Aug
06
2010

July was a slight improvement – four books read! Two of them were actually fairly long so I was happy with that number, especially considering nearly every weekend in July was taken up by new home related things. Now if only I were caught up on reviews…

Books read in July are:

27. The Devil in Green by Mark Chadbourn (Review)
28. Lord of the White Hell: Book One by Ginn Hale
29. Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey
30. The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke

Favorite book read during July: Lord of the White Hell: Book One – which is pretty decent considering I really enjoyed Naamah’s Curse. I’m working on a review of the former now, but it will not be posted until closer to the release date of August 15. I liked it well enough that I added the finished copy to my wish list, though.

So what did you read this month? Anything good?

The Devil In Green
by Mark Chadbourn
368pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 6.5/10
Amazon Rating: 3/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.94/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.79/5

The Devil In Green is the first book in The Dark Age trilogy by Mark Chadbourn. The Dark Age follows the Age of Misrule trilogy, which tells of the sudden appearance of magic in the world and how it affected humanity. Even though The Devil In Green was just released at the end of May, the middle book (The Queen of Sinister) is already available and the final book in the trilogy (The Hounds of Avalon) is scheduled for publication on July 27 of this year in the US (these books are already out in the UK). There will also be a third trilogy that ties in to the rest of the series.

In the previous trilogy, magic entered the world suddenly and without explanation, disrupting the modern world. People found themselves staring up at strange flying beasts, surrounded by the supernatural and in the midst of a battle of the gods from ancient mythologies. Humanity was forced to adapt to a completely different role in the universe – one in which mere survival was a struggle in a Dark Age where magic, not technology, was the source of power.

In England, the Christian church has responded by joining together several denominations to work together by reinstating a new order of the Knights Templar. Many people have reacted to the appearance of gods by leaving the church and the number of dedicated Christians is dwindling. A man running from his past, Mallory, has decided to travel to Salisbury to become a knight even though he has a rather cynical view toward faith and God. However, he figures it’s a decent job since they’ll take care of food and board and they’ll be willing to take anyone, even someone who doesn’t attempt to hide his disbelief. On the way to the church, Mallory saves a man named Miller from an attack by dangerous creatures. Miller is also on his way to join the Knights Templar, but unlike Mallory he wants to give something back to people and the Christian God he has come to believe in so strongly.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to become suspicious of this new church with its secrecy surrounding the knowledge contained in its library and the mysterious missions the elite knights undertake. As he encounters more supernatural forces, he becomes more unsure of what is happening and his role in events.

From the opening pages, Mark Chadbourn establishes a very dark atmosphere. Magic has entered the world, but unlike in a lot of contemporary fantasy, it didn’t integrate easily with the supernatural and humans occupying the world and learning to live with each other. Rather, the emergence of gods and magical creatures destroyed the modern world, leading to a new dark age. Many urban fantasies I’ve read try to establish a government agency to regulate magic, but The Devil In Green does not go this route; the supernatural is too chaotic for that and anarchy reigns. None of the creatures seem close to human – even if the mythical beings do not all seem malevolent, they have an otherworldliness about them. Remnants form the modern age are strewn here and there, such as the occasional car, but since fuel is no longer easy to obtain, most people travel by walking or horse. The worldwide communication that has become so much a part of everyday life is no more, and people are unsure of what is happening throughout the nation in which they live. This new age feels very bleak and dangerous and not very much like the times we live in at all.

Occasionally I felt like I probably would have gotten more from this novel if I had read the previous trilogy. This is not to say it was difficult to follow what was happening, but I did get the impression that certain parts would have had more relevance had I been familiar with the other books, particularly some references to characters that I guessed had been in the first trilogy (and some research showed that they were in fact in it).

While I found the world very intriguing, there were times that the book seemed to move very slowly and I had some trouble really immersing myself in it. This may have been at least partially due to the fact that I just didn’t have much time while I was reading it and ended up sometimes reading 5 pages at a time whenever I could snatch a few moments, which never makes for the best reading experience. Plus I never found myself all that attached to any of the characters, although I liked them well enough. The contrast between Mallory’s cynicism and Miller’s optimism made for some interesting conversations, and with Mallory’s vast knowledge about everything from history to philosophy it really made me want to know more about his past (and I still do because by the end I still wasn’t sated when it came to details about where his life before traveling to Salisbury to become a knight).

This is not a book I’d recommend to someone easily offended by dissection of Christian beliefs. Although Miller is completely dedicated to his faith, he’s portrayed as someone who does not really understand the way in which the world works. Nor is the church painted in the best light, although there were a few people who seemed both devout and honest. It does seem to have a rather dismal view of organized religion and leadership in general, which is further enhanced by Mallory’s negative response to just about anything:

“You’re obviously an educated man. But don’t confuse the Church with the people who claim to administer God’s Word,” James cautioned. “Humans are fallible.”

“Pardon me for pointing it out, but you seem to have had a fair share of the fallible in your history,” Mallory countered, unmoved. [pp. 33]

The Devil In Green excels at its portrayal of a world in which the presence of magic resulted in destruction leading to a very different way of life. The weaving of Celtic mythology with the history of the Knights Templar into the plot was also well done, although the story did seem to be moving fairly slowly at times. While the main characters were well drawn, they weren’t terribly easy to relate to since both were on one side of an extreme, but they were intriguing personalities.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: I picked it up at the Pyr booth at Book Expo America.

Other Reviews:

Thanks to Joe from Adventures in Reading, I came across this interview with Elizabeth Bear over at tor.com. She’s one of my favorite authors and I thought this was a great interview covering topics such as her books and what she’s working on, how her background influences her writing, her author inspirations and diversity in speculative fiction. Reading this did make me sad that I still have a couple of books that I haven’t read by her (as well as a few books by her that are missing from my collection).

The Reluctant Mage giveaway is now over. The winner is:

Lisa R.

She’s already written back with her address, so sorry everyone else, but the extra copy of the book has found its new home.

Congratulations, Lisa, and I hope you enjoy the book!

Unfortunately, it may continue to be a bit quiet around here a little longer while I’m still spending most of my time not at my job moving and unpacking (and any time not doing either in an exhausted haze). In the meantime here are a couple of new books that showed up in the mail this week.

Curse of the Wolf Girl by Martin Millar

The sequel to Lonely Wolf Girl is available on Amazon, although the letter I received with it says it will be released on August 15. I hadn’t heard of either of these books, but I have heard that Millar’s Good Fairies of New York is good. Considering the pretty cover and the quote by Neil Gaiman on it, I am rather intrigued by this one now.

Kallix, a morose, laudanum-addicted, unschooled, slightly anorexic werewolf is still on the run. The youngest daughter of the Thane of the MacRinnalch Clan of werewolves, held responsible unfairly for the death of the Thane, and justifiably responsible for the deaths of a great many other werewolves, remains prohibited from returning to Scotland in order to maintain the uneasy peace that temporarily prevails in court, despite the endemic debauchery and degeneracy always threatening to again spiral out of control. Frankly, things aren’t much better for her in London than in Scotland. The love of her life is in hiding and her enemies increase in number by the day. Strong as she is when enraged, it’s becoming ever more dangerous to be her. Daniel and Moonglow, her two human friends, do what they can to keep her hidden in plain sight (who would look for a werewolf in a remedial program for high school dropouts?) and keep her fed. Millar is a true world-creator, populating Curse of the Wolf Girl with a universe of characters: fashion-designing werewolves, cross-dressing werewolves, and neurotic, psychotic, and erotic werewolves, as well as fairies, Fire Elementals, and good ole humans — whipping them in faster and faster revolutions with his thrilling, vertiginous rollercoaster narrative.

Entwined by Elisabeth Naughton

This is the second book in the Eternal Guardians series following Marked. It’s paranormal romance based on the story of Jason and the Argonauts and it just came out this week.

ZANDER—The most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It’s rumored he can’t be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he’s got to have a vulnerability…somewhere.

Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the human world. Zander can’t afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching before him, he also can’t fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he’s found his weakness, after all…

Update: This giveaway is closed now and the book has been sent to its new home.

This week I got a copy of The Reluctant Mage by Karen Miller in the mail. The publisher had already sent me a copy a couple of weeks ago, so I’m not sure why I got a second one but I figured I’d give away the extra copy. So thanks to Orbit Books I am giving away one hardcover copy of the second book in the Fisherman’s Children series, which is coming out this week.

Here’s some information on The Reluctant Mage:

It’s been many months since Rafel ventured over Barl’s Mountains into the unknown, in a desperate bid to seek help for their ravaged land. With his father’s Weather Magic exhausted, there seemed no other hope. Now this too has died.

Only Deenie believes Rafel still lives, sensing her brother in tortured dreams. She also knows she must try to find him, as only Rafel’s talents could heal their land. The prospect terrifies Deenie, yet she sees no other choice.

She soon learns of a dangerous new power. Deenie comes to suspect that not only is her brother involved, but that the evil their father destroyed is somehow reborn. And if she can’t save Rafel, then through him, Morg’s vast power could once again command their world.

Contest Rules: If you would like to enter to win a copy, you can leave a comment on this post including your email address. Or if you prefer you can send an email to me at fantasycafe at novomancy.org containing your email address with the subject line “Giveaway.” Only one entry per person is allowed. Winners will be randomly selected. If you are selected as the winner and there is no email address listed, another winner will be chosen so please be sure to include an email address. Also if the winner does not respond to email with a mailing address after 5 days, a new winner will be selected. This giveaway is open worldwide and will end on Saturday July 31.

Good luck!