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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Review: The Eyes of God by John Marco

The Eyes of GodThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

John Marco made a name for himself a few years ago, with his award-winning novel The Jackal of Nar and its two sequels. Now, with that story completed, Marco turns to the complexities of a new world. His latest novel, The Eyes of God, explores a land torn by war and internal strife.

King Akeela, of Liiria, ascends his throne in a time of conflict. Desperate to make peace, he travels to Reec, with whom his people have fought for decades. With him is his best friend and bodyguard, Lukien. Together, the two propose peace to Reec’s king, who accepts and offers his daughter in return, to cement the agreement. Both Akeela and Lukien fall in love with the beautiful Cassandra, but she falls victim to a wasting illness and her death seems imminent.

One last desperate hope remains. Lukien journeys to the faraway land of Jador, where legend says that two amulets exist,which are able to heal all diseases and grant their wearers immortality. His journey may be in vain; back in Liiria, Akeela slowly goes mad watching his wife waste away. Racing against time, Lukien searches for the amulets, hoping against hope for a miracle.

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Review: Past Lives, Present Tense edited by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Past Lives Present TenseThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you could live your life as anyone in history, who would you choose? A scientist, a religious figure, a politician?

And what would happen if that personality didn’t get along with yours?

The outstanding anthology Past Lives, Present Tense explores this premise with a series of linked short stories, contributed by 15 prominent science fiction authors.

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Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the RingThis book was a personal purchase.

So, how many times have you seen the movie?

Three? Four?

More?

What keeps drawing the crowds and packing the theaters?

The special effects? Stunning, I’ll admit. The casting? All the characters look the way you’d expect. All those factors play a part, but ultimately, they’re not the true reason for our fascination.
It all comes back to a 60-year-old book.

Tolkien’s masterwork, for many, stands alone as fantasy’s greatest tale. Rarely will anyone argue that point, and neither will I. Rather, it’s interesting to note what makes The Lord of the Rings work so well, on so many levels.

In one sense, it boils down to good, old-fashioned storytelling. Tolkien’s language reads like a yarn spun for a live audience. His tale marches forward, leading inexorably towards Middle-Earth’s fate: Frodo must destroy the Ring or see everything destroyed. In essence, the author presents a simply told tale: no frills, no convoluted subplots, just a well-told story. But that alone can’t explain why it tugs at us and compels us.

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Review: Lancelot du Lethe by J. Robert King

Lancelot du LetheThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Let us return, once again, to the realm of King Arthur. J. Robert King’s dazzling Mad Merlin, published last year, took the story to new and dizzying heights. Lancelot du Lethe returns to Camelot and tells a strange tale of the Round Table’s greatest knight.

Lancelot, raised on Avalon, desires nothing more than knighthood. But his journey to Camelot introduces him to something he desires even more: Guinevere, Arthur’s wife and queen. Thus begins one of literature’s most famous tragic love tales… but there’s far more to this story than readers ever could guess.

As Mad Merlin explored the kingdom of the gods, this novel journeys into the fairy realm, as Lancelot and Guinevere forsake Camelot altogether. Their union can save the Otherworld, but at great cost. For the Otherworld to thrive, Camelot must fall.

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Review: Technogenesis by Syne Mitchell

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

The World Wide Web’s growing influence has caused concern among privacy protection groups.

Could the Web be used to destroy one’s reputation, steal one’s money, or even take one’s identity? The more we use the Web, the more danger exists that such scenarios could come true.

Syne Mitchell’s Technogenesis explores the consequences when the Net permeates all aspects of life.

Jasmine Reese’s natural affinity with the Net makes her valuable as an data miner. She can find information where others would ultimately fail, and she’s more at home surfing the Net than otherwise. When her data mask breaks and destroys her connection, Jasmine becomes a “disconnected.” While waiting for a replacement mask, though, she notices the “connected” apparently are watching her.

She delves into the phenomenon; these actions result in her kidnapping by a secret group safeguarding the Net. Their motive remains a mystery until they take her to a temple, where she meets the Net’s overmind, Gestalt. As the sum total of all the “connected’s” consciousness, Gestalt guides humanity toward peace, but the question remains: Does it work for humanity’s good, or rob people of free will? Many wish to destroy Gestalt over that very question, and Jasmine finds herself pressured into infiltrating the group that is attempting to kill the benevolent overmind.

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