Monday, January 28, 2008

Claiming The Highlander - Kinley MacGregor

Claiming The Highlander
Kinley MacGregor
Avon Romances
Copyright: 2002
ISBN: 9780380817894

Another of Kinley MacGregor's novels set in the time of Henry II. As with the others, Claiming The Highlander follows one of the same group of characters. This time it's Braiden. What I found different with this novel was that both the characters, Braiden and Maggie seemed to learn some things about themselves and grow a bit.

Somehow, I suspect that Claiming the Highlander is set before Born In Sin. On the other hand, as events in the other books are barely mentioned, although the characters overlap, it really doesn't matter. Not to mention the fact that you know right from the start that the two main characters are going to end up together by the end of the book anyway. It's just the route they take to get there. And in this book, that was a particularly interesting one, although the situation was not realistic in the slightest.

Overall a good, if quick read, and one I'm likely to re-read eventually. I'm curious to see if the author is planning more of this series.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

1984 - George Orwell

George Orwell
Signet Books
Copyright: 1950
ISBN: 0451524934

I'd never read this science fiction classic before, or any others by George Orwell, and while it was a good read, I found it to be very uncomfortable as well. It's interesting how, even though it was written so long ago, it's not especially dated when you read it today.

Actually, with so much being computerized, some of the things in that book could be even easier today, such as editing history every time something happens.

1984 had to be the 'original' book for the idea of constant surveillance, something I've seen in other books such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Traitors Sun. In any book I see it in, the idea is downright scary.

I still can't make head or tail of the ending of 1984, partly because, I guess, I was getting more and more uncomfortable and doing more and more skimming, to be honest.

I did find the insights in the excerpts of the Brotherhood's book to be fascinating, along with the afterword.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Born In Sin - Kinley MacGregor

Born In Sin
Kinley MacGregor
Avon Romances
Copyright: 2003
ISBN: 9780380817900

Kinley MacGregor also writes under the name Sherrilyn Kenyon, or is it the other way around? Either way, I started out reading her works with the Dark-Hunter series, and then tried these. I'm hooked now.

Set in England and Scotland, depending on the particular book, and in the time of King Henry II, the books are by turns funny and sad. But they always have a happy ending. I haven't read any romances by any other author though so I can't say how typical the book is.

I like these books a lot, although they're really quick reads.

With this one, the second one in the series, I've figured out how the series goes. It follows various connected men in a family. The first one, Master of Desire, follows Draven Ravenwood, while this one, Born in Sin seems to be number three, and looks at his squire, Sin MacAllister. This one had some particularly tense moments, although given the format of the book, you had to know that everything would turn out perfectly in the end somehow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Master Of Desire - Kinley MacGregor

Master Of Desire
Kinley MacGregor
Avon Romances
Copyright: 2001
ISBN: 0061087130

Kinley MacGregor also writes under the name Sherrilyn Kenyon, or is it the other way around? Either way, I started out reading her works with the Dark-Hunter series, and then tried these. I'm hooked now.

Set in England and Scotland, depending on the particular book, and in the time of King Henry II, the books are by turns funny and sad. But they always have a happy ending. I haven't read any romances by any other author though so I can't say how typical the book is.

I like these books a lot, although they're really quick reads.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Emperor Mage - Tamora Pierce

Emperor Mage
Tamora Pierce
Copyright: 1995
Simon & Schuster Childrens Publishing
ISBN: 9781416903376

The third book in the Immortals Quartet, Emperor Mage is the sequel to Wild Magic and Wolfspeaker.

As with the others, this is a really good read, I'm finding. Tamora Pierce has worked a lot of real information about animal behavior into the story, which she also did for both of the first two books, but I forgot to note.

Despite being a childrens/teen story, Emperor Mage is an engaging read. However, being for younger readers (Indigo has the series in the Teen Series section) the story is rather a quick read.

The other thing is, there is a bit of a 'nobody ever dies' thing, which I won't say more about so as not to spoil the story.

Emperor Mage does something not a lot of fantasy I've read does. The gods in the story are not all happy things. There are consequences for neglecting their worship, as the characters find out here.

Answers to questions raised in the previous two books are starting to come together by the end of this one.

Overall, as with the rest of the series, I really liked it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wolfspeaker - Tamora Pierce

It's a double whammy today with two book reviews.

Tamora Pierce
Copyright: 1994
Simon & Schuster Childrens Publishing
ISBN: 1416903445

The sequel to Wild Magic, this is the second book in the Immortals Quartet. It's just as good, if not better, building off of the storyline of Wild Magic. Again, this is a book you could read on it's own without a problem.

My one complaint with this book is a formatting choice. There is nothing setting off mental communication/talk between animals from description or anything, making it a bit hard to figure out sometimes. And with a lot of it, reading got a bit annoying after a while.

The story wound itself up nicely while setting off the threads for the third book, which I'm looking forward to reading.

As with Tamora Pierce's other books I've read, I found myself staying up late to read more. I kept saying 'just one more chapter' to myself. Well that finally ended when I finished the book. This is a good story for children or adults.

The characters keep growing and becoming more rounded with each book in the series as well. For example, the Stormwings, while still villains are no longer completely evil.

Flight In Yiktor - Andre Norton

Flight In Yiktor
Andre Norton
Tor Books
Copyright: 1986
ISBN: 08125472717

Flight in Yiktor is in many ways the sequel to Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars. However, although Krip and Maelen are major characters in the story, they are not the viewpoint characters. That honor goes to Farree, a new character.

The story builds on the previous two, especially the events of Exiles of the Stars, and more of the history of the Thassa is learned.

I can't help but wonder. Is this the only book with Farree? I'd like to know more about him and his background. Despite this being a re-read, the book was as gripping this time as it was when I first read it. In fact, I liked it better, I think. I remember being disappointed that the story wasn't from the combined viewpoints of Maelen and Krip as were the first two books.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wild Magic - Tamora Pierce

Wild Magic
Tamora Pierce
Simon & Schuster Childrens Publishing
Copyright: 1992
ISBN: 1416903437

The first book in Tamora Pierce's Immortals series, Wild Magic is set about a decade after the final book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet. This book is followed by Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage, and In The Hand Of The Gods.

Although it's a children's/teen book, as with her other books, I find that it can be enjoyed by all ages. I certainly do.

In part, this book sets up the world, and it's not particularly needed to have read the other books Pierce has written, as the characters are all introduced here. Also, even though this is the first book in the series, it stands on its own quite well, coming to a satisfying conclusion.

Pierce is great at coming up with unusual and interesting twists on magic for her books and characters. Daine is no exception, the main character for this series and she learns and grows in interesting ways.

Well worth the read, and a book which has stuck in my head over the years. I'm glad to have found it again.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Andre Norton - Moonsinger

Moonsinger - Andre Norton
Andre Norton
Baen Books
Copyright: 2006
ISBN: 9781416555179

Moonsinger is Baen Books' omnibus edition of Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars. Baen claims that this is the complete saga, however, there is also Flight into Yiktor, which involves the characters: Krip Vorlund and Maelen. In addition, the copyrights for the books were originally much older than the 2005 (Exiles of the Stars) and 1996 (Moon of Three Rings) printed in this edition. Perhaps the author redid the copyright to enable this edition? Another note: in order to fit both stories in the one volume, the print is, I find, unusually small. It's only harder to read in bad light.

Moonsinger is a Free Traders novel, set in the far future from the Solar Queen series, which it does make references to: the planet Limbo and the use of cats on board ship, as well as the endless conflicts between Combine and Free Traders. It is really interesting to see how things have changed and yet not changed in the intervening years.

Moonsinger involves more magic/mind arts than the Solar Queen novels, and in fact 'esper powers' as they are referred to are an accepted talent of many, as well as being a mainstay of the Thassa of Yiktor.

I'm talking around the plot and story, trying not to give anything away, so all I'll say is that Moonsinger is a good science fiction read, and for all that the stories are old, they are not dated in any way. I suspect that this will remain a classic piece of science fiction for a good while longer.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mercedes Lackey & Andre Norton: Elvenborn

Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton
TOR Books
Copyright 2002
ISBN: 0312864566

The third book in the Elvenbane, Elvenblood, Elvenborn sequence, and so far, the last.

This book evolves the Elvenlords from the villains of the first book (with the exception of Valyn) a process which started in the second (Sheyrena and Lady Moth). The background and history of the Elvenlords is more explained as well.

We see a number of returning characters (Triana and others) as well as new ones. One neat link between the first book and this one is the appearance of Kaeth, the brother of Serena, mother of Shana. In The Elvenbane it is said that he was taken away for training as an assassin, but never actually was a character in the story.

Will there be a sequel? Its been six years since Elvenborn came out, and in that time period, Andre Norton died. Is Mercedes Lackey going to continue this series on her own?

It would be interesting to see more books in the series, so long as they don't end up repeating what's already happened, but instead cover new ground. There's still no conclusion to the Young Lords' rebellion, a slave revolt is brewing, and there have been murmurs already in Elvenborn of breaking the treaty between the Elvenlords and the Halfbloods/Wizards. Of course, with the last one, we've already seen one war between the two sides.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

L.E. Modesitt - Adiamante

L.E. Modesitt J.R.
Tor Books
Copyright: 1996
ISBN: 0812545583

The product description:
After ten thousand years in exile, the cyber-warriors return in their fleet of spaceships to the planet that rejected them: Earth.
L.E. Modesitt's science fiction always seems to examine a particular issue as the author tells the story. In Archform: Beauty, the he looks at advertising and ethics, for example.

Adiamante seems to focus on themes of power and environmental responsibility, as well as personal responsibility. I'm trying to figure out if these books are all set in the same world/universe or not. Certainly he uses the same names in a lot of the books, ie "Deseret" for one of the cities.

The ending of the story is very ambiguous as well. Will the whole cycle repeat itself in a few more centuries? With Kemra at the end, there seems to be a hope for change, but will she be listened to or simply disregarded as having been 'contaminated' by the Demis of Old Earth?

There are passages in this story, such as the three legends which I found to be very thought-provoking as I read them, if only to decipher what the author was trying to say.

As noted above, personal responsibility is a running theme through a lot of his books, including Gravity Dreams.

While this is a great story, and is quite relevant to today, with the environmental issues, it's a world I don't think I'd care to live in. The responsibility side is a bit much, I think. I like my CDs and books etc a bit too much. Certainly though Adiamante is a very thought-provoking read.

Updated with the cover image and product description in 2013. The review itself is unchanged.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Lick Of Frost

A Lick Of Frost
Laurell K. Hamilton
Ballantine Books
Copyright 2007
ISBN: 9780345495907

The latest book in the Merry Gentry series.

A Lick of Frost was a good read, although I found myself lost at the beginning. Either I hadn't read the last book or there was a jump in time between the two books, as the charges against Merry's guards made no sense to me.

Events certainly move things forward in this book too, I found that I couldn't put it down until the last page was turned. However, I'm glad I got the book from the library as it was far too quick a read. I finished A Lick of Frost in just over two hours. I'm waiting to see what happens in the next book now.

One thing which is quite tantalizing about this series is the way that new little tidbits about the world she's created keep coming to light in each book, such as the various aspects of the treaties signed with the U.S.A.

I'm trying not to give things away, so all I'll say is that Laurell has wound up a couple of the threads of the story, while starting off a whole bunch more for the next book.

As is usual with Laurel K. Hamilton's books, this one is not for the little kids.

Dragon Harper

Dragon Harper
Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
Ballantine Books
Copyright 2006
ISBN: 978-0-345-48030-9

The sequel to their two other collaborations, Dragon's Kin and Dragon Fire, Dragon Harper continues to chart the lives of Kindan and his friends. I'll admit that I haven't read Dragon Fire but this was followable even without that book.

However, it doesn't quite jibe with Moreta. That volume, though written earlier is set much later, and yet it seems that less of the knowledge was lost than was lost in this earlier time. Unless somehow they rediscovered the ability to immunize then lost it again before the events in that book.

With the ending of the story, I'm wondering what Anne and Todd McCaffrey are going to do next. They seem to have wrapped Kindan's story up pretty well with the epilogue.

Still, it's a good read, and the story holds together well.


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