I completely agree with the criticism of some of the reviewers of Obsidian Son. Much in the way of the Paranormal Romances I have read, Obsidian Son has a bizarre view of looks and what attracts people to each other. Instead of big cocks, there are big racks. The main character is shallow, obnoxious and has few redeeming qualities. In addition, there is a lack of research. Finally, there are grammatical problems.
In spite of all that, I had fun. Imagine what Shayne Silvers could have accomplished with a better team. So many of the authors I read, or try to read, claim their stories have had editors and beta-readers. As does Silvers. Hmmm. Who are these editors and beta-readers?
I still had fun. This is an urban fantasy interspersed with mythological and magical creatures. The main character has magic, is wealthy and is extremely attractive to the opposite gender. Some of that attraction is because of out-of-control magic. There are dragons. They are the best part of the story. Really fun dragons.
About five years before the beginning of Parasitic Souls, the Earth experienced a magic apocalypse. As a result of the apocalypse, some people became magical. The strangest form of magic is SL (spontaneous lycanthropy), in this case to coyote . More common is magical talent. Those who had practiced magic before the apocalypse, like brujas/brujos and witches/wizards, had a head-start. The magically talented are able to use their energy to set wards, make charms or influence people. Scientists study magic in hopes of understanding its underlying principles.
One of the magics discovered is a fountain of youth. Not a particularly ethical magic, but one that might potentially earn the inventor loads of money. Many people would be willing to use this highly questionable form of magic and pay almost anything. However, before this fountain of youth could be sold to the wealthy and unscrupulous, it needs testing. Which is how we meet Lenny.
The apartment was dark except for the streetlight shining rudely through the curtains. Since she had a raging thirst and an urgent need to pee, Fiona got up. She managed to find the bathroom without shinning herself too badly on the birch Ektorp coffee table, and she only had to open four cabinets before finding a cup to drink out of. As she was downing her third glass of water, she heard a non-human voice creak at her through the kitchen window.
“Let me in!”
She dropped the glass on the floor. It bounced and rolled under the table, spilling water everywhere.
Fiona gets called to Clementine, California, by her step-mom’s assistant, Sophie. Fiona’s step-mom, Carlotta, had done a disappearing act. There was little the two girls could do to find her, except wait and hoped that the only thing wrong is a severe hangover. Turns out, Carlotta’s problem is a bit more serious. In fact, her whole demeanor changed from warm and kind to cold and mean. At least towards Fiona and Sophie. Something is up, and the two of them know it has to be bad.
Fiona is 24-years old and born to a messed up mother and father. One of her father’s marriages had been to Carlotta. Carlotta was everything Fiona needed, and she was there for Fiona even after she divorced Fiona’s father. So Fiona has reason to expect Carlotta to, at least, let her sleep on the couch. Instead, Fiona has to shack up with Sophie.
Sophie is 18-years old and the adopted child of adoring and overprotective parents. Because Carlotta is related to her mother, Sophie was able to move to Clementine and apprentice with Carlotta. Up until the personality change, Carlotta had treated Sophie kindly. Now neither Fiona or Sophie has a job, and they certainly have no idea what to do about Carlotta. Should they go back or stay and try to fix things?
Parasitic Souls would be a terrible, and probably realistic, story if they chose to give up. However, the two do not. Things happen, and through them we meet Marcello and Xavier. Marcello teaches magic theory at Clementine Preparatory Academy for Magic and Technology. Xavier is apprenticed to his grandmother, the bruja, Luna. Luna is a woman you do not want as an enemy. The two men are in their early twenties and both of them are interested in the two women. So. Some romance.
Parasitic Souls is a Young Adult story with three types of stories in it. Coming-of-age, romance and “what if”. There is plenty of action, some of it rather unusual. Kater Cheek also manages to thrown in her odd, but cool, sense of humor. I liked it and recommend Parasitic Souls.
Thaumatology 101is a mystery. Ceridwyn (Ceri) Brent has been hired as a research assistant to Dr. Tennant at the Metropolitan University in London at the High-energy Thaumatology Building. Thaumatology is the magic of Teasdale’s world. Dr. Tennant has been working for a couple of years on finding a solution for the containment of T-Null. It turns out her other assistant, Shane Walters, has hampered her work. After an accident occurs that almost kills Ceri, Ceri and Lily begin searching for an answer to why Shane is out to stop Ceri.
I like the way Teasdale introduces us to the world (and the house) both Ceri and Lily are part of. Thaumatology 101 is very much about the friendship between Lily and Ceri. Ceri experiences major changes in her life during the story and Lily is there to both support and hamper her. Thaumatology 101 celebrates sexuality without being preachy or crude. I found that refreshing. Not being a romance was also great. Violence in the story was toned down. Because of the toned down violence and joyful sexuality, I would call this an older Young Adult urban fantasy tale. The story is somewhere between a novella and a novel in length (137 pgs).
Saving the world is what heroes do. Tremaine Valiere is such a heroine. With the help of her friends and resurrected father she sets out to kick the Gardier out of her world and the Syprian world.
Sometimes the people we want to save do everything in their power to be destroyed. Falling for the lure of “something for nothing” could be tempting when your world is falling apart around you. Ixion promises much, but will he deliver? Oh, yes. He delivers. What he does deliver might not be what the Ile-Rien had in mind when they took him in from the wrath of Gilead and Ileas. We do stuff like this all the time. Internet and mail scams come to mind. Pyramid schemes. Hedgefunds. Humans must have evolved to be suckers. I love that Martha Wells shows some of the processes leading up to such catastrophic decisions.
Idiots or not, heroines do what heroines have to do. Her father is even more ruthless than Tremaine. Arisilde’s shade is as eccentric as the living person was. Ander is Ander. Gilead keeps on realizing how much of his works as the god’s vessel involves sorcery. Gerard tries to be the father-figure that Nicholas is incapable of. Florian’s abilities are stretched beyond what she thought possible. Even the Gardier prisoner proves an unexpected resource.
As I see it, the story is about Tremaine and her adventures and her ability to accept the world as it is. Just as falling for schemes seems to be part of our genetic make-up so does the inability to see people and situations for what they are. People are complicated. What I am able to observe in others, I am incapable of observing in myself. Lying to myself is no less part of autism than it is part of the lives of non-autists. This is what the societies we grow up in train us to do. Conforming to expectations and popular thinking gets you accepted, but so does not conforming as long as you do it the right way. While Tremain oftene goes against the Ile-Rien thinking on women, she has been inundated with their teachings from childhood. Breaking from the lies of society and her family through independent thinking and admissions of own strengths and flaws is incredibly challenging for Tremaine. But she keeps on trying. I think Martha Wells does an excellent job showing just that in her trilogy.
Martha Wells brings back the three worlds caught up in the invasion of Ile-Rien.
For some reason there are readers out there who have decided that TheFall of the Ile-Rien is a fantasy work. The first story, The Wizard Hunters, has plenty of elements of fantasy in it, so that would be a natural conclusion to draw about that. That is until you get to the parallel world and strange technologies that turn up. In The Ships of Air the science fiction element is even stronger. My annoyance comes from the way women authors are so casually relegated categories that simply do not fit.
There, rant over.
Tremaine is a great main character. In spite of Ander’s misogynism, she manages to get people to follow her. Perhaps this is due to her quick thinking, diplomacy and ability to cut through objections when need be. Her childhood training by her father and uncle is clearly an asset in the treacherous landscapes of worlds and people that she finds herself in.
Ander, on the other hand, still needs to have his testicles removed. He never quite seems to grasp just how different the Syprian society is to the one of Ile-Rien and the power women have in Sypria. He really needs to be a bit more careful about what he says around Tremaine. The men surrounding her would probably just nod approvingly if Tremaine got her scissors out.
We get to meet representatives of the Gardier community. The “top dog” there seems to be a soldier of some sort. The Gardier are an interesting people. All of them seem to be terrified of the evil Ile-Rien and dismissive of the animal-like Syprians. Their beliefs about their own superiority mirrors much of what we see in the real world on a regular basis. Hell, 6 million Jews got killed for being “animals”.
Fear is a powerful tool to get your citizenship in line. We see the US using this tool all the time these days, and it seems to be working. Even here in Norway the government has started using the same type of fear-propaganda. The Gardier leader’s socialisation shows in the way she interacts with the Syprians and the Ile-Rien. Just because she is a Gardier leader does not mean that she sees other Gardiaer’s as equal to herself. Oh, no. Nor do the people in either Ile-Rien or Sypria. That is how the world works. It seems humans have this need to belong to a “we” group that feels far superior to the “them” group where the rest of the world is lumped.
I really enjoy the questions raised in this trilogy and the action I get to enjoy. Sadly, I have to admit to enjoying well-written fight scenes. Yes, that probably makes me a violent creature, but there you are. Martha Wells knows how to make her worlds of the possible and impossible come alive for this reader.
A female protagonist looking to die in what seems to be an accidental manner is a relief to meet. Wanting to die is something I experience on a regular basis so I find it nice to know that there are people in literature who feel the same way. Her death-wish is why Tremaine joins the clean-up crews after bombings and why she joins Gerard when he asks her to bring her uncle’s sphere along. Tremaine Valiarde is a woman with an unusual life up to now and it is about to enter the realm of the unexpected. She has two qualities that I really like. One is her ability to make difficult decisions quickly without needing to question her choices. The other is her ability to integrate others in her life as a matter of course. Actually, there are three qualities I really appreciate. The third is Tremaine’s ability to remain fairly clear-/ and level-headed in a crisis. When she, Florian and Gerard end up on an island in the middle of the ocean those qualities will become essential to survival.
Ilias and Giliead see it as their mission in life to hunt wizards. Their experience with wizards thus far in life has been that all wizards are insane. In Sypria being a sorcerer, wizard or even the victim of one gets you either shunned or killed. Ilias and Giliead are about to get their views challenged.
Prejudice is an interesting quality. All of our fear-attitudes are. There must be people out there who do not struggle with prejudices, but I have not met any of them yet. We get to see different types of prejudices in the people from Ile-Rien and the people from Sypria, but at heart all of their prejudices are the same. This is where Tremaine’s ability to integrate others into her life becomes especially important.
Meetings between two fairly different cultures are bound to be troublesome. But the need to fight a common enemy enables people to overcome some of the fear and cooperate. Gardier provides the role of a common enemy through their invasions of both Ile-Rien and Sypria. When survival depends upon the parties cooperating logic states that they cooperate. But reality both here in the real world and in the world of The Wizard Hunters shows that people aren’t always logical.
The Wizard Hunters is my first meeting with Martha Wells. I have had a lot of first meetings with authors over the years and not all have been as successful as this one. Definitely recommended.
Detective Inspector Helen Crane of the Metropolitan Police’s Magic and Murder Squad embodies the law of unintended consequences to me. As we saw in The Sweet Scent of Blood and The Cold Kiss of Death DI Crane is out to get Genvieve Taylor. Helen is a Witch. Genvieve a Sidhe. Crane’s hatred is not due to their two races, or rather not directly. In her youth Helen Crane went through a traumatic experience that has caused her hatred for both the Sidhe fae and for Vampires. Poor Genny hasn’t a clue why DI Crane is out to destroy her, but Genvieve Taylor is the one who has to live with the consequences of that long-ago experience.
Spellcrackers.com is both serial and series. If you want to understand the overarching story of the whys and whereofs of the search for a solution to the fae sterility problem you will need to read the preceding novels. But if all you want is a fun mystery then you can read The Bitter Seed of Magic on its own. That also goes for The Sweet Scent of Blood and for The Cold Kiss of Death.
Our mystery in The Bitter Seed of Magic has to do with the strange circumstances around the deaths of fae women. They turn up glamoured to look like human girls. At the very least all magic should have been washed away by the River Thames from which they were pulled. But this is not the case. Obviously magic is involved and because of its nature Genvieve becomes involved. At first only to remove the spells on their bodies. Then it becomes personal – due to the matter of the feud DI Crane has instigated.
Genny’s own past comes to haunt her. She meets long-lost relatives. Her nickname for one of them is Mad Max (no irony intended) and that should tell you what you need to know about him. Others of her relatives also make an appearance in Genvieve’s life, but I will leave you to find out just who they are on your own. Lets just say that Mad Max is not the only crazy family Genny has. Perhaps crazy is the wrong word for their personalities. Amoral might be a better one or maybe just ethically different seeing as none of them are human.
One thing our experiences with Genvieve Taylor shows is that curses are a whole lot simpler to cast than to undo. In fact that goes for all of our experiences in life. In general it seems to be easier to prevent than to fix. Poor Genny. Left having to fix the idiocy and thoughtlessness of others. She is not on her own though and that could help. Having friends does seem to make my troubles easier to bear. New friends turn up in Genny’s life making her troubles a little less complicated as well. She will need those friends considering just who is pushing Genvieve around. Phew. I am so glad I am not her. Boring is good is my motto when it comes to my own life.
But excitement in the form of stories and excellent authors is another matter. Suzanne McLeod not only makes Genvieve Nataliya Zakharinova Taylor come alive for me but also very much makes me care what happens to her and her life and her friends.