Saturday, June 16, 2012

More Unusual Titles

Shadow And Betrayal
Daniel Abraham
Orb, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765331649

A Shadow In Summer. The city-state Saraykeht depends on the magic of detained Andat spirit, Seedless, compelled to do the biddings of the sorcerer Heshai-kyo as long as his owner lives, but once his possessor perishes, he dies too. The Galts Empire conquers everything in its path except for Saraykeht in spite of the powerful thrusts of the invincible military. Using trade as a means to get small forces inside the city, the Galts plot the murder of Heshai-kyo, which subsequently would lead to the demise of Seedless and ultimately Saraykeht. Teacher Milah-Kvo catches student Otah Machi sneaking out of the city and suggests his pupil become a black robe bodyguard to an andat and its owner. As Otah learns about the assassination, Seedless works to destroy the mind of Heshai-kyo.

A Betrayal In Winter. In Machi the realm is ruled by the Khai and when a new leader is needed the ruler's sons fight to the death to win the throne. The last one standing is the new Khai. The Khai has more than three sons; he has given them to the poets who keep the cities at peace and bring in wealth from other countries. Otah Machi, the sixth son, refused to take the brand, rejected the post, and has made a life for himself as Itani Naygu a courier loved by inn keeper Kiyan. When the eldest son is murdered, the two younger sons go into hiding while the people (commoner and noble) believe Otah was behind the assassination.

This omnibus collection reprints the first two terrific tales in the superb Long Price Quartet fantasy saga. Fifteen years apart, the powerful cast makes everything in this strange magical world seem plausible and exciting. Harriet Klausner

Blood Secret
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia, $14.00
ISBN: 978075825095

Though irate at her foolish brother, Lucy Drake knows his gambling debts are a family obligation requiring repayment. Lucy has no money to make remittance, but has one item of value, her virginity. She offers her body to the man holding her brother’s markers Sinjin, the Duke of Greystone. He accepts her terms of a fortnight but conceals his real agenda from her.

Greystone has two causes, which Drake unwittingly abets. A vampire, he plans to seduce the information as to the whereabouts of kidnapped nephew taken by her father. Once he rescues his blood, he will fulfill his vow to kill shapeshifting dragons like Lucy Drake. Fourteen nights later, Greystone finds he craves more with Lucy.

The latest Blood Deep heated historical romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Deep, Blood Red and Blood Rose) is a fabulous paranormal thriller as the male protagonist hates that he thinks “I love Lucy.” He must decide between his heart’s oath and his heart’s desire. Fans will enjoy this fine entry as the vampire and the dragon shifter face dilemmas that could end tragic. Harriet Klausner

Three A.M.
Steven John
Tor Books, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765331168

Over fifteen years ago, a lethal pandemic breakout left millions dead; scientists failed to find the cause. Soon after the mass deaths, a fog engulfed the city; but this thick mist has never dissipated. No one can enter or leave the city as the fog is like a giant prison.

In spite of excessive use of alcohol and drugs to numb his overwhelming sense of hopelessness, having not seen the sun since he was twenty eight, private detective Thomas Vale, wakes up every morning at 3:00 AM. He never deviates from that time even though he could use more sleep and rarely has a reason to get up that early. He visits Heller to collect money owed him but accepts instead a tape of “Shoppin” (Chopin), Rebecca waits for Vale at his sh*hole office to retain him. Two to three weeks ago someone murdered Samuel Ayers. The police arrested Fallon Samson who she insists is innocent. He takes on the case though he assumes that Samson killed Ayers. His simple investigation twists into something more precarious involving the disease and the fog.

The atmosphere is thick as readers will feel they wander in the fogged bound city in which residents have given up on the present and future with survival the only objective and holding on to precious personnel relics from before as a token of what was lost. Thomas is a delightful hard-boiled detective though his opponents seem inept. Rebecca is more of a stereotyped of the femme fatale cotton candy rather than a full blooded slick user. Readers will enjoy this exciting noir as paraphrasing Carl Sandburg’s Poem Fog, “… It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches”, but never moves on. Harriet Klausner

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