Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon

With The war of the known world upon them Ashe and Rhapsody, leaders of the Cymrian alliance, face danger on all sides. Rhapsody had fled to the safety Ylorc hoping that the fortress with protect her and her infant son Meridion from the mad dragon Anborn's rage. Having learned that the Merchant Emperor Talquist seeks her son for his own nefarious reasons, Rhapsody is forced to make a fatal choice. Ashe is left alone trying to organize their forces, while the dragon inside slowly drives him mad. Anborn begins to build a line of fortified defenses as Talquist's armies begin their forays.

This book serves as a bridging point between what has come before and as the opening act in the final trilogy in this series. As a result some significant side stories, particularly those involving Anborn Tristan Steward are definitively resolved. Having some periods of 'calm before the storm', allowed some reflection which lead to some real character development especially for Anborn. I also enjoyed how Haydon portrayed struggle that Rhapsody and Ashe had to face when their duties as parents and as monarchs clashed. 

My one disappointment is that there were some significant characters, namely Grunthor and Achmed, who suffered from a lack of 'screen time.' I know that is bound to happen with any series with such a large cast of characters but these two are definitely a huge part of these books heart and soul.

Overall Haydon has made an eight year wait worthwhile by delivering a solid novel that sets the stage perfectly for the remaining two books in the series. 8.5/10.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reviwe: Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

After an accident aboard ship Captain Will Laurence awakens on the shores of Japan. Little does he know he has suffered retrograde amnesia and his memory of the last several years is gone. Laurence and his crew's vital mission to secure the aid of the Chinese in the war against Napoleon is under dire threat. Especially when there are elements within the Chinese government who will go to any lengths to stop it. Whats-more Napoleon has made a bold strike into Russia and if he is successful he might well secure all of Europe.

The previous two volumes of the Temeraire series contained similar problems, an over extensive travelog and missing any real sense of tension. I am happy to say that both these areas have been addressed. Even though Lawrence, Temeraire and their crew pass through several countries, much of the description of traveling is cut away. Even better is the author is still able to include elements to explain how dragons are incorporated into the various societies. With taking a more direct approach into the war itself the missing tension is also regained.

I actually enjoyed the amnesia subplot and thought it was a great way to measure how much Laurence has grown as a character while at the same time playing on his strength of character.

Overall I found this volume a welcome return to form and eagerly look forward to the finale. 8/10.