Sunday, November 25, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-11-24)

A little bit of a break after last week’s relatively large haul of books, thanks I’m sure, to the Thanksgiving holiday. One of these is a definite read, one a maybe and the others…not so much.

Spirit’s End (Books 5 of Eli Monpress) by Rachel Aaron (Orbit Books, Trade Paperback 11/20/2012) – I thoroughly enjoyed the first four books of the series, having read the omnibus of the first three and book 4 The Spirit War earlier in the year.

Eli Monpress is clever, he's determined, and he's in way over his head.

First rule of thievery: don't be a hero. When Eli broke the rules and saved the Council Kingdoms, he thought he knew the price, but resuming his place as the Shepherdess's favorite isn't as simple as bowing his head. Now that she has her darling back, Benehime is setting in motion a plan that could destroy everything she was created to protect, and even Eli's charm might not be enough to stop her. But Eli Monpress always has a plan, and with disaster rapidly approaching, he's pulling in every favor he can think of to make it work, including the grudging help of the Spirit Court's new Rector, Miranda Lyonette.

But with the world in panic, the demon stirring, and the Lord of Storms back on the hunt, it's going to take more than luck and charm to pull Eli through this time. He's going to have to break a few more rules and work with some old enemies if he's going to survive.

Bard’s Oath by Joanne Bertin (Hardcover 11/27/2012 Tor ) – Final novel in the sequence which began with The Last Dragonlord. Martin fans think they have long waits? The second installment in this particular sequence first published in 1999.

In The Last Dragonlord and Dragon and Phoenix Joanne Bertin created a world 
unlike our own, where Dragonlords soar in the skies above the many realms of the land. 
The Dragonlords’ magic is unique, giving them the ability to change from dragon to 
human form; to communicate silently among themselves; and other abilities not known 
to mortals.

For many millennia, the Dragonlords have been a blessing to the world, with their 
great magic and awesome power. And though they live far longer than the humans who 
they resemble when not in their draconic state, these fabled changelings are still loyal to 
their human friends. Now in Bard's Oath, their magic is not the only power abroad in the world. And not all the magic is as benign as theirs.

Leet, a master bard of great ability and vaulting ambition, has his own magic, but of a much darker nature. Years ago, death claimed the woman he loved, setting him on a course to avenge her death, no matter the consequences. Now, mad with hatred and consumed by his thirst for revenge, Leet has set in motion a nefarious plot that ensnares the friend of a Dragonlord, using his bardic skills . . . and dark powers only he can summon, to accomplish his bitter task.

Raven, a young horse-breeder friend of the Dragonloard Linden Rathan, is ensnared by Leet and under the bard’s spell, is one of the bard’s unwitting catspaws. When accused of a heinous crime, Raven turns to Linden, and while Dragonlords normally do not meddle in human affairs, Linden comes to Raven’s aid, loath to abandon him in his time of desperate need.

But Raven, and others victimized by Leet, are at the mercy of human justice. Can even a Dragonlord save them from a dire fate before it is too late?

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord (Del Rey, Hardcover 02/12/2013) – This is Lord’s second novel and looks to be a winner. In addition to the names listed in the blurb below, I’ll say that superficially, I get an Octavia Butler feel.

Karen Lord’s debut novel, the multiple-award-winning Redemption in Indigo, announced the appearance of a major new talent—a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company—yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.

Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. The Best of All Possible Worlds is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story.

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

“This fascinating and thoughtful science fiction novel breaks out of the typical conflict-centered narrative paradigm to examine adaptation, social change, and human relationships. I’ve not read anything quite like it, which it makes that rare beast: a true original.”—Kate Elliot, author of the Crown of Stars series and the Spiritwalker Trilogy

The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi (Hardcover 11/27/2012 Tor ) – Sequel to Rajaniemi’s extremely well-received debut The Quantum Theif.

The good thing is, no one will ever die again. The bad thing is, everyone will want to.”

A physicist receives a mysterious paper. The ideas in it are far, far ahead of current thinking and quite, quite terrifying. In a city of “fast ones,” shadow players, and jinni, two sisters contemplate a revolution.
And on the edges of reality a thief, helped by a sardonic ship, is trying to break into a Schrödinger box for his patron. In the box is his freedom. Or not.

Jean de Flambeur is back. And he’s running out of time.

In Hannu Rajaniemi’s sparkling follow-up to the critically acclaimed international sensation The Quantum Thief, he returns to his awe-inspiring vision of the universe…and we discover what the future held for Earth.

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