The Library Fantastic

Books

An Ember in the Ashes 4
by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes

It has been quite some time since I wrote a proper review for a book rather than just sharing shorter impressions. In part, I have Twitter and Facebook and other forms of social media to blame for that, as such outlets make it very easy to offer some kind of commentary without investing too much energy; a tempting prospect when you’re left with limited such resources for various reasons. However, I can’t deny that a significant factor behind the lack of reviews has been that my reading has been way down compared to what it used to be. I used to order stacks of new books for Christmas, for…

River of Stars 4
by Guy Gavriel Kay
River of Stars

A new novel by Gay Gavriel Kay is something that I (and Elio) always look forward to with eager anticipation. We have been fans of his writing since the Fionavar Tapestry, which remains my favourite work of his (indeed, it may be my favourite fantasy series of all times) even though the later novels undeniably are more polished. There’s something about the rawness of the Fionavar Tapestry that always gets me. Of course, it is also a much more traditional work of fantasy than any of his other later novels (save for Tigana) and I am, first and foremost, a reader of fantasy. At the heart of my…

A Dance with Dragons 5
Part 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire
by George R. R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, has hit shelves around the world and returned fans once more to Westeros, to see what’s become of some of the most vividly realized characters in the fantasy genre. Six years in the making—or eleven, considering that some of the chapters in this novel were written to be published in the pre-split A Feast for Crows—and the question on the minds of many of the critics who’ve reviewed the book for such well-known news outlets such as TIME, the LA Times, the NY Times, and more, seems to have been, “Was it worth the…

Kushiel’s Mercy 4
Part 6 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Mercy

Apparently, I am still starved from my long bout of very little reading, because yesterday another book found itself devoured at a rather alarming pace. Of course, Kushiel’s Mercy is admittedly not the first Jacqueline Carey book that I have finished in a day, and as I was feeling a bit down yesterday it proved an excellent way of drowning my sorrows. In short, it didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of lasting longer than a day.

Picking up almost right on the heels of Kushiel’s Justice, which saw Imriel returning from his quest to slay his Alban wife Dorelei’s killer, Imriel and Sidonie…

Feast of Souls 4
Part 1 of The Magister Trilogy
by C.S. Friedman
Feast of Souls

I have read appallingly little of late. Somehow, I just slipped out of a very long habit and ended up spending what normally has been reading time on other things. When I finally got around to picking up a book that has been on my to-read list for a long while, I ended up devouring it in a day of rather frantic reading, which showed me just how poorly I had fed my addiction of late. And, of course, it also showed that the book in question was so good that I couldn’t put it down. This was not a surprise, however, since C.S Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy ranks very high on my list of favourite…

A Companion to Wolves 4
by Sarah Monette (with Elizabeth Bear)
A Companion to Wolves

A Companion to Wolves, a collaboration between Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, is set in a harsh, northern land were men bonded to huge wolves defend their lands and their wolfless kin from great trolls and wyverns. But the wolfbrothers are not well regarded by the wolfless, not the least because the bonding between man and wolf is so close that when the wolves mate, so do the men—with each other. Njall, a jarl’s son, is chosen as tithe to the wolfbrothers, but his father resents him for going and Njall himself is anything but certain about his choice. At first, his sense of honour is what…

Hunter’s Run
by George R.R. Martin (with Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham)

Review forthcoming.

The Mirador 4
Part 3 of The Doctrine of Labyrinths
by Sarah Monette
The Mirador

The Mirador picks up two years after the end of The Virtu, which concluded a major story arc for Felix and Mildmay (though not without leaving some interesting threads dangling). But while the two characters were more beset by trouble in the previous two volumes, it is in this volume that it really becomes apparent how damaged they are. In particular, Felix. While he was afflicted by the madness resulting from being used to break the Virtu, it was no surprise to see him going through some difficulties. Here, however, its made clear that his issues go so much deeper and that they won’t simply…

Kushiel’s Justice 4
Part 5 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Justice

Love as thou wilt. That was the only thing that Blessed Elua asked of his scions. But when politics and the fate of realms enter into the picture that is not always such an easy command to follow.

Against his expectations as well as his wishes, Imriel finds himself in love with Sidonie, his own kin as well as the heir to the throne of Terre d’Ange. Worse, his love is reciprocated, Sidonie’s dislike for him having turned into desire. But even if Queen Ysandre has never blamed Imriel for being the son of traitors, she would never dream of allowing him to wed her daughter. Too many people in…

The Serpent and the Rose 4
Part 1 of The War of the Rose
by Kathleen Bryan (aka Judith Tarr)
The Serpent and the Rose

A thousand years ago, order defeated chaos as the Young God vanquished the Serpent. Though the victor died in the process, the Serpent was imprisoned, and out of the Young God’s followers grew an order of Knights sworn to make sure it remained that way. But now the king of Lys seeks to increase his might by turning to darker powers, and the servants of order have so successfully banished chaos that none of them have any real knowledge of how to fight its growing influence. Only Averil, heir to a duchy not yet under the king’s sway, and Gereint, a fatherless commoner with dangerous talents,…

Ysabel 4
by Guy Gavriel Kay
Ysabel

A new book from Guy Gavriel Kay is always a treat, and a rare one at that, as there’s always quite a few years between them. Given this, one tends to build up fairly high expectations, which isn’t always fair to the book (or the author) as these expectations often end up being heavily based in one’s own preferences as a reader. First impressions of a book are particularly vulnerable to comparisons between what is and what was expected. No wonder, perhaps, that this review has already been tweaked twice. First I reworked it slightly based on some feedback that led me to conclude that I had not…

Melusine 4
Part 1 of The Doctrine of Labyrinths
by Sarah Monette
Melusine

To begin with, I would advise anyone considering Mélusine to also pick up the sequel, The Virtu, and read the two back-to-back. My understanding is that they were originally intended as one book, and while I enjoyed both of them when reading them a few months apart, I think they would read even better treated as a single book as together they form a distinct story arc where what is now the second volume brings the conclusion of many plot threads opened in the first.

However, in the end that is not how they were published, and with that in mind, this review attempts to focus on Mélusine. In…

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Kushiel’s Scion 4
Part 4 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Scion

Sometimes, it is difficult to say what is harder to deal with: who you are, or who you aren’t. Imriel nó Montrève de la Courcel, son of Terre d’Ange’s most infamous traitor, the deadly beauty Melisande Shahrizai, and foster-son of its most famous heroine, Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève, finds himself in such a situation. He despises his real mother and idolizes his foster-mother and her consort, Joscelin. But he cannot escape Melisande’s legacy, which makes him suspicious in the eyes of some and a worthy heir to the throne in the eyes of others, any more than he can hope to be a great hero,…

Kushiel’s Avatar 4
Part 3 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Avatar

Since stopping Melisande’s plot to overthrow Queen Ysandre, Phèdre has had ten years of peace together with Joscelin. However, all that time the shadow of Hyacinthe has still hung above her, and she has never stopped trying to find a way to release him from the task he took upon himself. Other concerns have nagged at her mind too, such as the whereabouts of Melisande’s hidden son, third in line for the throne of Terre d’Ange. These two matters then become inseparably linked as Melisande sends for Phèdre, and reveals to her that Imriel, her son, has gone truly missing. Now she wants Phèdre to…