Archive by Author

Book Review: Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman

30 Mar


In an alternate 1850s era, the British Empire is flourishing as vitally as it did in our timeline, but from different base causes. Instead of the power of the Industrial Revolution providing the motive power for Monarch and country, the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts provides the competitive advantage for Great Britain to stand astride the world. But this society of magicians is a merciless one, taking every person with magical talent, whether they like it or not. Charlotte Gunn seeks to aid her family from financial disaster that her father is in by making sure that her brother’s talents are seen and compensated for. Oh, and in so doing, hiding her own deep, dark secret from the Royal Society: Charlotte, you see, is a mage too.

Charlotte, and her world, come to life in the novella Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman. Continue reading

Book Review: The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier

23 Mar

A Princess seeking to escape the circumscribed nature of her life and the path set out for her. A Prince who strives to protect his land against an invasion and threat his small country has no capacity to stop. A tyrannical King whose plots and plans overwhelm them all. And a mysterious mountain of knowledge and power that is the key to all of them. It sounds on the face to be a standard fantasy setup with characters out of stock central fantasy casting that could be listed in Diana Wynne Jones’ THE TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND.

You can probably even predict how this sort of set up will go, on the old straight track. Prince saves the day, Princess is plucky, Father dies heroically and repents and recants on his deathbed, paving way for Prince to be the better successor. Simple and straightforward character beats and maybe if one is lucky, some character growth for Prince and Princess too. However, The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier avoids those well trod paths that might go with that sort of fantasy setup, and has a focus, tone and through line that is rather different and rather special. Continue reading

Book Review: Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

16 Mar


Disclosure: Alex Wells is a pseudonym of Alex Acks, co-host here at Skiffy and Fanty. I consider them a friend.

Hob Ravani is a member of a biker outfit on Tanegawa’s World. Tanegawa’s World is a hardscrabble place, a dry and desolate world that wouldn’t draw any interest, even from the Transrift corporation, save for its considerable mineral resources. Those resources, and those resources alone, make the desert planet valuable. It’s not Arrakis, but Tanegawa’s World is still a prize to the only corporation with the capacity to travel to the stars. Not even the Federal Union that ostensibly is the government of humanity and all of its worlds has the secret to their Rift drive.

And then there is the fact that some people who live on Tanegawa’s World are affected by the strange contaminants on the planet. It IS an alien world, after all, and humans and their works and creations are intruders upon it. Humans who live away from the filtered, protected city of Newcastle are exposed to the world. They can develop unusual, exotic powers, powers that are feared by the corporation, and everyone else on the planet for that matter.  People with this contamination gone feral, called witchiness by the locals, are a breed apart. People like Hob.

Hunger Makes the Wolf, the debut novel from Alex Wells, tells Hob’s story. Continue reading

Book Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

9 Mar


The Ironship Syndicate has a problem. This Trading Company turned governmental body has lands and operations to run, and the basis of its profitability and its strength is the blood of drakes, or dragons. Certain people can ingest elixirs made from their blood to gain temporary magical abilities. This magical science of plasmology allows for amazing temporary feats by the Blood-blessed. The sale and internal use of these elixirs, more than guns, more than steel, is what makes the power of the Ironship Syndicate possible. And the drakes are being hunted to extinction, and the captive drakes are not breeding.  Without drakes, there will be no blood. With no blood, there will be no elixirs. And without elixirs, the power of the Trading Company will be under threat. The neighboring, pugnacious Corvantine Empire might take advantage, to the ruin of the Syndicate and its holdings.

And so a cunning plan has been hatched at the highest levels of the Syndicate. Long there have been rumors of a color of Dragon beyond the usual Red, Blue, Black and Green. A White dragon, located in the wilderness, whose blood might … well, what the power of the blood of a white could do isn’t quite known, but it could be the one thing to change the fortunes of the Syndicate, and perhaps the world as well. And even as the Syndicate brings together agents and talented amateurs and more to make an expedition into Terra Incognita in search of the White Drake, others have their own agendas and plans in these turbulent times. Continue reading

Book Review: The Masked City, By Genevieve Cogman

2 Mar


Universe-traversing Librarian Irene Adler and her assistant the dragon prince  Kai return in The Masked City, second in The Invisible Library series following the titular volume in the series. After settling themselves in the Quasi Victorian world of airships, Fey nobles and derring-do, Irene’s life is, if not precisely stable and uneventful, at least predictable. Find rare books for the library in this alternate London, dodge machinations of local villains, spar with her bête noire, and get into adventure after adventure. Routine, right? Continue reading

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