Arrow’s Fall: The end of Talia’s story

Arrow’s Fall by Mercedes Lackey

Arrow’s Fall (1988) is the third and final novel in the first trilogy of Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR saga (THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR). This trilogy features Talia, a girl who lived in a close-knit conservative rural area who was unexpectedly chosen as the Queen’s Own Herald. In Arrows of the Queen and Arrow’s Flight we watched Talia come to the heralds’ collegium, learn to be a herald, and go out on her first circuit of the kingdom. She has grown and matured in many ways since the beginning of her adventure.

Now, in Arrow’s Fall Read More

Mistress of the Empire: An emotionally satisfying ending

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

Mistress of the Empire (1989) is the final book in Raymond E. Feist and Janny WurtsEMPIRE TRILOGY. It’s an exciting, emotional, dramatic, and ultimately satisfying end to the story. Please don’t read it before you read Daughter of the Empire and Servant of the Empire. (And please note that this review will contain spoilers for those two previous novels.)

At the end of the second book in the trilogy, Servant of the Empire... Read More

Ashling: A long-running series takes on an epic scope

Ashling by Isobelle Carmody

This is the third book in Isobelle Carmody's THE OBERNEWTYN CHRONICLES, marking the point where the series takes on a truly epic quality. Seriously, this instalment is twice the size of the first volume, and the next one is even larger!

Elspeth Gordie is one of many so-called Misfits that dwell in the safe haven of Obernewtyn, a place where those with psychic abilities (whether they're telepaths, coercers, beast-speakers or far-seekers) can live in peace and secrecy. That latter quality is necessary due to the totalitarian Council that rules the rest of the land, their laws enforced by religious leaders known as Herders. In the eyes of Herders, Misfits such as Elspeth are an aberration.

But they're not the only enemy ... Read More

The Fall of the Kings: This book vanished like a ship in the Bermuda triangle, and I think I know why

The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman

Ellen Kushner published Swordspoint in 1987. It gathered a swarm of fans who loved the prose, the magicless world with its glittering veneer and cloak-and-dagger intrigue, and the love story at its center. Readers clamored to know more of steadfast, enigmatic swordsman Richard St.Vier and his lover, the brilliant, neurotic noble Alec Campion.

In 2003, Ellen Kushner, writing with Delia Sherman, published The Fall of the Kings. Although it was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award and a Locus Award, The Fall of the Kings vanished from consciousness like a ship in... Read More

The Privilege of the Sword: Enjoy another visit to Riverside

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

“Whatever the duke means to do with her, it can’t be anything decent.”

The Privilege of the Sword is Ellen Kushner’s sequel to her novel Swordspoint which was about the doings of the high and low societies in her fictional town of Riverside. The main characters of that novel were the nobleman Alec Tremontaine, a student, and his lover, the famous swordsman Richard St. Vier. You don’t need to read Swordspoint before reading The Privilege of the Sword, but it will probably be more enjoyable if you do because you’ll have some background on most of the characters.

Now Alec is known as the Mad Duke Tremontaine. He spends some of his time in his mansion outside the city, but he really prefers to reside in his house in Riverside where the common people live. The Mad Duke is known for being rapacious and decadent. Ye... Read More

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders by Hirohiko Araki 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders by Hirohiko Araki (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this column, I feature comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I post the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Nicolas Ingle:

Nicolas Ingle is a sophomore at Oxford College of Emory University. Nicolas is intending to major in chemistry and Japanese with the intent to go to medical school. Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, Nicolas loves hanging out with friends... Read More

Imago: Finally, we see the Ooloi perspective

Imago by Octavia Butler

Imago (1989) is the third book in Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS trilogy. It concludes the story begun with the human woman Lilith in Dawn (1987) and continued with her Oankali-human ‘construct’ son Akin in Adulthood Rites (1988). Imago takes the bold but logical next step by shifting the perspective to Jodahs, an Ooloi-human construct. The Ooloi are the third, gender-less sex of the Oankali, the alien race of ‘gene traders’ that saved the remnants of humanity on the condition that humanity share its DNA with them and be forever transformed in the process.

Once again Butler doesn’t hesitate to plunge us into the unknown, this time exploring the strangest aspect of the Oankali, the psychically-powerful Ooloi who can manipulate the DNA of living creatures directly... Read More

Use of Weapons: A brooding tale of warfare, manipulation, guilt

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Iain M. Banks’s Use of Weapons is the third CULTURE novel. For those not in the know, the Culture is an intergalactic paradise run by its extremely sophisticated machines. Its people are augmented so that they are able to control and enhance every function their body serves. Life in the Culture is pretty great, and so stories are rarely set there.

Fortunately for Banks, things occasionally get a little hairy on the distant edges of the Culture when it is forced to interact with other societies. When those moments of contact go poorly, the Culture relies upon Special Circumstances to figure things out.

Enter the drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw, the Special Circumstances agent Diziet Sma, and Cheradinine Zakalwe, our hero and their agent on the ground. Before Special Circumstances recruited him, Zakalwe was a soldier on a distant world. Usually when someone writes “enter the ... Read More

Prentice Alvin: Alvin Maker is slowing down

Prentice Alvin by Orson Scott Card

Prentice Alvin is the third book in Orson Scott Card’s TALES OF ALVIN MAKER. After the excitement in the last book, Red Prophet, when Alvin and his family experienced the Battle of Tippecanoe, Alvin is finally off to Hatrack River, where he was born, to begin his apprenticeship to Makepeace Smith, the blacksmith. He’s also hoping that Peggy, the Torch who watches over him, can help him figure out what it means to be a Maker because he’s had a vision of the Crystal City he must build.

Peggy, who can see Alvin coming and knows he’s destined for greatness, realizes she’s in love with him and worries because she has no skills or education that will help him learn to be a Maker, or that will even cause him to admire her for more than her good looks. (Thank you, Mr. Card, for always giving your leading women a desire to be a... Read More

Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn

Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn by Persia Woolley

Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn is a good book, even though it perpetuates the flaws seen in Persia Woolley's previous Guinevere Trilogy novels, Child of the Northern Spring and Queen of the Summer Stars. Woolley's Guinevere still has a habit of distancing herself from the story, briskly rattling off the legendary happenings like an anchorwoman for the Camelot Nightly News; and Woolley's desire to tell the Arthurian legend without the use of supernatural elements results in cumbersome and byzantine plot devices as the author attempts to explain magical events without the magic. But all of this aside, this is a compelling and enjoyable conclusion to the series.

In Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn, the dream of Camelot begins to fall apart. There are quarrels: Guinevere and Lancelot fight bitterly over Elaine of Carbonek, whom Lancelot accidentally slept with. Mordred, whose best frie... Read More