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review 2017-04-25 17:21
Bewitched & Betrayed / Lisa Shearin
Bewitched & Betrayed - Lisa Shearin

Elf seeker Raine Benares finds lost things and missing people- usually alive. After bonding with the Saghred, a powerful soul- stealing stone, she must hunt down its escapees. Especially since one of them is also hunting her, also hot white magic paladin and drool-worthy black mage.

 

As much as I enjoy the Raine Benares series (and I do enjoy it), I have to admit that the story doesn’t advance very much in each book. There is plenty of action, plenty of opportunities for Raine to beat on things or get beaten upon, but the actual story of her unwilling partnership with the evil Saghred stone doesn’t move much.

What this installment does give us is a shift in the three-way bond that she, Mychael, and Tam have been trying conceal from the Council. In some ways, it is nice to have resolution of the issue, if you believe that there must be only two people involved in an intimate bond. I find myself a bit disappointed, as I’d been hoping that we might actually get a realistic vision of what a polyandric relationship might look like. I see no reason why Raine should have to choose between Mychael and Tam—why can’t she choose them both? But apparently I am in the minority on this one.

Raine continues to be the competent fighter who tries to know her own limits. She is realistic enough to fight dirty when the occasion requires it and to rely on the people around her rather than go it alone. She is stubborn and snarky and yet often worried about her potential future if things go sideways with the Saghred. I am charmed by her circle of friends and relatives who have her back and I am heartened by the addition of a female goblin who may provide that necessary female friend that I believe that all female protagonists should have in their arsenals.

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review 2017-04-24 21:06
"Originator - Cassandra Kresnov #6" by Joel Shepherd
Originator: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel - Joel Shepherd

"Originator" is the sixth and (apparently) the last Cassandra Kresnov book. I'm sad to see this series end. I've enjoyed every book. Each one has taken me deeper into this world, Each one has seen Kresnov grow and become more complex, more powerful and yet, somehow, more likable.

 

*Originator" has all the things that made the other books compelling: political intrigue, battle scenes, humour, philosophical musings on what it means to be human, and a perfectly paced plot

 

As befits the last book of a series, it brings together a number of characters from earlier plot lines and fully completes the story arc in a satisfying way, without making everything so neat and tidy that is seams false.

 

In this book, Cassandra finally brings into focus the idea that she and the other GIs really are a separate, physically superior, species and not just a synthetic imitation of humanity. She has to decide what that means. The plot of the story herds her into a position where she is forced to choose between loyalty to her own species and loyalty to humanity. Her response is original, life-affirming and fundamentally Kresnov.

As we edge towards the possibility of independent AIs, I can only hope that they'll be like Cassandra Kresnov when they grew up.

 

I'm addicted to Joel Shepherd now, so, with no more Kresnov to read, I'll be starting on his "Spiral Wars" trilogy, but it will have to be pretty damn good to push Kresnov off the top of my "THIS is what Military SF SHOULD be" pile.

 

 

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text 2017-04-19 23:29
Reading progress update: I've read 15%. and "Sleeping Giants" is outstanding
Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel

This has been on my TBR pile so long, the sequel has been published.

 

I started it today on a long drive and I'm astonished by how good it is.

 

So far, the book has been either dialogue or first person reportage in the form of reports.This work particularly well in the audiobook version, where there is a different narrator for each character, giving this the feel of an inventive and intriguing radio play.

 

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review 2017-04-19 15:50
Hôtel Transylvania / Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Hotel Transylvania - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

The classic tale that introduced the legendary Le Comte de Saint-Germain, first published in 1978 and spawning 14 titles in the Saint-Germain epic, is now available in paperback. A fixture in 1740s Parisian society, Saint-Germain is a perfect gentleman--and a vampire. When the fiery young Madeline falls in love with him, a group of evil sorcerers targets her for their black mass--and only Saint-Germain can save her soul.

 

Hôtel Transylvania was probably a cutting edge book of its time (the late 1970s), but today it feels a little old fashioned. However, I can certainly see its place in the process of getting to the abundant vampire fiction that we have today.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula merely hinted at the sexual nature of vampires. The vampire snuck in at night like a clandestine lover and had to get up close and personal to bite his victim. Blood transfer is pretty intimate after all.

A couple of years before Hôtel Transylvania was published, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire appeared and updated the vampire legend for the times. These were vampires who could interact with humans, who could live for many centuries, and who felt strong emotions. The eroticism of the vampire-human interaction became more explicit. This was a way-station along the path that has led us to the completely sexual vampire of current urban fantasy.

Enter Le Comte de Saint-Germain. Although he does drink blood, he also provides pleasurable sexual experiences during the process. There is some hint that he obtains energy from the sex as well as the blood meal. He is apparently over a thousand years old, is able to handle religious symbols such as crucifixes, and can endure sunlight and running water if properly grounded with his home earth in the soles of his boots.

An aspect of this book that marks it as a product of its time—it is set in the France of Louis XV and revolves around a Satanic cult in the French court (supposedly linked with La Voisin, an alleged sorceress in the court of Louis XIV). Published in 1978, Hôtel Transylvania appears just before the Satanic cult panics of the 1980s. The physical & sexual abuse ascribed to the bad guys here is very similar to that attributeded to the cults of the 1980s. Rather like the Salem witch trials, it turned out that panic-stricken people have very active imaginations.

This was my first time reading the first book in the series—I vaguely remember several volumes in the late 1980s, which I enjoyed more at the time.

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text 2017-04-18 20:17
April book club read
The Core of the Sun - Johanna Sinisalo

A re-read, but worth it.  Reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale, with a unique level of oddness.

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