Saturday, October 8, 2011

Four from Harriet

The Black Lung Captain
Chris Wooding
Spectra, $16.00
ISBN: 9780345522504

It has been a tough year on the crew of the Ketty Jay even with their fame growing from the Retribution Falls' success and failure; much of both their victory and defeat was caused by the dysfunctional relationship between Captain Darian Frey and his former fiancée Captain Tranica Dracken of the Delirium Trigger.

After an embarrassingly failed attempt to rob an orphanage where Crake the tortured (over his niece’s death and reincarnation as a Golem) demonologist warned Frey they shoot back, the captain discusses a deal with the Storm Dog Captain Harvin Grist. Explorer Rodley Hodd found a downed aircraft filled with treasure on the dangerous isle of Kurg where killing beasts run amuck. After choking on his beer, Frey accepts the commission as he wisely assumes the lethal monsters in the hostile barrier island’s rain forest can’t be any worse than orphans who shoot at thieves.

The second Tales of the Ketty Jay pulp fantasy is a terrific quest thriller starring rogues and thieves. Backstabbing and double crossing are survival techniques. The story line continues some subplots from Retribution Falls as readers learn more about the inept crew especially Crake that cleverly tie into the prime theme of The Black Lung Captain. Ironically, all the swashbuckling on land, in the air and at sea brings plenty of exciting action; but also predictable expectations in a sort of Indiana Jones’ style. Still fans, especially those who read the opening act, will enjoy joining Frey and his motley crew on their latest adventures; just watch your back as anyone else doing so likely will stab you.
Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi - Ascension
Christie Golden
Del Rey, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345509161

Father and son Jedi Knights Luke and Ben Skywalker and Sith apprentice Vestara Khai search the galaxy for Aboleth, the most powerful practitioner of the dark force ever. The trio hunt the deadly dark force user amongst the haunting deserted planets that were once homes to the Lost Tribe of the Sith several millennia ago. What they find left behind leaves Vestara shaken while deciding her future.

On Coruscant, the removal of despotic Natasi Daala (see Vortex) has left a fight for control in which the Order of the Knights of Jedi take charge, but other forces of the Galactic Alliance distrust them due to their power grabbing misue of the Force (see Conviction). At a time when treachery and betrayal split the Galactic Alliance further while Sith undercover operatives work the schism and Daala remains a force, the Jedi try to maintain order.

The eighth Fate of the Jedi moves forward the two prime series overarching but related themes in exhilarating ways while also setting up the finish. The story line is fast-paced whether readers explore the eerie Lost Tribe of the Sith’s ghost-planets or the political intrigue on Coruscant. This is a super entry with a great twist that will shake the Force forty-three years after A New Hope Return of the Jedi. Harriet Klausner

The Taker
Alma Katsu
Gallery, Sep 6 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439197059

At Aroostook County Hospital in St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley works the ER graveyard shift. Sheriff Duchesne brings in a handcuffed young person covered with blood and wearing no coat on a freezing night. The sheriff believes Lanore McIlvrae murdered Jonathan.

In the ER with only Luke present, Lanny insists she is innocent. She explains her family exiled her to Boston to give birth to an illegitimate child in 1817. There she met ancient alchemist Count Adair and his retinue. The Count saved her life when he gave her an immortality potion but at the cost of her becoming his mistress. Lanny accepted what her savior expected of her until now when he went after her true love Jonathan.

The merger of alchemy and love in Maine makes for a strong rural fantasy. The story line starts a bit slow as the key players are introduced directly and indirectly in the present and the past; once done the plot accelerates as skeptical readers and a doubting Luke become hooked believers. The key to The Taker is that the audience accepts as true Lanny’s Faustian cautionary tale of evil’s eternal energy to remain alive at all costs to others. Harriet Klausner

Night Born
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Harlequin Nocturne Bites, $2.99
ISBN: 9781459207417

Vampires attacked her mother the Slayer leaving her dying in the hospital. Danika Douglas knows when her beloved mom passes she will become the new Slayer though she lacks experience and understanding of her powers.

Seeking revenge Danika believes gallery owner Alexander Kent the ancient vampire killed her mother. She looks at paintings in which he appears including one at his gallery. Alexander sees her staring at the picture and is stunned as she is the first female in ages he desires; the last one tried to kill him. Danika the slayer and Alexander the vampire know they are fated to fight to the death, but he offers her an alternative of love with the elements of passion and support. If she accepts his terms of endearment, Danika fears her mom and their ancestors of slayers will turn in their graves.

Night Born is an enjoyable romantic urban fantasy E-book starring two interesting beloved enemies. Though the novella format limits plot development as Linda Thomas-Sundstrom’s focuses on the changing of the lead couple’s relationship from antagonists to potential protagonists. Still fans of the Vampire Moon saga (see Golden Vampire) will enjoy this fun Nocturne Bites as she begins to learn the job and he is unlike his species. Harriet Klausner

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