Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kay Excperted, Silverberg and Manieri Reviewed at SFFWorld

Two weeks in a row with one of these “new reviews at SFFWorld” posts from me? Say it ain’t so! In addition to the reviews, we’ve also posted an excerpt of Guy Gavriel Kay’s forthcoming novel River of Stars:

Mark returns to a classic fantasy milieu with a series of short stories in Robert Silverberg’s Tales of Majipoor:

… For those who don’t know the books, the Valentine’s Castle series is Silverberg’s take on a planetary romance, echoing a Jack Vance or a Gene Wolfe style, where the glory is in not so much the plot as the luxuriance of the nomenclature and the opulence of the varied environments. Whole dynasties are covered in a sentence, tales that could be the basis of a separate novel. As the book often reminds us, Majipoor is a big planet, which can lead to a variety of unusual things to be seen and places that are not visited very often.

Whether it is true or not that Tales of Majipoor can be said to be the work of an author treading water, it must be said that, at the very least, it is entertaining. Ultimately, this is a collection that serves its purpose: it introduces potential new readers to the world of Majipoor and, for the long-term fan, collects the remaining shorter Majipoor fiction together from disparate (and these days some quite hard to get) sources. They vary in length and importance, but there’s not a total dud amongst them, although there’s more than one that seems to finish without a proper conclusion.

Not every book works for every reader, such is the case with Evie Manieri’s Blood's Pride, which is also the first novel of The Shattered Kingdoms:

Manieri has created an interesting world that seems to have parts of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders novels (the Dead Ones/Norlanders ride the equivalent of dragons) and parts of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt (a forming rebellion amongst those under the heel of repressive overlords). The Norlanders also communicate with each other through telepathy, for the most part. While the world is constructed fairly well, the plot seemed a bit uneven throughout the novel. What I found the most confounding about the relationship between the Norlander overlords and their slave Shadari was a lack of fear. Outside of the initial devastating attack the Norlanders made on the Shadari, I didn’t get a sense that there were very high stakes should the Shadari just stand up for themselves.

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