Thursday, October 24, 2013

Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders

Rating: 2 stars
Length: Lengthy and detailed (446 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: July 2, 2013 from 47 North
Premise: The world has ended, and a new one covered in snow has risen to take its place--humanity has fractured into rival factions that war with each other as well as the Martians. The mysterious Founders, who live in a city surrounded by the deadly mustard gas, have kidnapped several faction leaders in the middle of negotiations. Romulus Buckle, captain of the Pneumatic Zeppelin, has set out on a rescue mission to save them or die trying.
Warnings: deaths in battle, maybe xenophobia. This one is pretty tame.
Recommendation: If you're hard up for new steampunk or different spins on steampunk setting, this could be fun for you. If not, the dialogue and scattered character introductions make it difficult to stay engaged. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blackbirds

Take a close look at the cover on this one if you pick up a copy in person, and then another look after you finish the book; it's extraordinarily detailed.
Rating: 3 stars
Length: Fast and snappy (381 pages)
Publication: April 24, 2012 from Angry Robot Books
Premise: Miriam Black has been drifting across the country for years, trying to run from her visions. Whenever she touches people, she sees how they're going to die, and seeing that dozens of times a day has taken her close to the edge of madness. When she sees that a truck driver is going to die in thirty days while he calls her name, she's forced to decide whether she wants to fight a losing battle against fate again.
Warnings: sex with very dubious consent, gore, torture, dismemberment/mutilation, violent miscarriage
Recommendation: If you're looking for something dark and sharp-edged without an ounce of glamour, this may be exactly your cup of tea. The secondary characters don't always live up to Miriam's strength of presence, but it's a fun quick read.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Way of Kings

I reviewed The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson's young adult debut, for YA Summer a few months ago. I normally try not to do the same author twice in a year, but Misanthrope and Smartypants have been swearing up and down that this one is great for months, so I finally caved....and am very glad I did.



Not to be confused with The Way of Shadows, which is both half as long and half as interesting.

Rating: 4 stars
Length: Well into "imposing tome" territory (1258 pages)
Publication: August 31, 2010 from Tor Books
Premise: The world of Roshar is controlled by the highstorms that destroy the landscape even as they bring light and magic and by the long-forgotten secrets that place everyone in danger.
Warnings: battlefield gore
Recommendation: If you have the resolve for 1200-odd pages and don't mind a slightly slow start, give this one a try. It looks like this might be able to pull off a cast-of-thousands epic fantasy without slowing to a crawl-- the action is glorious, the world manages to be alien but comprehensible, and Brandon Sanderson has a deft touch for writing about ideals without becoming trite. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Night Circus


Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: Long and leisurely (516 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: September 13, 2011 from Doubleday
Premise: Two young magicians were bound into a competition they didn't understand as children. As adults, Celia and Marco find that the staging ground of their competition is a circus constructed of marvels in black and white. They draw people into their game, both deliberately and not so, and aren't sure how to find a way out.
Warnings: child abuse as magical training
Recommendation: If you're looking for something dreamlike and beautiful, this may be your cup of tea, but it's only fair to also mention that this book doesn't have action scenes as such. It's slow and elegant and puzzling, but trying too hard to make it fit with logical sense is a disservice to the book.