Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Elsewhens by Melanie Rawn

Despite their success Touchstone under perform at trials and find themselves once again on the Winterly circuit. However the group is chosen to travel to the Continent with a royal embassy to collect Prince Ashgar's new bride. Magic is viewed with suspicion on the continent so Touchstone's welcome is less than assured. Meanwhile Cade is still troubled by his visions of possible futures (dubbed Elsewhens). He wants to warn his friend Mieka that the woman he has fallen in love with and her mother only plan to ensnare him but is terrified of alienating the elf and bringing one of his worst visions to life.  

Like the first book Elsewhens is focused on the relationship between Cade and Mieka. Both are well realized vivid characters that dance to life on the pages and neatly steal the show. Again the support characters are just fleshed out enough to be interesting.

My biggest problem with this second installment is the plot seems to meander along without any focus. The ending just seemed to highlight further how little the plot has been advanced. I also feel Rawn missed a trick in developing the setting further with Touchstone traveling to a new continent.

Overall Rawn's character development remains top notch, however a meandering plot keeps this book from being one of her best. 7/10. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn

Following the events of the previous book Kitty has rented a cabin in remote Colorado, hoping to lay low for a while under the guise of working on her memoirs. However when animal sacrifises are left on her doorstep it is obvious some of the locals may be less than thrilled to have a werewolf in the neighborhood. Things get even more complicated when Cormac shows up at the cabin with her injured lawyer Ben O'Farrell in tow. Ben has been bitten by a werewolf and is having trouble adjusting to his new life and only Kitty can help.

My only major criticism of the previous novel was the lack of tension throughout the majority of the book but Vaughan  has adjusted well and corrected that in this volume. Kitty is an engaging character and it is great to see her progression from a reliant almost-victim of her pack at the start of the first novel, to learning how to take care of herself and finally taking the lead in this installment. Both Ben and Cormac are fleshed out nicely as characters. Without giving too much away the ending was both surprising and yet very fitting.

Overall the third Kitty Norville book combines great character development with some clever touches. 8/10. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review:Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Eking out a living on the outskirts of Squardeal, a frontier town in the middle of nowhere, is hard but Shy South has never been afraid of hard work. However when returning to her farm after selling the season's crops she finds her home burned and her brother and her sister stolen, she realizes may have to return to the ways of her bloody past. She is a accompanied by her cowardly step father Lamb, a man whose past may be bloodier than her own (hint, hint). Meanwhile The union is trying to stamp out rebellion on it's outskirts and have hired Nicomo Cosca's company of the gracious hand to do it. The comapny has with them their very own lawyer Temple, a man who prefers to take the easy path. However when he crosses Shy's path he may not have a choice in the matter.

This book had been marketed as Abercrombie's Western and this is very much reflected in the themes of the book, such as the byplay between order and freedom in a frontier setting. Like Abercrombie's two previous books this one stands nicely on its own but long time fans will be happy to see the return of Logen nine-fingers (although he is never once called by this name throughout the book) A host of other familiar faces make appearances, including Cosca, Shivers and Sergent Friendly and one of their stories is completely resolved.

I enjoy how Abercrombie creates a sense of forward momentum in his books with some of the recurring characters being noticeably older and the technology of the world continuing to progress.

While interesting in their own right most of the Point of view characters aren't as well portrayed as characters in previous books. Though having said that I thought that Temple really stole the show and was glad to see his story taken in the direction I thought that Shivers story should have been taken in Best Served Cold. A lot of reviewers will tell you this book is Abercrombie at his most cynical but I don't think that is the case; Shy and Temple's story is as close to a happy ending as you will expect to see in one of his books.

Overall Abercrombie delivers his usual collection of cynical wit and superb storytelling in a somewhat different setting. 8/10.