January 25, 2010

Warbreaker - Brandon Sanderson

This is a good epic fantasy from Brandon Sanderson like his Mistborn trilogy he has come up with a scientific 'like' magic that drives his world. In this case the concept is that each person has a 'breath', you can give that breath to others to enable them to do magic. [There are a few twists on this, including various 'powers' of breath].

The story is set in a time of political turmoil, and is set in the land where 'breath' was discovered, and where there are a set of 'gods', beings who have returned from death with a divine breath.

This story is an interesting story of two sisters becoming involved in this world. I'd purchase the sequel when it comes out.

January 22, 2010

A Young Man Without Magic. Lawrence Watt-Evans

This is the latest book by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Lawrence Watt-Evans is always a good writer, and creates very 'rational' worlds and protagonists. This world seems to follow the trend, there is enough incluing that indicates the world itself is very strange, but the portion we are currently in, seems to be a standard oligarchy (controlled at the top by an Emperor) , where the criteria to enter the oligarchy is to have magical ability. Our protagonist Anrel Murau is a young man, who while not having magical ability, was related to magicians and therefore received the very best education possible. He is an articulate protagonist who becomes embroiled in small scale events involving a friend that launches him to a major role in a sea change in the politics of the land. He does not fully arrive there, but it is clear that events will continue to boil in the future books.

This is a very good adventure, and I know from the dedication that it was inspired in part by Rafael Sabatini, who I confess I have not read. The plot itself is inspired by Scaramouche but with the Watt-Evans touch. Lwwance Watt-Evans has done good takes on classic swashbucklers before, such as the Count of Monte Cristo inspired Dragon Weather.

Much of the dialog reminds me of Jack Vance, which is not a bad thing.

The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan

Tor is not publishing the new wheel of time book, The Gathering Storm book until November of 2010 as an ebook. They are however finally publishing the earlier books as ebooks, so I'm taking the opportunity to use fictionwise sales to pick them up at good prices and reread them.

The Eye of the World is of course the first Wheel of Time book, it is a good start to the series as the characters move into the world we learn about it as they do. It's not a spectacular opening but certainly a good read. Reading it from the perspective of someone who has read them all up to The Gathering Storm it's interesting to see how many critical moments later on were foreshadowed in this first, very early book.

November 19, 2009

Leviathan - Scott Westerfield

Leviathan is the first book on a steampunk series by Scott Westerfield and it is very good. It is an alternate version of WW I where one side, the mechanists have massive and advance mecha. The otherside the darwinisst have perfected genetic engineering and have created many advanced creations.

This book does not really stand alone, it is a good read, but is clearly setting up for future events. I highly recommend this book, and it's sequels.

October 4, 2008

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This is an excellent fantasy novel, based on a combination of Kipling, Lovecraft, and Gaiman's own interests, he takes the stew and builds a very good book.

In this book, a family is killed and only the baby survives, he ends up being raised by ghosts in a nearby graveyard.

I did not realize until I read the afterword that the title is a play on The Jungle Book, but it after Gaiman credited Kipling I realized that a lot of the structure of the novel comes from that book (which I haven't read, however I've downloaded it from Project Gutenberg).

The episodes of the book take place over the life of Nobody Owens (Nob for short) as he grows up in a slightly unusual environment. Most of these episodes could have been published as short story (indeed Chapter 4 was written first and published separately).

This book, like everything I read by Gaiman falls into the 'hidden magic' category. The world is deeper than we know and underneath the surface are layers of hidden magic.

A great book that is destined to be a slightly macabre classic.

Duainfey by Sharon & Steve Miller

I really enjoyed Sharon and Steve's Liad books, and was looking forward to read their excursion into fantasy. I thought that this book was good, but flawed in two respects.

It is only half of a story, the path of the main character Rebecca is a complete story in this novel, but the other view point character, Meripen Vanglelauf (also known as Longeye), only seems to have part of a story, not the complete story.

I find it hard to read books where the main character is abused as badly as Rebecca. Their are parts that left a bad taste in my mouth.

All the same I will still look forward to Longeye and will purchase it when it is available. I suspect that this is the downward spiral for the characters, and that Longeye might be more to my taste.

Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell

I picked up Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain as part of Tor's free book giveaway. I thought it was a good book, and enjoyed it. I picked up Sly Mongoose because of this enjoyment, even though due to Tor's bizare Ebook policies, the previous book Ragamuffin is not available as an ebook.

Tobias Buckell's writing and plot skills have improved. This book was excellent and one of the best science fiction books I've read in years. It combined an world enviroment worthy of Hal Clement with a plot that moved along with breathneck speed and always kept you wanting to know what is going to come next.

Read this book.