Posts Categorized: Review

Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr

Welcome, all, to the first part of the joint review and reread of Katharine Kerr’s classic fantasy novel, Daggerspell. In the introductory post to this series, Kate Elliott described Kerr’s Deverry Cycle as “a criminally under-rated and overlooked epic fantasy sequence [with] a keen sense of history, well drawn characters, and a complex plot.” So, how better to explore the complexities of a fantasy series than picking it apart, piece-by-piece? 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.

Structurally, we’ll break down the ‘what happens,’ then we’ve both written some initial impressions, and then follow-up with a response to each other’s thoughts. This allows the initial impressions, and our polar past experiences with the series, to remain independent, and then mingle as we discover how we’ve both reacted to the covered sections.

If you’re ready to get to the good stuff, continue on, just know, there are:

Spoilers Galore!

Read More »

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books - Pages: 304 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Summer Prince is the best book I’ve ever read.

I don’t say that lightly. It’s not an exaggeration. I’ve read it twice in the space of two months, first in March, and now in May, and in all the time between those dates, I never stopped thinking about it.

The first time, it took my breath away. I didn’t want to review it then: some experiences are so pure, so perfect, that you can’t bear to sully them with analysis – not right away, at least. I had to savour it for a while; I had to let it sit. But even so, I always knew I’d come back to it. Not just because it’s beautiful, and not just because it’s brilliant, but because I’d be betraying myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to convince other people to read it. There need to be more books like this (there can’t be another book like this), and by now, I can almost hear you thinking, she’s overhyped it, nothing can live up to this sort of press and now I’ll be disappointed – but hear me out. Listen: I can’t guarantee The Summer Prince will touch you the way it did me. I’d be lying if I tried to promise anything of the sort. But every new book is a gambit, wagering your taste against a cover’s tricks, a blurb’s allure, the measure of praise or condemnation with which you’ve heard it hawked. I can’t promise that you’ll fall in love, like I did.

Nonetheless. If you’re going to risk your money and heart on only one new book this year, make it this one. Read More »

Daggerspell by Kathrine Kerr

Welcome to the Daggerspell Reread and Review Series, with Aidan Moher (your humble editor/blogger) and Kate Elliott (author of lots and lots of cool novels)! We thought it would be fun to bring two different perspectives (someone who’s read the series, someone who hasn’t), and explore Daggerspell together, comparing notes and reflecting on a series and world that are held dearly by many readers. We’re also hoping that, if you’re not familiar with Kerr, you might discover a new favourite author.

Daggerspell is the first volume in Katharine Kerr‘s Deverry Cycle, which Kate describes as her, “favorite post-Tolkien epic fantasy series.” Big words. She also says, “I believe Deverry could exist somewhere. After reading the books, I feel as if I have been there. I still think about events and dramatic moments in this series frequently, rather as I do memories from my actual life. That’s how much the narrative worked its way into my mind and heart.” Read More »

The Flames of Shadam Khoreh by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Publisher: Quillings Literary Services - Pages: 485 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Flames of Shadam Khoreh by Bradley P. Beaulieu

In 2011, I raved about The Winds of Khalakovo, the first instalment in Bradley P. Beaulieu’s The Lay of Anuskaya. I acquired the follow-up, The Straits of Galahesh, several months before it was released in 2012. Unfortunately, the first 50 pages felt impenetrable even after reading them a dozen different times. When Beaulieu announced the upcoming release of the final volume, The Flames of Shadam Khoreh, I committed myself to finishing the second novel in order to read the conclusion. Despite a long, arduous struggle through The Straits of Galahesh that never really abated, I’m so pleased to call The Flames of Shadam Khoreh a rousing success that exceeds all of the expectations placed on it by Beaulieu’s exceptional debut.

A rousing success that exceeds all of the expectations placed on it by [The Winds of Khalakovo].

Beaulieu’s third book begins nearly two years after the events of The Straits of Galahesh. War has moved from the islands to the mainland, and the Grand Duchy knows its time may be limited. The rifts between worlds grow ever wider, and Nikandr believes Nasim is the only one who can close them. I offer only the most basic of framework because to reveal more would result in endless paragraphs as to call Beaulieu’s narrative sprawling is a gross understatement. Before I go too far into what makes The Flames of Shadam Khoreh a success, I think it’s important to couch it in terms of what came before. Read More »

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 912 - Buy: Book/eBook
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

After nearly twenty three years and countless millions of words vomited out upon thousands of pages, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series finally concludes with its fourteenth volume, A Memory of Light. It has been a memorable series for those who’ve read, it albeit for some such as myself, it has become more an exercise in patience and restraint, waiting to see if the payoff justifies to any extent the laborious parsing of repetitive descriptions, redundant sentences, clothing and furniture porn, hackneyed villain motivations, etc. My own opinion of the series has fluctuated between a diversion during my last semester of grad school in the Fall of 1997 (it was a change of pace from reading Hitler’s memoirs and speeches for my grad seminar/research) toward it being a repetitive, poorly structured (and written) clunker of a novel/series. I wrote a series of posts on re-reading the Jordan-penned books, most of them for the first time since the release of the ninth book back in November 2000, and the re-reads did little to improve my deepening dislike for the series. Yet the first semi-posthumous release, co-written by Brandon Sanderson, I thought at first was a marked improvement. That was before I began to understand while reading the second co-written volume, Towers of Midnight, that the planned three-volume conclusion to the Wheel of Time series was terribly flawed in terms of narrative structure, characterization development, and prose. Therefore, it was with some trepidation that I ordered A Memory of Light and read it. Unfortunately, it is one of the worst-written books in a series renowned for its mediocre, bloated prose. Read More »