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Mark Chitty (North Wales)

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Yesterday's Kin
Yesterday's Kin
Price: £7.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and interesting, 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: Yesterday's Kin (Kindle Edition)
Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress is the first book I’ve read by the author, mainly because she is primarily published in the US. While in this day and age of e-readers and the seeming availability of pretty much anything you want, that’s not really an excuse on my part. However, after Yesterday’s Kin came to my attention and I read the blurb I knew it was a book that I needed to move to the top of the stack. And I wasn’t disappointed either, Yesterday’s Kin not only hit the right spots, it also added Nancy Kress to an ever-growing list of authors I need to read more from…

Synopsis from the publisher:
Aliens have landed in New York.
A deadly cloud of spores has already infected and killed the inhabitants of two worlds. Now that plague is heading for Earth, and threatens humans and aliens alike. Can either species be trusted to find the cure?
Geneticist Marianne Jenner is immersed in the desperate race to save humanity, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Siblings Elizabeth and Ryan are strident isolationists who agree only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Marianne’s youngest, Noah, is a loner addicted to a drug that constantly changes his identity. But between the four Jenners, the course of human history will be forever altered.
Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent human extinction—and not everyone is willing to wait.

Yesterday’s Kin is a relatively short novel, but one packed with plenty of inventiveness, and more than a few surprising revelations. Because of these it’s quite difficult to discuss much of the finer story elements without venturing deeply into spoiler territory. I’ll try and keep it short and sweet, and avoid too much detail wherever I can.

Focusing on the Jenner family and the effect the arrival of aliens has on them as a group and as individuals, Yesterday’s Kin feels comfortable with a fairly narrow viewpoint, but this is far from the case. Marianne Jenner is the main driving force behind the narrative, and while initially she doesn’t seem to be an integral part to the wider picture, events move along to disprove this initial assumption. Much the same could be said for Noah Jenner, though his is a thread that is interesting in so many ways, particularly his use of the designer drug that changes the personality of the user each time, never repeating.

The alien Denebs are interesting in that their arrival is for one specific purpose: to gain humanity’s help in designing a vaccination for the deadly spore cloud that is heading towards both Earth and their homeworld. With two of their colonies already wiped out by these spores they have a heavily invested interest in helping develop a vaccine, but there is clearly more to their motivations than is first observed.

The revelations that come through as the story develops are interesting and not unexpected. Kress handles them well, not dwelling too long on irrelevant details, nor bringing any implausibility to the tale. Her dealings with the characters are also well done, each of them feeling very real with plenty of depth and motivations.

In short, Yesterday’s Kin was a joy to read. Not only was the prose easily digested, but the scientific speculation and facts behind the story really helped in raising enjoyment. A thoroughly recommended novel.

Jani and the Greater Game (Multiplicity)
Jani and the Greater Game (Multiplicity)
by Eric Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, setting, and action, 20 Aug 2014
Jani and the Greater Game (Multiplicity #1) is Eric Brown’s new novel, a steampunk adventure and departure from his usual sci-fi offerings. As a fan of Brown’s work I approached this novel with some apprehension. Would it be as good as his sci-fi works? Would the change in genre work for me? Would it, ultimately and simply, be a good novel? The answer isn’t quite as simple as a yes or no…

The full synopsis from the publisher:
It’s 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist – and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite – discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russian and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology… This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game.
Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chatterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever.
Jani and The Greater Game is the first book in a rip-roaring, spice-laden, steampunk action adventure series set in an exotic India and featuring a feisty heroine who subverts all the norms.

Set in the early part of last century, Jani and the Greater Game has a strong focus on India and the British presence there. The political situation is not at its best, and with Annapurnite playing such a motivating factor for all countries and governments involved, it adds an additional pressure to the setting. However, despite this larger political game going on in the background, this is a novel about characters.

Jani is our protagonist, and through whose eyes we see most of the story. She’s strong and independent, despite being the daughter of a powerful-yet-respected man. Her time spent living between England and India show us someone that can think along lines that others, especially those so heavily involved in events, can’t. However, given her age she is also naïve in matters, and often something that appears obvious can pass her by. It makes her interesting and flawed, and Brown once again does a sterling job at created such a deep and layered character.

As for the other people we meet along the journey – they are certainly a varied bunch. We have Alfie, a British military officer who is tasked with tracking down Jani after events early in the novel; Anand, a boy of Jani’s age who has grown up working for her father after being rescued from the street, but has gone on to learn many things; Durga Das, a high priest whose national pride puts him at odds with all who want to rule India, and also a man with an old secret that knows more of Annapurnite than some would be happy about. Add in some spies and assassins that are after Jani, and you’ve got a varied cast. Not all have the depth to them that I would have hoped, but the more prominent ones really do shine and bring much to the story.

The story itself is an all-out adventure romp. Jani and the Greater Game starts as it means to go on and doesn’t let up until the final page is turned. While set in a distinctly steampunk era, there are hints of the sci-fi that Brown is so well known for leaking through. The contraptions and inventions seen throughout are described in stunning detail and fully realised, but there is the feeling that they’re not fully steampunk. It’s difficult to go into more detail without wandering into the realm of spoilers, but suffice to say that it all works within the setting Brown has created.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of steampunk, and it’s this preference that meant Jani and the Greater Game didn’t work for me quite as much as I’d hoped. The characters are solid, the setting vividly described and realised in great detail, and the story roars along at a pace to leave you breathless. But there is that little something that just doesn’t feel right, and my love of Brown’s sci-fi novels plays a large role in this. It’s just one of those things and, as they say, different strokes for different folks

Price: £2.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, excellent execution, 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: UR (Kindle Edition)
Ur by Stephen King is a short novella, released in 2009 and coming in at just over 20,000 words. Dealing with a very interesting concept – an e-reader capable of multi-dimensional and precognitive searching – King not only manages to give you a plot device you’d (probably) kill for, but does so in such a way that will leave you breathless and very much wanting more.

When old-school English teacher Wesley Smith decides to finally get with the times and orders a kindle, little does he know that what he receives is not just your run-of-the-mill handy device to read his favourite books on, but one that can search across dimensions for novels that authors haven’t written in ours. It’s a staggering discovery, and one that he quickly investigates. Add in the ability to search news stories in the millions of other realities, with some differing greatly from ours, he starts to think himself crazy…

It’s a simple premise, but one that instantly hooked me and dragged me in. It’s not difficult for any bibliophile to tell you that they wished their favourite author had written another novel with certain characters, or re-used a setting for a different story. Hell, that their favourite author had written something that they hadn’t read. Like I said, simple – but very effective.

Of course, King doesn’t stop at this, and as is his M.O., he has very well defined and realised characters telling us this story. Wesley has more to him than just a teacher stuck in his ways with very specific ideas of how the world should work in dealing with reading. There is the broken relationship that drives him, the friendly conversations that come naturally, and his desire to do what is right. It all adds up to a story that passes by way too quickly than should be allowed.

Written before 11/22/63 (perhaps my favourite King novel), Ur clearly shows some of the early ideas put forth in that novel, and this is perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. Definitely recommended for a quick and enjoyable read.

On a final note – fans of King’s Dark Tower books will find a few small aspects of Ur rather familiar…

Terra's World (Terra 2)
Terra's World (Terra 2)
by Mitch Benn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great follow on from Terra, 18 July 2014
Terra’s World (Terra #2) is Mitch Benn’s follow up to his hugely enjoyable debut, Terra. Still focusing on the titular character of Terra, Terra’s World ups the stakes while still keeping everything that made the first novel so special.

A couple of years have passed since Terra returned to Earth to live with her biological parents, but all is not as peaceful as she’d have hoped. With attempts on her life, the Bradbury family have gone into hiding, changing names and moving from place to place when the need arises. That is until another alien assassin is sent her way, but this time she’s ready and gets the upper hand – and a spaceship.

After receiving no communication from Lbbp, the alien who raised her as his own, in over a year, Terra now has the means to return to Fnrr. However, events on Fnrr have taken a change for the worse, and with Terra’s arrival the situation becomes even graver. An ancient and deadly legend – the Black Planet – is now on course for Fnrr, stories of which tell of how it leaves planets dead in its wake. Now Terra, Billy and her friends must work together before Fnrr becomes another victim…

I read the first book in this series, Terra, earlier this year and I loved it. It had this feeling about it that just made me smile. Mitch Benn has great prose, and his storytelling skills are superb. Not only that, but Terra was a fun story, and one with so much heart. So picking up Terra’s World was a no-brainer the moment I knew it was due out.

Much like its predecessor, Terra’s World is an easy read, but this time it’s pitched at a slightly older audience than the first – certainly the opening chapters suggest this. From there on out it really ups the ante, raising the stakes for all involved, but doing so with really interesting characters and such a great story.

The events taking place on Fnrr are a direct result of Terra’s influence on the planet, so seeing how it’s dealt with, and how Terra herself manages the situation, is really what this book is about. Of course, there isn’t just the one problem facing Fnrr, and this allows Benn to expand the story and look beyond planetary constraints. It all works very well, with plenty of action and adventure, as well as moments of serious contemplation. Terra’s World has a little bit of everything.

It’s really difficult to put into words how much fun Terra’s World is. Neil Gaiman said that Terra reminded him of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Roald Dahl – a combination I happily and whole-heartedly agree with. While aimed at a younger crowd, Terra’s World is still a highly enjoyable novel, and this is a series that I would recommend without hesitation. Great stuff – and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next instalment!

The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara
The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara
Price: £10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and enjoyable, but a little too simplistic, 10 July 2014
The High Druid’s Blade (The Defenders of Shannara #1) is the new novel from acclaimed fantasy author Terry Brooks, and a new entry in his best-selling world of Shannara. A stand-alone novel in a themed series, The High Druid’s Blade is marketed as both a return to a familiar setting for fans, and an ideal starting point for those new to his works – like me. With cover quotes from authors such as Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V Brett, and Brent Weeks, I felt rather ashamed that I am only now venturing into Shannara to see what Brooks has to offer…

As a descendant from the Leah and Ohmsfords bloodlines, both royalty and magic are in Paxon Leah’s blood, though neither are part of his relatively rural life as a merchant. After his sister is abducted, Paxon gives chase and shooses to take with him an old sword handed down through the generations, one with legends surrounding its use. Tracking down the kidnapper Arcannen, the blade in Paxon’s possession comes to life with an ancient magic, assisting Paxon and setting him on a new path. With Druid training, Paxon learns much of the old ways and the use of magic, honing his skills to train as protector of the Druids. But Arcannen has not finished with Paxon, and he’s determined to get his hands on the sword at any cost…

One of the first things you’re hit with in The High Druid’s Blade is a history infodump. We learn the history of the Leahs and the Ohmsfords, with a little about our protagonist Paxon and his current situation. It’s not a great start, and this form of explanation-heavy text is more common in the first half of the novel than is ideally welcome. Not only do we have to read through extended sections, the narrative doesn’t move along at any sort of steady rate. The early chapters can cover weeks and months of time, giving detail on events and what Paxon is doing, but not letting us invest in the story or characters.

However, while the above is a common trait during the first half of The High Druid’s Blade, once all the setting up and explanations are done we’re left with a thoroughly readable and exciting second half. The characters come into their own, and the finer nuances of the plot really start to shine through: the pages can’t turn quickly enough.

The High Druid’s Blade is a relatively simple fantasy story with only a couple of small detours into something more substantial, which is much less than I expected. In truth, The High Druid’s Blade reads in a more YA vein than a typical epic fantasy, with the forces of good and bad relatively clear cut without much grey areas. I’m not sure if this is common with Brooks’ other novels, or if it’s simply a change in style for this stand-alone tale.

It’s obvious from the early pages of The High Druid’s Blade that this is a world rich in history, and one which Terry Brooks is intimately familiar with. Add to that his easy prose and you’ve got a novel that is enviably readable. However, not everything here hits the right notes. The High Druid’s Blade is an easy and enjoyable read, not too taxing, and as an entry point for Shannara I felt completely comfortable in the world despite the mentioning of events that clearly relate to previous novels. Will I read more of this rich setting? The jury’s out on that, but it’s not off the table by any means.

Mr Mercedes
Mr Mercedes
Price: £7.47

5.0 out of 5 stars A quick and thrilling read!, 10 July 2014
This review is from: Mr Mercedes (Kindle Edition)
As you may know, Mr Mercedes is the new book by one of the most popular and well-known authors on the planet, Stephen King. Mr Mercedes follows retired detective Bill Hodges as he attempts to track down a mass-murderer that has seemingly got away with his crime. This novel is a thriller through-and-through, taking the ex-detective trope and spinning it with a story that just won’t let up. Here’s another King novel that really does tick all the boxes.

In the early hours of a foggy April morning hundreds of job seekers are queuing at a local job fair in the hopes of employment. As they wait, a grey Mercedes arrives and proceeds to drive straight into the crowd, killing eight and injuring many others. With the driver wearing a clown mask, nobody can identify him, and the case is left open with no leads. Bill Hodges, the lead detective on the case before retirement, receives a letter from the perpetrator mocking and taunting him. Not prepared to simply let it be, Hodges starts looking into the case again by himself, leaving the police out of it and following the new leads that the letter brings up. While he gains momentum, Brady Hartsfield, the perp in question, starts making further plans of his own. The question we’re left with is simple: will Bill Hodges be able to solve the case of Mr Mercedes?

Mr Mercedes is the type of novel that is hard to put down, not only because King does a good job at crafting an interesting story, but also because he makes the characters those that you care about. Bill Hodges is our protagonist, an ex-detective that is missing his work. He’s depressed and takes out his gun far too often with the intention of suicide. It’s only the arrival of the letter that changes his mood, giving him focus once again, and a determination that borders on obsessive. His investigations bring out his character well, showing that despite his wish to stick to the letter of the law, some concessions can be made in stretching legality. He’s complex and interesting, a typical good guy with a score to settle.

On the other hand is Brady Hartsfield, the titular Mr Mercedes, a person who projects the right face to the world, but has murkier and disturbing thoughts behind closed doors. Hartsfield, despite how easy it is to despise him, is probably the most interesting characters present in Mr Mercedes. His history and mental instability makes him a fascinating read, just that right amount of intelligence mixed with psychosis. His methods and plans are methodical, yet he has a deeper rage that really makes things interesting.

The plot to Mr Mercedes isn’t much more complex than good guy going after bad guy, but King tells the tale in such a way that the need to read more, to find out a few more small details, is unrelenting. There are twists and turns as the novel unfolds, some expected, while others come out of nowhere and catch you off guard.

It’s difficult to compare Mr Mercedes to other King novels (at least the ones I’ve read), with perhaps the exception of The Colorado Kid due to its topic and nature. As a real-world crime thriller, Mr Mercedes fits the mould perfectly, with the prose and structure clearly familiar to anyone who has read anything by him. I’ve recently read a selection of King’s novels from across his career, almost all of which contain some otherworldly elements, but the core of King’s novels is there throughout: character. Mr Mercedes is no different – it’s a quick and thrilling read, delivering all that could be asked for, and doing so in style, while continuing King’s recent run of great novels. I eagerly anticipate his next offering, whichever genre it is!

The Lost Fleet Beyond the Frontier Steadfast (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier Book 4)
The Lost Fleet Beyond the Frontier Steadfast (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier Book 4)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needlessly prolonged - a dissapointment, 10 July 2014
Steadfast (Beyond the Frontier #4) is the latest instalment in the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell, the pen name of John G Hemry. This is the tenth direct sequel focusing on John ‘Black Jack’ Geary , while Campbell has also written a side-series called the Lost Stars, so far consisting of two novels with a third to come later this year. In short, if you’ve not read any of the previous novels then this is not the place to start. At all. If, however, you have been following the exploits of Geary then you’ll know exactly what to expect within the pages of Steadfast.

After the events of Guardian, Geary and his fleet are touring Earth before making preparations to leave Sol with the alien Dancers. But when two of his lieutenants go missing the fleet track them down only to be faced with a problem none of them expected: having to make a rescue from the strictly off-limits moon of Europa. Back in Alliance space, Geary is ordered to the edges of Alliance territory to settle refugee issues from a Syndic system. Once there he discovers that information that the Alliance has been presenting isn’t quite what it seems, and that’s only the start of his troubles…

Steadfast was both the novel I was expecting, and the novel I wasn’t. Let me tackle the first point. Quite simply, Steadfast is a Lost Fleet novel. There are no major differences to the storytelling, to the characters, to the setting. It is what it is, and let’s be honest, if you’re going to read Steadfast you know that you’ll enjoy the way Campbell tells the tale.

As for what I wasn’t expecting… Well, Steadfast does almost nothing of significance for, perhaps, 90% of the novel. It was very much along the lines of same stuff, different day. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when the foundation Campbell has laid over the previous novels is so varied, and the possibilities countless, it’s a shame that this one meanders along, essentially going from A to B and doing nothing but setting up the BIG REVEAL.

In Steadfast situations arise and Geary deals with them as he usually does, by thinking outside the box. This is the case with Europa, the refugee situation, his orders, and the general state of his fleet. It’s all very samey, more so that I would like from an ongoing series without massive changes.

However, there was a one particular aspect that I was very pleased to see introduced. From the first book, Dauntless, all the way through to Guardian, Geary has spent his entire commanding career on his flagship, Dauntless, with Captain Desjani – his wife – and other recurring characters such as the unflappable Senator Rionne. No longer. His orders detach Geary and part his fleet to the Alliance border, but not with Dauntless. Instead his flagship is Inspire captained by another of his close friends, Duellos. This helps to shake up the familiar formula, and lets the reader see how Geary deals with situations without his trusted Captain Desjani.

The really interesting and game-changing plot points only came in towards the very end of Steadfast. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that this book seemed like a stop gap while Campbell figured out how to introduce it properly, when it really could have been introduced much earlier on. After all, the set-up is there in previous novels and it wouldn’t have felt rushed.

Steadfast is, ultimately, a disappointment. It’s not badly written, it’s not a poor story, but it does feel needlessly prolonged. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it because, after nine previous volumes, I like the characters and the setting – I just wish it had more urgency. Despite my disappointment in Steadfast, this is a series that has some serious potential from here on out, and I will be greatly anticipating the release of the next volume.

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas Book 1)
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas Book 1)
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasurable and enjoyable read, 10 July 2014
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris is her brand new novel, the first of a new series, set in the very small town of Midnight, Texas. While known mainly for her Sookie Stackhouse novels, from which the series True Blood was adapted, she’s written over 30 novels, and (from what I understand) a few of Midnight Crossroad’s cast of characters are from some of these previous novels. So, while this may cater to fans of her work, how does it read to someone completely new? The answer is simple – rather well.

Manfred Bernardo is the new guy in Midnight, moving into his own place in the quiet town in order to continue his private work. His landlord, Bobo, runs the pawn shop and also has two other tenants living in the flats: Olivia, a beautiful and secretive person, and Lemuel, Midnight’s resident creature of the night. Fiji is the witch; Joe and Chuy the owners of the antique gallery and nail salon; Madonna and her husband Teacher, along with their new-born baby are the proprietors of the local diner; while the Lovell family – Shawn, his daughter Creek, and son Connor – run the gas station. The final member of the community is the Rev who runs the local Chapel and Pet Cemetery. All-in all they are a very diverse cast, each bringing something different to the table.

While the above may seem a little full-on to start with, Harris spends plenty of time setting the scene and introducing the characters. We learn about Manfred and his job – online psychic – while having questions about him linger as the plot progresses, Bobo and his broken heart after his love left him in the recent past, while we learn more about Fiji and her ways, and her unspoken love for Bobo. We also find out more about Midnight itself, and just how everyone seems to be keeping secrets. It all builds up a complete picture and is a very easy place to get acquainted with.

Harris, for her part, is a storyteller who is able to get you to invest and enjoy the tale she is weaving. It may not rocket along at a super quick pace, but that’s one of the things about Midnight Crossroad that I enjoyed so much. It gave me time to savour the setting, the characters, and allowed me to start building ideas about the story in my mind, letting me hope I’ve got things worked out, and then throwing me off track with surprises as the novel nears its end.

At its heart Midnight Crossroad is a murder mystery, but done in such a way that begs for more to be explored about the characters and setting. It’s a pleasurable and enjoyable read, with Harris’ prose making the experience easy and simple. As a newcomer to her work I can safely say I’ll be back for more, and to see just what else is in store for Midnight, Texas.

Peacemaker (The Peacemaker Series Book 1)
Peacemaker (The Peacemaker Series Book 1)
Price: £4.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Quickly paced and entertaining, 10 July 2014
Peacemaker (Peacemaker #1) is Marianne de Pierres’ new novel out from Angry Robot Books. With a combined setting of both future Australian mega-city and Wild West style landscape expanse, Peacemaker dips its toes into multiple genres. With such a unique and interesting setting to play with the question of whether this is too much for the story is present from the offset. However, de Pierres manages to keep everything in check while delivering a quick and action packed story.

Virgin Jackson is a ranger in Birrimun Park, the last natural landscape on the planet, her days taken up with the general maintenance of such a large reserve. With public access limited and strict controls in place to monitor the park, it comes as somewhat of a shock to Jackson when she walks into a gunfight in the park, one with people who should not – cannot – be there. Ending up embroiled in a murder investigation, one which paints her firmly as the chief suspect, is not her typical day, and with no evidence to corroborate her side of the story the situation starts to get messy.

With the arrival of Marshall Nate Sixkiller, a stoic and somewhat reserved American cowboy, and the reappearance of her childhood imaginary companion, the eagle Aquila, Jackson has more on her hands than she bargains for. Following up with her own investigation into the murder she discovers even more strange occurrences within Birrimun Park, and also in the wider city, all of which leads her to places and people on the murky edge of society.

My first impression of Peacemaker was, quite simply, cool. The setting – a Wild West style landscape set in the future – cried out to me as somewhere that could tell some very interesting stories. While the sci-fi side of the coin is perhaps not quite as prevalent as I would have hoped, it really didn’t matter. There were touches here and there to remind you that this was the future, but it was the western elements that really enriched the story.

One of the reasons that Peacemaker works so well is its main character, Virgin Jackson. The story is told through her eyes, dealing with situations as they arise, viewing – and judging – other people based on her values and opinions, and generally driving the narrative without much pause. There isn’t much let up in the pacing because of this, and it works that Virgin is determined and strong willed to keep the story going. I liked her because of her strengths as well as her flaws. She is judgmental, and the biggest issue this causes is the way she views Nate Sixkiller. She doesn’t give him an inch, and it feels like she’s fighting against him the whole time despite his actions. Having two very strong characters could have been an issue, but it isn’t and they do complement each other – to an extent. However, despite how much I enjoyed Sixkiller’s character and the time he’s present on the page, Peacemaker is very much about Virgin Jackson.

There are also mystic elements to Peacemaker, particularly in Virgin’s spirit pet, Aquila. When she turns up it sets many aspects of the story into motion, and Virgin’s understanding of why and how she is there is never firm. Something that is clear from the outset is that Sixkiller is a font of knowledge, but he rarely offers opinions, and Virgin doesn’t trust him to delve and ask questions. When this starts to resolve later in the novel it opens up even more questions about Virgin, Sixkiller, and the world in general.

Being quickly paced and entertaining, Peacemaker is successful, if slightly uneven, in its delivery. Enough questions are raised early on to keep the pages turning, and the world de Pierres has created is deep and rich, begging for further exploration. I, for one, look forward to the next novel in the series, especially after the revelations in the closing pages…

Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV
Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV
by Eric Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and intelligent, 10 July 2014
Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV (Telemass Quartet #1) is Eric Brown’s new novella and is set in a future history that he’s regularly used over the course of his career – the Telemass universe. Standing at just shy of 80 pages, Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV is a short and quick read that delivers much of what I enjoy about Brown’s work and, as always, leaves me wanting more.

Matt Hendrick is a former detective from Earth, now chasing his daughter who has been taken by his ex-wife and her lover. This quest leads him to Avoeli, a planet in the Fomalhaut system. Originally settled by Madagascan natives, the settlers now share the planet with its native alien species. When Tiana Tandra makes his acquaintance and mentions her lover has gone missing, Matt looks further into the situation and realises that there are strange events occurring on Avoeli.

Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV is a typical Eric Brown story. For those that have read his work in the past this needs no explanation, but for those that haven’t… well, where to start? Brown tells a compelling tale in a rich and vivid setting, focusing on character and motivations more than worldbuilding. This isn’t to say that he skimps on that aspect, but with a limited page count he balances it all nicely.

As always, Brown has brought the characters to life, making them interesting beyond their current situation. Matt Hendrick is the focal point – and will be for the rest of the novellas in this quartet – and he has an interesting past which gives him strong motivations, while his relationship with Tiana Tandra adds further depth of character.

In short, Famadihana on Fomalhaut IV is an enjoyable and intelligent story suitable for both fans of Brown and those yet to read his work. I expect the following novels in this quartet to build on this strong start and deliver a great series

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