Book Review: Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Age of Swords (Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan

Five Stars

“Some things are unimaginable right up until you are looking at them, and even then, you might not want to believe. Love is that way, so is death.”

If anything, better than the first book, Age of Myths. Superficially Sullivan is not an epic fantasy writer like Rothfuss or Tolkien, but he weaves an excellent story amid afresh, if derivative world. Part of the fun is his tongue-in-cheek homages to classic fantasy.

“I hated my brothers. Dead for three years and they’re still trying to kill me.”

Satisfying conclusion with appropriate hooks into the next stories. Well done. Leavened with humor. Not so much as the Riyria stores, but enough. Waited for second volume for magic school, hooray! And the training was organic, taking the reader inside Continue reading

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Book Review: Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Stone of Farewell (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #2) by Tad Williams

Five Stars

“I thought it would be like a story. I didn’t think any more people would die.”

Keeps getting better. Second installations of trilogies often suffer being bridges without beginnings or endings. No so here. Stone of Farewell advances the story (stories) and keeps the reader guessing. Like all good epic fantasy, this series is not just about just magic, swords and crowns, but life and death, love and hate. The real questions of life.

“Winning and losing are only the walls within which the game takes place. It is the living that makes a house–not the doors, not the walls.”

Williams keeps the threads advancing by adroitly pulling the rug from the various protagonists just as they start to make headway. Just when things can’t get worse, Continue reading

Book Review: Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear (Four Stars)

Book Review: Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) by Elizabeth Bear

Four Stars out of Five

“You can only influence the moment.”

Wizards, dragons and poets—not to mention ghuls, demonlings, blood ghosts and horses. What’s not to like in this rousing conclusion to Elizabeth’s Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy?

“Just keep walking.”

Quite a bit. But for her smashing climax, the rest of the book merits three stars … at best. It suffers a terrible case of sideways: lots of talking, lots of maneuvering, but little development of the story. Fans of Bear, and no one should start reading any series with the last book, will enjoy her writing. Her overuse of “that” becomes intrusive. Lots of Robert Jordan influence; that’s not a complement.

“From a woman’s strength came we all.”

For those who decry the dearth of female heroic characters, Eternal Sky is full of them. In fact, though the central conflict involves men, all the really interesting and significant characters are female.

“Comforting thoughts should be questioned no less Continue reading

Book Review: Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear (Three Stars)

Book Review: Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky #2) by Elizabeth Bear

Three Stars out of Five

“To say a thing is to make it so.”

Well-conceived and well-told epic fantasy. Bear’s created world breathes authenticity. Spared returning reader retelling the first book, though a new reader may not pick up the stakes and the players as quickly.

“Everything is lazy.”

Maintains the high standards of Range of Ghosts but still drifts a little sideways. Nothing requires a story stretch to three volumes if it can be told in two. Ends with the right mix of hope and despair.

“It’s easier to be shared than to share.”