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Fiona McIntosh

The Quickening trilogy

Myrren’s Gift, Voyager (2003) 

ISBN: 0-732278-66-X

Blood and Memory, Voyager (2004)

ISBN: 0-732278-67-8

Bridge of Souls, Voyager (2004)

ISBN: 0-732278-68-6

Reviewed by Gillian Polack (these reviews were first published in January 2006)

Myrren’s Gift

The judicial murder of a young magic-wielder, Myrren, plotted by Cerimus (heir to the throne of Morgravia), changes the future of three countries. The execution of Myrren and how her final legacy to unwilling observer Wil Thirsk plays out is the main subject of Myrren’s Gift. We are introduced to the main characters, including Wil (who receives Myrren’s gift of inhabiting the body of whoever kills him) and his family, and the various royal families of the region.

There is a great deal of action in the set-up volume for the trilogy and this book ought to be fast-paced, but it is actually quite slow. The reason for this lies mainly in McIntosh’s style. Her sentences tend to determine the pace, and her explanations and backgrounds are sometimes guilty of being longer than the action they describe.

It is worth pushing past the slowness. While this is not a great work of literature, it is a fantasy trilogy that relies more on politics and plotting than on a quest. It is all about personal ambitions and their effects on other people. The consequences of actions are clear and comprehensible and the world and its people are interesting and well enough drawn to make it enjoyable to read. The women are more interesting than the men, in fact, because McIntosh gives most of them far more capacity for independent action than is traditional. Even victims are capable of actions with vast consequences. Read the rest of this entry »

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Creature Court Trilogy, Book 2

Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-8944-7

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

DISCLAIMER: Lorraine Cormack is a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This review is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

The Shattered City is a book that surprised me; my primary memory of Roberts’ work was her early novels. These were humorous fantasy, a difficult genre to master, and contained a few mis-steps from a then beginner writer. The Shattered City is a different kettle of fish; although extremely original, it fits the more general “fantasy” mould. Importantly, it is also an excellent book from a writer who seems to have found her stride and settled into it.

Velody is a dressmaker in the city of Aufleur, and as this novel opens she is trying to consolidate her position as Power and Majesty of the Creature Court. The Court is a group of … people, perhaps; each can turn into an animal or animals, and each has a kind of magical power known as animor. At night they wage a violent ongoing battle against the night, which seems determined to destroy Aufleur. And although they are nominally united in this struggle, Velody knows all too well that their alliances are unsteady and that most, if not all, have other agendas to pursue.

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George R.R. Martin

A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5

Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 9780002247399

Reviewed by Mitenae

A Dance with Dragons is the long awaited latest volume in George R R Martin’s highly popular A Song of Ice and Fire series, and it isn’t hard to see why. This is a series I’ve been reading for many years and if you’re new to the series (perhaps having become a fan of the TV series, A Game of Thrones) I recommend you start at the beginning and not with this volume. A Dance of Dragons runs parallel to A Feast of Crows (Book 4) and in this we pick up the stories of the characters that weren’t included (or included in a minor way) in Book 4.

In A Dance with Dragons, Jon Snow is commander at the wall but, with wildings streaming in and having to deal with Stannis, as King of the North, and his Queen Selys, he has enough to handle without their insistence that he bend to their will. And it doesn’t help that Melisandre insists on sharing her visions with him.

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Anne Bishop

Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-9095-5

Reviewed by Mitenae

Twilight’s Dawn is the latest collection of four stories about Daemon, Janelle, Surreal, Lucivar and Saetan by Anne Bishop.

In ‘Winsol Gift’s’, Daemon must deal not only with hosting Winsol, but also with the complications his family brings. In ‘Shades of Honor’, Lucivar’s rule is challenged by Falconar, who wants it for himself. In ‘Family’, young children are once again been taken and when Sylvia and her family are attacked the SaDiablo family wants blood. In ‘The High Lord’s Daughter’ two are lost and Daemon must find a way to rebuild his life and his heart.

I love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewel’s series. For me, it’s a world I love returning to. I love being able to dip into it, as I can with this collection of stories, but at the same time it leaves me longing for something larger to read about the SaDiablo family. ‘Shades of Honor’ provided this in some way as did ‘Family’ but the last story, ‘The High Lord’s Daughter’ has left me wondering whether this will be the last collection set in this world. I hope not, for I will miss the new stories and beloved characters.

Anne Bishop’s Black Jewel’s series is the deliciously dark world most paranormal stories are trying to create. If you’re a fan then you’ll enjoy this book and if you haven’t read any of the series then these stories are a great way to get to know the SaDiablo family.

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Creature Court trilogy, Book 1

Voyager (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 7322 8943 0

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce, June 2010

I must admit straight up that I am a friend of Roberts’, but I’ve been a fan of her work for much longer than I have known her. I got a copy of her first book (Splashdance Silver) years ago and was hooked by the easy, fast-paced style, the sly characterisation and the slightly map-cap plot. Her later short stories have shown the same elements, but they have also got darker and, well, somewhat unpleasant, in a great-to-read kind of way. This first book of the Creature Court trilogy follows that trend. By the end of the first section, catastrophes of various shapes and sizes have overtaken most of the major characters, and that’s just 82 pages in. The thing about Roberts is that her style is deceptive: descriptions of clothes and setting are so lovingly detailed and not scary that when a nasty thing happens it feels totally unexpected. And she doesn’t hesitate to use those finely-honed descriptions for fights, injuries, and other nastiness.

Power and Majesty is set in Aufleur, a city that is in some ways like those in our world, but is in other ways totally other. It’s a richly imagined urban fantasy, and the city itself is largely inspired by Rome, both in its geography and in its festival calendar. Aside from the people who service them, I don’t quite understand how anyone gets anything done in Aufleur, given the sheer number of all-day festivals that seem to occur. The city is almost a character itself, getting lavish description and some awesome maps that would only be better if they were bigger. The characters are certainly not stay-at-home types, and they run around (and over, and under) the city at a sometimes-alarming speed.

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