Monday, October 31, 2011

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

cover of Storm FrontHarry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things -- and most of them don't play too well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a--well, whatever.

There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name . And that's when things start to get...interesting.

Storm Front (2000)
The Dresden Files - Book One
Roc fantasy paperback
352 pages
my rating : 6.5/10

In my opinion, Storm Front shows potential and has its moments. But the writing and storytelling is somewhat clumsy. I believe this is Jim Butcher's first novel. I can almost, but not quite, recommend this book. I've been told that Dresden Files series, which is lengthy, improves greatly in the subsequent books.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Den of Thieves by David Chandler

cover of Den od ThievesBorn and raised in the squalid depths of the Free City of Ness, Malden became a thief by necessity. Now he must pay a fortune to join the criminal operation of Cutbill, lord of the underworld -- and one does not refuse the master . . . and live.

The coronet of the Burgrave would fulfill Malden’s obligations, though it is guarded by hungry demons that would tear the soul from any interloper. But the desperate endeavor leads to a more terrible destiny, as Malden, an outlaw knight, and an ensorcelled lady must face the most terrifying evil in the land.

Den of Thieves (2011)
The Ancient Blades Trilogy - Book One
Harper Voyager paperback
439 pages
my rating : I'm currently reading this book. I'll post my rating after I finish the book.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forbidden Cargo by Rebecca K. Rowe

Forbidden Cargo coverIt's 2110 and Creid Xerkler, the creator of the Molecular Advantage Machine -- a virtual system that facilitates instantaneous access to all of humanity's knowledge and experience -- is unwillingly entangled in a government Council plot to prove the existence of an illegally engineered race called the Imagofas.

Unfortunately Xerkler knows more than he should and fears what the Council might discover.

The Imagofas are revered by many as the next step in human evolution - a nano-DNA hybrid: part human, part machine -- but to the Council they are a dangerous aberration and a threat to the very existence of humankind.

In their quest to prove this crime against humanity, the Council plans on abducting specimens from the Order sanctioned research facility on Mars.

When the kidnapping takes an unexpected turn and the Imagofas are forced to become fugitives, the Council vows to destroy them -- while others plan to capitalize on their existence.

The Imagofas, in a determined bid to return to Mars, must draw upon their still developing and unique skills to survive the dangers of Earth.

Along the way, they are helped by three unexpected and unlikely heroes: the Cadet, a hard core gamer; Ochbo, a cleanlife pervert; and Prometheus, and enlightenment seeking MAMintelligence, who, while on his own secret quest, ultimately hods the answers to everyone's survival.

Forbidden Cargo (2006)
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
trade paperback
352 pages
my rating : 7.5/10

Rebecca Rowe will be at The Tattered Cover, Colfax Avenue, on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 7:30pm to read and sign her new novel, Circle Tide.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

cover of Paladin of SoulsThree years have passed since the widowed Dowager Royina Ista found release from the curse of madness that kept her imprisoned in her family's castle of Valenda. Her newfound freedom is costly, bittersweet with memories, regrets, and guilty secrets -- for she knows the truth of what brought her land to the brink of destruction. And now the road -- escape -- beckons....A simple pilgrimage, perhaps. Quite fitting for the Dowager Royina of all Chalion.

Yet something else is free, too -- something beyond deadly. To the north lies the vital border fortress of Porifors. Memories linger there as well, of wars and invasions and the mighty Golden General of Jokona. And someone, something, watches from across that border -- humans, demons, gods.

Ista thinks her little party of pilgrims wanders at will. But whose? When Ista's retinue is unexpectedly set upon not long into its travels, a mysterious ally appears -- a warrior nobleman who fights like a berserker. The temporary safety of her enigmatic champion's castle cannot ease Ista's mounting dread, however, when she finds his dark secrets are entangled with hers in a net of the gods' own weaving.

In her dreams the threads are already drawing her to unforeseen chances, fateful meetings, fearsome choices. What the inscrutable gods commanded of her in the past brought her land to the brink of devastation. Now, once again, they have chosen Ista as their instrument. And again, for good or for ill, she must comply.

Paladin of Souls (2003)
Hugo Award and Nebula Award winner
a sequel to The Curse of Chalion
Book two of the Chalion universe fantasy series
Eos hardcover
456 pages
my rating : I haven't read it(!)
(other people in the book club rated this book an average of over 8/10)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

cover of The Curse of ChalionOn the eve of the Daughter's Day -- the grand celebration that will honor the Lady of Spring, one of the five reigning deities -- a man broken in body and spirit makes his way slowly down the road to Valenda. A former courtier and soldier, Cazaril has survived indignity and horrific torture as a slave aboard an enemy galley. Now he seeks nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, in the noble household where he served as page in his youth.

But the gods have greater plans for this humbled man. Welcomed warmly, clothed and fed, he is named, to his great surprise, secretary-tutor to the Royesse Iselle -- the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is destined to be the next ruler of the land. But the assignment must ultimately carry Cazaril to the one place he fears even more than the sea: to the royal court of Cardegoss, rife with intrigues and lethal treacheries.

In Cardegoss, the powerful enemies who once placed Cazaril in chains and bound him to a Roknari oar now occupy the most lofty positions in the realm, beneath only the Roya himself. Yet something far more sinister than their scheming hangs like a sword over the royal family: a curse of the blood that taints not only those who would rule, but those who stand in their circle. The life and future of both Iselle and her entire blighted House of Chalion lie in dire peril. The only recourse left to her loyal, damaged servant is the employment of the darkest and most forbidden of magics -- a choice that will indelibly mark Cazaril as a tool of the miraculous...and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the fivefold pathway of the gods.

The Curse of Chalion (2001)
2002 Hugo Award nominee
Book one of the Chalion universe fantasy series
Eos hardcover
442 pages
my rating : 8/10

Monday, February 28, 2011

Thirteen Orphans by Jane Lindskold

cover of Thirteen OrphansTheir ancestors came to Earth as exiles from the Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice, which had been mysteriously formed from the lost lore of Imperial China. Concealing their magic in the game of mah-jong, the Thirteen Orphans vowed to protect their adopted world from the strife they left behind.

Generations later, the war they thought long over has followed the Orphans to Earth. Scattered, their traditions in disarray, and with the magical abilities of some Orphans already disabled, the survivors must act quickly to defend themselves and those they love.

The Thirteen Orphans represent the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac -- plus the Cat. They are led by Pearl Bright, a gracious and vivacious older woman who is the avatar of the Tiger -- and who has the hidden claws and steely determination of her namesake. Pearl's outward confidence masks her inner concern, for she has no idea of the number or strength of her enemies and her forces are few and mostly inexperienced: the Dog, a former soldier who knew of his ancestry but never expected to learn or use magic; the Hare, a young mother who has rarely left the shelter of her family; the Rooster, a skilled magic-worker who has never gone into battle.

And college sophomore Brenda Morris, whose father is the Rat. Until a few days ago, Brenda had no idea that her father could do magic or that other worlds existed. Now, with her father's abilities stolen, Brenda and the other Orphans are stunned to discover that Brenda has some of the Rat's powers...though she has no idea, yet, what to do with them.

Thirteen Orphans (2008)
Book One of The Land of Smoke and Sacrifice series
Tor hardcover
367 pages
my rating : 7/10

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

cover of A Shadow in SummerThe city-state of Saraykeht dominates the Summer Cities. Its wealth is beyond measure; its port is open to all the merchants of the world; and its ruler, the Khai Saraykeht, commands forces to rival the Gods. Commerce and trade fill the streets with a hundred languages, and the coffers of the wealthy with jewels and gold. Any desire, however exotic or base, can be satisfied in its soft quarter. Blissfully ignorant of the forces that fuel their prosperity, the people live and work secure in the knowledge that their city is a bastion of progress in a harsh world. It would be a tragedy if it fell....

Saraykeht is poised on the knife-edge of disaster.

At the heart of the city's influence are the poet-sorcerer Heshai and the captive spirit, Seedless, whom he controls. For all his power, Heshai is weak, haunted by memories of shame and humiliation. A man faced with constant reminders of his responsibilities and his failures, he is the linchpin and the most vulnerable point in Saraykeht's greatness.

Far to the west, the armies of Galt have conquered many lands. To take Saraykeht, they must first destroy the trade upon which its prosperity is based. Marchat Wilsin, head of Galt's trading house in the city, is planning a terrible crime against Heshai and Seedless. If he succeeds, Saraykeht will fall.

Amat, House Wilsin's business manager, is a woman who rose from the slums to wield the power that Marchat Wilsin would use to destroy her city. Through accidents of fate and circumstance Amat, her apprentice Liat. and two young men from the farthest reaches of their society stand alone against the dangers that threaten the city.

But in this city of power and intrigue, no one is without secrets. The price each of the city's protectors must pay to save Saraykeht may be greater than they can afford. And the Galts are not the greatest threat they face....

A Shadow in Summer (2006)
Book One of The Long Price Quartet
Tor hardcover
331 pages
my rating : 8/10