Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Last Stormlord-Glenda Larke

The Last Stormlord
Glenda Larke
Orbit, Marc2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316069151

In Scarcleft City in the Scarpen Quarter, her father sells his twelve year old daughter Terelle to Opal's snuggery where she picks up dirty plates and mugs to be reused in the kitchen. Terelle knows that if she fails to escape shortly she will become a courtesan handmaiden just like her older half-sister Vivie who counseled her to accept the inevitable. However, the water painter gives her hope.

At the same time that Terelle considers how to escape, the Stormlord is dying and no one seems capablee of taking over his critical duties. Shale the low life has the gift, but lacks the training and being an outcast means he will never receive the training to control being a Stormord bringing the needed rain to the desert. As he wanders around while the current Stormlord nears death, the son of Granlon the Cloudmaster Nealrith Almondine and Kaneth Carnelian check levels at water cisterns to find each one at dangerous low drought levels. They discuss moral options while Taquar leads the tribes to return to the Time of Random Rain; to achieve his goal he must kill anyone who displays the watergiver talent.

This is a terrific fantasy that uses a dangerous drop in water levels to set up the excellent opening act of what looks like will be a superb relevant thriller. The ensemble cast is incredibly deep so that even secondary characters like Kaneth and the water talented female Ryka that he should marry come across as fully developed enhancing the plausibility of the story line of doom. In fact Kaneth explains the two extreme choices between allowing everyone to die slowly and mass murder to enable a chosen few high up in the water hierarch to live. Fans will enjoy Glenda Larke’s terrific relevant tale as the water wars seem imminent in the Quartern.

Harriet Klausner

The Folding Knife-K.J. Parker

The Folding Knife
K.J. Parker
Orbit, Feb 22 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316038447

Bassiamus “Basso: Severus was born to an aristocratic family in the Republic of Vesani. His father was First Citizen, but lost his position in the next election to an offspring of a sausage worker. He decided to buy up a bank’s outstanding shares. When Basso grew up he married the woman his parents chose for him. When Basso comes home one day, he sees his wife and brother-in-law having sex; he kills both of them.

His sister who Basso loved more than anyone else turned her back on him. However, he is the First Citizen of the Vesani Republic and owns the bank so still does his best for her. The only demand she made of him that he could not fulfill was to cut all ties with his son Bassano. The people love Basso and the House passes all the bills he presents to them. He knows the Republic must annex their neighbors to become an empire because he fears the Empire of the East, once it stops rebuilding, will look westward to places like Vesani. His first invasion is mineral rich Mavortis which has no central army, but a traitor insures his plan fails to execute properly.

Based on Ancient Rome, The Folding Knife is a work of exciting speculative fiction. The fascinating story line focuses on idealistic Basso the Magnificent who is a brilliant pragmatic strategist. He knows his decisions will cost lives, but though he grieves what will occur, Basso feels this is only way to save his beloved Republic. What his idealism concealed from him is that it only takes one mistake to devastate even the greatest person.
THE FOLDING KNIFE is excellent because of the great storyline, well crafted characterizations and a look into a fascinating culture.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dust of Dreams-Steven Erikson

Dust of Dreams
Steven Erikson
Tor, Jan 19 2010, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765316554

East of the Letherii Empire lies the Wastelands and the Glass desert where Malazan 14the Army Commander Adjunct Tavore leads her troops, the Bonehunters into exile. Joining them on their excursion is the Letherii imperial legions under the command of Brys Beddict. Expected to meet them are the Perish Grey Helms and Khundryl Burned Tears, but they are betrayed as they try to cross the Kingdom of Bolkando at the same time on the Ar'kryn plains while the Barghast White Face clans deal with treachery from within also. While all this military movement and treachery occurs, the Shake seeks their ancestral home the First Shore, which will cause an ancient reawakening.

As these various races of mortals and ascendants come together, the sky is on fire. Also as the heavens seem under a growing inferno, a god has escaped imprisonment to return to regain his lost power spreading Darkness over the continent. The allies know they go to war to die as the enemy is much more powerful, but ironically though they bravely face their mortality, each knows they fight to protect an empire that has exiled them.

This is the first of the a two part climax to the Malazan Book of the Fallen saga and though much of reaching the finish line will be in the last half, Dust of Dreams has plenty of action including a superb cliffhanger. There is the usual too much internal introspection by seemingly a zillion of the quadrillion cast, which makes keeping score as always complicated and convoluted. Still fans of the saga will enjoy the set-up as Steven Erikson seems ready to end the epic on a high note if the quality level of first part of the final duology is held up in part two.

Harriet Klausner

Shadowrise-Tad Williams

Tad Williams
Daw, Mar 2 010, $27.95
ISBN: 9780756405496

Southmarch Castle is eyed by two opposing groups while its rightful ruler King Olin Eddon is taken hostage by the ruler of Hierosol. Hendon Tolly has become de facto ruler of Shadowmarch, but he failed to trap Olin’s twin children Barrick and Briony The Autarch of Ixix kidnaps King Olin and they travel to Shadowmarch Castle for his own diabolical purposes.

Barrick is entranced by the fairy (Qar) Yasammez and goes behind The Shadow Line where the Qar live in perpetual twilight. He has a mission to perform for her but he has many obstacles to overcome and enemies to deal with as he travels across the fairylands. Briony travels to Syan where she is treated as a royal. She hopes to obtain enough support to return home with an army in order to dispose Tolly. Prince Enas is enchanted with Briony and she starts to have feelings for him which makes it impossible to use him and his army in to further her schemes.

The Qar surround Southmarch Castle until Yassammel orders the attack. Under the castle lies the city of Funderling Town populated by humanoid beings that are cousins to draws who live with and fight for the Qar. Briony is accused of treason, but escapes while the Autarch of Ixix reveals his plans for King Olin which if they come to fruitation will allow him to be a god but he must he triumphs over the Qar, the Funderlings and an unexpected army friendly to Shadowmarch. Several warring forces converge all claiming a kingdom as theirs.

The third Shadowmarch saga (see Shadowplay and Shadowmarch) continues where SHADOWPLAY leaves off so it behooves newcomers to peruse those tales first even with a strong synopsis to remind readers what previously happened. Tad Williams has created a great storyline that adds much to his enthralling epic fantasy as several rivals are going to Southmarch Castle. Yet with plenty of sprawling action, the characters, especially the twins, drive the story line forward to the cliffhanging ending to be continued in SHADOWHEART.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Secret of the Dragon-Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Secret of the Dragon
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Tor, Mar 16 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765319746

The power of the old gods led by Torval is waning and new gods led by Aelon and worshipped by the Sinarians and the Gods of Raj are challenging them for power. To regain their supremacy, the old gods must have the Five Bones of the primal Vektia Dragons, hidden and scattered across the world by the dragon goddess Vindrash during creation. One is owned by the Sinarions; one in the land of the ogres; and three are unknown. Whoever has the bones possesses the power of creation.

On the mortal plane, Skylan Ivorson and his sea raiding crew inclding the Bone Goddess Treia, and her sister Aylean are betrayed by Raegar, a Vindraisi turned warrior priest of Aelon who leads the enemy Sinarians to them. The crew is captures and sold into slavery while Treia who is Raegar’s lover will do anything for him. They become the slaves of Lord Acronis and are expected to battle in Para Dix games in an arena especially built for the warrior battles. Skylan discovers how deep Raegar’s treachery goes and luckily he finds where the dragon bone is interred foils his plan. Unfortunately Skylane may not be able to do anything to stop him permanently even with his knowledge because he needs the aid of the vanished dragon Kahg and the gods.

This book picks up where Bones of the Dragon ended so it behooves the audience to read the previous tale first, but also be aware that the climax of this thriller is a cliffhanger too that will require the next entry to resolve how the hero gets out of his predicament; if he does. Skylan is a sort of Indiana Jones character landing in one dangerous escapade after another with no chance to breath in between his adventures. He relies on his instincts and his crew to achieve their mission and stay alive. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman provide another superb Bones epic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shift-Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent
Mira, Mar 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327608

The civil war between Werecat clans seems imminent. Malone has challenged Sanders for the pivotal Chair of the Territorial Council. Although Sanders and his daughter Faythe wants to grieve the death of his son Ethan (see Prey), she will be there for her dad; as will the rest of their Pride.

As the other council members try to prevent clan war, the Sanders Alpha sends their tabbies (Faythe, Manx and Kaci) to safety. However, instead of reaching the haven, the thunderbirds catch the trio. To save Kaci’s life, Faythe cuts a deal that sends her, her mate Marc Ramos and Calvin’s stepson Jace, whom the two lovers do not trust, into Malone territory with no guarantees.

Though the plot is a bit thin, this is an exhilarating werewolf thriller as Faythe is at her best with her first person account of the seemingly inevitable civil war, her capture with the younger tabbies and her venture into enemy territory with her mate and the stepson of her dad’s rivals. Fans will appreciate her latest escapades while newcomers will seek the backlist (see Pride, Rogue and Shift) as the former student knows werewolf blood will flow unless she and her two traveling hunks pull off a miracle.

Harriet Klausner

The River King's Road-Liane Merciel

The River King's Road
Liane Merciel
Gallery Books, (Pocket), Mar 9 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439159118

Once Oakharn and Langmyr were provinces of the same empire, but when the empire collapsed, both became kingdoms on opposite sides of the Seivern River. War has been a constant between the two countries with many dying on both sides. Sir Galefrid of Bull’s March in Oakharn travels with his wife and infant son to Willowfield in Langmyr hoping to broker a peace. While they attend church, they and the locals are attacked; the only survivors of the atrocity are the infant Winston, son of Galefrid and brother to Leferic. The mercenary knight Brys Tarnell takes care of Winston until he can get him to safety.

The massacre is just the beginning as a red mist appears in the village killing everyone. Brys knows it is a Thorn’s doing. A Thorn is a maimed witch, acruel sadistic killer; void of human feelings. What he is ignorant of is that Galefred’s acrimonious brother Leferic, coveting power, made a deal with evil. Leferic is now the lord, but learns Winston lives; he makes another deal with the devil to eliminate the heir. Brys and peasant woman Odosse seek a safe place for the baby as Leferic’s hired Thorn gives chase. Every step is dangerous as Leferic needs Winston dead.

This is a delightful epic fantasy that will remind readers of the movie Willow in a Terry Brooks’ early Shannon saga. The good guys and gals are likable and admirable as they sacrifice their safety to keep the infant safe. A key element is that the audience will understand Leferic whose sibling rivalry and jealousy has turned him into a sociopath with ambition and willingness to cut any Faustian deal to achieve his goal of power. Although more infant issues would have been a terrific addition, fans will root for the mercenary, the peasant and the baby as they try to stay alive.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 25, 2010

Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth-Karen Miller

Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth
Karen Miller
Del Rey, Feb 23 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345509024

The Galaxy is at war with the Republic fighting the Separatists Alliance led by Count Dooku who has an unknown Sith master. They are using the dark side of the Force with planets falling to them. Their latest assault is at Kothlis and its strategic Spy-Net Facility. Jedi knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker lead the land and space battle that leaves countless dead and injured while both Jedi know their side is losing the war even though they won this battle.

When they return to the homeworld of the Jedi Order and the political center of the Republic, Senator Organa tells the two Jedi Knights that the Separatists conquered the impoverished world Lanteeb, a place so isolated in the outer rim no one can fathom why the Seps went there. The senator knows their must be something of value on that remote orb, but what is unknown. Anakin and Obi-Ben travel to Lanteeb and learn why the Seps’, led by General Durd, conquered Lanteeb and it is critical they stop him or billions will die.

This is the first of a duology starring two of the more fascinating Star War characters. The story line is fast-paced from the opening battle sequence and when the two Jedi are caught behind enemy lines on Lanteeb. The battles as always on screen and in books are vivid enhancing the non stop action. Anakin is a fabulous protagonist whose doubts abut the Jedi and their cause grows with the defeats. Fans will enjoy the opening of the Clone Wars Gambit and look forward to the continual adventures of Anakin and Ob-Ben trying to survive yet also must prevent Durd’s plan from occurring as the setback would be impossible to overcome.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Local Habitation-Seanan McGuire

A Local Habitation
Seanan McGuire
Daw, Mar 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405960

Half Fae changeling October “Toby” Daye has become a private investigator in the world of mortals as she distrusts her Faerie heritage more than that of the sneaky humans. However, though her preference is to say no, Toby knows better than to refuse a request from her Fairie liege The Shadowed Hills Duke Sylvester Torquill. Coming to her abode in San Francisco, he asks her to insure that his niece, the Countess of Tamed Lightening, is okay as she has ceased all contact with her family.

The Countess January O'Leary runs an information management company in which she employs purebred and changeling fae. A serial killer is murdering the staff. Toby investigates trying to prevent more homicides from occurring; not expecting her inquiries to intertwine.

The second October Daye (Rosemary and Rue) private investigative urban fantasy is a wonderful one sitting read that hooks the audience from the first visitation to the last. Toby terrific is tough and spunky as she holds the dual investigations together with her Noir like scrutiny. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s tours of San Francisco and the land of Fairie as she works a deadly whodunit case while wondering if October will survive long enough to see November.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of the Demon-Diana Rowland

Blood of the Demon
Diana Rowland
Bantam, Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592368

Beaulac, Louisiana police detective Kara Gillian fears for the life of her beloved Aunt Tessa who remains comatose as the cop’s othersight showed her a part of her "essence" has vanished. Having once before summoned demon Lord Rhyzkahl (see the Mark of the Demon) and survived the mystical calling, she considers doing it again to ask for his help with her aunt. Rhyzkahl has reasons for wanting the mortal to summon him again.

Kara realizes the suicide of police officer Brian Roth who apparently murdered his wife was caused by the arcane as her oversight sees evidence that something dined on his essence. She vows to learn what committed this atrocity, but her inquiry leads to FBI agent Ryan Kristoff who does not want her to ask Rhyzkahl for help.

The second Gillian police procedural Bayou fantasy is a great thriller that grips the audience the moment the heroine stops at Roth’s house to wake him up and never slows down as she works the case of the essence eater. Kara holds the arcane investigation together while her convoluted relationships with the demon and the fed enhance the strong saga in which forensics takes quite a paranormal twist.

Harriet Klausner

Chill-Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear
Spectra (Random House), Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553591088

The survivors on board the Jacob's Ladder know they are fortunate to be alive following the supernova destruction of their sun. However, as the injured like Tristen Conn learn from Angel their world dropped to 43 percent intact due to the explosion. There are areas of the space vessel that are beyond repair while the known zone suffers from all types of catastrophic deterioration. Newly appointed Captain Perceval struggles with the remaining rebels led by Arianrhod, who has fled to unknown areas and personal doubts about the right course of action.

Tristen and Benedick pursue Arianrhod through regions of the world they've never visited before. What they observe shakes both of them up while Arianrhod tries to find time to regroup the rebels. Neither pursuer realizes the danger to their way of life that surfaces.

The second Jacobs Ladder parable is a fabulous fast-paced space odyssey that fans of Elizabeth Bear will relish though newcomers must read the previous tale Dust to understand how the populace got to the point of the explosion. The reactions of Tristen and Benedick make the story line fun to read as they visit locations never seen before by either of them; observations that shake their belief system. The audience will relish a visit to the exciting Great Bear universe where the impossible is possible.

Harriet Klausner

Roadkill-Rob Thurman

Rob Thurman
Roc, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463197

The Auphe are dead and their home a wasteland; no one is more pleased with their demise than hybrid human-Auphe Cal Leandros and his purebred human brother Niko. Best friends as well as half-siblings, they no longer have to run and hide. In the open, they run their private investigation business without worry of an Auphe attack.

Both sleuths are shocked when the ancient gypsy granddame Abelia-Roo wants to hire them to find a coffin stolen from them that contains Suyolak the Plague of the World who if released causes horrific diseases. As much as the brothers prefer doing nothing for the backstabbing gypsy queen, they fear what Suyolak can do so follow the trail of Hevas. Rafferty the healer, his cousin Catcher, a were trapped in wolf form, Robin Goodfellow in between thoughts of monogamy and Cal’s sex buddy Delilah join the Leandros on their quest; albeit though Cal and Niko have doubts about each of their teammates epically Delilah who might be trying to kill them. The trail is filled with death as even a trapped Suyolak can kill.

Readers will continue to feel empathy towards Cal who due to his genetic make up as no friends within the preternatural community. His only loving contact remains his brother as both fears what will happen if his Auphe side overwhelms his human DNA. Only those who have a Deathwish would set out on this trek to capture and deal with a mass murderer. Readers will relish this roller coaster ride filled with danger, sharp Madhouse spins and twists as the unexpected is the norm in this urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Werewolf Smackdown-Mario Acevedo

Werewolf Smackdown
Mario Acevedo
Eos, Mar 9 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061567186

Denver private investigator Felix Gomez is a Latino vampire who works for the Araneum a vampire group that polices its own. He is an enforcer who goes after rogue vampires who break their laws; especially the ones who threaten to expose the Great Secret that supernatural species exist.

In Charleston, clan alpha Eric Bourbon wants to hire Felix to kill his rival Randolph Colburn for control of the Lowcountry Territory. Bourbon explains his predecessor died in a plane crash ordered by Colburn. Before he can act, Felix is abducted by Colburn who tells his side of the story. Regardless, Felix knows a civil war is coming that will impact all supernatural species even the neutrals.

Felix meets to prevent the hostilities from igniting because if they do then the humans will know that they exist. Vampires try to kill Felix who believes his enemy Julius Paxton has surfaced to take advantage of the pending disaster. Julius wants to reveal the Great Secret in order to work with mortals to form a great society even though humans will be below on the food chain.. As Paxton’s minions attack Felix and cause other problems, Paxton remains in hiding causing incidents that will lead to a werewolf civil war and Felix’s death. The sleuth has to risk his life in order to stop a nasty war from occurring.

The latest Felix Gomez’s serio-comedic urban fantasy noir (see Jailbait Zombie, X-Rated Bloodsuckers, The Nymphos Of Rocky Flats and The Undead Kama Sutra) is as zany as his previous Noir thrillers, but is the best yet. Readers obtain a profound in depth look at werewolf society especially the alpha leadership. Ironically, Felix obtains more allies amongst the were and more enemies amidst his own kind as the tongue in cheek hero risks his undead life for his convictions.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dead Matter-Anton Strout

Dead Matter
Anton Strout
Ace, Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441018444

In an alternate world where supernatural species are known to exist, organizations formed like the Department of Extraordinary Affairs to keep the human population safe. One of the DEA Agents Simon Canderous is working without his partner and mentor Connor Christos who is on vacation; having accumulated five years worth. Simon’s gift is psychometry while his girlfriend Jane’s is technonomy (bending electricity and machines to her will). They are together when they see a creature who they fail to capture and these creatures have been seen all over New York.

Chased by spirits into a graveyard, Simon and Jane find Connor in a horrific state. He explains that each night he dreams about his brother Aiden who went missing two decades ago. The pair believes Connor is seeing his sibling at his window so they stake out the place. They find someone spying on Connor and follow him into the Gibbon-Case building where vampire lives in a castle surrounded by a forest within the edifice. There the two brothers reunite while the odd edifice subsumes Jane. Determined to get her back, Simon turns to the lead vampire Brandon for help. Attempts are made on the lives of Connor and Simon. Brandon believes Simon is the prophesized one to bring peace between humans and vampires, but traitors amongst his army want war as does a rabid anti-vampire DEA operative. Hell is about to break out in Manhattan.

Anton Stout provides an entertaining and hypnotic police procedural urban fantasy filled with action inside a somewhat thin plot but loaded with deep characterizations who drive the story line forward. The protagonist has come a long way since his Deader Still escapades as he has learned vampires like humans are good and bad. His job is to ferret out the evil one, but that proves seemingly impossible. Watching the brothers unite is heartwarming yet the audience wonders whether that will turn heart-wrenching as those involved pray the species become friends, but settle for not being enemies for now; that is if they survive their ordeal.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 21, 2010

False Mermaid- Erin Hart

False Mermaid
Erin Hart
Scribner, Mar 2010, $26.00
ISBN 9781416563761

Three years ago Triona Hallet was murdered in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The police never solved the homicide. Now Triona’s sister, forensic archaeologist Dr. Nora Galvin comes home after spending two years in Ireland working cases (see Haunted Ground and Lake of Sorrows) and loving Cormac Maguire, who is in Donegal spending time with his father who deserted the family when he was a child.

Nora is positive that her brother-in-law Peter killed his wife by smashing her face in before stuffing her in her car trunk. Neither her parents nor the local cops believe sly slick Peter would kill his wife as everyone insists he loved her. Nora’s former lover and police detective is the only who believes her, but has no evidence linking Peter to Triona’s murder. While Cormac investigates a reported half Selkie human, Nora finds the corpse of who appears to be a missing female member of the Twin Cities Rowing Club in a shallow grave. The case is eerily similar to that of Triona as both had the seeds of the false mermaid plant. Nora thinks if her former lover connects the second woman to Peter she has the chance to reopen the closed case; but she fears time is running out as Peter is remarrying.

Although mostly in Minnesota, this terrific cross Atlantic investigative tale is a fast-paced must read for fans due to predominantly Nora, but also Cormac. Redemption and vengeance are the twin engines that propel the action in the States as Nora is on a vendetta that turns to desperation to protect a mother and daughter from the man she believes is a killer. Readers will enjoy False Mermaid as Erin Hart is at the top of her game with this homecoming.

Harriet Klausner

Embrace The Night Eternal-Joss Ware

Embrace The Night Eternal
Joss Ware
Avon, Feb 9 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061734021

Although the world is not what he remembers having undergone the change five decades ago when he and friends (Dr. Elliot, Quint, Wyatt, and Fence) were trapped in a cave near Sedona without aging, Simon Japp still feels guilty for what he did back then. Still he and his buddies struggle to adjust as they battle the evil Strangers and the deadly Ganga. Elliot having found Jade (see Beyond the Night) is doing the best in their new compound Envy once called Vegas.

Sage Corrigan was born after the "change," but like Simon has a nasty past that haunts her. To survive she and her cohorts at Envy need information on their enemy the Cult of Atlantis and the mysterious Remington Truth. What they know leads to Falling Creek, the last place Sage wants to return to; but she knows she is only one who can get inside along with her pretend husband Simon.

The setting in Awakening Heroes makes the tale as the futuristic world of Ware feels genuine with references back to the old world and the mysterious malevolent Strangers and the Ganga enhance that eerie feeling. Through the flawed lead couple, readers learn more about the post apocalyptic America. Simon and Sage are a wonderful pairing as their respective past psychologically intrudes on the mission and on a future together. Joss Ware is two for two with this terrific urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Red Inferno: 1945-Robert Conroy

Red Inferno: 1945
Robert Conroy
Ballantine, Feb 23 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780345506061

In 1945, the Allied forces prepare for victory over the Third Reich by jockeying for position in accordance with the Yalta agreement. However neither President Truman nor Prime Minister Stalin trust one another; while British head of state Churchill fears an Iron Curtain coming down across Europe if the west fails to act so he is pushing the new American leader to take action.

Truman is concerned that Churchill is right about Stalin. He sends two divisions across the Elbe River towards Berlin to counter the Soviet’s control of Eastern Europe though that violates Yalta and General Eisenhower’s advice. Stalin is outraged by the affront even as Truman claims it is for peace. Instead Stalin orders the Red Army to attack its former allies.

Red Inferno: 1945 is a super alternate historical thriller based on the premise that Truman crosses the Elbe extending the war in Europe. Ironically, though a WWII thriller, the super cast (military and civilian) on both sides of the continuing confrontation do their assigned jobs, but all especially the soldiers make it clear they prefer to give peace a chance; everyone wants to go home but not in a body bag. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Robert Conroy explores what if Truman sent units across the Elbe in 1945 as the war with Germany was all but over.

Harriet Klausner

Whisper of the Seventh Thunder-Larry Brooks

Whisper of the Seventh Thunder
Larry Brooks
Sons of Liberty, Mar 1 2010, $17.00
Nashua, NH 03062
ISBN: 9780982403532

Over two thousand years ago on the Island of Patmos where John the Divine was exiled, the Angel of the Seven Thunders showed him visions that he was unable to write down. In the present, Gabriel Stone stood in the cave where John saw the angelic vision and he knows what the Jesus disciple saw. In that cave, he meets his wife and upon her death, Gabriel writes down the vision.

Writing the book in nine weeks, Gabriel feels as if someone putting the words in his brain. He takes his book to an agent who sells it to a publisher, but before it can be published, the agent and the publisher are dead. Two groups who do not want his book released because they believe the theme is not for public consumption; they go after Gabriel. In Israel, a supercomputer with cryptology software breaks down the vision, which involves people and events leading to the rise of the Antichrist. Gabriel’s name is on the list of key players, but regardless of God’s master plan and his role or any sect’s religious dogma, his goal is to prevent the slaughter of the innocent.

This is a fascinating enthralling apocalyptic thriller that deftly blends Brown, Clancy and LaHaye-Jenkins. The hero is a courageous person mindful of Moses in his belief that a nonentity like him who rested from his first day on earth until he entered the cave could not be a key player in the Lord’s plan, but like the Exodus leader does his best to do the mission and overcome his doubts. However, it is the fundamentalist Brethren group who grip the reader as these devout believers need the Antichrist to take his throne as they insist that is God’s plan and if millions die in support of their belief; so be it as long as the end of days begins.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hawkmoon: the Jewel in the Skull-Michael Moorcock

Hawkmoon: the Jewel in the Skull
Michael Moorcock
Tor, Jan 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780765324733

The Dark Empire of Granbretan has devastated their opponents who have tried to overthrow their harsh subjection. One such loser the Duke of Koln Dorian Hawkmoon attempted unsuccessfully to destroy the empire, but instead failed and became their pawn.

When Count Brass the lord of the city Kamarang rejects an offer of an alliance with Granbretan, imperial Baron Meliadus sends former rebel Hawkmoon to kidnap Brass' daughter, Yisselda. However, Hawkmoon has problems with carrying out the abduction order that goes against his values; besides his attraction to Yisselda, her father treats him with respect and kindness; reminding him of his original vow to destroy the evil Empire and his deep humiliation of bowing down to Meliadus.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed reprint of a 1960s sword and sorcery thriller that holds up nicely though contains little insight into life under the Black Jewel sorcery rule as the plot is linear. The hero makes the story line work as he believes his ultimate abjection is a betrayal of his own soul and when he meets the last holdout, Hawkmoon knows how far he has fallen in disgrace. Fans will enjoy Dorian’s efforts to regain what he lost when the Empire defeated his army; his impetus is the father and daughter who shower him with adulation and respect while he feels he deserves contempt. Future Europe has rarely looked as dark as the continent that Hawkmoon traverses.

Harriet Klausner

Time Meddlers: Undercover-Deborah Jackson

Time Meddlers: Undercover
Deborah Jackson
Lachesis Publishing, September 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781897562437

In Ottawa, thirteen year old Matt Barnes and his best friend Sarah Sachs sneak into his home hoping to find clues to where his father is. They know he is caught back in time in the multiverse. They remain alert knowing his former caretaker and lab assistant Nadine is on the run. When Nadine breaks into the house, they observe her opening a hidden safe. After she leaves, they find microfilm inside the safe. Her father tells the two kids that the library has a reader. There they see highlights from WW II in Amsterdam.

After doing some research Matt recognizes the name of a Dutch undercover Special Operations Executive (SOE) operative Johanna “Celery” Van Duizen. They disobey her dad and reenter his father’s lab only Nadine follows them. They push her into the time portal in which lands her in 1942 in Nazi occupied Amsterdam. The pair follows in terms of time, but switch location to England only to run into trouble with an elite British Royal Air Force unit who ignores their warning that the SOE has a deadly fate awaiting them.

This is a great time travel thriller with a super surprising final twist. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as Matt is obsessed with rescuing his dad lost in time and Nadine having his back end up in WW II England and Amsterdam at a key point in which the Dutch resistance is in trouble. Deborah Jackson interweaves the Dutch resistance to the German occupation especially hiding Jews like Anne Frank and her family and other targeted people from the Nazis as a key element in the strong plot. Middle school readers and anyone who read or saw the movie The Diary of Anne Frank (except Holocaust deniers) will enjoy this fine sequel to the Time Meddlers as courage is an equal opportunity trait that ignores religion, ethnic origin, age and gender.

Harriet Klausner

Come Hell or High Water-Michelle Bardsley

Come Hell or High Water
Michelle Bardsley
Signet, Feb 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228789

In Broken Heart, Oklahoma single mom Phoebe Allen is looking forward for a short breather while her four years old son Danny is visiting Disneyworld with his dad. .However, her respite ends almost immediately after Danny leaves.

Half demon Connor Ballard courts the vampiric mom because he believes she is his only hope to prevent his purebred demon stepmother Lilith from escaping her incarceration in hell. However his pursuit changes when they are mated, but he knows he must stand vigilant because if Lilith escapes to earth all hell will break out. Phoebe realizes she must help the hunk, but does not have to consign her heart with new mate; now if only her heart would heed her advice.

As always with this chick-lit urban fantasy romance series, Michelle Bardsley combines humor with romance and this time literally the stepmom from hell. The story line is fast-paced as the wind comes sweeping down the plain is not sweet; almost as terrifying as the heroine’s first night in town when a Consortium member welcomed her to Oklahoma sooner than she wanted. Fans will enjoy this thin but fun tale as the vampire mom figuratively insists “Over My Dead Body”.

Harriet Klausner

Warriors-George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Tor, Mar 16 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765320483

Through time memorial, Warriors have fought for and defended their country and will do so in the future. In fiction, Warriors appear in every genre; they turn up in the past, present and future; are various species; on diverse locations throughout the universe and beyond; and are of both human genders. George R.R. Martin points this out in the Introduction that Warriors play major roles in The Lord of the Rings, The Forever War, All’s Quiet on the Western Front and Starship Trooper for instance. George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois deployed well known authors to write Warrior tales in their particular genre and favorite period; however writers are an independent group so fans will find delightful surprises.

An entry sure to be popular is “The Custom of the Army” by Diane Gabaldon focusing on a seventeenth century colonial soldier who is being court-martialed and asks Lord John to speak up for him.. Joe Haldeman’s “Forever Bound” takes place in the near future when warriors have implants that make them into a cohesive unit due to a group mind, but one soldier finds his partner, but though he thinks differently he continues to fight for his country. In Lawrence Block’s “Clean Slate”, Katherine has a more personal war to fight as her dad’s Little Soldier. In 4577, “Seven Years From Home” (by Naomi Novik), Ruth the diplomat arrives on a planet to ignite a civil war between the two local human species, one of which needs more land.

These are a sample of a strong diverse 20-story collection of new tales as Robin Hobb and Steven Saylor takes the audience to Rome and Carthage; Cecilia Holland has Vikings as her stars; Joe R. Lansdale highlights the "Soldierin" in the American Civil War. Readers will enjoy this varied anthology as the contributors use differing genres, era, locations, species, and genders, but share in common a deep look at the heart of Warriors.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Raven's Ladder-Jeffrey Overstreet

Raven's Ladder
Jeffrey Overstreet
Waterbrook, Feb 16 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9781400074679

When he was a prince Cal-raven freed Auralia’s Colors only to find their “house” collapsed killing his father. Still believing that the Keeper sent Auralia to them for a reason, he led his people to safety inside a stone labyrinth after overcoming the beastmen (see Cyndere’s Midnight). However their refuge proves unsafe when something from underground is trying to drill through the stones. The people of Abascar flee again while their ruler King Cal-raven foretells the rebuilding of a New Abascar.

However, King Cal-raven is distracted by the Seers of the House Bel Amica. He fails to protect his people who have plans for the wanderers and having learned of Auralia’s Colors from those they have trapped with their charms, they weave this into their lies. Only Cyndere as daughter of Bel Amica’s widow Queen Thesera abetted by Jordam the House of Cent Regus beastman; and “Rescue” the mysterious ale boy can save the weary wanderers. However they must overcome the brutal cursed Cent Regus beastmen, the sneaky Seers advisors to the queen of Bel Amica and the wavering monarch Cal-raven having lost his faith in the colors and his vision.

The third colorful Abascar religious fantasy is a terrific entry with a powerful message of keep the faith at all times especially when you feel abandoned. The story line is fast-paced but character driven as Cyndere continues to believe even more so while Cal-raven is losing his beliefs. Although filled with action throughout, it is the King’s questioning what the Keeper wants for the House of Abascar that he helped to collapse that makes this a strong inspirational fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Black Magic Sanction-Kim Harrison

Black Magic Sanction
Kim Harrison
Eos, Feb 23 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061138034

Having defeated various paranormal criminals and resolved the Kisten case, detective Rachel Morgan finds out she has been betrayed to a white magic coven who shun her for using black magic as a witch-born demon whose offspring will be demons. Stunned by the declaration and the sentencing, the coven offers her a choice of solitary incarceration at Alcatraz or sterilization.

Drug kingpin Trent Kalamack the elf offers Rachel a deal that would get the coven to back off of her but the cost is high. Her former boyfriend Nick Sparagmos arrives to make her situation worse as only he can while she wonders what game he is playing this time. Only her demon teacher Al seems to be on her side, but Rachel trusts no one as she realizes the coven that she has paid annual dues to for years can be bought and sold regardless of the buffoon announcements of the coven’s Oliver to the contrary.

There is a lot going on in the Hollows as Kim Harrison shows her bewitching skills with a strong entry that follows up fresh and nice after all that occurred in the super The Outlaw Demon Wails and White Witch, Black Curse. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Rachel learns of the shunning sentencing and never slows down as she battles her “allies” who prove corrupt. As she and readers learn more about the coven and its history, fans will regale in the heroine’s latest urban fantasy as the escapades keep coming at Rachel.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Where Angels Fear to Tread-Thomas E. Sniegoski

Where Angels Fear to Tread
Thomas E. Sniegoski
Roc, Mar 2010, $14.00
ISBN 9780451463142

In Boston, former seraphim Remy Chandler struggles to control his heavenly power ever since his beloved Madeline died six moths ago. Deryn York, the frantic mother of six years old Zoe, pleads with Remy to find her missing daughter. The distraught woman shows the private investigator drawings she says her child drew that foretell her abduction by her father Carl and one picture of a male angelic savior with a big black dog in front of a brownstone that Remy recognizes in entirety.

Unbeknownst to Remy, cursed to walk the earth alone Delilah seeks the child as does the followers of the god Dagan. Blind Samson also joins the mix seeking the little girl with power to predict the future. Soon everyone converges in West Virginia.

This exciting urban fantasy is fast-paced and filled with action from the moment Remy sees the last drawing and never slows down as the hero realizes all hell is about to break out over a child. Remy is super as he struggles to contain his power though he would not mind burning a few worthless souls yet will move heaven, hell and earth to protect an innocent little girl. Delilah is a terrific villainess who will do anything to further her power; except for Remy, she makes the rest of the cast including her former husband look emaciated. Fans will relish this fine tale and seek the hero’s back story (see, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse and Dancing on the Head of a Pin).

Harriet Klausner

Cat’s Claw-Amber Benson

Cat’s Claw
Amber Benson
Ace, Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9780441018437

Having rescued her father the CEO of Death, Inc, Calliope Reaper-Jones wants to go back to her vapid New York City lifestyle of designer shoes and designer hunks. However, before the immortal Callie can get back into the swing of Manhattan living, she learns her soul mate (don’t use that term in front of dear old dad) Daniel thought long dead may be alive.

Finally after buying two cupcakes as directed, she also has visitors she would prefer stay out of her life. There is the old woman and her tart minx spirit demanding a human form and better behavior from her or else. Then there is Cerberus Hell’s Guardian demanding Callie pay her debt by finding and bringing to the three headed watchdog an architect who varnished. Callie can handle Vegas, Purgatory, and Hell, but a discount department store is something that even Dante could not envision.

This is an entertaining frenzied fantasy frolic that will have the audience laughing at the chick lit voice of the heroine who is willing to go to heaven on a hellish cause, but discount stores are unfair. The story line is thin in spite of a vast richness of supporting myths and several subplots. Still fans will enjoy the amusing antics of Death’s Daughter as she navigates between her work at TV Home Shopping and plenty of otherworldly demands.

Harriet Klausner

Blackout- Connie Willis

Connie Willis
Ballantine, Feb 2 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780553803198

In 2060, studying history at Oxford is a contact sport as historians conduct real field research. In that regard three historians are sent to different locations during WW II. Seventeen years old Colin Templer, who saved the life of project chief Mr. Dunworthy wants the faculty advisor’s help so he can age enough in the past for older student Polly Churchill to notice him and how much he loves her. At the relative same time, Michael Davies is preparing to go to Pearl Harbor but the assignment changed after he obtained his American accent implant to be there for the Channel fishermen rescue at Dunkirk; Polly is going to London as a shopgirl during the Blitz; and Eileen works at a children’s evac center in Warwickshire during a measles outbreak.

However something is not quite right with the Research lab equipment as assignments change abruptly and the historians face danger when they arrive during the early stages of WW II in England. Although Eileen insists she trusts in the future, something Mike did at Dunkirk should not have happened; at least based on the prime premise of the History Department at Oxford in 2060 in which a traveling historian cannot change what has been.

This is a super time travel historical thriller that hooks the audience from the onset and never slows down especially when the trio land in 1939-1940. The story line is fast-paced yet loaded with vivid detail so that the prime subplots seem genuine as Polly struggles with working at a store and evacuating during air raids; and Eileen with twenty two kids and resentful locals including the sponsor especially during a measles outbreak. However, it is Mike who may have changed the outcome of WW II and the next century with his impossible actions that could not have happened at Dunkirk. Perhaps the only issue with this great saga is it never climaxes as the second book to be published later in the year contains the rest of the story.

Harriet Klausner

First Drop Of Crimson-Jeaniene Frost

First Drop Of Crimson
Jeaniene Frost
Avon, Feb 9 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061583223

Over a year ago on New Year’s Eve, they were attacked by something paranormal that frightened her best friend Cat; Denise knew that little scares a vampire even a hybrid bloodsucker. Denise’s husband Randy went outside where the fray was on going, but told his beloved to stay inside with the runaway kids who take shelter with them and promised to be back. He never kept his promise dying during the zombie assault.

Over a year later, Denise’s cousin Paul informs her that he does not believed the doctors or police are right when they insist twenty-three year old Amber died from a heart attack; he thinks she was murdered and he is “Destined for an Early Grave” too. Denise says no way, but the man comes out of the shadows and grabs Paul who stops breathing. She attacks the man who laughs and vanishes. Next she tries CPR as does a stranger, but both end up coughing and Paul remains dead.

Unable to reach Cat or her BF’s mate Bones, Denise calls Spade the vampire. Bones’ best buddy quickly arrives and realizes that the killer left behind a residual of demon essence from Raum, which proves Paul was right; dead right. They seek Nathaniel, who escaped from Raum. As they search for the predator, each feels an unwanted attraction to one another, which she rejects out of guilt and he denies out of a previous failed mortal relationship.

This is a great beginning of a sidebar series spun from the terrific Night Huntress saga as Denise and Spade have consistently appeared so fans knows each of them. The story line is fast-paced from the attack on Paul and never slows down on either the urban fantasy thriller prime plot or the supporting romantic subplot. Jeaniene Frost provides a powerful tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Ride-Jenifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Wild Ride
Jenifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
St. Martin’s, Mar 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780312533779

Dreamland, located in Parkersburg, Ohio, is a rundown amusement park that is receiving a face lift. Mary Alice Brannigan is restoring the fading artwork and remaking the exhibits, but scoffs at the rumors that demons reside there. That proves misfortunate because Dreamland is more than just an aging amusement park; it is the prison for five of the most dangerous Untouchable demons to walk the earth. Each of these evil doers is restrained inside a chalice cup contained with a statue of iron with the keys to unlock their cells spread around the park.

The Guardia elite demon fighting team watch over the five Untouchables to make sure none escape, but if even one manages to get free, they unite to recapture the demon. Mab struggles to believe what she hears and that she will be the newest Guardia warrior now that Funflun the clown is restored the demon escape. She becomes the Seer when the present one dies and former Green Beret Ethan Wayne who has come here to die becomes the Hunter. As a child he lived at Dreamland, but never believed the story until now. As Halloween approaches, led by Kharos the Devil, the Untouchables plan to break out by taking advantage of two skeptical rookies.

This aptly titled book takes readers on a Wild Ride to a decrepit amusement park that serves as a demon prison. Mab fights against her destiny since she does not relate well with people so prefers being left alone to restore art; however she rises to the occasion when she is needed to help with the demon problem. This is an amusing roller coaster urban fantasy that is fun to read as Jenifer Crusie and Bob Mayer never takes the entertaining story line too seriously.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flirt-Laurell K. Hamilton

Laurell K. Hamilton
Berkley, Feb 2010, $23.95
ISBN: 9780425235676

Wealthy business man Mr. Tony Bennington enters the office of Anita Blake, vampire executioner and zombie reanimator. Grieving for the loss of his beloved wife, he asks her to reanimate her so they can be together again. She explains to her potential client that the individual who crossed over will not be the same person who returns. He begs her, but though sympathizing with him and wanting to say yes, she knows the consequences as the love of Tony’s life will not come back the way he thinks. She continues to say no.

A few days later, Anita is at a restaurant when were-lions Nicky and Jacob join her. They are hired thugs who are to kidnap Anita in order to force her to bring back Mr. Bennington’s wife. They explain why she should cooperate as her shapeshifting boyfriends are hostages. Anita gives them her weapons as she accompanies them to their lair. Although telepathically asking for help and being blocked by a witch from communicating, she now knows she will work this one alone as her loved ones are at stake.

Although a short novel, Flirt is Laurell K. Hamilton at her very best as it packs quite an emotional wallop from the moment a grieving Bennington begs her for help and that keeps the angst level high. Also keeping the tension level high is the heroine’s love for her mates as she fights with all her strength and powers to end this High Moon confrontation. Throughout this tale the passions run stratospheric yet the plot is loaded with action as Anita must contend with powerful hooligan shapeshifters and their boss if she is to keep her boyfriends safe and not cause collateral damage; all she needs is a plan to deploy as she is buying time, but nothing else.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Vision-C. L. Talmadge

The Vision
C. L. Talmadge
Healing Stone Books, Jun 2008, $16.95
ISBN: 9780980053739

In Azgard, medical officer Lieutenant Helen Andros has come a long way in spite of her low social rank as an illegitimate half-breed. The country’s caste system has little wiggle room for people of her race and background; in fact she is surprised her Turanian mother gave birth to someone with her pedigree.

From the mysterious Mist Weavers, she recently learns why her mom accepted the ostracism of bearing an illegitimate half-breed when she finds out who her father is. He is a very powerful Toltec lord. They also understand the meaning of the green gem she has worn since birth. However, her paternal heritage will not prevent the Supreme Lord of the Temple of Kronos from killing this impure hybrid; the only way Helen can survive is if she learns to use the gem.

This is a superb very complex character driven fantasy that takes a close look at religious and racial persecution. Helen is a terrific heroine whose need to learn more about her heritage puts her on a path in which her outcome will be either death or power. The Toltec State Religion demands purity and nothing else is acceptable; thus the audience receives an intriguing cautionary tale of a theocratic caste society in which DNA and religious obedience rule. Readers will appreciate this strong fantasy in which intolerance supersedes acceptance

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider-Ellen C. Maze

Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider
Ellen C. Maze
Outskirts, Nov 2009, $17.95
ISBN: 978-1432751012

Writer Beth Rider is ecstatic as her novel starring vampires seeking redemption is a best seller. In fact the book is so popular Beth begins a tour autographing her novel for customers.

At the Buckhead BooksAMillion store in Atlanta, a dark brooding Goliath warns Beth to watch her back. In her hotel room, that same giant Jack Dawn of the Rakum race taunts her before attacking Beth. Her bestseller places his concealed race the Rakum out for dangerous exposure by the mortals. He turns her into prey for the Rakum to torture her when he marks her with his blood as a Rabbit; as he leaves her he says Rabbits always suicide as his pups will feed off her.

Another Rakum Michael Stone smells the scent of the Rabbit as one of his kind turned her into a toy for their species. Something is wrong however as Rabbits are typically nasty mortals deserving of punishment; not an innocent writer. He also is attracted to Beth, which makes less sense so he goes against his upbringing to protect his Rabbit though he knows his people are coming for them.

Amazingly this is a fresh exciting rendition of the vampire mythos starring a stunned writer turned Rabbit, her champion and their enemies Goliath and his pups. The story line is fast-paced from the opening warning and never slows down until the final climax. The cast is strong especially the lead triangle as the beleaguered heroine and her protector try to evade Jack and the other Rakum who smell Rabbit. Fans will enjoy Chasing Beth Rider as Ellen C. Maze spins a superb unique vampire thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Fang Face-Norm Cowie

Fang Face
Norm Cowie
Quake (Echelon), Sep 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781590806203

Her biggest issues had been math and acne until the bite. Now Erin’s most pressing problem is how to explain to her parents that just because she is a vampire, she does not want to sleep in a coffin especially a coke bottle shaped coffin. She admits to herself the benefits of healthy undead living include perfect skin, flying like a bird, scaring the crap out of her obnoxious younger sister Alex who had voted for cremation as the resolution to the family problem of having one of them being of a different blood type, and going out at night knowing you are safe.

Ironically her Undead complexion apparently is in as everyone says she never looked better; perhaps not eating pizza helps. The girls at school are jealous of Fang Face as they call her because the boys want to exchange hickeys with her. Erin’s deepest regret is now that she is a porcelain Goth beauty she cannot see how she looks as she has no reflection.

This is an amusing teen vampire tale that will remind readers more of the movie My Best Friend Is a Vampire than Twilight as Norm Cowie provides a tongue in cheek behind the overbite family drama. With a lighthearted jocularity and a somewhat anemic story line, Erin, her family, friends and fans learn the advantages and disadvantages of being a blood sucker while answering the most critical Undead question of all – can vampires cry?

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Conqueror’s Shadow-Ari Marmell

The Conqueror’s Shadow
Ari Marmell
Spectra, Feb 23 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780553807769

In Imphallion, Corvis Rebaine led an army that killed anyone in his path. He used his demon ax and Khandra the demon slave and allied with Davro the ogre and Seilloah the witch. They won victory after victory. However, on the verge of total conquest, the Terror of the East as he was called lost and vanished along with a noblewoman Tyannon.

Years later, Audriss the warlord has deployed Corvis’ plan for world domination through mass damnation. Corvis has heard of his replacement, but ignores the conquests as he and his wife Tyannon raise their two children Lilander and Mellorin in love and peace. That changes when Audriss’ thugs abduct Mellorin, which angers Corviss into action starting with killing those who grabbed his daughter. He gathers his former allies to ironically save Imphallion from the latest warlord.

This is an amusing timely fantasy in which an amoral (except with his family and buddies– demons don’t count as pals) antihero and his even less ethical friends save the same realm they almost conquered seventeen years ago from the latest conqueror. The story line is fast-paced, action-packed and though jocular raises questions as to what are true values. Though how middle-aged Corvis retained his warrior skill that he uses immediately remains questionable, he and his partners make the tale as they are sly, slick and will do any stunt to achieve their objectives; his being to return to his family. Fans will appreciate the efforts of Corvis to complete the job and go home.

Harriet Klausner

Shadowglass-Erica Hayes

Erica Hayes
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 2 2010, $14.99
ISBN 9780312578015

In Melbourne, Ice the water fairy loves partying and petty thieving especially with her best friend Blaze the firefae. They heist some cash and diamonds from an apartment to pay their protection tab to the Valenti mob.

At a club where her beloved metallic fairy Indigo ignores her, Ice meets demon lord Kane. She steals a small mirror from him; an artifact he warned her not even look into, but the temptation proved too much. The mirror brought across from hell eliminates inhibitions as Ice learns first hand; everyone from mortal to supernatural want it. When she loses it, Ice fears Kane, rival demons, the mob and angels are coming for her and the missing mirror. Indigo, who stared at the mirror offers to find it, but to do so means betraying contractual partners,which Ice fears might leave her below the supernatural ooze since he has no inhibitions to adhere to any celestial code.

The second Shadowfae Australian erotic urban fantasy makes the supernatural and mafia landscape seem genuine. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the strawberry scented anti-heroine proudly wears the ice she stole and never slows down for a contractual moment. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale as the mirror from Hell opens the soul to enable the viewer to seek what they wish for since nothing inside them will prevent them from trying.

Harriet Klausner

Original Sin-Allison Brennan

Original Sin
Allison Brennan
Ballantine, Jan 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345511676

Since escaping from the queen of the underworld her evil mother Fiona the black magic practitioner, Moira O'Donnell has trained mentally and physically for several years to reach the point of not just demon hunter, but confronting mommy dearest. Her mentor Father Philip of the St. Michael's Monastery has taught or arranged for Moira to receive lessons in magical combat.

Time has run out and though Moira feels unready she knows her mother plans to use a special incantation to open a portal to Hell that will enable the malevolent witch to control demons and the seven deadly sins. In Santa Louisa, California, Fiona begins her spell after an assault on a nearby mission left one survivor former seminarian Rafe Cooper. He leaves the hospital and interrupts the enchantment at a critical moment; allowing the seven deadly sins to cross as living essences. Moira, Rafe, demonologist Anthony Zaccardi, local sheriff Skye McPherson and two haunted teens unite to battle Fiona, her minion and seven deadly sins.

This is a terrific opening urban fantasy that contains a high degree of suspense. The allies are an interesting mix as each has baggage and distrust of one another while failure to unite means defeat. Fiona is super villainess with her thirst for power, which is thwarted by the bungling of Rafe leading to rage. Fans will relish this first of the Seven Deadly Sins as Allison Brennan makes her demonic invasion seem real.

Harriet Klausner

Hastur Lord-Deborah J. Ross and Marion Zimmer Bradley

Hastur Lord
Deborah J. Ross and Marion Zimmer Bradley
Daw, Jan 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756406226

The Terran Empire was no more having morphed into the Federation. With that change, the philosophy of choice ends so that those worlds like Darkover that fail to join the Federation will receive a special visit from the insidious World Wreckers whose mantra is join or die.

Darkover has had such a visit with the assassinations of the Comyn Council members. Only the Hastur of Hastur, Regent of Darkover, remains in the way of a Terran takeover that would exhaust the planet’s natural resources as a military stop. The ruler however is old and dying. His grandson Regis Hastur is heir, but he prefers not to rule as that would mean giving up his beloved Danilo Syrtiss. However, on his death bed, the current ruler informs his grandson that he has an older half-brother Rinaldo hidden away in shame. Regis always wanted a sibling, but now feels he might have a way to give up being the heir at a critical time when the planet lacks strong leadership.

This is an exhilarating character driven Darkover thriller, which apparently Deborah J. Ross completed from a manuscript written by the late great Marion Zimmer Bradley before she died over a decade ago. The story line is fast-paced as the Terrans use any means to gain control, but it is the two brothers who make the novel work as in spite of their psi powers they seem real. With a super look at power, responsibility, accountability and leadership; fans of the saga will not be able to delineate what are Ms. Ross’ touches and what was Ms. Bradley as we welcome a new Darkover entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Silver Mage-Katharine Kerr

The Silver Mage
Katharine Kerr
Daw, Nov 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756405878

The magically enhanced Horsekin are coming south with a religious fervor that threatens anyone who fails to join their crusade. Their powerful seemingly invincible force appears to be targeting the northern reaches of Deverry and resistance looks increasingly futile as these fierce warriors gain control of the Northlands. The elves and the humans of Deverry fear the deployment south will overpower their alliance to prevent the Horskin encroachment as Prince Dar expects to lose control of the Ghostlands and who knows what next.

Prince Dar, his supporters and his allies prepare for the final battle against an overwhelming adversary that will determine the fate of the kingdom and much more, a glimmer of hope arrives when the Dwrgi and the dragons join his side. Still the Horsekin are much stronger, but the humans take comfort that their ancestors in their darkest moment against a superior force survived the Roman invasion by coming to this land to establish a nation.

The Silver Mage is a terrific end to a saga that started when Reagan was in the White House. The story line is fast-paced and extremely complicated as Katherine Kerr ties up the major subplots. The Roman back story is engaging as is the deep look at the Horsekin, but they also take the audience away from the prime anticipated climax of the epic ending battle. Still this is an entertaining finish to the fifteen book Deverry saga.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Katie MacAlister
Signet, Feb 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229311

Computer research technician Jack Fletcher is experimenting with a nanoelectromechanical system in his lab. His sister Hallie, who sold him at a charity auction, accidentally moves the switches while spilling liquid helium on the connections, causing an explosion that burns the circuits and more. The boom also sends the siblings to another world; that of his favorite story Airship Pirates; a Victorian realm using steam power as the primary source of energy. .

Aerocorps Captain Octavia Pye is on her maiden voyage on HIMA (His Imperial Majesty’s Airship) Tesla. However, she is shock to find two stowaways on her ship. Jack and Hallie tell her their story, but she thinks they are either insane or spies for the Black Hand Rebels or one of the European enemies as the Empire is on the brink of revolt. She also thinks the hunk is cute while he knows she is the woman he always wanted.

Steamed is an entertaining wacky steampunk romantic fantasy filled with humor as the computer guru with fantasies of being Indiana Jones lands in the adventure of a lifetime with the woman of his dreams. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Hallie sends them into this other realm and never slows down as Jack thrives to become a one-eyed patched first mate to the captain who has a few secrets of her own.

Harriet Klausner

Battle of the Network Zombies-Mark Henry

Battle of the Network Zombies
Mark Henry
Kensington, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758225269

Not all zombies are disgusting creatures as depicted in the Night of the Living Dead saga. Take Seattle's Amanda Feral for instance; she is beautiful using makeup to cover rot like hiding acne, but when a part gets too nasty she can turn to the reapers who for an exorbitant fee (will health care reform cover this) will fix the blemish. Since her ad agency tanked thanks to a client who created a product that flopped once the public knew what is made of, Amada’s “agent” Wendy KlarKaroff arranged a meeting with the despicable wood nymph Johnny Birch for some needed publicity by appearing on his reality TV show.

Johnny’s new show "Minions Mansion" is overloaded with “guests” who hate him. When someone threatens him, he plans two hire a body guard from one of the contestants on his show. Amanda becomes a judge on Minions Mansion and is one of the first people to find his corpse inside his locked safe. Many of the crew including the judges had strong motives to incinerate Johnny, but Amanda fears the killer will strike again; yet her warning is ignored as everyone assumes Johnny deserved to die and prefer Happy Hour of the Damned.

Somewhat chick-lit comedy, Amanda’s latest urban fantasy amateur sleuth (see Road Trip of the Living Dead) is a unique reading experience as Mark Henry gives the zombie treatment to reality TV. Amanda is perfect for pulling off the satire with her sidebar commentary about life as a zombie diva which is expensive because image is everything and she must have expensive make-up and a classy wardrobe and she hope the publicity of being a judge will get her some clients for her ad agency. Fans will enjoy this refreshingly something different as Amanda judges the undead as deadly, but her philosophy is to die with your makeup on. The audience will like the switch from a reality show to a mystery who-done-it which Amanda hopes to solve

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Prince of Storms-Kay Kenyon

Prince of Storms
Kay Kenyon
PYR, Jan 26 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9781591027911

Titus Quinn of Earth from the Rose universe claims to be the Regent of the parallel universe Entire. He pledges to turn over control to his daughter Sen Ni, but procrastinates as he distrusts his estranged offspring especially since she has linked her destiny with Geng De the psychic. Quinn fears if he gives up the throne, the technologically advanced Entire will destroy his homeworld as part of the extinction of the Rose as his daughter has already proclaimed doing in order to save the failing Entire.

He is not a fool as he knows his control is shaky as the enemy resides near him enough to harass him, and the Tarig overlords remain hostile and evil with plans to overthrow his Ascendancy and devastate the Rose (see City Without End).just like his daughter will do to save their realm. However, it is the plotting of the navitar especially one who can alter the future that frightens him. His only hope is a pact with the opponents of the Long War, the Jinda ceb Horat who have Quinn's wife Anzi as a willing remorseful pawn. Still Quinn knows the real fight is with the navitar who forces the beleaguered earth champion to choose the fate of billions in two universes as a master plan of devious design unfolds.

This is an exhilarating finish to a great saga as The Entire and the Rose not just wraps up major threads, but keeps the audience thinking about life and death choices on a macro and micro level. The story line is fast-paced yet filled with memorable characters struggling to do what each believes is right; knowing whatever is selected dooms many. Fans will appreciate this strong entry to powerful quartet as Kay Kenyon makes it clear how difficult on a personal level it is to decide who will live and who will die when one faces a face.

Harriet Klausner

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms-N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin
Orbit, Feb 25 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780316043915

Barbaric warrior Baroness Yeine Darr lives in the Northern Kingdom of Darr. When her mother dies mysteriously, she has no time to grieve or investigate. Instead she is “invited” to come to the center of the universe by the Emperor of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by her grandfather the Dekarta Arameri ruler of all. In the capital city of Sky, a bewildered Yeine learns her grandfather the ruler names her his third heir along with her cousins once removed twins Lady Scimina and Lord Relad.

Confused and bewildered over her selection to the competition to replace the aging Dekarta, Yeine soon realizes her role at court is to be an expendable pawn used by her cousins as each has ambitions to be the next ruler. However, she also learns more about her family’s history and the gods serving them; losers in the Gods War eons ago who humiliatingly must bow to the mortals as their retribution for the crime of defeat. She proves to have backbone though all at court thought she would and intelligence that none thought she had while trying to save the kingdoms and free the god-slaves.

The first tale of the Inheritance Trilogy is a fascinating adaptation fantasy told through the filter of the heroine who uses her experiences as a chieftain and lessons from her late mother to understand the glamorous cesspool she has been tossed into. Yeine is a terrific lead protagonist who keeps the deep story line focused whether she deals with her grandfather, her amoral rivals, the slave-gods especially Nahadoth. Although the engaging story line is simplified too much between the forces of good and bad, readers will enjoy the opening account of a fully developed convoluted world in which debts of the soul are paid by losing your rights as Nahadoth the Nightlord One of the Three and now Yeine know the difference between the slave and the princess.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 1, 2010

Shalador’s Lady-Anne Bishop

Shalador’s Lady
Anne Bishop
Roc, Mar 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451463159

When she was Queen the first time, Cassidy of Bhad was too weak and plain so her retinue deserted her to join the stronger court of much prettier and more powerful Queen Kermilla. At the same she is dethroned, the deceitful Queens ignored the honorable Rules of the Blood and ruin Dena Nehele leading to revolt

As the Rose-Jeweled Queen Cassidy expands her efforts to cleanse the entire realm and affirm she deserves being the ruler, Cassidy continues to grow in moral fiber, which enables her to grow in power to cleanse the land of the taint.

Fans of the long running Black Jewels saga will relish this terrific entry; newcomers need to at least read the previous entry The Shadow Queen to better understand the action-packed entry though perusing previous books would be even better as Anne Bishop paints a complex realm.

Harriet Klausner