Monday, March 02, 2015

Snapshot Reviews: Sigler, Hearne, Aaron & Walton

This is a quick burns review of some books I read over the past couple of months.

First up is Scott Sigler’s Infected, one of the first “podcast novels” and a book that helped to make Sigler a hot commodity in the genre. I recall a couple of posts on Jeff VanderMeer’s blog (here and here about Infected when the book was published in hardcover. I listened to this one as it was available for free on iTunes. The story combines elements of military thriller and alien invasion for a very fun and engaging story. Sigler himself performs the audio for the story and gives each of the characters a distinct voice (though it is pretty easy to tell that Sigler is all the voices). The main players here are CDC scientist Margaret Montoya, CIA operative Dew Philips, Dew’s boss CIA Deputy Director Murray Longworth, who track down the source of strange, disturbing and violent deaths and Perry Dawsey, former college football star and our main point of view of an infected person. I haven’t “read” too many audio books but I think I’m going to change that. Well, I’ll at least continue the series with Contagious, the sequel to this one since it is free and on my iPod. (I even mentioned Scott's forthcoming novel Alive on a recent On My Radar post for SF Signal.)

I also recently finished Kevin Hearne’s second to most recent Iron Druid Novel, Hunted (published in 2013). It has been a couple of years (Trapped in 2012) since I followed along with Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon and tagging along on their journey reminded me how much fun these books are. In this one, not only is Atticus being pursued by two of the hunt goddesses (Artemis and Diana), Loki is looking for him, in the hopes of kickstarting Ragnarok. On more than one occasion I was laughing out loud at something in the story and my wife, ensconced in her own thing, turned to ask why I was laughing. Along the way, Atticus is blind-sided, has several conversations with Odin, pals up again with the Perun, the Slavic god of thunder and lightning, and says goodbye an old friend.

I've got the next book on Mount Toberead, I don't think I'll wait as long to read it as I did between reading Hunted and and Shattered, the next book and the Kevin's "promotion" to Hardcover.

I also breezed through Rachel Aaron’s writing book 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Better, and Writing More of What You Love. I am looking forward to starting the next book I’m going to write after coming away from Rachel’s book with some excellent things to incorporate into my writing process (such as it is). I've seen Kameron Hurley, Patrick Hester and other writers give this book a shout-out at least once a week on twitter. There are some great ways to approach writing in this book. 

Rachel’s written some really fun and entertaining novels so I think taking some writing advice from her seems a pretty logical thing to do.

I’ll finish with The Just City by Jo Walton, a book that was anticipated by a great many readers including myself. I thoroughly enjoyed Among Others and thought the concept of this one was interesting: people plucked out of time by the Greek Gods to form a new society set apart from the world. There’s a slight similarity to the classic Philip Jose Farmer novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go in concept. Unfortunately, I had to slap a DNF stamp on The Just City. I felt no urgency in the plot or from the characters and felt a bit bored by the whole thing and quit just before finishing the first third of the novel because nothing grabbed me.

I think I'm the odd one on this one because I've seem very good reviews on the book from people whose reading tastes often align with mine, like Sarah Chorn and Stefan Raets.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-02-28)

Just a few books this week, but two of them are the first I've received from the imprint (Harper Voyager)

The Crow of Connemara by Stephen Leigh (DAW Hardcover 03/03/2015)– The latest novel from the extremely prolific Leigh (who also writes under the pen name S.L. Farrell) is a Celtic fantasy which is seemingly one of those rare beasts in fantasy – a standalone novel.

The Crow of Connemara is a contemporary Celtic fantasy set primarily in Ireland. Picking up threads from ancient Irish mythology and folktales, this story is fantasy, drama, and tragic romance all at once, a tale caught in the dark places where the world of ancient myth intersects our own, where old ways and old beliefs struggle not to be overwhelmed by the modern world.

Colin Doyle is third generation Irish-American musician, whose interest is traditional Irish music. Maeve Gallagher is an Oileánach, an 'Islander' on Ireland's west coast, outcaststreated with suspicion and disdain by the locals, who think them responsible for wild and strange happenings in the area. Colin's and Maeve's lives will soon intersect and intertwine. Colin will discover that Maeve has been involved with his family for far longer than seems possible, and Maeve will have to make a life-or-death choice in order to achieve what she wants for her people.

The Clockwork Dagger (The Clockwork Dagger Book One) by Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Trade Paperback 09/16/2014)– Cato’s debut is a steampunk fantasy which received some positive buzz when it published late last year. So when the author’s/publisher’s publicist asked if I was interested in reviewing the second book, I asked if she could include this one so I could catch up. The first chapter is up for perusal at

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

The Clockwork Crown (The Clockwork Dagger Book Two) by Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Trade Paperback 06/09/2015)– Sequel to Cato’s debut and the second half of the duology.

Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war..

Persona by Genevieve Valentine (Saga Press Hardcover 03/10/2015) – This is one of Saga’s launch titles. Valentine has built a solid reputation in the genre and as writer of DC Comics’ Catwoman. The physical book really catches the eye.

In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country in this near-future political thriller from the acclaimed author of Mechanique and The Girls at Kingfisher Club.

Suyana Sapaki is a failure in the International Assembly. She’s not charming on camera, which is crucial for a Face: public image is 90 percent of diplomacy, they tell you right from the beginning. The United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation has been the site of scandal, so she’s short on allies. It’s a system designed to make you useless, but she’s fighting. People back home trust her, and she has a country to save – one way or the other.

Daniel Park fled home to become a snap, because joining the last of the free press sounded noble before he was broke. On a hunch, he’s picked C-lister Suyana Sapaki for his first outing; he thinks she’s hiding something that’s worth money to the right people, if he catches it on camera.

Like her assassination attempt.

On the run from someone who wants her dead, shadowed by someone she can’t trust, Suyana will risk everything – everyone – to save her diplomatic dies; it’s her only chance to control the future of her people, and she has promises to keep. The Assembly’s declared her persona non grata.

That’s what they think.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Stover @ SF Signal, Staveley & Aaron @ SFFWorld, and Me Interviewed

Lots of stuff posted since my last Friday Round up, so I’ll just get into it…

Perhaps the thing I’m most pleased with is my Completist column at SF Signal on Matthew (Woodring) Stover’s Acts of Caine sequence:

Each novel in the sequence is proof that as a writer, artist and let me just say it: Creative Force, Matthew Stover is unwilling to retread previous paths, he challenges and reinvents himself (and challenges his readers) with each book. “The Acts of Caine,” particularly the first novel Heroes Die is a novel ahead of its time. Stover tackles grimdark themes seen in the work of Mark Lawrence, Kameron Hurley, and Joe Abercrombie – well over a decade before those books were published. His blurring to decimation of the line dividing Science Fiction from Fantasy, though not new at the time, is something few writers were doing in the very late 1990s when Heroes Die first published. This series is one of the great underappreciated sets of books in the genre, but the people who have read all four, by and large, rank them very highly.

A couple of weeks back, I posted my review of Brian Staveley’s second Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, The Providence of Fire:

The most welcome element of The Providence of Fire is the increased “screen time” of Adare, and more importantly, Adare as a character with agency who has an effect on events in the story. She goes through a rebirth as she leaves her city and trudges through muck and gathers a cadre of allies in her hope to take back what is hers by birthright and redeem her family’s name. Although the princess has lived a relatively sheltered life of royalty, she is willing to get dirty to see justice for her family and her people. Along the way she finds herself “taken in” by a harsh woman by the name of Nira, whom Adare comes to trust for the woman’s brutal honesty. There’s a threat of death and violence from Nira much of the time they are together, but as their relationship developed, I found some resonance with how Wesley depicts his life as a prisoner of the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

The Providence of Fire marks a “leveling up” in character development/story, a spreading out of the world canvas, a deepening of the plot, and the book is longer by about a hundred pages.

Earlier this week, my review of Rachel Aaron’s Nice Dragons Finish Last, the first installment of her self-published urban fantasy series, Heartstrikers:

Julius Heartstriker is the protagonist here, one of the youngest dragons in a long line of dragons –  He is the least like his family, an introvert more concerned with continuing his online education and playing MMPORGs until his mother Bethesda kicks him out and tells him she will kill him unless he starts acting like a real dragon. Bethesda, as one might surmise by this small introduction is not a kind dragon (as is befitting her race), for she excommunicates Julius to DFZ, the Detroit Free Zone sealed in his human form…which is fine since Detroit is the one place where Dragons are not permitted by the Algonquin, Lady of Lake, the magical/supernatural ruler of the domain. 

I found the world-building here very interesting and fun; the explanation of how magic and supernatural creatures exist in a near future version of our world to have an interesting starting point. A meteor crashed into Canada in 2035, which triggered a powerful surge of forgotten magic into the world, including spirits that had lain dormant for nearly one thousand years. The action of the novel takes place 60 years after magic’s return, so there is a status quo and a generation of people who have known only a world with magic. So even though this novel reads primarily as an urban fantasy, there are also hints of post-apocalypse in that the world has been changed by a cataclysmic event.

Last but not least, blogger Stuart (SC) Flynn interviewed me for his blog, as a part of his series of interviews with reviewers, podcasters and bloggers.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-02-21)

Only one the books to arrive this week was a physical book, the remaining were ebooks. Some neat looking titles, too.

Dark Intelligence (Transformation Book One) by Neal Asher (Nightshade books Trade Paperback 02/03/2015) – Latest chapter in Asher’s mega popularPolity series, though this one launches a new series that seems a good entry point for new readers. The only book I’ve read from Neal is The Skinnerwhen it was the SFFWorld SF Book Club selection back in August 2005. .

One man will transcend death to seek vengeance. One woman will transform herself to gain power. And no one will emerge unscathed...

Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to find he's been brought back from the dead. What's more, he died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago. Spear had been trapped on a world surrounded by hostile Prador forces, but Penny Royal, the AI inside the rescue ship sent to provide backup, turned rogue, annihilating friendly forces in a frenzy of destruction and killing Spear. One hundred years later the AI is still on the loose, and Spear vows for revenge at any cost.

Isobel Satomi ran a successful crime syndicate, but after competitors attacked she needed power and protection. Negotiating with Penny Royal, she got more than she bargained for: Turning part-AI herself gave Isobel frightening power, but the upgrades hid a horrifying secret, and the dark AI triggered a transformation that has been turning her into something far from human…

Spear hires Isobel to track Penny Royal across worlds to its last known whereabouts. But he cheats her in the process and quickly finds himself in her crosshairs. As Isobel continues to evolve into a monstrous predator, it’s clear her rage will eventually win out over reason. Will Spear finish his hunt before he himself becomes the hunted?

Dark Intelligence is the explosive first novel in a brand new trilogy from military SF master Neal Asher and a new chapter in his epic Polity universe.

Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop (Ace Hardcover 03/03/2015) – Bishop is a huge name in the genre, one of those big-selling well-received writers who churns out book after book. While she made a name for herself with fantasy of the more Epic variety, this urban fantasy series (this being the third book) seems to be growing her fanbase even more.

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

Evensong by John Love (Nightshade books Trade Paperback 01/06/2015) – Love’s second novel brings things back to earth after his well-received debut, the space opera Faith. .

A near-future thriller where those who protect humanity are not always completely human.

The future is a dangerous place. Keeping the world stable and peaceful when competing corporate interests and nation-states battle for power, wealth, and prestige has only gotten harder over the years. But that’s the United Nations’ job. So the UN has changed along with the rest of the world. When the UN’s “soft” diplomacy fails, it has harder options. Quiet, scalpel-like options: The Dead—biologically enhanced secret operatives created by the UN to solve the problems no one else can.
Anwar Abbas is one of The Dead. When the Controller-General of the UN asks him to perform a simple bodyguard mission, he’s insulted and resentful: mere bodyguard work is a waste of his unique abilities. But he takes the job, because to refuse it would be unthinkable.

Anwar is asked to protect Olivia del Sarto, the host of an important upcoming UN conference. Olivia is head of the world’s fastest-growing church, but in her rise to power she has made enemies: shadowy enemies with apparently limitless resources.

Anwar is one of the deadliest people on earth, but her enemies have something which kills people like him. And they’ve sent it for her. It’s out there, unstoppable and untraceable, getting closer as the conference approaches.

As he and Olivia ignite a torrid affair, Anwar must uncover the conspiracy that threatens to destroy her, the UN, and even The Dead.

King of the Cracksmen (The Others #3) by Dennis O’Flaherty (Night Shade Books eBook 01/27/2015) – O’Flaherty has a great deal of Hollywood experience and turns those skills to his debut, a steampunk adventure.

The year is 1877. Automatons and steam-powered dirigible gunships have transformed the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War. All of the country’s land west of the Mississippi was sold to Russia nearly fifty years earlier, and “Little Russia,” as it’s now called, is ruled by the son of Tsar Alexander II. Lincoln is still president, having never been assassinated, but he’s not been seen for six months, and rumors are flying about his disappearance. The country is being run as a police state by his former secretary of war Edwin Stanton, a power-hungry criminal who rules with an iron fist.

Liam McCool is an outlaw, known among other crooks as “King of the Cracksmen.” But his glory days as a safecracker and the head of a powerful New York gang end when he’s caught red-handed. Threatened with prison unless he informs on his own brethren fighting a guerilla war against Stanton’s tyranny, McCool’s been biding his time, trying to keeping the heat off him long enough to escape to San Francisco with his sweetheart Maggie. But when she turns up murdered, McCool discovers a trail of breadcrumbs that look to lead all the way up to the top of Stanton’s criminal organization. Joining forces with world-famed lady reporter Becky Fox, he plunges deep into the underground war, racing to find Maggie’s killer and stop Stanton once and for all.

King of the Cracksmen is an explosive, action-packed look at a Victorian empire that never was, partTo Catch a Thief, part Little Big Man, steampunk as you’ve never seen it before

Thursday, February 19, 2015

En Garde! Neil Gaiman & Daniel Handler

So, on Tuesday, my wife and I went on a little adventure. On Valentine's Day (Saturday), she gave me a ticket to adventure.  No clue about the destination, just that I was to present this ticket on Tuesday.  As the days go by, she's teasing me about Tuesday's adventure.  When we are preparing to go, she ponders aloud whether I should drive and she just gives me the directions as I need them or if she should blindfold me and drive herself.

We decide to go the blindfold route.  

I never realized how disconcerting it was to drive, sitting in the passenger seat of one's own car, without seeing anything but hearing the highway whoosh by and an even louder whoosh when we drive through a tunnel.  Then to hear the blaring of horns.  I knew we were in New York City, but then we cross a bridge. (I've crossed enough bridges in my life in a car to know the sound).

Panic sets in with my wife...because parking is nonexistent.  I eventually remove the blindfold (a makeshift blindfold of my bacon scarf) and I see the Barclay's Center so I realize we are in Brooklyn and my internal guesses are close to confirmed.  We finally find parking with barely any time to spare, which was fairly close to the where the event is being held, The Brooklyn Academy of Music at the Peter Jay Sharp Building. 

We walk in and my wife hands me the ticket for the event and my guess is correct.

(When she gave me the ticket to adventure, she asked if I  had any guesses and I did guess this thing (as well as a couple of other things), which I'd seen Neil tweet about a few times over the past few weeks).

As for the event itself, it had the feel of a concert with these two great storytellers taking the stage. My wife is a big fan of Handler's Lemony Snicket books and of course, I'm a Neil Gaiman fan.  The evening was spent with them telling stories of writing, stories about story, their mutual admiration for each other. At one point Neil Gaiman mentioned advice Gene Wolfe gave him to the effect that "You never learn how to write, you just learn how to write the book you are writing."

Despite the misleading title of the event as En Garde! the two writers did not engage in sword fighting. Although some of their rapier wit was indeed on display. 

They spoke about writing for a younger audience and how important Diana Wyne Jones was to Neil, including when he met her for the first time. Daniel spoke about his new book, We Are Pirates, and its long gestation period before publication. Of course, the conversation turned to Neil's new collection Trigger Warning.

My only real criticism of the otherwise stellar event was that only one booth was present for selling the author's signed books.  With the crowd of people there to see New York Times bestselling authors, two booths should ahve been there.

If the opportunity presents itself for you to sit and listen to Neil Gaiman talk about story for an hour and a half, take that opportunity. For that matter, the same goes for Daniel Handler.

Over all it was a great night (except for the utter lack of parking facilities).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-02-14)

Just a few books this week, a nice down turn from the previous week's big batch of arrivals.

Pirate’s Promise (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by Chris Jackson (Paizo Mass Market Paperback 01/16/2015) – Jackson’s second book for the popular Pathfinder world sees him pick up the story of the pirate Torius Vin first introduced in Pirate’s Honor

Torius Vin is perfectly happy with his life as a pirate captain, sailing the Inner Sea in search of plunder with a bold crew of buccaneers and Celeste, his snake-bodied navigator and one true love. Yet all that changes when his sometimes-friend Vreva - a high-powered courtesan and abolitionist spy in the slaver stronghold of Okeno - draws him into her shadowy network of insurgents. Caught between the slavers he hates and a navy that sees him as a criminal, can Torius continue to choose the path of piracy? Or will he sign on as a privateer, bringing freedom to others - at the price of his own? From fan-favorite author Chris A. Jackson comes a tale of espionage and high-seas adventure, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

The Hollow Queen (The Symphony of Ages #8) by Elizabeth Haydon (Tor Hardcover 06/02/2015) – A little less than a year since the previous installment of the series, The Merchant Emperor Haydon and Tor publish volume 8 I read the first three books in this series years ago when they first published (Rhapsody, Prophecy, and Destiny) and remember enjoying them at the time

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Haydon returns with a heartbreaking tale of love and valor in The Hollow Queen, the eighth installment of her USA Today bestselling Symphony of Ages series that began with Rhapsody.

Beset on all sides by the forces of the merchant emperor Talquist, the Cymrian Alliance finds itself in desperate straits. Rhapsody herself has joined the battle, wielding the Daystar Clarion, leaving her True Name in hiding with her infant son. Ashe tries to enlist the aid of the Sea Mages. Within their Citadel of Scholarship lies the White Ivory tower, a spire that could hold the key to unraveling the full extent of Talquist’s machinations. Achmed journeys to the reportedly unassailable palace of Jierna Tal, to kill emperor Talquist—all the while knowing that even if he succeeds, it may not be enough to stop the momentum of the war.

As they struggle to untangle the web of Talquist’s treachery, the leaders of the Cymrian alliance are met with obstacles at every turn. Rhapsody soon realizes that the end of this war will come at an unimaginable price: the lives of those she holds dearest.

Nightblade (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by Liane Merciel (Paizo Mass Market Paperback 11/04/2014) – I read Merciel’s first book, Nightglass for Pathfinder a couple of years ago, this one seems to follow-up on that story.

Where Demons Fear to Tread
Raised as a wizard-priest in the church of the dark god Zon-Kuthon, Isiem escaped his sadistic masters and became a rebel, leaving behind everything he knew in order to follow his conscience. Now, his unique heritage makes him perfect for a dangerous mission into an ancient dungeon said to hold a magical weapon capable of slaying demons and devils by the thousands and freeing the world of their fiendish taint. Accompanied by companions ranging from a righteous paladin to mercantile mercenaries, Isiem will lead the expedition back into shadowed lands that are all too familiar. And what the adventurers find at the dungeon’s heart will change them all forever.

From acclaimed author Liane Merciel comes a dark tale of survival, horror, and second chances, set in the award- winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Round Up! Bear, Bara, Moon @ SFFWorld and an Apocalyptic Mind Meld!

Been a while since I’ve done one of these Friday updates…oddly, I seem to begin these posts this way. I’ve had less time to do any blogging since my day job has been busier and the increased firewalls preventing me from doing any non-work related internetting.

So, on with it with the last few reviews I’ve posted to SFFWorld…

The first book review I posted in 2015 was for Elizabeth Bear’s fun and enchanting Karen Memory, a terrific steampunk / weird western / murder mystery:

That’s a great voice readers encounter immediately and throughout the novel, Bear remains powerfully consistent with that voice, not skipping a beat. As such, the copyeditor for this one should get special mention for ensuring the voice remained consistent over the course of the novel. Karen is a “seamstress,” which is code for sex worker and as such, Hôtels such as Madame Damnable’s were required to pay a sewing machine tax. Some may find it surprising that this was a real thing of Seattle’s past.
The other standout element is the wonderful cast of characters who, for the most part, are unapologetic, empathetic, and genuine. I thought Bear’s depiction of the budding relationship between Priya and Karen against the dark and fantastic backdrop proved a great optimistic balance. As for the cast of characters as a whole, they are diverse in a way that feels natural for the story. Karen Memory is a relatively short novel by today’s standards (352 pages), but Bear packs so much passion, energy, and uniqueness in the novel.

Earlier this week, my February Mind Meld was posted to SF Signal, in which I ask Bob Reiss, David Annadale, E.E. Knight, James Knapp, Jason Hough, Jaym Gates, Kristin Centorcelli, and Paul Weimer

Apocalyptic and Dystopic scenarios are immensely popular, ranging from stories of the Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, Superflu, Environmental Disaster, or the quite popular “Unexplained.”

Last week, my review of Dave Bara’s debut novel a rollicking Space Opera / Military Science fiction novel, Impulse:

The story is set far enough into the future that “Old Earth” is not the focal planet for humanity in the story, rather, Quantar is at the center of events. Like many Military Science Fiction novels,Impulse is told in the first person, in the case from the viewpoint of Peter Cochrane, a Lieutenant in the Quantar Royal Navy, who is assigned to investigate a disaster in space which claimed the lives of fellow military personnel, including his girlfriend. The Impulse; however, a Unified Space Navy ship is under foreign command and ends up on a moon/planet about which little is currently known. Peter initially received this news from his father (Grand Admiral of the Quantar Navy, and part of the ruling family of Quantar), though the assignment comes from his superior, Supreme Commander of the Unified Space Navy.There’s a deep history to this universe, with a long-vanished civilization leaving relics behind for humanity to discover. These Relics each have a code of sorts associated with them that if we are advanced enough, we can decipher it. While this is a fairly tried and true trope of the genre, I was reminded of Mark Van Name’s Jon and Lobo novels. Other elements reminded me of David Weber/John Ringo’s Empire of Man novels. The bulk of the knowledge of these Relics is protected by the Historians, advanced humans from Earth who don’t often take too active a role in humanity’s development and exploration. These characters reminded me a great deal of the Observers from the TV show Fringe.

My most recent review is the final novel in Elizabeth Moon’s Paladin’s Legacy series, Crown of Renewal:

The main thread of the novel deals with Dorrin Verrakai and how, as Duke, she adjust to the political and military power she possesses coming into conflict and with the magical power growing within her and in the land. She is quite symbolic of the various changes occurring in the world of the novel. When she was appointed Duke, she was the first female to be appointed such a role. Her family line provided conflict and trust issues over those whom she presided. Change is thrust upon her again when she is given the task of transporting a magical crown that speaks to her as if she is queen. Dorrin must make some difficult choices about her status as Duke and Heir, two roles that she cannot hold. Unfortunately, the choice she makes affects more than just herself.Crown of Renewal (and the five books which comprise The Paladin’s Legacy) proved once again that Elizabeth Moon provides me with novels I enjoy and find satisfying from character and (mostly) plot perspective. In other words, throughout, I found this to be a dependable Fantasy series that delivered an immersive and enjoyable reading experience. While some of the plot points and character movements went to places I may not have expected, my high expectations for a novel I could dive into and trust to tell me a good story were well met.