Year: 2008

Book Review – A Betrayal in Winter

A while ago I read Daniel Abraham’s début novel A Shadow in Summer and I was very impressed. Of course I immediately got the second book in the Long Price quartet, A Betrayal in Winter, after which it was swallowed by the ever intimidating to read stack that resides on the desk next to the computer I am writing these reviews on. Earlier this week I finally picked it up. Again, I found a well written, tightly plotted novel featuring a number of interesting characters with complex motivations. There are some notable differences with the first book too though. While A Betrayal in Winter is a good book by any measure, I think I prefer the first book.

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Night Angel | a Brent Weeks Interview

Travis Johnson Photography
Photo by Travis Johnson Photography

Our guest this week is Brent Weeks, author of The Night Angel Trilogy, recently published by Orbit Books.  Unless something changes in the next few weeks before the end of the year, The Way of Shadows will be my favorite book of the year. Not since Wes Unseld (NBA Players for the Bullets), in 1969, have I seen a rookie that has put together such a strong first showing.  Brent was a great fellow and even as I pull off an embarrassing interviewer faux pas and asked him pretty much the same question twice, and he answers them both, what a guy.  Now without further delay, let us all welcome Brent Weeks.

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Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian Cameron Esslemont | Book Review

Return of the Crimson Guard is the second addition of Esslemont of the Malazan series, an epic fantasy universe he shares with Steven Erikson. One of my very first reviews for Boomtron was Esslemont’s first effort Night of Knives. I thought it was an enjoyable read but not nearly as ambitious as the other Malazan books. It covers a very limit part of the Malazan history, the outcome of which was already obvious from Erikson’s books. Return of the Crimson Guard is quite something else. Esslemont offers us the kind sprawling, multiple point of view tale, we’ve come to associate with Malazan novels. With this books Esslemont positions himself right in the centre of the of the complex history he and Steven Erikson have developed. It describes events Erikson hinted at in The Bonehunters, a pivotal moment in the history of the empire. Night of Knives did not convince me but there is not getting around this novel for the real Malazan fan.

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Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier | Book Review

Son of the Shadows is the second book in Juliet Marillier’s widely acclaimed Sevenwaters trilogy through it can, like its predecessor Daughter of the Forest, be read independently. Where Daughter of the Forest was a story that played out on a rather intimate scale, Marillier broadens the scope significantly with its sequel by letting the political positions among the early medieval Irish chieftains playing a larger role in the plot of the novel. Furthermore, she expands the magic element by suggesting that a major conflict is brewing between the supernatural peoples of the Otherworld, between the Fair Folk (the Tuatha Dé Danann) and the Old Ones (the Fomhóire). Daughter of the Forest was beautifully written and emotionally satisfying novel and I am glad to say that Marillier doesn’t disappoint with Son of the Shadows – a novel that deservedly won the 2001 Aurealis Award for Fantasy Novel.

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Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier | Book Review

Daughter of the Forest is the debut of the New Zealand author Juliet Marillier and the first book in the widely acclaimed Sevenwaters Trilogy. It offers a deep-felt re-telling of “Six Swans”, an old folk tale that exists in many variations throughout Germany and Scandinavia. With this novel, which was awarded the 2001 American Library Association Alex Award, Marillier follows into the footsteps of such literary giants as the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who set his version of the tale of the swan brothers to paper in 1838. Marillier relocates the Germanic tale to Ireland during the Dark Ages, a move that allows her to enrich the story with the rich Celtic lore of the Fair Folk, the Tuatha Dée Danann.

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Escapement by Jay Lake | Book Review

Escapement is the sequel to Jay Lake’s critically acclaimed novel Mainspring, wherein he maps out an alternate Earth anno 1900. Lake has quite cleverly constructed a world that for the most part resembles ours yet differs in one very important aspect – Lake envisions the universe as an enormous clockwork whose brass mechanisms are, mostly, visible to the naked eye. Thus Earth is powered by a mainspring, hidden in its core, it circles around the Lamp of the Sun on a brass rail and it is divided by an enormous equatorial wall, topped by a brass gear train that physically connects the planet itself to its orbital trajectory around the sun.

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Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan | Book Review

The eleventh book in Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a series much criticized for unnecessarily dragging the story out. Especially after the last book Crossroads of Twilight, where all progress in the plot seems to grind to a halt. Jordan had already made it clear he intended to finish the series in two more books. Knife of Dreams is definitely take big steps in wrapping up some of the major story lines. On the other hand there’s so many of them that even after this book many people doubted it could be done in just one more. Still, for all those who were disappointed by the slow pace in Crossroads of Twilight, this book is quite something else. I even felt Jordan was rushing some parts of the story.

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The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks | Book Review

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks is a book that only came on my radar by accident, but one that I am quite grateful for. If I had the time to talk to an author, describe what I liked most in a book and then said, “Spin me a tale that you know will be something I would like,” it would be realized here in this book. It was an interesting decision for Orbit to release the three books of the trilogy in three consecutive months, but one that works for the reader as there is such a small amount of time before the next volume is published.

From a high level view, the story involves some of my favorite elements in fantasy: assassins, politics, intrigue, battles, magic users, and magic items. So far so good, Mr. Weeks, but now let us talk about world-building, writing style, characters, and storyline all without giving away any spoilers to ruin it for the rest of the readers. This behemoth of a book weighs in at over 640 pages and what I found interesting at times is that it may have been underwritten from the standpoint of fleshing it out. Some things go by a little too quickly for my preference. This is where publishers come in, I am sure Weeks could not have handed in a book over 1000 pages, but yet I think if he had I would have enjoyed it a little more. Weird I know. I actually paused and said to myself, “Wow he is really packing it in there” as I cleared page 300-and-something. Weeks’s writing style is fluid and furious as the story is pushed along rather quickly. While I have stated that I feel some of the story itself could have been filled out, the scenes that Weeks brings to us are a perfect blend of description, action, and character introspection.

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Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson | Book Review

Paul of Dune, co-authored by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson is the sixteenth incarnation of the Dune Series. A series that began in 1965 when Brian Herbert’s father, Frank Herbert, wrote his historic masterpiece Dune. Some forty years later, Brian & Kevin continue to breathe new life into a uniquely complex Sci-Fi universe that never seems to grow old. It’s a universe filled with charismatic characters, strange worlds, inspired technologies and plots that are a Machiavellian as they are relevant and contemporary. Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson consistently continue to produce powerful works that allow the Dune mystique to remain intact, and are incredibly faithful with both character development and time line constraints. “Paul of Dune” takes the reader back along the time line to the years that directly follow the original novel, and reveal the path that leads Paul Muad’dib to total ascendency over the known universe.

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The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip | Book Review

The award winning Patricia A. McKillip is one of the prominent authors within fantasy fiction, but whereas notable masters of the genre like J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin work on an epic scale, McKillip’s fantasies are more intimate and dreamlike. The Book of Atrix Wolfe can in many respects be likened to the detailed and colourful tapestries of the late medieval period, where vividly archaic figures of humans, animals and mythological creatures are intertwined with a myriad of organic ornamentation. Supported by a wonderfully lyrical and sensuous prose, the McKillip weaves an evocative and enchanting narrative composed by motifs and themes from myth and fairy tale (fx the Wild Hunt, the Horned Hunter, the Faerie Queen) that she elegantly re-orders and re-interprets into something entirely unique.

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3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke | Book Review

The fourth and final part in Arthur C. Clarke’s Odyssey series was published in 1997. Almost 30 year after the first book, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The final book is set early in the 4th millennium and tells the story of humanity’s last encounter with the monoliths that seem to have influenced the evolution of the species. Rapidly nearing the year in which the first book is set, it was clear that most of Clarke’s visions for the year 2001 would remain imagination so once again one could question the need for further sequels in this series. On the other hand, after the ending of 2061: Odyssey Three he couldn’t very well not have written one. The result is entertaining but definitely not a must read.

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All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear | Book Review

Elizabeth Bear has been quite prolific in the past few years. She is perhaps best know for her ambitious Promethean Age novels, the fourth of which appeared this summer. She’s written a number of other novels as well, two of which, Hammered and New Amsterdam, have been reviewed on Boomtron. Somehow she has managed to escape my attention except for one short story in the Wastelands anthology. I didn’t think the story in Wastelands stood out in that particular company but All the Windwracked Stars turned out to be a very interesting book indeed.

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