Review: Acacia by David Anthony Durham

AcaciaThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

David Anthony Durham is well-known for his award-winning historical novels, but he recently turned his pen to fantasy and started an epic. Acacia is the first volume in the story The War with the Mein, which blends action and intrigue with a sweeping setting.

King Leoden Akaran is the highest ruler in the world. The empire of Acacia has existed for hundreds of years, and has brought peace to all under its rule. Alas, peace has been purchased at a high price: The king is forced to uphold a bargain that his ancestors made long ago, which requires him to allow traffic in drugs and slaves.

Leoden’s children have grown up ignorant of what lies beneath the kingdom’s quiet, although the older two have some idea of the world at large. All this is shattered when an assassin from the north, one of the exiled Mein warriors, strikes at the king. Wounded and dying, Leoden scatters his children to the winds to protect them.

Little does he know that the poison isn’t merely in his body, but also in the heart of his kingdom.

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Review: An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair

An Accidental GoddessThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Linnea Sinclair’s novels are best described as “sci-fi with a twist.” Her previous books aren’t straight science fiction, but include strong elements of romance and a bit of the paranormal. Her most recent work, An Accidental Goddess, combines likable characters and an interstellar romance’s unique complication.

Gillaine Davre regains consciousness and is nowhere that she expected to be. She soon discovers that she’s not even in the expected century. She and her sentient ship, Simon, have been catapulted more than 300 years into the future: one final casualty of a furious battle involving everything from technology to magic.

Worse, the station that she finds herself on, Cirrus One, is deep in Khalar space. The Khalarans remember her epic battle quite well: so well, in fact, that she’s now revered as the Kiasidira, a goddess.

Aside from a fear that she might destroy a culture, Gillaine has another reasons to conceal her true identity: She rather doubts that her growing attraction to Admiral “Mack” Makarian would survive the truth.

But she may have no choice. The very enemies that she nearly gave her life to destroy have arisen again, and Cirrus One may be their first target.

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Review: Accursed by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden

AccursedThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The World Wide Web has become a talent showcase. The BBC recently premiered a Web-based animated series titled Legacy, which averaged more than 100,000 hits per week. After working on a second Web series, the creators debuted their first full-length novel, Accursed, which tells of the Protectors of Albion, and their struggle against evil.

William and Tamara Swift have inherited a special legacy: They’re the keepers of the mystical powers that protect England. Sadly, their ascension to power was fraught with tragedy. Their father, the former Protector, has been possessed by a demonic presence. The siblings are burdened with trying to learn more about their power, even as they wield it in their country’s defense.

They’re aided by the ghosts of Lord Byron, Admiral Nelson and many others.

Nor do our protagonists have much time to settle into their new roles. London’s streets are being stalked by an evil that transforms men to monsters, and rapes women, causing them to die while giving birth to foul creatures. This curse is spreading from the lower class to nobility’s halls.

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Review: The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

The Gates of SleepThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mercedes Lackey recently has moved away from the classic trilogy format and has begun doing stand-alone novels based in a common world. Each story can be taken on its own merit, or read as part of a larger whole. Her loose grouping of books about the Elemental Masters continues this month, with The Gates of Sleep.

Marina Roeswood, born of Earth-gifted parents, has manifested a “water talent” almost from birth; she promises to be a powerful mage when she comes into her full potential. Unfortunately, her young life is cursed by her aunt Arachne at her christening. The curse, abated somewhat by the intervention of another water mage, no longer promises outright destruction. While Marina’s original fate was death before her 18th birthday, the curse now will take an unknown form that won’t kill her.

Distraught, her parents send her away with her godparents, Sebastian and Margherita Tarrant, and their friend, Thomas Buford. By hiding little Marina, they hope to shield her until she turns 18, at which point the curse might rebound upon its caster.

But as the time for this event draws near, tragedy strikes. Marina’s parents die in an accident, and Arachne claims Marina as her ward. Under the guise of teaching her lady-like manners, Arachne keeps Marina close, searching for a way to reactivate the curse before Marina learns her powers’ full extent.

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Review: Taylor’s Ark by Jody Lynn Nye

Taylor's ArkThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Jody Lynn Nye gained attention when she collaborated on Anne McCaffrey’s Doona series, but her storytelling skills stand on their own in this novel, the tale of a space-faring doctor and her animal companions.

Environmental conditions often make colonization difficult. Enter Shona Taylor, trained to assess hazardous bacteria, chemicals and viruses. She works with a veritable menagerie: mice, rabbits, a cat, a dog and an alien species called an ottle. By capitalizing on their heightened senses, they all function as part of a highly trained diagnostic team, searching out and neutralizing dangers that could affect human colonists.

After a personal tragedy, Shona questions her commitment to this work, until an incredible opportunity comes her way, involving disease research on recently colonized planets. Now working for an independent corporation, she and her animals travel from world to world, only to realize that they’re following the path of a deadly disease: one wiping out whole colonies within days.

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Review: Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo

Ship of FoolsThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Recent science fiction films have altered our view of what a good “aliens and spaceships” stories should contain. Audiences have grown accustomed to sweeping space battles, evil technology and advanced societies.

Richard Paul Russo’s latest novel, Ship of Fools, dares to break those conventions. This story looks inward, to the haunting vistas of human motivation.

The novel takes place on the worldship Argonos: a vast enclosed ecosystem, where generations of men and women have lived, worked, and died without ever setting foot planetside. But now Captain Nikos has received a signal from what appears to be a human colony on the planet Antioch. With 14 years since their last planetfall, he dares not ignore this opportunity.

Bartolomeo Aguilera, Nikos’ close friend and confidante, leads the Antioch exploratory mission. Upon arriving, he discovers the hideous remains of the colonists, victims of an apparent massacre. Soon after, the chamber containing the bodies sends out a signal to deep space. Curious, Nikos and Bartolomeo follow th e signal. The journey ends at an impossibly large alien spaceship, beautiful… and deadly. As Bartolomeo and his teams explore the massive interior, freak accidents begin claiming crewmen’s lives. Others experience changed personalities.

What strange powers are contained within this ship, and should they be disturbed by humankind?

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Review: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the ForestThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It’s March, time for all things Irish. Filling that place in this month’s offerings, Daughter of the Forest draws on the Children of Lir, an Irish myth. Juliet Marillier expands on this classic story in her debut novel.

Sorcha, only daughter of the Sevenwaters family, enjoys the protection and love of her six brothers and her kind–if often absent–father. She specializes in healing, while her brothers pursue fighting and politics. Life at Sevenwaters runs smoothly, with everyone fitting into a specific place. Alas, this tranquil existence is disrupted by their father’s re-marriage. Lady Oonagh, a sorceress, divides the family bit by bit until her worst curse falls upon the brothers, and their transformed into swans.

Distraught, Sorcha flees Oonagh, and encounters the blue-robed Lady of the Forest, one of the Fair Folk. She tells Sorcha of a way to break the curse, but it calls for Sorcha to weave each brother a shirt of nettles, and to remain completely silent until the task is complete. When Sorcha is kidnapped by Britons and taken into her family’s worst enemy’s estate, she fears that she will never free her brothers.

When she falls in love with Red, her captor and the household’s master, she fears more evil magic may have been set against her.

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Review: The Spirit of Thunder by Kurt R. A. Giambastiani

The Spirit of ThunderThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When readers think of alternate history novels, the name that usually springs to mind is Harry Turtledove.

Now, though, a new author has tackled the genre. Kurt R. A. Giambastiani takes reader to the American West for a tale of politics and bravery. The Spirit of Thunder details a land very different from the America we all know.

George Custer’s presidency begins on shaky ground. War with the Cheyenne Alliance rages unabated, and masses of people clog the Eastern seaboard, desperate for land. Custer and his cabinet develop a plan to build a bridge that spans the Missouri and, upon its completion, grant the land beyond it to settlers. The hope is that the settlers will drive off the Indians, bringing civilization to the West.

But the President has an added worry, a personal one. His only son, George Jr., crash-landed in Indian lands. He now fights with the Cheyenne, disgusted with his father’s politics and back-stabbing. In an effort to protect those he loves, George Jr. embarks on a quest to give the plains dwellers a fighting chance… by giving them guns.

Ultimately, father will battle son in this alternate American West.

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Review: The Dragon DelaSangre by Alan F. Troop

The Dragon DelaSangreThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If dragons walked among us, what would they do?

Would they act out their ferocity on the unwary? Would they gather power and wealth, remaining apart from humankind?

Alan F. Troop explores a dragon who combines both in his new novel The Dragon DelaSangre.
Peter DelaSangre comes from an old and prestigious family. His heritage combines power, wealth… and blood. Peter is a dragon, able to take human shape when it suits him. But the inherent dangers of doing so manifest violently one night, when a tryst ends in the woman’s death at his jaws.

Realizing that he needs to be with his own kind, he searches for a dragon female. His search takes him far away, to a tropical island inhabited by a dragon family. But as Peter concentrates on wooing a bride, trouble brews at home. The dead woman’s brother has become obsessed with proving Peter’s guilt, and awaits the dragon’s return, ready to avenge his sister.

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Review: Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb

Fool's ErrandThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Robin Hobb made her mark on fantasy, with the trilogies The Farseers and The Liveship Traders. Her world, populated by magic-users, dragons and living ships, incorporates all that makes fantasy great.

Now Hobb returns again to the Six Duchies and her memorable Farseer hero, Fitz, in Fool’s Errand, first in the new Tawny Man trilogy.

After nearly giving his life for king and country, Fitz has faded from sight and memory. Thought to be many years dead, he lives quietly under the name Tom Badgerlock. But one day, his past arrives at the door. Two old friends, his mentor Chade and the former king’s Fool (now known as Lord Golden), plead for his return. Prince Dutiful, the throne’s only heir, has vanished on the eve of his betrothal to an Outisland princess. Only Fitz has any hope of locating him.

Posing as the Fool’s servant, Fitz seeks clues to the Prince’s disappearance. All leads point to a chilling supposition: Dutiful carries the Wit, the abhorred beast magic, and has run off with his bond-mate, a hunting cat. With time growing short, Fitz, who also bears the Wit, sets out with his wolf Nighteyes. He hopes to find young Dutiful before the Wit claims him entirely, leaving behind nothing but an animal in a man’s body.

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