Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent reading: Wow, a lot of good books hit the shelves recently

So, at Archon, I picked up a good handful of books that I’d been looking forward to, including:

Hawk

Okay, HAWK was great, if you’re following the Taltos books. It’s Vlad in top form, back at home, running a caper that really matters — that is, he is planning to get out from under the Jhereg sentence of death or die trying. Things that might annoy you: Brust hides a lot of details about what Vlad is planning from the reader. Why this didn’t annoy me: Vlad himself is pretty much not sharing those details with anybody. Plus, Brust just does this better than basically anybody else. Other writers sometimes hide things from the reader because they’re trying to cheat. Brust hides the details of Vlad’s plan because he’s enjoying himself working out this fancy caper and he wants the reader to enjoy it, too.

Also, the part Vlad explains to people (and therefore Brust explains to the reader) — well, all the way through, I was thinking: REALLY? THIS IS YOUR PLAN? CAN THIS ACTUALLY WORK? And the answer is, No, actually, Vlad is pulling a fast one, and yes, you can tell if you are paying attention. It was fun to watch everything come together. And I like the ending. Which is a bit of a cliffhanger, actually; not in a dreadful way, but I am definitely looking forward to the next book.

Next:

MagicBreaks

Wow, this was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed it! It does not have the sort of strained plot of the last one, where the authors suddenly make up Panacea as a plot device and an excuse to send Kate and Curren et al to another country for reasons that seem, well, like the authors were pretty much making things up as they went along.

No, in this one, which ties up the primary arc, everything has to do with that primary arc. Which ends in a somewhat predictable but satisfying manner, btw. I mean, it would have been really difficult to pull off a tremendous surprise, after setting things up as they have.

Curren was off-stage for most of the story, and I missed him! Naturally I expected a dramatic appearance later in the book, and I wasn’t disappointed. I really loved how the authors showed the deep, trusting relationship between Kate and Curren in this book. They worked hard to get to this point and I’m glad they’re solid. The one thing that didn’t ring true for me, in fact, was Kate’s hesitation in believing that Curren would choose her over everything else.

Oh, and it was completely obvious who the traitor was.

Basically, though this was a great story and I’m already looking forward to re-reading it. Plus, the authors will definitely be writing at least three more books in this series, moving on past the end of this plot arc. Which is great news, since this is probably my favorite UF series now.

And next:

CrimsonAngel

This has been a good addition to the Benjamen January series, which is my favorite mystery series. The situation, in which Benjamen and Rose are forced to travel to Haiti because of this and that, is pretty believable. The mystery they have to solve in order to deal with their unknown enemy is . . . well, its solution seems extremely obvious just now, but I am about forty pages from the end, so I’m very very sure, but I might be wrong.

What makes this series is the detail work with the setting and the fine characterization. Hambly has done a great job setting Ben up so that he had to choose whether to go after Hannibal or Rose. I would be astonished if any important character actually dies, so I expect this situation will be resolved without that.

I would say that this particular story shows Hambly’s fantasy background, because the voodoo elements — which I really enjoy — are handled in a fantasy manner here, not in a magical realism or realistic way. Besides, in this one, we really need the voodoo stuff to make it possible for Ben to pull everything together.

There’s a lot to be said for stepping into a familiar series. This has been a wonderful reading week, even though my plan to re-read RANGE OF GHOSTS got postponed.

What have you all been reading lately? Anything that was particularly fun or especially satisfying?

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4 Comments Recent reading: Wow, a lot of good books hit the shelves recently

  1. Linda S

    I just started HAWK today, and it’s been great so far. I’m glad to hear that the rest of the book lives up to the beginning.

    I recently finished THE PALACE JOB, which I first learned about from your post listing your audiobook backlog. (Thanks!) I knew of Patrick Weekes from BioWare video games, and I’d liked his Dragon Age tie-in novel (THE MASKED EMPIRE) quite a bit, but I hadn’t heard about his independent work at all. TPJ was lots of fun, with a fast-moving plot, engaging characters, and some nice banter. There were a few elements I found a little too heavy-handed, but I’d certainly recommend it overall. The sequel (THE PROPHECY CON) was also fun, and I hope he continues the series.

    Right before HAWK, I read REDEMPTION IN INDIGO, Karen Lord’s first novel. I wasn’t crazy about the structure at first (a storyteller speaks directly to the reader throughout the story), and it took me a while to warm up to the characters. The story definitely grew on me, though, and I absolutely loved the epilogue. I liked her second book (BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS) better, but I’m glad I finally got around to reading REDEMPTION as well.

  2. Rachel

    I haven’t read BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS, and now I guess I should add it to my wishlist. And I’m happy you liked THE PALACE JOB! I *think* that’s the one I just burned to CD, so I ought to be listening to it relatively soon.

  3. Cheryl L

    I recently tried Sylvia Izzo Hunter’s debut novel THE MIDNIGHT QUEEN. I enjoyed it, although I think her writing style will improve with time. I found the main characters, Gray and Sophie, very engaging and liked the way their relationship developed. And I really enjoyed the world – an alternate 18th Century Britain in which Christianity never took off and paganism is the dominant religion.

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