I realized recently that I have only read three books this year that were released this year (The Name of the Wind, Ysabel, and The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadows). To remedy this situation, I recently ordered the following:

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (#2 in the Gentleman Bastard sequence)
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg (#1 in The Lighthouse Duology)

Hopefully later this year I’ll be able to get some more new releases. I’m looking forward to reading Acacia by David Anthony Durham and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie and hope to get at least those two this year.

So at some point I should get more reviews of newer books up here.

I finished Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore Sunday night so I’m hoping to get a review of that up here soon (unfortunately, work usually gets in the way of that during the week). I was pleasantly surprised by it – it was better than I was expecting it to be.

While I’m waiting for my Amazon order of 2007 releases to get here, I’m reading another older novel – Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

As anybody who keeps up with my blog is sure to know, I think Carol Berg is a wonderful and very under-rated fantasy author. So I was very happy to see them do this interview with her on wotmania’s Other Fantasy board. Plus the interviewer asked posters to contribute questions, and it was exciting for me to see some of the questions I contributed actually get asked in the interview! I really enjoyed reading Carol’s responses. Check it out!

I don’t have any reviews this weekend, unfortunately. Currently I’m reading a historical fiction/adventure novel called Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith, so I won’t be reviewing that one since this is a speculative fiction site. After that, I’ll probably read either Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay or Pandora’s Star by Peter Hamilton, unless my copy of Red Seas Under Red Skies, the newest Gentleman Bastard book by Scott Lynch, is here by then, of course! Red Seas Under Red Skies is out in the United States August 1, so the wait for that is almost over. I’m going to order at least one more book off my wish list with it, perhaps Children of Hurin. Too many books, too little money (and time).

Subterranean Press announced today that they will be releasing a limited edition version of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. The limited edition copy is $150 and the lettered edition is $500.

One of my favorite anime series is The Twelve Kingdoms, which is unfortunately a series that never tied up all the loose ends. After I watched it, I was disappointed to find out the novels the anime was based on had not been translated into English so I could read the series (even though the books are also incomplete – the anime is only supposed to only cover events in the first four books out of seven that are currently out, though). Earlier this year Tokyopop released Sea of Shadows, the first novel in the Twelve Kingdoms series by Fuyumi Ono, and my fiance was nice enough to get it for me for my birthday this year. I heard that Tokyopop plans to release one Twelve Kingdoms novel a year, and the next, Sea of Wind, is supposed to be out next March.

Sea of Shadows is a young adult novel which contains rather simplistic writing. The story is at times a little slow, but at the end it was getting much more interesting (which didn’t surprise me since the anime also started out a little slow and got interesting around the same point in the story the book did). There is a lot of somewhat repetitive self reflectiveness (some might call it whining) contained in the pages of this book – I personally don’t mind reading about a character’s thoughts, but in this book the repetitiveness did annoy me a little at times. Everything was spelled out for the reader pretty clearly, but then, it is a young adult book. The story itself, however, is quite charming and I did enjoy reading a fantasy book that used Chinese mythology instead of the generic Western fantasy elements that are prevalent in a lot of the fantasy books available in America.

Sixteen year old Yoko Nakajima is essentially a goody-two-shoes who tries to please everybody. She gets along with her classmates, teachers, and parents and always does her homework. One day at school, a man Yoko has never seen before appears and tells her that her life depends on accepting his allegiance. Not knowing what to do with the chaos caused by his arrival and the strange creatures with him, Yoko agrees and ends up leaving with him. This man, called Keiki, takes Yoko to another world via a powerful shoku, a storm which allows people to cross over from Japan into the world of Twelve Kingdoms. Here, Keiki and Yoko are separated and Yoko must find her way in a strange new world on her own.

As a kaikyaku (a person from Japan who has been brought to the Twelve Kingdoms through a shoku), Yoko soon finds she is an outcast since she is seen as a bad omen. Chased by the authorities and demons, she does not know what to do and is somewhat naive when the occasional person shows her kindness. After being taken advantage of a few times, Yoko becomes quite bitter and is afraid to trust anyone. All she knows is she must find Keiki and find out what is going on.

I absolutely love the mythology in the world of the Twelve Kingdoms – the link between the king and his kirin (a benevolent creature who chooses the king and then acts as his advisor) and the balance between the perfect kirin and the imperfect king, the different creatures, babies that grow on trees and can be part beast/part human. Learning about the new world Yoko has entered was the most fun part of the book for me.

At first, Yoko is a bit annoying as a character since she does become very suspicious and a bit whiny. She develops throughout the book, though, and at the end I rather like her, particularly since I can relate to her original naivete and being a “good girl” who never wants to let anyone down. Reminds me of myself at that age, other than being dropped into the middle of a strange world and chased by demons, of course!

Sea of Shadows could be a little repetitive at times, but it was definitely hard to put down later and I suspect the next books will get even more interesting. It was a charming, enjoyable book, particularly when delving into the world of the Twelve Kingdoms.



I’m behind on my reviews. I finished Thud! and Sea of Shadows and haven’t yet reviewed either of them. I have a good excuse, though – I’ve been sick all week (and still am). Blech.

So anyway, on to the first book I haven’t reviewed, which is Thud! by Terry Pratchett and the only Discworld book I hadn’t yet read (at least until the next one comes out this fall).

Thud! is another Discworld book about Sam Vimes and the rest of the City Watch. Tension is everywhere in Ankh-Morpork as the anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley, a war between the trolls and the dwarfs, approaches. A prominent dwarf is found dead with a club beside him and a famous painting depicting the Battle of Koom Valley disappears from the museum. It’s up to the Watch, with a bit of help from “Mr. Shine” (who turns out to be a troll king and not, in fact, a cleaning product), to discover what is going on and the truth nobody wants to hear about what actually happened at Koom Valley.

As has been the case with the last few Discworld books, there is a bit more of a serious note to Thud!. It’s certainly not all seriousness, though, as becomes apparent by such touches as the artist of the stolen painting being afraid of a chicken he hears in his head. Another humorous addition is the Gooseberry dis-organizer with Bluenose technology that Sybil gave Vimes, which is reminiscent of the palm pilot except this one is powered by a little talking imp.

It’s always fun to see how Pratchett takes a fantasy world and illustrates our modern world through it. The “affirmative action” in the Watch that results in the hiring of dwarfs, trolls, a werewolf, golems, and in this book, a vampire always keeps things interesting as all these different species try to get along. Different religions and superstitions are wonderfully illustrated through these various creatures. I also liked the way he poked fun at art and artists and what makes a piece of work actual tasteful art.

I wouldn’t call this the best of the Discworld books, but it was certainly still a lot of fun containing much of the satire the series is known for.


Recently, I finished the final book in Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu Chronicles, The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire, after being glued to it for a good chunk of the day. I was sad to see the trilogy come to an end, but at least there is still the Wraeththu Histories trilogy left to read.

This story was told from the point of view of Calanthe, who was a major character in both of the previous books in the trilogy. Calanthe, not knowing where else to go, ends up working in a whore house for a time. Eventually, he leaves the whore house to travel around Jaddoyoth, on a quest to discover his destiny and who is sending him on journeys to learn from various Wraeththu.

Since this book is about Cal, it also fills in the missing information on what happened to him after he was separated from Swift in the second book.

There is not much I can say about this that I have not already said about the first two books. It is beautifully written, and each point-of-view character has his own voice, making it seem as though each book really could be written by a different person. Cal’s voice is more humorous and sarcastic than Pellaz or Swift, making him a pleasure to read about. The other characters are also portrayed as unique individuals with their own problems and motives that set them apart from other characters. I have rarely read books with such strong character development – there are no black and white characters here.

The story is thoughtfully written and contains a lot of interesting speculation on what the world would be like if humanity was replaced by a race of hermaphrodites that is more enlightened than humanity yet very human at times, no matter how hard they try to escape it.

This is one of those books I could not stop thinking about once I was finished. I still don’t think it charmed me quite as much as the first book, but I couldn’t put it down since I wanted to find out if Pell and Cal ever saw each other again.