Feb 012012
 

Charming Rascal Debut

Easie Damasco is a lovely rascal, a thief that gets by on wit and charm. This book has a great opening scene where he … No I won’t spoil it for you.  The main protagonist kind of steals a giant from an evil warlord who is making a bid for the crown thus the name. It is not giving away any spoilers considering the title and the lovely cover made by Angelo Rinaldi. David Tillerman’s debut novel is a traditional swashbuckling adventure with all the elements you expect. It has an evil villain that does his best to hunt down Damasco. In fact the whole book is one long chase. It also has a fair woman who challenges our hero in more ways than one. She is not a princess, which would be way too traditional. She is the mayor in the next town. I give Kudos to the author for a strong female character in a nontraditional role. There is magic but it is downplayed, this is a story about a thief, not a magician. I liked Giant Thief a lot. It is fast paced fun with a lot of action and just what I needed. I am looking forward to the second book Crown Thief which will be out before the end of this year and a third in 2013.

Book Information

Giant Thief (book 1) by David Tallerman (Angry Robot) uk us - review copy

Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.

Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help. Big time.

File Under: Fantasy [ Big Trouble | Deception | Saltlick's City | Hang 'im High ]

May 232011
 

A Man and his dog and Fuzzies

When reading is good it bring you into a different world. The people step out of the pages and become close to you. Fuzzy Nation is such a book.

It is a book about a disbarred Lawyer who meets a family of cute little fuzzy aliens and saves them from the clutches of the Big Bad Mining Company ZaraCorp. Jack Holloway is the kind of unwilling hero you love to read about.  At first he blows up half a mountainside prospecting for the Company and hit the big one, gets fired for the destruction and rehired straight afterwards when his favorite enemy prospector liaison learns what he found. Relationships like that is something I like reading about. They drive one another crazy but there is respect between them. In the brief time Jack is unemployed he claims the find and bring in the ZaraCorp as his partner to help extract the find.

When he arrives home at his tree house (Yeah that’s right) he finds a fuzzy little animal inside his cabin. Carl ,his well-trained dog (well he can set of explosives) takes offence at the intruder and chases it up a bookshelf. Jack has never seen anything like the cute little catlike biped before so he put Carl outside and offers fruit to win its trust before it leaves for the jungle. That is basically first contact for you.

What follows is immersive and fun. Jack involves a former girlfriend who happens to be a biologist to look at the creatures. She has moved on to a new fiancé which makes for interesting chemistry, maybe not what you expect though. The Company is very excited about the new find but they are only allowed on the planet because it has no sentient specie. They would do anything to stop the Fuzzies from being declared sentient including exterminating them.

Jack is at first convinced they are just animals and I guess the money he would lose if ZaraCorp weren’t allowed to mine the find of rare jewels he made also helps. But he is also a lawyer and uses that to his advantage. His relationship with the former girlfriend continues to deteriorate as she is convinced they are. She is idealistic and he is self-serving.

There is action but most of the decisions in this novel take place in the court room. It is funny how enjoyable the whole experience is. Never in a thousand years would I have guessed I would enjoy a story about lawyers so much.

Fuzzy Nation is an homage to H. Beam Piper and his Hugo award-winning novel  Little Fuzzy.

Heineken doesn’t do science fiction, but if they did it would be something like Fuzzy Nation to paraphrase their promo. John Scalzi is a brilliant scoundrel and Fuzzy Nation is the most brilliant fan fiction I ever read. I so hope there will be more books in this universe.

Book Information

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi – Tor (2011) – Amazon US | UK

Excerpt: Chapter 1-4

Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.

Jul 292010
 

Title: Harmony
Series: Harmony 1
Author: C. F. Bentley (Irene Radford)
Genre: Military Science Fiction | Fantasy
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Daw 2008

Order from: Daw | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

The launch of a brand new series that blends the best elements of science fiction and fantasy.

The world of Harmony, along with its close-knit colony planets, long ago isolated itself from the rest of the universe. But in a universe where the human-based Confederate Star System fleet finds itself hard-pressed to stand against ever-increasing attacks by the alien Marillon Empire, the Harmonic Empire cannot be left alone. For if the CSS cannot win an alliance with Harmony, the Marils will surely find a way to invade the planet and seize control of the unique and invaluable metal, which only the Harmonites can produce.

Yet invasion is far from the only threat the people of Harmony face. The gulf between rich and poor, rulers and ruled continues to widen, threatening to destroy the very structure of their society—while the planet itself is becoming increasingly unstable. In this time of crisis, one young woman

Information

The book is dedicated to Father Richard Toll and there is an excerpt from the sequel Enigma at the end of the book.

This is a book about a historical conspiracy and the pressure of change that will rip any static society apart.

The protagonists are Jake, a spy sent by mainstream humanity to obtain the secret of the Badger Metal and Sissy born with the mark of all seven castes, soon to become High Priestess of Harmony.

The Author

C. F. Bentley is a pseudonym Irene Radford uses for her science fiction novels. Harmony is the first novel by her I ever read but I think I will read more. From what it looks like she has written a number of fantasy books. The theme seems to be dragons and Merlin. More information on Irene’s homepage www.ireneradford.com.

World building

The Confederated Star System is at war with the alien Marillon Empire and they both need Badger Metal for their starships. Harmony is the only supplier which is why Jake is sent there to find out the secret on how to make it. Harmony is a seven world pocket empire that was founded by an earth cult. It closed its borders fifty years ago and they have had no outside contact ever since including no export of Badger Metal.

Harmony with its rigid cast society is like an onion of deception where we see layer after layer being stripped off. Marriages between casts are forbidden and when you are born into a cast (carry the cast mark) you are there for life.

The world is consistent, interesting and realistic even if it borders on on the absurd at times. There is a slight resemblance in feel from some Harry Harrison novels even if the world is much more complex here.

Plot

Jake used to be a fighter pilot before he screwed up and was saved by a secret intelligence organization that takes on space opera manners. There is sex very early in the novel but not very descriptive. He is first sent to The Lost Colony of Harmony (they broke of communication with their mother world and formed a new casteless society) to try to obtain an alternative to Badger Metal but it fails so he is sent to Harmony undercover as one of the Military Cast and he eventually end up as Sissy’s bodyguard.

Harmony is going through an unstable period with freaky weather and earthquakes which the cultists see as the planet being upset. Sissy is a mutant, born and raised by Worker parents but with all seven cast markings, usually that would make her an outcast of society to be eventually exterminated in one of their concentration camps/asylum but she hides it with cosmetics. During a catastrophic earthquake she discovers that she can channel its energy and commune with Harmony saving the city from destruction. The High Priest finds her and makes her the new High Priestess against the wishes of the former’s family who have had that title for generations. The High Priest thinks she will be easy to manipulate with her simple upbringing. He couldn’t be more wrong as she starts to put things right.

What follows is political intrigue, assassination attempts, deception but also revelation of the truth about their pasts. It is fast paced with unexpected twists and a lovely love story just like I like it.

Characterization

Jake is well developed with his doubt about the mission and the moral dilemma he faces. He is also appalled by the rigid caste society and the way the high casts manipulate the lower.

Sissy grows from ignorant worker to a formidable leader of her people. She is a strong believer in family and the high castes ways disgust her. You root for her from the beginning as she is so easy to love.

My View

There is a quite a bit of social commentary in this story and the characters, which makes it more than just a good rump. I like Harmony, it mixes military with space opera and romance in a fast flowing easy to read experience. It was also a damn fun book to read. I had to laugh out loud in delight at some of the twists the story took to the amusement of my dear ones. In conclusion Harmony is not great literature but it is a fun read which should please both readers of military science fiction, space opera and romance.