Required Reading

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr

This is a steam punk, post apocalypse tale of Zeppelineers and their inter-clan rivalries.  In this particular tale, the Founders declare war on the rest of the clans. 

Romulus is a headstrong hound dog!   The man seems to attract a wealth of beauties in spite of his impetuous nature.  Max, Sabrina and Valkyrie all are candidates for romance.   Meanwhile Romulus is as clueless as most of us guys usually are.    He reacts emotionally and honorably.

The setting provides some interest as well.   The Pneumatic Zeppelin, a hydrogen fueled zeppelin captained by Romulus Buckle of the Crankshaft clan, is the setting for much of the action.  However the world has been sectioned into Clan areas that have a vague ethnicity.    Attributes are ascribed to Clan members based on stereo types.  Gruff Russians, fragile and weird geeks and hard drinking Irish.   That area is a touch simplistic for my taste.

The story is good and moves at a respectable pace.   The Martian fauna add extra danger to an already somewhat bizarre environment.

I recommend the book.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt, jr

This is a continuation of the Imager Portfolio.   Quaeryt continues to discover that there are normally unforeseen results to every situation.   The war may be over but the battle for peace is just beginning.

Melding self awareness with the humbling recognition that your body, soul and talent are seen as a tool to preserve the status quo provides the mental angst typical of Modesitt’s work.   I still feel that the philosophic aspects of Modesitt's work are wrapped in the trappings of a good novel.   I was asked today if Modesitt is Science Fiction or Fantasy.  I have read his Science Fiction and books such as The Ecolitan Operation, The Ecologic Envoy,  The Elysium Commission and The Eternity Artifact are certainly Science Fiction.   I am comfortable ascribing his Recluse series as Fantasy.  The Imager portfolio is more in the vein of the Recluse series.  I guess Philosophic Military Fantasy is too much of a mouthful.   All I know is that I enjoy reading his work regardless of genre. 

Quaeryt finally makes progress on his own personal goals of increased tolerance for Imagers. 

Modesitt also infuses political commentary and philosophy as part of his story line.   Time Gods World, The Forever Hero and Order Master all illustrate philosophic musings.  There are times where the author seems to pontificate a bit but it always fits the story line. 

The common thread, as I stated in previous Modesitt reviews is the lone soul fighting for self identity in a harsh world.   The aloneness is tempered by a supportive wife and extraordinarily loyal comrades.

I highly recommend.  

Body of  work of <a type="amzn" >L.E. Modesitt</a>

Site: book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Equoid by Charles Stross

Stross provides a distinctly different look at some fantasy staples or stables as in this case.   The protagonist postulates a rather different Unicorn than that of the run of the mill fantasy portrayal.  This is part of the Laundry series and is a novella. 

The Laundry series seems to be written with the tongue in cheek, understated Brit or Dr. Who whimsy.   The secret division of government that is tasked with keeping the occult under control is referred to as the Laundry.  

Bob Howard is the understated protagonist.  He perceives himself as a hard working yeoman in a generally boring branch of government unless he is knee deep in critters trying to do him in!

The understated, low key and occassionally verbose style is entertaining.  It is reminiscent of the stereotypical "English Countryside" fiction.   The inclusion of manic unicorns and special ops teams provide an excellent counterpoint to the laid back style.

I particularly liked the methodology of bureaucratic nonsense bashing with the periodic government memos.    
It was suspenseful and entertaining, it was a good read.

I recommend the book.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fate of the Red Lotus R.J. Sullivan

Sullivan has a good range in his work.  He can do horror, fantasy and scif and do it well.  That is not always easy, the do it well part anyway.   This book introduces an ambitious young lady who wants to prove to both herself and her family that she is a force to be reckoned with.

This book seems set a little further in the future than Virtual Blue.  This story has more in common with In the Blood.  Set in the probable future of asteroid mining, Sayuri Arai wants to make a name for herself without depending on her famous and wealthy family. 

It is a coming of age story set on a space station and mining vessel.   As most of RJ's book, the characters are the important part with the setting being secondary to the interaction of the protagonists.  

There is potential for a good series here, I am looking forward to seeing how the Red Lotus fares in her search for mineral wealth, fame and good fortune.

I recommend the book.

Web Site:

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Tears of the Sun by S. M. Stirling

This book is set in a post Apocalyptic world where technology has been truncated by some unknown source.  This story focuses on the children of the initial survivors featured in the Dies the Fire, the first three books.  This book is the 5th of seven in the second series set in this world.   Rudi and Mathilda are prominent in this volume but not dominant.  Baroness Tiphaine d'Ath, Grand Constable of the PPA is featured throughout the book but many characters from the previous books have their very own chapters in this book.

This book does a lot of flash backs.  I can't decide if it would clarify or confuse if you were reading it as a stand alone.  Frankly I would not recommend it as a standalone.   It is, in many ways, a summation of much that has gone on before due to the flash backs.  

The beauty of an ongoing saga is that you can do a flash back and flesh out a minor mention in a previous book until it is several chapters in the current book.   This isn't a bad thing if you like reveling in the minutia of the characters, which I do.

Polytheism is a staple throughout the series and some explanation of such is provided in this book.   Based on the way the story jumped from one time and location to another, it often felt like a book of short stories.   In spite of what may appear to be a critical review, I still liked the book.

I highly recommend the series.


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt, jr

Modesitt is a philosopher.  His books are entertainment, for sure, but are also philosophic guides for behavior.   This book is not in the Imager Portfolio, it is a stand alone that does a fine job on standing alone.  

Paulo Verano, the main protagonist, is facing a dismal future dealing with an emotional mistake.   His salvation comes through a exceedingly long distance contract that will put his current situation behind him in both time and space. 

Modesitt provides a new environment for this book.  He suggests good behavior and responsibility should be rewarded and the converse punished.   His omnipotent character is elusive and mysterious.   The human behavior is typical and profit driven in many cases.  

Love is found in the most unlikely situations. 

I highly recommend all his books.  

Body of  work of <a type="amzn" >L.E. Modesitt</a>

 This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Trio Of Sorcery by Mercedes Lackey

I'm not fond of short stories.  They are too much akin to apple pie without ice cream or BBQ without Frank's Hot Sauce.   I don't want my appetite teased, I want it sated.  So I just avoid short stories as I am always disappointed with they are over "shortly".  However being a huge fan (after losing 20 pounds not quite as huge) of Lackey I jumped on this book.    I was not disappointed.   I have a couple of Diana Tregarde tales but have not read them.  They are now moved up in my to be read sooner pile.   The three stories in this book all involve magic and one blends magic and technology as smoothly as Kahlua and vodka. 

As in most of Lackey's books, she does a terrific job in her characterizations.  You find yourself nodding your head as if you know the people who populate the stories.  

Each tale stands alone quite nicely.  The Diana Tregarde tale, Arcanum, is placed by the author as the first tale of Diana.   Since I have not read any of the other Diana books, I am delighted to get the background first.  

Despite my dislike of short stories, I enjoyed this book.

I recommend it.

 This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, January 3, 2014

He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe

In previous reviews of Eddie  LaCrosse books I stated that he may be my new favorite character.   I would like to revise that to Eddie LaCrosse is my new favorite character.   Alex Bledsoe has crafted a thoughtful hero who is cognizant of his current foibles and past failures.   This story touches on a lighter side of Eddie and highlights his relationship with Liz.

With no fear of being repetitive as I doubt anyone is reading my reviews of Bledsoe books in consecutive order, I now repeat myself.   Foibles are what make Eddie so believable.  He gets hurt, he isn't always right and he is not invincible.   When he hits someone in the head with his hand, his hand is injured as well as the face he it.  Regardless of unlikely scenarios, a believable hero makes for a much more interesting story. 
I think the fact that Bledsoe also makes it clear that war and the ensuing mayhem are dreadful.   He doesn't glorify violence and makes sure his characters say true to form.  Eddie looks at his past with some regret, errors he made in the past haunt him and have influenced the man he has become.   You can picture yourself kicking back and having a beer with Eddie.

The settings in the stories are definitively medieval in flavor and yet the portrayal has a modern flavor.   Characters are painted with precise strokes as opposed to six inch brushes.   Tatterhead is a good example of how perceptions may change as intimate knowledge is acquired.   Bledsoe reflects life well!
The Eddie LaCrosse series is fun to read, engages you and even  makes you do some philosophic pondering.

I highly recommend both the book and the series.   The following links are to my reviews of previous Eddie LaCrosse books.
Dark Jenny
Burn Me Deadly
Wake of the Bloody Angel
The Sword-Edged Blonde
I highly recommend it too.

Body of work of <a type="amzn"> Alex Bledsoe </a>

 This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.