Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sword of the Bright Lady-M.C. Planck

Sword of the Bright Lady
M.C. Planck
Pyr, Sep 9 2014, $18.00
ISBN 9781616149888

At first mechanical engineer Christopher Sinclair thought he was in some sort of weird dream with no electrical device anywhere and a dirty teenaged stranger named Helga sharing his bed instead of his wife.  He changes his mind about sleeping and assumes he was in a plane crash in a remote medieval part of Europe.  However, he soon realizes this is not Arizona, America or Switzerland; as somehow he “walked” into another realm.

Feeling lost and missing his spouse, Christopher begins to learn the rules of “physics” in his new world are based on tael death magic with the power hierarchy dependent on how much a person controls.  To initially survive in this war-ravaged dominion, Christopher pledges allegiance to the Goddess of Healing, the Bright Lady.  When Marcius the God of War offers the engineer a better deal he accepts performing the deity’s quests in return to going home.  Sinclair introduces a new type of magic based on guns and butter as he teaches commoners to forge steel to make weapons and household items.

Book One of The World Of Prime is a fantastic opening act in fantasy as a twenty-first century American engineer with contemporary inclusiveness ethics and a belief in physics falls through a rabbit hole into a medieval feudal land whose system is magic based and deity connected.  Much more Clark Kent than Superman, bewildered Christopher keeps the intense storyline focused by muddling through his new life as a fish out of water while dealing with enemies who relish the status quo and Doubting Thomas supporters.  He wants to go home, but the Gods refuse to give him ruby red slippers.


Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Broken-Tracie L. Slatton

Broken
Tracie L. Slatton
Parvati Press, Sep 5 2014, $16.99
http://www.parvatipress.com
ISBN: 9780986061158

In 1939 earth time Alia mourns the loss of Ariel by leaving Heaven to take on mortal form just before Paris falls.  A self-anointed fallen angel, the hedonistic Alia insists she cares nothing about the beleaguered Broken Parisians and even less with the evil Nazi occupiers to come.

However, Alia enjoys sex with her sweet ferocious lover, half-Spaniard, half German Jew Pedro the bullfighter, whose father abandoned him and his mom in Spain while he was still in the womb.  Archangel Michael questions Alia why here when she knows the torment to follow.  She insists she did not lose her way; that God did by allowing this mad Führer loose on his so-called beloved mortals.  Michael reminds her she has one miracle to offer, he prays she wisely uses it.  As the war intensifies and unthinkable atrocities occur, Alia meets Josef the Jewish physicist, mathematician and violinist, and soon to be her lover.  As the years pass, Alia’s day of reckoning that Michael predicted finally arrives when she must choose between continual self-indulgence and sacrifice to save the lives of her friend Jewish widow Suzanne Dubois and her child Cecile.

Though the action is somewhat muted, Broken is a great philosophical WWII drama that focuses on a fallen angel who no longer believes God cares.  The key cast is fully-developed with diverse reactions to what is happening to the Jews and not just Hitler’s Final Solution as Josef learned in Antwerp and others in Cuba and America; while real persona like Sartre adds a powerful sense of time and place.  Tracie L. Slatton provides a profound look at religion during a crisis of faith in which even angels question whether God abandoned the flock.


Harriet Klausner

Broken Tracie L. Slatton

Broken
Tracie L. Slatton
Parvati Press, Sep 5 2014, $16.99
http://www.parvatipress.com
ISBN: 9780986061158

In 1939 earth time Alia mourns the loss of Ariel by leaving Heaven to take on mortal form just before Paris falls.  A self-anointed fallen angel, the hedonistic Alia insists she cares nothing about the beleaguered Broken Parisians and even less with the evil Nazi occupiers to come.

However, Alia enjoys sex with her sweet ferocious lover, half-Spaniard, half German Jew Pedro the bullfighter, whose father abandoned him and his mom in Spain while he was still in the womb.  Archangel Michael questions Alia why here when she knows the torment to follow.  She insists she did not lose her way; that God did by allowing this mad Führer loose on his so-called beloved mortals.  Michael reminds her she has one miracle to offer, he prays she wisely uses it.  As the war intensifies and unthinkable atrocities occur, Alia meets Josef the Jewish physicist, mathematician and violinist, and soon to be her lover.  As the years pass, Alia’s day of reckoning that Michael predicted finally arrives when she must choose between continual self-indulgence and sacrifice to save the lives of her friend Jewish widow Suzanne Dubois and her child Cecile.

Though the action is somewhat muted, Broken is a great philosophical WWII drama that focuses on a fallen angel who no longer believes God cares.  The key cast is fully-developed with diverse reactions to what is happening to the Jews and not just Hitler’s Final Solution as Josef learned in Antwerp and others in Cuba and America; while real persona like Sartre adds a powerful sense of time and place.  Tracie L. Slatton provides a profound look at religion during a crisis of faith in which even angels question whether God abandoned the flock.


Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lethal Seasons-Alice Sabo

Lethal Seasons
Alice Sabo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Aug 6 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9781500526627

In what afterward became known by survivors as Year Zero, a maniac released a virus leaving estimates of 40% of the world population dead and all governments unable to cope with a pandemic of that magnitude.  Every summer for the next decade since Year Zero, the virus returns with a new lethal strain to continue the devastation of humanity and the end of urban centers.

Nick, who lost his loved ones to the disease, travels what is left of the United States as a census counter.  When he finds two corpses who apparently killed each other; Nick would rejoice that there is one less mercenary causing havoc; but mourns for the other dead person since child bearing age and younger females are the most critical demographic if mankind is to survive.  His mission now is to find and rescue the deceased woman’s siblings while teams of marauders stalk these youngsters and his home High Meadow is under assault.

Mindful of the Kevin Costner movie The Postman, the first Changed World post-apocalyptic thriller is an exciting but grim novel as survival of the deadliest is the way of life (outside of High Meadow) since Year Zero.  Although the key cast is underdeveloped, Alice Sabo authors a twisting tense tale of an America (like the rest of the earth) continual out of control spiral deeper into the darkest era since recorded history began, but with tiny lights of hope like Nick.


Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time-Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark

Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time
Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark
David C. Cook, Sep 1 2014, $9.99
ISBN: 9780781411073

In Ireland, on his eleventh birthday Jack Staples is at the circus with his teenage brother Parker and their mother.  Ironically while a girl performs on a tightrope above lions and surrounded by a ring of fire, Jack is the only one in the audience distracted by a blackbird.  Suddenly all hell breaks loose inside the tent leaving Jack trapped by a spreading inferno while a terrifying voice demands he help destroy the Awakened.  His sibling and everyone else made it outside; they all assume Jack died except his mom who insists that The Child of Prophecy lives.  Inside, a lion dies saving Jack from the blaze by covering his body with his.

Most people have scales covering their eyes to keep them from seeing the evil that surrounds mankind; however Jack’s has fallen off so he now sees these horrors.  He and his BFF Arthur join the scales-off Awakened who include their elderly teacher Mrs. Dumphry and her former student Alexia AKA “Wild”.  Jack and Alexia learn both make up The Children of Prophecy; one will terminate and the other will resuscitate the Awakened.  When the Assassin attacks the town targeting the pair, they must learn under fire how to fight back.

Jack Staples (and Alexia) And The Ring Of Fire hooks readers from the opening act and never slows down in spite of rapid shifting focus.  The Christian good and evil fantasy is faster than DC’s Flash, as the pace never allows the tweener audience a respite.  Yet the first Staples story still insures that key players like the yin and yang Children of Prophecy and their teacher are fully developed. 


Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Memory-Lois McMaster Bujold

Memory
Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen, Sep 2 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9781476736730

On his last mission at Jackson's Whole, dwarfish secret agent Miles Vorkosigan died, but was frozen and resuscitated (see Mirror Dance).  Insisting he is fine, Miles returns to field work only to suffer a seizure that endangers others while on a combat foray.  Afterward he lies about what happened and especially his physical condition in the report he provides to his superior, Barrayaran Imperial Security Chief Simon Illyan.  Reacting as he must, Illyan fires Miles.

Devastated as his field work including being the Admiral of the Dendarii mercenaries has been his only reason to live; the depressed Vorkosigan considers an active response “to be or not to be”.  However, when Illyan’s 100% perfect recall memory chip begins to fail him, Miles convinces the desperate Emperor Gregor to name him the Imperial Auditor; as both understand the gravity of errors by the Chief of IMPSEC places the empire in peril.

Following up on the Hugo Award winning Mirror Dance, this reprint of Memory is a strong transitional entry as Vorkosigan begins a new career.  Character driven by the "failing" minds, bodies and emotions of the two heroes, readers will appreciate this powerful novel that showcases Lois McMaster Bujold’s skills as Miles finds a new relevancy answering “…that is the question.”


Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sleeping Late On Judgment Day-Tad Williams

Sleeping Late On Judgment Day
Tad Williams
Daw, Sep 2 2014, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756408893

Known in the Bay Area as Bobby Dollar, the Angel Doloriel entered Hell to rescue his girlfriend Caz the Countess of the Cold Hands trapped there by her owner Eligor the Horseman.  The good is he escaped Hell; the bad is he failed to liberate his demon girlfriend (see Happy Hour in Hell); and the ugly is he has no idea what to attempt next.

Bobby’s friend Walter escapes Hell, but suffers amnesia.  His buddy’s memory loss concerns Bobby because when they met in Hell, Walter was trying to warn him that Heaven is not a sanctuary.  Soon after their reunion, Bobby faces a not so heavenly judgmental tribunal with his only chance of surviving being that damned feather he needs to either save his soul or rescue his beloved.

The third Bobby Dollar urban fantasy (see The Dirty Streets of Heaven) is a fabulous satire as this time the angel advocate learns first hand that Heaven and Hell are identical twins when it comes to incompetence, immorality and intolerance.  Sleeping Late On Judgment Day is a tremendous spoof.


Harriet Klausner