Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Age of Ra

This series was a recommendation from a rather bloodthirsty friend we'll call Starkiller. He evidently preferred The Age of Odin, which is later in the series, but I decided to start at the beginning. Odds are you'll get a review of Odin's volume next year, since the books aren't strictly sequels and I'm intrigued by the worldbuilding.



Rating: 2.5 stars
Length: Moderate (443 pages)
Publication: July 28, 2009 from Solaris
Premise: David Westwinter is a British solider living in a world where the Egyptian pantheon of gods has killed off all the rival powers and divided the earth up among themselves for areas of influence. They demand that their followers worship them and have wars in their name, so humans are doomed to eternal war under their orders. David has never known another life until his men are killed and he finds himself in Freegypt, where the Lightbringer is gathering followers to try to overthrow the warring gods.
Warnings: incest between adults, mention of past incestuous rape (son to mother), one brief and non-graphic incident of an adult raping a child, gore
Recommendation: If you're really into the Egyptian pantheon of gods and/or military fiction, this one isn't a bad bet, but it doesn't deliver quite as satisfyingly on the premise as it could and I spent half the books wanting to slap the characters around.

Fair warning that I'm trying to dodge around a major spoiler that influences mostly the second half of this review, and will be dropping some fairly broad hints about another. If you want to be surprised, I'd recommend stopping before the red pen kicks off.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Darkfever

This one was a recommendation from my friend Empress Rainbow, who pushed the series my way with the following: "MacKayla is the rainbow girl that got washed with black, but in the end found out that all of the colors can co-exist.  Her character development from a rather unconcerned happy-go-lucky girl to a survivor in a war she never thought she'd be involved in is the main reason why I read the series."



Rating: 3.5 stars

Length: Sharp and snappy (384 pages)
Publication: November 2006 from Delacorte Press
Premise: MacKayla Lane is happy to relax by the pool in Georgia until she gets a call that her older sister Alina has been brutally murdered in a Dublin alleyway. She recovers a frantic voicemail from hours before her sister's death and flies to Ireland herself to try to get the police to take her seriously, but soon she's in far over her head. MacKayla is a sidhe-seer, able to see their true forms as they hunt among the humans, and it's all too likely that she'll be next.
Warnings: attempted rape, with magically-induced lust being used to erode consent
Recommendation: If you're interested in the Fae or in a protagonist being dropped into magical situations cold and having to learn how to cope on the fly, this one might be your light cup of tea.

The Blade Itself

This one was a recommendation from Smartypants and Cookie Monstress, my martial arts instructors.



Not to be confused with Broken Blade or The Fallen Blade, both of which I reviewed earlier this year. "Blade" is one of those words that fantasy authors absolutely cannot resist. 

Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: Hefty for mostly good reasons (531 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: September 6, 2007 from Pyr
Premise: An infamous barbarian warrior, a young officer who's never had to work for anything, and a crippled torturer are all trying to live their own lives when the wizard Bayaz enters their lives. The realm is threatened, and he is determined to save it by whatever means necessary, even if it means working with unconventional tools.
Warnings: graphic depictions of torture, physical family abuse, gore
Recommendation: If you're interested in every main character being a bad person with just enough good traits to make them likeable, absolutely pick this one up. It accomplishes that better than anything I've ever seen, and the action and tone are quite good as well.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Rook

I initially goofed on the timing for this one, so I've been waiting gleefully for the paperback release to actually post the review. This one was another excellent loan from Misanthrope, who owns the hardback.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Length: Beautifully paced to carry the intricacy (512 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: January 11, 2012 from Little, Brown and Company
Premise: Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park surrounded by corpses in latex gloves and with no memory of who she is. A letter in her pocket tell her what her name is and where to go to hide, and the next letters present her with a choice: to hide somewhere safe, or to step into a position of supernatural power and figure out who washed away her body's former inhabitant.
Warnings: disturbing threatened use of tentacles, gore, threatened and implied torture of secondary characters
Recommendation: If you're all patient with books that take time to dig into the mysteries that they present, give this one a shot. It has a great hook and a fascinating cast of characters; I'm already looking forward to the sequel.