At the Gates of Darkness: Nowhere near Feist’s best

At the Gates of Darkness by Raymond E. Feist

At the Gates of Darkness is the second book in the Demonwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist, and while his work is some of the first fantasy I've read and enjoyed enough to purchase, over the years my appreciation of his work has waned somewhat. This is partly because I have discovered books that are qualitatively much better, and partly because I have developed my taste as a reader of fantasy. I do have fond memories of his first dozen books, however, so every time a new one hits the shelves I find myself reading it against my better judgement.

At the Gates of Darkness continues the story that began in Rides a Dread Legion and chronicles the efforts of Pug and his Conclave of Shadows to deal with the threat of... Read More

The Sorcerer of the North: World-building problems begin to show

The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan

This review will contain minor spoilers for John Flanagan’s previous RANGER’S APPRENTICE books: The Ruins of Gorlan, The Burning Bridge, The Icebound Land, and The Battle for Skandia. The Sorcerer of the North begins a new story arc and new readers could start here, but for maximum enjoyment, I recommend going back and starting with The Ruins of Gorlan.

When we left Will and his friends at the end of The Battle for Skandia, our hero Will, a Ranger’s apprentice, had finally returned home to Araluen with the princess Cassandra after they had been kidnapped by Araluen’s long-time Viking-ish enemies, the Skandians. (Bu... Read More

The Human Division: A pleasing roller coaster ride of a book

The Human Division by John Scalzi

The Human Division is a fast-paced roller coaster of a book. At the Nebula Awards this weekend in San Jose, California, John Scalzi politely informed me that this was the fifth book in a series, which starts with Old Man’s War. I haven’t read the other four (which I will be correcting soon) but I understood pretty well what was going on in this universe, although I may have missed some nuance.

The Colonial Union left earth to colonize space about two hundred years ago. During that time, space-faring humans met several other races who didn’t like humans very much. They also met some who did, or were at least willing to trade with us. From Earth, the Colonial Union recruited people over the age of seventy to create soldiers, decanting them into younger bodies with enhanced features like “smart blood” and a BrainPal computer in their skulls. Earth is also the source of the c... Read More

My Dead Body: A brilliant finish to a brilliant series

My Dead Body by Charlie Huston

PLOT SUMMARY: Nobody lives forever. Not even a Vampyre. Just ask Joe Pitt. After exposing the secret source of blood for half of Manhattan’s Vampyres, he’s definitely a dead man walking. He’s been a punching bag and a bullet magnet for every Vampyre Clan in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, not to mention a private eye, an enforcer, an exile, and a vigilante. But now he’s just a target with legs.

For a year he’s sloshed around the subway tunnels and sewers, tapping the veins of the lost, while above ground a Vampyre civil war threatens to drag the Clans into the sunlight once and for all. What’s it gonna take to dig him up? How about the search for a missing girl who’s carrying a baby that just might be the destiny of Vampyre-kind. Not that Joe cares all that much about destiny and such. What he cares about is that his ex-girl Evie wants him to take the gig. What’s the risk? Another... Read More

The Last Olympian: This final installment is all pay-off

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The Last Olympian is Rick Riordan’s conclusion to the well-received Percy Jackson series which involves the attempt by Kronos, the titan displaced ages ago by Zeus and the other Olympians, to rally his fellow titans, as well as assorted monsters, demigods, and disgruntled minor gods, to take down the Olympians and their allies, especially the Olympians’ children — the demigods of Camp Half-Blood led by Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon), Annabeth (daughter of Athena), and Grover (a satyr).

As one might expect of the concluding book, the action reaches its peak and Kronos is as close as he will ever be to achieving his aims. The Last Olympian opens with a bang, as Percy is on a mission to blow up an ocean liner filled with Kronos (who in the previous book reincorporated himself in... Read More