Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: Rob Rhodes


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A Cavern of Black Ice: Original, long and… bitterly cold

A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones

While I await my copy of the third book of Sword of Shadows, A Sword from Red Ice, I’m re-reading the first two books of what may be my all time favorite epic series. For A Cavern of Black Ice, which I first read back in 2000, it’s my third reading and it’s still just as much fun and exciting as the first time.

I’ve read all of J.V.


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The Hidden Stars: Overwritten and uneven

The Hidden Stars by Madeline Howard

A small band of wizards and warriors must find the lost royal child prophesied to end the reign of an ‘evil’, self-proclaimed goddess-empress. Adapting that main plotline from Willow, Madeline Howard’s novel The Hidden Stars further combines several Tolkien-esque elements (wondrously dexterous elves/fey; vastly powerful wizards; not nine but twelve misshapen servants of the villain) to create an initially promising but unfortunately disappointing fantasy experience.

Many fantasy plots have been explored time and again.


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The Briar King: A dark rose among thorns

The Briar King by Greg Keyes

The Briar King is the first novel in the (planned) fantasy quartet, Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone by Greg Keyes. The gist of my review is this: The Briar King is perhaps the first wonderful fantasy book of the 21st century and worthy of a place beside A Game of Thrones (George Martin) and Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb) on your shelf reserved for engaging,


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The Death of the Necromancer: Intricate steam-and-sorcery mystery

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

Nicholas Valiarde is a man obsessed. Expertly assisted by a coterie of talented yet honorable thieves, he’s all but completed his master plan of revenge against Count Montesq, a corrupt nobleman who orchestrated the execution of Nicholas’s foster father on the basis of a false charge of necromancy. Nicholas’s plan is interrupted, however, by the appearance of the mysterious Dr. Octave, a professed medium who may or may not be a fraud, but who is somehow connected with the strange, magical spheres on which the false charge against Nicholas’s foster father was based. 


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The Phoenix Guards: Very nice change of pace

The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust

The brief review: I had a slight smile on my face the entire time I read The Phoenix Guards. It is, as a reviewer of The Three Musketeers might have once said, “charming.”

To elaborate: Steven Brust is very well (some might say “over”) educated and knows how to turn a phrase. The plot moves along briskly; the characters, while not fleshed out too thoroughly, do have distinct and effective personalities. I was,


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Mystic and Rider: A mystified, riderless horse…

Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Like a mystified and riderless horse, Sharon Shinn’s fantasy novel Mystic & Rider gallops to the point of fatigue and frustration. This conclusion is especially unfortunate in light of the excellent opening chapter. But buyer beware: the tension and excitement rarely increase from that point, and the last of the 440 pages brings us little closer to some kind of resolution or revelation than the first. Rather, the entire novel is simply a prologue for the rest of the series.

The novel’s plot is perfectly plain.


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The Blade Itself: Vivid, tense, action-packed, and droll

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

By setting The Blade Itself (2006), the first book of his FIRST LAW series, in a well-built world and filling it with interesting, “gritty” characters, Joe Abercrombie creates a good balance of stage-setting and story-telling.

The story is told from the perspective of five major characters who are gradually drawn together and whose collected experiences create an engrossing tale. There is the mage, the apprentice, the barbarian, the gifted young noble, the crippled anti-hero… and so forth. Abercrombie writes engaging characters — perfect for my personal tastes.


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Gardens of the Moon: Erikson displays a prodigious imagination

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

It’s always a question for fantasy fans: do I really want to read a first book in yet another long series? Remember when we moaned about when everything was a trilogy — now I’ll be happy to take a simple three-book series. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell ahead of time if the trip will be worth it? Well, thanks to the quirks of international publication, you can with the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Gardens of the Moon,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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