Lord of Light ★★☆☆½

lordoflight (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Lord of Light
Series: ———-
Author: Roger Zelazny
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Humanity has made it through the stars and to a new planet. At least, one spaceship did. But on this planet, they found it inhabited by incorporeal demonic beings, other sentient beings of various powers and the crew of the ship all gained mutant powers. Combining these powers with their technology, they became veritable gods and began the conquest of the world.

They conquered. They rule. They live in heaven while the rest of humanity starts the cycle of civilization all over again.

One of the gods, the Buddha, Sam, opposes them at every turn. He starts new religions, he tries to jump start innovations. Sam is killed, many times, is sent to Nirvanna, goes into hiding and eventually weakens them enough that humanity can begin remembering its heritage.

This is the story of the Lord of Light throughout the ages as he opposes the gods in many different ways.

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve never been a big fan of Zelazny. I was introduced to him in my early teens through the Amber books. I was too young and didn’t understand them and stopped at book 2. When I read the whole series again decades later, I was very underwhelmed. So I wanted to try one more of his books to double check my opinion. Yep, Zelazny is not for me, at all.

While I was reading this I felt like I was reading a combination of John Wright’s Count to the Eschaton series and Dave Duncan’s Seventh Swordsman. Both of those obviously came much later but since I had read them first, well, the punch from this was gone.

Zelazny was obviously in love with Buddhism when he wrote this and it miasmates from almost every word. No, “miasmate” is not a real word, but I’m having the problem of getting across the bone deep stench that permeates a dead corpse and somehow applying it to this story.

There was nothing technically wrong here. I just don’t like Zelazny’s style and his choice of conveying a Science Fiction story was sideways instead of being told straight forward. So I can now say with 100% certainty that I don’t like Zelazny’s writings and I’ll never read another again.

If you’ve never read any of his stuff, this might be a good place to start. It is a standalone and showcases his style to the tee. With the Amber you’re potentially committing to 10 (albeit very short ones) books. Chances are if you like this you’ll like his other stuff. My experience also leads me to think that if you don’t like this,you won’t like his other stuff as well.

★★☆☆½

bookstooge

 

 

Hand of Mars (Starship’s Mage #2) (★★★★☆)

handofmars (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Hand of Mars
Series: Starship’s Mage #2
Author: Glynn Stewart
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 279
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Damien is sent to a planet, as an Envoy under the tutelage of a full Hand. They are ostensibly looking into terrorist activity but in reality are on planet to arrest the governor who is corrupt as they come. What the Hand nor Damien realize is that the Martian Navy personnel have been co-opted by the governor as well.

This all leads to the death of the Hand, the destruction of her ship and crew and Damien on the run in a hostile world where his only allies are the “terrorists” he was publicly investigating. He has to survive the governer and his forces, the Martian navy and it’s corrupt Captain and the rebels.

Making an alliance with the rebels, Damien gets off a message to the King, who sends out a force of sufficient size to handle the rogue Navy. Damien must take care of the governer and his forces so that the arriving Navy, with its marines, don’t have to invade the planet. Things get complicated when one of the governer’s loyal generals has nukes planted under 7 of the major cities and threatens to blow them all up if the Martian Navy doesn’t leave.

Damien “does magic” and things get all straightened out.

Dang. I was hoping to “play a game of Thermonuclear War”. That Broderick was a pansy and I would have shown him up by WINNING the game I played!

 

My Thoughts:

I actually enjoyed this more than the first book, mainly because this was one single novel instead of 4-6 “episodes”. However, I kept it at the same rating because Damien has power jumped so high, so fast that the suspense wasn’t really there.

I am really enjoying this mix of magic and technology. Stewart has combined them in a way that doesn’t annoy me or set my teeth on edge. It is also just fun. The story is full of fighting and trials and battles.

There really isn’t much else to say. I enjoyed this, it was fun and Damien is a bit too powerful.

And speaking of too powerful, now I’m off to read some Eyeshield 21 manga, ha!

0d75ded8-4c77-4295-9588-aa351c983dafI could have totally won that game!

 

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Starship’s Mage (Book 1)

Starship’s Mage (Starship’s Mage #1) ★★★★☆

starshipmage (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Starship’s Mage
Series: Starship’s Mage #1
Author: Glynn Stewart
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 337
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Damien Montgomery has graduated from the Mage Academy. Unfortunately for him, every other graduate is a family member of the ruling family and they get all the prime picks of starships to be mages of. At the same time, a freighter, the Blue Jay is ambushed by pirates and it is only by the sacrifice of their mage that they escape. That mage was the youngest son of the System Governer. Who then blacklists the freighter and it’s Captain, David Rice.

Thus is born a most convenient pairing. Unfortunately, Rice is running from organized crime, as he got the son of a crimelord killed. The mob is pursuing the Blue Jay and only by illegally modifying the runes does Damien save the ship and the crew from yet another ambush. This tampering gets him thrown in jail. The crew of the Blue Jay break him out when they find out that a Hand of the Emperor has been assigned to strip Damien of his magic.

Now on the run from Imperial Forces, the Mob and bounty hunters, the Blue Jay must figure out a way to survive. Unknown to them, the Hand is actually wanting to recruit Damien for his ability, not strip his magic.It all comes to a head when two opposing Crime Lords and the Imperial Fleet collide.

Damien survives and comes under the tutelage of the wise and benevolent Mage King of Mars.

Now isn’t that cute?

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this quite a bit. So I’m going to lead with my complaints and then end on a good note.

Stewart shows his big government love and goes all starry eyed at how wonderful and benevolent the Mage King and his Hands are. The Imperial Worlds that all accept the Mages are keystones of civilization while the few worlds that won’t allow mages on them are corrupt, backward horrors. There is one world that was based on Libertarian principals and Stewart really shows his contempt for personal freedom there. Everyone carries a firearm and children begin training at a young age and Stewart manages to convey his utter horror at such a thing. My goodness, imagine a whole world where people are actually trained in how to use guns?!? I’m in shock. Just think, they might resist the Benevolent oversight of a Government that knows better than them. I’m having heart palpitations just thinking about such a travesty. And the romance. Damien gets involved with a crew member and then at the end when he’s off on his merry way to become the protege of the Mage King, it is like “hey,nice knowing you. Goodbye”. It would have been better if there had been no “romance” than something like that.

Once you get past that, things are pretty smooth sailing. This was originally a 5 part serial, so each part is a complete story that tells its tale while propelling the overall arc. It was like 5 rather long chapters. It worked out really well but it also convinced me that I am right in avoiding serials. I need the one long story narrative for me to keep interested.

Ok. The fighting was good stuff! The Blue Jay was the underdog the whole time so they had to get creative. Damien was the major force behind that, but other crew members handled creative thinking as well. From personal gun battles on space stations to major ship engagements, Stewart kept me very well entertained.

The whole “magic” thing just kind of “was”. It ws vaguely explained as eugenecists from long ago messing around with genes and human atrocities committed. From their experiments came the Mages. Magic came from Super Science. Just go with it. It is not a major point of the story so the less time you think about it, the better.

I am looking forward to the rest of this series. Because come on, does it get much better than Mages making Starships jump through space? The only thing that would have been better is if Damien invents himself a light sword. I’m hoping that happens later.

On an unrelated note, my reviews are getting longer, much longer. I apologize to my future self and to anyone else who happens to read these.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2) ★★★★ ½

dunemessiah-review (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 
Title:       Dune Messiah
Series:    Dune Chronicles #2
Author:   Frank Herbert
Rating:    4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre:     SF
Pages:     340
Format:   Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Paul Atreides is Emperor of the Galaxy. His Fremen have swept planets under his rule and nobody can stop him. For Paul can see the future and how do you fight a man who can see THAT? The answer appears to be, very carefully and with layers upon layers of plots.

The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Tleilax and Princess Irulan are all in to bring the downfall of Paul Atreides, who seems to be on the cusp of attaining godhood. They attack his family through Chani. They subvert his Quizarate. They foment rebellion amongst the Naibs who cannot deal with the rapid change of climate on Dune. They tempt Paul himself with the gola of Duncan Idaho, the man who gave his life to save Paul.

And Paul sees this all and knows this all and he doesn’t know how to stop seeing the future. He is walking a path of least resistance, the smallest amount of chaos but as the Navigators found out in Dune, that eventually leads to Stagnation. So Paul lets the future happen and hopes that his children can somehow change things.

And as a blind Fremen, he walks out into the desert to die.

 

My Thoughts:

Some seriously wicked crazy plotting going on here. Not everyone is happy with Emperor Paul. In fact, most of the power groups aren’t. We get introduced to the Bene Tleilax, a group/race of people that are, in essence, shapechangers. They can also mimic those they change into. The Bene Gesserit are upset because their little breeding program is off the rails; what’s the point of creating a superman if you can’t control him? The Spacing Guild, CHOAM and the Landsraad are all pretty put out as Paul exercises supreme authority and they have to do what they’re told.

I really liked how Herbert figures out a way to make it possible to blind someone who can see the future. If nothing else in this book impresses you, the fact that Herbert doesn’t make Paul unassailable should make you re-read Dune with new eyes.

There was a lot of philosophy talk being thrown around. There was a lot of political machinations going on. This had nuances and creases and folds that were not only not apparent in Dune, but were pretty much unthinkable. Herbert completely throws Paul under the bus because that is the only place he can go.

Alia plays the second biggest role here, in my opinion. She’s not quite as powerful as Paul and is constantly trying to catch up to her big brother. That isn’t very ominous until you’re doing a Re-Read. Then it becomes the scary music in the background. In many ways it seems that Paul does nothing to try to stop her. But that is a “thing” for him. He is hemmed in by prophecy of future sight and so he is so afraid of meddling with others and somehow damaging their free will.

Free will is about having the choice. Not all the choices, not clearly spelled out, not with all the knowledge of the consequences. Free Will means being able to say “yes” or “no” to something. Even while bemoaning the future sight, Paul still had Free Will. He just didn’t want to face the consequences of taking a different path and so he didn’t.

And so like in our world, one generation of heroes must make way for another.

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

  1. Dune
  2. Dune Messiah Review from 2012

Star Nomad (Fallen Empire #1)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Star Nomad

Series: Fallen Empire #1

Author: Lindsay Buroker

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 253

Format: Kindle Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Alisa Marchenko has been left behind on a pohdunk world, recovering from her injuries. Inexplicably, there are NO armed force bases on the world or anyone she can turn to to return home. So she is forced to link up with some strange mechanic lady, find an old abandoned spacefreighter, take on passengers AND figure out how to work with an Imperial cyborg who is camping out in her chosen spaceship.

All Alisa wants is to get to her home planet and see her daughter again. But she can’t do that while she has beefcake all over the place and pecs galore to ogle. Poor Alisa. She is so insecure and unable to take care of herself.

 

My Thoughts:

I went into this thinking it was going to be a cool SF adventure. It was billed as “for fans of Star Wars or Firefly”. That should have been more than enough warning.

What I got was a story about a woman who is insecure, incapable of taking care of herself and obsessed with her imaginary relationship with a former enemy soldier. And I mean, totally imaginary. Oh, and don’t forget his pecs.

If you like a romance book, without sex, and wrapped in a Science Fiction wrapper, this is the series for you. Considering there are at least 8 books, I guess “somebody” is buying these. Maybe people who like pecs.

star25full-custom

Savage Homecoming (Omega Force #3)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Savage Homecoming

Series: Omega Force #3

Author: Joshua Dalzelle

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 261

Format: Kindle Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The synth that initially found Jason on Earth, who was all set to betray, backstab and sellout Jason, is back. With a vengeance. The synth knows where Earth is, knows who to mess with to manipulate Jason and its got some new allies. Big hitters that can wipe out the tech of a whole planet.

So Jason has to save Earth, save the girl, save his new connection with the alien government who is funding Omega Force and come to terms that he can never go back to Earth again. That is a lot to put on one man’s shoulders.

 

My Thoughts:

The odd thing with these Omega Force books is that I tend to enjoy them overall but not in bits. In other words, I liked Savage Homecoming taken in its entirety and the idea, but if you were to ask me when I was reading Chapter Q if I liked it, I’d probably be “meh”.

Earth is menaced and even while Jason single handedly saves them, he’s now a wanted man because he gets blamed for bringing the aliens to Earth in the first place. That sounds just like the humanity I know and hate, doesn’t it?

The woman “mysteriously” referred to in previous books shows up and my goodness, I did not like her. It is now wonder she and Jason are ex’s. She does what she wants without thinking of the consequences or about what she is trying to accomplish and Jason just goes along with it.  Thankfully, she gets relocated back to earth and we won’t, hopefully, have to deal with her in future books. This sets things up for Jason to hook up with the alien Captain instead, at least she acts like a mature adult.

The various battles were pretty good but Omega Force had a lot of petty word fighting amongst it’s members. Not banter, but spiteful little girl style spats. It really seemed out of character and I’m not sure exactly what Dalzelle was trying to accomplish with it.

star30full-custom

Heirs of Empire (The Scourwind Legacy #1)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes(maybe) & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.
Title: Heirs of Empire
Series: The Scourwind Legacy #1
Author: Evan Currie
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

The leading general of the Special Forces of the Empire commits a coup. The only survivors of the Scourwinds are the 2 youngest. With help from another rogue Special Forces agent and remnants of those loyal to the Scourwind name, the Scourwind youngsters must go from children to a man and woman in charge.

The general’s reasons for the coup are only hinted at and much greater threats seem to be looming in the wings. This world is enclosed by the God Walls. But that only means that there are things OUTSIDE the walls that those within should be afraid of.

 

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, this just hit ALL the right buttons for me. It is one of Currie’s better books, as he seems to be getting better with more experience.  This wasn’t deep, it wasn’t emotionally moving, it isn’t something that I plan on re-reading multiple times, if even once.  But as I was reading along, I just had a blast!

If you’ve read Card’s Pathfinder trilogy, the whole God Wall thing is pretty transparent. However, since I loved that trilogy, that just boosted it up in my eyes. It was only mentioned in this book along with some vague mutterings about “threats” but it is patently obvious that things are just ramping up.

The special forces agents are pretty cool. Half jedi, half super-soldier, half wild cards. That is a lot of halfs 🙂 The rogue Agent that helps the Scourwind kids is a cliche for Currie, ie, a strong woman that takes no prisoners and gets the job done.  Several ideas from previous series are used as well but it didn’t come as recycled, but just little pointings back. Kind of like how an artist will use the same color palette for certain subjects.

While this novel tells a particular story, ie,the Fall and Return of the Scourwinds and only takes a couple of months, it is still very much a setup book. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

star45full-custom

The Servants of the Storm (Pillars of Reality #5)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes(maybe) & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

Title: The Servants of the Storm
Series: Pillars of Reality #5
Author: Jack Campbell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

The Great Guilds are trying harder than ever to get rid of Mari and have joined hands with the Empire, even though that will probably spell their demise. Guilds and Empire both realize that Mari has a source of hidden tech and they all want it for themselves. Mari, Alain and 3 others must make a daring journey back to Marandur to rescue the texts.

Mari must also balance her presence in Tiea by making it her base of operations but without taking over the monarchy. It doesn’t help that another Heir to the Throne shows up and starts taking over.

But in the end, all roads will lead back to Dorcastle and Alain’s visions.

 

My Thoughts:

My least favorite of the books so far. Not to say this was bad in any way, it just didn’t keep me riveted like the previous books. I’d find myself putting the book down and checking my feed or something.

Part of that was the continued reiteration of Alain’s “mage’ness”. I get it, he doesn’t show emotion. Or, he sees emotions in others that isn’t easily visible to non-mages. There were a couple of other things as well that Campbell has repeated since book 1 that just started to bother me. I’m guessing part of it is that I’ve read this much closer to book 4 than book 4 was to book 3, etc. You follow me there?

The final “meh” was the cover. They changed the format. It used to be all brown with a square of the characters in the center. It was very striking. With this one, while keeping the same cover artist/style,  they’ve added that big blue swathe and “Jack Campbell” that just overpowers the other stuff.  Phracking publishers!

Ok, on to the good stuff.

The action continues strong. There is a fantastic submarine/gun/ship/crossbow/magic/river battle as they escape from Marandur that is as good as any of the battle scenes so far. There was also a memorable one on one fight scene between the royal siblings that really showed off their different upbringings since the fall of Tiea.

Overall, a good penultimate book in the series. Nothing here dissuaded me from wanting to read the final book or from highly recommending this to any lovers of SFF.

star35full-custom

Mission to Moulokin (Icerigger #2) (Project Reread #10)

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Mission to Moulokin

Series: Icerigger #2

Author: Alan Dean Foster

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 280

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Project Reread:

I am attempting to reread 10+ books in 2016 that I have rated highly in the past. I am not attempting to second guess or denigrate my younger self in any way but am wanting to compare how my tastes have changed and possibly matured. I am certainly much more widely read now [both in the good and bad quality sadly] than then.

I will hopefully be going into the reasons for any differences of opinions between then and now. If there is no difference of opinion, then it was a hellfire’d fine book!

Links may link to either WordPress, Booklikes or Blogspot, depending on when the original review was.

 

Synopsis: Spoilers

Having survived Tran-ky-ky for a year, Ethan Fortune isn’t that keen on going right back to his planet to planet sales job. He does refuse Collette DuKane’s proposal of marriage but more because he realizes that he’ll resent her power and constant on-the-go lifestyle than because she is fat.

This book is about Ethan, September, Milliken, Hunnar and the Slanderscree trying to put together a Trannish coalition so that Tran-Ky-Ky can be given membership into the Commonwealth. Unfortunately for them, greedy humans, self-serving tran and one particularly insane tran, stand in their way.

On their journey, they discover information that makes it imperative that Tran-Ky-Ky joins the commonwealth, for the good of all Tran the world over.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, this held up to my previous reading

and stayed at 4 stars. I used the link to my review at Booklikes because my original review on blogspot, which has been transferred to wordpress, was a Year by Month list. I wasn’t keeping track online yet and was just using a paper notebook. Once I started online, I had to copy out everything since 2000 and it was easier to do a year at a time instead of each individual book. Just goes to show how my reviewing style has changed and grown over the years:

This was much weaker than Icerigger both in terms of adventure and interesting characters. The already existing characters are pretty static and the new characters who show up are there to either cause problems, be killed off or act as allies, nothing more, nothing less.

On the adventure side of things, it just didn’t grab me the same way. There is a battle at Moulokin that wasn’t nearly as good as the battle between the Horde and the Settlement in Icerigger and the Slanderscree’s overland journey didn’t nearly match up to the journey to Brassmonkey from the previous book. There is still a lot of action, it just wasn’t as good. I can’t pin it down any further than that, sadly.

Overall, while I enjoyed this read and am glad I made it part of my Project Reread, I don’t think I’ll be reading it again. It is time to let this sit and relax with all the other books I’ve read.

star40full-custom

Alternate: Complete Omnibus

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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

Title: Alternate

Series: —–

Author: Ernie Luis

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 206

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Time Travel Exists. And there is a company self-tasked with keeping the Time Line on track. But when one man is sent back in the past to stop a rogue agent and sees his daughter saved, he will do whatever is necessary to keep her alive this time.

Unfortunately for Grey, he is a newcomer and a pawn in a much larger game that will determine if Humanity has a future, or not.

 

My Thoughts:

Whoooowheeee!!!! This was one wild ride. We follow several viewpoints throughout the story but Grey is the main character and the death of his daughter is THE defining moment in his life. It is the point around which everything, past, present and future, revolves for Grey. That aspect came through beautifully. His love for Hanna, even to the point of giving her up to her alternate “him” so that his alternate wouldn’t have to go through the pain of losing Hanna like Grey did, was perfect.

Even while that was the main story, the Real Story was about the man who invented Time Travel, Rickman, and his search for Redemption for allowing his friend to die in the first time travel incident. The book takes place in 2030, with 2020 being the second line and 2010 where everything starts. It gets messy and complicated and hit things just right for me. Rickman’s long game is to stop time travel altogether. I thought how the author dealt with alternates/paradoxes/etc was masterfully done and he’d obviously put some thought into how things might work.

Now, with all that praise, this book still lacked some polish and that special “something” that just makes a book great. I don’t have any complaints about the book except that it could have been better. This was Luis’s debut novel and while it showed, it also showed GREAT promise for any future writing. He does have several short stories under his belt, but I’ll be waiting for his next novel.

star35full