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Destiny: Child of the Sky (Rhapsody Trilogy Book 3) (The Symphony of Ages)
Destiny: Child of the Sky (Rhapsody Trilogy Book 3) (The Symphony of Ages)
by Elizabeth Haydon
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.32
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demonspawn Blood, October 8, 2014
Destiny (2001) is the third Fantasy novel in the Symphony of Ages series, following Prophecy. The initial volume in this sequence is Rhapsody.

In the previous volume, Meridion contemplated a time string that was burnt and damaged. It was too late to reinsert it into time. It contained the name of a demon who had been working for centuries upon a great devastation. Now the F'dor's identity was lost to Meridion.

Rhapsody had restless dreams of faceless men. One was a killer of children as sacrifices. The other was Ashe, who was going with her to find the dragon Elynsynos.

Achmed was also restless. He was worried about Rhapsody. She was so naive that the F'dor would probably possess her. That could be a good thing, but Grunthor wouldn't kill her and the demon.

Rhapsody had done great things for his kingdom. She helped calm his opponents and brought them into the kingdom. She had also set up education systems to teach the Bolg children new skills. Achmed didn't want to lose her.

Grunthor was also having a restless night. He dreamed of the dragon. Rhapsody had told him that dragons collected treasures. He was sure that the dragon would put Rhapsody with it's other treasure and he would never see her again.

In this novel, Meridion is the Time Editor. He uses his tools to change history.

Rhapsody is a mixed breed, half Liringlas and half human. She is a Singer and Namer from Serendair whose truename is Emily. She changed the name of Brother to Achmed the Snake, which saved him from a F'dor demon spirit. She spent more than a millennium passing through the center of the world with Achmed and Grunthor and came up on a mainland in the Fourth Age.

Achmed is a mixed breed, half Bolg and half Dracian. He was an assassin fleeing from a F'dor in the Third Age. The change of name also modified his gifts. Now he is the King of the Firbolg in the Fourth Age.

Grunthor is a Bolg Sergeant-Major. He is a mixed breed, half Bolg and half Bengard. He is seven feet, five inches tall, with tusks and a hide-like skin. He is tough as nails, but has a very sweet personality. He is a companion of Achmed and Rhapsody and now has an affinity with Earth.

Ashe is man who hides his face. He wears a gray cloak of mist that further hides him. He is Rhapsody's lover for a while.

Lord and Lady Rowan have supernatural powers. They are friends of Rhapsody.

Steven Navarne is a Duke in Roland. He is known throughout the continent for his winter festival celebrations. He is a widower with two children: Melisande and Gwydion.

Oelendra is a Liringlas. She had been Rhapsody's mentor and had carried Ilianchenva'ar a lifetime before Rhapsody.

In this story, Meridion has tried change the timeline to avoid the total destruction of the planet. His changes have modified the timeline, but the apocalypse still seems likely. He can only wait and see.

Ashe has left Rhapsody to search for a first generation Cymrian lady. They have not had much time together, but circumstances are separating them. Rhapsody misses him.

Rhapsody and Achmed are preparing to search for the children of the F'dor. Grunthor is being left behind to keep the Firbolg busy on the restoration of the Cauldron. The Sergeant-Major is not happy.

Near the Cauldron, Achmed can barely hear a demonspawn heartbeat in Yarim. So the two are riding there first. Achmed and Rhapsody hope to separate demon blood from the demonspawn children. He believes that this pure demon blood will help him find the F'dor.

Approaching Yarim, Achmed discovers two heartbeats with demon blood. Achmed and Rhapsody go into the city. He senses that one of the heartbeats is within the southeastern part of the city. He narrows the search down to a ceramic factory.

Achmed scouts the factory and finds the first demon child. He returns to Rhapsody and they both slip into the factory. Achmed ties up two of the apprentices and Rhapsody goes after the demonspawn apprentice. After he bites Rhapsody, she uses her haymaker punch to tame the demonspawn.

Achmed discovers that slave children are digging a tunnel from the factory. Naturally, Rhapsody wants to save the slaves. She goes into the tunnel and lures put the slave children. One of these slaves is also a demonspawn.

Achmed and Rhapsody drop off the slaves and the surviving apprentice to a group of Bolg soldiers. Then they take the two demon children to the Rowans. They should be able to separate the blood.

In Navarne, Steven is preparing for the winter festival. Melisande is excited over the snow. Yet she doesn't like the new wall around the keep; it interrupts the view. Her father doesn't like it either, but Roland has become more dangerous.

Meanwhile, the F'dor has snared a column commander and his soldiers. He takes them near Keltar'sid and impresses orders on them. The soldiers ride off toward Navarne.

This tale takes Rhapsody and Achmed to meet Oelendra. She will carry the demonspawn children to the Rowans. Rhapsody and Achmed have other demonspawn to find.

Rhapsody and Ashe are still unaware of their former relationship. The next installment in this sequence is Requiem for the Sun.

Highly recommended for Haydon fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of singing magic, possessing demons, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


A Call to Duty (Manticore Ascendant)
A Call to Duty (Manticore Ascendant)
by David Weber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joining the Navy, October 7, 2014
A Call to Duty (2014) is the first SF novel in the Manticore Ascendant series. This volume is set four centuries before Honor Harrington.

Parliament consists of various groups of empire builders. The Star Kingdom of Manticore has a navy, but the ships are old and the personnel are mostly slackard officers and thieving enlisted. Some members of Parliament want to kill the Navy budget.

In this novel, Travis Uriah Long is seventeen. His school grades were fair, but not high. He doesn't know what he is going to do next.

Gavin Vellacott is the Baron of Winterfall. He is an older half-brother of Travis. He is starting to learn the ropes in the House of Lords.

Earl Breakwater is the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Star Kingdom. He is ambitious and wants to disband the Navy.

James Mantegn is Earl Dapplelake. He is the Defense Minister.

Edward Winton is the Crown Prince of the Star Kingdom. He is a serving officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy.

In this story, Travis is going out for the evening and wants the aircar. He finds his mother feeding the dogs. He informs her of his plans and asks for permission to use the aircar. She agrees, but doesn't stop attending the dogs.

Before his father died, his parents were in his life. Since then, his mother has not paid much attention to him. He gets to do anything he wants to do, but he craves order and adult guidance.

Travis meets his friends in town. They are going to buy a gift for a girlfriend at the jewelry store and then go out to eat. They ask Travis to wait for them at his aircar.

While they are gone, Travis notices that one of the stores is now a recruiting station. He goes over to talk to the recruiter. While they are talking, Travis hears gunshots.

The recruiter tells him to stay there and goes over to the door with a pistol. Travis follows behind her. The shooting seems to be coming from the jewelry store. By the time the police arrive, Travis has completed most of the paperwork to join the Navy.

Boot Camp is a shock to Travis. His muscles are always sore. He has to learn new ways of doing things. But one day he becomes accustomed to the grind.

After graduating, Travis goes to impeller tech school. This time he suffers nightmares. But one day his brain catches on and his nights are calm.

Then he notices that half the class are cheating on the tests. He reports the cheating to his officer, but nothing is done. Finally his petty officer explains that the school just gives them background skills. The real training will be done onboard their ships.

Travis is not happy with this news, but adjusts to his environment. He still can't cheat because it just isn't part of his mindset. After graduating, he is assigned to one of the working battlecruisters.

Meanwhile, Gavin is called to a meeting with Breakwater and his faction. He is informed about Breakwater's views on the Navy and brought up to date. He decides to join the group.

Breakwater presents his case to the King and the Navy. Dapplelake presents the Navy's argument. The two continue down the same well trodden path. Dapplelake asks Gavin what he thinks.

Gavin presents a well considered plan that changes things, but allows time for evaluation of the results. Both sides agree to his approach. Afterward, Breakwater thinks him for moving the proposal forward.

This tale introduces a ship sale by the Navy of the Republic of Haven. This will also includes a gathering of governmental representatives from the region. Parliament sends several emissaries to the meeting.

Edward is interested in building their own warships. The RMN sends a destroyer to see what kind of ships are being bought at the sale. Travis is included in the venture.

Some pirates are also interested in the ships. The next installment in this sequence has not yet been announced on Amazon.

Highly recommended for Weber & Zahn fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of naval affairs, political intrigue, and a touch of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


Sleeping Late On Judgement Day: A Bobby Dollar Novel
Sleeping Late On Judgement Day: A Bobby Dollar Novel
by Tad Williams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.68
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loosing Friends, October 6, 2014
Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (2014) is the third Fantasy novel in the Bobby Dollar series, following Happy Hour in Hell. The initial volume in this sequence is The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

In the previous volume, Bobby had decided to bring Caz out of Hell. He had stored his body in San Judas and got a demon body. He took an elevator to the end of the Neronuan Bridge and started to cross it to the Hell side.

Bobby and Caz had had only one night together. Naturally, they spent it in bed. Between the sex, they talked. Since Bobby didn't remember his life before death, Caz did most of the talking.

After Caz was removed by Eligor, Bobby worked on a way to go to Hell and get her. He only confided his plans with Sam, who told him it is a crazy idea.

Walter wanted to talk with Bobby. When Bobby didn't want another drink, Walter walked with him toward his apartment. Before Walter could get out his spiel, a bum sitting on the street stabbed him with a large four-edged knife. Then the bum took off, leaving Bobby behind with Walter's body.

In this novel, Doloriel is an advocate angel. Bobby Dollar can't remember a time before he became an angel, but neither can any of his associates. Bobby D seriously lusts for Caz, but he also has reasons to think she also wants him. Of course, Caz keeps telling him that he should forget her, but she can't keep her hands off him.

Anaita is an ephor, an angelic magistrate. She doesn't seem to like Bobby.

Temuel is an Archangel and Bobby's boss. He works in the Celestrial City.

Sammariel is also an advocate angel. Sam Riley has been a friend of Bobby for a long time. Now Sam is involved in The Third Way.

Harahliel is an advocate angel trainee. Clarence had been transferred from Files, but he is gaining experience defending clients. Still, Clarence is a little too loyal to his superiors in the hierarchy.

Vatriel is another member of the Whole Sick Choir. His Earth name is Walther Sanders.

Alice is the dispatcher for the advocate angels. She seems to love her job.

Eligor the Horseman is a Grand Duke of Hell. He doesn't like Bobby, especially since the rescue attempt. Yet he got his feather back.

Casimira is the Countess with Cold Hands and the demon concubine of Eligor. Caz is also Bobby's girlfriend.

In this story, Bobby had a front row seat at a trial in Heaven. Four of the very greatest and goodest angels are the jury. Bobby is the defendant.

It all started with the haunting of his apartment. Something is scraping around behind the walls. Something else is thumping against his windows.

Bobby is having a nightmare when his phone rings. Alice is calling about another death. The client is nearby on the Bayshore freeway.

When Bobby gets there, red and blue flashes surround an upside down minivan. He walks over to the body and unzips a portal to the other side. The client is waiting in the stasis bubble, along with the judge and the prosecutor.

Bobby informs the client that he hadn't survived the accident. Then he introduces himself and the the others. The prosecuting demon thought he was Perry Mason, but the judge saw through his arguments and the client was admitted to Heaven.

When Bobby got back into normal time, he went for breakfast. An old drunk wanders in and gives Bobby a tract. Bobby recognizes that the drunk was Temuel in disguise.

While waiting for his appointment with Temuel, Bobby goes by the Compasses. He finds Walter in the back room. He had lost a few memories since Booby saw him in Hell. He did have a note that might have been "Talk to Dollar about Anaita asking questions", but it is too cryptic to be certain.

Coming out of the Compasses, Bobby sees something scuttle under a car. It was about the size of a cat, but cats don't run with their legs spread out and their bellies almost on the ground. Just for a moment, it looks like a spider as large as a bicycle wheel. Bobby puts it out of his mind and continues to his appointment.

Temuel is sitting on the bench when Bobby arrives. He compliments his boss on his use of scent. Temuel has the odor down pat.

Temuel says he can't talk to Bobby in Heaven. Things are bad upstairs. Some very important angels are becoming impatient about his problems. Temuel says he has to stay at his current address and can't move again.

Of course, Bobby agrees, but wonders how he is going to survive the attacks on him. On the way home, Bobby sees two pale men following him. They look like Mormon missionaries. Later, he finds them in his apartment looking for something.

This tale has friends and acquaintances backing away from him. His sources are also intimidated. Even Sam decides to stay away. Only Clarence is still with him, but Harahliel is not very smart.

Yet Bobby is even more determined to rescue Caz form Eligor. He discovers that one of the haunts has a message from Caz. Bobby sends back an optimistic reply.

Bobby starts tracking down Anaita. This is the last installment in the trilogy. But maybe the publisher can be convinced to extent the series.

Highly recommended for Williams fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of supernatural fantasy, angelic politics, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


Moon of Mutiny
Moon of Mutiny
by Lester Del Rey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Talent, October 5, 2014
Moon of Mutiny(1961) is the third Juvenile SF novel in the Moon trilogy, following Mission to the Moon. The initial volume in this sequence is Step to the Stars.

In this novel, Fred Halpern is the son of the space station commander. He had jumped the gun on an expedition to the Moon and reached it first. He crashed on landing, but was rescued. He became "Moon-boy" to thousands of media fans.

Sid Wickman is a pilot instructor at Goddard Academy. He doesn't like Fred.

In this story, Fred is hurrying to reach his high-jump ship. He is running late because on a cracked helmet. During Elimination Week, the instructors are looking for any excuse to washout students.

He barely makes it the ship in time. Wickman is his instructor for this flight. Fred tries not to worry about it.

Wickman gives the course to Fred. It seems too simple, so there must be a problem hidden in it somewhere. He takes off into a polar orbit and starts downward toward the field. Everything has gone smoothly so far.

As he is spiraling down, two other ships take off. One comes toward his landing path. Wickman tells him to pull up, but Fred knows that the other pilot may well pull up also.

When Fred doesn't respond to Wickman, the instructor switches to his controls and starts to pull up. Fred knocks the switch back to give him control. The switch breaks off when he strikes it.

Fred passes safely under the other ship. After landing, Wickman places him under arrest. Later he is confronted by the Commandant, who sides with Wickman. Fred is no longer a cadet and will not be getting a license.

Later, Fred fills in as a replacement co-pilot on the current Moon expedition. He assists the pilot, particularly with the computer. The pilot is quite good at flying, but not so good with the computer.

This tale puts Fred into trouble on several occasions because of his unusual talent. He is capable of solving orbital problems without using the computer. A psychologist at the academy had noted the talent and told him that others had shown such abilities.

Unfortunately, everyone else knows that such talents are impossible. Such people think of Fred as a fraud. Yet Fred is confident of his abilities and uses them as needed. But he doesn't advertise them anymore.

These novels are very dated. Some of the episodes in the book are questionable by current knowledge. But the same is true for any other novels from that era.

Fred keeps on doing his best. This is the last volume in the trilogy. However, the author has other young adult books, starting with Marooned on Mars.

Highly recommended for del Rey fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of young pilots, space voyages, and lots of adventure. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


Species Imperative
Species Imperative
by Julie E. Czerneda
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.20
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alien Biology, October 4, 2014
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This review is from: Species Imperative (Paperback)
Species Imperative (2014) is an SF omnibus of the Species Imperative series. This volume contains Survival, Migration, Regeneration and an introduction by Rick Wilbur.

In the early decades of the twenty-first century, humanity expanded into the Solar system. Humans established a permanent presence on Mars, the Jovian moons and elsewhere. A hundred and fifty years after the first child was born on Mars, the stars reached mankind.

A non-Human probe arrived in the Solar system with an invitation to join from the Interspecies Union. It provided information on building and maintaining transects to bypass normal space. Over the next hundred years, humanity migrated to some three hundred extra-Solar worlds. The new technology obtained from the IU was used to repair much of the ecological damage done to Earth in the prior centuries.

Survival (2004) is the first novel in this series. MacKenzie Connor, Ph.D., is a biologist and co-administrator of the Norcoast Salmon Research Facility located within Castle Inlet. Her partner is Emily Mamani Sarmiento.

They are monitoring Emily's newly improved DNA Tracer from Field Station Six on the Tannu River. After six days of boredom, a Chinook salmon run suddenly appears on the screen. Everything is going well until Emily detects a very large presence swimming in a diving suit among the salmon.

Field Station Six is graced with a visit from Brymn -- the first member of the Dhryn species to visit Earth -- and his diplomatic escort. After the introductions, Mac orders Brymn to leave the station. As they are leaving, the escort gives Mac an official envelope. Shortly thereafter, another craft arrives to take Mac and Emily back to the Base.

Brymn has come for assistance in solving some mysterious disappearances among the worlds of the Naralax transect, which he has associated with the lifeless worlds of the Chasm. He will only talk with her when he is reasonably sure that no one can overhear them. He gets her to promise not to tell anyone else about their discussions, but she includes Emily as a matter of course.

Later she awakens in her office to a total electrical blackout. Despite the multiply redundant systems, all power in the Base has been lost. Moreover, there is something in the office with Mac, making strange skittering noises. After scaring it off, she finds slime paths over her floor, walls and even the ceiling. She chases the thing away from her office and through the Base and over the walkway to land.

Over and over she hears it, but can't see it. From the shore she tracks it inland to an empty clearing. An invisible ship carries the thing away in a blast of jetfire. When she returns to the Base, she finds that Emily is gone, presumably kidnapped after a violent struggle.

Mac encounters an alien species who refuses to study biology, an overgovernment that is chasing invisible aliens, and the invisible aliens themselves. She flees to Haven -- the Dhryn home world -- in a Dhryn vessel. She almost dies of thirst due to the ineptness of the crew. Once there, she finds the Dhryn to be both frustrating and fascinating.

Migration (2005) is the second SF novel in this series. Mac returns to the Norcoast Salmon Research Facility -- Base -- to resume her duties as co-administrator of the project. The Ministry of Extra-Sol Human Affairs apparently is not interested in any insights that she may have on the Dhryn or the Ro. The damage to Base has been explained as an attack by human xenophobes and her loss of an arm and reading problems are attributed to a traffic accident. The staff and students at Base are skeptical about these cover stories, particularly after the loss of Emily.

Persephone Stewart was appointed on the staff as a theoretical statistician while Mac was offplanet. She was hired to help John Ward -- Mac's postdoc -- teach the grad students some analytical skills. However, Mac recognizes 'Sephe as one of the Ministry agents involved in her offplanet activities. Of course, 'Sephe is well qualified for the position and even thinks that she manipulated the Ministry to get her dream job. But Mac knows that Nikolai Trojanowski has arranged the whole thing.

Then Oversight -- Charles Mudge III -- sneaks onto Base 3 and requests admission at the front entrance. He is ordered off the property by the Ministry guards, but refuses to leave. Mac tells the new security force to admit him and allows him to stay overnight. After he tries to swim ashore in the dark, the exasperated Mac promises to take him into the Wilderness Trust later in the day.

Mac flies Mudge ashore in her old lev, which moans and groans the whole way. Once on dry land, Mac follows the rapidly moving Oversight over the elevated walkways, trying to duck the branches he lets spring back. While walking, she receives a strange message that includes Emily's picture.

Still thinking about the possible presence of the Ro, she absentmindedly becomes engrossed in examining slugs on a nearby tree while Mudge runs into Ministry agents. Apparently the Ro had just landed in the Trust lands to send the message and then immediately departed. They leave another forced clearing within the Wilderness Trust and the agents are examining it for anything left behind. Oversight is NOT pleased.

Mudge's protests are now futile since the Ministry has bypassed his office, but they become moot after the earthquake. All Base personnel survive, but two Ministry agents are killed. The Trust lands are trashed by the violence of the land and water.

Norcoast orders all the Pods, except Base 2, to be moved to the Tannu River mouth. Base 2 will stay behind to study the recovery sequences. All other personnel are ordered back to Vancouver.

Mac wants to stay behind to continue the salmon studies, but she is persuaded to take a vacation. Slipping away from the Ministry guards, she travels to her family cabin on Little Misty Lake. While she is there, two aliens reserve a trip through the Canadian wilderness and are settled in her cabin.

Arslithissiangee Yip the Fourteenth and Kay quarrel incessantly, but Kay is an excellent cook and Fourteen isn't a bad canoeist. Yet they haven't really come for the canoe trek, but to deliver an invitation from the IU to join a special group studying the Dhryn. Nik shows up shortly after the aliens arrive.

Mac has several insights into the genetic basis of Dhryn depredations, which include overwhelming multiple worlds and stations in their migration. She suspects that they have innate reasons for migrating to safe habitats. The IU appoints her as head of the Origins Team to study her insights and suspicions. Since this group consists basically of the people she had met on the Dhryn homeworld, she has to clear up a few misperceptions of her involvement with Brymn.

Regeneration (2006) is the third SF novel in this series. Mac decides that Emily needs to be among familiar people doing familiar activities. She gets permission from Anchen to take Emily back to Base. With Mac and Emily leaving, Anchen also allows the Origins Team to return to the Dhryn's original homeworld (now named Myriam for the victim of Brymn's feeder form).

While trekking through the recovering Castle Inlet Preserve, Emily suddenly remembers that the Ro had hidden something in the sea nearby. Mac immediately relays this information to the Ministry and soon materiel and personnel are moving into the area. As Mac leaves to rejoin the Origins Team in orbit, Emily is quite busy rebuilding her DNA Scanner to help track down the Myrokynay facility.

Mac has a side trip on the way to orbit; the lev leaves Mudge, Sam and her in Dawson City. That night, Mac has a surprise visit from Hollans -- Nik's boss in the Ministry -- who has arranged this layover to get some advice. She also learns there are abandoned Dhryn ships in the Myriam system. She and her team will be transferred to Myriam on the Annapolis Joy, a glorified customs cutter with massive offensive weapons.

On the way to the Naralax Transect, a Sinzi courier dart comes aboard the Joy. Mac and the Joy's Captain find that they now have two Sinzi-ra onboard, one for the Myriam system and the other to open a consulate on the Annapolis Joy itself. The Joy's Captain keeps turning over more of the ship to the Interspecies Union.

The Joy also has another passenger, Sigmund Eduardo Norris, for whom Mac develops an instant dislike. Yet Norris has an interesting exploration vehicle that seems to be invisible from the inside. He takes Mac out on a short hop to one of the abandoned Dhryn ships and sneaks them aboard.

Searching the ship for clues, Mac notices an invisible Ro walker -- it has a distinctive sound -- and yells for Norris to flee. She hides under a cargo pallet and discovers that she is not alone. A Dhryn Wasted is also hiding under the cargo.

Mac listens for the walker and, after hearing nothing unusual, takes the Wasted with her back to the lander. She finds Norris's body near the lander ramp and the walker lurking close by. The Wasted spits on the walker with his acidic sputum and kills it. After contacting her escort vessel, Mac manages to get the walker body on the lander and the Dhryn ejects the lander from the ship.

Mac learns much more about the Ro and the Dhryn, discovers that Cayhill has his good points, and rejoins the Dhryn Progenitor whom she had last met on Haven. The IU seems to be breaking up because of suspicion of the Sinzi actions, but the Sinzi come to the support of the Dhryn and herself. The Myrokynay finally demonstrate their malevolence to even the idiot faction within the IU.

Insofar as I am aware, this is the first omnibus of works by the author. Yet she is known for her trilogies. A new one -- Night's Edge -- started recently, but she has had several others since A Thousand Words for Stranger. Hopefully her other trilogies will be printed as omnibus editions.

Highly recommended for Czerneda fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of alien species, scientific research, and romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


Ashes of Victory (Honor Harrington Series, Book 9)
Ashes of Victory (Honor Harrington Series, Book 9)
by David Weber
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashes of Victory, October 4, 2014
Ashes of Victory (2000) is the ninth SF novel in the Honor Harrington series, following Echoes of Honor. The initial volume in this sequence is On Basilisk Station.

In the previous volume, the palatial HD room in Harrington House was filled with Honor's family and friends. Allison and Alfred were there and so were Howard and Miranda. Thirteen treecats were also waiting for a special broadcast.

The People's Office of Public Information had released an announcement about Honor's execution with a video showing the hanging. It was a very realistic video. It left Alfred prostrate with grief.

Boardman linked the execution with treatment of POWs. The Deneb Accords included a provision for excluding POWs with prior criminal histories. The Peeps cited a court verdict convicting Honor of the murder of the crew of a Peep ship. Of course, the ship was a disguised merchant raider, but Peep propaganda ignored their military status.

The public reaction to the video within Manticore was widespread outrage. The private reaction within the People's Republic varied. Boardman was very pleased with the video, but Esther thought it was a mistake. The Solar League would probably forget the video in three days.

The reaction of the Graysons was even stronger than the Manticorans. Grayson sailors and marines intend to take no more POWs. Naturally, a policy of no quarter would be used by the Peep propagandists to paint the Alliance as barbarians.

In this novel, Honor Harrington is a Commodore in the Royal Manticoran Navy and an Admiral in the Grayson Navy. She is commonly called the Salamander from her involvement in the thick of combat. But now she has led a group of escaped POWs from Hades to Trevor's Star.

Alfred and Allison Harrington are Honor's parents. Alfred is a retired RMN medical officer. Ally is a genetic surgeon. They are both respected physicians on Sphinx.

Elizabeth III Winton is the Queen of the Star Kingdom of Manticore. She has been interested in Honor's career for many years.

Devon Harrington is Honor's cousin and heir in Manticore. He inherited Honor's title of Earl after her reported death.

Thomas Caparelli is an Admiral in the RMN Navy. He is also the First Space Lord.

Hamish Alexander is a RMN Admiral and Earl of White Haven. He is the designated commander of the new Eighth Fleet.

Alice Truman is a Rear Admiral in the RMN. She had served under Honor prior to the Peep capture of her.

Prescott David Tremain is a Commander in the RMN. He had also previously served under Honor on several occasions and has returned from Hades with the other former prisoners.

Andrew LaFollet is a Major in the Steadholder's Own Guard. He commands Honor's personal guards.

Harold Clinkscale is Honor's regent. A former general in Grayson security, he is now her chief servant and in charge of the steadhold when she is away.

Miranda LaFollet is Andrew's sister. She is head of Honor's household.

Benjamin Mayhew IX is the Protector of Grayson. He is a reformer determined to bring Grayson society into the current era.

Nimitz is Honor's treecat. They have a bond that allows Honor to sense his emotions.

Samantha is also a treecat and Nimitz's mate. She has recently delivered four kittens: Jason, Achilles, Cassandra and Andromeda.

Farragut is a male treecat. He is bonded to Miranda.

Rob S. Pierre is Chairman of the Committee of Public Safety. He is Head of State of the People's Republic of Haven.

Oscar Saint-Just is a member of the Committee of Public Safety and head of State Security. He is not interested in becoming gaining more power.

Esther McQueen is the new appointed Secretary of War for the People's Committee on Public Safety. She is a former Admiral in the People's Navy.

Thomas Theisman is an Admiral in the PRN. He is currently the commander of the Barnett system.

Javier Giscard is an Admiral in the PRN. He is under a cloud after his losses in Silesia.

Lester Tourville is now a Vice Admiral in the PRN. He has a reputation as a firebreathing character and had tried his best not to be promoted.

Leonard Boardman is Second Deputy Director of Public Information in the People's Republic. He manages the public releases on Honor.

In this story, Honor is overwhelmed time after time by the emotional reaction to her return. First is the feelings of the former prisoners while they wait for the shuttles to take them off the former Peep ships. They all credit their freedom to Honor.

Second is the reaction of White Haven to her return. He is still in love with her, but he controls his emotions better than before. He is also feeling impish as he refuses to tell her about other surprises.

Third is the overwhelming joy from the Grayson crew. One of White Haven's surprises is the name of the GNS Honor Harrington. Then she is greeted by Benjamin.

Benjamin is also feeling impish. Her fourth surprise is her parents and their babies. She is beginning to overload on the joy with which she is welcomed by everybody. Luckily, she finally learns to turn down her reception to emotions.

Then Honor is taken to Manticore and presented to the Queen. Elizabeth tries once more to give Honor the Medal of Valor. Honor turns it down even more firmly than she had the previous times.

Elizabeth addresses Honor's Manticore title. She decides not to take back Devon's title, but give Honor a new one commiserate with her Grayson title. Honor is appointed as a Duchess and gets more land from the Royal Reserve.

After Honor is cleared for light duty by the medics, Caparelli has a few jobs for her. He wants her to instruct at Saganami Academy and advise Alice on modified LAC tactics. He also wants her to be the Commandant at the Advanced Tactics Course. Of course, he has to promote her first, so Honor is now a full Admiral in the RMN.

Meanwhile, Scotty reports to Alice aboard the RMN space station Weyland. She needs someone to replace her former COLAC on the HMS Hydra. Scotty seems to be the answer to her needs.

In the Republic of Haven, the Committee is just now getting the bad news. Boardman was contacted by a Solar League reporter about the breakout from Hades. He didn't have a clue, but managed to give an elaborate "No comment" to her.

Then he reported the news to Pierre. Esther is not pleased. Neither are Pierre or Saint-Just. They conclude that they are behind the curve in the Solar League, but can keep the news from spreading in their own population.

This tale starts the RMN comeback. They have been fighting defensively over the past two years and are taking damage in the media. Yet they have been producing new ships and weapons and keeping them out of the public view.

The Peeps are planning new raids on the Allies. Theisman, Giscard and Tourville are trying hit and run attacks on poorly defended systems. Of course, the Manties are beefing up their pickets, especially in core systems.

The Manticore Opposition is having fits over Honor's return. The next installment in this sequence is War of Honor.

Highly recommended for Weber fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of naval combat, political intrigue, and a lot of excitement. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


The Hob's Bargain
The Hob's Bargain
by Patricia Briggs
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Magic Returns, October 3, 2014
The Hob's Bargain (2001) is a standalone Fantasy novel. It is set in a kingdom where the bloodmages have bound wild magic.

In this novel, Aren is a thirty year old woman in Fallbrook. She is from a mage family. She had two siblings: Quillar and Ari. She was married to Daryn the day before.

Quillar was Aren's brother. He was a mage who could find things. He fled in the wilderness and died to spite a bloodmage.

Ari is Aren's sister. She is finally pregnant after years of barrenness.

Daryn and Caylem are young men from Beresford. Neither know that Aren is from a mage family.

Kith was a friend of Quillar. He was bonded by a broodmage and became a beserker.

Talon is the town smith. His wife does not approve of mages.

Wandel is a wandering minstrel. He visits Fallbrook on his annual rounds.

Caefawn is a hob. He is the only surviving hob on Hob Mountain and maybe the world.

In this story, Aren wakes up and burns the toast. She has never been as good in the kitchen as her mother. She remembers a vision she had just before waking. It showed a lily shaking from something dropping on it.

After Daryn leaves for his plowing chores, Aren straightens up the house. There isn't much to do since they had moved in the previous day. She decides to fix lunch.

Aren is climbing down to the cellar when she hears voices. Someone says to check the barn for horses. Aren assumes they are bandits and repositions the rug over the cellar trapdoor.

As she is hiding in the cellar, she has more visions. She sees a bloodmage calling the magic from the land. He is quite mad, but the call releases the wild magic.

Yet she also has a vision of the soap cauldron falling off the too short peg. She rushes over and catches the falling pot. The handle bruises her thumb, but it doesn't make any noise.

She sees the bandits attack Daryn and her father. One bandit shoots Caylem in the throat as he rides for help. Aren realizes that she is seeing the past and that her menfolk are already dead.

The bandits ride off and Aren tries to release herself. A cabinet has fallen over the trapdoor. She has to saw through the trap to get out.

She leaves the mess behind and goes to check the animals. The pony is gone. The milk cow is dead with a large hunk of her flank missing. The chickens are hungry and she gets some corn to feed them.

Then she leaves the farm to check on the menfolk. Talon drives up with his wagon. Aren's husband, father and brother-in-law are in the wagon bed. So are her mother, sister and the unborn baby.

Kith is with the rescue party. Aren tells them she sees visions. Kith tries to divert the men, but Aren is determined to tell the council about her visions. She knows that the magic will bring back the wildlings.

This tale takes Aren, Kith and Wandel over Hob Mountain. They find a boulder with runes on it welcoming them to the mountain. The hob watches them travel through.

Caefawn protects Aren from a hillgrim. When the bandits start winning against the locals, Aren goes to the mountain to find him. They agree to a hob bargain.

This is one of the earlier novels by the author. It precedes the Mercy Thompson novels.

Highly recommended for Briggs fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of magical beasts, bandit raids, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


The Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington Series, Book 2)
The Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington Series, Book 2)
by David Weber
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
113 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grayson Mission, October 1, 2014
The Honor of the Queen (1993) is the second SF novel in the Honor Harrington series, following On Basilisk Station.

In the previous volume, Commander Honor Harrington is readying the light cruiser HMS Fearless for the upcoming Fleet exercises. The ship has been the victim of Admiral Sonya Hemphill's new approach to armaments. She has undergone a major refit, tearing out most of the heavy missile launchers and substituting a gravity lance and torpedo tubes.

Since Fearless is no longer capable of traditional tactics, Honor concocts new ones and tries them out in the Fleet exercises. Although initially successful, the Aggressors soon learn to handle her tactics and "kill" her ship thirteen out of fourteen times.

The initial elation soon dies under the subsequent defeats and the crew of Fearless begins to think that first success was a fluke. Moreover, Admiral Hemphill is extremely disappointed with the success of the Aggressor countertactics and makes her displeasure known. Then the Fearless receives orders to transfer to Basilisk Station.

In this novel, Honor Harrington is a Captain (Senior Grade) is the Royal Manticoran Navy. She was promoted and given command of a heavy cruiser. The new vessel was commissioned as the HMS Fearless after her light cruiser at the battle of Basilisk.

Alfred and Allison Harrington are Honor's parents. Alfred is a retired RMN medical officer. Ally is a genetic surgeon. They are both respected physicians on Sphinx.

Raoul Courvosier is an Admiral in the RMN. He was Honor's instructor in tactics at the Saganami Academy and is still her mentor. He is being lent to the Foreign Office for a mission to Grayson.

Andreas Venizelos is a Lieutenant Commander in the RMN. He is Honor's executive officer on the Fearless.

Alice Truman is a Commander in the RMN. She is the captain of the light cruiser Apollo.

Jason Alvarez is a Commander in the RMN. He is the captain of the destroyer Madrigal.

Alistair McKeon is a Commander in the RMN. He is the captain of the destroyer Troubador.

Benjamin Mayhew IX is the Protector of Grayson in the Yeltsin system. He is a reformer determined to bring Grayson society into the current era.

Bernard Yanakov is the High Admiral of the Grayson Navy. He is the principal contact with the Manticoran mission.

Alfredo Yu is a Captain in the People's Navy. He is serving as a liaison with the Masadan Navy.

Thomas Theisman is a Commander in the PRN. He is currently the commander of a destroyer spying on the Yeltsin system.

Matthew Simonds is the Sword of the Faithful for the Masadan Church. He is Yu's contact with the Masadan Navy.

In this story, the Fearless is undergoing yard maintenance. She has a flaky beta node that needs replacement. The yard officers prefer to defer such an expensive and difficult job. Honor is not going to leave without a replacement.

When the Fearless leaves the yards, Honor hosts a recommissioning party. She has learned how to handle such social affairs, but she still isn't comfortable in that role. She is mingling with her guests.

Ally teases Honor about Andreas. She mentions that Honor is missing a great opportunity for an affair with her XO. Honor points out the regulations forbidding such affairs with others in her line of command. Alfred agrees with Honor.

Courvosier cuts Honor out of the herd for some private time. He provides more information on her next mission. He also chides Honor about her aversion to diplomacy.

Honor will command the escort force accompanying Courvosier to Grayson. She meets with the Foreign Office team. Then she and Courvosier brief her officers.

Alice is the second in command of the escort. Jason and Alastair command the other ships in the escort. All ships will accompany five merchant ships to Grayson. Some of the ships will take the other merchanters to Casca.

The RMN has supplied the names of the warships and their commanders to the Graysons. Bernard knows that some of the crew members will be women. Yet his introduction to Honor as senior naval officer of the escort is a surprise.

Most Grayson men have the same emotional reaction. Some treat the RMN females as sluts. Mayhew knows that this reaction is likely to strain the alliance. He charges Yanakov with changing the Grayson Navy, but this proves to be very difficult.

Grayson was settled five hundred years before Manticore. The settlers had left Terra because of their religious beliefs. When the planetary environment turned out to be toxic to humans, their faith kept them trying to survive.

In the early years, the colony divided between the Moderates and the Faithful. After centuries of war between the two parties, the Moderates shipped the surviving Faithful to Masada in the neighboring Endicott system. That planet was much more friendly to humans, but the Faithful are still determined to conquer Grayson.

Both factions are patriarchal. Grayson doesn't allow women to vote, own property or serve in the military. The Masadans treat women as chattels.

The Peeps have sent a secret mission to Masada. They have also provided more modern ships. Yu commands that mission and coordinates with Simonds. Theisman lurks in the Yeltsin system to watch for new developments.

This tale leads Honor to believe she is creating a problem with the alliance. She decides to accompany Alice and Alastair to Casca. On the way, Alastair points out that she is running away from the problem.

The Masadans invade the Yeltsin system with PRN assistance. Courvosier helps the Graysons by providing sensor data from the Madrigal. Then he accompanies the Grayson ships going out to challenge the Masadans.

The Peeps have a surprise for the Allies. The next installment in this sequence is The Short Victorious War.

Highly recommended for Weber fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of naval combat, cultural differences, and diplomatic relations. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


Dinosaurs and a Dirigible (BAEN)
Dinosaurs and a Dirigible (BAEN)
by David Drake
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.51
51 used & new from $6.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunting in the Past, September 30, 2014
Dinosaurs & a Dirigible (2014) is a SF collection in the Vickers series. It is an update of two previous publications: Time Safari (1989) and Tyrannosaur (1994). This volume contains all five stories in the previous books and a new introduction.

- "A Look into the Past" (original) by the author states the origins of these stories and their effect on his career. He also explains why the afterword in the previous collections was removed from this volume.

- "King Tyrant Lizard" (Tyrannosaur, 1994) is the last Vickers tale, but the first by internal chronology. It tells of Vickers' unsettling experiences in the present tracking a Tyrannosaurus Rex within the jungles of Java.

- "Calibration Run" (Destinies, 1981) is the first Vickers tale, but the second by internal chronology. It describes Vicker's first hunt in the Cretaceous with another hunter and a paleontologist.

- "Time Safari" (Time Safari, 1982) is the second Vickers tale, but the third by internal chronology. It discloses his second hunt in the past with a jealous husband and his wife the hunter.

- "Boundary Layer" (Time Safari, 1982) is the third Vickers tale, but the fourth by internal chronology. It discloses his third hunt in the past with a very arrogant American politician.

- "Travellers" (Time Safari, 1982) is about another time traveler. It concerns the crew of an airship flying from Boston to San Francisco.

These tales include all the Vickers stories plus "Travellers". Of course, the Vickers stories are about dinosaurs. The time travel is provided by an Israeli military project. The dirigible is featured in "Travellers".

The Vickers stories are based on true tales from real safaris. Most of them had difficult clients. "Boundary Layer" has the worst client imaginable.

Highly recommended for Drake fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of time travel, big game hunters and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


Transcendental
Transcendental
by James Gunn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.92
88 used & new from $1.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quest for Perfection, September 29, 2014
This review is from: Transcendental (Hardcover)
Transcendental (2013) is a standalone SF novel. This volume starts on Terminal, at the edge of known space, after a long war between humans and various galactic civilizations.

In this novel, Riley is a human who had been a fighter pilot during the war. Now he is an agent of an unknown organization.

Asha is a human. She is a pilgrim searching for the Transcendent Machine.

Tordor is an alien with a trunk and four limbs. He was a fleet commander in the war.

Xi is an alien from Xifor. He looks like a weasel.

Hamilton Jones is a human who had been the flight engineer on Riley's fighter. Now Ham is the captain of the Geoffrey.

Jon and Jan are human clones. They are crewmen on the Geoffrey.

In this story, Riley was on Terminal when the barbarians attacked. He helped the locals repulse the attackers from the climber port. So had Asha, Tordor and other passengers.

After the attack, the passengers waited for clearance before entering the climber. It was definitely a basic design. It had little more than support furniture and provisions for the seven day trip. Passengers would have to sleep on the floor.

On the way up, the passengers formed mutual protection groups. Riley asks Asha to join them, but she refuses the offer. She says that she can protect herself.

Riley stays awake for a while longer, but eventually falls asleep. He wakes with Xi's arm in his hand. It is clutching a knife. Xi says that he was just checking on Riley.

Riley wakes again when the climber speeds up a bit. He notices the tank-like passenger by the control panel. Then an explosion severs the climbing tape behind them and they tumble around the room. The climber is still working its way up the tape, but it is swaying back and forth.

With the tape broken, the climber is no longer anchored and is heading outward. They will all die when the supplies run out. Fortunately, the Geoffrey overtakes the climber and rescues the passengers.

The passengers are sent through decontamination. Jon and Jan are greeted with enthusiasm by the crew. The rest are sent to the passenger quarters and locked in.

Later, Riley unlocks the door to the crew section and works his way to the captain's room. He greets Ham and they discuss their lives since the war. Ham had been literally rebuilt with various implants. Riley had spent a year in the base hospital.

This tale contains brief histories of several passengers. The passengers demand and get permission to use their skills to train the crew and refurbish the old ship. Some passengers are killed during the voyage.

Eventually they reach the Transcendent Machine. This volume has loose threads that could lead to a sequel, but nothing has been announced on Amazon. However, Star Bridge is being reprinted.

Highly recommended for Gunn fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of group quests, advanced technology, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin


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