KUSHIEL'S DART is set in an alternate-reality dark ages (I think) France that has a culture and religion based on free love. Yes, you will get sick of seeing the phrase "Love as thou wilt." The heroine, Phedre, is born equating pain with pleasure and is trained from a young age to be a courtesan and spy. This story is about her rise in the world and how crucial she and her disturbing and fascinating sexuality are in shaping the events of her country. (Of course she falls in love with a warrior-monk. I need to read--um, make that skim--the equally big, fat sequels to see if that's going anywhere.)
I wasn't sure whether there was going to be "real" magic on this alternate world, but the gods, angels, etc, do seem to be rather more than religious mythology. I think I would have preferred more ambiguity on this point. Also, while I managed to make some connections between Carey's world and our "real" history and religion, I'm sure there are just as many allusions I missed.
Anyway, there's so much you could talk about in this book that I honestly don't know where to begin. This is one of the problems with such long books! I recommend this book for the richness of the world-building and characterization. The most memorable thing a reader takes away from this book, though, without a doubt, is the heroine's sexuality and the role it plays in the her adventures, survival, heroism, and rise in the world. KUSHIEL'S DART wasn't always comfortable reading, but it was consistently good. Recommended.--Preeti
Elizabeth Kerner's REDEEMING THE LOST -- Worth the Wait (Linda)
FINALLY!! [...] The story of REDEEMING THE LOST starts out with the introduction of Maran Vena, the mother who had deserted Lanen. We get to see her view of the past, which serves to remind us of those same events. Maran Vena, it turns out, had escaped with the Farseer and had used it to keep an eye on Lanen from a distance.
It's seemingly only days after the ending of THE LESSER KINDRED, and Maran has decided to return to Jamie, Rella, and Varian in order to help them find her daughter with the help of the Farseer. This isn't as simple a solution as it sounds, for while she can see events, she can't hear them. Thereafter follows the rescue of Lanen, dragons battling demons, the Lost (dragons that had fought the demonlord in the previous war) being restored, and the final battle of the black mage Beryl and the demonlord.
I don't really remember Kerner's writing style in her previous books. REDEEMING THE LOST, however, takes turns being written from different points of view. You'll see the character name at the top of each section, so there is no confusion on whose turn it is. Unusual, but it works.
I got to know and care for so many of the characters, dragon and human alike. The story was loaded with action and was emotionally compelling in many places. For example, I loved scenes that showed Laren and Varian's deep love; the first meeting between mother and daughter; and the love, grief, and loyalty shared between friends and family, human and dragons. I highly recommend this conclusion to the trilogy!
(Although, who knows, maybe there will be more. I can hope! Elizabeth Kerner did mention that there is always more to tell, that true stories never end. Lanen is pregnant with twins, and their stories should be interesting as they are half-dragon/half-human!)--Linda
Martha Wells' THE SHIPS OF AIR -- Worth Taking Vacation Time to Finish
THE SHIPS OF AIR is the second book in Martha Wells' Fall of Ile-Rien series and takes place immediately after the events in THE WIZARD HUNTERS. I think this book can be read as a stand-alone, but your enjoyment will be greatly enhanced by having read the first book.
After destroying the island base of the evil Gardier who are trying to conquer the country of Ile-Rien, Tremaine Valiarde and her companions board the Queen-Mary-type ship Ravenna to return to their home world. They forge an uneasy alliance with the primitive Syprians and start their journey back to Ile-Rien. Unfortunately, there is at least one spy hidden on the ship, complicating their plans. On the voyage, Tremaine and her friends unexpectedly encounter more Gardier and they take an unexpected side trip. To say more would be spoiling the book, but just like the first book, the action just did not stop. It took unexpected turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. I had to take a half day of vacation to finish reading it.
I particularly enjoyed the relationship between the main characters: Tremaine, Ileas, and Giliead. They had an instinctual understanding of each other and complete trust that the others would be there in times of trouble. And, best of all, there is a romance -- won't spoil it by saying with whom! It's quite understated, but there are a couple of cute scenes as they adjust to each other.
I really liked this book. It's got sympathetic, likable characters, clever dialogue, good word-building, a fast-paced plot, and seamless writing.
I think my enjoyment was enhanced because I'd been reading the chapters as Wells posted them online, which kept me in touch with the world she created. I usually don't bother with trilogies until all the books are out because I forget names of secondary characters, places, and politics and it's just too much work to try to remember it all. I think it's a great marketing tool for authors of trilogies to post chapters online to keep their fans interested. I do think the pace should be a chapter every month instead of the niggardly chapter every two months. Honestly, if a person is bothering to read a chapter at a time, they really will go out and buy the book when it comes out even if they know what three-quarters of it is.--Edith
--THE WIZARD HUNTERS (bk 1) at Amazon --THE SHIPS OF AIR (bk 2) at Amazon
The June 2004 issue of Locus Magazine includes reports from last month's Nebula Awards Weekend and SF Museum preview, interviews with writers Michael Swanwick and Sean Williams and the all-important Forthcoming Books listings through March 2005
Some news: --Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey will collaborate on two more untitled "Pern" novels for Del Rey; Todd McCaffrey delivered solo "Pern" novel DRAGONSBLOOD to Del Rey and to Bantam UK. --Mercedes Lackey sold three new "500 Kingdoms" novels to Luna for a high six-figure advance. --Carol Berg's DAUGHTER OF ANCIENTS, fourth and final installment in her "Bridge of D'Arnath" series, and standalone fantasy FLESH AND SPIRIT, went to Roc. --Susan Sizemore sold two untitled romantic fantasies to Tor. --Rachel Caine sold books 4, 5, and 6 in her "Weather Warden" series to Roc.
I remember talk of THE EYRE AFFAIR before, so I read it and really enjoyed it. It wasn't a book that I couldn't put down (which was nice since I had to put it down so much) but one that whenever I picked it up, I could still enjoy. I might even have liked it better that way. I loved the heroine, Thursday Next. She was so quietly brave, seeming to just do whatever needed done. Brave, that is, except when it came to her love life and her old flame Landen. The romance was very understated since it had occurred ten years ago and had ended when an event during a war both she and Landen were fighting in made her break up with him. But at least Thursday did have a HEA, even if it wasn't a large part in the book.
My mind wandered when it came to the ongoing war portions of the book, except for the big battle that Thursday was involved in and the ending, but I really enjoyed the different bureaucratic jobs--literary op, chronoguard (timetraveling), etc.--Fforde described in this alternate England. Thursday's father popping in and out of time was funny, and just the whole idea of entering a book and physically interacting with the fictional characters was so neat. I loved Thursday's trip into JANE EYRE and the ending of the book. Definite recommend.--Linda
[Question from Preeti: The database doesn't show anyone here as having read the third Carey book, KUSHIEL'S AVATAR. Is that accurate? And if you have read it, does the series end on an HEA note? After having read the first book, I'm not sure I'd expect it to.]
I've read it and can recommend it. Yes, there is a HEA.
I, too, couldn't see how Carey could achieve a HEA but she cheats on the romance, which is one of things that annoyed me about book 2, KUSHIEL'S CHOSEN. Early on in book 2, Joscelin abandons the vows that were so important to him in book 1, KUSHIEL'S DART. Phedré and Joscelin spend much of the book apart but eventually have a reconciliation. Joscelin goes back to his vow to protect and serve but seems to forget the one about celibacy. I intend to re-read the series some time and see if it makes more sense, but on first reading, they both behave irrationally and out of character in book 2. The relationship has a slight wobble in this final book, KUSHIEL'S AVATAR, but it's not too bad.--Margaret
I tried to read Sharon Shinn's JENNA STARBORN last month but have to give it a discommend. (Can I do that on books I didn't finish?) It just didn't have that certain something that compels me to keep reading. Anyway, because I'm lazy, here are my journal notes from bookcrossing.com:
5/22/04: I ended up starting this last night and immediately fell into it. Dare I admit I haven't read JANE EYRE? There, I said it. ;) Despite that fact, I am finding the story completely fascinating, imaginative and heartwrenching.
5/31/04: I made it through 50 percent of this story before giving it up. The beginning held much promise, but somewhere around page 90 things began to rapidly slow down, and I found it very easy to put the book down. This may be my current mood (too busy to read and too stressed to relax with a book) but I'm very disappointed with myself and my inability to finish JENNA STARBORN. I loved Shinn's THE SHAPECHANGER'S WIFE, and ARCHANGEL is still one of my all-time favorites, so I'm very sad that this one just didn't have the same magic for me and that the characters just seemed a little too bland to hold my attention. :( Maybe I'll try it again at some other point in my life when things are quieter. --Laurie
Science Fiction Romance and ebook favorite Linnea Sinclair will soon be appearing in a more corporeal form. Sinclair, who also writes as Megan Sybil Baker, has signed with Bantam/Spectra to rerelease several books previously only available electronically or print-on-demand. Next year look for FINDERS KEEPERS, GABRIEL'S GHOST, and AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS. The publisher is also considering Sinclair's "Command" series as well as DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES and other works in progress. More info at Sinclair/Baker's website.
DEAD TO THE WORLD has been reviewed already, so I'll just add my recommendation to it. I enjoyed it immensely, and frankly, more than the last one. Then I was in mourning for Bill betraying Sookie. I'm still waiting for much more groveling than I'm getting, so needless to say Bill is not forgiven by either Sookie or me. <g> I really enjoyed the romance with Eric, though don't know if I want it to continue in any way. I just don't care for his attitude now that he has his memory back, and I get a kick out of him not getting to remember any of the good stuff. --Linda