Posts Tagged fantasy

Sacrifice (First Book of the Fey) – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Worth looking for.

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
Summary: Their armies have conquered half the world. Now they want the rest.
The Fey, known for their beauty and their warrior magic, have set their sights on Blue Isle. They should conquer the Isle quickly; its people, simple and religious, have never known war.
On the eve of the invasion, Jewel, the granddaughter of the Fey’s all-powerful Black King, has a frightening vision, one that ties her fate to the Isle forever. Still, she helps her father Rugar head the invasion force.
The force meets a surprising resistance. Nicholas, heir to Blue Isle’s throne, has always dreamed of battle. Normally, he would be no match for the powerful Fey. But Blue Isle has a secret weapon—a weapon no one understands, a weapon that could stop the Fey in their tracks.
Nicholas must find a way to harness this amazing power. Jewel must find a way to thwart him. To survive… what will happen? (quoted from publisher’s description online)
Provenance: Purchased ebook online.

Sacrifice – Kristine Kathryn Rusch: This is the first all-out fantasy I’ve read by Ms. Rusch, and it does not disappoint.

The narrative switches from one limited-first-person to the other.  At first I expected to follow Jewel extremely closely, but then I got more comfortable as the point of view spent almost equal time with Nicholas.  I very much enjoyed the twist on the usual trope of ‘the Fey.’ Here they are warlike and steadily conquering everything within their reach. Not at all wispy and ethereal 🙂  Hmm, Romulans?

The only hold-back from four stars is that I felt the pace slowed a little more than I wanted, as the important characters seemed to reach their intended locations for the end of this book. But, they’re set for act two now, and I am looking forward to learning what’s next.

Hooray for completed series!  I can read the whole thing as soon as I like, and I certainly will get going soon.

Linkage and spoilerly comments below

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The Beginners – Rebecca Wolff

Hm.

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Summary: The chilling, hypnotically beautiful story of a girl whose coming of age is darkened by the secret history of her small New England town. A meticulous and pitch-perfect fever dream of adolescence, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson remixed by Mary Gaitskill.” -Jonathan Lethem, author of The Fortress of Solitude and Chronic City
Theo and Raquel Motherwell are the only newcomers to the sleepy town of Wick in fifteen-year-old Ginger Pritt’s memory. Hampered by a lingering innocence while her best friend, Cherry, grows more and more embroiled with boys, Ginger is instantly attracted to the worldliness and sophistication of this dashing couple. 
But the Motherwells may be more than they seem. As Ginger’s keen imagination takes up the seductive mystery of their past, she also draws closer to her town’s darker history-back to the days of the Salem witch trials-and every new bit of information she thinks she understands leads only to more questions. Who-or what-exactly, are the Motherwells? And what is it they want with her? 
Both a lyrical coming-of-age story and a spine-tingling tale of ghostly menace, The Beginners introduces Rebecca Wolff as an exciting new talent in fiction. (quoted from my library’s description)
Provenance: eBook borrowed from the local library.

The Beginners – Rebecca Wolff:  Reminds me a lot of Jo Walton’s Among Others… and that is a major compliment.

A touch of stephen king, definitely also the lottery

The writing is fabulous.

Opening is great – morbid musings on death make you think something dreadful is pending, and perhaps that someone dreadful is narrating, but then surprise it’s a fifteen-year-old girl pondering deep topics while working at a diner.

Hints of something awful yet-to-com, but nothing overwrought. Fabulously creepy description of ‘the new people’s’ tiny underfurnished house.

Drowned towns.

Voice of narrator – old beyond her years but completely believable.

Linkage, Spoilage, and many Quibbles below

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Dragon Haven – Robin Hobb

Draco ex machina.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Summary: In this sequel to Dragon Keeper:
For years now the dragons have been trapped on a swampy riverbank between forest and river, hungry and barely alive, reliant on humans to provide for them.

With their survival at stake, fifteen dragons—among them the wise golden Mercor, the haughty and dazzling silver-blue queen Sintara, and the delicate copper beauty Relpda—have set off on a dangerous trek into the unknown, up the Rain Wild River, in hopes of rediscovering the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra, the lost haven for dragons and Elderlings alike. The dragons are accompanied by a disparate group of human keepers, rejects from Rain Wild society. They, too, yearn to find Kelsingra and create a home of their own, one in which they may make their own rules and decide their own fate. But is Kelsingra real or merely a fragment of a glorified past buried deep in the dragons’ shared memories? No map exists to guide them, and the noble creatures find their ancient recollections of little use in a land changed by generations of flooding and seismic chaos.

As the dragons, the humans—including the strong and defiant Rain Wild girl Thymara; the wealthy dragon scholar and Trader’s wife, Alise; and her companion, the urbane Sedric—and their magical supply barge, captained by the gruff Leftrin, forge their way ever deeper into uncharted wilderness, human and beast alike discover they are changing in mysterious and dangerous ways. While the bonds between them solidify, starvation, flashfloods, and predators will imperil them all. But dragons and humans soon learn that the most savage threats come from within their own company . . . and not all of them may survive.

(quoted from goodreads)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

Dragon Haven – delivers on the promise laid out in the first volume of the Rain Wilds Chronicles, Dragon Keeper. Four stars. Yay.Robin Hobb:  Finally. A Robin Hobb book I can enjoy, without missing out on backstory from ‘part one’.

I am writing up this review many months later than my reading… so this is a short one. Yes, that’s all. Onwards with the links!

Linkage, Spoilage, and many Quibbles below

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Dragon Keeper – Robin Hobb

Better late than never – finally success with Robin Hobb.

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Summary: In this novel, Hobb returns to the territory of her Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies with a story of dragons and humans, return and rebirth, and the search for meaning, belonging, and home.
Like everyone else, Thymara is fascinated by the return of the dragons: it is as if they symbolise the return of hope to their war-torn world. Leftrin, captain of the liveship Tarman, also has an interest in the hatching; as does Bingtown newlywed Alise Finbok, who has made it her life’s work to study all there is to know of dragons.
But the creatures which emerge from the cocoons are a travesty of the powerful, shining dragons of old. Stunted and deformed, they cannot fly. Some do not even have wings; others seem witless and bestial. Soon, they are seen as a danger and a burden: something must be done.
Far upriver, so far it is shown on no map, lies the legendary Elderling city of Kelsingra – Or so it is believed. Perhaps there the dragons will find their true home. But they cannot get there on their own: a band of dragon keepers, hunters and chroniclers must attend them. 
(quoted from my library’s description plus goodreads)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

Dragon Keeper – Robin Hobb:  Finally. A Robin Hobb book I can enjoy, without missing out on backstory from ‘part one’.  Dragon Keeper is the beginning of a new story arc set in the same world as her other  successful trilogies.

The narrative switches from one limited-first-person to the other. Often there’s a time overlap with segments, so you see an event described first from one character’s point of view, and then from another character’s point of view. This technique worked well – it helped to reinforce their differences, and difficulties caused by limited understanding.

The only hold-back from four stars is the lack of resolution within the scope of this one book.  It’s again a case where one story got too big and was chopped in half for publication. Perhaps if read back-to-back with its sequel, this would rank better.

Linkage, Spoilage, and many Quibbles below

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