Quick Review: IRONCLADS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-IroncladsAn interesting new SF war novella with a twist

Scions have no limits

Scions do not die

And Scions do not disappear

Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad – the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war – but something has gone catastrophically wrong.

Now Regan and his men, ill-equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironcladkiller out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?

A new book from Adrian Tchaikovsky is always something to be cheered. Ironclads is something a little different — although, given Tchaikovsky’s growing body of varied work, this is perhaps something that we can now expect? Ironclads is an interesting re-imagining of the world: corporations have come to dominate the new world, but supernatural elements of the old world are pushing back. A squad of American soldiers are thrown into a special mission, and everything they thought they knew about the war turns out to have been wrong… Continue reading

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Quick Review: THE ARMORED SAINT by Myke Cole (Tor.com)

ColeM-ST1-ArmoredSaintThe first part of what promises to be an interesting new fantasy series

A story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthral epic fantasy readers of all ages.

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

I’ve been a fan of Myke Cole’s work since his debut novel, Control Point — the first in a series that has improved with each new book. His new novella is quite a bit different, but continues the trend of showing an author who is continuing to improve and hone his craft and skill for storytelling. There’s a lot to like in The Armored Saint. Continue reading

Quick Review: DOWNFALL OF THE GODS by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-DownfallOfTheGodsAn entertaining tale of gods behaving badly

If you visit the Temple and ask nicely for forgiveness, you might get it — assuming you aren’t Lord Archias and you haven’t killed the Goddess’s favorite musician, Lysippus. But even goddesses are expected to follow certain rules, and as much as she wants to punish Lord Archias it seems her troublesome, all-powerful father forbids it. So the Goddess will just have to get around that by forgiving Lord Archias if he can manage some simple — or, rather, seemingly impossible — tasks. A Goddess has to do what a goddess has to do.

And in World Fantasy Award winner K.J. Parker’s sharply inventive new novella Downfall of the Gods that means everything from soothing supernatural egos to accompanying the argumentative Lord Archias on an epic quest to save his soul… and get her own way. As the Goddess and her mortal charge make their way across the world to the Land of the Dead, a host of divine surprises await them. Could what they find at the end be the downfall of the gods themselves? Only time will tell.

“The generally accepted form of communication in my family is melodrama,” says the divine narrator of Downfall of the Gods. Fans of Greek and Roman mythology will certainly be familiar with this notion. In this novella, K.J. Parker turns his playful pen to dissecting humanity’s relationship with its gods, and how pernicious and frustrating the gods can be. A quickly-paced, well-written and amusing novella. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: MEPHISTON — BLOOD OF SANGUINIUS by Darius Hinks (Black Library)

An interesting, action-packed WH40k novel

The shrine world of Divinatus Prime has become lost to the light of the Astronomican and no ship can piece its veil. Only the Lord of Death himself, Blood Angels Chief Librarian Mephiston, has any hope of discerning the fate of this once pious world. After enacting a powerful blood ritual, Mephiston and an honour guard of his fellow Blood Angels reach the stricken shrine world to find it seized by religious civil war. Each faction fights for dominance of a potent artefact, the Blade Petrific, said to be wrought by the Emperor Himself. Yet there is more at work here than a mere ideological schism, for Mephiston believes Divinatus Prime could offer answers to how he became the Lord of Death, he who resisted the Black Rage, and possibly even a way to end the curse of ‘the Flaw’ in all Blood Angels.

It’s been quite some time since I last read something by Darius Hinks. I enjoyed what little of his work I have read (of particular note: Razumov’s Tomb and Sigvald). I’ve also recently been reading and enjoying a fair number of BL’s Space Marine Heroes/Legends novels. The Blood Angels have always been of interest, but never as much as the mysterious Dark Angels, or Norse/viking-inspired Space Wolves. This changed after I read Guy Haley’s Dante and James Swallow’s Fear to Tread. And so, when I learned that Hinks was writing his own Blood Angels novel, Blood of Sanguinius, my interest was piqued.

Continue reading

Review: PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS by Anne Rice (Knopf/Arrow)

RiceA-VC12-PrinceLestat&RealmsOfAtlanticUSPBThe twelfth Vampire Chronicle novel upends, once again, the origin story

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

Lestat de Lioncourt is no longer alone.

A strange, otherworldly spirit has resurfaced, taking possession of his body and soul. All-seeing, all-knowing, its voice whispers in his ear, telling the hypnotic tale of Atlantis, the great sea power of ancient times…

Prince Lestat is seduced by the power of this ancient spirit, but is he right to trust it? Why has Lestat, leader of the vampires, been chosen as its bodily host?

And what of Atlantis, the mysterious heaven on earth? Why must the vampires reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit?

It falls to Lestat to discover the truth.

I do love this series. As I have written (so very many times) on the site, I consider Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books — I always read them together, so I think of them as one. With each novel, Rice has built on the impressive vampire mythos she’s created. In Prince Lestat, the author took a pretty bold step in developing the mythology: in fact, she pretty much upended everything we’ve come to learn so far. I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I realized that, in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, the author was going to do it again… Continue reading

Quick Review: THE LAMB WILL SLAUGHTER THE LION by Margaret Killjoy (Tor.com)

KilljoyM-DC1-LambWillSlaughterTheLionAn excellent novella, and excellent intro to the author’s work

Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious suicide, Danielle ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa, and witnesses a protector spirit — in the form of a blood-red, three-antlered deer — begin to turn on its summoners. She and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town — or get out alive.

This is the first thing by Killjoy that I’ve read, and it will not be the last. A slim, perfectly formed novella, Killjoy’s prose is excellent. It’s been quite some time since an author’s writing jumped out from the get-go. If you’re looking for a quick, excellent read with a supernatural twist, then I would definitely recommend The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE SURVIVOR by Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills (Atria/Simon & Schuster)

Flynn&Mills-MR12-SurvivorUSThe 14th Mitch Rapp novel, Flynn’s last

When Joe “Rick” Rickman, a former golden boy of the CIA, steals a massive amount of the Agency’s most classified documents in an elaborately masterminded betrayal of his country, CIA director Irene Kennedy has no choice but to send her most dangerous weapon after him: elite covert operative Mitch Rapp.

Rapp quickly dispatches the traitor, but Rickman proves to be a deadly threat to America even from beyond the grave. Eliminating Rickman didn’t solve all of the CIA’s problems — in fact, mysterious tip-offs are appearing all over the world, linking to the potentially devastating data that Rickman managed to store somewhere only he knew.

It’s a deadly race to the finish as both the Pakistanis and the Americans search desperately for Rickman’s accomplices, and for the confidential documents they are slowly leaking to the world. To save his country from being held hostage to a country set on becoming the world’s newest nuclear superpower, Mitch Rapp must outrun, outthink, and outgun his deadliest enemies yet.

Vince Flynn passed away after beginning this novel. His estate and publisher asked Kyle Mills, another fantastic thriller author, to step in and finish the book. I’ve read all of Flynn’s novels, and I’m happy to report that Mills has done a great job of continuing the series. Continue reading