and I try to work that into all of my books.” (CBC Books)
The choices Shen Tai, his older brother and their younger sister, Shen Li-Mei, make end up having both intended and to a great extent unintended consequences. All three discover that assistance and opposition comes in many forms and sometimes from unexpected quarters.
In this story there aren’t any really bad people. There are mainly just people with the regular gamut of human emotions and with varying degrees of ability to do something about their desires. While the Tang Dynasty was a better place for women than the ones before it, women held less room in society than men. As with most places in the world today, women had to be a lot more creative in their maneuvering than men did. Their accepted roles were also very different from the one men were able to hold. To become a warrior like Wei Song, one who even guarded a man, was not something that was open to most women (much like today).
Reading about the role of women was both a painful process but also a delight. Delightful because of the intelligent and brave women I got to meet and painful due to the few changes that have happened in the world when it comes to the roles of women and how true their power is.
Under Heaven is a fairly dark story. Considering the times and the rebellion it portrays that is no wonder. I am trying to decide if I would call it dark fantasy, but I don’t know if that would be appropriate. I love its complexity and many threads that all come together one way or another in the end. What an awful race we humans are. It really is rather sad to see us revealed in all our terrible glory. Under Heaven was an intensely touching book that left me thankful for having found it. According to the author, his goal in writing is to keep the reader turning pages. It worked.