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In Winter’s Shadow: Tragic and painful

In Winter’s Shadow by Gillian Bradshaw

In Winter’s Shadow is the final book in Gillian Bradshaw’s DOWN THE LONG WIND trilogy, an elegantly written historical fantasy about King Arthur that’s inspired by the Welsh legends. While the first two books, Hawk of May and Kingdom of Summer, have focused on Gwalchmai (Sir Gawain), this last novel is written from Gwynhwyfar’s perspective. You certainly don’t need to read the previous books to fully appreciate In Winter’s Shadow, but if you’re a fan of the time period or the legends, you’ll probably want to read Hawk of May and Kingdom of Summer at some point. They are lovely historical stories.

In In Winter’s Shadow, Gwynhwyfar gives us some of the history of the Roman Empire... Read More

The Mammoth Hunters: Prehistoric Mary Sue

The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel

The Mammoth Hunters, the third book in Jean M. Auel's EARTH'S CHILDREN series, followed relatively quickly on the heels of The Valley of Horses. After this one, the gap between books increases. It would take Auel 26 years to get the last three published. I guess it was a good thing that Auel took more time for the fourth book. The Plains of Passage is not up to the standard of The Clan of the Cave Bear, but it certainly beats this third volume. Still, there is something very readable about these books. She never managed to get close to the level of the first book, but millions have devoured the other five anyway. Unfortunately, that still doesn't make The Mammoth Hunters a good book.

Ayla and Jondalar meet a group of Mamutoi, Mammoth Hunters o... Read More

The Sword of the Lictor: Captures the essence of excellent speculative fiction

The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe’s The Sword of the Lictor essentially contains no plot, but it’s the best plotless book I’ve ever read. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, period. I loved every moment of it! (I read this on audio; Audible Frontiers' audio version, read by Jonathan Davis, is exceptional.)

This third installment of The Book of the New Sun continues Severian’s journey from apprentice in the torturers’ guild to Autarch. He doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to his exalted position (if anything, I’d say farther) and we’re no closer to understanding how he’s going to get there. But th... Read More

The Sarsen Witch: Unusually nuanced view of a dated theme

The Sarsen Witch by Eileen Kernaghan

Since her family was killed by the invading horse lords, Naeri has lived a wild and solitary existence, surviving on what she can scrounge or steal. But when she is caught trying to steal a pig, she is caught back up again in “civilized” life. She falls in love with Gwi, a kindly smith, and rediscovers a long-lost cousin, the minstrel Daui, who senses in Naeri a gift for geomancy. Then she catches the eye of the local warlord, Ricca, who believes she will bring him good fortune and that her earth-magic abilities can help him build a great monument to immortalize himself.

The Sarsen Witch takes place in Bronze Age Britain and centers on the building of Stonehenge and how it affects the horse tribes and the Goddess-worshiping peoples they have conquered. We see these events through the eyes of Naeri, who begins as something of a pawn and develops strength as the nove... Read More