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2014 Books: Leckie, Wrede, Kay, Tarr

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I believe I'm missing at least one book, but it would have been a reread.

**SPOILERS for Ancillary Justice**

Yea!!! Ann Leckie's second novel, Ancillary Sword, finally came out in October. The first, Ancillary Justice, took home a bunch of awards last year--deservedly so. This book continues to follow Breq as she takes up with one of factions of her emperor, Anaander Mianaai. Mainaai has multiple cloned bodies, which have now split among how to maintain, or not, the Radchaai empire. Breq is given control of a small area--the only duty she would take because the sister of someone she killed lives there.

Once there, she finds several other mysteries and, of course, problems that she will try to fix or figure out. As many other reviewers have said, it's a much more interior book. Breq appears to have had a very solitary existence for about 20 years after losing her AI and other bodies and has to now re-adjust to dealing with a lot of contact. We find out more about the aliens through a very, very strange translator who shows up. Anyway, recommended, recommended, recommended.

I also reread Patricia Wrede's Magician's Ward which is set in an alternative Regency London. Kim has been rescued from the streets by an aristocrat and made his ward. Kim has the ability to become a wizard, and Merrill (Mairelon) will help her. A sweet, fun little story.

I then felt in the mood for more historical fantasy and reread Guy Gavriel Kay's A Lion in Al-Rassan. Set in an alternative almost-Reconquista Spain, it follows a young Kindath (Jewish-analog) doctor as she gets caught up in the struggle between the Jaddites (Christian-analog) and the Asharites (Muslims) in Spain. Rodrigo Belmonte is "El Cid" and Ammar ibn Khairan is a "renaissance man" (so to say!) among the Asharites. It's my favorite Kay book and the one I reread most often. The characters are beautifully done.

I'm still in the midst of Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr. This one is set just before and while Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. Meriamon, a priestess and daughter of Nectanebo, comes to Alexander to ask him to becomes Pharaoh.
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Ouch, it's been that long since I posted? Well, I haven't been able to settle to much recently when it came to books. I was working on sorting through my comics (over 20 boxes) to try to get rid of at least one-third and another box or two of books and other stuff because I had 11 boxes of my father's books arriving in early September.

However, in September, two fun books arrived. Martha Wells had a collection of stories set in her Raksura world published with the imaginative title of Stories of the Raksura, volume I. It contains a story set post-The Siren Depths where Moon and Stone have to find what has happened to Jade and some warriors after they disappear while on a trading mission. The second story tells of Indigo and Cloud. We had found out that Cloud (a consort) had been stolen by Indigo from another court in an earlier book, but not the details. The third story, "The Forest Boy," is previously published and is about Moon as a young boy trying to survive. Loads of fun, and highly recommended for anyone who liked the Raksura novels.

The second book was Exo by Steven Gould. A direct sequel to Impulse, it focuses on "Cent", the daughter of Millie and Davy. After finding that she could jump in the previous book, now she plans some very high-flying achievements now that she's extended the capabilities of her father. They're also still trying to track down the shadow organization that's been after all jumpers for years. Full of orbital mechanics discussion, so if you don't like a some math in your books--too bad!

2014 books: mid-July, Duane

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I re-read the 3 books that have been released in the Tale of the Five series. It's had a long, fraught history. The first book, The Door into Fire, was published in 1979. I think I read it around 1985 when the second book, The Door into Shadow, was released. I might even have read book two first. I can't remember anymore. The third book, The Door into Sunset then came out in 1994. The books have been released by multiple publishers.

The series is a fan favorite, but according to the author, Diane Duane, has never done well commercially. A fourth book, The Door into Starlight, was planned, but hasn't been written. Duane writes what sells and furthers her career, as she should.

The world is wonderful. It's medieval-ish, with two types of magic: sorcery and Flame. The Flame is Godess-given, but must be focused through something. Normally, it's a wand, but one of the characters, Herewiss, is trying to focus through a sword. Herewiss is the son and heir of a noble house. He has the Flame, as no man in centuries has had, but can't focus it. As part of the training, he's been studying sorcery and is quite good. It's word/true name-based. He's also in love with the heir of a neighboring kingdom. That man, Freelorn, ran away from a palace coup when his father died and has been trying to get up the support (and gumption) to take back the throne. Part of his crew is Segnbora, a sorceress and bard. She hasn't been able to focus her Flame either and has ended up throwing her lot in with Freelorn.

The religion is very practical and loving. The Goddess visits everyone at least once in their life, but you may not realize it. There are also dragons, who came from another world. This series is related to her Young Wizards series, we see the world-gating, and Herewiss shows up in the one of the Young Wizard books.

There's a lot of psychological aspects to the books. The characters all have faults that they have to work to overcome before being able to achieve their goals. Greatly recommended.

Duane polled people a few years ago, to see if there were enough people to warrant self-publishing (well, writing first) The Door into Starlight, but nothing so far.
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After finishing the Jaran series by Kate Elliott, I turned around and read the Highroad Trilogy by Alis Rasmussen aka Kate Elliott. They were re-released in the last year or so as ebooks. Jaran is set in the same universe, but takes place a few generations before--complicated by the fact that some people have access to longevity medicine.

The Rift is a set of worlds that were colonized by Earth with ships using the "low road", slow interstellar travel. A faster method was invented/stolen/adapted after they left, but meanwhile the path had been lost to most. A few people have made it to the Rift, hiding from the government and other enemies. The main character is Lilyhae Ransome, the daughter of a mining house on a barely inhabitable world (basically, sealed underground). She's restless and has been studying martial arts with a man called Heredes. Then Heredes is kidnapped, and Lily decided to rescue him.

Reading it directly after the Jaran books made it much easier for me to catch the connections, name drops, etc. Lots of fun to try to piece together the connections while the main story (and it's complicated) unfolds. Definitely an early work by Elliott, but quite enjoyable even so.

"The old man is dead."

I then finally picked up a new book, The Sea of Time by P.C. Hodgell. It's the seventh (is that all? alternatively, already??) of Jamethiel's story. Jamethiel is a Kencyrath. The Kencyrath has been fighting a loosing battle against evil (Perimal Darkling) for thousands of years. They've been on their current planet for about three thousand. Meanwhile, there was treachery, the fall by her relatives, so she and her brother, Torisen, were raised in a kind of exile. Both have made it back to the main society, but are causing quite a bit of turbulence and mayhem in their wake. In this book, Jame has survived the randon (military) academy is assigned to the Southern Host. A good chunk of the Kencyrath have been hired as mercenaries for a fabulous trading city.

We get some more answers in this book about her and Tori's past which is great. It feels less like a diversion as some of the previous books seemed to me. I know that they're not really, everything is important, but...
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I continued on a Martha Wells binge, and read the 3 Raksura novels again. Then instigated by someone's post (sorry) and their release as ebooks, I read Kate Elliott's Jaran series again.

What to say, what to say?

Both series have incredible worldbuilding. I do wish we get a few more books in the Jaran universe, even if they're in different time periods (the Highroad trilogy by Elliott but published as Alis Rasmussen is set in the future of the Jaran series).
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Mostly re-reads. After cheering about Kate Elliott's post on Martha Wells's The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy (um, back in February), I finally decided to reread books 2 and 3, The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods. Oh, I do love the Ile-Rien setting. If only the first book had sold better so we could have MORE!

Ile-Rien is set in a secondary world, where magic and Fae exist. The main capital is Vienne (like Paris or Vienna). In this trilogy, Ile-Rien's world has been under attack by the Gardier who have overrun a few neighboring countries and are now about to conquer Ile-Rien. Tremaine Valiarde, a young playwright and novelist, is caught up in an investigation and research started by her father and foster-uncle, Nicholas Valiarde and Arisilde Damal. Nicholas was a master criminal, and morphed into a government agent (sort of) as a young man. Arisilde Damal was an extremely talented sorcerer who had frittered a lot of it away as a drug user, but had recovered when Tremaine was young. They had been investing early incursions by the Gardier but had disappeared. Anyway, this is about trying to fight the Gardier and to discover what is driving them to war.

I think Wells is great at well-put together worlds--there's always a lot of scope for more stories--and great characters. I end up caring about the secondary and tertiary ones, not just the primary ones and can remember them easily. A commenter on the Elliott post called it competence porn, which I've seen before in relation to Wells's works. It is so nice to have characters who may make mistakes, but are rarely stupid, and really pull through (usually by their wits) when put to it. I would love to see Miles Vorkosigan and Nicholas Valiarde paired up, except Nicholas would probably murder Miles!

A new story, "Rites of Passage", was released a week or so ago. Wheeee!!!

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller also released a new short story on their Splintered Universe site, "Roving Gambler", about Pat Rin yos'Phelium's son, Quin.

2014: early April: Cherryh

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Well, another trilogy in the Atevi series has completed with book 15 (!), Peacemaker. It follow directly after the previous book, Protector, which has the landing of 3 human children, "associates" of Cajeiri, and Jase-paidhi. Whisked off to Atageini lands, they enjoy some fun times in celebration of Cajeiri's upcoming fortuitous ninth birthday. Because the security issues, most people don't know they're there. Everyone gets caught up in an assassination by the Shadow Guild (dum-dum-dum). Once the smoke clears (or maybe before then), they're secretly off back to the capital to try to end the head of the Shadow Guild. That's the start of Peacemaker</>.

The book alternates narrators between Cajeiri and Bren like previous books. It's a nice change, and Cajeiri is slowly growing up and becoming wiser. Some interesting twists and turns occur as they attempt to retake the Assassin's Guild from the hands of the Shadow Guild members. At one point, to gain access to the Guild headquarters, Bren must be the "lord" to do so. At first, I thought, what? why can't any lord do it (there were reasons not to have Ilisidi nor Tabini), but finally remembered that it's to allow his aishid / bodyguards into the building. They have the seniority and skills to complete the task.

So, nice finish to the trilogy. Damiri-daja's pregnancy finally wraps up too, finally.

There is a series summary, ostensibly written partially by Geigi (and the rest by Bren).

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2014 books, mid-March: Wells...and Wells

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I currently am re-reading Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells as an e-book. I'm trying to do that more [read e-books] when I'm sitting around waiting for the kids to go to sleep rather than play games. I dearly love this book. It was the first Martha Wells that I read (I think) after reading many recommendations on rasfw (rec.arts.sf.written, a usenet newsgroup). I'd ignored it due to the gothic/horror-looking cover and title. It's not really although the bad guy is suitably horrific. A comment on a blog post by Kate Elliott called Wells's books, competence porn, which is a great characterization. Her characters are competent or at least fast-thinking and will keep trying and going when it gets tough. Great characters, busy plots. Stories normally take place over a week or so at the most. DotN is set in an alternative/secondary world in a place like Paris or Vienna in the late 19th century. No cars or airplanes yet, but pistols and rifles are available. Magic and sorcery are real, and studied.

Emilie and the Sky World is a second young adult novel by Wells, following last year's Emilie and the Hollow World. Emilie is a young woman, unhappy at a relative's home after the death of her parents, who decides to go live with her cousin in another city and help in her cousin's private school. She finds herself in trouble along the way and stows away aboard an airship. It turns out that it's on an expedition to travel to another world/dimension using the aether current (this world's magic source). By the end of the book, Emilie has been hired by the expedition leader's daughter, Miss Marlende. In this book, they've just returned when a disturbance or hole in the aether current has been noticed. They decide to mount a new expedition to try to figure out what's happening. They know that another expedition went missing there a year ago. As you might guess, that expedition plays a significant role in the book.

I think I need to quit reading the first books in series and just start with the second ones. I've been meh over a few first books in series recently, but quite enjoyed the sequels. I think it's the world-building--I'm finding it too boring. Anyway, I liked Emilie 1 fine, but it wasn't a 'fav'. I enjoyed Sky World quite a bit more and look forward to Emilie's further adventures!
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I sucked down a re-read of Martha Wells, The Siren Depths, the third Book of the Raksura. It's set on another world complete with many, many races, some long dead and forgotten. The Raksura are actually two races that merged together, Arbora and Aeriat. Queens and cosorts of the aeriat plus the arbora are fertile, the warriors (also aeriat) are not. The aeriat have both a arbora (groundling) and winged form.

Moon, a consort, escaped destruction of his offshoot colony as a child but lost his fellow survivors shortly afterwards. He never knew what he was and had been making his way through the world. At one point, he ran across the Fell. They are relatives of the Raksura, but hivelike and just trying to eat their way through the world. They tried to convince Moon he was one of them, but he rejected that and escaped them again. An older consort, Stone, finds him and decides he'd be perfect for his dwindling colony of Indigo Cloud, and a young queen. Moon very slowly adapting to live with Raksura when an allied (sort of) queen and warriors shows up to take him to his original colony--that Indigo Cloud has no rights to him. They're correct and off they go, although his mate, Jade, swears to follow quickly.

We get more of Moon being himself and causing consternation among more traditional colonies (yea!) and another showdown with the Fell. Consorts are usually coddled and protected. Moon's been on his own for years and just does what's necessary, so the normal etiquette usually gets tossed out when he challenges back some pushy warrior or queen. It's lovely fun. More books in this series were derailed when the publisher went down. That publisher was then bought and have contracted 4 novellas (released as two books). Yea!!

Meanwhile, Kate Elliott posted about Wells's Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy and gave it a glowing review as are most of the people replying. Wheee! I love this series. One poster called it competence p*rn. Very, very true. The main characters are often highly capable. However, they can still be full of doubts, make bad decisions, so they seem more real.

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I just found out earlier in the week that Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises was going into wide release. The Wind Rises is the semi-biographical tale of Jiro Horikoshi, an aircraft designer for Mitsubishi. It starts with him as a child dreaming about flying his own plane, but he's near-sighted and knows he can never by a pilot. He imagines that his idol, Giovanni Caproni, an Italian aircraft designer. Jiro realizes that he can be one as well.

Beautiful, bittersweet movie. Not necessarily for kids.

Edit: Baby crying, thus the short review.

If you like planes or technology/engineering, this is for you. Miyazaki has Jiro able to 'see' into the wings of the planes and then see how they're going to fail. We get a lot of crashing planes.

There's a thread about a young girl who he helps during the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and fire. They meet again later and she has a significant influence on his life.

A very powerful part is the earthquake and later fire. It includes the roar of the fire that they must have heard.

I've read a few reviews. There's some controversies--is it glorifying the militarism and glossing over various problems? There is a little discussion about how these planes will be used for destruction, but Jiro is an engineer. The big idea is building the best plane possible, not what it's going to be used for. He wanted to work with cutting edge technology. At the time, that was for the military, unfortunately. We would have to condemn all the scientists and engineers who worked on the atomic bombs or that helped use napalm in the Viet Nam war.

2014 books: mid-February: Scott and Graham

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The third book, Silver Bullet, of the Order of the Air series by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham has just been released as an ebook. The printed book will be out in a few weeks. Due to a trip, I was able to purchase the ebook and finish it today.

The Order of the Air series follows five characters, all owners or employees (or otherwise affiliated) with Gilchrist Aviation, a small aviation company based in Colorado Springs. It's the 30s, so Prohibition is in effect (and widely disregarded), the Depression is deepening, and in this book, Roosevelt has just been elected. The characters are also members of a hermetic lodge, and have various arcane powers. Lewis Segura, is a seer, and learning to use his powers with the help of Stasi, a clairvoyant, ghost talker, and sometime thief. She's a European refugee, who never tells the same story twice if she can help it. Alma Gilchrist Segura is a co-owner of Gilchrist. She started it with her first husband (the company's namesake) but he died several years earlier. Her co-owner is Mitch Sorley, a decorated ace from North Carolina, dealing with pretty horrible injuries (although they're not obvious). Lastly is Jerry Ballard, an archaeologist currently on a temporary job in New York City. He lost part of a leg from a war injury and is struggling to get back into archaeology. Stasi and Jerry aren't pilots.

In Colorado, the group is dealing with planes crashing about blue sky lightning. Meanwhile, Jerry has come across what first appears to be an ubiquitous relic but could be the clue to an amazing archaeological find.

Everyone ends up coming back together in Colorado, with both mysteries handled--at least for the short term. There are a few very interesting developments that should have lasting effects on the group. I think this series is just getting better and better. I felt the first book suffered from introducing everyone. Now that that's been done, more story can be told, and a deepening of the characterizations as we learn more about the characters' back stories and current feelings.

Upon reflection, I was surprised at a conversation that Alma and Stasi have. I don't know why Stasi would have the vocabulary since English is at least her third or fourth language. I can't really say more as it would definitely be a spoiler. Also, this book has some (short) explicit sex. Anyway, start with the first book, Lost Things, although you could probably start with the 2nd instead, Steel Blues.

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