Friday, January 22, 2010

Harriet's Reviews

JR Ward
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228215

Before he died Jim Heron never thought much of the afterlife as a special unit soldier who could be killed on a dangerous deployment at any moment. However he never expected his demise would be at a construction site. Nor was he prepared for his new assignment as a front line operative in the “war” between angels and demons; which seem to echo his old work for the military. His afterlife job is to save seven souls; each with a different one of the deadly sins sinking the person. The magnificent seven represent mankind so Jim understands the consequence if he fails to win this weird wager as the stake is humanity.

The first soul on the line is avaricious business mogul Vin Di Pietro, whose future fiancée Marie-Terese Boudreau sold her soul to evil to save her son. All Jim has to do is save the soul of Vin while finding an escape clause for Marie-Terese without harming her offspring. A simple scenario for his handler to outline, but Jim knows how easy a plan collapses when dealing with humans only; throw in angels, demons, and who knows what else they hid from him and all he wants to do is ride away on his bike.

Moving from the exhilarating Black Daggerhood urban fantasy saga, JR Ward starts her new series The Fall Angels with a great opening act. Readers obtain enough of a taste of Ward world to understand how complex yet simplified it is. Jim is a fascinating champion who knows vengeance may be the lord’s domain, but he understands that; saving souls is out side his job description. With a strong cast of lost soul humans, angels, and demons fans will enjoy the exciting COVET and look forward to six more deadly sins. Harriet Klausner

Iain M. Banks
Orbit, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316071987

The Concern oversees the behavior of leaders on what appears to be an infinite number of parallel worlds. When they feel a person may cause worldwide harm, they send their Transitionary agents to assassinate that individual. The Transitionaries alight from one world to another by using a drug septus that enable their movement.

One of the more adept Transitionary assassins is Temudjin Oh, who has recently began to doubt the missions as he questions the morality of intrusion and murder even as he understands he is an “Unreliable Narrator” telling an obvious false tale based on his wrong premise. While his ethical concerns grow with each hit, others have problems too but different from his hesitation to kill. Mrs. Mulverhill for instance opposes the Concern and has started a small rebellion while Patient 8262 fakes mental illnesses to gain hospitalizations in order to avoid Transitionary assignments. Mulverhill considers Patient 8262, but actively tries to recruit Oh.

TRANSITION is a terrific cerebral science fiction thriller that demands people scrutinize and probe what is going on in their world instead of just acquiescing and accepting. With obvious implication and condemnation of the Iraq government change Iain M. Bank makes a case that instead of inane shallow bumper sticker analysis people need to dig into the essence and the background like Oh who no longer trusts or believes in the “benevolent” Concern as the members have their own agendas. With surprisingly plenty of action considering the intelligent design of the novel, fans will join Oh in Tibet, Venice, London and elsewhere as he struggles with the universal question of to kill or not to kill and be killed. Harriet Klausner

Cayla Kluver
Amazon Encore, $24.95
ISBN: 978-1595910554

King Adrik of Hytanica informs his daughter Alera, who just turned seventeen; she will marry one of her suitors before her next birthday. Alera is concerned with her choices as only one meets the rules of the kingdom for marrying a princess. She wants no part of arrogant womanizer Steldor. Only the twenty years old rake’s father, Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan, believes in the potential of his son. Steldor likes his hedonistic world but has problems with understanding Alera who rejects his charm.

Meanwhile the century old war between Hytanica and the Kingdom of Cokyri has become heated again after a sixteen-year dormant period though neither side of the dispute quite remembers the details behind the legendary LEGACY. The two kingdoms disagree on the value of women in society with the Cokyrians placing females in positions of leadership and power while in Hytanica they are second class citizens. Atrocities by the Cokyri have arisen as they did sixteen years ago with the kidnapping and murders of infant sons of Hytanica nobles. However, Narian survived the ordeal, learned what his heritage is and Cokyrian tactics before he came home to Hytanica as either its war leader or its Quisling destroyer especially since he and the about to be married Alera are attracted to one another.

LEGACY is a deep historical romance that in some ways will remind the audience of the late period of the Hundred Years War. The story line is driven by the cast especially those in Hytanica where the monarch is tired and believes new blood is needed, but distrusts his daughter to achieve this; ironically if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the heir and not just the wife and mother of the heirs. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong tale as the deep characterizations make for a super thriller filled with plenty of military and not so noblesse action.
Harriet Klausner

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