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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March 25, 2013
Shadow Of Freedom
Baen, Mar 5 2013, $25.00
The Manticore’s fleet defeated the invincible armada of the Solarian League that had encroached into the Star Empire’s sector with plans with plans to seize the strategic wormholes. However, Tenth Fleet Commander Michelle Henke knows she and the rest of the military have no time to bash in the glory of a stunning victory, The Solarian Office of Frontier Security continues to cause havoc in the Talbott Quadrant especially along the frontier. While all types of warfare continue unabated, the threat to destroy Manticore and its allies remains stratospheric; as does the hostility with the Mesan Alignment. Manticore turns to former enemy People’s Republic of Haven as hopefully an ally.
At the same time, the Mobius Liberation Front informs Manticore that they have begun the liberation rebellion to overthrow the brutal reign of President Lombroso, but need the help from the Star Empire as previously negotiated and promised. No one in Manticore authority ever heard of the MLF so the assumption is the diabolical clever Mesan Alignment is using subterfuge to destroy the bonds between the Star Empire and the smaller under fire independents at a time the fleet cannot divert resources away from the fight against the Solarian League.
This is an engaging Honorverse science fiction thriller with a Cecil B Demille cast distracting from the exciting outer space naval encounters and fascinating political machinations; Henke (not Harrington) loosely is the nearest individual to being the prime player. The storyline also provides a different perspective from events told in A Rising Thunder and Mission of Honor so that the audience knows several key outcomes. Still Shadow Of Freedom is well written and shows the logistical problems of fighting a multi-front war.
March 9, 2013
Harlequin HQN, Feb 26 2013, $14.95
In 1715 Chloris Keavey desperately needs to produce the heir soonest or her ruthless spouse Gavin Meldrum will kick her out of their Edinburgh home. Maura Dumbar sends Chloris to Saint Andrews to seek a fertility spell from coven leader Lennox Taskill. The witches are fearful as Maura works for their influential enemy council member Tamhas Keavey.
To his chagrin as he loathes humanity for burning his mother at the stakes, Lennox is attracted to his newest client. She feels the same way about the powerful witch. As they begin a tryst, Tamhas decides he will sleep with the married cheating woman who has sold her soul to the devil. To eliminate his rival, Tamhas proclaims Lennox a witch deserving the fate of his mother.
This is an exciting, enticing eighteenth century erotica paranormal romance. The storyline contains intriguing relationships with Chloris as the foci of three competing males (the good, the bad and the ugly). Although sex rules the heated storyline, fans will enjoy Saskia Walker’s return to 1715 Scottish love and witchcraft (see The Harlot).
March 5, 2013
Avon, Feb 26 2013, $7.99
In 2010 near Denver, fire chief Wyatt suffered injuries rescuing a woman from a blaze. The next day he kisses his wife and two kids as he leaves to join his friends exploring caves in Sedona.
Five decades later he and his comrades leave the cave to a world shattered by the Change. Feeling left behind as his buddies have gained supernatural powers while all he has is grief over the loss of his family and guilt for not being there when the calamity occurred, Wyatt lacks hope and detests himself for betraying his memories by his attraction to Remington Truth who he treats shabbily as a defense mechanism to avoid caring. Remy feels the same way about the only man she cannot understand especially his hostility towards her. As she heads to Envy, zombies and Strangers hunt for Remy and the crystal her late grandfather gave her while Wyatt’s compulsion to protect other propels him to find and accompany her.
The latest Envy Chronicles romantic apocalyptic fantasy (see Night Forbidden and Night Betrayed) is an exciting entry as the last of the Sedona fab five to star finds the truth sets him free to love again. Fast-paced with the trademark blighted land in the background, series fans will relish this entry as Joss Ware provides a strong thriller even if we agree with the heroine that Wyatt is a dick.
March 4, 2013
The Golem and the Jinni
Harper, Apr 23 2013, $27.99
In Konin near Leipzig Polish Jew Otto Rotfeld was arrogant, feckless and lonely. He destroyed in a short time the thriving family furniture business he inherited; making him even less marketable to women. A desperate Otto visited Yehudah Schaalman, an extremely old man who dabbled in the Kabbalah to ask the dark mage to create for him a golem. In 1899, Rotfeld leaves on the steamship Baltika accompanied by his golem. On the trip over, the Golem’s master dies while the crew assumes she is his widow. In New York City Rabbi Avram Meyer, realizing the supernatural clay essence of Mrs. Rotfeld, internally debates whether to kill her before she brings destruction or help her; he names her Chava and gets her a job in a bakery.
In Manhattan tinsmith Boutros Arbeely frees a jinni from a millennium old copper flask. He names the jinni Ahmad, who becomes a metalworker. Ahmad misses his ancient Syrian Desert fiery birth place especially the palace, which he knows is long gone. When Ahmad and Chava meet, they are attracted to one another though her master is dead while his Ibn Malik lives on.
This is a strong historical fantasy that weaves together the story of two supernatural beings from different mythos. Although the desert coda feels abrupt, the key to this super thriller is the support cast the protagonists encounter as each of these souls’ respective tales brings depth to the storyline.
January 11, 2013
Sunset of the Gods
Baen, Jan 1 2013, $14.00
Temporal Regulatory Authority leader Kyle Rutherford asks his most experienced Ancient Greece time traveler Hesperian Colonial Rangers Commander Jason Thanou to lead an expedition to study the Battle of Marathon. The mission is to answer historical questions and to determine whether any alien Teloi survivors that escaped the Minoan entrapment were involved in the pivotal battle. Jason met the Teloi masquerading as gods like Zeus when he, geologist Dr. Deirdre Sadaka-Ramirez (who stayed behind with Perseus) and historian Dr. Sidney Nagel (who died heroically) traveled to three millennia ago (see Blood of the Heroes). Reluctantly, Jason agrees to lead the expedition consisting of historian Dr. Bryan Landry, soldier Alexandre Mondrago and xenologist Dr. Chantal Frey to 490 BC.
The quartet arrives in 490 BC weeks before the battle. They claim to be exiles from Macedon whose King Alexander I swore allegiance to the Persians. On the road top Athens, Jason and Alexandre see the mythological Pan. As they are given sanctuary by Themistocles, the budding Athenian democracy debates how to defend itself against the Persian military. They soon encounter Zeus and a stunning anomaly in which conspirators are using Pan and the Teloi to achieve their long term objective.
The clever second Thanou time travel science fiction is an exciting thriller that provides a deep look at the Battle of Marathon. The storyline uses too many passive explanations re the rules of time travel and 490 BC Athens though these explicatory soliloquies add a sense of scientific and historical genuineness to the plot. Still fans will enjoy learning the secret of Pan as Jason and his team must thwart a diabolical plot to influence the outcome of the key Battle of Marathon.
January 5, 2013
Daw, Dec 31, 2012, $25.95
In the Essaylieyan Empire capital Averalaan, eight weeks have passed since Jewel Markess ATerafin became head of the most powerful of the ruling Ten Houses, Terafin (see Skirmish). Since her rise, four assassination attempts, three by magic, have occurred. She knows how dangerous her position is as her predecessor who named her as successor was murdered by a demon. Her rivals for Terafin covet the seat, but her biggest fear is not feeling ready for the reasonability.
The Kings order an honor celebration for the armies returning home after winning the war to the south; attended by the royal twins, the Ten and the people. During the parade, another demonic attempt to kill Jewel occurs. With help by Meralonne and telepathic advice from Avandar who says she is not ready for Battle with the Kialli as she must accept at times killing is right in order to protect the common good; Jewel escapes by flying on Snow the winged cat. The Kialli pursues while destroying anyone unfortunately in its path. Jewel confronts the demon in the forest near her Family manse. The Kings demand she present herself to them, but she becomes victimized by the pandemic sleeping plague where she must elude the Warden of Dreams and her treasonous Terafin House Council.
Though in many ways Battle is a transition tale in the House War series, fans will enjoy this fascinating entry as the heroine matures in her new role while even taking what she learned about power into the realm of Dreams. The subplots of other players like Meralonne APhaniel and Angel move forward also, but book five focuses on Jewel’s coming of age on the job training in the use of political and magical power.
November 18, 2012
The Hermetic Millennia
John C. Wright
Tor, Dec 24 2012, $25.99
Crew members of the starship Hermetic discover the alien warehouse, which contained advanced knowledge and an energy source way beyond what humanity knew. Menelaus Montrose and Zimen “Blackie” Del Azarchel had two diverse visions of a future earth. Whereas Montrose wants his home planet to thrive with the shared discovery and prepares to challenge the alien menace, Blackie feels the need to reengineer the species to make them worthy of the warehouse owners the Domination of Hyades when they return in eight millennia to determine whether enslaving mankind is worthy of them. Blackie wins the first round as he persuades other crew members this is the only way their species survives the return.
Meanwhile Menelaus turns to cryo sleep to be there when the Domination of Hyades return to harvest earthlings in eight millennia and his wife Rania travels in deep space to confront the Hyades’ executive leader. Only thirty-five years into his sleep, Sir Knight awakens him. Apparently, Blackie’s Blue Men horde assaulted the tombs where Montrose and others lied dormant. Obviously Blackie continues to prepare earth for the return of the Hyades with him as overseer of the humans.
The second crew of the Hermetic science fiction thriller (see Count to a Trillion) is an exhilarating complex tale as rhere are two visions that compete for mankind’s future. Convoluted and difficult to read with so many competing concepts involved, readers who appreciate a profound look at the impact on society by a quantum advance in science and technology will enjoy this strong saga.
November 8, 2012
Vine: An Urban Legend
BlackWyrm, Mar 28 2012, $11.95
Stephen Thorne teaches English and drama at North High School in Louisville, a far cry from the dreams Muriel had for him before the shootings at Kent killed his fantasies. He directs the senior play and an amateur summer theater. The production he leads this season is the Greek tragedy The Bacchae by Euripides
The crew and cast consist of eccentric individuals, making it difficult to create a cohesive production. However, Thorne’s efforts are well received by arcane forces who with his abetting them want to turn the tragedy on the stage into a real life tragedy in the theater and beyond.
Vine: An Urban Legend is a fascinating whimsical look at how individuals perceive their lives especially when mortality hits the gut. The cast whether they are Thorne, muses and other ancient ilk or townsfolk are fully developed with each major player containing critical flaws. At times difficult to read as the storyline shifts rather quickly, but worth the effort as fans will relish this twentieth century paranormal update of The Bacchae.
October 15, 2012
The Shattered Dark
Ace, Oct 30 2012, $7.99
McKenzie Lewis attended college but differed from the other students in that she is a shadow reader who can see the fae and their movements between earth and the Realm. Called insane, McKenzie became apprentice to fae sword master Kyol. Together they supported the fae king against the rebels. Fae rebel leader Aren kidnapped McKenzie and she learned the truth that the side she supported was brutal and oppressive. The king and his top general died, but the fae remain divided and the civil war continues.
Though she loves Aren and adores Kyol, McKenzie looks forward to a normal life. However, even that proves out of reach when her BFF Paige vanishes and McKenzie must save her but the cost could be those she risked her life to protect.
The second Shadow Reader urban fantasy is a superb thriller as both sides in the dispute recognize the significance of the heroine’s skill and will do anything including an abduction of an innocent to insure cooperation. McKenzie ponders whether she can trust anyone as betrayal haunts her every step. With a strong romantic triangle adding to her dilemmas, fans will appreciate McKenzie’s fast-paced odyssey.
October 14, 2012
Next Page »
David Weber and Jane Lindskold
Baen, Oct 2 2012, $18.99
Teenager Stephanie Harrington was euphoric when she obtained an internship in the junior forestry program on Meyerdahl. However, she became depressed when her family including her relocated to Sphinx, which had no such program. The seventeen-month winter and her boring peers at the Two Forks School are uninterested in her passion xeno-biology which adds to her despondency. Stephanie investigated the stealing of celery. That led to her meeting and bonding with Climbs Quickly the treecat. The Chief Forester named her and her only human friend Karl Zivonik is a provisional forest ranger (see A Beautiful Friendship).
Stephanie persuades Karl to allow her to use his family’s aircar to practice flying. As the provisional forest rangers and Climbs Quickly fly, the treecat smells smoke. They inspect the fire and rescue twin treecats Left-striped and Right-striped who they bring to her father, a veterinarian.
Xenoanthropologist Dr. Whittaker arrives from Urako with his team and his son Anders to study the treecats. He distrusts the government including the Sphinxian Forestry Service to put the interests of the native population above those of the humans. Thus he leads his unit on an exploration of an abandoned clan site only to have their air-vehicle sink into the ground leaving them stranded while struggling to survive as forest fires ignites.
The second Stephanie Harrington Star Kingdom young adult science fiction thriller is a superb prequel to the Honor Harrington saga. The key cast is fully developed regardless of species or national origin. The storyline is great when the focus is on the interactions between the two species or the exploration of the planet; however, the teen relationships seem stereotypical. Still fans will enjoy exploring Sphinx with Harrington as our guide.