Poison Study

by Maria V. Snyder

This book was recommended by my novelist friend. I really must remember to thank her next time I see her. I really enjoyed this book as well as it's sequel. I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series which the library unfortunately doesn't seem to carry.

The story opens in the Commander of Ixia's dungeon where Yelena awaits her fate at the hands of the executioner. The guards come for her, but instead of taking her to the gallows, they take her to the Commander's head of security, Valek, who offers her the recently vacated position of food taster. Of course, to ensure her continued cooperation, he poisons her first requiring her to present herself in his office every day for the antidote.

Yelena quickly (and necessarily) learns the rudiments of her new job. Along the way, she develops friendships with members of Valek's elite squad and convinces them to teach her self defense. Intrigue, respect, and love eventually entwine Yelena's life with Valek's. Magic and sorcery, which is illegal and punishable by death in Ixia, are woven throughout the story. The discovery of the secrets of her past and the thwarting of a plot to end the life of the Commander and take over the government keep this story line moving along very well.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It was a complete story within itself, yet it left me eager to hear how Yelena's life continues in the sequel.

Posted by jfer at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Song of Fire

by Joseph Bentz

I've been on a fantasy/sci-fi kick at the library, but instead of researching what books might be good, I troll the shelves looking for a likely candidate. Sometimes I find a good book and sometimes I don't. For me, this one falls on the side of "didn't find a good one".

Jeremy falls through the water of an icy lake after a disagreement with his girlfriend. When he quits falling, he lands in a world where music is outlawed and finds he has become a prophet with a duty to lead the beleaguered people to the promised land. He determines that their Emajus is the same as God and in this land, Emajus is in the music for those who open their hearts and minds to him.

I suppose it was an interesting book, but the religious angle was unexpected. It wasn't apparent from the blurb that this was religious fiction - a genre I generally enjoy. Also, I never got the sense that Jeremy did much as far as leading the people, though they did end up where they were going and achieved their ultimate goal of rebuilding the temple. However, it could be argued that Jeremy's guide less trek through this strange land is exactly the point the author is trying to make.

Throughout reading the book, I understood it to be a comatose dream of Jeremy's after being rescued from the frozen lake in his own world and time.

One final note, in all descriptions of the book, the blurb make mention of Jeremy being a "stranger in a strange land". I kind of expected more a relation to Heinlein's novel of the same name. Maybe it's been too long since I read that book, but I just didn't see the similarities.

Posted by jfer at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dragon's Winter

by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Yes, I definitely wish I had read this book before I read Dragon's Treasure. It would have made the second one so much more interesting, though it is still disappointing that nothing of real interest happened in the sequel.

This book tells the story of dragon-blood twins. The first born, Karadur, inherited his father's dragon blood while the second, Tenjiro, inherited his madness. Tenjiro's jealousy of his brother's dragon powers leads him to the dark side of magic. He steals the talism that enables his brother's transformation into a dragon and escapes to the barren north where he continues to harness the power of the dark side or rather lets that power consume him. Karadur eventually discovers Tenjiro's stronghold and amasses an army to avenge the wrongs done him and help return the dark powers that have corrupted his brother to the enchanted prison which held them for ages. An epic battle between brothers ensues.

Lynn has created a fascinating world of shape shifters, magicians, and seers. She provides a nicely detailed picture of living in this fantastic world. I don't think I would necessarily recommend this book to anybody (though my husband and cousin both read it after I did), but I would read a third book in this series if it is ever written.

Posted by jfer at 8:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dragon's Treasure

by Elizabeth A. Lynn

I love the public library! I picked this book up at random when I went in to get this month's book group book. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but the blurb/description on the book jacket wasn't very accurate.

The book was well written and engaging but there didn't seem to be any point to it. There was no life-changing conflict, no great romance, no mystery. Some of the characters seemed superfluous and some of the relationships weren't well justified. That being said I've discovered that it is actually a sequel to a book written seven years ago which I'll likely pick up tonight. Among the reviewers on Amazon, it is generally agreed that a third book is likely and this one is a good setup for whatever will come next. I wish the fact that this book is a sequel was mentioned is the jacket blurb.

In summary, the book lays out a fascinating account of life under the protection of a dragon lord. Karadur Atani is the dragon lord. He can morph into a dragon at will and struggles to maintain a firm hold on his dragon temper. He's had past trials and tribulations (the subject of the first book no doubt) that still profoundly effect his outlook and temperament. Other main characters include Maia Unimara, a simple herbalist with whom Karadur falls in lust with and who ultimately bears his child. There is also Maia's brother, Treion, a bandit leader who justifiably suffers the dragon's justice. And a whole host of minor characters who populate this imaginative landscape.

Posted by jfer at 7:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good Omens: The Nice & Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

by Terry Pratchet & Neil Gaiman

I had high hopes for this book - I've heard lots of great things about both authors that I was positive the book could be nothing but good. Ultimately, I did end up liking the book, but not as whole-heatedly as I expected to. I think it just took me a little while to adjust to the English humor It reminds me a bit of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in that respect - I can see the humor in it, but I don't get the raves and accolades that other people pour on the book.

The "nice and accurate prophecies" have been spot on since Agnes Nutter chronicled them 400 years ago. Sadly, her last prophecy predicts the end of the world on this day at this time. Sure enough, the forces of good and evil are amassing their armies in preparation for Armageddon. But somebody misplaced the anti-Christ and two "enemies" (an angel and a fallen angel) who have been on Earth since the fall of man and have grown quite fond of life on earth and the people who populate it, conspire together to do whatever they can to subvert the end of the world.

It really is a clever book. I'm not sure I would tell everyone to rush right out and buy it, but is't a great light read if you have the time or if you happen to be traveling.

Posted by jfer at 12:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Parasites Like Us

I reluctantly include this in the Sci/Fi/Fantasy category. The science fiction only appeared in the last couple of chapters. In fact, this would have made a very interesting short story…we could have very
easily done without the first 5 chapters of the book.

As with most of the novels based on the life of academics, the main character in the book, Hank Hannah, a tenured Anthropology professor, was not a very inspiring character. The professors that the book group have read about all seam to be very wishy-washy individuals who have no solid moral moorings to assist them in making the life-changing decisions inevitably faced by leading characters. Dr. Hank was sadly no exception.

I’m not inclined to write too much more about the plot of this book. Suffice it to say that the book described on the book jacket is not the book you get to read…overall, an extreme disappointment.

Posted by jfer at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Visitor

by Sheri Tepper

Science Fiction/Fantasy is slowly replacing Romance as one of my favorite novel genres and Sheri Tepper has long been one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed this book, though the language was a bit overblown.

This book was about the life of the human race hundreds of years after an asteroid strikes Earth in the 21st century, which is called “The Happening”. The inhabitable land mass is shrunk by 2/3s and the population is reduced to the hundreds of thousands though it is slowly creeping up into the millions. One group of survivors call themselves The Spared and establish a very repressive society where all dissenters are bottled and those at the pinnacle of power involve themselves with black magic (Ultimate Evil). The society/government is searching for the magic that was lost at the time of The Happening though those in power have every aspect of the search so regulated that the discovery of the magic is unlikely to happen. I was constantly wondering if the magic was real magic or merely lost technology.

There are demons who provide the Spared with limited technology who are actually another group of survivors (scientists) from Chasm who keep themselves separated from the Spared and have formed a symbiotic relationship with another sentient race which makes it appear as if they have horns. I was never sure where the “demons” came from. Possibly they were on the asteroid, but that is never clear…especially considering what else came to Earth on the asteroid.

The main mystery of the book concerns discovering the Guardians and their purpose with the book culminating in a massive battle between Guardians and the Ultimate Evil. The book is well set up for a sequel…ridding the Earth of the Evil was only their first task. Additional tasks would be complicated by the survivors from Chasm who refuse to believe in their powers and purpose and are constantly trying to debunk their powers.

Posted by jfer at 8:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack