Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1991.01


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The Vampire Diaries 1: The Awakening & The Struggle

The Vampire Diaries 1: The Awakening & The Struggle by L.J. Smith

Elena is the ice-blonde queen of the school, admired by girls and boys alike. With her friends, Bonnie and Meredith, she enjoys her status and uses it to snag the most eligible boys. However, Elena always feels as though something is missing. When new boy Stefan starts at the school, she suspects she has found what she is looking for, but Stefan manages to resist her charms. Elena makes a vow with Bonnie and Meredith that she will have Stefan no matter what — little suspecting that he hides a deadly secret.


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Outlander: Verra, verra dull

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

When a novel has as much buzz surrounding it as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (New York Times #1 Bestseller! Published in 40 countries!) it’s impossible not to approach it without certain expectations. What’s more, a new TV show based on the book has recently been developed, and is touted to be the next Game of Thrones. All of which had me asking the question: are we talking about the same book here?

Outlander opens in Inverness,


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Beggars in Spain: Liked the ideas, didn’t love the characterizations

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Nancy Kress won a Nebula and a Hugo in 1991 for her novella “Beggars in Spain,” about genetically altered humans who don’t need to sleep. In 1993 she expanded the novella into a novel and ultimately into a series.

The first quarter of Beggars in Spain is basically the original novella, in which the reader meets Leisha Camden, the genetically altered child of multi-billionaire Roger Camden. Lithe, golden-haired, blue-eyed and beautiful, Leisha is also extraordinarily intelligent and sleepless.


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The Forever King: Poor characterization, clichéd writing

The Forever King by Molly Cochran & Warren Murphy

The Forever King, by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy, is almost two books blended together. One is an unusual take on the Grail legend, with some familiar characters like Merlin and Nimue. The other is a contemporary fantasy thriller about the reincarnation of King Arthur and a drunken ex-FBI agent who must help him. The Grail retelling has the most chance of being successful but ultimately both stories fail because of poor characterization and clichéd writing.


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The Initiate Brother: Eastern-flavored fantasy full of political intrigue

The Initiate Brother by Sean Russell

War and plague have recently swept across the kingdom of Wa, leaving a new emperor feeling insecure on his throne. He feels threatened by the ancient houses of Wa, and most especially by the revered Lord Shonto, an intelligent and highly competent man. When the emperor appoints Shonto as governor of the northern province of Seh, Shonto isn’t sure if this is an honor, or a trap.

Both men have some excellent allies. Shonto has adopted the lovely and gifted Lady Nishima, the last heir of the former empire,


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Elvenbane: Norton vs. Lackey, Round 1

Elvenbane by Andre Norton & Mercedes Lackey

In the world of Elvenbane, elves have subjugated humanity because… well, they’re elves, frankly: magical and long-lived and perfectly capable of taking what they want. Apparently having served as the unselfish goodie-goodies one too many times, elves have instead been refreshingly cast as the fantasy version of the Roman Empire in this text, conquering and enslaving other races out of a sense of entitlement and a desire to expand their power. Humans are used for menial labor and sexual gratification,


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The Magic of Recluce: Still great after all these years

The Magic of Recluce (Special 20th Anniversary Edition) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

I first read The Magic of Recluce over 15 years ago, and I still have my original paperback copy. This year two special editions are being released by Tor and Subterranean Press. Rereading this story again, after having covered so much ground in epic fantasy, was both interesting and very comforting — comforting because it was nice to realize that a good story is still a good story even after all these years.

The Magic of Recluce chronicles the life of Lerris,


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Black Sun Rising: Tarrant is the ultimate anti-hero

Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman

Refugees from Earth colonized the planet Erna some 1200 years ago. Excepting its extremely high seismic activity, Erna seemed a hospitable planet for mankind to call home. However, soon after our arrival a terrible threat was discovered. A natural force of energy called the fae animated the thoughts and emotions of all living things, so that our very nightmares could be brought to life. This almost destroyed us. Then, some humans figured out how to manipulate the fae to become sorcerers. A religion was created, too,


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Blood Price: I like the characters

Blood Price by Tanya Huff

Blood Price, the first of Tanya Huff’s Blood Books, is about Vicki Nelson, a private investigator, and Henry Fitzroy, a five hundred year old vampire and illegitimate son of Henry VIII. Clichéd urban romance story, right? Well, there are a few things about this novel that piqued my interest and guaranteed I’ll be reading the rest of The Blood Books.

In a genre that is crowded with books about vampires linked with strong female characters,


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The Song of Albion: A Pleasant Surprise!

THE SONG OF ALBION  by Stephen Lawhead

My husband bought me the The Song of Albion trilogy because Lawhead is a Christian and he thought I should try some “Christian” fantasy. I’m a Christian, but I was reluctant. I tend to avoid Christian fantasy and, until recently, Christian music. If Christians are going to contribute to the arts (or science, or anything else), we need to make sure that our contributions are excellent. We can’t sacrifice the quality of the work just to promote a message. Christian music used to be just awful,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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