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Sea of Silver Light: An exciting but too-long finale

Sea of Silver Light by Tad Williams

Sea of Silver Light (2001) finally concludes Tad Williams’ imaginative and very long OTHERLAND quartet. You must read the previous three books, City of Golden Shadow, River of Blue Fire, and Mountain of Black Glass first. There will be spoilers for those books in this review.

If you’ve read the previous three books in the OTHERLAND quartet, I don’t need to convince you to read Sea of Silver Light. I’m sure you’re dyin... Read More

The Mirror of Fate: Solid but superfluous

The Mirror of Fate by T.A. Barron

The Mirror of Fate is the fourth book in T.A. Barron's THE LOST YEARS OF MERLIN saga, chronicling the adventures and experiences of Merlin as a young man, long before Arthur's birth and Camelot's creation. Having discovered his true parentage and voyaged to his birthplace, the magical island of Fincayra, Merlin is now practicing and improving his magical abilities, helped along by several friends and family members.

Although Barron has by now established quite a large cast of characters, it's whittled down to Merlin and Hallia — a girl who can shapeshift into a deer — for the duration of The Mirror of Fate, at least to start with. The two friends are practicing spells together when Merlin accidentally teleports them to the edge of the Haunted Marshes, a dangerous place where the trees seems to groan in fear ... Read More

A Feast For Crows: Feels like an interruption

A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin

After years of plotting and poisoning at court, Cersei Lannister is finally sitting the Iron Throne of Westeros. It’s worth noting that her manipulations led to the War of the Five Kings, which has killed so many in the Riverlands and the North that all that remains is A Feast for Crows. As Queen Regent, Cersei immediately begins turning the Seven Kingdoms even more strongly against each other. Cersei envisions a realm of complete obedience to her rule, and to achieve this end she dismisses the most talented lords and knights in Westeros, surrounding herself with incompetents — and then complaining about them.

Although Cersei’s every move suggests a potential backfire, she is very much the star of A Feast for Crows, and it is interesting to contrast her with the novel’s other characters. Watching from the Vale, Littlefinger points o... Read More

A Conspiracy of Kings: Weighty YA

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

Eugenides is now the respected, if not loved, King of Attolia. When his childhood friend improbably becomes King of Sounis, Attolia’s neighboring country and historical adversary, Eugenides has to choose between loyalty to his new country, his queen, his homeland and his friend. Is there any way to balance the competing claims on his heart and his conscience?

This fourth book in THE THIEF series by Megan Whalen Turner brings it back to his former brilliance. The character of Gen and his friend Sophos, returning from the first book, are portraits of conflicting desires drawn with a fine-pointed pen, and inked in with exquisite detail. The magus is back in full form, and we learn even more about Eddis, which fleshes out the background details of the lives of more than one of the characters.

While the fourth book in a series, A... Read More

Angelica: SFF with a strong romantic streak

Angelica by Sharon Shinn

The settlers of Samaria were brought there from a distant world, cupped in the hands of their God. Jovah settled them on this harsh land where they could find a new start far away the technology that had torn their old war apart, and then blessed them with angels — winged messengers to intercede with Jovah on the mortals’ behalf. Now, a few hundred years after settlement, the Archangel Gaaron has three problems.

First, he has to convince the Edori woman Susannah to be his bride and the titular Angelica, even though she loves another. Second, mysterious black-clad strangers have been seen appearing and disappearing at random, leaving settlers and settlements alike burned to oblivion in their passing. And third, his recalcitrant sister Miriam has fallen in love with one of the invaders, and will do anything to protect him.

This fourth book in the Read More

Victor’s Quest: Intelligent story for new readers

Victor's Quest by Pamela Freeman

In the third and final book of the Floramunde trilogy, we were briefly introduced to a character called Victor (who sadly failed in the attempt to win Princess Betony’s hand due to his unfortunate stupidity). But Victor wasn’t a total pushover. He may not be very clever, but he’s brave and kind, and has a very intelligent horse that makes up for his own lack of sense. And he’s still single, something that his mother wants him to rectify immediately.

He’s sent off on a quest to find and marry a princess, armed with a range of herbal remedies from Marigold the gardener, and some sound advice: “Remember the old rules: be kind, be polite to everyone you meet, and be pure of heart.” Along with his horse Quince, he heads into the Dark Forest of Nevermore (Betony made a similar journey in Windrider) and comes across the usual suspects: animals that need to be helped... Read More

Shadows Return: Didn’t feel right until the end

Shadows Return by Lynn Flewelling

Lately, whenever I pick up a new book by a favorite author and read the back of it, I get this feeling of dread. I don't know what it is, but my favorites are throwing out some really thin-sounding plots. Lynn Flewelling has been a favorite for years, though, since I first began reading her Nightrunner series, so I held out hope for Shadows Return.

So Alec and Seregil are on a new mission when they're captured and sold into slavery. Seregil's time is spent hoping Alec is alive. Alec's is spent in the hands of Yhakobin, an alchemist who has a special purpose for the mixed blood running through Alec's veins. It sounds thin and it is thin, as the book encompasses no more than this. And it's certainly interesting, and none of it reads slow, even though it should.

The last hundred ... Read More