Quick Review: A STUDENT OF HISTORY by Nina Revoyr (Akashic Books)

RevoyrN-AStudentOfHistoryOne person’s introduction to elite strata of Los Angeles society

Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on his South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W—, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it at first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, charming, and feisty Mrs. W—, he gets drawn into a world of privilege and wealth far different from his racially mixed, blue-collar beginnings.

Putting aside his half-finished dissertation, Rick sets up office in Mrs. W—’s grand Bel Air mansion and begins to transcribe her journals — which document an old Los Angeles not described in his history books. He also accompanies Mrs. W— to venues frequented by the descendants of the land and oil barons who built the city. One evening, at an event, he meets Fiona Morgan — the elegant scion of an old steel family — who takes an interest in his studies. Irresistibly drawn to Fiona, he agrees to help her with a project of questionable merit in the hopes he’ll win her favor.

I picked this up on a whim. I hadn’t read any of Nina Revoyr’s previous novels, so had no idea what to expect from A Student of History. What I found was a very interesting and engaging novel about the social divisions and dynamics in contemporary Los Angeles. Continue reading

Quick Review: SONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

Various-HHP-SonsOfTheEmperorAn anthology of short stories about the Primarchs

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions, warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend.

From the Angel Sanguinius, who took the sole brunt of his Legion’s most brutal acts, to Vulkan, whose humanity made him unique amongst his brothers, and from dour Perturabo, architect, inventor and murderous warlord, to Horus, whose shining light was eclipsed only by the darkness that grew within his soul, this anthology covers eight of the primarchs and their greatest – or darkest – deeds.

Contents:
The Passing of Angels by John French
The Abyssal Edge by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Mercy of the Dragon by Nick Kyme
Shadow of the Past by Gav Thorpe
The Emperor’s Architect by Guy Haley
Prince of Blood by L J Goulding
The Ancient Awaits by Graham McNeill
Misbegotten by Dan Abnett

This is a great anthology. Originally released as a special for the Black Library Weekender in 2018, it collects eight stories by some of the best authors working on the Horus Heresy series. Each of them offers something new and interesting, alternative and original impressions and glimpses of some of the Primarchs. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: HER SILHOUETTE, DRAWN IN WATER by Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com)

KaftanV-HerSilhouetteDrawnInWaterAn intriguing novella about identity, memory and relationships

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her — until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

I’ve not read anything else by Kaftan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water. What I found was a well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking novella that touches upon a number of interesting and timely issues, hung on a science fictional frame.
Continue reading

Quick Review: THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton & James Patterson (Little, Brown/Century)

ClintonPatterson-PresidentIsMissingUKAn interesting, substantial political thriller

The President Is Missing confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view…

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years.

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this novel before it was published. Understandable, of course, but I nevertheless somehow managed to leave it quite some time before reading. I’m very glad I did, though. This is an entertaining political thriller that should definitely appeal to fans of the (sub-)genre. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE BREAK LINE by James Brabazon (Berkley/Penguin)

brabazonj-mm1-breaklineushcAn assassin sent into the field with limited information, confronted by a bizarre, deadly mystery in the jungle

British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent.

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It’s his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.

I’m so used to reading thrillers and spy novels starring American protagonists — be they independent contractors, CIA or FBI agents. It was therefore quite refreshing to read James Brabazon’s debut novel. It is, at times, wonderfully British in idiom and style and it left me a little homesick. It should definitely still appeal to an international readership, however (as a Brit living overseas, however, there were things that struck a chord of nostalgia). Overall, I enjoyed this quite a bit. A promising start to a new series. Continue reading

Quick Reviews: THE BONE DESERT by Robbie MacNiven & ONE, UNTENDED by David Guymer (Black Library)

MacNivenR-AoSG-BoneDesertTwo short Age of Sigmar outings for Gotrek Gurnisson, my favourite dwarf…

The world that Gotrek Gurnisson knew is long dead, alongside every soul the legendary monster slayer once cared for. Adrift in this curious new age, the duardin scours the treacherous Bone Desert in search of the axe he inherited from the God Grimnir, which too has been lost to the annals of time.

When a series of assassination attempts strike, Gotrek and his aelf companion Maleneth soon learn that it is not only the wasteland’s ravenous beasts and sinking sands that hunger for their flesh. The heroic duardin is certain these highly calculated and creative attacks are the work of his infamous nemesis – the skaven, Thanquol. But is all as it seems?

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a couple of times (at least) on CR, I’ve been reading about the exploits of Gotrek Gurnisson for decades. I first stumbled across his adventures, alongside his human companion Felix Jaegar, in the Warhammer Armies books. Then, William King and others’ novels that I still return to whenever I feel like a fantasy-comfort-read. With the demise of the Old World, and the shift to the Age of Sigmar, the venerable dwarf returns! Continue reading

Review: ANGRON — SLAVE OF NUCERIA by Ian St. Martin (Black Library)

StMartinI-HHP09-AngronAngron’s fateful demand of his Legion

As the Emperor travels the galaxy at the head of his Great Crusade, few events are as important as rediscovering his scattered sons, the primarchs, and bestowing them as the masters of their Legions. United, a Legion becomes a reflection of its primarch, both in his strengths and his flaws. For the Twelfth Legion, once the War Hounds and now the World Eaters, the line between strength and flaw is almost impossible to separate. Placed in command of a Legion he does not want, in service to a father he cannot forgive, Angron gives an ultimatum to his children, one that will set them down a path that they can never return from. So desperate for his acknowledgement, will the World Eaters follow their father and cast themselves in his broken image or will they resist? And will any of them ever learn who their father was truly meant to be?

In this, the eleventh novel in the Horus Heresy: Primarchs series, Ian St. Martin draws back the curtain on one of the most important events in the World Eaters’ history: the adoption of the Butcher’s Nails. A fast-paced and interesting short novel, which really improves the overall picture we have of Angron. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading