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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Bantam (1999) 

ISBN: 1-863251-49-9 

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was first published January 2006)

Liquid Gold is a sequel to Roberts’ novel Splashdance Silver, but could probably be read independently with no real difficulty. Liquid Gold is the better of the two novels, and although it’s a little hard to be sure (since I *had* read Splashdance Silver), I think it explains most of what you’d need to know if you read this novel alone.

Kassa Daggarsharp, the nominal heroine of the novel, is killed in chapter two, within pages of her first appearance in the novel. Not to worry; although she does, technically, lie down and die, she doesn’t stay down. She is, in fact, a most troublesome tenant of the underworld and creates a quite astounding amount of trouble. Kassa herself would probably claim it’s not her fault. Mistress Opia has created Liquid Gold, which has almost immediately been stolen by the mercenary Sparrow. And in her flight to escape, and deliver the Liquid Gold to her employer, Sparrow manages to scatter the unpleasant side-effects of tampering with Liquid Gold over most of the Mocklore Empire. And the underworld. And everywhere, really…

Kassa isn’t leading them this time, but again a motley collection of characters set out to aid or obstruct her (or her memory). Several of them are making a return appearance from the earlier novel, but there are also a good many new characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Bantam (1998)

ISBN: 0-733801-84-6 

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was first published in January 2006)

Splashdance Silver is a pleasantly amusing read with a consistent dash of humor throughout the novel.

It tells the story of Kassa Daggarsharp, and her oddly assorted crew – or perhaps that should be hangers-on. When the story opens, Kassa is enjoying herself, making a living dancing in taverns. But within pages, she has received tidings from her father, the pirate Vicious Bigbeard Daggarsharp. It’s a pretty traditional letter – if you’re reading this, then I’m dead… Bigbeard has willed Kassa his trove of pirate silver. Inconveniently, he’s failed to mention exactly where it is.

Of course, with a trove of pirate treasure at stake, Kassa cannot simply puzzle out where it is and then go collect it. She must contend with other potential claimants – a profit scoundrel who needs a score to save his life; an usurper Emperor; a faithless royal champion; the Hidden Army; and assorted other troublemakers that pop up in the course of her quest. And of course Kassa has history with most of these people, history that is only gradually revealed through the novel. And Kassa herself is torn; does she want to be a Pirate of Note like her father, or a Qualified Witch like her mother? Or just a singer and dancer? Read the rest of this entry »

Michelle Marquardt

Bantam (2002)

ISBN: 186325 251 7

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was originally published in 2007)

Blue Silence is a confident and assured science fiction novel, which I enjoyed a great deal.

The novel focuses on Senator Maya Russini, and is told from her point of view. Maya is a strong character; I realised at the end of the novel that Marquardt had given little indication of Maya’s age or appearance, and not a great deal of information about her past. Despite this, I had a strong sense of her personality and who she was, and I was definitely on her side for much of the novel. Marquardt has an eye for characterisation; her major characters were all strong, distinctive and interesting.

Maya and her Senatorial colleagues on Colony Two have been embroiled in negotiations with their sister colony (Colony One). The two Colonies are both space stations orbiting earth, but have very different lifestyles; Colony One is highly reliant on nano-technology and makes no attempt to create a natural environment. Colony Two has rigorous legislation banning nano-technology, and ensures that parks, gardens, and greenery exist throughout their station. In the past, One has supplied water to Two through their mining operations. But now, One is blackmailing them; they will only sell them water if they also agree to allow nano-technology onto the space station. Colony Two has options, but they’re limited, and if just one thing goes wrong in their attempt to get water from elsewhere, they will be at Colony One’s mercy. Read the rest of this entry »

Nathan Burrage


ISBN: 978-1-86325-585-1

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

In Fivefold, five individuals find themselves manifesting strange gifts, after accidentally stumbling across a ruined cathedral in Yorkshire. They seem remarkably willing to take these odd gifts and their (rather freaky) manifestations in their stride. However, they soon find that they are hunted by the mysterious Lords of Severity, and apparently protected by a Fivefold Cabal that has links to an equally mysterious Order of the Brightening Dawn. Much dashing around England follows, along with sudden and deadly attacks, both physical and metaphysical. Rather than seeking any kind of help from the authorities, or family and other friends, the five friends allow themselves to be dragged around the country by the uncommunicative Fivefold Cabal, and pulled deeper into an ages-old conspiracy.

Although I didn’t enjoy Fivefold very much, it is a novel that has the potential to be enjoyable for the right audience in the right mood. One of my difficulties with it was the sheer stupidity of the act that is utterly necessary to get the plot moving – but it’s on a par with watching a horror movie and knowing with utter certainty that someone is going to go into that dark space alone. If you’re in the right mood, you can still enjoy the movie.

Read the rest of this entry »

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