Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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Well of Darkness: Should have left it in the bargain bin

Well of Darkness by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

I bought Well of Darkness in hardcover years ago in the bargain bin. I should have left it there. I have tried starting it three or four times, and I, for the life of me, cannot get past the second chapter. It is totally boring and un-engaging, and I instantly disliked the characters I was reading about. Therefore, I really can’t say much more about the book. I rarely get so turned off so early in a book, and Weis and Hickman have written some pretty entertaining stuff (Dragonlance),


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Ice Land: Neither great characters nor compelling plot

Ice Land by Betsy Tobin

“This book is my love letter to Iceland and its people,” writes Betsy Tobin in her afterword to Ice Land. And so it is. Tobin is at her best when describing the landscape of Iceland:

The day we met, I had flown deep into the central highlands, seeking a spot where I could be alone. I found it on a high desert plateau, where a hidden spring had forced its way up through the lava shield,


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Irons in the Fire: Bland characters, bad dialogue, dull set-up

Irons in the Fire by Juliet E. McKenna

Contemporary wisdom holds that a fantasy novel should include the following non-exclusive elements and that they, or at least tantalizing glimpses of them, should be apparent from the beginning:

  1. distinctive characters whom the reader can like, relate to,or watch with concerned or morbid fascination
  2. a fascinating world
  3. a conflict, crisis, or unrealized desire that meaningfullyimpacts said characters and world

Ideally, a brisk (or at least smooth) pace and clean, crisp prose combine with these elements to create a lucid,


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Duainfey: The dialogue drove me bonkers

Duainfey by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

I’ve heard that Duainfey contains disturbing sexual content. I mention that as a word of warning, in case you’re a reader who dislikes that sort of thing.

That said, I can’t speak to that personally. I didn’t get that far. Duainfey starts with an overly-confusing prologue set in the Fey realm. I was never quite sure what was actually going on in this scene. Then, the story shifts to the doings of a human family in Regency society.


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The Three Sisters: Badly written and edited

The Three Sisters by Rebecca Locksley

I’d been meaning to read The Three Sisters for a long time. The cover art intrigued me. I remember seeing it in the bookstore, thinking “But there are only two sisters in the picture!” and then finally noticing the third, ghostly woman in the pool. I wanted to know what these sisters’ story was. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

The sisters, Elena, Yanimena, and Marigoth, are members of a race called the Tari. The Tari are magically gifted,


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A Kiss of Shadows: Not my cup of mead

A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton

Laurell K. Hamilton promises a story of modern-day faeries and their complex court intrigue, which in theory is right up my alley, but I didn’t really get into A Kiss of Shadows.

By about page 100, my significant other was laughing because I kept yelling aloud, “Is she going to sleep with HIM, TOO?” The entire plot of the book seems to consist of Merry’s sexual adventures. That would be OK if it were good erotica,


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Shadowmancer: Almost unreadable

Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor

I didn’t finish Shadowmancer, finally giving up about three-quarters of the way through after oh-so-painfully forcing my way through to that point.

The reasons for not finishing are pretty basic. The characters are mere shadows (no pun intended) of real people, offered up in mostly two-dimensional form with the occasional attempt at depth through clumsy and often lengthy interior exposition. Motivations are either never explored or shift with blinding speed. The plot is a pretty helpless muddle, filled with inconsistencies, gaps,


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Sea Witch: Sea witch words and punctuation marks we can omit

Sea Witch by Helen Hollick

I really enjoyed Helen Hollick’s trilogy about King Arthur, and I love pirates, so I had very high hopes for this historical fantasy. Therefore, I was extremely disappointed that I couldn’t even get past chapter five of Sea Witch. The story and the characters seemed promising, and I know from past experience that Ms. Hollick tells a good tale, but the writing was so badly done that I couldn’t continue. I had to keep re-reading paragraphs in order to understand what was going on.


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The Eldarn Sequence: A good story told poorly

THE ELDARN SEQUENCE by Robert Scott & Jay Gordon

THE ELDARN SEQUENCE is a good story told poorly.

This review was difficult for me to do. Partly because I’m writing it on a day off work while home sick and partly because there are characteristics of these books that really annoy me, but reflect some real-world political and cultural positions and I want to review the book without offending anyone inadvertently. If you are offended by anything here, just assume that you’ve read it incorrectly and that I am really the most tolerant and inoffensive person anywhere in the world,


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The Dream Thief: Did Not Finish

The Dream Thief by Shana Abe

The Dream Thief stars Amalia Langford, the daughter of Kit and Rue from The Smoke Thief, and Zane, a thief who was introduced in the previous book. Zane is charged with retrieving a special diamond called Draumr. At the behest of Kit and Rue, he agrees to travel across Europe, into the Carpathians, in search of it. Accompanying him is Lia, who is possessed of the ability to hear the future. In her dreams she hears a future in which Zane,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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