Arrow’s Flight: Talia goes on circuit

Arrow’s Flight by Mercedes Lackey

Arrow's Flight is the second book in Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR series. It was originally published in 1987 and has just now been produced in audio format by Tantor Audio. In the first VALDEMAR book, Arrows of the Queen, we met Talia, a young girl being raised in a repressive society who was chosen by a telepathic blue-eyed white horse to be one of the Kingdom's Heralds. She was whisked off to the academy where she began learning the skills needed to protect the kingdom. In her special role as Queens Own, Talia (despite her youth, lack of education, and inexperience in the world) gave the queen advice and help that saved the kingdom.

In Read More

Servant of the Empire: Intense and exciting middle book

Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts

Note: May contain spoilers for the previous book, Daughter of the Empire.

Servant of the Empire (1989) is the second novel of the EMPIRE TRILOGY which is set in Raymond E. Feist’s RIFTWAR world and co-authored by Janny Wurts. This story takes place in the Tsurani empire which is an enemy to the Midkemian heroes of the RIFTWAR SAGA (e.g., Pug, Tomas, Prince Lyan). Some of the RIFTWAR characters appear, or are mentioned, in THE EMPIRE TRILOGY, but it’s not necessary to have read RIFTWAR first. However,... Read More

The Farseekers: A solid continuation of a promising series

The Farseekers by Isobelle Carmody

I enjoyed the first book in Isobelle Carmody's THE OBERNEWTYN CHRONICLES but its follow-up, The Farseekers (1990), was even better. After a nuclear holocaust has destroyed civilization as we know it, leaving only isolated communities and small cities ruled by a totalitarian Council, those born with psychic abilities are known as Misfits. Their fate is to be either burned at the stake or sent to remote Councilfarms, the most famous of which is called Obernewtyn.

Those there were subject to terrible experimentation, but since the close of the last book the compound has been taken over by the very people who were once its prisoners. Among them is Elspeth Gordie, a powerful young telepath who now finds ... Read More

Adulthood Rites: Butler gives us plenty to think about

Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler

Adulthood Rites (1988) is the second book in Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS trilogy. It continues the story of Lilith in Dawn (1987), a human woman revived by the alien Oankali centuries after humanity has mostly destroyed itself with nuclear weapons. The Oankali offered humanity a second chance, but at a price — to merge its genes with the Oankali, who are ‘gene traders’ driven to continuously seek new species in the galaxy to combine their DNA with, transforming both sides in the process.

10 years after the events of Dawn, Lilith has given birth to a son named Akin, the first male ‘construct’ to be born to a human woman. There are number of distinct groups in this newly reborn Earth – Oankali who do n... Read More

In Endless Twilight: Timely discussions, then a really weird ending

In Endless Twilight by L.E. Modesitt Jr

In Endless Twilight (1988) is the final installment in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s THE FOREVER HERO trilogy. My review will probably contain spoilers for the first two novels, Dawn for a Distant Earth and The Silent Warrior. You need to read them before opening In Endless Twilight.

During Dawn for a Distant Earth, we saw Gerswin getting the education and skills he needed to be able to fulfill his dream of restoring the ruined Earth. In The Silent Warrior, we see Gerswin’s character darken as he realizes that the galactic empire he serves doesn’t share his goals. The commercial barons who control the economic and political systems are mo... Read More

The Silent Warrior: This story takes an unexpected turn

The Silent Warrior by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous book, Dawn for a Distant Earth.

The Silent Warrior is the second book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s FOREVER HERO trilogy. Published in the late 1980s, this series is about a man named Gerswin who grew up in the harsh environment of the ruined Earth. He was picked up by the galactic empire, educated, and enlisted in their military. He has been a successful leader for the empire, but his real dream is to restore Earth to her former glory. At the end of the first book, Dawn for a Distant Earth (which you really must read to appreciate The Silent Warrior), we saw that Gerswin is even willing to break the law to force the empire to contr... Read More

Fiendish Schemes: Delightfully droll

Fiendish Schemes by K.W. Jeter

Fiendish Schemes is a recent (2013) sequel to K.W. Jeter’s classic steampunk novel Infernal Devices which I have previously reviewed. Jeter, who inadvertently coined the term “steampunk” and writes in a style similar to his friend James P. Blaylock, is probably an acquired taste. Personally, I love his droll overblown style, his eccentric and morose characters who tend to be paranoid and suicidal, and his absurd plots. If you’re a fan of Blaylock, Jack Vance, Read More

The Player of Games: A space opera about board games

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games (1988) is the second of Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels. Jernau Morat Gurgeh is a famous game player from the protective, machine-run Culture. Like everyone else that lives in the Culture, Gurgeh has never known fear, pain, or greed. He wants little beyond the thrill offered by the games and the respect he earns from winning them until he meets Mawhrin-Skel, a drone that blackmails Gurgeh into traveling to the distant Empire of Azad and representing the Culture in a tournament.

The Empire of Azad is founded upon the principles and consequences of its game, Azad. Title and status are dependent upon one’s performance in the game, as is political influence. Advanced players are required to register their political and ethical stances, which are reported to the rest of the civilization. Though Azad provides a stable structure that has guided the Empire throug... Read More

Red Prophet: Entertaining alternate history

Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card

Red Prophet is the second book in Orson Scott Card’s THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER, an alternate history set in a frontier America in which folk magic is real. In the first book, Seventh Son, we were introduced to the main protagonist of the series, Alvin Miller who, because he’s the seventh son of a seventh son, is a gifted healer. We meet Alvin as a baby and follow him into boyhood. At the end of the story he has a vision of a shining man who gives him moral guidance.

In Red Prophet we learn that the shining man is Lolla-Wossiky, an alternate version of Tenskwatawa, spiritual leader of the Native American Shawnee tribe. His brother Read More

The Wilding: Unnecessary sequel

The Wilding by C.S. Friedman

To have an enemy worthy of one's respect... that is a prize beyond measure. What is a lover's touch compared to such a thing? Love is but weakness shared, trials halved for being met in tandem. While a skilled enemy provides stimulation, challenge, and ultimately growth for all those who test their strength against his.

I didn’t think that C.S. Friedman’s wonderful space epic In Conquest Born needed a sequel, but here it is, nonetheless. The Wilding can stand alone, but In Conquest Born is a better book, so I’d suggest reading it first.

It’s a couple of generations after Zatar the Braxin and Anzha the Azean lived, but their legacies remain. The inbred Braxin society is still in danger of becoming extinct and they desperately need some new but acceptable genetic material. Their leader, the Pri'tiera, who... Read More

Queen of the Summer Stars: Best retelling of Guinevere & Lancelot

Queen of the Summer Stars by Persia Woolley

I didn't plan on reading Queen of the Summer Stars, since I was disappointed with the previous installment, Child of the Northern Spring. But one day I was in an Arthurian mood, saw the last two volumes at the library, and said "Hey, what the heck?" I was pleasantly surprised by books two and three; I'm glad I changed my mind and read them.

Queen of the Summer Stars starts slowly. Guinevere seems more like a fly-on-the-wall narrator than a character for the first half of the book. She constantly regales us with all of the doings in Camelot — every banquet, affair, and border skirmish. But she doesn't talk much about what's going on in her own head. The result of this is that, whenever she suddenly acts with strong emotion, it comes out of left field. For example, at one point she lets two strangers talk her i... Read More

Stalking the Vampire: One of the best urban fantasy series

Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Mike Resnick has won an impressive 5 Hugo Awards, been nominated for 26 more, and is the all-time award winner — living or dead — for short fiction. He has sold 54 novels, more than 200 short stories, and has also edited 50 anthologies. His work ranges from satirical fare, such as his LUCIFER JONES adventures, to weighty examinations of morality and culture, as evidenced by his brilliant tales of KIRINYAGA. The series, with 66 major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honored series of stories in the history of science fiction. Some of Mike Resnick's other recent releases include Starship: Rebel (Pyr Books, December 2008) and Kilimanjaro: A Fable of Utopia (Subterranean Press, December 2008).

PLOT SUMMARY: It’s Hallo... Read More

Heart of Valor: No Better or Worse than The Night of the Solstice

Heart of Valor by L.J. Smith

Heart of Valor is set a year and a half after the events of the previous book in this two-part series (though both can be read as stand-alone novels), in which four siblings helped the sorceress Morgana Shee prevent the evil sorcerer Cadal Forge from emerging through her magic teleporting mirrors and causing havoc on the world. At the end of 'Night of the Solstice' the doorways to the Wildworld were closed, Cadal was destroyed, and his ally Thia Pendriel managed to escape with the immensely powerful Heart of Valor, a magical gemstone.

All has been quiet since then, with the quirky Janie studying magic under Morgana's guidance, Claudia enjoying her newfound gift to speak to animals, and Alys and Charles simply getting on with their lives. But after what seems like a typical Californian earthquake, the children and the sorceress begin to suspect that Thia is up to something — ... Read More