Sunday, September 26, 2010

Well, that was depressing. Which is good.

When Orson Scott Card says ""This is the golden age of fantasy, with a dozen masters doing their best work. Then along comes Ken Scholes, with his amazing clarity, power, and invention, and shows us all how it's done.... I wish all five volumes of this series were already published so I could read them now", you expect something astounding. Well, Schole's "Lamentation" almost fully lives up to Card's high praise. The writing is excellent to the point where even when you know what may happen to characters down the road since they are archetypes, you don't care, since they are written so well. What keeps the book from "New Classic" status? Well, maybe because it is a book about the destruction of a city in a world where humanity is already recovering from a whole mess of apocalypsing. Or maybe its hard to love a book so filled with scheming characters and haunted heroes. And the book's style, which involved jumping from character to character was something I found kind of jarring. But it is a book you can dive into very easily- and a strong ending that leaves you knowing a sequel is coming. Solid. 28.5/42 Richmans.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So what is it? and ... Imager #3

There's no magic involved. Aristocrats and schisms, yes. And yes, there is a faith very close to Christianity and a setting very close to western Europe. Medieval facets of life, such as a Doge and a Jewish Ghetto are part of the landscape. But no wizards, no powers- aside from talents for violence and political disaster. So, not exactly historical fiction, nor fantasy, "The Left Hand of God" by Paul Hoffman manages to be a damn fine read regardless. Given gruesome surroundings at the start, young Thomas Cale is a hero with a skill for battle- and a few other things. I'm saying nothing else about the plot here, but the writing is descriptive, with bits of narration peppering a tight and descriptive flow. Worth reading? Yes, with a firm 29/42 Richmans standing behind it.

L. E. Modesitt's "Imager" series is also set in a world that echoes medieval Europe. With this third volume, "Imager's Intrigue," our hero is thrust ever deeper into a lethal world of politics and... hey, this book is a lot like the first two. There's suspense, threats to the nation and the life of the hero Rhenn, and of course, now he's married to his long-time love. In this volume, the stakes are raised as are Rhenn's responsibilities. While perhaps not as thunderous in it's conclusion, it still is a solid read, with 28/42 Richmans. If you were a fan of the first two of the "Imager" series, this one will still be quite satisfying. Probably.