The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: Jennifer Lawrence of Arabia

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man is the third volume of the SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet and the weakest volume of the series. Tamora Pierce makes a good effort of exposing Alanna (and thus, the reader) to some of the varying peoples and customs within the Tortallan kingdom and its neighboring countries, but relies too much on the White Savior trope, and the entire book suffers as a result. As I’ve said before, readers should start with the first book, Alanna: The First Adventure and work forward, though Pierce does a great job of summarizing key events from previous books.

The entire SONG OF THE LIONESS series is about old ways changing to make way for... Read More

The Limbreth Gate: Ki and Vandien are two of Lindholm’s most intriguing creations

The Limbreth Gate by Megan Lindholm

Lindholm's work under this pseudonym is very diverse, but the Ki and Vandien novels are more or less straightforward fantasy. A secondary world with a long, largely unknown history, lots of different sentient races, magic and divine creatures. All the ingredients are present. They are pretty focused on the two protagonists, however. No huge cast of secondary characters and countless side plots. They are very efficiently written. Each book is a complete story, there are no major cliffhangers or unresolved questions; the relationship between Ki and Vandien is what ties these books together. In short, a very different style of fantasy than the books written under the Robin Hobb pseudonym. One of the great mysteries for the reader is how a person can adopt two completely different styles and stay sane. It is something that has always intrigued ... Read More

Seed Seeker: Interesting world, weak characters

Seed Seeker by Pamela Sargent

Seed Seeker is the third book in Pamela Sargent’s Young Adult EARTHSEED trilogy (following Earthseed and Farseed), but you don’t necessarily need to read the previous two books to get up to speed — Sargent does a great job at catching the reader up without any info dumps. Seed Seeker fairly stands alone. Most of the characters are new, though Nuy, from Farseed, does make an appearance.

Seed Seeker is a rather dark novel wrapped in an exploration/adventure tale and is also filled with enough angst and hope to satisfy any series fan. The dynamics between the civilizations are interesting and complex. Advanced technology has been developed, but much of the world lives a medieval lifestyle and relies on manual labor, ... Read More

Equal Rites: Discworld gets a visit from the Equal Opportunities people

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

When a wizard on the Discworld knows he’s about to die, he passes on his staff and magical powers to the eighth son of an eighth son who is being born at that time. So, that’s what the wizard Drum Billet does just before his death — he passes on his powers to the baby who’s just been born to the Smith family. But nobody notices in time that Eskarina Smith is not a boy... Several years later Esk realizes she’s got some uncontrollable powers so she, along with her friend Granny Weatherwax, the local witch, sets out to find her place in a world where women do not have equal rights.

Equal Rites is the third book in Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD series and the first in which Rincewind the cowardly wizard is not the protagonist. Though the focus here is on Eskarina, the first female wizard on the Discworld, the real star is Granny Weatherwax, the indomitable witch who features more promi... Read More

Teckla: In which Vlad Taltos broods

Teckla by Steven Brust

Teckla is the third novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human assassin who lives in the empire of Dragaera which is populated mostly by a species of long-lived tall humanoids who were genetically engineered by sorcerers and divide themselves into clans depending on their specific traits. In the first VLAD TALTOS novel, Jhereg, we met Vlad, an Easterner whose father bought the family into the nobility of the lowly house of Jhereg. Vlad, like many of the Jhereg, is a crime boss and controls a portion of the city of Adrilankha. In the second book, Yendi, we learned how Vlad met his wife Cawti when she was sent to assassinate him. He died but was revivified by his minions and married Cawti.

The Teckla of the title of this third book are the peasant clan of Dragaera. For generations they’ve been the down-trodden masses. But now they have a charismatic leade... Read More

The Witch of Lagg: Really spooky

The Witch of Lagg by Ann Pilling

Ann Pilling, who also goes by the alias Ann Cheatham or Lillian Cheatham, is an author with a great interest in taking historical events and folk-legends and bringing them into the present day. She has done this for the two other books concerning Oliver, Colin and Prill, Black Harvest and The Beggar's Curse — with her three contemporary kids finding themselves caught up in the unquiet remnants of the past. In The Witch of Lagg, the author again takes historical fact and reshapes it to fit her creepy supernatural story. In her afterword she recounts the facts concerning the death of Margaret Wilson, considered one of the most tragic martyrs in Scottish history. Found guilty of heresy, she was tied to a stake upon the shore and drowned by the oncoming tide.

The author tin... Read More

Madouc: Lyonesse is Pythonesque

Madouc by Jack Vance

Well, here's the finale of Jack Vance's Lyonesse, and I'm sorry to see it end. This novel was about Madouc, the changeling princess of Lyonesse, and her interactions with Casmir, Sollace, Aillas, Dhrun, Shimrod, Throbius, Sir Pom-Pom, Umphred, Twisk, et al.

Madouc maintains the quality of this excellent trilogy — it's filled with clever prose, charming characters, and lots of imagination. Jack Vance's careful planning produced a tight plot and Madouc wrapped up all the loose ends from Suldrun's Garden and The Green Pearl.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lyonesse, but it may not be for everyone. It occurs to me that these books are a lot like M... Read More