is a science fiction and fantasy book review site, written and published by accomplished reviewer Harriet Klausner. For more information, please check the About page.
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January 14, 2013
The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga)
Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and Cooper Moo
47North, Feb 26, 2013, $14.95
In 1241, the Mongol Empire horde continues their feral assault from the east on the European Christian countries. Only the Shield-Brethren company of warrior priests seems to offer any resistance to the Khagan Onghwe Khan and his invading army as the Holy Roman Church remains divided with Cardinals split into rival camps each claiming Jesus supports their quest for power. The resolute Shield-Brethren have doubts as they bury with honor fallen comrades like Finn.
From within the Mongol Empire, the desperate few surviving Shield Brethren holy knights (Raphael and Percival the initiates, Yasper the alchemist companion and exiled Old Man of the Rock knight master Feronantus) deploy a drastic dangerous plan to get to the Khagan. While each expects to die on the mission in the middle of the enemy’s ever expanding empire; in the Holy City of Rome the angrily splintered Cardinals turn to Father Rodrigo Bendrito who insists he has found the savior. In Hunern, the Shield Brethren led by Rutger the Quartermaster of the Rock Knight Master prepare for the war to come to them.
The Mongoliad: Book Three is an action-packed climax to an entertaining alternate historical saga. The storyline never slows down whether it occurs in the East, Rome or Hunern; yet also provides insight into thirteenth century beliefs as the forces of Christ are divided while the Mongols appear more monolithically in support of the Khan of Khans. Ironically, the myriad of subplots mostly are tied up in the 700 plus pages, but also several seem short-shifted. Still this entry and its Foreworld predesescors provide fans with a great epic.
January 13, 2013
A Memory Of Light
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Tor, Jan 8 2013, $34.99
The forces of the Light and the Darkness prepare for the final battle, which appears will occur north of the Mountains of Dhoom in Shayol Ghul. Meanwhile hostilities flare up elsewhere as Talmanes leads a depleted Band of the Red Hand in a fight against the Trollocs in Caemlyn; Elayne had taken much of their force especially the cavalry to the Field of Merrilor where the rulers will decide whether to support Rand al’Thor’s dangerous plan to free the Dark One or kill him before his insanity demoralizes the humans. Regardless of who stands victorious in the Last Battle, The Wheel of Time is moving to end this age.
This is an exciting finish to the two decade old Wheel of Time saga as Brandon Sanderson provides an action-packed final battle (and several precursor combats) in his third effort (see The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight). The battle scenes are top rate while making up the brunt of the 900 plus page tome, but also have a déjà vu sense after several war scenes occur. Not surprisingly, some of the numerous long-running subplots receive short shrift as do key characters and races. Still, this is a well-done climax as several fronts explode while the adversarial forces prepare and meet for the final battle that will determine the fate of humanity as the Wheel of Time turns.
January 9, 2013
Blood of the Sorceress
Mira, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
In 1501 BC in Babylon, the king’s favorite slave Lilia the witch fell in love with the ruler’s right hand man and best friend Demetrius. When the monarch learned of his beloved’s betrayal of his heart, Demetrius kills him to save Lilia. After a search of the harem, Lilia and her two sisters Indira (see Mark of the Witch) and Magadalena (see Daughter of the Spellcaster) are thrown off a cliff to the rocks below. The High Priest Sindar deploys dark magic to strip Demetrius of his soul and banish him to a formless nonexistence in the Underworld.
After three and a half millennia, her two reincarnated siblings returned parts of his soul to Demetrius who has escaped his horrid incarceration. As Lilia sees him for the first time since that bloody day in ancient Babylon, she knows her chance to return and complete Demetrius’ soul has finally arrived. However, he no longer wants his soul even if that means eternal damnation or her love, and besides Sindar, now a demon, stalks them.
The final Portal romantic fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring a strong lead female, a PTSD male struggling to adjust to a physical world and worse his refurbished feelings besides his only companion for ages: rage, and a powerful diabolical demon. As with the previous trilogy entries, Maggie Shayne casts a spell on her audience.
January 8, 2013
The Dark Hunger
Strebor, Jan 22 2013, $15.00
The cursed zombie Jonas LaRoche left his beloved teen witch Holland Manning in America to return to Port-au-Prince to protect his mother and sisters from the money lenders who demand payment for providing the cash for his ill-fated journey to the States. Meanwhile Holland becomes a new student at exclusive Stoneham Academy and becomes friends of Tami, Sierra and Giselle while concealing her only power, vampire killing blood.
While she goes to classes, back in her hometown of Frumbleton, Georgia, vampire Elson Chandler tells his flock that he will replace the missing Constable Sullivan and introduce a power hierarchical change with vampires on top and humans as their blood bank slaves. Former football star receiver Jarrett Sloan becomes enslaved to Elson’s vampiric follower Isene.
At a tea party thrown by Kate Leighton, the hostess bites a guest. In a nearby onion field, the foreman chews on a migrant worker. Soon afterward at the hospital the worker attacks a nurse and a patron in Dunkin Donuts. Hell has arrived in rural Georgia while Holland’s new buddies see her birthmark that affirms she is a first order witch; she proves this further by helping Sierra take back her stolen power from her thieving Aunt Jocelyn while all she wants is her forbidden lover back into her life.
The second Eternal Dead young adult rural fantasy (see Midnight Cravings) is a great entry with several strong subplots (perhaps too many) that anchor the Sterling mythology that make witches, zombies, and vampires seem genuine. Action-packed throughout, the star-crossed taboo romance between the Haitian zombie and the young witch is just one part of a terrific rotating teen horror thriller as Joelle Sterling moves her series forward on numerous fabulous fronts.
January 6, 2013
Prince Of Power
Sourcebooks, Jan 8 2013, $6.99
Vampire and wizards have been at war seemingly forever. The Wizard Master exiles his son Anton to die for failing to perform his duty as the lad is not a chip off the old block since he hates killing vampires to steal their power. However, Anton has one last chance to return home in glory: steal her power before killing Tyra Morgan, sister of the Vampire King Thad (see King of Darkness).
Since Tyra works in a shelter in Ash Falls, Virginia; to gain access to her Anton pretends to be homeless, which ironically he knows he is if he fails his last chance. Anton saves Tyra’s life. Attracted to each other, neither trusts the other as both know their eternal legacy. His species demands he take her power before murdering her; while hers demands the execution of him.
The second vampire-wizard war once again is a complex superb romantic urban fantasy in which the Staab mythological universe seems genuine due to strong supporting characters like widowed vampires and a young female human player. Fast-paced from the moment the star-crossed lead couple meets in the Virginia homeless shelter and never slowing down, sub-genre fans will relish the forbidden romance between the Sister and the Prince of Power
December 11, 2012
Scent of Magic
Maria V. Snyder
Mira, Dec 18 2012, $14.95
Everyone believes that the last known healer Avry of Kazan is dead after saving the life of King Tohon’s strongest adversary Prince Ryne from the plague that devastated the Fifteen Realms (see Touch of Power). However, she and Kerrick of Alga, who saved her life when her villagers decided to execute her, go on separate missions though both share the BHAG of preventing evil Tohon from ruling in terror over the Fifteen Realms.
In disguise as she knows there are plenty of people who want her dead starting with General Jael, Avry joins the forces of Tohon’s enemy High Priestess Estrid as a troop instructor in silent movements; unaware that Tohon has created new invincible soldiers who are already dead. She also plans to reconcile with her sister who is on Jael’s staff.
Prince Ryne sends Kerrick to the wilds north of Alga to investigate whether the barbarians are invading his realm as rumored. A pact signing with Tohon by his brother leaves a stunned Kerrick left with too small a force to repel the invading northerners; let alone protect his Alga Realm from the duplicitous ruler.
The second Healer fantasy is a strong thriller with plenty of military and political intrigue. The Snyder Realm feels real partly because the romance between Avry and Kerrick remains muted as the focus is on the seemingly upcoming war; for the most part they are apart. The storyline is fast-paced switching subplots (and locals) at times to abruptly, but fans will relish the further adventures of Kerrick and Avry as they battle the malevolent minion of Tohon the terrible.
December 5, 2012
Wild About You
Avon, Nov 27 2012, $7.99
Head of security for Romatech Angus McKay notes Howard Barr the were-bear is missing in Alaska. Five year old Constantine Dragonesti says Howard has videos he conceals from everyone that reveals he has a crush on Amazon Elsa Bjornberg of the International Home Wreckers TV Show.
In Alaska Howard looks over the cliff where his human girlfriend Carly was murdered by Rhett Bledlyn twenty years ago. Howard was exiled for killing Bledlyn in order to keep the werewolves from overwhelming the much smaller were-bear population; but recently he learned Rhett lives so he came home. With allies, he deploys operation three little pigs destroying two of Rhett’s houses and distributing his illegal offshore money to his enemies, endangered villages and charities.
Elsa will work with Howard to renovate a house.. When Howard’s hand touches Elsa’s shoulder birthmark, both burn. Stunned she tells her Aunt Greta that the curse was activated. Greta and Aunt Ula arrive to protect their niece from Howard the berserker. Howard and Elsa discuss family curses as his family lives if the guardian of the forest dies; while the guardian lives if the berserkers die. Soon weres, vampires and guardians will converge on the Adirondacks.
The latest Love at Stake romantic urban fantasy (see Wanted: Undead or Alive) builds off the deft comingled curses turning the strong lead couple into star-crossed lovers. The good, the bad and the misinformed support cast enhances the engaging storyline. Although the confrontation seems weak, readers will enjoy the twisted love story of Howard the bear and his amazon.
November 21, 2012
Last Kiss Goodnight
Pocket, Dec 26 2012, $7.99
Michael Black found the three Otherworlder newborns just after their biological parents abandoned them on earth. He arranged for them to grow up with human families while he trained Solomon Judah, John No Last Name and Corbin Blue to be elite black operatives.
The bombing of Black’s office left Black fading and his three adult mentees missing. Evil Gregory Star captures the three Otherworlders. Solo awakens inside a magical cage as a freak attraction on display. The malevolent owner Lukas assigns his abused deaf daughter Vika to take care of the latest animal the Allorian they just purchased from Star as she does all of the captives. Solo recognizes Vika as his though his initial reaction is to kill her due to her carrying out the orders of her brutal father. He soon realizes she does her best to keep the “animals” safe and hopes this Allorian she wants can save her just like she tries to save him.
The opening Otherworld Assassin is a super ultra-dark urban fantasy starring two soulmates trapped in cages as their relationship positively evolves until they recognize that “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon). With biblical citations like that just mentioned to enhance the sense of something epic going on, fans will appreciate this thriller as the warm romance and the brutal viciousness serve as counter weights to a strong introduction to Gena Showalter’s newest realm.
November 9, 2012
Tyler’s Third Act
Mick Garris; William Stout (Illustrator)
Cemetery Dance, Sep 2012, $35.00
Tyler Sparrow’s first act was as a television script writer. That gig ended with the 2007 Writers Guild strike as the stations’ management and accountant learned viewers loved cheaper reality shows so they inundated the market during and after the strike. Script writers like Tyler were unemployed in his second act.
Desperate as he is running out of resources, Tyler creates a third act. He develops a bloody gory show You Want a Piece of Me for an Internet only audience with a final curtain call that he believes will make him a household name as he will satiate the blood-curdle mob.
Mindful of the movie Network, Tyler’s Third Act shines a discomforting spotlight on reality shows and the culture that supports these shows through spectators observing a Christians and the Lions last person-beast standing competition as each new gig requires increasing violence. With strong illustrations enhancing the plot, readers will act like Tyler’s audience macabrely fascinated with a need to know the climax of Tyler’s Third Act in what is a solid contemporary allegory.
November 8, 2012
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Lust For Life
Pocket, Nov 27 2012, $7.99
Con artist Ciara Griffin had to choose adhering to her parents’ grifter advice of keep moving or staying in one place permanently buried in a cemetery as she was dying. Thus the manager of radio station WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll, chooses life of a sort when she voluntarily becomes converted into a vampire.
Concerned for her safety, Ciara’s vampire fiancé Shane McAllister vows to protect her ever since Jim the vampiric DJ attacked her. Though Jim is incarcerated his loyal horde targets Ciara and anyone close to her for sun-bathing eradication.
The latest Ciara Griffin vampire thriller (see Bring on the Night, Bad to the Bone and Wicked Game) is an exciting tale as fanatic frenzied fans (of Jim) literally want the heroine’s blood; while her guitar playing cross bow trainee fiancé risks his undead-ness to keep her safe. Fast-paced, readers will en joy this entry wondering whether the wedding dress will be virginal white, bloody red or grieving black.