Category Archives: Books

Man and Manta

Of Man and Manta (Trilogy)
by Piers Anthony

Across time and space roamed the Three – the cripple, the woman, the man of brawn. Trying to unravel the mysteries of fantasy worlds, and accompanied always by the strange and weirdly beautiful Mantas.

This is the cover of the paperback I owned:

 

What appears to be the original covers:

Omnivore (1968)

Orn (1970)

Ox (1975)

 

 

I read a lot of Piers Anthony as a teenager and enjoyed his books. In re-reading this it became apparent I have moved on from his writing. Although it starts as an interesting story, unfortunately things start to get too much like a science lecture. By the third book, it’s reading like a text book and I gave up before the end.

Heart Readers

Heart Readers
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1993)

In each generation, twin boys were born, heirs to a throne only one could hold. King Pardu decreed that when the time was right, he would abide by the old magic and call in heart readers to see into the boys’ souls. But the king doesn’t foresee treachery by his ambitious chief advisor.

The first novel read by this author. Well written with memorable characters. It’s the story of accession to the throne in a fantasy world. Given the amount of sex and violence, definitely an adult story.

Night Circus

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern (2011)

It was originally written for the annual writing competition NaNoWriMo.

The Night Circus is a phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an ahistorical Victorian London in a wandering magical circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise.

I read this as it was on the Kindle Women list. A very unusual book in it’s structure and tone. I wouldn’t have continued reading if it hadn’t been for the author’s ability with prose and the anticipation that ends each chapter. Essentially a fantasy, but I can see why is has gained admiration with the literary types.

Recommended (by almost everyone).

Dan Shamble

Unnatural Acts
(Dan Shamble #2)
by Kevin J. Anderson (2012)


In the Unnatural Quarter, golems slave away in sweatshops, necromancers sell black-market trinkets to tourists, and the dead rise up–to work the night shift. But zombie detective Dan Shamble is no ordinary working stiff. When a local senator and his goons picket a ghostly production of Shakespeare in the Dark–condemning the troupe’s “unnatural” lifestyles–Dan smells something rotten. And if something smells rotten to a zombie, you’re in serious trouble. . .

This is a mash-up of urban fantasy, noir detective fiction, and (a bit of humour). It feels like Kevin has read Mike Resnick’s ‘Chasing the …’ series and decided to have a go. On the plus side, there is plenty of interesting characters and plot. Don Shamble is the neutral character, main protagonist and general good guy. This is a case of just ‘OK’ there is no real spark or new slant that makes this anything but a workman-like novel.

 

Unity

Unity
by Jeremy Robinson (2016)

 

 

Euphemia Williams, known to her few friends as Effie, and everyone else as Eff-Bomb, will punch you for looking at her funny, for using her full name or for noticing that she’s a genius. But when an elite global entity known as Unity takes note of her intelligence and offers her a chance to escape the hum-drum life of a foster-child, she signs up. At best, she expects her time abroad to be a vacation. At worst, an actual challenge. But what she finds, upon being swept up in a futuristic transport, is far, far worse.


Review
This is the first of Jeremy Robinson’s Books I have read that is in first person, it’s also the first with a female protagonist. The plot is a mix of ‘Hunger Games’, and his recent Kaiju thrillers. It all works as well as his other books, lots of action, suspense and at the end it’s obvious this is the start of a new series. My only complaint it that for a 16 year old girl, Effie sure sustains a lot of damage but just keeps on going. Maybe there is a bit of genetic engineering involved. I’m sure all will be revealed in future novels.. Can’t Wait.

Vixen 3

Vixen 03

In 1954 Vixen 03 is down. The plane, bound for the south Pacific and bearing several canisters of a particularly virulent organism, vanishes. Believed ditched at sea, Vixen has in fact crashed into an ice-covered lake in Colorado.


Review
This is my first Clive Cussler novel. I owned a hard copy for a long time before switching to ebooks. It’s not surprising that this is a well written and paced novel, although only the forth Cussler book, it’s the work of an experienced author.

It has an interesting start and proceeds with an intriguing story following Dirk Pitt until a surprising change of location to South Africa. This part isn’t done as well, describing a political revolution seems out of genre for Cussler and things easily become confusing. The story moves on with suitable twists and action that accumulate to a final conflict in America. A good read, but not to the level of Desmond Bagley or Dick Francis.

Kronos

Kronos
by Jeremy Robinson (2008)

Two years after his wife’s death, oceanographer and former navy SEAL, Atticus Young, attempts to reconcile with his rebellious daughter, Giona by taking her on the scuba dive of a lifetime-swimming with a pod of peaceful humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine. But the beauty of the sea belies a terror from the deep-a horrific creature as immense as it is ancient. There is no blood, no scream, no fight. Giona is swallowed whole by the massive jaws. Only Atticus remains to suffer the shame of the survivor and his inconsolable grief turns to an unquenchable thirst for revenge.

Drawn by the spectacle, Trevor Manfred, a ruthless billionaire, approaches Atticus with a proposition: Trevor will make available all the advanced technology of his heavily armed mega-yacht, the Titan, to aid Atticus in his death-quest. In return, Trevor is to receive the beast’s corpse as the ultimate hunting trophy. But in the midst of the hunt, Atticus makes a terrifying discovery that changes the way he sees the ocean’s creatures and begs the question: what is Kronos? The answer sets him on a new and much more deadly course.


Review
Another thrilling and entertaining thriller from Jeremy Robinson. This is a bit more conventional in structure; it’s got a monster, bad guy (with henchman) damsel in distress (daughter) and love interest on the side.

Can you guess what happens ?
It’s not too difficult but as usual it’s all in the telling and while this is his fifth book it reads like the author is an old pro. I’m sure authors like Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes or Alistair MacLean have done similar stories. Here is another engaging thriller.

Lucifier’s Machine

Lucifier’s Machine
by Steven Savile (2013)
Co-written with Rick Chester

During the basking summer heat a university-based archaeology team uncovers an ancient box bearing the image of Baphomet. They are on a remote French island with strong links to the Knights Templar story. The image of Baphomet itself goes a long way to proving those links as far as the team lead by Dr Kytain are concerned, especially as the Templar were accused of devil worship during their trails. Could this box-a crude yet sophisticated machine centuries ahead of its time-be a vital link to discovering the true nature of the knights relationship to the horned devil? Before they are able to decipher the box’s secrets the entire team are butchered horrifically, and all indications are that an extremist group, Al Aler’eyh, are behind the slaughter. A second linked murder in the hallowed halls of Cambridge University tips off Control to the threat. Tasked with finding the Lucifer Machine and putting an end to this particularly fundamentalist wing of the terror organisation, Noah and Orla find themselves in the adult playground of Dubai, fighting for their lives…


Review

This is a better book due to it’s straight-forward story. There is a bit of torture and excessive violence, but without tipping it out of the thriller genre. The series ends (#5 is an origins story) with one of the best in the series.

 

Wargod

WarGod
by Seven Savile (2012)
Co-Written with Sean Ellis

 

 

It’s the middle of the night. Ronan Frost receives a plea for help from his former commanding officer, an outspoken opponent of globalization who is fascinated in Arthurian lore. Frost’s old comrade is the target of agents of a shadowy conspiracy trying to prevent him from finding the Crocea Mors, the sword of Caesar, and perhaps the very blade that King Arthur pulled from the stone. Frost is sceptical, most of what Denison claims strikes him as bullshit, plain and simple, but there’s no denying that someone is trying to kill him. So he’s going to help. No matter the risk. That’s just who he is.

 


This book takes things even more into the Dan Brown territory. Ancient swords with magical powers, Caesar, King Arthur and global conspiracies. It all comes together a bit too quickly to have the character development of the previous novels. Still, it’s a damn good thrilling ride with great action pieces and just a bit too much Machiavellian planning to be believable. Still Recommended.

 

Oshenerth

Oshenerth
by Alan Dean Foster (2015)


An epic fantasy that takes place entirely underwater.
Best friends Chachel and Glint, a merson and a cuttlefish, are returning from a shark hunt when they stumble upon an unconscious female demon. Taking her back to their reef community to recover, while they decide what to do with her, they wind up stumbling into a unique friendship, one which will change their lives and community for better as the reef dwellers and the demon together fight to preserve themselves and their way of life in the face of enemies and their blue magic.


Review
The best think about this novel is the world building. The environments, creatures and characters have been well thought out and generally obey known science (with the notable exception of talking fish). So there is plenty of scope for an interesting story. Unfortunately the one told is a rather conventional human-conflict type which pits mersons against crabs.

There is also an over-indulgence in coming up with new words for things we know about. The character names can sometimes be a bit weird, with no scheme or reason for some and just how pronunciation works can be confusing. The worst part is that the main protagonist, Irina does not have much agency, things just happen to her or she becomes swept along with the action.

It’s well written, while reading you become engaged with the story. Only after finishing did I realize that there wasn’t much to it. This is a long book that could benefit from some editing to pick up the pacing and remove some of the numerous characters.

The book ends abruptly, indicating that a sequel may be coming. I won’t be bothering.