Book Review: City of Brass by S. A. Chakrabroty (Four Stars)


Book Review: City of Brass (Daevabad Triolgy #1) by S. A. Chakrabroty

(Four Stars)

“Earn this. I don’t care if you have to dance on my grave.”

Excellent fantasy set in the hidden kingdom advanced beyond the historic 18th century world around it. (An Islamic Wakanda, if you will.) Bounces between two main characters with widely divergent agendas and loyalties. Good plotting and characterization. All the better considering this is Chakrabroty’s freshman effort.

“This is how lovesick idiots ruined their lives.”

Islamic culture adds a rich atmosphere to the language, dress, and attitudes: except that Continue reading


Book Review: Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell (Three Stars)


Book Review: Tyrant’s Throne (Greatcoats #4) by Sebastien de Castell

Three Stars

“The time for preposterous heroics has passed.” “Preposterous heroics were the only thing we were ever good at.”

Good summary and conclusion to the series … maybe. Despite several inconsequential subplots, de Castell brings all the threads together in the end. A Greek-tragedy-like appearance of the gods at the end is turned on its head; good job.

“The best we can hope for is one chance to prove ourselves, to turn our death into a sacrifice for what we believe in rather than a fate that was set upon us.”

Quibble: A face recognized by its reflection in the blade of a rapier? How wide are your rapier blades? (The very presence of rapiers in this medieval fantasy is a non sequitur, but explained in the first book.)

“Why must you always be clever after the fact, Falcio?”

Not Dumas quality, but a fun read.

“Death, like life, cares nothing for poetry.”

Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Four Stars

“It wasn’t my fault. I was as much a victim of this as any of the others. If …”

You already know the story. Harris hews much closer to the traditional Poetic Edda than most modern re-interpretations, especially those of Marvel. This is a snarky self-justification by Loki, the villain of almost everyone else’s take.

“That’s history for you. Unfair, untrue, and for the most part written by folks who weren’t even there.”

Head and shoulders above many recent retellings of other myths and fairy tales which try to make the bad guy into a good guy. No, Loki is who he is. Naturally, seen from his point of view, everyone else is stupid or evil. A lot like modern American politics.

“Who needs friends when you can have the certitude of hostility?”

If someone were to cinematize this, I can see Tom Hiddleston as Loki, but not Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Better, Ian McKellen on his worst day: Gandalf with issues.

“You don’t bring wildfire into your home and expect it to stay in the fireplace.”

Quibbles: The title implies there’s good news here; there isn’t. Not for Loki, not for the AEsir, nor for the Folk (humans). The story starts in Chapter Four, before that it background.

“I could tell Odin would never understand the scale and grandeur of Chaos–at least not until the Ends of the Worlds, by which time it would be too late.”

Book Review: The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom by Max Gladstone (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom by Max Gladstone

Four Stars

“I don’t understand.” “Those are the first words of the wise.”

Vintage Gladstone is a one-gulp package. All the best of Gladstone’s world creation and social consciousness in thirty-six pages.

“Lies are particularly suited to the situation. Like art.”

Well-drawn characters. Threads into other realms, clearly defined enough to make this story a pleasure.

“What’s the good of this friendship of yours if you don’t trust me?”

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

Book Review: Age of Myths (The Legends of the First Empire #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

Five Stars

“If you can’t trust an ancient talking tree, what was the point of having one?”

I previously rated the beta-version of this book four stars; the final is even better. Sullivan may not be in the first rank of current fantasy authors, but he has talent. He writes well-thought out, satisfying, witty tales. Fun to read.

“It’s easier to believe the outrageous lie confirming what you suspect than the obvious truth that denies it.”

This book inaugurates a five-book epic set in the same world as his Riyira tales, but ages earlier. In fact, these are the stories behind Continue reading

Book Review: Hand of Adonai by Aaron Gansky (Three Stars)

Book Review: Hand of Adonai: The Book of Things to Come by Aaron Gansky

Three Stars

“Trust us. We know what we’re doing.” “Speak for yourself.”

Think: Breakfast Club does a Christian Dungeons and Dragons via Tron. It works better than it should. One of the brightest angles is the creators wondering why they fashioned the game as they did: making living through their creation difficult.

The D&D-role-playing game created by two of the high-school-age characters is as cheesy and illogical as you’d expect. That worked for me. “Writing demonstrated control and subtlety” didn’t. The set-up is good, and the cast right. The emotions seem authentic and well-considered. Even the sudden appearance of heroic skills is adequately explained.

“Hope, that feathered pest, perched in her heart again.”

The target audience are tweens. The cast is a study in stereotypes both before and after (If I tell you what that refers to …), but Continue reading

Book Review: The Riyria Sampler by Michael Sullivan (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Riyria Sampler by Michael Sullivan

Four Stars out of Five

For Riyria aficionados this collection of short stories includes only seven pages of new material, but it is an excellent introduction to Royce and Hadrian (or Hadrian and Royce, depending on your proclivities). The byplay between this pair is the leitmotif of every Riyria book. (They are Riyria; it means “two” in the elfish tongue of their world.)

Never fear, each Riyria novel has a genuine plot and a basso continuo of the struggle of good versus evil in their world. As thieves, they would automatically seem enlisted on the dark side. Not so. (That shouldn’t be a spoiler.) But telling you why not and how it works out would be telling. So … I won’t.

If you’re intrigued, read this. It’s short, obvious, and fun. The price is right: free. (For a limited time.)