This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

08 December, 2010


Sorry for not posting any reviews lately
I have problems with my computer, and before I get that fixed I'll probably not be able to post anything.
I do however read, and write reviews (,by hand on paper,) so as soon as I am able to I will start posting again.

Hope everyone is doing fine.


28 November, 2010


   You may be familiar with the review blog Un:Bound.  Now the crazy nice people over there, led by megalomaniac  empress of evil my good friend Adele have decided to start a SFF genre Vidcast.
   I've already looked at what's up on the site. And you should too It's worth a look. I especially love what slave  indentured worker  video editor Vincent Holland-Keen has done with the cover for Mark Charan Newton's Book of Transformations. That alone is worth a visit to Un:Bound Video Editions.

   Oh, and I got some press releases from Adele with explicit orders  threaths a nice request for help in spreading the word, so here they are: 

This winter, internet TV will finally be Un:Bound

Un:Bound Video Editions began with a question 'Why has no one ever done a vidcast about genre fiction?'. It's a simple question and the answer to it proved to be as simple for Un:Bound editor Adele Wearing; because she hadn't put together the team to produce one yet.

That's now changed. Like George Clooney in one of the good Ocean's movies, Adele has assembled a team of specialists to bring the best in genre fiction news and reviews to the internet. They include film maker and technical genius Vincent Holland-Keen, two-fisted editor and Angry Robot wrangler Lee Harris, sleepless genre podcaster Alasdair Stuart and, on his insistence, the dread lord of Ry'leh himself, Cthulhu. With a team like this, the casinos of Las Vegas are quaking in their cuban-heeled boots. Or would be if the plan was to rob Andy Garcia and not to produce the best, most comprehensive, fun genre fiction TV show on the net.

A fast moving glimpse into the world of genre fiction, Episode 1 features coverage of the Other Worlds Event hosted by Writing East Midlands, Alt. Fiction and Tor, a tour of Tor Towers, Publishing Tips with Lee, news with Alasdair and a message from Cthulhu.

Whether you're a life long, experienced con goer, newcomer or want to find out more, the Unbound Video Edition (UBVE to its friends) is for you. And, in fact your friends, so check out the teaser trailers at the Un:Bound Video Editions site and join our mailing list to make sure you don't miss upcoming episodes, specials and exclusive mailing list contests.

Because if you do, Cthulhu will know.

Un:Bound Video Editions –
Mailing list – email and title your mail UBVE mailing list.


They told me I was crazy and i'd need a team as crazy as me to pull it off. Fortunately I knew exactly where to get them. Admittedly my crack team of presenter Kat Heubeck, director and video editor Vincent Holland-Keen, news anchor Alasdair Stuart and grizzled editor Lee Harris are not the team I would put together for a lucrative casino hit. Pulling together a show like Un:Bound VE though? I couldn't ask for a better squad of genre fiction grifters.

Don't believe me? I talked to Catherine Rogers of Writing East Midlands about the heist, I mean the show, and here's what she said:

This, it seems to me, is a natural move for George, sorry Adele as he, sorry, she has been taking over the genre world with her extraordinary team.

Sorry Adele as what , George Clooney, Oceans whatever c'mon? Un:Bound being compared to Oceans numbers - no way. I'm thinking more along the lines of Neo, red pills, Morpheus etc.

So red pills aside / taken etc ... Writing East Midlands' mission statement says something about nurturing new writers in the region ... yes so that includes new writing talent and this by all accounts is just that .... on vidcast. Yay! Check it out.

That was 'red' right?”

Yes, Catherine, yes. No chunky knit wear or unnecessary dance routines here, just a cool, suave look at the latest in genre fiction. And Cthulhu. He was very insistent I mention him.

Fellow Evil Genius ™ Alex Davis had a slightly different take on things, which also makes a worrying amount of sense:

'It sounds more like the A-Team to me than Ocean's Eleven... This truly is the crack commando unit of the genre - in fact the recording equipment was constructed from four elastic bands, three toilet roll tubes and a broken down ZX Spectrum. So if you have a problem, and you need help, and you can find them, maybe you can hire... the Unbound Video Editions team.'

Danny Ocean's team of elegant con men and the world's least violent lethal commando unit. That's heady company to be keeping. So when does the con begin? I mean the show air? And where? Simple it's going to go live on 6th December 2011 at 8:00pm (GMT) at the site . Except, much like that bit with Brad Pitt walking through the casino talking on the phone? We're not quite done. The following weeks will see additional footage of the interviews go live as we continue to plunder the vaults of genre fiction for all things bright, shiny and awesome.

So why not join us? Just remember, don't take the blue pill, don't take your eyes off the vault door and always, always, bet on Unbound.

UBVE will be running a giveaway as part of the launch week so please look out for further details and prizes.

26 November, 2010


Cover design and photo: Blacksheep

ISBN: 978-1-85723-138-0
Pages: 467
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing date: 23 April 1987

On the cover:

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
   This is Banks' first Culture novel, but it is by no means set in an unfinished world, or more correctly; universe. There is plenty of references to other events and history here. And one of the strengths of the book is Banks' universe-building. Some of the places we see here are absolutely stunning, and adds a lot to the story.

   The story has all the ingredients of a space opera. There's a huge war going on in the background, our hero is a rogue type character who is being hunted, and we have a quest that takes us to different locations. But this story is by no means hampered by Banks' use of the familiar. He writes a story that really stands out from the crowd. The characters are also interesting, and we get to know them pretty well as the story unfolds.
    Consider Phlebas is pretty fast-paced. There is something happening all the time, but it is not stressful to follow what is going on. Some of the action sequences here are just mind blowing, and I have to say that I wouldn't mind seeing them up on the big screen.
   Banks is very good at keeping the suspense up, and especially the ending keeps the reader guessing. There is not much of the techno babble that scare away newcomers and slows the pace down here.

   This is the first of the Culture novels, but I would like to point out that it is a self contained story. There is no cliffhanger ending, and you should be no means be scared away from reading it just because there is a whole series of novels that follow it.
   There is much to love here for fans of science fiction. And if you are a newcomer to the genre this, in my opinion, would be a good place to start. For myself, I've already bought the next Culture novel, and plan to purchase the rest.

Links: Iain M. Banks  Orbit

24 November, 2010


   Everyone knows there are three main genres of SFF, or Speculative Fiction. That is of course Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.    These three genres have plenty of sub-genres, and you would think that nothing is lacking. I disagree, there is a certain type of story that I feel belong under the SFF banner, but is currently not receiving the recognition it deserves.
   So I am going to present to you the fourth SFF genre:


   The name is by no means a new one, in fact it has been used for years to describe exactly the type of story I think deserves it's own SFF-genre. Granted it is used mostly about films and games. And it was used much more widely ten to twenty years ago. At least here in Norway where it is called "eventyr" (, also meaning fairy tale in case you come across it in that meaning). 
   Usually action is tacked on at the front, and I think everyone will recognize the term action-adventure. But by going to my DVD collection, I notice most of the films who would be classified as action-adventure during the 90s are now only described  as action. (Bizarrely this includes my Norwegian DVD of Underworld.) So I guess now would be a good time to take the adventure term back to SFF where it belongs.

   Maybe it's time I gave a description of what I think about when I use the term Adventure:

   Action-oriented story. Usually with a quest. Can sometime border the mystery/thriller genre, but it has a supernatural, paranormal or mythical element. Often the element is an artifact the the main character is looking for, or it could be some sort of ancient cult/conspiracy/guardians of wisdom that is involved. Anything that involves what can be called alternative, or fringe, archaeology falls into this category.

   From my description of Adventure, it is easy to use the most widely known example to clarify further; Indiana Jones. For some reason the Indiana Jones movies are considered SFF by fans of the genre, while most people outside the genre consider them action movies. 
   Indiana Jones looks for mythical artifacts, something that as far as we know are legends and do not exist, like the holy grail. This is what makes people see it as SFF(, I think most people use Fantasy to describe the movies). 

   But I see a huge problem with Indiana Jones belonging to SFF without the genre Adventure being utilised.
And that problem can be traced back to the holy grail, and also literature. Indiana Jones isn't the only one to hunt for, and find the holy grail, Robert Langdon did the exact same thing in The Da Vinci Code. The difference being the "san greal/sang real" interpretation.
   Take away the setting, and you have what amounts to basically the same story. But despite this Dan Brown is considered mainstream by SFF fans, while Indiana Jones is being embraced as SFF. I see this as the kind of value judgement that I hate as a SFF fan. 
    We SFF fans are tired of SFF being classified as Lit.Fic. if the literary crowd thinks it is good. But we do the same with Brown. Brown may not be a great writer, but his stories, at least The Da Vinci Code, are as much SFF as Indiana Jones' adventures.
   And to remove, as much as possible, the value judgement, I think we need the Adventure genre under the SFF umbrella.
   (If you wonder why I use Brown as an example, I considered using Clive Cussler, but settled on Brown because he's more familiar to most people. And I have to say that Cussler's books more or less embodies the Adventure genre.)

    What do you think? Am I wrong, am I right? Do you disagree that my definition of Adventure falls under the SFF umbrella? (Am I even making any sense?)
    -Please comment.

23 November, 2010


Cover illustration: Benjamin Carré

ISBN: 978-0-230-71259-1
Pages: 466
Publisher: Tor UK
Publishing date: 4 June 2010

On the cover:

Villiren: a city of sin that is being torn apart from the inside. Hybrid creatures shamble through shadows and barely human gangs fight turf wars for control of the streets.

Amidst this chaos, Commander Brynd Lathraea, commander of the Night Guard, must plan the defence of Viliren against a race that has broken through from some other realm and already slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the Empire’s people.

When a Night Guard soldier goes missing, Brynd requests help from the recently arrived Investigator Jeryd. He discovers this is not the only disappearance the streets of Villiren. It seems that a serial killer of the most horrific kind is on the loose, taking hundreds of people from their own homes. A killer that cannot possibly be human.

The entire population of Villiren must unite to face an impossible surge of violent and unnatural enemies or the city will fall. 

But how can anyone save a city that is already a ruin?

   The second book in a series can be a tricky one, but Newton pulls it of with his effort. We pick up the story a short while after the events of Nights of Villjamur. All the main characters have relocated, and most of them is now to be found in the city of Villiren.

   Newton doesn't waste any time here. By the end of the first chapter we are already re-introduced to some of the main characters from book one, and have gotten our first glimpse of their new situation.
   Again most of the story is bound to a city, with only the occasional foray to other locations. But although the overall structure of City of Ruin is similar to Nights of Villjamur, this is not in any way a retelling of the story of book one. In fact the differences between the two cities serve to flesh out the world Newton has created, and also gives the reader an appetite for more.

   The action is on a much grander scale than in the last book, we get a battle that in some ways reminded me of the real world battle of Stalingrad. Newton handles the battle action very well., and as in real life, you are never quite certain who is going to survive in the end.

   There's a second story-thread following other characters from the first book, this is in many ways different from what I expected. This part of the story is pretty weird compared to the other. And I had a bit of trouble getting them to fit together in my mind at first. But as the story progresses Newton manages to make it not only understandable, but important to the overall story.

    I had one problem with this book, and that was connected to a death. Newton brings one character I was interested to know more about back from book one only to kill him almost instantly. This felt unnecessary to me, and it annoyed me for quite a while.
    In fact it seems like Newton has a predisposition to kill off characters that he has finished with instead of letting them fade away from the story. 
    This is not a major issue, but just a small annoyance for me personally, that I think not everyone will notice or be affected by.

    I'll end this review by saying that I find Newton's ideas and writing engaging and intriguing. City of Ruin got me even more hooked on this world than I was after Nights of Villjamur, and I am certainly looking forward to the next installment: The Book of Transformations.

My review of Nights of Villjamur can be found here.

21 November, 2010



ISBN: 978-0-451-17038-5
Pages: 732
Publisher: Signet/Penguin USA
Publishing date: 4 October 1990

   This is a collection of four novellas. So first I'm going to give you my review of the individual novellas, and then at the end I'm going to give you my thoughts on the collection/book as a whole.

   As a lot of King's horror, this story has a lot of science fiction elements. Here one element straight out of science fiction is central to the plot.
   The Langoliers is not a slow starter, it doesn't take many pages before you are drawn into the story. The shorter length, at 234 pages it is short for King, works to the stories advantage, King introduces the characters pretty fast, and they come fully formed, and never feels two-dimensional.
   This is a great story, the tension builds nicely throughout, and it does not loosen its grip on you before it is finished. The atmosphere of the whole story is also very good.
   I would recommend this story to any fan of sci-fi-horror, and if you like King it is a must. -As an added bonus, there is a scene that is very reminiscent of LOST in it.  


   This story is pure psychological horror. It is also one of Kings stories about a writer, and it has in fact some elements to it that are also found in The Shining, but I must hasten to add that it is in no way a re-write.
   From page one, and all the way to the epilogue, I found myself guessing as to what was actually happening. And it got under my skin at several points. Both the main character, and the others you meet are well done, and they seem real. It is a story that will keep you wanting to read to the end.


   Making libraries a scary place for someone who loves books is difficult, but King manages to do so in this story. The build-up at the beginning is very well done, and as the story progresses it transcends the fairly standard ghost story it initially looks like it is.
   King pulls off one of the best retrospectives I've ever read here. There are in fact a couple of stories within stories, and one of them is so shocking that I think some people could be put off by it. That being said, it is essential to the overall story, and not just put there for its shock-value.
   The only problem I had with The Library Policeman, was that it was let down a bit by one of King's rather week endings.

   This story belongs in King's "Castle Rock-cycle". It is basically a sort of ghost story. Starting innocently enough, it soon builds up to quite a eerie tale. 
   The characters have back stories that adds much to their realization, and one of the characters is delightfully mysterious at first. 
    King manages to build on the eeriness factor right to the end. And the ending here is ,in my opinion, one of the best he has ever written.


   These four stories really serves well to showcase King's writing. They give a taste of how most of his novels are, at the same time they are different enough to work very well together as a collection. I enjoyed the book a lot, even though I usually prefer King's stories to be as long as possible. If you are a fan of King's work, but have yet to read Four Past Midnight, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.
   If you have never read anything of Stephen King's work, I would suggest this as a good place to start. Both because they are not as long as some of King's other work, and because these four stories are a nice taster of what you can expect from him should you wish to read more of his work.

Links: Stephen King  Penguin (USA)

10 November, 2010


Cover illustration: Stephan Martiniere
Cover design: Jacqueline Cooke


 ISBN: 978-1-59102-595-5
Pages: 599
Publisher: Pyr
Publishing date: 7 June 2004

 On the cover:

August 15, 2047 - Happy Hundredth Birthday, India

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business — a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj — the waif, the mind-reader, the prophet — when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.
   What I always look for in science fiction is a believable future. And the one McDonald presents here is certainly that. The India he shows in this book is all to plausible, and I would not be very surprised if the India of 2047 looks a lot like the one in this book.
   Not only is the setting near perfect, but McDonald has also managed to creative a technology level that could very well be the one we end up with in 37 years.

   The story is very intriguing. From the very start the reader is drawn in to the lives of the main characters. There is a lot of mystery to begin with as to how the different characters are connected, but as the book progresses the revelations come.

    We get lots of conflict that drives the story forward, there is little that slows down the pace. McDonald manages to keep the "techno babble" well integrated in the story. And what tech there is adds to the plot instead of distracting from it. The integration of society, technology and individual characters you care about is perhaps McDonald's greatest strength.

   There are a couple of mysteries that are central to the story, these are intriguing and will keep the reader guessing. It had me confused at a level where I just had to keep reading several times. The revelations of what is really going on is handled beautifully by McDonald.

    This book should be great for any fan of science fiction. It caters to those whose interest lies in technology, as well as those who are more interested in characters and society.

Links: Ian McDonald  Pyr

08 November, 2010


Cover illustration: Paul Kidby


ISBN: 978-0-385-61107-7
Pages: 348
Publisher: Doubleday/Random House Children's Books
Publishing date: 2 September 2010

On the cover:

Tiffany Aching is a witch. And she thinks she's doing a good job for the people of the Chalk. Even if the job does seem to involve a lot of bandaging legs and cutting old ladies' toenails and not much, well, magic.

Or sleep.

But somewhere - some time - there's a tangled ball of evil and spite, of hatred and malice, that has woken up. And it's waking up all the old stories too - stories about evil old witches.

Suddenly Tiffany isn't sure she's doing the right thing. And her tiny allies - the fightin' Nac Mac Feegles - are only making things more difficult.

Things are supposed to look better after a good night's sleep.

But they won't.

They are about to get a lot, lot worse.

And a witch has to deal with what is in front of her...

   This, being a "Young Discworld" novel, features a teenage main character, Tiffany is 16 in this book. Other than that there is not much that is different from the other Discworld books. Pratchett writes in the same style as he has always done. And anyone who avoids this book because it is labeled as Young Adult (,the publisher's website says 12+,) does themselves a huge disservice.

    In my opinion this is perhaps the most serious Discworld book in recent years. It still has the trademark Pratchett humor, but the themes are very serious. Then again it would be difficult to make fun of growing up, responsibility,and bullying. And these are some of the main themes in this book.
    All is told through the eyes of Tiffany Aching, who is a witch, and this gives Pratchett plenty to play with. We get the some important lessons about the misconceptions about witches from fairytailes, and we also learn a lot about what a Discworld witch's real responsibilities are.

    It's easiest to see that this is a Young Adult novel by the many life-lessons that Pratchett manages to weave into the tale. There really is a lot here that an intelligent teenager can take away. And of course any teenager reading Pratchett will be intelligent. But I didn't feel that Pratchett ever got preachy, he presents things and lets the reader decide for themselves.

    The story also has room for an overarching plot that is quite sinister. In fact it is part horror story. This is very well handled, and does not feel forced upon all the other things that happen in the book.
    In my opinion this book shows that Pratchett is still going strong. Any Discworld fan who doesn't already own this should go buy it at once. -But I must say it helps if you have read the "Witches"-books and the previous three books about Tiffany Aching. At the least you should read "Equal Rites" before embarking upon this book.

Links: Terry Pratchett  Random House Children's Books

03 November, 2010


Cover art: Lisa Litwack
Cover photo: Gavin R. Wilson / Photonica


ISBN: 978-0-7434-2442-4
Pages: 683
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publishing date: January 1977

On the cover:

The Overlook Hotel is more than just a home-away-from-home for the Torrance family. For Jack, Wendy, and their young son, Danny, it is a place where past horrors come to life. And where those gifted with the shining do battle with the darkest evils.

   This is the first time I've read a book where I've seen the movie it is based on several times. And since several people not only think it's a good adaption, but some even say the movie is better than the book, I was curious as to how this would affect my reading of it.
   I guess most people interested in Horror would have seen Kubrick's movie adaption of it, and is therefore familiar with the story. However if you have not seen the movie, be warned that the introduction in the book contains spoilers and if you're new to the story should be skipped. This spoiler-filled introduction annoyed me, I saw no reason for it to be at the start of the book. I think they should move it to the end of the book and call it "Author's note".

   Right from the start King takes us inside the mind of his main character, Jack Torrance, and by doing so he sets the atmosphere for the book. King also handles the back story of the characters in a way that adds a great deal to the later tension of the book.
   Everything that is added of history, back story, and what we get to know about the characters serve the story. Although the book is rather long, it didn't feel like it to me. The story moves along nicely, and there is not much that slows it down.

   King is very good at keeping the reader guessing at what is actually going on. And he keeps throwing in elements that points in different directions. This only adds to the creepy atmosphere and I think it adds a lot to the book. The level of suspense also builds as the story progresses, drawing the reader in and making the book hard to put down.
   The paranormal elements in this book are very well handled by King. They seem realistic and believable. Nothing seems to be added without it having a place in the story. The whole concept works very well and this is in my opinion one of Kings best books.

   Back to where I started this review, with the book vs the movie. I didn't feel that being familiar with the movie took much away from the book, they are too different for that. many elements are of course the same, but the book is a wholly different experience on many levels. I would suggest that anyone who has seen the movie to pick up the book. I don't think you'll be sorry you did.
   As for the movie being better than the book; not in my opinion.
Links: Stephen king  Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books)

01 November, 2010


Cover illustration: Michael Whelan


ISBN: 978-0-7653-2635-3
Pages: 1008
Publisher: Tor Books
Publishing date: 31 August 2010

On the cover:

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

    This is true Epic Fantasy, this being the first of an announced ten books. I'm a fan of long series when it comes to both Fantasy and Science Fiction, I like to get to really know the characters and follow them over a longer period of time. (There's one exception, but I will not use the G-word in my blog.)
    Of course first impressions are important when starting a long series of books, especially when they are the size of The Way of Kings. And Sanderson gets it right, there is much to love here.

    After reading the prelude and the prologue, I was already drawn in to this world and wanted to know more. And as the book progresses the world opens up, and it is an intriguing world.
    We follow three main characters on their different journeys, this is done in such a way that the changes of viewpoint keeps you reading without being annoyed with waiting for a individual story-thread to continue.

    The individual characters are different enough to add a lot to the reader's understanding of the world, and each gives a glimpse into different aspects of it. The world building is great, there are lots of little details that really fleshes out the setting. And we are given some tantalizing glimpses of how wast this world really is. It looks like this could be one of the largest Fantasy worlds ever. And I hope it will be as interesting as this first book makes it out to be.

    We get stories set into the war-torn wasteland, and in one of the larger cities. There is not much of a quest aspect to the story, but that is a strength here. The choice Sanderson has made in setting the story mostly in fixed locations means that the reader does not have to struggle with too large amounts of information.
    There is enough action here to satisfy most people. And at the same time we get a lot of back story that is very interesting without making the pace drag. Almost everyone should be satisfied with the complexity of the story, and also it's ease of access.

    This is the first book I have read by Sanderson, and I really liked his writing. I found it fit the type of story very well. It is still early days for The Stormlight Archives, but this could very well turn out to be one of the best Fantasy series ever.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC of the book that I won from Tor Books.

LINKS: Brandon Sanderson  Tor Books 

29 September, 2010


Cover Image: Anne Laure Jacquart/ Arcangel Images


ISBN: 978-0-330-513517
Pages: 372
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publishing date: 15 May 2009

On the cover:
When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.

   This book is in a way rather schizophrenic, or at least it wants to be. At its heart is a Crime story, and it is seemingly set in a fantastical landscape of parallel worlds. 
   The crime part of the story is unfortunately mediocre and unoriginal. I've read a lot of crime and I've read this crime-story several times before. The tired crime-cliches of the police detective who goes his own ways, the female assistant who will go to any length for him, and several others are here. The crime itself, and the solution to it is pretty standard for a crime novel too. So in isolation the crime aspect of the story is nothing more than your average crime novel. 
   The Fantasy or Science-Fiction elements are what should set this book out from other crime novels. It is however debatable whether there are any SFF elements in the book at all, apart from that it is set in a fictional city in a fictional land, something that usually is not enough to make something SFF.
   I really liked the idea of the "unseeing" that Miéville introduces in the book. Unfortunately it never gets past the idea-stage. Several times in the book we are told that "unseeing" has to be learned, and that the "two" cities exist not in one place, but are divided by some unexplained lines. We even get told that while "unseeing" you may step over the people you "unsee", so it's basically just ignoring things.
   And this is where it all falls apart for me. The idea is great, but without further exploration of how it came about and why, it's just a lazy macguffin. A bit like saying the sun turns Clark Kent into Superman without any further explanation as to how and why.

   It does not help either that when it is needed to put a twist on the plot, in Part 3 of the book, we get an explanation of the "borders" between the "two" cities that is at odds with the earlier one. The introduction of "Breach" just adds to the poor execution of the good idea that is in this book. More so when we never get an explanation for how they know someone is "crossing borders", something that is the only thing keeping those "borders" up. 

    The only thing that saves this book from being total crap is a interesting concept, and Miéville's excellent technical writing skills.
   But I would not recommend you read this book if you don't want to read it as an example of how a great idea and excellent technical skills are useless when the story is flat and badly realized. 
   This reads as a mediocre crime-story with an idea for the first two thirds of a urban fantasy novel plastered in to discuise the lack of originality.

   Although this book didn't work for me, I will give China Miéville another chance at showing me he isn't a has-been by reading "Kraken" soon.

LINKS: China Miéville  Pan Macmillan

28 July, 2010


Cover illustration: Paul Young

ISBN: 978-0-575-09029-3
Pages: 692
Publisher: Gollancz
Publishing Date: 15 April 2010

On the Cover:
Adventurers. long loathed for their knowledge of nothing beyond murder and thievery, they are the savages, zealots, heathens, monsters; the thugs of society. And Lenk, a young man with a sword in his hand and a voice in his head, counts  them all as his sole and most hated companions.

His otherwise trivial employment under an esteemed clergyman is interrupted when bloodthirsty and eloquent pirates, led by an ageless demon risen from the depths of the ocean, pilfer the object of their protection: The Tome of the Undergates, the key to opening a door that guards the mouths of hell. A hell the demons want out of.

Against titanic horrors from the deep, psychotic warrior women, and creatures forgotten by mankind, Lenk has only two weapons: a piece of steel and five companions who are as eager to kill each other as they are to retrieve the book.
   There is a lot of Fantasy out there with focus on worldbuilding and near perfect heroes going on noble quests, so to read action-filled Sword and Sorcery feels like a breath of fresh air. And that is what Tome of the Undergates is, a good honest Sword and Sorcery adventure. Sure there is elements of  Quest Fantasy here but it doesn't take over and the book stays Sword and Sorcery for me throughout.

    There's been a lot of talk of the "200 page fight scene" that opens this book. I found this quite exaggerated, there is a lot of fighting in the first part of the book but there is also much more. Sykes is good at delivering information to the reader through the thoughts of the heroes as they are fighting. And there are several passages in between the fight scenes where you get more information about what is going on. I also felt that Sykes managed to get the personality of the adventurers across nicely.

    The action is handled very well by Sykes, and so is the interplay between the characters. What can be both a bit confusing and annoying is the fact that Sykes does not reveal much background to the reader. It takes quite a bit of time before you find out what is going on, and even then much is hidden. But as you progress in the story it becomes clear that this is done deliberately, and I felt that Sykes revelations towards the end of the book pays off the patience of waiting for answers. And I also felt that there is a lot here that is being saved for future installments, and I look forward to finding out more about these characters.

    As I stated at the beginning of this review Tome of the Undergates is Sword and Sorcery, although I must say there is a lot more Sword than Sorcery. The book reminded me a bit of Michael Moorcock's Elric, but first and foremost I was reminded of Robert E. Howard's Conan.
    So when the name Venarium pops up about halfway through the book, I immediately thought "Aha, Conan!". (Note: Venarium is the Aquilonian fort inside Cimmeria where Conan participates in his first mayor battle at the age of fifteen.) But not taking anything for granted, I used the wonder of modern social media to ask Sam Sykes if this was the case. This was his answer:

   "Hah, not really, no. I had no idea there even was a Venarium until Tome was finished. It's just based off Venarie, the magical source."

   And that got me thinking about a quote from Robert E. Howard of how he felt that he was relating events that had happened, and how when he couldn't write Conan later felt that the man had stopped standing at his shoulder and moved on. (The whole quote is found here, beginning at the sixth paragraph from the bottom.) -And who knows, maybe the spirit that dictated Howard in Texas has moved on to Arizona...

   Tome of the Undergates is a book for people who like the action and adventure of Sword and Sorcery. If you're a fan of Robert E. Howard's Conan, as I am, you really should get Sam Sykes' debut. And after you read it, I'm quite sure that you will join me in eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series.

LINKS: Sam Sykes  Gollancz


26 July, 2010


 Cover design: Lauren Panepinto
Cover photograph: Derek Caballero
Cover model: Donna Ricci

ISBN: 978-0-316-07414-8
Pages: 374
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: 1 April 2010

Usually I start these reviews with the Flap Copy (what many people call the publisher's blurb), but as Gail Carriger says on her website this gives away the ending to Soulless, the first book in the series. So I'll just have to write my own very brief flap copy:
Strange happenings in London makes Alexia travel to Scotland. 
There she has to investigate while dealing with the intricacies of werewolf pack-dynamics.

    Changeless picks up almost directly from the ending of Soulless (my review of Soulless here). The first chapter will bring you up to date on what has happened since the ending of the first book. To be fair, the story does not continue on from Soulless, but not only does Changeless contain spoilers for Soulless, but you will of course have a deeper understanding of what is going on if you have read the first book. I for one would not recommend you start here.

   Miss Carriger continues on in the great style she did in Soulless here. There's still plenty of action and suspense, and she has actually managed to ramp up the humour a notch. Not bad when I found Soulless hilarious.
   The world of Alexia Tarabotti is expanded upon, we get lots of new information that fleshes it out and makes it seem even more real. Among the added elements we get a look into are the British Army, dirigible flight, and we get a really good insight into how werewolves function in miss Carriger's universe. All of these elements function perfectly and only added to my enjoyment of the story.

   There are a couple of new supporting character's introduced here. Among them a werewolf and a mysterious French woman. There is also one Scottish character that is integral to the story, but saying anything more would be to risk spoiling, so I'll leave it for you to discover for yourself.
   All the new characters add to the story, and none of them seems thrown in just for the sake of adding to the cast from the first book. Miss Carriger instead uses them to make her story come alive even better for the reader. This is also the case with two characters from Soulless who take on a larger role in this book.

   To wrap up I will just say that this book have made mean even stronger fan of Miss Carriger than I was after Soulless, and for me she has now become a must-read author in the Humorous Fantasy/Alternate Reality(Steampunk)  genre.
   I encourage everyone who likes this type of book to pick up Changeless, after first reading Soulless of course.

   My review of Soulless -Parasol Protectorate: Book the First is here.

21 July, 2010


Cover Illustration: Jonny Duddle

ISBN: 978-0-00-731515-4
Pages: 255
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Publishing Date: 4 February 2010

On the Cover:

Kyle hasn't seen Mr Mumbles in years. And there's a good reason for that: Mr Mumbles doesn't exist.

But now Kyle's imaginary friend is back, and Kyle doesn't have time to worry about why. Only one thing matters from now on: staying alive...

   This book starts out with a very intriguing prologue, and after reading that I was really looking forward to finding out what happens.
   In the first few chapters of the book you find out everything you need to now about Kyle and his situation. This is done in a natural way, and does not feel forced on the reader.
   Hutchison also sets the tone for the book nicely, it doesn't take long for the first scary thing to happen. And there's plenty of scares to come later in the book, after all this is Horror.

   The first person narrative works very well here. You get an instant feel for Kyle, and how the situation he's thrown into plays with his mind. And Hutchison is also very good at playing with the mind of the reader. It's difficult to get a grip on what is really happening, what is illusion and what is reality, and this helps keep an eerie atmosphere throughout the book.

   The story unfolds at a quite rapid pace, there really is not much of a rest between the action sequences. And there is plenty of action in the book. Hutchison is also very good at keeping you mystified, things that seem ordinary can come back as haunting riddles later.

   This is a very good debut by Hutchison. The story managed to grip me, and I will certainly get hold of the rest of the books in this series. And if you like a good horror story with a few twists and plenty of action along the way, I suggest you pick it up too.

   I have to end this with a little note. As you may have noticed this book was published by HarperCollins Children's Books, and on the back cover there is a label that says 9+. This should in my opinion be treated like video-game labels, not fit for children under nine, but with no upper limit of how old you should be to enjoy it. My + is 27, and I see no problem in recommending this to anyone who likes a good scare regardless of age.

   The next book in the series, Invisible Fiends: Raggy Maggie is out 5 August 2010.

LINKS: Barry Hutchison  HarperCollins Children's Books

26 June, 2010


Cover design: Lauren Panepinto
Cover photograph: Derek Caballero
Cover model: Donna Ricci

ISBN: 978-0-316-05663-2
Pages: 357
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: 1 October 2009

On the cover:

First, she has no soul. Second. she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead.  Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, braking all standards of social etiquette.
    Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire-and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf ) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
    With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

    Before you start reading this book you might want to make sure you have adequate supplies of tea in the house. And maybe something to snack on, cucumber sandwiches will be fine, in case you start feeling a bit peckish.

    Soulless is set in an alternate Victorian England, or London to be more precise, where vampires and werewolves are real. And miss Carriger manages to make the supernatural element come to life in a way that makes her world as believable as any other alternate history I have read. There's nothing that seems out of place here, the world is fully realised and certainly feels like historical fiction in a world where the supernatural is real.

    Alexia Tarabotti is a very well realised heroine, she's smart, independent and also believable. It's good to see a female character that can be both a lady and a action heroine. I think most women can identify with her to some degree, and she is certainly a good role-model for girls. Even when Alexia gets involved in romance it happens in a way that seems natural, and is not at all overly romantic or soppy.

    The werewolves and vampires in this book are a natural part of the Victorian world. They are not put there just to put a paranormal spin on the story, but are an integral part of the whole. And I must say I liked how miss Carriger handles them. There's a really interesting spin on some of the vampires in Soulless, but I'll leave you to discover what that is for yourselves.

   The action and suspense in this book is expertly handled by miss Carriger, both work excellent and keep the pages turning. But what stands out most about the book is how much fun it is. Reading Soulless is the most fun I've had reading a book in a long time. I smiled through most of the book and laughed out loud several times, something I rarely do.

    I would recommend this book to anyone. It has good suspense and action, and is hilarious. There's vampires and werewolves, romance and Victoriana. So if any of these elements interest you, or you just have a sense of humour, this is one book I advise you to pick up. I also really enjoyed miss Carriger's writing, it suited the story perfectly. This is my most enjoyable read so far this year, so there's no reason not to go out and buy it.

   I have already read Changeless  -The Parasol Protectorate: Book the Second, and will review it here soon.

 LINKS: Gail Carriger  Orbit

01 June, 2010


About "Review Update".

   At the beginning of every month I'm going to do one of these update posts where I tell you what is happening with the books I have reviewed previously. News about new editions, be it paperback releases or release in another territory, and new volumes in a series that is released. Since I am Norwegian myself, I will also try to do updates on releases in other languages, but will not hunt for those all over the internet.
   But if you are an author, publicist, publisher or agent who has had a book reviewed here and know of an upcoming event, please contact me by e-mail: weirdmage[at]yahoo[dot]com , and I will post about it.
    May has been a "test month" for me on the blog, so I've only done three reviews, but there is still some updates.

June is a busy month for Mark Charan Newton. First is the UK Paperback release of Nights of Villjamur from Tor UK on the 4th of June.
ISBN: 978-0-330-46166-5

My review is found here .

Also out on the 4th of June, and also from Tor UK, is Book Two of Legends of the Red Sun - City of Ruin.
ISBN: 978-0-239-71269-1

I will read and review this later.

And finally, on the 29th of June the US edition of Nights of Villjamur will be published by Bantam Spectra (Random House).
ISBN: 978-0-345-52084-5

My review is (still) here .

27 May, 2010


Cover illustration: Benjamin Carré


ISBN: 978-0-230-71258-4
Pages: 451
Publisher: Tor UK
Publishing date: 5 June 2009
Paperback out: 4 June 2010

On the cover:
An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where cultists use forgotten technology for their own gain and where, further out, the dead have been seen walking across the tundra.
When the Emperor commits suicide, his elder daughter, Rika, is brought home to lead the Jamur Empire, but the sinister Chancellor plans to get rid of her and claim the throne for himself.
Meanwhile, a senior investigator in the city inquisition must solve the high-profile and savage murder of a city politician, whilst battling evils within his own life, and a handsome and serial womanizer manipulates his way into the imperial residence with a hidden agenda.
When reports are received that tens of thousands of citizens are dying in a bizarre genocide on the northern islands of the Empire, members of the elite Night Guard are sent to investigate. It seems that, in this land under a red sun, the long winter is bringing more than just snow...

   There is one thing that can annoy me to the point that it seriously hampers my enjoyment of a book: How a word is pronounced. This may have something to do with me being Norwegian, sometimes my Norwegian and English pronunciations will battle for superiority. It happened with the name Lathraea in this book. In Norwegian it would be Lath-ra-eh-ah. Fortunately Twitter exists so I could ask the author and get told that it is actually pronounced La-threy-a. -The wonders of modern technology put to good use.

   Nights of Villjamur is medieval fantasy of the type they used to make back when vampires didn't sparkle. It can seem pretty standard if you list the elements present: Princess, rogue, warrior, and conspiracy. But if you also list zombies, detective, and environmental disaster, it becomes clear that this is something that is fresh and exciting.

   One of the central storylines is that of a murder investigation. Newton uses this to show us much of the workings of the city of Villjamur. The investigation is also used to uncover several other strands of the story, and this is done in a way that feels natural and not forced. It is also done in a way that always leaves you wanting more. I found that as I progressed in the book my breaks became fewer and further apart. The pace of the story really drives you along, and the pages fly.

    Most of the story happens in the city of Villjamur, and we get glimpses of most parts of the city throughout the story. And I for one really got a good feeling of how the city functions. Both the architecture and the people of the city are well realized. I never felt that there was something left out that needed to be known about this location. That being said, there are only tantalizing glimpses of the world outside of the city. You get told there is a larger world out there, but you only gets to see parts of it. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact I think it helps the book that Newton has concentrated on showing us the city. And of course there will be sequels to the book that more than likely will show us much more.

    One thing that I really liked in this book was the way Newton handled the winter. Most people probably don't think much about that, but when you grow up in Norway with four months of snow a year you notice if it's done badly, and Newton has definitely pulled it off. The scenes with snowball-throwing made me both nostalgic and guilty about my own childhood.

   This book is definitely going onto my list of favourites. I would like to recommend it to anyone who likes a good story. It's brilliantly written, and sucks you in in the way all great books should.
   Mark Charan Newton is certainly an author to keep an eye on for the future.

Note: The sequel City of Ruin will be published in the UK 4 June 2010.

LINKS: Mark Charan Newton  Tor UK

07 May, 2010


 Cover illustration: Jackie Morris


ISBN: 978 - 0 - 00 - 733581 - 7
Pages: 570
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publishing Date: 4 March 2010

On the cover:
Return to the Rain wilds.
The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the ragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest's amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric.
Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay their hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicine and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expedition and will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted.
Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience.

   Unsurprisingly this book follows directly on from the events of "The Dragon Keeper". It does start off with a info-dump prologue that at first glance looks like a unnecessary read if you come directly from the previous book. But the prologue not only recaps the events of  book one, Hobb has hidden some interesting new info in it, so it is an essential read.

   This book takes place wholly away from the civilization of the Rain Wilds, and follows the journey of the dragons and their keepers further into the wilds. Not only the physical wilds of the Rain Wild River, but also the wild landscape of the human psyche.
   Parts of the book looks at the dynamics of a group of individuals who are cut off from civilization. Some of what happens reminded me of "Lord of the Flies", and i would not be surprised if Hobb has drawn some of her inspiration from William Golding's novel.

   There is a bit more action here than in "The Dragon Keeper", and the overall pace of events is stepped up a bit. There are still passages that are largely devoted to character building, and that is certainly still a large part of the story, but there is quite a few events happening in the physical world too.
   It quickly becomes clear that there actually was a bit more happening in book one than was told to the reader. This was mostly very natural, as it was hidden from the point of view characters at the time. One development did make me feel a bit cheated as I felt the character should have noticed earlier, or at the very least had a feeling of something going on.

    One thing that there is certainly more of here than in book one is romance. Not that it is in any way turned into a "Romantic Fantasy", but there is a bit of "action" in the book. This comes naturally with the story, and at least one of the developing relationships has been telegraphed since early in the previous book.
   Robin Hobb also manages to sneak in some surprises on the romance front, and one of them comes as such a surprise that I doubt anyone will catch on before the reveal.

    What was the most interesting part of the book for me was finding out about the relationship between humans, dragons and elderlings. This is revealed in more detail here than in any of Hobbs previous works. This relationship between three races is something that has been part of Robin Hobb's fantasy world since "The Farseer Trilogy" and to see what looks like most of the mysteries revealed is very satisfying.

    Having mentioned earlier in this review that there is more action here than in "The Dragon Keeper", I feel the need to say that it is by no means an action oriented adventure. But as with the previous volume in "The Rain Wild Chronicles" I felt that the slow pace fitted the story.
    I've read several reports that these two books were first intended as one, and I have no trouble believing that. It might be possible to read this book as a standalone, but I would definitely recommend you read these to books as a split volume and begin with the first one.

    The ending of this book, and as far as I know "The Rain Wild Chronicles", was a bit of a letdown. Not because it was a badly written ending, or that it didn't finish the story. It did however leave me with a lack of closure that almost screams for a follow up. I hope it comes in the form of another trilogy from Robin Hobb, and that she's working on it now, because I want to read it as soon as possible.

LINKS: My review of "The Dragon Keeper"   Robin Hobb   Harper Voyager

04 May, 2010


Cover Illustration: Jackie Morris

ISBN: 978 - 0 - 00 - 727374 - 4
Pages: 553
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publishing date: 25 June 2009

On the cover:
17 Damaged Dragons, 13 Misfits, 1 Impossible Quest.
Guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia, they came from the sea: a Tangle of serpents fighting their way up the Rain Wild River: the first to make the perilous journey to the cocooning grounds in generations. Many have died along the way. With its acid waters and noxious airs, it is a hard place for anyone to survive.
People are changed by the Rain Wilds, subtly or otherwise. One such is Thymara. Born with black claws and other abhorrences, she should have been exposed at birth. But her father saved her and her mother has never forgiven him. 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 about 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.
To be a dragon keeper is a dangerous job: their charges are vicious and unpredictable. and there are many unknown perils: none are expected to return, or even survive...

   Robin Hobb is one of my favourite fantasy authors, and in my opinion her trilogy "The Liveship Traders" is one of the best Fantasy series ever written. So obviously I was excited to hear about this book, and could not wait to get my hands on it and read it, something I did when it came out. I actually re-read it for this review.

   The Dragon Keeper's starts out with a retelling of some of the events of Hobb's "The Liveship Traders" from a different perspective. And it continues with events happening at the same time as "The Tawny Man" trilogy, and an event in that trilogy is mentioned. 
   Despite all that, this book is not a direct follow-up to any of these two trilogies, it is however a continuation of events from "The Liveship Traders". I feel it is more a independent companion volume to that trilogy, and you do not have to read the 2500 pages of "The Liveship Traders" to read this book. In fact if you're unfamiliar with Robin Hobb's work, you can safely start here.
   If you have read and like me enjoyed "The Liveship Traders" however this book is essential reading.

   The story of The Dragon Keeper is about two thing, both of which are helpfully mentioned in the full title, Dragons and the Rain Wilds.
   The Rain Wilds of Robin Hobb's world remains a rather mysterious place despite appearing in "The Liveship Traders", but here most of that veil of mystery is lifted. Many of the things that have previously only been hinted at are talked about openly here. This demystification does not make the Rain Wilds a less interesting place. To me it lends depth, character and believability to the place.
  The story of the Rain Wilds society is mostly told through the eyes of the teenager Thymara. Her deformities make her an outcast, and through her we see the darker side of the harsh life along the Rain Wild River.

   The dragons in this book in many ways mirror the inhabitants of the Rain Wilders. They are flawed creatures, and do not resemble the god-like noble beasts that dragons usually are portrayed as in fantasy. This is both refreshing and necessary to give credence to the relationship between the dragon sand their keepers. It is through this relationship that the reader, at the same time as the keepers discovers the nature of Hobb's dragons.

    Not only do the dragons of this book differ from the kind you usually find in Epic/Medieval fantasy, so does the story. You will not find any dark lord that has to be defeated, no orphaned boy has to rise to save the world and there's a distinct lack of wizards lurking in the background.
   There is a quest, but it takes backstage to the development of the characters and it only starts towards the end of the book.
    Robin Hobb's writing has never been the most action-filled fantasy. "The Farseer Trilogy", her fastest paced so far, is slow compared to most other fantasy in a secondary world setting. And this is unquestionably the slowest paced Hobb has ever been. Not to say nothing happens, it does. 
    When I had finished this book I felt satisfied with the journey Hobb had taken me on. The detailed character development was both refreshing and relaxing. It was good reading fantasy that allowed me to really get to know the characters, and if that sounds interesting you should try this out.. 
     I would also recommend this to anyone interested in dragons and their interactions with humans. And finally, this is definitely an essential read for anyone who wants to gain more insight into the world of the Farseers and the Cursed Shores.
That said the ending of the book is rather sudden, there is no great cliffhanger, and it doesn't feel like a natural ending. This should be no problem for anyone reading it now, the follow-up "Dragon Haven" is out now. And I review it here.

LINKS:  Robin Hobb   Harper Voyager