Book Review: Black Guards by A. J. Smith. (Three Stars)


Book Review: Black Guards (The Long War#1) by A. J. Smith.

(Three Stars)

“They’ll just assume we’ll go into the wilds and lie low. The idea of us going to Tiris is so stupid it won’t occur to them.” “So, our stupidity is what’s going to keep us alive?” “Precisely … I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Engaging epic fantasy. Good world building. Touted for being Lovecraftian, but I didn’t feel it. In fact, Smith’s supernatural dimension felt more organic to his world. Prose was easy to read.  A little humor.

Numerous non sequiturs: “He was flabby, with little muscle, though still immensely strong.” (Huh?) “… carefully placed a bolt, and pulled back on the drawstring.” (Wrong order.) “She’d fed him some of the baled of straw.” (She picked up bales of straw as she fled? Why didn’t she get something nutritional?) “… as the horses barreled into Continue reading

Book Review: Scholar by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (Three Stars)


Book Review: Scholar (Imager’s Portfolio #4) by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

(Three Stars)

“So, cynicism is merely accuracy when no one wishes to accept that accuracy?”

Steampunk Avenger. Excellent story, but the mechanics needed another editing. Set several hundred years before the first three. Pontificating more organic to the tale. The perceptive reader feels closer to Quaeryt’s concerns and trials. The solutions, of course, are too easy, but that’s the nature of fantasy.

“There’s a big difference between light gray and black, and sometimes there’s an even bigger difference between those who claim to follow pure white and those who prefer slightly grayed white.”

Integrates his invented magic and religion seamlessly into Continue reading

Book Review: Ocean Mother, Daughter Sea by Diana Marcellus (Four Stars)


Book Review: Ocean Mother, Daughter Sea (The Witch of the Two Suns, Book #1) by Diana Marcellus

(Four Stars)

“Everything that is worth having has its price.”

Excellent medieval fantasy. Good world and character building. Good interplay between various points of view of the witch issue. Marcellus feeds in the essential backstory at the essential time. Adequate closure with obvious ties to the continued story.

Quibbles: A trim man can’t squeeze through a sixteen inch opening? Many typographical errors which seem the product of faulty Optical Character Scanning, converting an image type to digital. Needs a good proofreading.

“For a man determined on the clear light of reason, the touch of the old tales did not please.”

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Four Stars)

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Four Stars out of Five.

An extraordinary tale from a capable storyteller. Excellent feeling of time and place, even though it is foreign to everything we think we know. Well constructed and well told.

Novik dramatizes how both the official and folk records of history often differ from what really happened. People then adopt their preferred mix of “facts.” Such a choice requires humility and caution in acting on our choice of reality.

Only two criticisms. (One involves a spoiler; so stop here if you don’t want your fun spoiled. In fact, if you know what you’re looking for, there’s a spoiler in the cover illustration.)

First, for a book that would otherwise be an outstanding choice for young adult readers there’s an unnecessarily graphic sex scene, which contributes nothing to the story. Second, the heroine’s final victory over evil isn’t. Yes, we’d received hints throughout the story that she was going over to the Green side—in fact, that she’d been sympathetic with it throughout the story—and that the bad guys weren’t really, despite their long and total campaign against humanity. Still, this reader was left feeling slightly cheated. It’s a good ending, it’s just not satisfying. Judge for yourself.

Nice cover art.

If you like medieval swords-and-sorcery fantasy, do read it. Definite twist on the genre.