Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harriet's reviews

Saving Midnight
Emma Holly
Berkley, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425229040

In 1934 the Fitz Clare clan are a family composed of vampires and humans who love and cherish one another deeply; so much so each would die to save one of their bloods. Graham recently proved this premise when his adopted father Edmond was kidnapped by two vampires who demanded he reveal how to create more undead; Graham was changed into a vampire and with the help of beautiful Pen, they rescue Edmond who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (see BREAKING MIDNIGHT).

Now his fiance Estelle asks for help from the the vampire that Edmond most loathes in the world. Graham finds he misses Pen and his emotions are all tangled because he needs to see her but refuses to contact her. Pen thought he was interested in her, but when two rogue vamps Li-Hua and Frank attack her at the plantation she now owns, she call Graham’s family for help. Graham, his mortal brother Ben and his pregnant wife Sally come to help her. They realize they have to find the artifact that gives the evil vamps more power and even when they do they fear they are in for the battle of their lives as the enemy is stronger than a regular (if there can be such a thing) vampire as they share a mystical bond that exponentially enhances their strengths proving the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Meanwhile Graham and Pen are sharing their feelings for one another.

Emma Holly’s “Midnight” saga is one of the best historical urban romantic fantasies written today (see KISSING MIDNIGHT) as humans and vampires find love with one another. The characters are well defined especially the extended Fitz Clare clan whose philosophy is to cover each others back and neck.. The different vampires have diverse powers, which they learn to use by experimenting as no one can teach a fledgling what to do. SAVING MIDNIGHT transports readers to a romantic fantasy alternate depression Era that is bloody great. Harriet Klausner

Chapterhouse: Dune
Frank Herbert
Ace, Aug 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441017218

In the past twelve years (since the HERETICS OF DUNE), the Honoured Matres have devastated the Bene Gesserit to the point their adversaries are nearing extinction; their last enclave is a slowly changing Chapterhouse into the desert realm like they once had on Dune. The desperate Bene Gesserit Mother Superior Darwi Odrade knows her Sisterhood is in deep trouble. Their only hope resides with technology taken from the now almost extinct Bene Tleilax whose last survivor Scytale is in captivity.

The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood creates a ghola of Miles Teg, but no one knows how to use it against the enemy only that they must train the ghola to be their counter weapon as he has been used in many lifetimes before. Meanwhile the Sisterhood also mentors with training the application of the Coda ex Honoured Matre Murbella and her lover Duncan Idaho in hopes that they prove useful. However a tribe of Jews offer to help the Bene Gesserit as they know what the final solution means to them if the Honoured Matres win as seems likely.

This is a reprint of the 1985 final book written by Frank Herbert in the Dune Chronicles with the concentration about 90 plus percent on Odrade and her efforts to save her group by correcting a major defect in all of the Bene Gesserit that leaves them vulnerable to the enemy. This is a fascinating well written tale; however that focus also means minimal appearance by the Honoured Matres so the big theme never moves forward much. The completion of that overarching saga was done in collaboration by the late great author’s son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson based on notes left behind. Fans should read previous Dune books before Chapterhouse and the collaboration of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson starting with HUNTERS OF DUNE to obtain the full flavor as this entry is a betweener tale.
Harriet Klausner

Belisarius III-The Flames of Sunset
Eric Flint and David Drake
Baen, Aug 2009,
ISBN: 9781439132807

“The Dance of Time” - In the sixth century, General Belisarius plans to invade the Malwa Empire to take the war of the future to the enemy in India. To the shock of the Malwa, his assault proves successful as he drives deeper into their empire using futuristic weapons and transportation given to him by the Aide also from the future. The enemy is stunned and in retreat as their Evil from the future tries to remain calm with defeats piling up and his side losing sight of the long term objective of the new Gods ruling earth.

“The Tide of Victory” - In India the Malwa Empire suffers a major defeat, but led by the futuristic demon trapped inside a computer, they have not lost sight of their strategic goal of changing the future to having the New Gods rule. They redeploy preparing for a renewed offensive against the Byzantine Empire led by General Belisarius who has a futuristic aide giving him minimal assistance. The Malwa believe that if they can assassinate Belisarius the opposition will collapse as he is the rallying cry.

The fifth book in the Belisarius saga is in some degrees is a filler set up entry for the climax (The Tide of Victory), but the focus of taking late twentieth century weapons, communications, other technology and tactics and bringing them onto the sixth century battlefield remains entertaining and fun. Whereas the final book The Tide of Victory wraps up a super alternate history military thriller in which two superpowers helped differently by allies from the future vie for world domination. However before reading the third omnibus reprint, it is strongly recommend the previous two (Storm at Noontide containing books 3 and 4, and Thunder at Dawn containing Books 1 and 2) should be read first. Harriet Klausner

Charles Stross
Ace, Jul 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441017195

The nine entries affirm the author’s strong scientific and hi tech foundations that make his science fiction novels so fascinating. However, the contributions are uneven as some are really great while others feel more like a beta test for something grander and more complete. The super contributions include the excellent novella "Missile Gap" in which the Cold War is fought on a different platform; "Unwirer" future of America starts with unplugging as wireless connections are outlawed; "Down on the Farm" with Bob Howard (enuf said) and "Snowball's Chance" of hell in Scotland. Of special mention is "The Colder War" that focuses on the convergence of Lovecraft and the Iran-Contra. Although overall fun to read with more than half being excellent entries, WIRELESS as a whole does not compare to Mr. Stross’ novels. Harriet Klausner

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