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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May 2, 2013
The Forever Knight
Daw, April 2 2013, $25.95
Lukien once was the beloved Bronze Knight until he betrayed his king. Despondent he lost his love Cassandra and several friends, he sought death as the way out of his lonely existence after bringing peace; no one needs a hero after the victory. However, he learns that is not quite true as he became the immortal champion of the magical using Inhuman desert dwellers who live in impoverished isolation deep in the desert at Grimhold.
Lukien remains the defender of Grimhold, but no longer possesses both Eyes of Gods amulet. Instead he now yields the Sword of Angels that possesses the Akari spirit of an earlier age hero Malator. Needing a purpose, Lukien leaves Grimhold with encouragement from Malator. On the road from apathy he meets youthful Cricket a seeker of her lost memories.
The profound premise in this first follow-up to the Bronze Knight fantasy trilogy (see Sword of Angels) focuses on what happens to a hero after the mission is accomplished and accolades received, As MacArthur said: “old soldiers never die; they just fade away”; but fails to mention what to do with the rest of their (immortal in this case) life. There is plenty of action as expected in a John Marco thriller, but it is the psychologically scarred Lukien and his counterpoint Malator who make the story fascinating. Cricket adds depth but her young and innocent immaturity seems out of place in a realm where teens mature fast or die. The Forever Knight is a deep opening gamut as the larger than life hero needs a purpose.
April 2, 2013
Flirting Under A Full Moon
Sourcebook, Apr 2 2013, $6.99
The text message informs Boston Uncommon waitress Brandee Hanson that she has been dumped. Her reaction is to swear off men, but Sadie Maven, the aunt of the owner the bar, tells the despondent woman that she had a premonition and reads her Tarot Cards that insist Brandee’s true love is coming for her. One-night stand Nick Wolfensen enters the establishment.
Over a century old, the former cop who hates taking or giving orders, Nick tells his recently married twin brother Konrad (see The Werewolf Upstairs) that he has become a private investigator. BPD Captain Hunter arranges for Nick to search for the mayor’s kidnapped stepdaughter. The girl is a fire mage unaware of her paranormal nature as the first inclination occurs at the first solar eclipse following the onset of puberty. Brandee notices Nick consulting with Sadie on a case in which the missing person must be her twelve year old cousin Kate due to the lack of pigment in her hair making it white. She follows him and witnesses his shifting into a wolf, but Mother Nature and a vampire erase the evidence and her memory. When they kiss, Nick knows he met his mate, but fears her reaction when he explains what he is.
The latest Strange Neighbors urban fantasy romance (see The Vampire Next Door) is an entertaining Bostonian romp. Although neither Nick nor Brandee feel developed enough to sell the existence of his species (or for that matter other paranormal types), fans will enjoy the hundred and one years old werewolf and the twenty-something mortal falling in love while Flirting Under A Full Moon.
March 20, 2013
A Few Good Men
Sarah A. Hoyt
Baen, Mar 5 2013, $14.00
Living the good life as the son of notorious Good Man tyrant Keeva, who along with fifty peers control the earth, Lucius Keeva enjoyed his life. After killing his friends, Luce spent the last fourteen years in solitary confinement at underwater Never-Never where except for initial interrogation and a brief illness, he never saw another person.
A boom occurs and seawater begins seeping into his tiny cell while he hears an angel singing Women of Syracuse. A boomer riding an illegal motorized broomstick freed the former heir to Olympic Seacity. Believing he must be an evil monster for what he did, Luce plans to stay away from people. However, when he learns his father and brother were assassinated Luce realizes he must become the latest Good Man to prevent a horrific bloody civil war from occurring as the rebels demand liberty or death and the rulers plan to give them death. Luce not only has no allies, he is the target of his once aristocratic peers and the rebels trying to overthrow tyranny; the few supporters he finds need him not as a leader but as a symbolic puppet.
Though filled with plenty of action from the opening boom until the final climatic confrontation, this sequel to Darkship Renegades and Darkship Thieves is a thought provoking thriller. The storyline is built on the premise of idealistic opposition with a legitimate freedom cause is easier to achieve including dying as a martyr than pragmatic governance. Sarah A. Hoyt provides a great insightful tale with plenty of real world examples in which the innocent pay the price of revolutionaries’ hubris (not just in blood as also through free democratic elections) once the opposition obtains the objective of ruling.
January 7, 2013
For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior
Sourcebooks, Jan 8 2013, $6.99
His humanity died when his wife and children died. Once a noble warrior and caring family man ages ago, Meryn the DeCangli was cursed to roam along with his King Roan (see The Goblin King) and Prince Dai (see Kiss of the Goblin Prince) with avaricious Goblins in the Shadowlands. Thanks to Roan falling in love freeing them from their Roman era Druid curse and Dai rescuing him from the Shadowlands, Meryn knows he has a second chance as a human if his mind will let go of his ugly past that he and his former beastly comrades did over two millennia.
In Perth, Australia, Nadine the nurse suffers from nightmares too since her mother died. The cops bring the scruffy looking man (Meryn) with a head injury to the hospital where they ask Nadine if she understand the language he uses as she also speaks French and Nuer besides English. She thinks he uses Latin. As he recovers from his injuries, Meryn and Nadine are attracted to each other, but each has a violent past that makes both reluctant to consider a relationship.
The latest Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging entry with the emphasis on the respective fascinating histories of the lead protagonists and Meryn’s struggles to cope with modern society. Fast-paced fans of the series will enjoy For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior though the romance rightfully is relegated to a support role.
December 8, 2012
Strident Publishing, Aug 13 2010, $8.40
The Veil separates the world of humans from that of the Sithe. Because of the radical different life spans, the underlying philosophies of the two species are polar opposites. The humans’ strongest value is fear of anything odd or new as change threatens their possessions even those with nothing. On the other hand the Sithe’s most significant value is trust of one another regardless of station as ages of living together require belief that those in your community have your back.
The unthinkable happens when Sithe Queen Kate NicNiven has plans to destroy the Veil and subjugate the humans under her rule. To do this she must eliminate her most powerful opponent Lord Griogair MacGregor. When Griogair is assassinated, his two sons (Seth and Conal) flee to the mortal realm. They vow to return one day to claim their inheritance, but first the siblings must avoid the human witch-hunt at a time when Restoration divisive fervor has savage Scotland in a deadly turmoil.
This is a strong historical fantasy in which two mythical siblings struggle to survive as strangers in a strange hostile land. The key to this engaging storyline is that the Sithe society seems genuine with its construction built from the premise of the species’ longevity. The plot accelerates once the brothers cross the Veil and find themselves held in suspicion by just about everyone while stalked by cleansing fanatics on both sides of the restoration fight. Readers will appreciate the first Rebel Angels thriller wondering why the Queen wants to conquer the pathetic race on the other side of the Veil.
October 27, 2012
A Feast Unknown
Philip José Farmer
Titan Books, Oct 9 2012 $12.95
In 1968 septuagenarian Lord Grandrith looks back at his life as he enjoys living in Africa looking like a thirty year old person. He learned early on that he is the illegitimate son of Jack the Ripper and over the years has become almost as famous in his own right as the Apeman, Lord of the Jungle.
Grandrith is also aware that he becomes aroused when he kills so he must control his urges to complete the opponent’s death. His greatest adversary is legendary Doc Caliban, the Man of Bronze and Champion of Justice, who shares with Grandrith the secret of eternal life. They know they will one day meet with only one of them walking away. However, to the chagrin of both of them before they can have that ultimate climax that each desires, each obsesses over identifying who the third party foe(s) manipulating them into their coveted duel to the death.
This is a reprint of an exciting late 1960s satirical thriller that retains its controversial freshness with the ripping away of the goodness mythos of two pulp fiction heroes. Filled with gore and more gore and with the twist of the Apeman’s sexual appetite, fans who appreciate something different will want to read Lord Grandrith’s engaging memoir.
October 22, 2012
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version
Viking, Nov 8 2012, $27.95
“Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm” contains fifty “Children’s Stories and Household Tales” in “A New English Version” with each entry including a very brief enlightening commentary. Some of the better known classics like Rumpelstiltskin, “Cinderella,” “Hansel And Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Rapunzel” are included. Also there are others made into animated tales like “The Brave Little Tailor,” The Boy Who Left Home To Find Out About The Shivers,” and “The Fisherman And His Wife.” Finally there are some lesser known entries such as “The Three Snake Leaves,” “Lazy Heinz,” and “Iron Hans.” This is a superb collection paying homage to the Brothers Grimm on the bicentennial anniversary of the release of their first fairy tales anthology.
October 14, 2012
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.
October 8, 2012
Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $7.99
In Saugerties, New York, while talking to her brother Jackson, Docia Waverley walks across a bridge over where the Esopus River meets the Hudson. Suddenly a passenger in an SUV pushes her over the railing. An annoying voice in her head welcomes her to the Ether by giving her a choice between her death and returning to earth but sharing her body with the voice. Docia accepts the terms of her Egyptian hostess.
Simone wants Docia dead and that person sends killers to finish the job. A stranger Ram saves her life, but confuses her when he welcomes her as his returning Queen. However though sworn to protect her and his best friend the king, Ram’s two souls want Docia’s two souls even as an ancient war remains heated.
The first World of the Nightwalkers romantic urban fantasy is a terrific expansion of Jacquelyn Frank’s mythos with the introduction of a new species. The Bodywalkers forge beneficial partnerships with dying mortals that enable each to survive. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the heroine is shoved from the bridge and never slows down as readers learn of the ancient hostilities and meet the Bodywalkers.
October 5, 2012
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Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
St. Martin’s Press, Oct 30 2012, $24.99
PI grim reaper Charlotte “Charley” Davidson takes a time out after her last case ended in the cesspool. She has spent several wallowing months not dealing with her feeling like a burned out loser.
A desperate Harper Lowell arrives at Charley’s home pleading with the sleuth to help her. Harper explains that someone wants her dead and her family and friends insist no one is out to get her; they believe she is paranoid. Though the circumstantial evidence supports the assertion that Harper is insane, Charley senses the woman is telling the truth though if she is mad she could confuse reality and fiction. As Charley looks into her clients claim, she also struggles with her feelings for Reyes “Son of Satan” Farrow, who she kicked out of her life yet also seems to be involved in the Albuquerque arson fiasco.
The latest Charley Davidson urban fantasy (see Third Grave Dead Ahead) is an amusing exciting thriller though the overarching theme barely moves forward. Charley is at her grim irreverent best while Reyes lings in her head and other body parts. Fast-paced fans of the series will enjoy Charley’s fourth grave and grim tale while hoping a fifth of Davidson accelerates the apparent upcoming celestial war.