Archive for category YA

Shards of Honor – Lois McMaster Bujold

Flashes of Promise.

Stars: Three of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Shards of Honor- Lois McMaster Bujold. Cover summary: In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan —he who was called “The Butcher of Komarr”—and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his.
Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasion ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar —and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminiscent of Earth’s Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the minute biowar technology. – from the publisher’s site
Provenance: Purchased online via webscription.net. It is only published in an omnibus version called Cordelia’s Honor.

Shards of Honor was Lois McMaster Bujold’s first published novel, and it establishes the Vorkosigan Saga universe in which so many of her books have been set.  It’s solidly written and enjoyable, though I do not think it is as good as her later books, or even up to the level of fun in her  Warrior’s Apprentice, published the same year.

The protagonist Cordelia Naismith is in the general mold of ‘spunky heroine’ – her mental landscape is a nice place to visit, though she does not ‘feel’ to have lived through quite as many years of experience as the author posits.

One minor disappointment was that this book had far less of the humor that I so enjoyed in the Miles books.  In addition, the book’s structure seemed a little disjointed and the pacing uncertain. Miles’ adventures are much more action packed on average. Granted, I did read this after reading thirteen back-to-back Vorkosigan book/novellas including the four Hugo winners – so they set a high standard.

In short, I recommend you start with Miles’ debut in Young Miles (containing The Warrior’s Apprentice, and  the Hugo winners The Mountains of Mourning and The Vor Game). If you like the universe, then circle back to get to know Miles’ parents better with Shards of Honor and Barrayar.

Ware Spoilers below

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The Warrior’s Apprentice – Lois McMaster Bujold

Small but mighty.

Stars: Three and a half of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
The Warrior’s Apprentice – Lois McMaster Bujold. Cover summary: Discharged from the Barrarayan academy after flunking the physical, a discouraged Miles Vorkosigan takes possession of a jumpship and becomes the leader of a mercenary force that expands to a fleet of treasonous proportions. (from the publisher’s website)
Provenance: Baen Free Library… then I bought the containing omnibus, Young Miles, so that I could read the rest of them.
Date Read: Sometime in June or early July.  Review written 3 months late. 😦

This is a very fun book.  It introduces you to seventeen-year-old Miles Vorkosigan, the four-foot-nine heir to a Count within a space empire.  Best of all, if you like this one, you can look forward to 15+ other novels and novellas in the same universe, most starring Miles.

There’s Admiral Naismith, and a great cast of family, comrades, and enemies.  I found that the writing still seemed to lack a little technical competence here and there… but as a package it’s a blast.  A roller-coaster of a space opera.

Ware Spoilers below

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The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the WindA Mighty Wind.

Stars: Four and a half of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss.  Cover summary: So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe’s legend. (from the author’s website)
Provenance: Purchased my own copy (trade paperback).  Re-reading in preparation for reading the 2011 sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear.

This is definitely an excellent book:  it gets better in retrospect, and even better on a second read.  The weakest part is the slow timing in the first hundred or two pages.

The first time I read it, it simply did not strike me as a young-adult book – probably because I was so convinced that the ‘real story’ was going to take place in the present day rather than in the flashbacks.  But, in the flashbacks, Kvothe is young: 12, 14, 16.

Really good reviews below

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The Tinkerer’s Daughter – Jamie Sedgwick


Cover for 'The Tinkerer's Daughter'Steam-elf? No punk edge, but still fun.

The Tinkerer’s Daughter by Jamie Sedgwick.

Stars: Three of five.
Cover summary: Breeze is an outcast, a half-breed orphan in a world devastated by 1,000 years of war. She never knew her elven mother. Her father leaves her in the care of a reclusive Tinker, with her true identity safely hidden. Then the war comes and Breeze is exposed. If she has the courage, Breeze has a chance to change the world. If she fails, she’ll be hunted to her death as a traitor. (from smashwords.com)
Provenance: review requested by author, but I bought my own copy via smashwords.com

The Tinkerer’s Daughter is an above-average novel with an engaging main character and fast-paced narrative.  The world-building is kept mostly unobtrusive, but it does depend on the reader’s knowledge of elves to fill in some gaps.  The setting includes inventions of steam-powered vehicles by the Tinkerer, without all-out characteristics of steampunk.  As a food item, I would describe it as fresh popcorn – tasty and not unhealthy, but not a meal.

The main character, Breeze, was the highlight of this book.  Her narrative point of view is enjoyable and easy to read.  The book launches with a tiny bit of background, explaining the racial tensions between humans and elves and also explaining that Breeze is young but will mature very quickly to her adult size.  The triggering event for the novel is her father’s departure to join the war.  As soon as Breeze is fostered off with the Tinkerer, the plot revs up and Breeze is swept up into large-scale action for the rest of the book.  I was definitely drawn in to the story.

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