Tag Archives: #Religion

Jackson, Ros: Melody of Demons (Kaddon Keys I) (2015)

Melody of Demons

I had an “aha” experience reading Melody of Demons. Asperger that I am, life apparently affects my ability to read a story. A recent family crisis brought out chaos in my head. To deal with that chaos, I unconsciously shut off certain cognitive processes, one of which was my ability to digest stories. Not until now, have I recognized doing this. What this meant with regards to Melody of Demons was that I had to keep on reading it until I could absorb what I was reading. Annoying as hell, yet an interesting observation for myself and possibly for others out there.

“Well, that was … a sermon. That’s certainly what it was. I think we all learned a valuable, no a lesson. That we already knew. Yes, one thing you can say for my father’s froth-mouthed rants, is they’re definitely spoken with words.”

Statements like this are in part why I enjoy Ms. Jackson’s writing so much. Her sense of humor fits my own. Yet that humor points to serious issues. In this instance, Ms. Jackson showed me how much certain people enjoy going on and on about their prejudices. Poor Aivee had to endure the rantings of a man who had it in for her kind of people, i.e. half krin/half human.

In this medieval world called Tazelinn, magic exists. For some people, only certain types of magic are acceptable. Krin aren’t human-looking at all (except maybe the bi-pedal part), but somehow they have an innate magic that enables them to shift to human and even interbreed. Aivee is the result of this ability. In all ways she seems human. But that shape must be maintained at all times. Her default shape is krin and her greatest fear is that others discover that she is different. I like the way Ms. Jackson shows us what a strain passing is for Aivee.

“She hadn’t noticed before how disconcerting the rhythm was, like the breath of a monstrous beast in her ear. Now everything was more solid, more real. She ran her fingers of the floorboards and felt the grain of them and their unyielding hardness, as though for the first time.”

Aivee’s innate magic appears to be based on sound or music. In Aivee’s case she uses music. As the story unfolds, we see her gain confidence in her abilities while she remains desperate in her need to hide her krinness.

Through misadventure, Aivee comes in contact with the Kaddon Keys. Finding a less qualified vigilante group would take some work. Yet the Kaddon Keys is the only thing The Missing have between themselves and being lost forever. Kaddon’s Guards (police) certainly aren’t looking for them.

Good intentions are a great place to start, but planning would make the difference between being beat almost to death and success. The Kaddon Keys tend to end up with a severe need for healing. Thankfully, they have their own healer. Duando uses crystal magic to help the Keys survive. Three other members are the owner of the Cross Keys, Fendo, and his two children Riko and Lendia. Riko is a prime example of a patriarchal society with his views on women and their abilities.

The only one of the three women in the group who fights to be seen as equal to the men is Niro. Niro’s sister has become one of the many missing in Kaddon. Not knowing where her sister is, drives Niro to demand a place in the group. Soon after she becomes possessed by a voice that fights for control of Niro’s brain. There is one advantage to this possession. Niro gains the ability to fight with and without weapons, but she must allow the voice control of her body while still remaining in charge herself. I do not envy her that challenge. This voice is the reason Aivee became a member of the Kaddon Keys.

Kaddon has its own gangs, and they each have a territory. Like all gangs, the Neffar are extremely territorial and they think the Keys are competitors. Their fearless and feared leader Leussan does her best to make the Keys history. The Neffar aren’t the only ones who end up wanting the Keys gone. They have angered the Guards, the corrupt nobles and whoever is behind the kidnappings as well. How they are going to do the missing any good is a mystery only Ms. Jackson knows how to solve. She will have to guide the Keys to the missing and save them from the above and several others who come their way.

Melody Demon was a fun adventure story to read. It can be read on its own, yet we are left in no doubt that there will be at least one more story. I look forward to it.


Melody Demon was given to me by the author.

Hurley, Kameron: Infidel (Bel Dame Apocrypha II) (2011)

Nyx is a hero I have fallen in love with. As mentioned in my review for God’s War, I am drawn by her passion and love for the people she considers hers. Given the wrong kind of circumstances, my aspergers might have formed me into such a predator. Her emotions are easy to access, and her reasons are simple to understand.

She does her best to protect what is hers. Her ownership of both her people and her country enables Nyx to do what she considers the right thing for her country and her people.

Hurley’s Tirhani is in some ways like my Norway. Norway is a small country known for its apparent peaceful approach to life enabled by the safety of wealth. However, as exporters of arms and ammunition over whose end-location we have no control, we are also guilty of bringing war to other countries. All we have to do is look at the result of the US destruction of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Considering the US is one of our largest customers, this really isn’t something to be proud about. Yet we go about our peaceful lives without giving women and children whose men have been torn out of their lives a single thought. All weapon producing countries whose citizens live fairly peaceful lives share in this destruction.

Rhys and Inaya have settled in peaceful Tirhani hoping that Nyx will never turn up again. Understandable, really, as Nyx represents an excruciating time of both of their lives. But the Beldame rebellion brings them all together effecting a new period of needing to kill or be killed. Who needs enemies when they have a friend like Nyx. Perhaps this is the greatest difference between the three. Rhys and Inaya (and Khos) cling to the idea of not needing to involve themselves in keeping their families safe by keeping the world safe. It is the simplest path to choose in life. I venture in and out of it. Nyx dives head-on into her attempt to keep Umayma as safe as possible.

Once Rhys and Inaya seem to no longer have a choice, they to do their very best to stay alive. Most people seem to wish to live and they will go to great lengths to stay alive. Umayma can be both heaven and hell for its inhabitants. For Nyxnissia, Nasheen and Chenja it seems to be a never-ending hell.


Reviews:

Kameron Hurley on Nyx as a hero


Infidel available at Amazon US


My review of God’s War


Norway Tirhan

Hurley, Kameron: God’s War (The Bel Dame Apocrypha I) (2011)

God’s War, huh. On Religious Tolerance you will find recent religious conflicts around the world. I counted 25. While most of those wars are across religious lines, some of them (Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia) are, like the 3000 year long World War on Umayma, about interpretations of a faith. As far as we can tell, the people on Umayma had the same origins and values upon leaving Earth. If a time ever comes when humans are able to terraform and populate another planet, war will probably ensue as soon as people manage to settle down. Humans do seem to like their wars.

Terraforming (or engineering) a planet would be a long and complicated process. The time span required and the amount of genetic tinkering needed for humans to be able to live on a far flung planet has to be staggering. While every person needs some degree of engineering in some fashion to survive, there are inhabitants of Umayma who have changed more than others.

Bugs and their magicians are two. Something in their genetic make-up makes certain people able to communicate with bugs. Talking to bugs could be useful here on Earth. On Umayma, bug-talking is vital to existence as bugs are used in most arenas of life. From food, to fuel, to engines, to clothing, to lighting, and so the list goes on. Magicians are not equal. One of our main characters, Rhys, is less equal in the area of bug-control than others.

Shape-shifters is the other strange product of tinkering (possibly). There is a legend that they are a product of the union of Angels and humans. Hurley doesn’t tell us that shape-shifters have been made by genetic engineers, so my understanding is just a guess.

“The war still raged along the ever-changing border with Chenja. Nyx started up her storefront with the dancer and tech in Punjai, a border city at the heart of the bounty-hunting business. While she was in prison, Punjai had been swallowed by the Chenja for six months, the “liberated” by a couple of brillian Nesheenian magicians and an elite terrorist-removal unit. All of the city’s prayer wheels were burned and the old street signs were put back up. There had been air raids and rationing and a couple of more poisoned waterworks, but, as ever, the war was just life, just how things clicked along – one exhausting burst and bloated body at a time.”

Three thousand years of constant killing has to do something to a population and the environment. Umayma is certainly no paradise with areas of it contaminated by biological bombs, human disease carriers and the drafting of men to the front lines. Nasheen and Chenja have solved the dearth of male genetic availability in two different ways. In Nasheen they rely on artificial insemination and breeding tanks for new generations. In Chenja they use a more traditional method of one male to many females to get the job done. Rhys is from Chenja.

Nyx is the goddess of night, the daughter of Chaos, and also the name of our main character. Our Nyx is unpredictable, loyal to those she cares about, principled and passionate. However, values created by people in times of peace or the powerful are not hers. I truly adore Nyx. Hurley portrays her strength and vulnerability in a manner that I can believe and that appeals to me. Definitely my favorite character of the story, and maybe my all-time favorite character.

Rasheeda (shape-shifter) is one loony bird. Holy cow, that woman has sanity issues. No wonder Nyx is wary of her. Bel dames might be sanctioned by the queen, but some of them do messy wet-work with lust and gusto. Creepy lady.

Definitely recommended. Definitely.


Reviews:


God’s War available at Amazon UK

Omnibus at Amazon US

Stewart, Michael F.: 24 Bones (2009)

24 Bones - Michael F Stewart
Cover art by Martin Stiff; Hieroglyphs by Manfred Klein

This cover is stunning. Those green eyes and the light together. Wow.

I laugh a little when I see someone has picked up both Assured Destruction and 24 Bones because they are so different. And perhaps my apprenticeship is over and it’s time to choose a genre.

Nah! Take your time. Why ruin a good thing?

I arrived early at the Great Pyramid, and for a special few minutes I was the only one inside. Within the King’s Chamber I noticed that every sound reverberated strongly…soo powerfully. I had researched the resonance of the chamber but being there was entirely different. So, checking over my shoulder, looking down into the grand gallery to ensure I was alone, I then clambered inside the rose granite sarcophagus, and began to hum.

I really enjoyed 24 Bones. Not at first. Not when I was wondering if this was going to be a conversion attempt by Michael F. Stewart. Thankfully, Stewart wasn’t that kind of annoying author. What I had thought preaching was instead an in depth comparison between the Christian (Coptic) godhead and the Egyptian Osiris/Isis/Horus legends. I knew some of this stuff but hadn’t realized how many beliefs the two systems had in common.

24 Bones is kind of about good and bad, except not really. The person who apparently serves evil doesn’t really. The character who seems to serve good does but also faces his demons. Then we have the third person. I’m not really certain how to describe him. Maybe as some one who looks for the easy way out? In other words, regular people.

David, Sam and Faris are tools of a prophecy that comes to fruition every 500 years. All of them access something called Void or Fullness (a kind of magic). Fullness (order) is waning and Void (chaos) is on the rise. The ideal is a balance between the two.

Balance is something the world lacks. There is always some species threatening eco-systems around the world. We humans just happen to do so all over the place. Power is possibly one of the greatest motivators for making the world chaotic. Pharaoh has power as his main goal in 24 Bones, and with it he is going to do what all power-hungry maniacs have tried to do throughout history: topple existing power-systems and take over the world. History and today show just how power-hungry countries/leaders/people can be and what they are willing to do to achieve ultimate power.

There was plenty of action, strange people and strange animals. Egypt is an interesting country. I have only been there on a two-week holiday and there was never a sarcophagus around that I could climb into. I am thankful that there are people like Michael F. Stewart who will do that kind of thing so my reading experience can be more authentic.


Reviews:


24 Bones on: Smashwords


… all author proceeds to go to charity, more particularly to the people of Zimbabwe (MobilReads)

Pandora’s Box: A Discussion on the Hobby Lobby Verdict

The Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court in the USA has the potential of being a decision that will impact not only them but other countries as well. Dylan Greene’s essay on the subject is amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reviews:


Sorcery Rising available at Amazon


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

the_ravens_shadow
Illustration by Dominic Harman
Design by Sue Michniewicz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reviews:


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

My review of:

  1. Songs of the Earth
  2. Trinity Rising