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Raphael: A bit of a struggle to finish

Raphael by R.A. MacAvoy

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous books, Damiano and Damiano’s Lute.

R.A. MacAvoy winds up her DAMIANO trilogy with Raphael, a book that focuses on the angel Raphael instead of Damiano, the young man who was the protagonist of the first two books. That’s because at the end of the previous book, Damiano’s Lute, Damiano died when he sacrificed himself for Gaspar’s sister. That deed was noble, I suppose, and perhaps MacAvoy is saying something about sacrifice and redemption in this religiously-inspired story, but it probably didn’t resonate much with readers since we don’t like Gaspar and don’t even know his sister. I was hoping to get a sense of the importance of Da... Read More

Lord Kelvin’s Machine: A steampunk adventure with time paradoxes

Lord Kelvin’s Machine by James P. Blaylock

James P. Blaylock returns to Victorian England in another steampunk adventure with scientist Langdon St. Ives and his nemesis, Dr. Ignacio Narbondo. Lord Kelvin’s Machine contains three related stories which each feature a fictional infernal device created by inventor Lord Kelvin. I listened to the excellent audio version which was produced by Audible Studios, is just over 8 hours long, and is narrated by Nigel Carrington.

In the prologue of Lord Kelvin’s Machine, Dr. Narbondo murders Langdon St. Ives’ beloved wife Alice which throws St. Ives into a funk. Part 1, titled “In the Days of the Comet” begins a year later. St. Ives has been d... Read More

Pacific Edge: Visions of a high-maintenance upotia

Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson

Where The Wild Shore shows us a post-apocalyptic California and The Gold Coast deals with future where urbanisation is out of control, in Pacific Edge Kim Stanley Robinson explores a utopian future: a California where people have learned to listen to the land and to pursue more sustainable population levels and economic activity. Together, these three books make up the THREE CALIFORNIAS TRIPTYCH.

In 2065 the world looks quite different from what we are used to. The unsustainable economic practices of the past have been severely curtailed by putting limits on company size and personal income among other, equally drastic measures. The main character is Kevin, an architect judging from the descriptions of designing lovely sust... Read More

Mona Lisa Overdrive: Stylish, lacks impact of prequels

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, it’s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she’s a famous simstim star who’s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who’s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.

In a dilapidated section of New Jersey, Slick Henry makes large animated robotic sculptures out of scrap metal. He owes Kid Afrika a favor, so now he has to hide the comatose body of Bobby Newmark (aka “Count Zero”). Bobby is jacked into an Aleph where he’s got some secret project going on. A Cleveland girl named Cherry Chesterfield is Bobby’s n... Read More

The White Rose: Cook’s dare pays off

The White Rose by Glen Cook

The final entry in a trilogy requires something special. In fantasy, that usually means finding godly machinery and amassing armies that will face each other on some distant, volcanic plain while a small band of covert heroes pull off a daring, one-in-a-million scheme.

However, up to this point, Glen Cook’s Black Company series has stood out for its noir atmosphere more than its epic company of mercenaries. Surprisingly, in The White Rose, Cook sacrifices his hard-boiled narrative for an epic fantasy storyline. It’s a daring, one-in-a-million scheme.

But it pays off.

Certainly Cook wastes no time trading in the noir for the epic: The White Rose opens in the Plain of Fear with Darling, now the White Rose and a general of her own unusual ar... Read More

Shadowfane: Action-packed and exciting finale

Shadowfane by Janny Wurts

Shadowfane, the concluding volume of Janny Wurts’ THE CYCLE OF FIRE trilogy is an action-packed and exciting finale.

As humankind is being destroyed by demons (who we now know are aliens) Jaric has realized that he has no choice but to brave the Cycle of Fire. If he succeeds, this trial will gain him the powers of a Firelord, but he risks the destructive madness that afflicted his father.

The action never lets up and, along the way, there are plenty of wins and losses and lots of heart-breaking suffering for all of our heroes — especially Jaric, Taen, Taen’s mother, Corley, and the Kielmark.

There are also emotional displays of courage, grace, hope, faith, forgiveness, and love — themes which I appreciate in fantasy literature and miss in the writings of a few recently popular authors. The ending of Shadowfane Read More