Book Review: Stories of the Raksura 2 by Martha Wells (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Stories of the Raksura 2: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells

(Three Stars)

“Now would be a good time to go, to fly west into the sun with no one to see. Except he didn’t appear to be doing that.”

Anthologies set in the world or featuring the cast of an author’s invented universe allow her to explore side issues, deepen characters and promote the greater series–especially when said short stories are offered free or included in other anthologies. Fans get a fix of a favored setting; new readers can sample without committing to a full novel. So it is here. Not great literature, not even as good as the Raksura novels, but enjoyable nonetheless.

“He had learned from bitter experiences not to try to explain unexplainable things.”

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Book Review: The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Serpent Sea (Book of Raksura #2) by Martha Wells

(Four Stars)

“They might be harmless, but Moon doubted it on principle.”

A better-than-average sequel. Expands Moon’s character and the ensemble of Raksura closest to him. Fills in backstory from the first book at appropriate time, but tends toward data dumps.

“Sense doesn’t enter into it where queens are concerned.”

The stakes are high; things keep going wrong; Moon isn’t the only one who is a fish out of water.

“Sometimes I don’t have visions; sometimes I have common sense. Not that any of you listen to me.”

Martha Wells is great at inner dialogue. For an even better sample, try her Murderbot series, especially All Systems Red.

“He felt as if he’d never really come home before.”

Book Review: For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor (Three Stars)

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Book Review: For We Are Many (Bobiverse #2) by Dennis E. Taylor

Three Stars

“War … we did reluctantly and only be necessity. Exploration, well … that was fun.”

Gorilloids, rapters and robotic ants, oh, my! Taylor’s world building and storytelling are perhaps even better than the first volume. Multiplicity of Bobs and threads is dizzying. Instant communication not hand-waved. Many pop cultural references.

“Immortality had sounded like a great idea, back on earth, but there were costs, especially when you become attached to ephemerals.”

Quibble: Losing 35 cows negligibly impacts feeding 15 million. Much better take on the logistics of population support, travel, communication and armament than most space operas.

“Colonizing an alien planet, as with everything else, was more complicated than TVs and movies let on.”

However, despite him dedicating this book to me–well, to “all the people who love a good old-fashioned space opera”–he lost a star because the story didn’t end. It just stopped. “End Book 2” He could have/should have done better.

“That’s why God invented backups.”

Book Review: Empire of Unreason by J. Gregory Keyes (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Empire of Unreason (Age of Unreason #3) by J. Gregory Keyes

Three Stars

“There is nothing logical about war.”

If you haven’t previously been reading the Age of Unreason series, don’t start here. It will yield little sense or enjoyment. This installation is a mere stepping stone to an increasingly inevitable conclusion. The storytelling is good. Cliffhangers abound.

“This is all an elaborate trap.” “What will you do about it?” “Walk into it, of course.”

As Keyes strays farther from actual history into the speculative, the tale becomes more fantasy. The “angelic” actors get more powerful with each volume, but the heroes manage to keep their heads above water.

“If I wore silk, I would still have all the same faults, with vanity added them, and would have gained nothing but the respect of fools.”

Keyes’ fictional Benjamin Franklin, aphorisms asides, sounds increasingly like John Adams. The other protagonists are sufficiently flawed to maintain reader interest, but Voltaire is thin soup compared to Edward Teach.

“Happiness is not so much the product of rare occurrence as it is of many small and everyday things”

Book Review: The Nine Tailers by Dorothy L. Sayers (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Nine Tailers (Lord Peter Whimsey #11) by Dorothy L. Sayers

Three Stars

“Probably I’m tryin’ to be too clever.”

I liked it but, by the time you’ve read a dozen books in a series, you’ve not only learned the modus operandi of the protagonist but that of the author as well. The surprises may still surprise, but the way they develop is not a surprise.

“’Nature has marvelous powers of recuperation.’ Which is the medical man’s way of saying that, short of miraculous intervention, you may as well order the coffin.”

A good story, lost in the minutiae of ringing peals (of church bells) in rural England. The church bells get into every aspect of the story, including the murder. Lord Peter at his best as Sherlock Holmes acting as if he’s Bertie Wooster.

“Take care of the knot and the noose will take care of itself.”

Book Review: Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) by Sebastien de Castell

Four Stars

“Yes, I’m trusting our lives to that fat slug, and yes, of course, he’s going to betray us.”

A little grittier than the first in this series. Classic epic fantasy with a side order of humor. Not heavy reading nor great literature, but enjoyable. Interestingly, all the transformational characters are female. The men are who they are, though Falcio’s struggle is being who he really is.

“The truth that makes our courage fail and our hearts surrender. That we fear most is simply ourselves.”

The stakes are higher and the odds lower, and the protagonist has a one-liner for every occasion. Good story telling. Fun interaction between characters.

“Love isn’t a cage.”

Countless epigrams: some witty, some pithy, some memorable. Like the cover art.

“Happiness is … grains of sand spread out in a desert of violence and anguish.”

Book Review: Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Spellsinger (Spellsinger #1) Alan Dean Foster

Three Stars

“The strange quasi-science [he] called magic. Or was the wizard right and science was really quasi-magic?”

Dreadfully slow pace. Almost quit after fifty pages; almost quit again fifty pages from the end when I realized nothing was going to happen in this volume. This story merely introduces the characters, world and issue for the greater series. Still, Foster tells a good story.

“This land he now found himself in was no more alien-appearing than Amazonian Peru, and considerably less so than Manhattan.”

Populating his world with human-like mammals is automatically works against stereotypes. In addition, Foster works counter expectations with an artsy male, who is repelled by the fantasy work he’s been thrown into, and an athletic female who embraces it.

“The appetite for evil far exceeds that of the benign.”

Many readers love these never-ending tales; I don’t. I won’t be back.

“It wouldn’t be any fun if it didn’t have any danger.”