Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Round-Up of SFFWorld reviews: de Pierres, Bach, and Abercrombie

Here's a collection of SFF linkery I (or my various internet genre colleagues) have posted this week.

Tuesday, Mark Chitty posted his review of a book I enjoyed earlier in the year (my review for, Marianne de Pierres's Peacemaker:

My first impression of Peacemaker was, quite simply, cool. The setting – a Wild West style landscape set in the future – cried out to me as somewhere that could tell some very interesting stories. While the sci-fi side of the coin is perhaps not quite as prevalent as I would have hoped, it really didn’t matter. There were touches here and there to remind you that this was the future, but it was the western elements that really enriched the story.
There are also mystic elements to Peacemaker, particularly in Virgin’s spirit pet, Aquila. When she turns up it sets many aspects of the story into motion, and Virgin’s understanding of why and how she is there is never firm. Something that is clear from the outset is that Sixkiller is a font of knowledge, but he rarely offers opinions, and Virgin doesn’t trust him to delve and ask questions

On Wednesday, my review of Heaven's Queen, the concluding (for now, I hope) volume of Rachel Bach's highly charged space-opera series Paradox:

Rachel Bach has crafted a stable foundation over two books in the Paradox series and has left readers like myself hoping for a payoff that both works with that foundation, but also surprises. When we last left Devi, she was an outlaw, having run off from her mercenary group with just her former lover Rupert Charkov by her side. Their relationship is not quite what it once was, Devi now knowing that Rupert wasn’t all that he said he was, she (understandably) finds it difficult to fully trust him at first.. More importantly, he was withholding some very important information from her. This adds more tension to their already strained relationship, but through everything that has affected the two lovers, their true feelings for each other is the core strength of their relationship. Devi, despite her anger and frustration, can’t bury her feelings for Rupert. On the other hand, Rupert continually admits his devotion to her, and almost puppy-dog like fashion.
Perhaps what I appreciated most was the candor of the dialogue between Brian Caldswell and Devi leading up to the climax of the novel. Their conversations came across as a fairly level-headed disagreement between two characters who both felt extremely passionate about their opposing viewpoints. Both characters even acknowledged the validity of the other’s argument.

Today, Mark Yon (aka Hobbit) posted a review of Half a King,  Joe Abercrombie's foray into "young adult" or books for younger readers, or whatever you call books that are less squelchy and cursey than his usual fare:

...a Viking-esque, young adult tale that is less gory, less sweary and yet all the more enjoyable for it. It has an Abercrombie tone, it must be said, although I’m still trying to work out what exactly I mean by that, but the writing is as tight and as dexterous as ever.
The forty chapters, generally no more than half a dozen pages each, give the novel an episodic format, but not too fragmented. The characters and their values are identifiable, and, for the most part, likeable.
Our hero, Prince Yarvi, is an outsider, initially put into a position unwanted and yet necessary by circumstances outside his control. Against opposition, he must prove his worth and show that he is capable of dealing with the many problems brought to him. ‘A king must lead’, it is pointed out early in the book.
The twist in the story is that he must do this all the while with a physical disability – he is ‘Half a King’ because he has only one fully formed and functional hand. Consequently seen by many, including his father, as a weakling, (and to my mind rather like Miles Vorkosigan before him), Yarvi has personal demons and practical issues to deal with as well as his unwanted new commitments.

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