Both SHADOWS AND LIGHT and HOUSE OF GAIAN, by Anne Bishop, are definitely recommended by me, though I think I had a few problems with THE HOUSE OF GAIAN as a whole. It was kind of weird; I simply felt there wasn't enough tension. The good guys just seemed too all-knowing and powerful, and somehow the threat seemed greatly diminished by this book. Also, there were a few too many characters, so it was difficult becoming totally involved with most of them. We'd get to know someone, and they'd disappear for a while. I prefer fewer more focal characters, but I do like Anne Bishop's characters.--Lori
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Now this is what I call a finale. Fantastic! Each book in the trilogy has improved, and this one has keeper status.
Things finally look up for our heroes with the introduction of some powerful allies in the fight against the Master Inquisitor. I agree with Lori that there are a lot of new characters introduced, but they all had their part to play so I had no trouble with this (although I did have trouble keeping them straight at first.) I certainly enjoyed seeing The Huntress challenged and the fae shown a few hard facts.
I became totally caught up in this book and hated putting it down. I liked all the characters and couldn't wait to see the tide turn for the good guys.
The only parts of the book difficult for me were the descriptions of some of the Master Inquisitor's atrocities while torturing the witches. Bishop didn't dwell on them long, but I had trouble forgetting the picture they put in my mind and would rather not have known. At least it made me eager to see the Inquisitor meet his end. <veg>
THE HOUSE OF GAIAN had a great plot with a lot of questions about the origin of the titular house and the Fae answered and a lot of surprise revelations. And it had several romances in between all the fighting. A high recommend on this. This is just what I needed to get out of my reading rut!--Linda
--The next book out from Michelle (Sagara) West will be HOUSE WAR, but will be released in paperback. Her publishers didn't feel it was standalone enough to be her first hardcover. It is set in the Sun Sword universe. --West's promised hardcover launch will most likely be the book after that, and the first of a new series, tentatively titled THE BLACK GAUNTLET. It is also set in the Sun Sword universe, but I guess not as closely tied to the other books. --West has just turned in the set of 8 short stories for a collection to be published by Meisha Merlin. It will consist of all reprints, but many from very obscure and/or Canadian sources.
THE MOON'S SHADOW by Catherine Asaro I can speak very highly of Catherine Asaro's THE MOON'S SHADOW and also find a lot of fault with it. I hope I don't raise expectations too much by saying I thought it absolutely brilliant. The complexity of the unfolding plot (I thought of Zelazny's novels) and the characterizations (the main characters were vulnerable without coming across as weak) were brilliant.
But THE MOONS' SHADOW was also somewhat disappointing because in the cast of thousands, I found it hard to recall what was going on with the plot. Part of the continuing saga of the Skolian Empire, the story started out with a bang and continued with a lot of heady suspense and twists. But after so long of being held with your feet to the fire and biting your nails, you finally just want to skip to the end only to find that, whoops, it's to be continued. Well, okay, it wasn't a blatant cliff hanger, but you know the story of the Skolians is continued.--Barbara
STOLEN by Kelley Armstrong I was much more fond of BITTEN. I found STOLEN a bit more cerebral and with not quite enough action for me. I still enjoyed Elena's first person voice.--Barbara
TINKER by Wen Spencer Ditto what everyone else has said about TINKER. Spencer has created a fascinating world that is part-time on earth and part-time in Elfland and cast a really great heroine. I never connected with the elf hero Windwolf, though, partly because the story is told by Tinker in the first person, and Windwolf remains an enigma to her.---Barbara
Many of our readers will find the January 2004 Locus especially interesting since it focuses on Young-Adult Fiction. It contains a special section that includes essays by Garth Nix and Sharyn November, a survey by Carolyn Cushman of the best YA books of 2003, and Cushman's "All-Time List" of YA fantasy and SF books.
Some news: --Michelle West sold BLACK GAUNTLET, first in a new fantasy series, to DAW. --Julie E. Czerneda sold Species Imperative #3: REGENERATION to DAW. --Catie Murphy [writing as C.E. Murphy] sold contemporary fantasy trilogy "The Walker Papers" -- URBAN SHAMAN and two untitled sequels -- to Luna. --New author Stephanie Meyer sold YA vampire romance TWILIGHT and two untitled novels to Little, Brown. --Roberta Gellis sold science fiction OVERSTARS MAIL to Martin H. Greenberg at Five Star. --Also, a debut SF novel by Karen Traviss, CITY OF PEARL, has Locus reviewer Gary K. Wolfe finding in it "at times the union of romance with SF that we see in the work of Catherine Asaro or Lois McMaster Bujold."
TINKER really pushes my buttons in a good way for the romance and the self image of the main character. Tinker, the title character, is a very high-end genius, living her life in a near-future Pittsburgh that spends all but one day a month in "Elfland." [...] She rescues a high-up elf (for the second time) using technology, ends up involved with him, and gets turned into an elf herself. There's a bunch of interesting intersection of biology and magic in this, and that intersection of technology and magic is what makes it so appealing to me, I think.
I could worry about some of the implications of the romance, both in terms of consent and whether Windwolf (the hero/love-interest) is sufficiently older/more powerful to make it squicky. It ended up working for me because of Tinker's overall maturity and because I think Spencer carried off making it seem like her intellect does make the playing field more level.
There is a nice mixture of additional ethnic myths, although saying more than that ends up in spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that there are "bad guys" who want to do "bad things," but they end up with sufficient nuances that they aren't generic villains cackling in the corners.
I like the Ukiah Oregon series from this author, which is pretty much straight SF with some neat concepts (also biology based - hmm), but this is much more satisfactory as an actual romance as well as fantasy/sf. It is always interesting to see what an author does with a fairly standard trope like elves. [...] Recommended, and I'm looking forward to the sequel she is working on.--Lynn