Archive for January, 2010

Review: Shadows Past by Lorna Freeman

January 26, 2010

The long awaited 3rd installment of Lorna Freeman’s Borderlands series, Shadows Past, is well worth the years long delay (though, even if it had been terrible, I would have loved it for giving me my Borderlands fix). The story picks up where The King’s Own left off with Rabbit and the royal party celebrating Rabbit’s name day in Freston. Rabbit has become reluctant to use his powers after the fight with the demon. To make matters worse, Lord Idwal of Mearden, the lord Hilga eso Flavan jilted for Rafe ibn Chause, has sent a offer for Rabbit to marry his daughter.

King Jusson decides to travel to Mearden to meet with Idwal and his family. However Mearden is not what they expected. They find a Border-like castle filled with depictions of the people with its own enchanted forest. They also meet a messenger sent by the Qarant and the new Turalian ambassador, someone from Captain Suiden’s past, who has a wizard as an advisor. Nothing is as it seems as secrets from the past are revealed. Rabbit learns the details of his parents’ flight to the Border, Suiden’s past, Jusson’s relationship to his mother, the late queen, and even a few of Ryson’s secrets. Rabbit begins to feel the strain of living up to everyones’ expectations. Even his aspects are doing as the will, appearing when not summoned and refusing to go away.

Ryson’s revelation was one of the biggest surprises to me. It seems that he is not just a reformed lackey. Suiden and Jusson’s secrets were the most heartbreaking, revealing how and why they became the men they are. The conversation between Jusson and Rabbit in the last chapter was one my favorite parts in the entire book. I was also glad that Suiden, Javes, and Rabbit’s troop are back after missing them for most of The King’s Own.

Covenants is still my favorite in the series, but Shadows Past has the same elements that made the first such a great read. There are foiled assassination attempts, magic, mystery, and even a little seduction. The Borderlands universe is a complex world filled with rich characters, settings, and imagery. The next novel, The Reckoning Flames, is set up nicely with another adventure to be had and more secrets to be uncovered, including what exactly Moraina saw in her farseeing. If you loved the previous novels in the series, you will not be disappointed with Shadows Past. I only wish that it was longer. Hopefully there will not be such a long wait for the next installment.

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Shadows Past Update

January 19, 2010

Shadows Past by Lorna Freeman has been released early at http://www.barnesandnoble.com. Right now they are offering member prices on everything and there is another 10% off coupon you can apply (the coupon code is M3X9B8L). Click on Shadows Past to be linked to the website.

Review: The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg

January 13, 2010

Carol Berg’s new novel, The Spirit Lens, is set in an entirely new universe, a renaissance world where science is overtaking magic, than her previous novels. Failed magic student and now librarian of the collegia, Portio de Savin-Duplais, is summoned to the countryside by his fifteenth cousin, the King of Sabria. Phillipe, who disdains magic, charges Portio to be his agente confide along with his fop of a brother-in-law, Ilario, to solve a magical attempt on his life and the disappearance of the previous investigator. He believes another attempt will occur in 64 days on the anniversary of the previous attempt, which is also the anniversary of his son’s death. Many believe his wife was behind the attempt due to her love of magic and goal to speak to the dead. The assassin was found with a lens that allows the viewer to see glimpses of the world beyond. He also bears the marks of a victim of blood transference, a vile and illegal practice.

Portio is drawn in to court life where intrigue is a way of life. Along with the help of Ilario, he seeks the aid of the only master mage that is not of the blood, Dante, who turns Portio’s views of magic and the world upside down. Portio learns more about himself as he strives to solve the mystery. The Spirit Lens has magic, suspense, intrigue, horror, action, and even a little romance. Portio, Ilario, and Dante are complexly drawn figures with even more unexplored depths to come in the series. I highly recommend this tale.

Carol Berg is hard at work on the sequel, The Soul Mirror, set to be released in 2011. I also recommend her Lighthouse Duet, Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, her Rai-Kirah trilogy beginning with Transformation, and her stand alone novel Song of the Beast.

Happy 75th Birthday Elvis!

January 8, 2010

Today would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday. I’m a big fan of his work. I’ll even admit to loving his films, even the really cheesy ones. Jailhouse Rock has always been my favorite. Elvis had his ups and downs in his life but remained an amazing performer through it all. You can even watch his ’68 Comeback Special and Aloha from Hawaii performances on DVD now.

I recommend the two part biography by Peter Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, if you want to learn more about Elvis.

In honor of his birthday, I am posting one of my drawings of Elvis. Happy Birthday Elvis!

Review: Kitty’s House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn

January 3, 2010

Kitty’s House of Horrors, the seventh installment in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series, does not disappoint. The books starts with Kitty being offered a place on a supernatural reality show in which werewolves, vampires, psychics, and others try to convince a non believer that there are truly supernatural beings. Familiar characters from previous novels make an appearance as Kitty’s co-stars.  The cast of the show is sent to a remote retreat to film the series. But what seems to be an innocent show become a horror film when the cast and crew become hunted. While Kitty is fighting for her life, Ben is at home helping Cormac make parole.

I love all of the Kitty Norville books. Kitty’s House of Horrors had everything I’ve come to expect from a Carrie Vaughn novel:  suspense, humor, horror, emotion, and a cast of great characters. I missed Ben, but I can wait until the next installment for more of him. What surprised me the most was that not everyone survives and has a happy ending. While I was saddened over the loss of the characters, I cannot help but think that their deaths make the story even stronger, giving it a real sense of life and death danger where any moment could be Kitty’s last. Overall it was a great story, one that I will probably end up re-reading in the future.

Carrie Vaughn has a young adult novel called Voices of Dragons being released March 16. She also has short stories in the anthologies Running with the Pack (May 29th) and Dark and Stormy Knights (a Cormac story-July 20th) as well as a new novel being published by Tor called Discord’s Apple being released July 20th.