Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky

With the Wasp advance halted due to winter Stenwold takes the opportunity to send Nero and Che to Solnarno, a spider tribute city in the exalsee under wasp threat, hoping to warn them and gain allies. Meanwhile Achaeos, Tisamon , Tynisa and Thalric head to Jerez hoping to retrieve the stolen shadowbox. The wasps have agents of their own after the box as well. Stenwold hopes to try and solidify his allies against the wasp but the new snapbow may cause problems than it solves. .

Although a few other storylines are dipped into the three outlined above take centre stage throughout most of the book. This focus allows Tchaikovsky to more or less resolve them all by the end of the book, something I found immensely satisfying in the middle book of a series. While book two was more a war novel with large scale pitched battles this instalment returns to the roots of the first with a more espionage feel to it.

My only gripe would be the lack of any real character development in any of the major players. Tharlric and Totho took centre stage in this in the first two books respectively but no one else followed suit this time.

Overall a strong offering but I would like to see a bit more character development in the next book. 8/10.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review:The Solstice Treaty by David Belltower

Mark Steele is a forest ranger in West Virginia. For years he had been plagued by nightly visions that leave him shaken. When his best friend is killed in a tragic mining accident Tess McCoy his childhood sweetheart returns to town for the funeral. Bizarre events start to take over Mark's life and Mark and Tess find themselves transported to a mystical land in the grip of a decade’s long war. A world a group of Japanese businessmen are strangely interested in.

Belltower utilizes an interesting structure relaying events from different time periods as the story slowly unfolds. This worked magnificently well and I enjoyed how he allowed the reader to puzzle along events as they unfolded without giving too much away. It was a delicate balance with keeping the momentum of the story progressing and the author certainly got it right. The view point characters are all well realized, although there were a few support characters who I would have liked to see fleshed out a bit more.

Overall Belltower's interesting structure and memorable characters make for a great read. 8.5/10.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Sacred Band by David Anthony Durham

Queen Corinn Akaran has succeeded in resurrecting her brother Aliver and plans to use him to solidify her power along with the new vintage of mist. The Auldek, near immortal warriors, are marching across the North Pole with plans to enslave the known world. Corinn's sister Mena has been sent with an army of her own to delay them but does she stand a chance? Meanwhile Dariel is meeting with the elders of the free people, hoping he can protect them from the manipulation of the league. Aliver's daughter has found the Santoth and is leading them back to Acacia but do they have ulterior motives of their own?

The first half of this book suffers from severe pacing issues. Many of the chapters felt decidedly unnecessary and really slowed the book down. Thankfully after the halfway point thinks picked up considerably.
Durham does an excellent job in presenting as with some very satisfying conclusions to the majority of the story arcs. As with The Other lands Durham's characterization really shines. All of the major characters have grown considerably throughout the series. My only minor concern was Corrin's somewhat dramatic change of heart felt a bit too rushed, the author had done a brilliant job of foreshadowing for the other characters but it didn't quite work as well for Corrin.

Overall despite the pacing issue Durham wraps things up very impressively. 8/10.