Mountain of Black Glass: The most exciting book in the quartet

Mountain of Black Glass by Tad Williams

The third book in Tad WilliamsOVERLAND quartet, Mountain of Black Glass (1999) is better than the previous novels in the series (City of Golden Shadow and River of Blue Ice). Warning: You must read those books before starting Mountain of Black Glass.

At this point in the story, our heroes are still in Otherland, hoping to find Paul Jonas, but their progress is hampered because they’ve lost the lighter that allowed them to jump between simulations. They are still split into two groups after losing each other in the previous book. As Ren... Read More

A Storm of Swords: Might be the best in the series

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

When George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords (2000) begins, the War of the Five Kings has just ended, and it looks like the Lannisters have won the realm. They control King’s Landing, Westeros’ capital city, as well as the fifteen-year-old King Joffrey. Stannis Baratheon is in retreat, and their remaining foes, the Starks and the Greyjoys, have turned on each other rather than allying against a common enemy. Basically, the bad guys have won, but A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE isn’t over.

Martin highlights that there are still perfectly legitimate threats to the realm, especially the wildlings, the Others, and the giants that are invading from beyond the Wall. Jon Snow is charged with infiltrating the wildling army, an excuse that Martin uses to show off how cool it would be to live in a land that is in perpetual winter. Yes, the un... Read More

The Naked God: Brings this trilogy to a merciful end

The Naked God by Peter F. Hamilton

Disclaimer: This audiobook, and the series, is extremely popular and has high ratings at Goodreads and Audible. I will explain why I am not enthusiastic about it, but please take my opinion with the proverbial grain of salt.

The Naked God (1999 print, 2016 audio) is the third and final book in Peter F. Hamilton’s NIGHT’S DAWN trilogy. It begins immediately after the events of the previous book, The Neutronium Alchemist which follows the first book, The Reality Dysfunction. At this point in the story, the possessed (souls that have come back from the Beyond to ... Read More

The Raging Fires: Enjoyable well-written fantasy for youngsters

The Raging Fires by T. A. Barron

"The Dragon Avenges His Dreams Yet Unhatched..."

The third book in T.A. Barron's MERLIN SAGA, chronicling the adventures of the young wizard before his famous exploits in the Arthurian legends, continues on from The Lost Years and The Seven Songs of Merlin. Merlin has been reunited with his mother and sister on the magical island of Fincayra and is looking forward to continuing his learning in the magical arts. But it is not to be, for elsewhere on the island the ancient dragon Valdearg has awakened from his decades-long slumber to discover that his unhatched eggs have been destroyed -- and he's not happy.

A prophesy hints that Merlin will be the one to end the scourge of the dragon -- but at the cost of his own life. Furthermore, he will need the precious gemstone known as the Galator to c... Read More

The Alleluia Files: Beautifully written, emotionally compelling

The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn

Set one hundred years after Jovah’s Angel, rumors are abounding that Alleluia had discovered the truth about the god Jovah — that he is actually a large spaceship orbiting the planet. While these ideas are declared heretical, a small cult has sprung up around finding the files Alleluia is said to have left behind. The Jacobites are declared criminals, and the Archangel Bael brutally suppresses their existence. But there are enough people believing the rumors that Bael can’t stop them all, and what they find could change Samaria forever.

The Alleluia Filesis told through two different storylines running simultaneously. One plot follows Tamar, a Jacobite on the run for her life, who finds an unlikely ally in Jared, an angel and leader of the host at Monteverde. The other storyline features Lucinda, an angel raised in isolation her entire life, and her quest to find h... Read More

The King of Attolia: Recommended with a caveat

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Gen is now The King of Attolia, married to the woman who he has loved since childhood, who also ordered his hand cut off when he was caught snooping around the castle. At the end of the last book, The Queen of Attolia, he offered to marry the Queen to seal a peace treaty between her country and his native Eddis, keeping secret from almost everyone that he has been in love with her since his youth. Now he is king of a country that considers him an enemy, and his marriage a political sham rather than a love match.

The King of Attolia is told from the point of view of Costas, a soldier in the Guard who is assigned to be an attendant to the new king. He starts out considering Gen a weak, lazy, inadequate excuse for a monarch, and slowly comes to see that the king is putting on a front to draw out his enemies so that... Read More

The Night World 3: Three of the best stories in the series

THE NIGHT WORLD: Volume 3 by L.J. Smith

"Four to Stand Between the Light and the Shadow..."

Whereas the first Night World omnibus set up the basic concept for the Night World and the rules in place for its existence, the second began to give the sense that all the stories were interconnected rather than one-off stories. With each installment, more was learned about the history of the sub-world, the concept of soulmates, and (particularly in this final omnibus) the coming of the end of the world. Such was the case for the first nine books in this series, but unfortunately, the final book in the series was never published, leaving readers hanging as to how the story ended.

For example, despite the fact that each book features a new female protagonist, other secondary characters often pop up in cameo appearances, and there is the sense that the world arou... Read More

The Centre of Magic: Floramonde is a real treasure

The Centre of Magic by Pamela Freeman

The Centre of Magic is the final in the three Floramonde books, beginning with The Willow Tree's Daughter which told of the love between King Max of Floramonde and Salixia, the dryad of the willow tree, their child Princess Betony and her romance with the gardener's boy Basil. In Windrider we learnt of the chance Betony was offered by the dragon Windrider to "put down roots" and become a dryad herself, and her friend's and family's efforts to bring her back into their world. Finally, in The Centre of Magic we are introduced to the wizard Colchis, who has been expelled from the Wizard's Guild in the next kingdom from Floramonde, and his search for power and revenge. Knowing that Floramonde is filled with Wild Magic rather than the less potent ... Read More