Thursday, July 28, 2011

Unusual Books Reviewed by Harriett

Theories of Flight
Simon Morden
Orbit, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316125154

In post-nuked St. Petersburg, Samuil Petrovitch learned to survive on the mean streets. Besides his ability to sense when to fight and when to flight, Samuil is also a great mathematician. His math skills saved London’s Metrozone from the Long Night (see Equations of Life) though he keeps the sentient computer behind the assault hidden under his control.

Now governments want Samuil as he is too dangerous to be allowed freedom and none want their rivals to control him. The Outzone denizen envy what the Metrozone residents have. As war seems imminent, Samuil theorizes that someone wants him dead and if it means collateral damage to an entire city so be it; the proof is what is happening to London.

The second Petrovitch post-apocalyptic thriller (see Equations of Life) is an exciting fast-paced tale as seemingly many the planetary survivors want Samuil either working for them or dead. Action-packed, fans will relish this thriller, but need to ignore their plausibility beliefs as Petrovitch suffers from a series of disabling even several life threatening batterings but like the Energizer Bunny he takes a licking but keeps on ticking. Harriet Klausner

Travis Thrasher
Faith Words, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446505512

A few months ago, music producer Tyler Harrison turned thirty-nine. However, recently he has suffered from frightening visions, which he assumes is a byproduct of all work and no play. . Thus he ignores the hallucinations until he attends a three-day concert at the Lollapalooza in Chicago.

An older person introduces himself to Tyler as Matthew the angel and insists that the lad will die on his fortieth birthday; less than nine months away. Tyler initially thinks he has met a druggy lunatic until Matthew provides him powerful proof otherwise. He goes through the stages of grief leading to rage at God and hostile behavior towards friends and family. Renowned D.J. Ellis becomes Tyler’s friend, leading him to the urban wilderness. Finally filled with regrets for his failures and remorse for not being there for loved ones, he turns to Pastor Will to help him atone with people and God, and hopefully find peace with himself.

This insightful character study uses the premise of someone knowing when they will die to look deeply at how that condemned person spends their remaining aptly nine months on earth. Tyler goes through the stages of grief with his early anger targets being the Lord and the surviving flock until he finally begins to accept. Profound, readers who appreciate a powerful emotional tale with little action will appreciate Travis Thrasher’s taut tale of Tyler’s end of days as he slowly adapts to his last refrain. Harriet Klausner

Alison Sinclair
Roc, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451463944

In Minhorne, the Curse insures the Darkborn shun the light and the Lightborn shun the dark so they never mix; at least that was the belief until the twins were born (see Darkborn). Thus Darkborn married mages Lady Telmaine Hearne and Dr. Balthasar end up with the twins, which leads to learning of a third group the Shadowborn manipulating the hostilities between the light and the dark (see Lightborn).

Another “truism” the Darkborn accepts as gospel is that when a mage dies, his or her magic dies too. Thus Darkborn Lady Telmaine Hearne has been sentenced to death for her dabbling with sorcery. She flees for the Borders where war is imminent, but the alliance between the Lightborn and Darkborn is shaky at best as they prepare to fight the Shadowborn. Balthasar mentally struggles with the knowledge of his connection to the insidious diabolical enemy. Lightborn assassin Floria White Hand is at the Borders trying to protect her people’s young Prince. At the same time Ishmael di Studier, who has spent a lifetime restraining the Curse, which includes battling the Shadowborn, is unprepared foe what awaits at the Borders.

The third “born” fantasy wraps up the major threads as all the key players converge at the Borders where war is imminent. Extremely complicated yet fast-paced, readers will relish the paths to the final battle as heroes from the previous tales struggle to survive and a terrific spin re the Curse makes for a delightful finish. Although newcomers should read the first two books that set the table for this scrumptious repast, fans will enjoy the latest entry in the Sinclair mythos.
Harriet Klausner

The River of Shadows
Robert V.S. Redick
Del Rey, $16.00
ISBN: 9780345523822

The ancient ship Chathrand has finally crossed the Ruling Sea and reached the southern tip of Bali Adro where they hope to form an alliance with the humans. The trek was dangerous for the crew as many died mostly due to attacks of dark magic and supply shortages. However, the rebel alliance led by Pazel “the Tarboy” Pathkendle and the admiral’s daughter Thasha Isiq feel combat ready for anything.

They quickly realize how wrong they are when the meet those from the empire. The final battle between the rebel alliance and the ancient sorcerer Arunis for control of the powerful Nilstone relic has begun. Even if one possesses the arcane stone, it does not mean victory as failing to deploy properly leads to a horrific death. As Arunis gets closer to success, Pazel and Thasha unite with their enemies in a desperate ploy to prevent the sorcerer from winning. However, a crewmember flirts with Thasha dividing her from Pazel and enabling Arunis to close in on the ultimate victory.

This epic fantasy continues the exhilarating adventures of the crew of the Chathrand Voyage (see The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea) and like its predecessors does not allow readers a respite as the action keeps on coming. All that seafaring escapades and land battles are two edged swords as the excitement is immense, but the cast is so numerous few come across beyond what was previously developed. Still fans will relish the third Voyage of the Chathrand while newcomers need to read the previous entries to understand what motivates the prime players to act as they do. Harriet Klausner

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