Friday, October 22, 2010

Tanya Huff, Karen Travis and Robert Gleason/Junius Podrug new books

The Truth of Valor, Tanya Huff, DAW, Sep 2010, $24.95, ISBN: 9780756406202

The war between the Confederacy and the Others has been going on for a long time. Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr was proud of serving as a Confederacy marine because she believed in the cause. She eventually learns that both fighting forces were part of a scientific experiment by sentient plastic beings, who hide in plain sight amidst the abundance of plastic products. These insidious beings are exposed, but Torin leaves the marines anyway to become a salvage operator with her lover Craig Ryder.

The end of the war left a power vacuum especially in the outer reaches of space. Pirates filled the void; stealing and pillaging ships, Cho captured an armory that is code locked by the CSO officer and when he kidnapped someone who could open it, he used too much force on the mperson who died from the torture. Now Cho abducts Ryder; Torin vows to find and rescue him. Ryder knows what his beloved will do so will not abet Cho with the armor he wants to deploy. He waits for her to come and get him.

Having left the Confederation military, The Truth of Valor is Torin’s first civilian adventure and though no longer a powerful military science fiction, the heroine’s enthusiasm and diligence remains as strong as ever in this veteran outer space thriller. The spin from marine to vet refreshes the Valor Confederation series as Torin and Ryder begin a new phase in their lives together. Fans of the series will appreciate Tanya Huff’s talent as she uses the frightening premise of a rogue killer obtaining a nuke as the underlying premise of her heroine’s rescue attempt of her beloved while a psychopath pirate possesses weapons of mass destruction. Harriet Klausner

Gears of War: Anvil Gate, Karen Travis, Del Rey, $16.00, ISBN: 9780345499455

The Locust Horde has been apparently destroyed at a high cost to the victors (see Aspho Fields and Jacinto’s Remnant). Those who survived begin the arduous seemingly impossible task of rebuilding human civilizations using the fortifications of the defeated enemy as the anchor.

The survivors contend with pirates and outlaws, but having triumphed against a much stronger opponent, the Gears barely blink from a minor threat. However, the idyll of victory ends abruptly as Gears leader Marcus Fenix learned of a new menace much greater than the Locus Horde who feared this adversary. This beast is stalking sentient beings as it marches towards the remote island where the Gears and Stranded must cooperate in what could be last stand using the siege tactics of the Anvil Gate.

The latest Gears of War novel (see Aspho Fields and Jacinto’s Remnant) tied to the games is a terrific entry as Karen Travis provides a fascinating spin to the military science fiction saga. Marcus is marvelous as he is stunned to learn of the existence of a predator that frightens the fearless Locus Horde; whatever this species is he figures is bad news as your enemy’s enemy remains your enemy. Fans of the full Gears of War universe will want to read the exhilarating fast-paced Anvil Gate as things have gotten dramatically worse for Marcus and his crew. Harriet Klausner

Gary Jennings’ The 2012 Codex, Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug, Forge, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765322609

Before the Spanish came to what is now Mexico, Montezuma built a vast empire to which all lords paid tributes in slaves for blood sacrifices and other valuable commodities. In a small village in Maya, Lord Jaanab visits and almost loses his life to a jaguar. Pakal, a stone cutter and storyteller, saves his life. As a reward he is taken into the lord’s personal guard. They journey to Mayapan where the King holds court. Pakal learns his fellow storyteller Ajal, who mentored him, was Jeweled Skull who took the Dark Rift Codex and hid it.

Lord Jaanab knew who Akul was and he does not believe Pakal failed to know who is teacher was and where the Codex is. Rain is not falling; rivers are drying up; water is scarce; volcanic activity has risen; and anger is fermenting. The Codex supposedly tells how the world of the Aztecs and Mayans will end; by reading it they can perhaps prevent the next step of the prophecies from happening.

In present day Mexico, Rita Critchlow and Cooper Jones are searching for the Codex that Pakal concealed. The problems that escalated in Pakal’s times are prevalent today. Once they get the book, they plan to email American government officials in the hopes of finding out why this is happening and how to prevent it from running its deadly course.

Most of the book takes place in the time of Pakal before the Spanish Conquistadors destroyed the civilization; thus readers learn a lot of the Mayan and Aztec culture of a millennium ago in this entertaining historical fiction. Very few chapters occur in the present and those that do focus on the Codex that has a Revelations like feel to it. The 2012 Codex is an enthralling adventure thriller. Harriet Klausner

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