A Phule And His Money: Lacks the appealing qualities of the previous books

A Phule And His Money by Robert Asprin

The first two books in Robert Asprin’s PHULE’S COMPANY series, Phule’s Company and Phule’s Paradise, were fairly amusing and worth my time, especially in the audio formats that have been recently produced by Tantor Audio. However, this third book, A Phule And His Money, which was co-written with Peter J. Heck, was sadly lacking in the qualities that made the previous novels so much fun.

The story begins immediately after the events of Phule’s Paradise. The gang has just saved the Fat Chance Casino from a mob takeover. Life for Captain Phule ... Read More

Serpent Mage: Fair to middling

Serpent Mage by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Serpent Mage, book four of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's DEATH GATE CYCLE, is not as good as its immediate predecessor but also manages to be significantly superior to the first two installments in the series. For the most part, the focus on Alfred and Haplo continues to be a good move and the tension is certainly ratcheting up as we get closer to the endgame, but on the other hand this one just didn't feel as tightly constructed as the more gripping Fire Sea.

Following our cliffhanger ending last time, Haplo's master has discovered that his disciple is lying to him. He c... Read More

Fire Sea: THE DEATHGATE CYCLE finds its footing

Fire Sea by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

In Fire Sea, the third novel of the seven-book DEATHGATE CYCLE, authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman finally seem to find their footing. Where the plots of the first two novels often felt haphazard and clunky, Fire Sea has a relatively streamlined sequence of events that not only makes sense but takes care to involve its setting and characters. What's more, the clichéd fantasy archetypes from the first two are largely set by the wayside. In fact, there aren't any elves or dwarves at all in this one, and Haplo — the only truly interesting character from the first two books — at long last takes over as formal protagonist.

What's that,... Read More

The Belly of the Wolf: A slow, deliberate, contemplative work

The Belly of the Wolf  by R.A. MacAvoy

The Belly of the Wolf is the third book in R.A. MacAvoy’s LENS OF THE WORLD trilogy. My review will spoil some of the events from the first two novels, Lens of the World and King of the Dead, so you might not want to read it before reading those books. If you have already read and enjoyed those two previous novels, I feel certain that you’ll like The Belly of the Wolf, too. It’s similar in style and tone and there’s a little bit more action in this one.

It’s been many years since the events of King of the Dead, in which Nazhuret and Arlin (again) saved their country from tragedy. Now Nazhuret is 55 years old, Arlin is dead, and their daughter Nahvah is a grown woman with a fascination for pistols. Father and daughter are living a quiet l... Read More

Sojourn: A transitional novel, and it shows

Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore

Sojourn is the last book in Salvatore’s DARK ELF TRILOGY, the prequel novels he wrote to establish Drizzt’s origin story after the success of his earlier trilogy ICEWIND DALE. While the first two DARK ELF novels, Homeland and Exile, are charming enough little stories to entertain on their own merits, Sojourn is the point at which the story begins to suffer for the necessity of ticking certain narrative boxes to get Drizzt where he needs to be by book four. It’s very much a transitional novel, and while on the whole it keeps the flavor of the rest of the trilogy, the plot here is the weakest of the three.

At the end of Exile, our valiant drow hero Drizzt Do’Urden exited the subterranean world in which he had lived practically all of his life to brave the surface. Drizzt is starting fresh here, which means that we,... Read More

The Dragon Reborn: One of the better books in the series

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (on audio)

In The Dragon Reborn, Rand finally starts to discover his new talents. Unfortunately, we don't get to watch that happen. We only see a few glimpses of him learning to use his power. It makes me wonder if it was just easier for Jordan to show us the newly developed Rand rather than to explain how he got that way.

A couple of times here (and in later books) we're told that Rand doesn't really know how he wields the power — he just does. In fact, this also happens with the girls from his village (Egwene and Nynaeve) who are learning to be Aes Sedai, and with their friend, princess Elayne. They supposedly are the most powerful women in years, but they don't really understand how they do it or how and why they are more powerful. If you appreciate a well-developed, creative, and well-explained magic system (e.g. Read More

Taltos: 467 page coda

Taltos by Anne Rice

The problem with this final installment in The Lives of the Mayfair Witches, is that the main plot (and most of its subplots) were begun in The Witching Hour and wrapped up neatly in its sequel Lasher. In these two previous books, Doctor Rowan Mayfair has returned to her family, discovered her witch heritage, married Michael Curry, come into contact with an organisation called the Talamasca (best described as a supernatural detective agency) unleashed the spirit Lasher on the world and — together with her husband — stopped him from achieving his goal of populating the world with his own species: the Taltos. What more was there to tell?

Well, there were a couple of loose threads, but nothing that couldn't have been cleared up in Lasher, and nothing that takes a whole ... Read More