karenirelandphillips

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Wild Magic

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Perfectly charming story of a 13 year-old, Daine, who discovers that the talent for which she's been excoriated is a kind of wild magic. True to fantasy tropes, we have a journey, a discovery of self, triumph over evil and a discovery of where Daine fits in the world. Yet it all seems quite fresh, and as a reader, I shared Daine's exhilaration and fear as she grows into an assured young woman. I recommend this.
Pandora

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A compelling story about love, wrapped in Rice's trademark turgid prose. The vampire Pandora details her life, from wealthy Roman woman to Paris sophisticate, and in the process rediscovers her love for Marius, a vampire who has loved her for two thousand years. The research Rice put into this is sometimes obvious, but always interesting. The only fully formed character is the narrator, but there is a nice contrast between Pandora's thoughtful hedonism and Marius' almost stereotypically brooding vampire.It's been years since I read Rice's vampire chronicles (and totally missed the last three or four books). I sometimes felt that the narrator was talking about events and characters I should know, but didn't, without the backstory necessary to understand the plot.
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery

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I admit that I bought this book last year for the C. J. Cherryh story, which I promptly read and enjoyed before setting the volume on my “to be read” shelf. Since I enjoyed “Naked City” so much, I thought I’d pull this out to see what I made of it. The stories partake of a much older form of science fiction, but don’t lack for invention. Some use humor – “Goats of Glory”, Steven Erickson and a light entry by Tanith Lee , “Two Lions, A Witch, and the War-Robe”. The sad consequences of conquering an avatar of dark magic are explored in “Bloodsport” by Gene Wolf, Caitlín Keirnan’s “Daughter of the Sea Troll” and K.J. Parker’s “A Rich Full Week”.Some of the more traditional stories indulge in distastefully dripping gore. Others managed to include bloodshed without sliding around in it. Examples are Scott Lynch’s “In the Stacks” and C.J. Cherryh’s “A Wizard of Wiscean” . The former isn’t – quite – humorous, but very clever. The latter is a model Cherryh story; a dense plot wherein hard work and privation eventually pay off, if not in the way the characters would have envisioned. All of the contributors are familiar names in sff; the collected stories all variations on the title theme; and the quality of writing is very high. The editors included a must-read intro, “Check Your Dark Lord At The Door”. The swift overview of sword & sorcery in science fiction and fantasy credits Robert E. Howard, C. L. Moore and Fritz Leiber with the initial popularity of the genre, describes its decline, and gives props to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress series as triggering a resurgence in the genre.
Duplicate Death

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Heyer's work has been heartily recommended to me, but unfortunately I didn't see that this was period Enclish mystery, a la Agatha Christie. Not my cup of tea (forgive) at all. Yet, read it. Even enjoyed it.
Escapement

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I’m going to come back to this after I read Mainspring, because I felt like I was missing something about this universe. In the meantime I’ll say that it just didn’t seem like my cup of tea, although I appreciated the high quality of the writing. NB: I’m a total fan of the author, avidly follow his blog, am highly jealous of his amazing productivity, and admire and respect his strength during his recurring struggles with cancer.
Range of Ghosts

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This was sitting on the library shelf, just waiting for me. How could I resist?Once again, the author lovingly embraces, and then subverts, every trope of the quest fantasy. Bear has created a world - no, worlds - where nations have their own sky, and magic serves both villains and heros. The protagonists, Temur and Samarkar, are royalty (another departure for the author, who excels at everyday folk) - and survivors of warfare overt and covert in their respective lands. Their journey takes them from nation to nation, gathering unlikely allies. The comrades are flawed but not - quite - broken, something Bear does particularly well. Uncharacteristically, she stumbles in the first few chapters. While searching for a voice, she goes for profound but only reaches pompous. She hits her stride a few chapters in, though; and leaves the ponderous pronouncements behind.While the wellspring of this tale is not necessarily as unique as some would have it (I can think of at least three writers, including Mary Gentle, who have plumbed similar folklore and geography), it's excellent work. Go forth and read it!
Blade of Fortriu: Book Two of The Bridei Chronicles

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Book 2 of a Trilogy. This fantasy is set in Britain, but revolves more around the Picts, the pre-Celtics inhabitants of part of the Isles. The romance is more pronounced, and better handled, than in some of her earlier work.
North To The Bitterroot: With a Winchester, a Wagon and a Bowie Knife, They Were the Men Who Opened the Wild Frontier...

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Overall, I found this bloody fantasy of betrayal and murder quite engaging. Maybe even charming. That is far less macabre than it sounds. Even at its darkest, this story has a certain lightness, born of hope.A very young girl, purchased from her impoverished home, is taken to another country and rigorously – and abusively – groomed to become a courtesan for the mysterious Factor. When she becomes a woman, the point at which the Factor will take her, the strong-willed girl mars her own beauty, kills her main teacher/tormentor, and flees – straight into a conspiracy to bring down the nation’s ruler. Embroiled in intrigue, magic and murder, the young woman strives for the balance, serenity, love, adventure – and to return to her home. Issues of religion, identity, sexuality and ultimately, politics play major roles in this well-drawn world. The thing I found most refreshing about this book was that despite the subject matter, Mr. Lake never indulges in eroticization of his protagonist or her circumstances . Green’s beauty, strength and intelligence both handicap and redeem her. My major complaint was that the story was a bit long. The “training for the Factor” section did set up important relationships and skills, but other than those junctures, only tangentially added to the story. Pacing was uneven, with multiple story-ending climaxes that diminished the impact of the clever finale.I look forward to the sequels.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

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What a lovely work. The most improbable adventure a 12 year old girl ever had, with the very best companions. But the way is rocky, in every sense, and the perils deep and wide. Valente takes her cue from storytelling fashionable in the century before last, but imposes her own lyrical take on the colorful and sometimes breathless narrative. I adored this - and am only jealous that I didn't get to read this as a child.
Not Less Than Gods

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Kage Baker's intricate steam-punk universe is incredibly engaging. It's hard to know where to start in these "Company" books, but every one I pick up has been intriguing, well written, with a plot that flows swiftly while hinting at unknown depths.
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