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review 2018-06-02 03:18
Things continue going from bad to worse
Dreadnought - Cassandra Khaw

I don't know what to say here without spoiling -- this series isn't making it easy for me to write about it.

 

As bad as things looked last week -- there were plenty of avenues that were easy to see for things to work out. Not necessarily easily, but possible. It's still possible now, I'm sure, but it's not easy to see how. There's so much distrust in the air that even people who need to be working together won't. In fact, everyone's going out of their way to make it more difficult and less likely to work with each other.

 

Well, almost everyone. Kris and Michiko seem to be acting like themselves -- although, since we've met them their behavior has basically been summarized by "try hard, ask a lot of questions, and be somewhat confused," I'm not sure that it's that helpful. The rest -- whether it's internally imposed, or naturally occurring, doesn't matter -- are stand-offish, distrustful, and taking steps to isolate themselves.

 

The carefully constructed peace is in grave danger -- the questions that need to be answered are: who started and/or is continuing to orchestrate the events that kicked off this unraveling? Who is gaining from all of this? If the answers to these questions are discovered, does anyone have the ability (singly or as a group) to effectively push back? I have my suspicions, but I'll have to wait and see.

 

This was well done, and an installment that had to happen -- but it's hard to really judge this until we get more of the picture. I liked it enough, I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure just how good a job this episode did. But I'm looking forward to seeing where things go from here so have a better idea.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/06/01/born-to-the-blade-1-7-dreadnought-by-cassandra-khaw-things-continue-going-from-bad-to-worse
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review 2018-05-12 03:12
Yup. Baby Shower. A literal baby shower, just what every fantasy series needs(?)
Baby Shower - Cassandra Khaw

Huh. I'm still trying to figure out this series, I admit, but the one thing I didn't figure was that one episode would feature a party soaked in political intrigue. But it works -- it really, really works.

 

Yeah, there's plenty of magic and swordplay in this series. But there's almost as much going on when it comes to diplomacy and politics. It's subtle, it's harder to follow in this world than you might be used to (but it's getting easier the more time we spend in this series) -- but it's rewarding. This episode's focal event is the perfect setting to focus on the subtle games and moves going on with these characters.

 

Michiko seems to take a step in a constructive direction -- and if this goes like I think it will, I might actually like her as a character. Ojo's still the most interesting character in this series (with the possible exception of Michiko's secret relative, but he's interesting for completely different reasons), and I continue to like how he's being used. I think I might like Kris a bit more now than I have soon.

 

One thing the series seems clear about is that Lavinia is a bad person -- good warrior, savvy at her job, but she's a bad person. Maybe not King Joffrey bad, but someone in that vein. Which is odd, it seems that the series is going out of its way to show you things from (for example) Ojo's point of view, but also what Penelope, Kris and Michiko think of him and his actions. The same goes for everyone but for Lavinia. There's only one perspective presented for her. Now, honestly, I'm not sure I want to look too far into her head -- so I'm not sure this is a bad thing, but it just strikes me as odd.

 

This has a great closing line -- it definitely made me want to read on. The episode on the whole does that, too -- by the end, I probably feel more settled in this world than I have before and I can start to enjoy things. I wouldn't appreciate a novel taking this long to get me into the story, but given the starts and stops of these episodes, I'm much more willing to go along with it and three episodes doesn't seem as big an investment.If you haven't decided to take the plunge, this might be the time.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/10/born-to-the-blade-1-3-baby-shower-by-cassandra-khaw-yup-baby-shower-a-literal-baby-shower-just-what-every-fantasy-series-needs
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review 2018-05-06 07:26
Baby Shower
Baby Shower - Cassandra Khaw

All of the characters in Born of the Blade are struggling with their biggest challenge yet: a baby shower. It seemed a bit like an episode of a sitcom, or else maybe just a middle part of a book but as a separate part of the serial it was a bit strange. Of course, the baby shower itself is filled with much more than baby presents, but still. To me it felt like filler, and this is only the 3rd episode. I’m curious to see where this is going.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-11-03 03:42
Review: A Song for Quiet
A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata) - C... A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata) - Cassandra Khaw

This feels like it starts from the same seed as LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom, but goes in a completely different direction. Both are lovely, almost complimentary tales.

 

While this is a second Persons Non Grata novella, John Persons' inclusion is more like The Doctor's in Blink than a regular episode. Not a complaint, it works quite well. However, I'm glad I had read the first one first so I knew who he was.

 

Will be delighted to read more of these. 

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review 2017-11-01 03:35
Review: Hammers on Bone
Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata) - Cassandra Khaw

Love the prose and characters in this one, but it felt a little thin on plot. More like the outline of a story not quite completely fleshed out. 

 

Conceptually, this is another Lovecraft inspired tale with far better writing. The main character feels like one with a lot of opportunities for future stories.

 

Good, but not as compelling as some of Khaw's other stories.

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