Tag Archives: 3

Stonewielder

Any attempt to encapsulate the plot of a book set in the joint Steven Erikson/Ian C. Esslemont world of Malaz is a venture inherently more detailed than can be delivered in a thousand work blog post.  Stonewielder by Esslemont is no exception to this. A sprawling narrative that spans a continent, the novel neither lacks in scope nor quantity of characters.

The world building that has spanned Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen, several novellas, the new Kharkanas trilogy and Esslemont’s own narrative strain stretching into his third book remains the strength of the book. Featuring the island of Fist and the Stormwall of Korel, Esslemont explores a portion of the universe largely untouched by previous novels. The legendary Stormwall gets special attention early in the novel and the author gives special care to the wall’s description.  It’s a unique feature with an interesting back story.  It features, as in other works, the unusual background in archeology that the author brings to his writing. It’s clearly a reason why the world building is so strong and the setting so vivid. Continue reading

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Chasm City

Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds takes place in the “Revelation Space” universe, which is the far flung future of human civilization.  The series as a whole is some of the best hardcore science fiction being published currently. Reynolds does not delve into the fantasy realm at all. Science, however beyond our current understanding, remains at the heart of this series.

The linear stories from this series can be found in other books, namely Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap.  Chasm City, however, is tangential to those books in as much as it shares a setting without any overlap in characters. Continue reading

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Lamentation

Lamentation is Ken Scholes first novel with a strong fantasy bent set in a post-apocalyptic world.  Scholes uses a rotating viewpoint among the main cast, which keeps the pace of the novel moving and adds insight to each character’s personality. The characters are of varying interest; however, the leads generally hold up well over the course of the novel. This is important as the characters are fundamental to drive the novel forward much more so than the action, which is often depicted via second hand accounts.

The novel is part of a five book arc and, in as much as it is discernible from the opening work, follows a well worn fantasy trope of an ancient, displaced evil returning to conquer its former home. Whether this turns out to be the true thrust of the over-arching storyline for the planned quintet, will hinge upon factors that are almost impossible to know after reading Lamentation.

The sectionalized plot for this novel is rather mundane. An ancient magic is unleashed upon a city wiping it from the map. Neighboring nation-states proceed to wage a war in order to avenge the wrong doing.  The initial perpetrator turns out to be a decoy guided by the hand of another.  By the end of the novel, allegiances have shifted and the decoy is killed to sate the desire for punishment among those remaining.

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The Court of The Air

With the opening novel set in the Jackelian world, The Court of the Air is a thrill ride that contains more ideas than it knows how to deliver.  Author Stephen Hunt pits two orphans against a menacing evil, gives them power they don’t understand, allies that they can’t trust and asks them to save the world as they know it. The two primary story lines are uneven in execution and one protagonist fares better as a character than the other.  The novel is, at times, a daunting read and Hunt fails to fully execute on some of the grand ideas but, on balance, it’s a fun adventure tale with elements of steampunk and fantasy.

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The White Dragon

The final book in the initial trilogy by Anne McCaffrey, The White Dragon is both the farthest reaching in scope and the most enjoyable to read. With the focus of the book away from F’lar and Lessa and a better developed cast of characters, the world-building is allowed to shine along with the growth of the new protagonists.  While the dragons were a pleasant diversion previously, they now take center stage with the namesake of the novel.

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Escapement

The second book in Jay Lake’s Clockworth Earth series, Escapement is a multi-viewpoint work that brings minor characters from Mainspring back to serve in prominent roles. The world creation continues to be the best feature of this novel but the characterization problems that plagued Mainspring are mostly absent.  The plot proves far more worthy of the setting with better, though imperfect, pacing and more nuanced, subtle metaphor for religion.

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Roseanna

Published in Sweden in 1965, Roseanna is the first book by authors Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo in their Martin Beck series.  The plot is simple: The body of young American Roseanna McGraw is pulled out of a canal during a dredging. An aloof librarian from Nebraska by day, Roseanna was vacationing in Sweden on a cruise. Detective Martin Beck, with help from a pair of noteworthy colleagues, sets about to find the murderer.  Over the course of the novel, the detectives trace a series of people and photographs to find the killer before setting a trap to ensnare the suspect.

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