Fantasy Review: ‘The Holver Alley Crew’ by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The opening to my favorite fantasy series of all time begins with a city on fire. The Holver Alley Crew starts with a city on fire. This says absolutely nothing about the book, nor are there any comparisons to be made to The Color of Magic here, it is just an observation.

Maradaine is a city that has appeared in two series previous but The Holver Alley Crew is the start of its own series within the series; I had absolutely no previous experience with the author myself and this book felt like the start of something completely new.

Thrown right into the action we meet the Rynax brothers as they awaken to a fire threatening not just their homes and business but the entire neighborhood. When the smoke clears they come to the realization that all their previous plans are for naught. They are two old criminals who tried to go strait and now have nothing but debt to show for it. What is there to do? Go back to the old work of course. Continue reading

Fantasy Review: ‘The Waking Fire’ by Anthony Ryan

Nathan, what the hell are you doing now? I thought you were writing a review for The Waking Fire.

I was, but I got to looking into carnivore populations and I am pretty sure there is no way the dragons in this book could survive in the numbers they have been shown.

Oh geez, I thought you liked this book. Didn’t we already go over this with Novak’s dragon series?

Well, I thought about it, sure. But I never actually did any research. But this time I am sure of it; the numbers just don’t add up. The largest population of large carnivores I found was brown bears and they topped out at a hundred grand in Asia. The Greens in this book are at least twice that size AND THEY FLY! That has got to require a crazy metabolisms. And the greens are just one species of dragons! We see them in herds like buffalo; you never see carnivores in that large of a herd.

Ok, it is a fantasy book Nathan. Dragons have magic metabolisms, can we move on?

I…I guess. Magic metabolism, sure. Continue reading

Sci-Fi Review: ‘Hunger Makes the Wolf’ by Alex Wells

“You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.”

Scavengers in the air tip off three people biking across the vast desert of the planet on their way home. Hob draws the short straw and checks out the body finding someone she knows well. When a body is found out in the dunes of Tanegawa’s World there is no real secret as to how it arrived there; the corporation TransRift runs everything on the planet and unofficial deaths are not uncommon. But events will soon prove that her now dead ‘Uncle’ got into something over his head. There are secrets that TransRift means to keep.

Hunger Makes the Wolf is a fast paced adventure novel with a surprising amount of depth. Though it has two central characters who hold their own it is Tanegawa’s World itself that takes center stage. Through it we learn very little about the universe around it but enough to know that it is much more important than its status as small mining colony suggests. The company controls everything, being blacklisted from work is a death sentence of its own but as seen in the opening so is a push from a moving train with multiple bullet wounds. Continue reading

Sci-Fi Review: ‘Home’ by Nnedi Okorafor

I wish I could give Home, second in the Binti series a more in depth review. Sadly, despite enjoying it, I find myself completely lacking of anything to say. I think I know why, reviewing this series is like reviewing a TV drama series. Perhaps if I read the entire series in one go once completely, as many reviewers of television do once an entire series is complete, this would be easier.

Binti was a debut episode. It was kind of rushed, introduced too many characters that won’t matter, but had the pieces to hook a new reader. In it Binti saved the world, stopping a war by use of a Chekhov’s device that allows her to communicate with the militant jellyfish who slaughtered her ship. In the end she is going to school, with one of the aliens in tow as new best friend. The reader is not given much in explanation or resolution; it is expected that future episodes will fill in the details. Continue reading

Fantasy Review: ‘The Obelisk Gate’ by N.K. Jemisin

obelisk-gateLet’s look at some of the things I said about The Fifth Season.

“This one may have broke me.”

“Along with its ability to shred my emotions.”

“One of the most emotional reads I have had in a long time.”

I think there is a pattern here. The Fifth Season was a five star read that played on readers emotions. Looking back it is important that that is the case. Not a lot happened in reality, a couple characters traveled and met with each other and the groundwork for a world wide mystery was laid. But if a reader was looking for any sort of answers, or a fast paced plot, or all kinds of action they were not going to get it. Emotional gut punches and strong characters, yes. Answers? Oh no. Continue reading

Fantasy Review: ‘Kings of the Wyld’ by Nicholas Eames

Also posted at Booknest

“Leaves are falling all around, It’s time I was on my way.  Thanks to you I’m much obliged, such a pleasant stay.” kings-of-the-wyld

Humor is tough to pull off.  Inside jokes can fail if they are too deeply buried to be noticed or so obvious they are less a joke and more a reference (hello Scary Movie and all of its knockoffs).  Running gags can fall flat if used too often; or worse if they were not even funny in the first place (look up a Nakumara).  So when an author proves within pages to be a deft hand with the dealing of jokes I already know I hold a book worth reading.

Dark fantasy can likewise be hit or miss.  Without some sort of levity, be it through hope or humor, it has to be damn near perfect to justify the grimness or risk losing a reader who tires of nothing but bleakness.  Kings of the Wyld is a book that knows how hold the balance and as such proves to be a stand out debut. Continue reading

Fantasy Review: ‘Amberlough’ by Lara Elena Donnelly

amberlough-picCross Posted at Booknest

Both timely and timeless. Wonderful yet heartbreaking. Completely fucking awesome. Oh, and debut of the year.

A nationalist fervor has empowered the One State Party though they still lack the votes to control Amberlough City. Cyril DePaul once enjoyed the spy game but is now a man who doesn’t quite want to admit he may be broken. Called back into field work he is sent to investigate the One State Party (better known as Ospies) and quickly finds himself way over his head. Soon enough he must make some tough decisions as the ‘game’ puts everything (and everyone) he cares about in danger. Continue reading