Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Review of The Shadowed Sun by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin has established herself as a leading science fiction by N. K. Jemisinwriter of our times. The Shadowed Sun is another of her engrossing sci-fi epics.

The primary plot retells the ‘thwarted prince fighting for his rightful place on the throne”.  Nothing fresh there, but Jemisin doesn’t renege on her promise to captive readers. Her skill melding attributes derived from tribes of the African desert, the Mid-East and  central Asian cultures with her own imaginative twists, creates cultures ripe for conflict. Within that context she explores issues of religious belief, race, gender roles, cross-culture friendships, trust, sexuality and romance.

Hanani, as an apprentice in the dream healer’s religion, works as a foil to the masculine energies of prince, Wanahomen. When Hanani goes to live with the ‘barbarian’ tribes that Wana enlisted to retake his homeland, cultures and beliefs collide and entwine.

The winning battle, although well written, pales against the full story. And for me, the romantic resolution would have been more true to character if left open. Perhaps it’s a case of less-being-more, but those are personal tastes. It’s clear Jemisin is a wonderful epic science fiction novelist.

Jemisin’s Reputation

Jemisin is creating a reputation as a writer ‘upending the racist and sexist status quo’ as written about in the Guardian. Among a list of awards, she received the 2016 Hugo Award for The Fifth Season and the 2017 Hugo Award for The Obelisk Gate, of which she was also a finalist for the Nebula Awards.

Book Review of The Shadowed Sun by N. K. JemisinThe Shadowed Sun (Dreamblood, #2) by N.K. Jemisin
Series: Dreamblood #2
Published by Orbit on June 7th 2012
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 492

Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. A mysterious and deadly plague now haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Someone must show them the way.

Book Review, Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn (Forget Tomorrow #2)

Book #2 of the Forget Tomorrow Series,

Pintip Dunn fills every chapter of Remember Yesterday with driving action.  by Pintup DunnWe quickly learn our heroine’s sister, Callie, committed suicide to stop future memory research. The nation’s leader pushes on, however, with her vision to mold a society with precognition. A society that already knows its future because future selves send information backward in time. The chairwoman’s plans include winnowing out anyone who doesn’t have precognition. The young Jessa commits herself to fulfilling her sister’s wish to stop the project.

Jessa makes an intriguing heroine. She’s dynamic, conflicted and opinionated. Since she and her twin possessed the power of precognition, she believes she has a chance of stopping the research.

The tension of romance muddles Jessa’s perspective, however, when she collaborates with the young scientist, Tanner, to save her sister. Jessa is both aroused and ethically repelled by what Tanner represents to her. But the twist at the end puts their relationship in new light.

Pintip Dunn’s story comes full circle by the conclusion. Fresh imagery make this a fun read. This is the second book of the series, and Dunn leaves plenty of room to continue to story.

Pintip Dunn Wins the  RITA

Although Goodreads readers didn’t classify Dunn’s book in the Romance genre, Dunn won the RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America for Forget Tomorrow in 2016. Dunn placed in many other award lists as well, which recognizes her fresh writing style, intriguing heroines and driving plots.

For a list of 25 great paranormal romances, check out the  Best Fantasy Books website.

Book Review, Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn (Forget Tomorrow #2)Remember Yesterday (Forget Tomorrow, #2) by Pintip Dunn
Published by Entangled: Teen on October 4th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400

Follow-up to the New York Times bestselling novel, Forget Tomorrow!
Would you change the past to protect your future?
Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries, if only she’d let TechRA study her. But ten years ago, the scientists kidnapped and experimented on her, leading to severe ramifications for her sister, Callie. She’d much rather break into their labs and sabotage their research—starting with Tanner Callahan, budding scientist and the boy she loathes most at school.
The past isn’t what she assumed, though—and neither is Tanner. He’s not the arrogant jerk she thought he was. And his research opens the door to the possibility that Jessa can rectify a fatal mistake made a decade earlier. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister—even if it means teaming up with the enemy she swore to defeat.

Book Review, The Other Wind by Ursula LeGuin

An EarthSea Story,

The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)

The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin enchants many readers with well reason. The addition of TheOtherWind follows suit. This story evolves around Alder, a young sorcerer who dreams of his dead wife. He becomes tempted to breach the wall entrapping her in the world of the dead, but fears the consequences. 

Alder’s dreams of his wife’s ghost persist. He wants to break down the wall between the dimensions, but tearing it down may cause a riff in Earthsea by freeing all dead souls, not only his wife. To find a solution Alder goes on a journey to see Ged, once Archmage of EarthSea. Then he travels to Havnor to find the king who  takes Alder to talk to a dragon in the form of a woman. Only she can mend the riff in the wall caused so many years ago, when dragons and humans parted ways. 


In many of LeGuin’s books, including the EarthSea series, she creates characters with humane issues, then she places them in a strange and wonderful fantasy world. She takes us on journeys where people are tempted, ache to do the right thing, but fear the consequences of their actions. Humane themes drive LeGuin’s stories. In TheOtherWorld she deals with issues of the death of those we love.

The Other Wind stands on its own as a story, although reading earlier books in the series definitely fill in references made in this book. A tale with dragons, wizards, kings and a journey woven within very humane challenges. What more could I ask in a fantasy story?

Ursula LeGuin’s written many short stories and five novels based around her fictional world of EarthSea. Wikipedia lists them all.

Dragon Rule by E. E. Knight Book Review

Dragon Rule takes place in a world where dragons live along Dragon Rule by EE Knightside humans and, most importantly, dragons rule there. As expected, cooperation between the groups can be strained, but E. E. Knight focuses on tensions between dragons, rather than the human versus dragon relationship.

Although Knight starts and ends his novel with the Copper, the story diverges into his sister’s and brother’s lives. The reader follows subplots for many dragon characters. Although each is integral to the main story-line, subplots subsume the Copper’s struggle. Perhaps Knight planned for supporting characters to fight the Copper’s battles for him. With that said, no particular character engaged me so much that I burn for the next installment of The Age of Fire series.

If Knight intends a moral message, ‘blood is thicker than water’ appears a possibility. Copper and his brother and sister have very different personalities and morals, but when challenges confront the family, they stick together.

Nice descriptions of dragon environs, the Lavadome and  caves where dragons live helped establish settings, although in general the book lacked the due diligence I expect from an award winning novelist. Knight writes clearly with plenty of dialogue; however, typos occur too often, a complaint many reviews mention and I found unprofessional.

Dragon Rule: Book Five of The Age of Fire Series

It’s clear Knight enjoys writing about dragons. He personifies them with keen attention to their physical limitations, historical contrivances and builds cultures one may expect in a dragon world.

Perhaps because I didn’t read the first books in the series, Dragon Rule didn’t fully engage me. This book doesn’t stand on its own.  It appears written for current fans, as a bridge to the next installment of the series.

Dragon fans should check out the History of Dragons on the Draconsinka web site for some fun information on dragon lore in general.

Dragon Rule by E. E. Knight Book ReviewDragon Rule (Age of Fire, #5) by E.E. Knight
Series: Age of Fire #5
Published by Roc on December 1st 2009
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 320

The author of the national bestselling Vampire Earth series presents the fiery fifth book in his epic dragons saga.
Scattered across a continent, three dragon siblings are among the last of a dying breed?the final hope for their species? survival.
Wistala, sister to the Copper who is now Emperor of the Upper World, has long thought humans the equal of dragons. She leads the Firemaids, fierce female fighting dragons who support the Hominids of Hypatia. Which puts her at odds with both her brothers, for the Copper has no use for the humans he now dominates and AuRon, the rare scale-less grey, would isolate himself and his family from both the world of men and the world of dragons. But as the Copper?s empire roils with war, greed, and treachery, the time is fast approaching when Wistala will have to choose who to stand with? and fight for...

The Goose Girl, a retelling by Shannon Hale

Redd Becker Book Review

Goose GirlGoose Girl retells the fairy tale of a princess done wrong, who struggles to regain her rightful place on the throne. Her mother, the queen, exiles her daughter to another country in an arranged marriage. This remains one of my least favored plot lines, but this retelling enchanted me.

Hale tells the story in a style I refer to as literary light. Her use of language to create the princess’s world demonstrates empathy with all facets of the story. Scrumptious descriptions of landscapes, ancient cities, village life, woodlands, palaces and markets fill every scene, but the descriptions don’t over power the story or characters.

At a time when movies, TV shows and novels maximize action, conflict, fear and dark imagery, Goose Girl provided relief. Struggles were clear, but not harsh. They entertained without causing angst.

Goose Girl as Fairy Tale and Fantasy

Technically Goose Girl fits the fantasy genre, because the princess possesses the ability to talk to animals and manipulate the wind.  Hale so adeptly integrates these qualities that the magic appears naturally human in the characters.

Subplots lace the main story line and Hale takes care to develop them. Many of her characters grow and change, as they encounter new circumstances. A fun band of helpers who tend animals for the palace gather around the princess.

Wikipedia provides a nice synopsis of the original German fairy tale.

Hale’s rendition of Goose Girl gained much recognition including: A New York Public Library ‘100 Titles for Reading and Sharing’ Book; A Josette Frank Award Winner; A Texas Lone Star Reading List Book; A Utah State Book Award Winner (YA); and A Utah Speculative Fiction Award Winner.

The Goose Girl, a retelling by  Shannon HaleThe Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1) by Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern #1
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 383

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.
Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.


Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines, vampires versus magic

LibriomancerRedd Becker Book Review

From the start Libriomancer left little ambiguity about what would come. Hines set up sides, defined issues, laid out backstory and engaged in two battles within the first fifty-four pages of this science fiction adventure. From there the novel quickly introduced  a love interest and a mystery.

In the Libriomancer’s world a group of magicians, called Porters, constrain vampires. The Porters, run by Johannes Guttenberg, try to ensure human’s are safe from a vampire’s drive to drink blood. A war between vampires and Porters begins.  No one knows who started it or why, but Isaac is determined to find out. Obstacle upon obstacle thwart his efforts to stop the war, however, while Isaac is caught in the middle, he doesn’t possess any authority to take action.

Hines utilizes his knowledge of literature throughout Libriomancer. References to others’ novels  become incremental to the plot and enhance the read for science fiction buffs. Hines starts with his hero’s name, Isaac. He references numerous details in books that enable Isaac to perform magic, whether real or not. Isaac’s power relies on his ability to pull objects from books, but they have to fit through the pages. Objects range from weapons to potions; such as Alice’s shrinking elixir and a variety of ray guns. Smudge, a pet spider, acts as Isaac’s pet, but also his protector at key times.

The hero, Isaac, serves as narrator. At first the style reminded me of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe narrative, but it soon transformed to Isaac’s voice for me.

Social Commentary in Libriomancer

True to form for a science fiction novel, Libriomancer weaves philosophical ideas into the action. Abuse of power becomes a central theme that Hines attacks on several fronts, from vampire domination over humans to interpersonal relationships.

Hines uses a love interest, between Isaac and a wood nymph, to expound on personal relationships. The nymph offers herself to Isaac, but Isaac balks at the ethical dilemma of her submission. Wood nymphs naturally serve their master’s desires unquestioningly, which is an appealing situation for Isaac, but he fights his attraction to her, while he considers the implications of her voluntary slavery to him. The alternative perspective, however, is for Isaac to understand and respect his lover’s nature, whatever that may be. I felt the end Hines chose resolved the issue well.

Libriomancer: published by Daw

Daw Publishing remains committed to publishing science fiction adventures. True to their mission, Libriomancer doesn’t let readers down. Daw started in 1971 as the first publishing company who devoted itself exclusively to science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction fans are probably familiar with many of over 1000 titles Daw published over the past thirty years

For those interested in writing science fiction: Daw Publishing still accepts manuscript submissions directly from authors, so check out their submission guidelines.

A guest review by CarrieS on Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog covers Jim C. Hines and Libriomancer. For some of the fun pictures she references, demonstrating Hines’ sense of humor you can see some of his interpretation of female book covers.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines, vampires versus magicLibriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, #1) by Jim C. Hines
Series: Magic ex Libris #1
Published by DAW on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 308

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks; a saga where color is magic

Redd Becker Book Review

Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

Brent Weeks uses color as the source of magic in The Broken Eye. Humanoids with special powers to manipulate color, called Chromeria, dominate in their world. Chromeria can manipulate color to form things, change the weather and even render themselves invisible. Guilds formed by those who wield the power of their color work together or against other color guilds The most powerful Chromeria of them all utilizes the full spectrum of colors and is designated the Prism, an honorary figure in their society and highest ruler. Plots run through family conflicts, guilds, renegades to the rulers and court intrigues.

Weeks deftly captures reader’s empathy for his characters, than turns the character around to reveal their more wicked motives. Just as likely, Weeks justifies his villain’s motives. There are plenty of characters for readers to project themselves into, bond with, and analyze, as well as male and females characters who are fully empowered in their rolls.

Brent Weeks writes a saga

The Broken Eye is a long novel. If you are daunted at almost eight hundred pages, this plot-driven story makes it a worthwhile adventure. Chapters jump between characters and locations. At first it’s hard to keep the threads and characters straight, but Weeks never drops the intensity or conflict. Scenes are enticing. They each drive the overall storyline, as well as subplots, forward. There is lots of dialogue and action with just enough description to bring the world and backstory to life. 

It’s difficult to maintain momentum in a long book, especially in the mid sections, but, with the mix of characters, locations and complexity of plot, Weeks maintained my interest.

The book is completed with maps, character list and an extensive glossary.

My Rating five-stars

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks; a saga where color is magicThe Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks
Series: Lightbringer #3
Published by Orbit on August 26th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 757

As the old gods awaken, the Chromeria is in a race to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe, Gavin Guile. But Gavin's enslaved on a galley, and when he finally escapes, he finds himself in less than friendly hands. Without the ability to draft which has defined him . . .
Meanwhile, the Color Prince's army continues its inexorable advance, having swallowed two of the seven satrapies, they now invade the Blood Forest. Andross Guile, thinking his son Gavin lost, tasks his two grandsons with stopping the advance. Kip and his psychopathic half-brother Zymun will compete for the ultimate prize: who will become the next Prism.