Posted on | February 7, 2014 | 21 Comments
— compiled by Wombat-socho
While Stacy is off trying to pound sense into the thick skulls of young Marxist wannabees, I feel compelled to help fill the content gap, and since I’ve actually been able to get some reading in between stints in the tax mines, I have a few things I’d like to recommend.
First off, Casey Neumiller (who wrote the action-packed Dead Man’s Fugue) sent me a review copy of his fantasy novel Destiny’s Heir, a nice coming-of-age story involving a young magician’s apprentice, the best thief in the local guild, and the epic theft that brings them together only to realize they’ve opened an ENORMOUS can of worms. Not just your average derivative elf & dwarf crap; this is an original combination of picaresque tale and Bildungsroman. Worth your time.
Also worth your time is Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood, recommended by Schlock Mercenary creator Howard Tayler in his blog. Gunpowder weapons don’t usually mix well with classic high fantasy, since they sort of clash with the medieval aesthetic and all that, but McClellan makes it work in this bloody tale of magic, revolution, regicide and mystery whose style reminds me somewhat of Paula Volsky’s The Gates of Twilight. Mr. Tayler is right – McClellan’s writing chops are excellent, and the story is compelling. Also, it’s only $1.99 on the Kindle.
Marko Kloos has a sequel out to Terms of Enlistment, and there’s a reason Lines of Departure is currently #2 on the Kindle War & Military Fiction list. Our hero Andrew Grayson is back, having moved from shipboard neural net manager to forward observer for the drop teams the North American Confederacy is sending to hit back at the implacable Lankies – the aliens that have so far wrecked every human colony outside the “30 line” without a still-divided humanity being able to even slow them up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Grayson finds out during an all-too-brief shore leave on Earth that things dirtside are exponentially worse than they were when he enlisted, with many cities so close to rebellion as makes no difference. The real meat of the novel begins when Grayson’s leave ends and he finds himself assigned to a task force constituted mostly of old starships seconds away from the scrapyard and staffed with a brigade of mutinous Homeland Defense (was Territorial Army) troops. Some of the Amazon reviewers think this may be a better and tighter novel than Terms of Enlistment, and I’m not sure they’re wrong. Got this for free through the Kindle Lending Library program, but I think I’ll be shelling out my $4.99 next month when the loan expires. Very much worth it.
Speaking of sequels, knowing librarians has its privileges, and one of those is occasionally getting ARCs of books I wanted to buy anyway. For example, John Ringo’s To Sail a Darkling Sea, which I’d been agonizing over buying when a friend dropped the ARC in my lap. This is, of course, the sequel to Under a Graveyard Sky, which shows you the end of the world up close and personal as a virulent genengineered flu converts most of humanity into highly-infectious zombies. Among the few survivors are Steven Smith, a/k/a “Commodore Wolf”, who sets out with his family to rescue as many people from boats and ships adrift in the Atlantic as they can, rebuilding civilization one life raft at a time. The sequel mainly continues the story, with the added amusement of surviving Marines, sailors and Coast Guardsmen trying to help make Smith’s teenage daughters Faith and Sophia (Shewolf and Seawolf, respectively) into leaders de jure as well as de facto. As you may recall, the zombie horror subgenre bores me to tears – but for some reason, Ringo manages to hold my interest while dancing from greasy organizational stuff to a bit of the old ultra-violence to turning none-too-bright security guards and support staff into zombie killers to slams at chairborne officers who know a lot about management but damn little about leadership. A fun read, and highly recommended.
So…what have you been reading?