Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Heirs of the Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Plagued by guilt over the death of her father and her half sister's lover,Tynisa travels to the Commonweal; home of Salma the man she once loved and lost. There she hopes to find his family and tell them about how he lived and died and then most likely seek her own death. However she is struck by the physical similarity of Salma's younger brother to her lost love and believes she may have found a reason to live again. However Salma's family have plans of their own for Tynisa. Meanwhile Che with the aid of Thalric is heading for the Commonweal as well hoping to save Tynisa from the ghost of Tisamon, who isn't quite done with his daughter. Seda the empress of the wasps is looking to expand her new found magical powers and ultimately plunge the world into war once more.

The world-building is exceptional once again. I especially liked how Tchaikosky showed the Commonweal warts and all and there were definitely major social problems there well before the wasp invasion. One theme which was carried along through both wasp and Dragonfly characters was the effects of war and it's associated losses as well as what losing one's purpose can mean. This really leads to some major character growth for some very interesting side characters.

I did enjoy the focus that was given to Che and Tynisa and this kept the plot centered and balanced throoughout.

Overall Tchaikosky continues to deliver in his very impressive series. 8.25/10.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: City of Tigers by Leif Chappelle

Having been abandoned by his father at a young age Sigurd is raised by his mother in the small town of Havlandsby. He is a projektor, capable of communing with the elements and gaining extroidanry powers, in his case focused on music.   When she passes away the still young Sigurd decides to join the growing exodus to the great city of  Tigrebyn. After initially living as a street urchin, he later falls in with Ragna a projektor herself who has taken it upon herself to keep the remaining projecktor's safe. He then in turn decides to leave her and lives with siblings Hemming and Kai who have recently been abaondoned their own mother. Years pass and Sigurd, whose powers have now grown, makes a living by performing one man orchestra on street corners. Prokektor's role in society has rapidly been replaced by machina and the University at the forefront of their creation seek out Sigurd to create even more powerful machina, by any means necessary. Meanwhile an unexplained fire occurs killing several people but is the culprit a faulty machina or a rouge projecktor?

The crux of the book is the age old clash of magic and technology. While some parts of Chappelle's take on this are well explored, the origin of the projektor's  powers in this case, others are not, such as machina in general. This unevenness permeates throughout most facets of the novel. No attempt is made to explain why projektors  are suddenly outcasts all of a sudden despite playing a pivotal role in society until quite recently. This was the main point of conflict in the story so needed to be explored. 

The writing for the most part is tidy but there are times when it does come across as stilted, particularity in areas of dialogue. The difference between Sigurd's younger and older point of views were well distinguished.

Most chapter titles contain a reference to some coming event, such as "three days before the fire." This created a strong sense of foreboding and was a clever tool.   

Overall despite having a great deal of potential this novel is badly let down by an unevenness in writing, plot control and world-building. 6/10.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: The White-Luck Warrior by R. Scott Bakker

Having barely survived Cil-Aujas The exiled wizard Achamian, the daughter of the woman he loved Mimara and their ragtag group of mercenaries the Skin-eaters continue on their expedition to the coffers. The non-man Cleric begins feeding the group a strange drug to regain their strength but there is bound to be consequences. Meanwhile The great ordeal under Kellhus is forced to split into parts when food runs low. Soon they are faced with a new threat a massive hording of Scranc which dogs their steps. Sorweel meanwhile awaits for the mother to use him aginst Kelhus but is troubled when he realizes the aspect emperor's war is real. Esmenet's and Maithanet's trust in one another continues to fracture as the empire crumbles around them, not realizing that one of Esmenet's son's is pulling the strings.

Like the previous volume the story is divided into three main arcs. Also like the Judging Eye slow pacing is a real issue. The Achamian arch was the sole exception last time but now falls into the same trap. I must admit I was disappointed how little each plot has advanced by the end of the book but at least they all end on interesting cliffhangers.

On the positive side the characters remain well fleshed out and deliciously conflicted. We also see a return to the large scale battles of the previous trilogy which Bakker absolutely excels at.

Overall most of Bakker's strengths are on display again but slow pacing is still a real issue. 7/10.