1983.02


In the Hand of the Goddess: Squire Alan(na) delivers some hard knocks

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

In the Hand of the Goddess is the second installment of Tamora Pierce’s SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet, and while Pierce does provide a fair amount of backstory and repetition of key details from the previous book, Alanna, I recommend reading the books in sequence. By starting at the beginning, readers will have a better appreciation for the trials and challenges Alanna experiences in her quest to become a knight, as well as her struggle to maintain her false identity as “Alan,” since only boys are allowed to train in the king’s service. This review may contain a few spoilers for key events in Alanna, but I’ll do my best to keep them vague.

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Twisting the Rope: A sequel to Tea With the Black Dragon

Twisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoy

Twisting the Rope (1986) is a sequel to R.A. MacAvoy’s Tea With the Black Dragon. It’s recommended, but not necessary, to have read Tea With the Black Dragon first.

It’s been five years since Martha Macnamara met Mayland Long at the hotel in San Francisco. They’ve been together since. Martha is now approximately 55 years old and Mayland appears to be around the same age, but we don’t really know how old he is. He has secrets.

Martha, an exellent violin player, has put together a folk band that travels around playing traditional Irish tunes. Mayland manages the band, collecting their earnings and taking care of expenses and other logi... Read More

The Windsingers: Refreshingly mature heroes

The Windsingers by Megan Lindholm

The Windsingers is the second book in a series of four featuring Ki and Vandien. It was first published in 1984. The first novel, Harpy’s Flight, which was also Lindholm's debut, showed some serious flaws in pacing and structure but I still thought it was an interesting book. In The Windsingers, Lindholm clearly improves in those areas but she loses some of the dynamic between Ki and Vandien. In the end I did think the first novel, Harpy's Flight, was a more entertaining read, even if The Windsingers was better written.

Ki and Vandien are meeting up in the town of Dyal where Ki hopes to find a new cargo to haul. Vandien has been in town for a while and thinks he has come upon a bargain too good to refuse — salvaging a chest from a drowned temple in a fishing village a few ... Read More

The Book of Lost Tales 2: Framework for Tolkien’s fantasy epic

The Book of Lost Tales 2 by J.R.R.Tolkien

In volumes one and two of The Book of Lost Tales, we have a more or less full picture of the earliest work J.R.R. Tolkien did in the development of his personal mythology which later grew into the tales of Middle Earth. It was a mythology meant to provide England with something he felt it sorely needed: a foundation myth. Also, it was a vehicle which allowed him to explore and expand upon his own fascination with the world and stories of Faery, and his love for the invented languages of his youth. The frame of the entire mythology at this point centred on the character of an English mariner (initially called Eriol and later Aelfwine, each with varying origin stories) who was shipwrecked upon the isle of Tol Eressëa, the last bastion of the Elves who have all but fled the mortal world. Here are recounted to h... Read More

Nobody’s Home: A prequel to The Anubis Gates

Nobody’s Home by Tim Powers

Tim Powers’ fourth novel, The Anubis Gates, was such a perfectly crafted, fully self-contained work that I doubt very much if any of his legion of fans could have reasonably expected a sequel. Released originally in 1983, the book has gone on to become a classic of sorts in both the “steampunk” and “secret histories” fantasy subgenres, deservedly earning itself both the Philip K. Dick Award and a pride of place in Jones & Newman’s Horror: 100 Best Books. Showcasing Powers’ gift of seemingly limitless imagination combined with a staggering amount of historical research, the novel was a true dazzler; as I enthused after my initial read, its “way-out plot manages to conflate the brainwashed ‘ka’ of Lord Byron, a body-hopping werewolf, an underground criminal society headed by... Read More

Farseed: A lot of filler

Farseed by Pamela Sargent

The interesting thing about Pamela Sargent’s EARTHSEED series is that it doesn’t really seem to matter overly much what order you read the books in. There is a sizeable gap between each book, and Farseed, just like Seed Seeker, does a good job at recapping what has happened in the previous book so people new to the series might not find themselves unfamiliar with what is happening.

That being said, the blurb on the cover says that this series might be the next HUNGER GAMES, and I’m sure that will attract plenty of readers. They’ll see that and think, “hmm… HUNGER GAMES on another planet. That’s just cool.” And probably pick it up. There are a few similarities. First, this is a young adult series, with some pretty adult themes, like THE HUNGER GAMES. Secondly, Sargent doe... Read More

The Light Fantastic: Early DISCWORLD

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic is a direct sequel to Terry Pratchett’s first DISCWORLD novel, The Color of Magic, in which we met the failed and cowardly wizard Rincewind, his traveling companion Twoflower (a rich and naively brave tourist), and Twoflower’s animated sentient Luggage. I believe that The Light Fantastic is the only DISCWORLD novel that’s a direct sequel of a previous novel.

The reason Rincewind is such a poor wizard is that he’s got a dark powerful spell (“the eighth spell”) lodged in his brain and it won’t let him memorize any other spells. Nobody knows what the eight spell is for, but Rincewind is pretty sure that nobody wants to find out. At the end of The Color of Magic, Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage had tumbled off the edge of the Discworld which is a flat disc held up by four elephants standing on the bac... Read More

Yendi: A prequel to Jhereg

Yendi by Steven Brust

Loveable assassin Vlad Taltos is back in Yendi, the second in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. Yendi is actually a prequel to the first novel, Jhereg which introduced us to Vlad, his wife Cawti, his familiar, and several of his friends and enemies. Vlad is a new mob boss who is trying to protect his territory from the encroachment of neighboring mob bosses. When one of them sets up a racket in Vlad’s territory, Vlad has to take him on. As usual, he’ll need all his wits and all his friends just to stay alive.

In Yendi we learn a little more about the Dragaeran Empire, the Dragon Lords, and the activities of Vlad and the other bosses, but for some readers the most significant event is the story of how Vlad met Cawti, how she killed him, and how they fell in love. I was looking forward to this story, but it was a disappointment. The romance was dull and ... Read More

The Green Pearl: Florid imagination, deliberately peculiar

The Green Pearl by Jack Vance

The Green Pearl is another engrossing adventure in Jack Vance's whimsical world. This installment of Lyonesse mainly follows Aillas, now King of Troicinet, as he seeks revenge on the Ska, tests his infatuation with Tatzel, deals with a couple of traitors, and tries to thwart the ambitions of King Casmir of Lyonesse who, unbeknownst to Casmir, is Aillas's son's grandfather. We also spend quite a bit of time with Shimrod, Glyneth, Melancthe, and some new and excellent characters such as the duplicitous innkeeper Dildahl, the dogged but distractible Visbhume, and The Notable and Singular Zuck (Dealer in Objects Unique Under the Firmament).

There are two main reasons that I love Lyonesse. First, I admire Vance's florid imagination. His world and its cr... Read More