The Voice From the Edge Volume 2: Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral

The Voice From the Edge, Vol 2: Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral by Harlan Ellison

As much as I dislike the man personally, I have to say that Harlan Ellison writes great stories. Even the stories that I don’t like — because they’re violent, gory, gross, or full of others varieties of ugliness — are good stories. And if there’s anything that Harlan Ellison does better than write great stories, it’s narrate them. He’s a superb story teller. That’s why I’ve picked up all of his Voice From The Edge recordings at Audible.com. Each is a collection of Ellison’s stories which he narrates himself. This second volume, Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral, contains these stories:

“In Lonely Lands” — (first published in 1959 in Fantastic Universe) This very short story is about loneliness, companionship, and dying. It’s touching and thought provoking.
“S.R.O” — (1957, Am... Read More

Crystal Mask: Another enchanting addition to the ECHORIUM SEQUENCE

Crystal Mask by Katherine Roberts

Crystal Mask is the second book in Katherine Robert’s ECHORIUM SEQUENCE. Unlike Song Quest which I first read as a child, Crystal Mask was new to me. I can’t help wishing I had encountered it as a child because I would have been far less fussy about the plot. Adulthood has come with a propensity to pick holes as you will discover if you are minded to read on. Nevertheless, Crystal Mask is a worthy successor to a story I have always loved.

Crystal Mask is set 20 years after Song Quest’s finale. Kherron is now Second Singer at the Echorium. Rialle is also a singer but choses to live outside the Echorium walls in order to remain friends with the... Read More

The Vampire’s Assistant: Tense, exciting, gross

The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan

Warning: This is the second book in the CIRQUE DU FREAK series, so this review necessarily contains spoilers for Book 1.

Darren Shan’s life is officially a mess after several monumental screw-ups which were detailed in the previous appropriately named book, A Living Nightmare. He has left home and joined the Cirque du Freak as Mr. Crepsley’s assistant. Mr. Crepsley is a vampire and Darren is now a half-vampire. Darren has super strength and speed and, he discovers, he’s dangerous to humans. He’s bummed out because not only has he left his family and friends (who think he’s dead), but he now worries that he’ll never be able to have any friends at all. He also despairs because he knows that, eventually, he’ll have to start drinking human blood.... or die.

Darren’s a sweet kid, despite his mistakes, so readers will be pleased to see Darren m... Read More

Darkest Hour: Dark and thrilling

Darkest Hour by Mark Chadbourn

Darkest Hour is the second book in Mark Chadbourn's AGE OF MISRULE trilogy. As often is the case, the middle book in the trilogy is the darkest one, and if the title didn't give it away, Darkest Hour is no exception. Thankfully, the novel contains enough excitement to make it a thrilling read that should please fans of the first book.

At the conclusion of World's End, the return of the Tuatha dé Danann turns out to be a bittersweet victory. Even though they have been typically been cast as the "forces of good" in the legends, they turn out to be so powerful and alien that they treat normal humans as pets at best and have no problem using and manipulating them. It quickly becomes clear that Church, Ruth, Laura, Shavi and Veith — the five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons — cannot count o... Read More

Noonshade: Hectic, shallow, entertaining

Noonshade by James Barclay

Noonshade is the second book in the CHRONICLES OF THE RAVEN series by British fantasy author James Barclay. At the end of trilogy opener Dawnthief, the legendary group of mercenaries known as the Raven managed to destroy the Wytchlords and save the world of Balaia by casting the powerful Dawnthief spell, but as a side effect of the spell, a magical rift appeared in the sky above Parve.

Very early on in Noonshade, we discover that this rift leads to another dimension, populated by several "broods" of dragons, and that the only thing stopping them from invading and destroying Balaia is the Kaan brood, which has a link with the Balaian dimension and some of its inhabitants. However, the rift is growing, and as soon as its shade is large enough to cover the city of Parve at noon (hence ... Read More

Deadhouse Gates: What the heck is going on?

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

The only words that I can think of to sum up Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series are “Wow.” and “What the heck is going on here?!?” (I would have used stronger language, but this is a family website). Erikson appears to be doing something big and shiny, but I have not yet been quite able to grasp what it is. Maybe I am being dense, but this is the second of his books that I have read, and I have the pervasive feeling as I progress through this series that I am missing something important, but I can’t put my finger on what precisely that is.

Deadhouse Gates is the second of the Malazan novels, but it does not pick up where Gardens of the Moon left off. The events in it occur i... Read More

Page: Deeper and better than First Test

Page by Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindelin (or "Kel" to her friends ) has completed her first year of training to be a knight, and conquered the unfair probation that the training-master Wyldon inflicted on her. Now she hopes she can finally get on with her life-long dream of following in Lady-Knight Alanna's footsteps, and take the next step in becoming a knight of Tortall.

But things are never as easy as that, and there are still those among her who are determined to see her fail. Yet, as in her first year, Kel is helped by old friends Neal, Merric, Owen, Cleon and Prince Roald, her stallion Peachblossom and the flock of friendly sparrows outside her window. As well as this are two new allies; the timid maid Lalasa whom Kel takes into her employment, and Jump the mongrel who has 'adopted' Kel as his own. When the year starts the work begins, along with page-duties of serving the court, summer camps in the wilderness, skirmishes w... Read More

A Fortress of Grey Ice: Improves on and deepens the first book

A Fortress of Grey Ice by J.V. Jones

As one might expect from the obvious length, there's a lot going on in J.V. Jones' second work of the Sword of Shadows series. A Fortress of Grey Ice is constantly shifting between locales and characters, offering many storylines, each of them interesting and tension-filled in their own right. Jones has a nice touch for when to turn away and when to return, seemingly having no trouble juggling the multiple plots, which in turn means the reader also has no problem.

The important characters are too many to name (another testament to Jones' juggling ability), but again we spend a lot of time with Raif the clan outcast and the various members of his family — brother, sister, widowed mother, uncle; Ash March — the girl "Reach" whose ability is a danger to herself and the entire world; and ... Read More

Leopard in Exile: Zzzzzzz….

Leopard in Exile by Andre Norton & Rosemary Edghill

Is it a bad sign that I just finished Leopard in Exile the night before last, and now I'm hard-pressed to remember much of the plot?

This book's predecessor, Shadow of Albion, was fun in a light sort of way, with the promise of sequels that would delve deeper into the faery magic at which it hints. I should have gotten my first clue about Leopard in Exile when I looked at the cover art. Thomas Canty's drawings are lovely as always, but this illustration looks like it's supposed to be a rough preliminary sketch, compared to the sublime cover of Albion. Even the typefaces are clunkier. But I tried not to judge the book by its cover.

Inside, though, I found little of interest. I had hoped that the characters, who were kind of cardboard in Albion Read More