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The Vampire Diaries 2: The Fury & The Reunion

The Vampire Diaries: The Fury & The Reunion by L.J. Smith

This is the second bind-up for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. The Fury and The Reunion were originally published as two separate books; in fact, The Reunion was published some time after The Fury, which effectively closes the trilogy begun with The Awakening and The Struggle). In The Fury Elena, alongside her friends Bonnie and Meredith, struggles to control her nature and discover the source of the evil Power that is haunting Fell’s Church. She knows that the only way it can be defeated is if the two vampire brothers Stefan and Damon can put alongside their lifelong enmity and work together. In The Reunion Fell’s Church is once again being terrorised b... Read More

When True Night Falls: Compelling, but too long

When True Night Falls by C.S. Friedman

When True Night Falls is the second book in C.S. Friedman’s COLDFIRE trilogy. You’ll want to read the first book, Black Sun Rising, first. This review may spoil some of that first book’s plot.

At the end of Black Sun Rising, Reverend Damien Vryce, the devout warrior priest, discovered the source of the evil that is infecting his country — it lies across the ocean where there exists another continent that humans are aware of but know nothing about. In the past, several expeditions have been sent to explore it, but none has returned. Damien knows he should report to his church’s patriarch, but he’s afraid the patriarch will forbid him to go, so Damien ignores the man and instead boards a ship to cross the ocean. He is again reluctantly teaming up with Gerald Tarrant, the evil undead sorcer... Read More

Gatherer of Clouds: Elegant and thought-provoking

Gatherer of Clouds by Sean Russell

Gatherer of Clouds is the sequel to Sean Russell’s The Initiate Brother, a story which is not so much about the Initiate Brother Shuyun, spiritual advisor to Lord Shonto, as it is about the entire Shonto household — a household that is seen as a threat by an insecure emperor. And with good reason, for Lord Shonto is an honorable, intelligent, and insightful man who has raised his children to be his equals and who has surrounded himself with a competent and loyal staff and several clever allies.

As the story opens, Shonto, governor of the northern province of She, is preparing for a massive barbarian invasion that the emperor refuses to believe in (since he only paid for a small invasion in order to get rid of Shonto). Should Shonto stay in the north, as ordered, and be wiped out by the barbarian horde? Or should he let his province fall and ... Read More

Blood Trail: A mixed bag

Blood Trail by Tanya Huff

Blood Trail is the second in Tanya Huff’s Blood Books series featuring Vicki Nelson, private investigator, and Henry Fitzroy, vampire and illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

The novel opens with Vicki accepting an invitation to Henry's place to talk about a possible new case. It’s been a few months since the events of Blood Price, and the flirtation between Vicki and Henry is ramped up a notch. Their new case involves a pack of werewolves living near London, Canada, who are being picked off one by one by a talented marksman.

Like Blood Price, Blood Trail is a mixed bag. I love the relationship between Vicki and Mike, and the jealousy that both Mike and Henry feel about Vicki is real and touching. The brief s... Read More

The Greener Shore: An extended epilogue (but gorgeous)

The Greener Shore by Morgan Llywelyn

Chief Druid Ainvar, his three wives and their children, and about 15 other survivors from their Celtic clan are sailing west to Hibernia after years of hiding in the forests of Gaul after the Romans destroyed their clan and Julius Caesar murdered their charismatic leader, Vercingetorix.

Ainvar, who relates their adventure in the first person, expended his druid magic in their last fight against the Romans and he knows how weak his tribe, the Carnutes, is. But the Romans are determined to wipe them out, so their only hope for salvation is to leave Gaul. When their little band arrives in Hibernia, they are at the sufferance and mercy of the Celtic clans who already inhabit the island. They must find a way to fit in with these Celts who have different beliefs and customs.

The Greener Shore is a beautifully told historical fantasy. Morgan Llywelyn Read More

Five Hundred Years After: Brust is brilliant

Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust

If there were justice in the literary world, you'd think Steven Brust would have received more acclaim and notice, as Brust's writing is crisp and lively, his pacing excellent.

As explained in an "interview" with the book's pompous narrator, Brust writes for those who love to read, i.e. those who enjoy a good vocabulary, good grammar, good phrasing, and (indeed) a good story. This is not some "page-turner" to be engulfed at one-sitting; if you did that with a box of Godiva chocolates, you'd become ill and lose the appreciation for each one. Just so with each of the book's chapters. The plot does slow a little too much in places — often due the musings of the intruding, over-erudite narrator — but there are worthy adages, tales and metaphors therein; don't miss them.

This is a fine, fine work. The swashbuckling spirit of Read More