Posts Categorized: Review

Generation V by M.L. Brennan

Publisher: Roc - Pages: 320 - Buy: Book/eBook
Generation V by M.L. Brennan

Fortitude Scott has a sucky life. His girlfriend is cheating on him with his housemate, his housemate stopped paying rent months ago, his job at the Busy Beans cafe pays barely enough to keep him afloat, and his coworkers are unbearable – plus, he’s a vampire, but without any of the perks. In fact, Fort is more of a fledgeling vampire: sure, he occasionally drinks blood (though only his mother Madeline’s, and only under duress – the rest of the time, he’s a vegetarian), and his elder siblings, Chivalry and Prudence, can’t go out in the daylight, but until Fort transitions, he might as well be human – no super strength, no rapid healing, and definitely no supernatural cool factor.

Oh, and when he was nine years old, Prudence brutally murdered his human foster parents in front of him on Madeline’s orders, because Fort made the mistake of telling them what happened when he went to visit his biological family.

Somewhat understandably, then, Fort is hardly jumping for joy at the prospect of one day becoming a vampire himself. As much as possible, he keeps away from his family and everything they stand for; but when Madeline tempts him with an invitation to meet, for the first time, some vampires to whom he isn’t related  – thereby raising the possibility that not all of his kind are monsters – Fort’s curiosity gets the better of him. The decision quickly ensnares him in vampire politics of the bloodiest kind, and with no one else to back him up, Fort is forced to look for support from an unlikely source: Suzume Hollis, a dangerous kitsune with a wicked sense of humour whom Madeline has paid to keep him safe. When a young girl is threatened, can Fort and Suzume save her without jeopardizing their own lives? Or will they be trapped by yet more vampiric power games? Read More »

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Publisher: Orbit Books - Pages: 419 - Buy: Book/eBook
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Based on Will McIntosh’s Hugo Award winning short story, ‘Bridesicles,’ Love Minus Eighty is set years in the future where cryogenics and life extension technology have reached the point that the only thing standing in the way of death is money. For the particularly beautiful and female, dying young means ending up in cryogenic dating farms where the creepiest rich men briefly resurrect them to determine how depraved they’ll be in exchange for another chance at life. It’s a horrific idea driven home by the character of Mira, who throughout the novel is killed and awakened untold times by curious ‘Johns’ (for lack of a better words). McIntosh calls these trapped souls bridesicles. Read More »

Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks

Publisher: Del Rey - Pages: 432 - Buy: Book/eBook
Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks

To begin this review of Witch Wraith I feel like I must dig into my past as not only a Terry Brooks fan, but also as a fan of Fantasy fiction, because the two are so inextricably intertwined that it is impossible to discuss one part of my fandom without crossing over into the other. It is not unusual for a Fantasy fan to cite Tolkien as the genesis of their fandom, as he certainly was for me, but it was ultimately Brooks, and then R.A. Salvatore, that cemented my love and created of it a lifelong obsession.

I first discovered Brooks after devouring The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings during my early adolescence. Eager, no, desperate for more Fantasy, I read any book my mom, the requisite Fantasy fan in my life, put in my hands. The most impressionable of these was Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara. It’s a novel that now, 35+ years after its first release, fights against its own beginnings as a Tolkien-inspired Fantasy that was crafted by its author and legendary editor Lester Del Rey to provide life and wind to the post-Tolkien doldrums that the genre fell into during the seventies. Where Stephen R. Donaldson, who published alongside Brooks, and was also edited by Lester Del Rey, chose to subvert Tolkien’s methods and themes, challenging the idea that Fantasy is myth and exploring its escapist nature — by casting a bitter adult, skeptical of the existence of the Fantasy world even as he walks through it — Brooks chose to emulate Tolkien by casting two plucky youths, a mysterious mentor, a world to save, and a keenness for adventure. Both stories feature a dark lord, but the their defeats come at the end of roads as different as those travelled by Samwise Gamgee and Meriadoc Brandybuck. Read More »

Daggerspell by Kathrine Kerr
The Daggerspell Reread and Review Series: Wrap-up

Welcome to the final instalment of the Daggerspell Reread and Review Series!

If you’re interested in learning more about Kate, me or this project, please take some time to read ‘Introducing: The Daggerspell Reread and Review Series, with Kate Elliott’, where we discuss our experience with Kerr’s work (None for me! Lots for Kate!), and our expectations for this reread/review series.

The second part of the project, we tackled a large chunk of Daggerspell, which covered the first 184 pages, and saw the most recognizably ‘epic fantasy’ conflict so far: a war between armies, a battle between mages (good and evil), and a beautiful woman falling in love with a (sorta) prince. Sounds cliche, but, as we’re learning about Kerr, nothing she writes is ever so simple as it seems.

Though Cullyn, Jill and Nevyn are at the heart of the conflict in that section of the book, it was Lovyan, mother of Rhodry and Rhys, that caught our attention. Kate said:

Look how neatly Kerr introduces an older woman: She is a noblewoman who through a completely realistic twist in the law (explained clearly by Kerr) is a ruler in her own right although she is subordinate to her own son (who is gwerbret, which I will define here as a lord who is of lesser rank than the king but who has a number of lords under his rule).

Lovyan does not swing a sword. She rules. She rules over a collection of lesser lords (all landed) with a full understanding of the ways in which her situation gives her power and the ways in which she has to carefully negotiate her position because she is a woman.

[…]

Lovyan proves herself as a good ruler even while Kerr makes it clear that her being a woman makes her situation precarious. Nor is her role seen as a one note role. She is frustrated by her inability to reconcile her feuding sons (an issue that will become central to the plot later), she engages with Nevyn because she understands that he is far more than the simple herbman he pretends to be, she shows kindness to Jill. And she is a little secret in her past, an affair she obviously has had to keep hidden all these years.

She is an older woman with agency and a full personality in a genre that gives characters like her short shrift. She is absolutely one of my favorite characters in the entire series.

So, join us while we discuss the ending to Daggerspell, reflect on one of Lord of the Rings‘ greatest lessons… and twist ourselves into Celtic Knots as we look back on the entire experience!

Spoilers Galore!

Read More »

Sorcerer's Luck by Katharine Kerr

Publisher: Osel Books - Pages: 278 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Sorcerer's Luck by Katharine Kerr

Here at A Dribble of Ink, given that Aidan Moher and Kate Elliott are currently two posts in to their joint reading and analysis of Daggerspell, book one in Katharine Kerr’s fifteen-volume Deverry saga, it seems like a pertinent time to review Kerr’s latest novel, Sorcerer’s Luck – not only because it’s a refreshing, enjoyable read in its own right, but because it serves as a solid introduction to Kerr’s thematic style. Which is a useful thing to have to hand: as much as Deverry constitutes one of my absolute favourite series of all time (and for anyone interested in some of my slightly spoilerish thoughts on same, they can be found here), even though the series is finished, fifteen books is a lot to ask anyone to invest in without some proof that they’ll enjoy the author’s writing. This is, for instance, the big problem with recommending Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to first-time readers: whichever book we might personally view as the apex of the series (mine is Night Watch), a big part of our love for it invariably comes from the fact that we already know the characters from earlier stories. I was, therefore, immensely pleased when Pratchett went and wrote Nation, an incredibly powerful book that not only exemplifies the best of his style, but which neatly cuts through the issue of recommending any one Discworld novel as a starting point.

Which brings me back to Sorcerer’s Luck: a story about the relationship between Maya Cantescu, a struggling art student and vampire-but-not-really based in San Francisco, and Tor Thorlaksson, a wealthy sorcerer and bjarki – that is, someone who shapeshifts into a bear. Among her other talents, Maya has the ability to see through illusions, and when Tor finds himself being haunted at the dark of the moon by otherworldly manifestations, he hires Maya to see through them. But their professional relationship soon becomes complicated, not only by their mutual attraction to one another, but by the increasingly violent actions of Tor’s sorcerous enemy. What’s the real reason for Maya and Tor’s connection? And what does Tor’s unknown opponent want? Read More »