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review 2017-06-16 22:38
Dreams of Steel / Glen Cook
Dreams of Steel - Glen Cook

Croaker has fallen and, following the Company's disastrous defeat at Dejagore, Lady is one of the few survivors--determined to avenge the Company and herself against the Shadowmasters, no matter what the cost.

But in assembling a new fighting force from the dregs and rabble of Taglios, she finds herself offered help by a mysterious, ancient cult of murder--competent, reliable, and apparently committed to her goals.

Meanwhile, far away, Shadowmasters conspire against one another and the world, weaving dark spells that reach into the heart of Taglios. And in a hidden grove, a familiar figure slowly awakens to find himself the captive of an animated, headless corpse.

Mercilessly cutting through Taglian intrigues, Lady appears to be growing stronger every day. All that disturbs her are the dreams which afflict her by night--dreams of carnage, of destruction, of universal death, unceasing...

 

 

More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.

Just when I thought that Glen Cook’s grimdark Black Company world couldn’t get any bleaker, any darker, or any weirder…. I realize that I am wrong. Mr. Cook, your dark imagination scares me!

But, I am still invested in the two main characters in Dreams of Steel, namely Croaker and Lady. Croaker provides the dark sense of humour of the two, with Lady remembering some of things he has said or imagining what he would say when she finds herself hip deep in slaughter. Lady can never be said to be the softer, gentler one of the pair—if anything, she is even more ruthless, willing to put heads on stakes to make a point. Revenge is everything!

There really are no good guys in this series, just shades of black. It would be a shock to the system to try to jump in here at book 5, without having read the preceding novels—the level of violence and disregard for life would be overwhelming. But my situation is like the proverbial frog in the pot of water—it has gradually come to a boil without my noticing!

Now my search for a copy of Bleak Seasons must begin. I couldn’t abide a constant diet of grimdark fantasy in my reading life, but I must know what happens to this two bloodthirsty duo.

 

Book number 258 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-06-15 20:36
[Book Review] The Quantum Thief
The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi

At it's core, The Quantum Thief is a heist story, but within its post-human setting the object of the heist is nothing so simple as something like the Hope Diamond or a Casino vault.  Instead we journey through theft and reclaiming of time and memory.

All-in-all, it makes for a blistering smart and layered hard sci-fi adventure.

This book had a little less specific discussion questions for me to draw out, but it was a fantastic and fascinating read.  Should I actually sit down with other people who've read it, there's definitely a lot to knock about, but the questions and discussion prompts themselves are harder for me to quantify.

Discussion Fodder:

  • Let's talk about the Prisoner's Dilemma.  What is it, and in what ways is it used in this story?  What do you think of the Dilemma Prison?
  • What are the different ways humanity and cultures manifest in the story?  How are they shaped by technology (or vice versa)?
  • An Oubliette is a dungeon with an opening only at the top or a place of forgetting.  What is the Oubliette in this story?  What are the roles of memory and privacy in this society?  How do they interact?  How do they shape the culture?
  • In this setting, what counts as human? 
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/06/book-review-quantum-thief.html
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review 2017-06-14 12:24
The Last Detective- Brian Cohn

     Mixed genre- well put together; no, very well put together. Those that love murder mystery will find themselves comfortably stationed within a science fiction world and vice versa. I love writing that can shatter walls between genres, between readers fixed ideas of like, and this book does that well.

     We are in a recently invaded world by a civilisation of ‘slicks’ that mankind is still far short of understanding. Human society is in a state of decay, if not quite chaotic dissolution, as the alien culture imposes certain disciplines whilst leaving humans with a veneer of independence. Any independence is apparently dependent on an absence of resistance. Regular mass deportations to destinations unknown, are ‘accepted’ by the human administrations. One can’t help but make comparisons between the slicks as quasi Nazi or Starlin’s cabal. Perhaps those born in this century would relate better to comparison with the current, alien to humanitarian values, regime of Kim Jong-Un.

     When an alien is apparently murdered the aliens find cause for an investigation by what remains of a human police force. Painstakingly Adrian, the last pre-invasion trained detective, puts the pieces of the case together despite the lack of resources and technologies still at his disposal.

     The principle human characters are well drawn, and the unfolding of the crime is crafted in a very compelling way. This is a case for an old-time sleuth, not a ‘slick’ crime lab. Um: pun intended.

     As an independent writer and a strong advocate of my peers, I am delighted to be able to report this book as being a good example of the quality achievable outside of the traditional publishing empires. Pandamoon are one of many new small publishers. I’m certainly not in any position to endorse them, but I can say that they have at least one good writer aboard.

     Well written and, apart from a few lapses, well edited.

AMAZON LINK

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review 2017-06-12 21:44
The Cold Kiss of Death / Suzanne McLeod
The Cold Kiss of Death - Suzanne McLeod

‘The ghost grasped her shift and ripped it open. The three interlacing crescents carved red-raw and bleeding into her thin chest didn’t look any better than the last dozen times I’d seen them. The wounds weren’t lethal – they weren’t even recent; she’d been dead for at least a hundred and fifty years – but my gut still twisted with anger that someone would do that to a child.’

Being haunted by a ghost is the least of Genny’s problems: she’s also trying to deal with the witch neighbour who wants her evicted. Finn, her sort-of-Ex – and now her new boss – can’t quite decide whether he wants their relationship to be business or pleasure. And then there’s the queue of vamps inviting her to paint the town red; how long before they stop taking no for an answer?

Just when it seems things can’t get any worse a human friend is murdered using sidhe magic. Determined to hunt down the killer and needing help, she turns to one of London’s most capricious wylde fae and the seductive vampire Malik al-Khan.

But all too soon she realises she doesn’t know who she can trust – and now Genny’s the one being hunted, not just by the police, but by some of London’s most powerful and dangerous supernaturals.

 

I’m enjoying this urban fantasy set in London, and McLeod’s mix of fae-vampires-witches. I’ll be very interested to see how this series intersects with Ben Aaronovitch’s magical London when the time comes. I’m guessing that it’ll be their river goddesses/river fae that interact and it should be most entertaining. Or perhaps via the ghosts. I’m intrigued and must continue both series!

Genny ends up fleeing everyone in this book—the ghosts, the vampires, other Fae, the police, the witches—a pretty standard set up in urban fiction. Every heroine seems to do it in one book or another, particularly before she gets settled in with a romantic partner. We live in suspicious times and being wary of everyone has become a fairly believable set-up. Getting away from everyone is next to impossible and it builds a certain amount of tension into the plot by default.

This installment cleared up some things and muddied others as a good series book should do. Genny has been given a year and a day to make some decisions about her life, so she has a bit of breathing room. Or so she thinks, for it seems to me that breathing room doesn’t make for compelling narrative. If I were her, I wouldn’t dilly-dally, I would get investigating immediately. And all of the Fae who are angling for her could be in for a surprise if she chooses the enticing Malik al Khan, her vampiric shadow instead of them!

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review 2017-06-01 16:37
"Enclave" by Ann Aguirre - DNF
Enclave - Ann Aguirre

This one was just too YA for me.

Well written and well conceived but too noisy with teen emotions. This was probably amplified by the "I must emote every sentence at full volume" approach of the audiobook narrator.

 After 90 minute i decided it was a DNF.

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