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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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Kylie Chan

Journey to Wudang, Book 3

Harper Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-8688-0

Reviewed by Mitenae

Emma continues looking after Wudang Mountain while John is gone but Kitty Kwok is still on the loose and undetectable copies have infiltrated Wudang. But something large and dangerous is coming just as John (Xuan Wu) begins to slowly retake human form.

Heaven to Wudang is the sixth book about Emma, John, Simone and Leo and although it’s supposed to be the final book of the second trilogy, it doesn’t come across that way. This is a story about a family and a world and it doesn’t lend itself well to being a trilogy (or a series of trilogies). This book feels incomplete and the ending doesn’t come across as the cliffhanger it should. It feels like it’s an instalment of a regular series, rather than the end of a trilogy.

Tad Williams

Shadowmarch Quartet, Book 3

Orbit (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-84149-296-4

Reviewed by Mitenae

Shadowrise is the third volume in Tad William’s latest epic series the Shadowmarch Quartet. With the Qar getting ever closer to Southmarch, Briony finds herself in Syan and it’s court. There, she hopes, she can find help, but the Syannese court is anything but helpful.

Barrick is still travelling to Qul-na-Qar but is running out of time and with Silkins and other creatures to face it may not make it at all. Ferras Vansen works with the Funderlings, in the hopes of finding a solution to preventing Yasammez’s attack.

I first discovered Tad William’s books in a secondhand store many years ago and I’ve been reading his work ever since. This book lives up to his predecessors. It’s an epic tale, the sort of long, detailed and complicated tale, and world, I expect from Tad Williams. It’s a very enjoyable story but the sort you need to commit yourself to. I wouldn’t recommend starting this quartet with anything but the first volume.

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Patrick Rothfuss

The Kingkiller Chronicles: Day Two

Gollancz (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-575-08142-0

Reviewed by Mitenae

My lack of sleep this week has been caused by a single book, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss and my need to find out what happens now, rather than waiting a couple of weeks and getting enough sleep. This is one doorstopper of a book and not a single word is wasted on it’s telling.

On the second day Kote/Kvothe continues telling his story to the Chronicler. Kvothe returns for his second year at the University and gets a chance to pursue Naming with Elodin but it isn’t as easy as he hoped and his journey chasing the wind takes him to the far reaches of the land.

Sue Isle

Twelve Planets, Volume 1

Twelfth Planet Press (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-9808274-3-9

Reviewed by Mitenae

Nightsiders is the first collection of tales in a new series currently being published by Twelfth Planet Press, showcasing Australian female speculative fiction talent. Sue Isle’s four tales are set in a future Perth (known to the locals as the Nightside) where most of the people have been evacuated east.

“The Painted Girl” tells the tale of Kyra, abandoned by her companion, Nerina, who stole her as a young child, and faces the prospect of being sold by slavers. In “Nation of the Night” we follow Ash in his quest east as he changes his physical sex to match that of his self. In “Paper Dragons” we see the effect that a simple play can have to bring about change. And in “The Schoolteacher’s Tale”, Elder Miss Ellen Wakeling has to confront and come to terms with a new way of teaching if the Nightside is to blossom.

I don’t often encounter stories that set destruction to my home town and I love the fact that Sue Isle has done this and still manages to use the sites that I know so well without losing it’s essential Perth/Westcoast-ness. I love the world that she has created, contrasting the heat of Perth with the weather of Melbourne, and how she allows us to step into the world that has been left behind.

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.

Jennifer Fallon

Riftrunners, Book 1

Harper Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-9084-9

Reviewed by Mitenae

The Undivided is the latest offering in a new series from fantasy author Jennifer Fallon. It tells the tale of Darragh and Rónán, psychically linked twins who have been separated since they were young.

Rónán, now known as Ren, grows up in Dublin, the adopted son of actress Kiva Kavanaugh. He wakes up one night with a mysterious cut caused through no fault of his own, again, yet no one believes him. Darragh grows up in a world of magic, one that was never taken over by the Romans, well aware that his brother is missing and that together they are the Undivided. While others plot to end a two thousand year old treaty, Darragh searches for his brother in order to bring him back to Eire (Ireland) and reunite the Undivided.

It took a while for me to warm to this book and it was only several chapters in, once Ren’s story was underway, that I began to enjoy it. I found the lack of timeframe in the initial chapters annoying, especially due to the use of the name Amergin, which I know to be the name of poets from Irish mythology. For me, the story could have done with including the dates at the beginning of these initial set up chapters to help understand that it is the present rather than a thousand or more years ago. There is a timeline, but it’s in the back of the book and provided no real reference until I had some knowledge of what is happening in the story.

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Paul Garrety

Helix Volume 1

Harper Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-9154-9

Reviewed by Mitenae

Sam’s been investigating Cervantes but when she goes to retrieve her hidden notes she discovers her friend, Dizzy, murdered and her notes gone. She flees to Brisbane and finds Callum, a professional thief, recommended to her by a friend. Hijinks ensure but the whole thing goes belly up when the media has him listed as a suspected terrorist and she’s wanted for questioning into her friend’s murder. When they go back to retrieve the solid gold chalices Callum discovered, hidden in a neighbour’s garage, they’re gone and the bombs in their place explode leaving him hanging between life and death. It is then that he’s given a choice: to help them (Helix) stop Cervantes and prevent him from benefiting from the seventh wave, or die.

This is a debut book from an author still learning a lot about storytelling and it’s clear, in particular, in the characters and the plot.

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Bevan McGuiness

Book 1, The Eleven Kingdoms

HarperVoyager (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-8979-9

Reviewed by Mitenae

Slave, after an unknown length of time digging a tunnel underground breaks through into catacombs only to encounter a xath lizard and a humanoid creature to whom he gives fealty in order to live. Myrrhini, Eye of the Varuun, has been called by the Wielder of the Key who begins the Ritual of Kantele that brings on a vision of evil and a scarred man who she is determined to find. Ileki takes Slave in, escaping from Slaaj who wants him for mercenary army. But Ileki has his own reasons for helping Slave and Sondelle wants his slave back.

Slave of Sondelle is an interesting read, and one that I would not necessarily pick up based on the cover alone as it really doesn’t appeal at all to me. But the story is worth reading, the characters are engaging and the world is intriguing.

This story has a lot more depth and backstory to reveal. It felt like I was being given a hint of what was to come in the rest of the series and there is a lot of potentially fascinating story left to discover. It will be interesting to see what McGuiness does with this story and this world.

Matthew Chrulew and Thoraiya Dyer

Novella Doubles Series

Twelfth Planet Press (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-980827-42-2

Reviewed by Mitenae

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the angels were aliens? Matthew Chrulew certainly has and The Angælien Apocalypse is the result.

Ellie, Joke (Joachim) and Miguel are best friends and they share a place together. Ellie starts hanging out with Guardians, otherworldly beings, and disappears once a month only to return with blue goo in weird places. They don’t believe her until one day she disappears. In the weeks of searching for her, they end up at a meeting where Gabriel appears and Joke instantly signs up for their grand plan. But Miguel doesn’t believe it and can’t get him to understand that Joke is the Antichrist.

This is an interesting science fictional take on the apocalypse, replete with Jesus Christ, Angaeliens, Demoeliens and technology. Athough I enjoyed the story, I found myself at times wondering whether telling it from the past (when Ellie disappeared) and the present (when Joke and Miguel are facing each other off) added more depth to the story than if it had not have been there. It felt very much like a device and I found myself annoyed with it and pulling away from the story. But I do like the story and it is a great, if a very different tale, to its companion.

On the flip side (literally) is Thoraiya Dyer’s The Company Articles of Edward Teach.

Layla wishes she was someone else, anyone other than the daughter of a control freak father. Avi has no intention of being a lawyer like his mother wants him to be and like Layla, he too wishes he was someone else. Their wishes are granted when they meet in a costume store with a strange assistant and find themselves in an explosion and transported back in time three centuries. To get home they must survive, for Layla has become Doctor Reihs, to Avi’s Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard.

This is the rare story that leaves you wanting more, not just of the story itself but also of the author’s writing. I haven’t read anything by Thoraiya Dyer before but after this gem of a tale I can’t wait to read more of her work.

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