Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Scarab Path, Mind Storm, Ghost Stalker and The Beholder reviewed

The Scarab Path
Adrian Tchaikovsky
PYR, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616143619

The war between the aggressor Wasp Empire and the Collegium of the other states is over with a cease fire. Both sides have been devastated with many dead and a horde of wounded veterans needing assistance, but lacking funding to care for the discarded soldiers.

Cheerwell “Che” Maker struggles with the horrors of war though she was successful. Her Post Traumatic Disorder leaves her haunted and feeling displaced even at her home as her Aptness Daratyon has disappeared and assumed dead turning her into an Inapt Beetle Kinden. Her Uncle Sten, assigns her to escort academics to the bizarre city of Khanaphes, way in the beyond east as a diplomat of sorts. At the same time the Wasp Empress Seda begins her evil scheme to consolidate the power she lost during the stalemate and expand on that. Seda sends assassins to murder the one person who knows her entire plot, her former spymaster Thalric. He flees to Nem Desert where the arcane archaic city of Khanaphes lies.

The Scarab Path, the fifth Shadows of the Apt, moves away somewhat from the overt epic military fantasy of the previous four entries though their remains some large scale blood and gore battles, but is more introspective. The audience sees close and up front what the war cost even the heroes especially Che, the focus of this super story line as she evolves into an Inapt. Loaded once again yet sort of reloaded, fans will Salute the Dark opening of will relish Adrian Tchaikovsky’s new arc as an unsettled peace has come to the Lowlands. Harriet Klausner

Mind Storm
K.M. Ruiz
Dunne, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312673178

Two and a half centuries have passed since the global nuclear war eradicated much of the population. The planet has not recovered from the radiation battering. However, one thing remains the same from the pre war; a small group of wealthy “registered” as the five generations of throwback purebred humanity World Court rules over the Stryker force psions who possess psi skills.

The human Serca Syndicate enlists psions like Threnody Corwin, whose telekinetic touch emits electricity. However, she is unaware that Lucas Serca is one of her kind as is his warhounds. While he hopes to free the psions and save the unregistered purebreds, the affluent begin the countdown to their escape from a dying planet by traveling to Mars.

The first tale of a post-apocalyptic duology, Mind Storm is an exhilarating science fiction thriller. As a rebellion breaks out, the purebred affluent World Court after decades of enslaving the psions and other “gene-trash” plan their planetary escape while leaving behind the remnants of mankind to die. Although the story line never digs deep into the mindset of any of the prime three groups of survivors as blood and guts flow in extraordinary amounts, fans who enjoy gory military science fiction in a future dying earth setting will want to read Mind Storm. Harriet Klausner

Ghost Stalker
Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Nocturne, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618583

Nagi the ghost ruler knows the prophecy of the still unborn twins who will one day defeat him. He wants to prevent the siblings from being born so he sends his minion of ghosts to attack Skinwalker Nicholas Chien. They injure the wolf shapeshifter.

Nick needs medical assistance so he turns to Jessie Healey the Niyanoka Dreamwalker. She has pledged to kill his kind as they threaten humanity that she protects. However, the healer in Jessie or perhaps her heart will not allow her to kill Nick; besides which they need one another to battle the growing deadly threat led by Nagi. Nick and Jessie are attracted to one another, but both know any action on their feelings is taboo by each of their respective sides.

The second Trackers paranormal romance (see Dream Stalkers) is a terrific thriller starring two likable heroes who are natural enemies in love. Nagi is a fabulous fully developed supernatural villain whose threat is palatable. The Native American mythology provides a strong base as Jessie and Nick team up to fight Nagi and their “betraying” hearts. Harriet Klausner

The Beholder
Connie Hall
Harlequin Nocturne, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618590

A serial killing shapeshifter begins killing the residents of Brayville. Empath Nina Rainwater, who can speak with anyone living or dead, meets lion shapeshifter Kane Van Cleave. She senses that he knows and hides the identity of this predatory homicidal gleaner.

Kane believes he knows the identity of the deranged shifter killing people, but also fears Nina does too. He abducts Nina to keep her from revealing what she knows to the clan and to learn what that is. Nina realizes the insane shapeshifter who survives by sucking the life of others has to be Kane’s estranged brother, Ethan. They team up in search of Ethan while someone wants to prevent the duo from finding his sibling.

The latest Nightwalkers urban fantasy romance (see The Guardian for Nina’s sister Fala’s tale) is a wonderful tale made fresh by a villainous gleaner whose sustenance is other beings’ life force. Fast-paced from the moment Nina and Kane meet as each distrusts the other but self disdainfully desire their “opponent”. Fans will relish the hunt for a shapeshifting serial killer in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Harriet Klausner

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