Suramya's Book Review Cafe

April 30, 2010

Storm Rising (Valdemar: Mage Storm Book 02) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:16 pm


Storm Rising (Valdemar: Mage Storm Book 02)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

Storm Rising is the second book in the Mage Storm Trilogy.

The dire threat of war with the powerful, sorcerous, Eastern Empire has forced the kingdom of Valdemar into an uneasy coalition with its traditional enemy, the neighboring kingdom of Karse.

But now, mysterious mage-storms are wreaking havoc on both Valdemar and Karse, plaguing these lands not only with disastrous earthquakes, monsoons, and ice storms, but also with venomous magical constructs- terrifying creatures out of nightmare.

As Valdemar’s Herald and Karse’s Sun-Priests struggle to marshal their combined magical resources to protect their realms from these devastating, spell-fueled onslaughts, the still fragile alliance between these long-hostile lands begins to fray. Only the personal intervention of Solaris, the High Priestess and ruler of Karse, can defuse what is rapidly becoming a dangerously explosive situation.

But Solaris also confirms the worst fears of the Heralds- that these storms come from a mysterious, unknown source. And unless Valdemar and Karse can locate and destroy the elusive and enigmatic cause of these storms, they will see their entire world demolished in a final magical holocaust.

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Review:Storm Rising is the second book in the Mage Storms trilogy and continues the story from where the previous book ended. Karal is now the official envoy from Karse in Valdemar and he is facing a lot of opposition from other members of the council thanks to his youth.

A lot of members of the council are under the impression that the breakwater created in the previous book is a permanent solution for the Mage storms and are not happy when told otherwise.

An’desha comes to terms with his memories and realizes that he is not the same person as Falconsbane which causes a rift between him and Firesong. Who feels that he is being neglected by the rest of the characters.

A temporary truce is declared between the Imperial soldiers in Hardorn and the Alliance and between them they manage to create another stopgap measure for the storms.

The book focuses a bit more on the emotional and physiological aspects of the situations the characters deal with instead of just plain tactical aspects. But it doesn’t get to the point where you just want to put a character out of his/her misery.

Final Recommendation: A great read.

April 29, 2010

Storm Warning (Valdemar: Mage Storms Book 01) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:12 pm


Storm Warning (Valdemar: Mage Storms Book 01)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

Storm Warning is the first book in the Mage Storm Trilogy.

Karse and Valdemar have long been enemy kingdoms- their peoples filled with mutal prejudice and mistrust. Only the vile deeds perpetrated on both kingdoms by Ancar of Hardorn, and the subsequent emergence of the armies of Eastern Empire in the wake of his defeat, have forced these two so-different lands into an uneasy alliance.

For the Eastern Empire, which has long been isolated and shrouded in mystery, is ruled by a monarch whose magical tactics may be beyond any sorcery known to the Western kingdoms.

Forced to combat this dire foe, not only must traditional enemies unite, but the Companions may, at last, have to reveal secrets which they have kept hidden for centuries… even from their beloved Heralds.

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Review:Storm Warning is the first book in the Mage storms trilogy and it picks up the story from where the Mage Winds trilogy ended.

It gives us our first look into the Empire of the East that Baron Valdemar had fled from before he founded Valdemar at its current location. The empire was founded by Mercenaries fighting in the Mage wars against Ma’ar. Actually by this time almost all of the various people and countries introduced to us in the series have been shown to have been part of either Ma’ar or Urtho who fought against each other in the Mage wars. Hints are given about the war in the various histories remembered by each of the people and the gryphon’s keep mentioning Skandranon (the Black Gryphon) who was a soldier and friend of Urtho.

Parts of the book did seem a bit long especially the portions where An’desha was going through a period of self-doubt and pity. I never really liked the tragic hero character that is so popular in certain kinds of books so when it was used in this book I didn’t like it much, but thankfully it wasn’t dragged out much and it was actually relevant to the storyline so it wasn’t too bad.

A couple of new characters were introduced and some secrets about the Companions were revealed along with certain new abilities in them. It was a fun read and sets the stage for the next book in the series and the series after that.

Final Recommendation: A great read. Highly recommended.

April 28, 2010

The Cult of Osiris (Nina Wilde series Book 05) by Andy McDermott

Filed under: Thriller — Suramya Tomar @ 4:10 pm


The Cult of Osiris (Nina Wilde series Book 05)
by Andy McDermott

Description:

In Andy McDermott’s brilliant new novel, Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase are on the hunt for the lost pyramid of Osiris…

The incredible secret of the Great Sphinx of Egypt is about to be revealed. An archaeological dig is preparing to open the Hall of Records, a repository of ancient knowledge hidden beneath the enigmatic statue. But on the night of the unveiling student Macy Sharif makes a shocking discovery: a religious cult already raiding the Hall of Records to find the location of the mythical Pyramid of Osiris. Framed by corrupt officials, she goes on the run, trying to reach the only people who can save her before she is silenced — permanently. Discredited, jobless and broke, archaeologist Nina Wilde and ex-SAS soldier Eddie Chase have problems of their own — until Macy’s plea for help sends them on a deadly quest across the globe as they try to reach the mysterious pyramid before Khalid Osir, the charismatic leader of the OsirianTemple. But is the cult’s motive purely greed… or something more sinister?

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Review:The Cult of Osiris is the latest book in the Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase series. The book picks up a few months after the last book. By this time Nina has been discredited in the entire archeological community as a crackpot thanks to her claim that she had found Eden.

So she is out of a job and is completely depressed when she gets a call from a graduate student (Macy) who was part of an archeological dig in Egypt and has stumbled on a clue to find the tomb of Osiris. Soon after she, Eddie and Macy are chasing clues around the world as people try to kill them.

The book is quite fast paced and reads somewhat like an Indiana Jones novel, though McDermott does do a good job explaining the religion of Osiris. The main characters in the book are pretty well developed but the supporting cast is quite two dimensional which is unfortunate. The villain in the story is the standard one ‘ wants to ‘rule the world and make lots of money while at it’. There were a couple of twists in the book that even though were expected made it a good read.

Although, I think that the author should start thinking about other kinds of books because I don’t think he can write too many additional books in this series without getting repetitive in the storylines. I mean how many more times can Nina and Eddie save the world from a disaster caused by ancient artifacts?

Final Recommendation: A decent read. Don’t need to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one but they would give a broader understanding on the world the book is based in.

April 27, 2010

Winds of Fury (Valdemar: Mage Winds Book 03) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:07 pm


Winds of Fury (Valdemar: Mage Winds Book 03)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

Winds of Fury is the third book in the Mage Winds Trilogy.

Valdemar is once again in peril, threatened by Ancar of Hardorn, who has long sought to seize control of the kingdom by any means at his command. Yet this time Ancar may well achieve his goal, for by harnessing the power of Mornelithe Falconsbane, the Dark Adept, he has set into motion a magical strike against Valdemar the like of which hasn’t been attempted in more than five hundred years- not since Vanyel, the last Herald-Mage, shielded the kingdom from attack by the deadliest of sorceries.

And with Valdemar’s ancient spell-generated protections finally breaking down, Queen Selenay, Herald-Princess Elspeth, and their people could soon be left defenseless against an enemy armed with spells no one in Valdemar has the knowledge to withstand. But as the long dormant magic of Valdemar begins to awaken, Elspeth finds that she too has a mysterious ally- a powerful spirit from the long-forgotten past….

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Review:Winds of Fury is the last and final book in the Mage Winds Trilogy and covers the return of Elspeth along with other allies to Valdemar to train the newly recognized Herald-Mages in the use of magic and defend the kingdom against Ancar.

Through a lucky (for Ancar) accident Falconsbane ends up in Ancar’s custody from his prison in the Void and since Falconsbane’s mental defenses were down at the time Ancar set a coercion spell on him to force him to help Ancar against all his enemies and some of his erstwhile allies.

In this book the focus is on Valdemar and Hardorn with a few unexpected visits from ancient allies. There is not a lot of personal development / changes in the lives of the major characters from the previous books in the trilogy but the new characters introduced have their own story and some of them do undergo a lot of changes and upheavals. A lot of points not explained in the previous books are explained here and the book sets the stage for the next trilogy in the series while ending this one concisely and gives the author the opportunity to introduce a whole new set of characters and story lines in later books.

Final recommendation: A great read.

April 26, 2010

Winds of Change (Valdemar: Mage Winds Book 02) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 4:04 pm


Winds of Change (Valdemar: Mage Winds Book 02)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

Winds of Change is the second book in the Mage Winds Trilogy.

None but the Companions remember the long-ago age when high magic was lost to Valdemar as the last Herald-Mage gave his life to protect his kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries. But now the protective barrier set so long ago over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperiled by the dark magic of Ancar of Hardorn, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.

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Review:Winds of Change is the second book in the Mage Winds trilogy. It picks up just after the first book ends. Elspeth, heir to the throne of Valdemar, has been adopted in the Clan of k’Sheyna and is training her mage gift under Darkwind k’Sheyna.

Most of the book covers the life in the vales with little focus on what’s happening in Valdemar at the same time. During the course of the book Elspeth is trained and the Clan finally sends out a request for help in dealing with the rouge Heartstone. While the Adepts of the clan along with Healing Adept Firesong deal with the Heartstone, Mornelithe Falconsbane who the clan assumed to have died in the previous book is revealed as being still alive and still plotting against the clan to gain the power stored in the heartstone.

The drops a lot of hints and has explanations about various items that have been hinted at in the previous books like how Need became a sword and how she defeated the mage that had attacked her temple and how Tayledras gained the ability to cleanse an area from magic.

The descriptions of Companions and the bond birds shows Lackey’s familiarity with horses and birds of prey. The characters are mostly quite well defined and even the interpersonal issues between the characters are covered in detail without making them too detailed or into a caricature of themselves.

Final Recommendation: Awesome read. This is a book that I have read multiple times and have enjoyed it each time.

April 25, 2010

A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 04) by David Weber

Filed under: Science Fiction — Suramya Tomar @ 11:51 pm


A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 04)
by David Weber

Description:

Young Cayleb Ahrmahk has accomplished things few people could even dream of. Not yet even thirty years old, he’s won the most crushing naval victories in human history. He’s smashed a hostile alliance of no less than five princedoms and won the hand of the beautiful young Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm. Cayleb and Sharleyan have created the Charisian Empire, the greatest naval power in the history of Safehold, and they’ve turned Charis into a place of refuge for all who treasure freedom.

Their success may prove short-lived. The Church of God Awaiting, which controls most of Safehold, has decreed their destruction. Mother Church’s entire purpose is to prevent the very things to which Charis is committed. Since the first attempt to crush the heretics failed, the Church has no choice but to adopt some of the hated Charisian innovations for themselves. Soon a mighty fleet will sail against Cayleb, destroying everything in its path.

But there are still matters about which the Church knows nothing, including Cayleb and Sharleyan’s adviser, friend, and guardian’ the mystic warrior-monk named Merlin Athrawes. Merlin knows all about battles against impossible odds, because he is in fact the cybernetic avatar of a young woman named Nimue Alban, who died a thousand years before. As Nimue, Merlin saw the entire Terran Federation go down in fire and slaughter at the hands of a foe it could not defeat. He knows that Safehold is the last human planet in existence, and that the stasis the Church was created to enforce will be the human race’s death sentence if it is allowed to stand.

The juggernaut is rumbling down on Charis, but Merlin Athrawes and a handful of extraordinary human beings stand in its path. The Church is about to discover just how potent the power of human freedom truly is.

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Review:The 4th book in the Safehold series continues the tale of Charis’ war with the Mother Church. Now that the initial quick battles are done both sides settle down for a long war with each other and set about preparing for it.

There are a lot of naval battles in the book and Weber shows his expertise in sailing in his depictions of naval battles. Although all the sailing terms does get a bit confusing for someone who doesn’t know a lot about sailing (like me) but if you know sailing then the battles will sound very realistic to you. I personaly ended up skimming through some of the longer battle sequences where a lot of technical terms were thrown around but that’s just me.

A couple of things irritated/bugged me about the book/series, they are mostly minor things still…

In the book they call a week Five-days instead of a week. Once or twice is ok but when you keep seeing it over and over especially when you are expecting to read ‘week’ it gets annoying. e.g. They would say something like: ‘It will take us about a month to do this or 8 five-days at the worst’. More than anything else it jars you out of the narrative. There is not a lot Weber can do in this series as the world is set but its something he should keep in mind for the next series.

The other issue I have is his tendency to switch between the name and title of a person in the same narrative. i.e. In the first line of a paragraph he would use the title of a person (like Rock Point) to adress them and a couple of lines later would address then with their first name or last name. Its understandable when a character uses a first name but when its done as part of the narrative it gets confusing. This is a trend I have seen in most of his novels including the Harrington series.

The book does a great job of going over previous events when needed so I didn’t have to go back to the previous books to figure out what happened when. Which is a rare trait in authors. I love the way he explains the finer points of a particular issue or a theorem by making the characters explain it to each other or in a flashback without sounding forced or stilted.

Final recommendation: A great novel. Can’t wait for the next book in the series.

April 24, 2010

Winds of Fate (Valdemar: Mage Winds Book 01) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:48 pm


Winds of Fate (Valdemar: Mage Winds Book 01)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

Winds of Fate is the first book in the Mage Winds Trilogy.

High Magic has been lost to Valdemar centuries ago when the last Herald-Mage gave his life to save the kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries. Yet now the realm is at risk again. And Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, must take up the challenge, abandoning her home to find a mentor who can awaken her untrained mage abilities. But others, too, are being caught up in a war against sorcerous evil.

The Tayledras scout Darkwind is the first to stumble across the menace creeping forth from the “Uncleansed Lands.” And as sorcery begins to take its toll, Darkwind may be forced to call upon powers he has sworn never to use again if he and his people are to survive an enemy able to wreak greater devastation with spells of destruction than with swords….

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Review:The first book the the Mage Winds Trilogy picks up the story of Valdemar a couple of after the events in the ‘Arrow’s of the Queen’ Trilogy and ‘By The Sword’. By this time Valdemar’s war with Hardon is at a standstill with both sides prepared for a long seige. Ancar is busy building up an army of mages and since the magical protection over Valdemar was weakning quickly the Heir to the throne ‘Elspeth’ sets out to find a mage willing to come to Valdemar and teach any Heralds with Mage gift, during the journey she finds out that she has mage potential and needs to be trained immediately. On the other side of the world Darkwind’s clan is under seige and they don’t have enough strength to resist for long even though their elder council still refuses to accept this.

The book is a great read, a little bit darker than the usual Valdemar novels but not very dark. All the characters in the book are well defined and their motivations actually make sense. Elspeth and Darkwind are the primary characters in it and the author focuses on their point of view for the most part.

This book is the first one after the books in the ‘Last Herald Mage’ trilogy where the legendary Hawk brothers are a major player, we were given a brief hint about the hawk-brothers in a couple of previous books but never in any detail. This one finally makes up for this lack by telling us the story of their creation along with the Shin’a’in by the Starry Eyed.

It is a light read in the sense that there are no long and very complicated plotlines to worry about, there are a few major characters and they are easy to remember and differenciate between unlike a few other books.

Final Recommendation: A great read.

April 23, 2010

Mind Games (Justine Jones Book 01) by Carolyn Crane

Filed under: Paranormal — Suramya Tomar @ 11:46 pm


Mind Games (Justine Jones Book 01)
by Carolyn Crane

Description:

JUSTINE KNOWS SHE’S GOING TO DIE. ANY SECOND NOW.

Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness – only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

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Review:Mind Games is a book with a very different take on superpowers and how people use them. In the normal superhero books the hero/heroine has a power that they use for good, and its something like the ability to create fire or strength etc etc.. In Mind Games the heroes are people with serious phobia’s or addictions that they can channel into other people to punish them.

In Justine’s case, she is a hypochondriac who is convinced that she is about to die any second due to a burst blood vessel in her brain. When approached by Packard to join a private crime fighting team she initially declines but later joins them.

Throughout the book Crane takes the normal superhero tales and gives them her unique twist. I really enjoyed this book and have added her name to the list of authors that I follow. Hopefully her next book will be as good.

The book is a light hearted read but not completely without seriousness. This keeps the book from becoming a silly tale into something that you want to read from the start to the finish.

April 22, 2010

Hell Fire (Corine Solomon Book 02) by Ann Aguirre

Filed under: Paranormal — Suramya Tomar @ 11:44 pm


Hell Fire (Corine Solomon Book 02)
by Ann Aguirre

Description:

As a handler, Corine Solomon can touch any object and know its history. It’s too bad she can’t seem to forget her own. With her ex-boyfriend Chance in tow-lending his own supernatural brand of luck-Corine journeys back home to Kilmer, Georgia, in order to discover the truth behind her mother’s death and the origins of “gift”.

But while trying to uncover the secrets in her past, Corine and Chance find that something is rotten in the state of Georgia. Inside Kilmer’s borders there are signs of a dark curse affecting the town and all its residents-and it can only be satisfied with death…

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Review:Hell Fire is the second book in the Corine Solomon series by Ann Aguirre, it follows the adventures of Corine who has the power of Psychometry (She can read the history of any object by touching it).

In this book, Corine wants to know who killed her mother and why so she and her friend Chance who has the ability to create luck are back in her home town after fourteen years to get some sort of closure. She arrives in the town only to find that something in the town was blocking Chance’s ability and almost no technological changes have made it into town in the past few decades. On the plus side someone is out there trying to kill them so she knows that they are on the right track.

The book has a high amount of emotional drama / soul searching which is not surprising considering the subject but thankfully the author didn’t make the heroine to be one of the perpetually depressed tragic heroines who can’t make a decision to save their lives. So even when she is an emotional wreck she doesn’t make you want the author to kill her just to end her misery.

Final recommendation: A good read. Recommend that you read the first book in the series before this otherwise you will miss out on some of the finer points in the book

April 21, 2010

Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar Book 01) by Mercedes Lackey

Filed under: Fantasy — Suramya Tomar @ 11:40 pm


Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar Book 01)
by Mercedes Lackey

Description:

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queens’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.

But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason which could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the queen’s heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen’s own foes.

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Review:Arrows of the Queen is the first novel published by Mercedes Lackey and it introduces us to Talia who is to become the Queens’ Own Herald.

In this first book in the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, Talia is from the straight-laced Hold families and is brought up to believe that women are somehow inferior than men and is constantly punished because of her unseemly habit of reading and writing. The book covers her life in the Herald Collegium and how she went from an unknown outsider to friend and confidant to most of the Herald circle.

It does a good job of describing how a person might feel when uprooted from their normal life into a life that feels like a a fantasy.

Final Recommendation: A very good read. Its no wonder the book got published. 🙂

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