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Dragon Weather (Obsidian Chronicles)
Dragon Weather (Obsidian Chronicles)
by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful tale of justice and vengeance, 28 Jan 2003
Despite the name of the book, dragons play surprisingly little
part in this book. The story is really about one man's quest for justice (or is it vengeance?) in an injust world.
Arlian's village of Obsidian is destoyed by a dragon attack when he was just 11, after a bout of "dragon weather" - very hot but overcast days - which woke three dragons from their sleep in the deep caves where they now live.
In the process of the attack, Arlian accidentally swallows a mixture of blood and dragon venom (which usually, but not always, iginites to produce flame) which gives him a magical quality called the dragon's heart - a combination of a powerful charismatic presence, grest health and a 1000-year lifespan.
But he gets little benifit from this at first, since a group of scavengers come upon him - and sell him into slavery in a silver mine. It takes him 7 years to escape, but he vows to get his revenge upon them, especially their leader "Lord Dragon".
When he does escape, he is taken in by a group of brothel-slaves - all of whom have been mutilated (their feet cut off) to prevent them escaping. Disaster strikes, and he is left on the run again in Spring, with the 6 owners of the brothel now on his list for vengeance - 6 powerful lords, including Lord "Dragon".
Arlian eventually makes his fortune and is able to gain enough power, in his new identity as "Lord Obsidian", to confront his foes on equal terms - for Lord "Dragon" and 4 of the others are powerful dragonhearts themselves.
As usual there is a great wealth of detail to Watt-Evans' worldbuilding. The nation of the Lands of Man was until a few centuries ago under the rule of the invincible dragons, and no-one really knows why they left. Almost everybody uses aliases all the time (a hangover from the reign of draconic terror) and a lord is simply anyone who employs free men to work for him, rather than slaves. Real power lies in secret societies - above all others, the Dragon Society.
While rather grim and pessimistic in places ("gritty" as some might put it) I found this a very enthraling story. Towards the end it begins to resemble Scaramouche, with the wronged man challenging each opponent to a duel in turn, but takes a few surprising twists at the end. The book ends with Arlian's human opponents either dead or making a sort of peace with him - leaving him free to start wondering how to take on the dragons, and what secrets are best left untold. The consequences of all this leads to the next book in the trilogy, The Dragon Society. The trilogy (called the Obsidian Chrnonicles by the author) will end with Dragon Venom.
The author Lawrence Watt-Evans is best known for his light-hearted fantasy series The Legends of Ethshar. This is a rather different style of fantasy. There is injustice and violence, and men believe the gods to be dead, with only Fate in charge. The only justice for Arlian is the justice he makes for himself - with a little helping hand from Fate, here and there.


Shadow Of The Lion (Heirs of Alexandria)
Shadow Of The Lion (Heirs of Alexandria)
by MERCEDES LACKEY
Edition: Hardcover

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT read - in quality AND quantity!, 22 Mar 2002
Don't be put off by the HUGE thickness of this book - you won't notice how time passes once you get into it. And for a collaberation, the style is remarkably consistent.
In a parallel world where magic is real, but is fundamentally just a form of prayer, huge political pressure comes to bear on the independant city of Venice. And this is the home of the brothers Marco and Benito Valdosta, last scions of one of the oldest noble houses of Venice, who have been hiding from assassins in the swamps and slums since orphaned as young children, and now almost fully grown. They don't want to get mixed up in the politics that killed their mother, but it seems they have little choice. The Lion of Venice may sleep, but its Shadow is bringing together an unlikely group of heroes. The brothers Valdosta will find their fates caught up with Kat, a smuggler struggling to preserve her own house's reputation (which house just happens to have a vendetta against Valdosta); the reliable canal girl Maria, and her lover, the deadly mercenary Caesaro Aldonte; Manfred, the youngest wastrel nephew of the Holy Roman Emperor, sent incognito among the Knight of the Trinity (a religious order much resented in Italy) into Venice, along with his protector Erik, the tomohawk wielding Icelander who must both protect and reform his royal charge. And then we have Chiano, the marshdwelling mage whose past is lost to him, and his brainwashed former assassin Harrow, and even Petro Dorma, the rising star of Venetian Politics and head of the secret police. All must learn to work to a common goal, if the Lion of Venice is to be awoken in time to hold back the forces of the demon Chernobog. But Chernobog already has agents loose within the city...
This is the first novel in a new 5-part series set in an alternate history in which the christian church, rather than suppressing the knowledge of magic, tolerates it within certain limits. (As one of the authors pointed out when discussing the book, the early church didn't deny the existence of magic, just said that Christian magic was more powerful). The books are all named after Shakespearian quotes: After this will come This Rough Magic, A Mankind Witch, Much Fall of Blood and The Great Doom's Image. Each book will focus on a different group of our heroes. (This book is mostly Marco's and Kat's, while Rough magic will focus on Benito and Maria, and Mankind Witch on Eric and Manfred). This means that this book stands very well on its own, and the others should do the same.
The book is set in 1537-8, over 1000 years after the divergence of our histories, and some of the differences are only hinted at in the text (the combined Viking/Native American nation is a nice touch). Europe is under great tension. The Christian church is divided into two factions - the germanic Pauline tradition, with the familiar intolerance, militant orders and inquisitions that existed in our history at this time (but which also has a very real evil to fight), and the more modern Petrine sect, based on compassion and forgiveness but with a tendency to complacency and relying on the Paulines to hold the demons at bay. The Holy Roman Empire, and the kingdoms of Hungary and Lithuania are in an uneasy balance. This is not helped by the fact that the Lithuanian king Jagellon has been possessed by the demon Chernobog for decades. Now Chernobog has decided to destroy the neutral city-state of Venice, a key to Mediterranian trade, and so precipitate a war between his two rivals, and also setting the two halves of the Church at one anothers' throats. And only our group of ill-prepared youngsters have the potential to awaken the one being in Venice as powerful as any Demon - the Winged Lion of Saint Mark.
A fair part of this book (mostly the early sections about the Valdosta brothers) is taken from Mercedes Lackey's previous work in the Merovingian Nights series, but it soon diverges from the original as other characters are introduced. (According to Eric Flint, 60,000 words from the 80,000 of Mercedes Lackey's original work were included in the final 290,000 word draft.) However the new material is enough to make two decent sized books by itself!
Overall, this is a book I heartily recommend - just make sure you've got lots of room on your bookshelf for the rest when they come out!


Miles, Mystery & Mayhem
Miles, Mystery & Mayhem
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Hardcover

91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two (and a half) books in one., 7 Oct 2001
This is the third unitary edition of the Vorkosigan Saga, containing Cteaganda, Ethan of Athos and Labyrinth (a short story from "Borders of Infinity). The first two unitary editions were Cordelia's Honor (Shards of Honor and Barrayar) and Young Miles (Warrior's Apprentice, Mountains of Mourning (short story) and The Vor Game).
The unitary editions order the stories in internal chronological order (rather than the order in which they were written) and provide an excellent way to read through the Vorkosigan saga. I would recommend starting with Young Miles or Cordelia's Honor first, but the books can be read as stand-alone novels in their own right.


Thrice Bound
Thrice Bound
by Roberta Gellis
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greek myth retold as romance, 7 Oct 2001
This is a prequel/sequel to Roberta Gellis' Bull God (the action of which occurs about three-quarters of the way through the book). In this world of Greek myth, the Olympian "gods" are near-immortal wizards with unique individual magical talents.
This is the tale of Hekate, and how a woman from Asia Minor becomes goddess of the crossroads and witchcraft in the Greek Pantheon. (Technically she's a Titan rather than an Olympian, but the two races are related). In her struggle to escape her powerhungry wizard father, she encounters the Gifted mage Kabairos, trpped in the form of a black dog (one of the symbols of the goddess Hekate; he is also Cerberus, guardian of the gate to the realm of the god Hades, king of the underworld.)
On her travels she encounters various figures from mythology - Medea of Colchis, the young god Dionysus, the nymph Eurydice (future wife of Orpheus) and the Greek pantheon. But she has three magical obligations to which she is bound: to raise Dionysus and see him established as a god; to defeat her father's dark designs; and to free her beloved Kabeiros from his curse.
Gellis combines her detailed mythology with an interesting reexamination of the characters of the mythical figures and an unusual romance. While to fully appreciate the story one should have some knowledge of the legends used as a source it is perfectly enjoyable without such a background.


Master of Atlantis: Poseidon - Expansion Pack (PC)
Master of Atlantis: Poseidon - Expansion Pack (PC)

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sierra does it again, 9 Sep 2001
Zeus was the third of the Sierra citybuilders and definitely the least serious. Its tounge in cheeck humour enlivened the game and its streamlined engine helped beginners to enjoy it while retaining a challenge for the more experienced player. Poseidon is a fitting expansion. The Atlantean city buildings are only slightly different (science instead of culture and a different colour scheme) but the loss of the Panhellenic games makes diplomacy more of a challenge. The game engines main weakness, combat, plays only a minor role in Atalntean adventures, which is an improvement. More monsters, gods and heroes are included - mostly more of the same, but the blessing of Atlas is so useful! - and best of all it comes with a complete adventure editor. While an editor was previously available online, the new version has been given the same polishing as the game, and many minor but helpful improvements have been made.
Overall, it's a great way to extend the replayabilty of a great citybuilder. While they may not have made any major changes, I feel that there were few improvements that could be made to Zeus in the first place. Now if I could only drag myself away from the game enough to get on with my work, I would be over the moon!


Chronicles of Amber: "Nine Princes in Amber", "The Guns of Avalon", "Sign of the Unicorn", "The Hand of Oberon", "The Courts of Chaos" (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
Chronicles of Amber: "Nine Princes in Amber", "The Guns of Avalon", "Sign of the Unicorn", "The Hand of Oberon", "The Courts of Chaos" (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
by Roger Zelazny
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork indeed!, 4 Feb 2001
This is a reprint of the first Chronicles of Amber pentology in a single volume. A second pentology was written, but is by no means as good, and seems to pave the way for more books which the author never lived to write. But this sequence stands on its own.
Zelazny's epic work starts simply enough - a man awakes in hospital with amnesia. He discovers he is registered under a false name, and being drugged on the orders of a sister he cannot remember...
At this point, Zelazny could have turned this into a simple thriller. But nothing is as it seems in this series. Layer after layer of deception or illusion is peeled back in each book - revealing not only the truth of Corwin's car crash, our perceptions of which are turned on their head 3 times, but of successively deeper layers of reality itself. For as our hero Corwin discovers, true reality casts infinite shadows in which everything exists somewhere.
The universe created is infinitely rich, but the story revolves about the machivellian politics of the Royal House of Amber, of which Corwin discovers himself to be a part. These near-immortals can find anything they desire in the infinite Shadows, but are slowly discovering that they are not, after all, omnipotent. At stake in this power-struggle is the fate not just of one world, but all worlds and all realities...
Drawing on Jungian psychology, celtic myths, and a lyrical use of language, there is no way any review of mine can do justice to this. It is one of my 3 personal all-time favourite series. Try it, and be lost to the wonder of the One True City - Amber.


My Brother's Keeper
My Brother's Keeper
by Charles Sheffield
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two minds in a single body - can they survive?, 2 Oct 2000
Lionel Salkind, a world-class pianist, meets his twin brother Leo Foss (a naturalised american CIA agent) only for both of them to sustain fatal injuries in a not-so-accidental helicopter crash. Doctors manage to save Lionel by transplanting half of Leo's brain into his less-damaged body. In consequence, Lionel finds that his dead twin is still alive, buried within his brain. In three months, Leo will be able to communicate directly with Lionel and the outside world - but Leo's enemies don't know which twin survived, and are taking steps to protect themselves, and the mysterious "Belur package" they took from Leo's body...
An interesting premise - all the more so when you consider that everything in the novel is theoretically possible. Lionel is clearly a more conservative character than his James Bond clone brother (who seems to have girlfriends or wives in every corner of the globe), and is desperately trying to make a new life for himself, knowing that his brain damage has almost certainly ruined his playing, while his emotional centres have been replaced by Leo's. And, of course, there is a 70% chance that when his brain and Leo's finally knit together, that he will suffer a fatal stroke.
A gripping biotechno-thriller, with a limping, battered, possibly dying protagonist, I strongly recommend this book


Haven Of Lost Souls: Hawk and Fisher Omnibus 1 (Hawk & Fisher Omnibus)
Haven Of Lost Souls: Hawk and Fisher Omnibus 1 (Hawk & Fisher Omnibus)
by Simon R. Green
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!, 12 Jan 2000
This is a collected version of the first 3 books of the Hawk and Fishere series. If you liked Simon r Green's Blue Moon Rising or Blood and Honour, you'll like this.
Note: The american title for this book is "Swords of Haven"; look to that entry for more reviews.


Swords of Haven: The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher (Hawk & Fisher Omnibus)
Swords of Haven: The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher (Hawk & Fisher Omnibus)
by Simon R. Green
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, 12 Jan 2000
A re-release of the first three books in the Hawk and Fisher series in one volume. Very good value for money.
Note: the UK version is published under the name "Haven of Lost Souls"


The Cycle of Fire
The Cycle of Fire
by Janny Wurts
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her best yet!, 10 Jan 2000
This review is from: The Cycle of Fire (Paperback)
This trilogy was the first time I encountered Janny Wurts, and it hooked me from the start. Many different elements are drawn together, and the shift in perspective between fantasy and science fiction is done well. Inventive and enjoyable.


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