Reynwood’s Reviews: The Faded Sun Trilogy

57042Title: The Faded Sun Trilogy, omnibus edition

Series: The Faded Sun Trilogy

Author: C. J. Cherryh

My rating: 4 of 5


They were the mri — tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their society. For aeons this golden-skinned, golden-eyed race had provided the universe mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable ability. But now the mri have faced an enemy unlike any other — an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction. These “humans” are mass fighters, creatures of the herd, and the mri have been slaughtered like animals.

Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction. It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race: a warrior — one of the last survivors of his kind; a priestess of this honorable people; and a lone human — a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind. Can they retrace the galaxy-wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life?

“This is a powerful story…inspiring in its determination and feeling of strange loyalties and stranger courage. It sticks in the mind long after the last page is finished.”– Analog


My thoughts:

To begin with, I have to confess my significant lack of experience in the genre of science fiction, having never had as much of an affinity to outer space and flying ships and aliens as to swords and dragons and elves, but this intrigued me. People always tell you not to judge a book my its cover, but the truth of the matter is: we do. More often than not it’s the first thing a reader sees, and I love the artwork on the cover for this omnibus version. The synopsis begged me to give it a try, and the fact that it was an omnibus ─ with all three volumes in one package ─ sealed the deal.

I really enjoyed it. The Faded Sun Trilogy is not one of fast paced, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, which, unfortunately, may turn some people off. This is a shame. The story delves deeper into the characters and their motives for their decisions and actions, and Cherryh is truly detailed in her settings and plot. This is not something to read when you’re half asleep, because the depth and intricacy demands your full attention. It’s no bore, though, and I’ve stayed up too late on many a night entrenched in this world.

The variety and intricacy of the various species within this trilogy is amazing, exploring the culture, language, history, and physiology of the four involved, creating an unique and interesting environment with severely conflicting cultures and priorities that drives much of the convoluting relations between species.

And then there’s Duncan. His tactical mind, willing heart, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time make him the perfect vessel for the task he must undertake in this grand adventure through space and across worlds, becoming a lynch pin for the growing post-war conflict. The poor guy gets put through a lot of crap from the people who confess to loving him, whether as a son or brother, but his devotion and unwillingness to give in proves his character to those who would hate and reject him.

I think this is a great story worth every page; it has encouraged me to expand my genre horizons, and is that not, in the scheme of things, a sign of a worthy tale?

Reynwood’s Reviews: This Present Darkness

Title: This Present Darkness

Series: Darkness (#1)

Author: Frank E. Peretti

My rating: 5 of 5


Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a hideous New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.


My thoughts:

Oh. My. Goodness. This book hit me on all the levels, as a writer, a reader, a person, and a Christian. Frank E. Peretti writes boldly, touching on real issues we deal with even today, decades after its first printing.

The narrative is well paced, carrying you along the river current, and then it begins to pick up, growing faster as you reach the white waters, and by that time you really don’t want to put the book down. Peretti’s descriptions are vivid, his characters, the problems they face, and how each one deals with them are realistic and relatable, no matter where you stand.

The theme of this story, depicting the (very real) warfare going on around us, is a refreshing change, I thought, from the analogies replete throughout literature. There are angels and there are demons, fighting within the wee town of Ashton, and the citizens don’t even know it, but as the fire heats up, eyes are opened to the truth and the danger. The best way to destroy a man is not always to take his life, but to undermine his family and demolish his reputation, beating him raw until his soul shatters.

I’ve heard many people talk about this book (and its partner Piercing the Darkness), that it was convicting and even prophetic. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see it (I’m not always the most perceptive) but I saw it. The trouble harrying Ashton harries the wider world even today, becoming increasingly evident; it doesn’t take much effort to see it. The emphasis in this story is on prayer, and while I’m not entirely sure if angels really get their strength from people’s prayer and worship to the Lord, it has to be said that prayer bears much power. It is the single most effective action we as followers of Christ can make concerning any and every issue we face. Hank is an inspiration for what unashamed, unafraid, unshakable faith can look like, and what an honor to be accused of being a ‘little praying man’.

I highly recommend this story for the richness of its plot, creativity of its narrative, its conviction of faith and prayer, but also to those who are on the outside looking it. Whether searching for God or not, this story will give some insight into the world we see and live in.

Reynwood’s Reviews: A Conspiracy of Kings

10454271 Title: A Conspiracy of Kings

Series: The Queen’s Thief, #4

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 0f 5


Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, has disappeared without a trace. Eugenides, the new and unlikely king of Attolia, has never stopped wondering what happened to his friend. Nor has the Queen of Eddis, who once offered Sophos her hand. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Across the sea, a ruthless empire watches for even the slightest weakness. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Until, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus—and Eddis—Sophos sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.


My thoughts:

A pretty spectacular fourth, if I do say so myself. The world of The Queen’s Thief continues to expand with each volume in this series, and Turner doesn’t quit with her wit and labyrinthine political affairs spanning four countries and all their barons, revolts, conspiracies, and power plays.

This time we read from the point of view of Sophos, our little Sounisian heir who has come so very far from the Useless the Younger from The Thief. In the previous book we hear very little of him, only that he’s missing, and now we get to learn how and why. The poor guy is sent on a rollercoaster of wild and violent experiences that take him from his disenchanted youth to crown prince taking back by force his divided kingdom ─ to protect them and the peninsula from the hated Mede Empire.

And who do we know who’s always got his hands in the mess pulling the strings? Eugenides, King of Attolia. He’s almost scary, quite honestly, but he’s a sharp one, and after all we’ve seen of him since the opening page of The Thief, I can’t help but like him.

Smartly written and packed with action, humor, and a wee little bit of heartache, A Conspiracy of Kings is a wonderful and gripping story with a splendiferous ending.


As it happens, there is a giveaway currently running for A Conspiracy of Kings, so why not enter for a chance to win a copy? . . . I did. It’s an opportunity too awesome to pass up. There’s only a few days left to enter, so don’t dilly dally!


And speaking of giveaways, the run of The Memory Quest is drawing to a close as well, so if you haven’t entered, now would be the time! Tell your friends (about both of these) and spread the word around!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The King of Attolia

448872Title: The King of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief, #3

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 0f 5


By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.


My thoughts:

This story is beautiful. It’s so unbelievably full from page one to the very last word, and Turner never ceases to amaze me with her ability to craft such a knotwork of events that seem individual at first, but then all culminate into one big episode with so many layers that I had to sit back and just marvel at her strategy.

Told from (largely, but not wholly) Costis’s point of view, we see what he sees and we know what he knows and we understand things the way he understands them ─ which isn’t always the way they are, which is a huge portion of the intrigue of this third volume. The characters are as loveable (and hateable) as always, with plenty of wit and comedy sprinkled throughout, which mostly originates from Eugenides, and yet it doesn’t detract at all from the real depth of these people. It actually highlights and accentuates just how real they are.

I loved this book from beginning to end.


Also, in honor of Megan Whalen Turner‘s new book, Thick as Thieves, coming out in May, there’s a giveaway on Goodreads for The King of Attolia, so enter for a chance to win a free copy of this awesomely amazing story that you’ll read over and over again, same as yours truly! Giveaway ends April 15th, so don’t wait!


And while we’re on the subject of giveaways, my own for The Momory Quest is still on, running until the 27th of this month, so don’t forget to enter, or tell your friends to, the more the merrier!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Queen of Attolia

40158

Title: The Queen of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 of 5


Revenge
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes’s Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered…she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

…but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

…at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago…


My thoughts:

Amazing! Incredible! As riveting as everyone says it is!

Too enthusiastic? Not sorry, it was just that good . . . even this second time around. Instead of just Eugenides’s point of view, we get to see the events scroll out from the perspective of several different characters this time, giving more depth to both the story and the cast ─ as a whole as well as individuals. We get to see how Eugenides, our indelible thief, gets himself in a nasty pickle (again), unwittingly drags four countries into war, struggles with his fears, and masterminds a solution that rocks the world (at least that’s how it felt. I’m glad no one was watching me as I read the last few chapters ─ talk about embarrassing. But that’s a sign of good story telling, when the reader gets so invested in the people and events).

I really appreciated the strategy and politics involved as Turner navigated a three/fourish-way war, it kept me thoroughly engaged as both a reader and writer, who is always seeking to learn how to improve my own craft. This is a great sequel, and I am very excited to begin the next installment.


Megan Whalen Turner is the author of short stories and novels for children, teenagers and adults. She has won the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult LIterature, a Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor and a Newbery Honor. She won the Mythopoeic Award and was shortlisted twice for the Andre Norton Award.

Check out her page on Goodreads, or visit her website for more information on her great books, awards, and other neat stuff!


Today’s the last day to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Adventures in Isle – including a series bookmark – so don’t miss it. Also, today is also the last day to snag a FREE ebook copy of Adventures in Isle over on Amazon – no limits! Except maybe the sky, but since we’ve been going beyond Earth’s atmosphere for so long maybe that’s not so restricting anymore. The moon! The stars! We’re really getting out of hand here!

(Ahem!) Anywho, check out both!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Thief

8138666

Title: The Thief

Series: The Queen’s Thief  #1

Author: Megan Whalen Turner


“I can steal anything.”

After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. The king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task ─ to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.


My thoughts:

I picked this jewel up at a library book sale one day, thinking it might be interesting. Little did I know what I was getting into! Every time I read this (and it’s been several, by now) I can’t help but admire how Turner tells the story with such an ease that takes you along page by page. It’s one of those, “Oh, just one more chapter” kinds of stories, and ten chapters later you realize it’s one in the morning. I couldn’t bring myself to put it down (yet again). A good story is a good story no matter how many times you read it.

The narrative itself is written in first person (which, I unreservedly admit, isn’t my personal favorite POV) but even so I enjoyed it. We read from Gen’s point of view, and even though we’re privy to his thoughts, we still don’t get the full scope of what’s going on until the end. We’re still able to learn about Gen bit by bit throughout as the event progress, and I liked that.

The story flows smoothly from one part to the next in a style I can appreciate as both a reader and a writer, and you just can’t help falling in love with the characters. Ambiades is a total snot, Sophos is adorable, Pol’s steadfast devotion is admirable; I found the magus to be a little layered, not especially endearing at first, but once you get to know him he’s actually a pretty nice guy. Gen . . .  Gen is a piece of work. He admitted himself that his own tongue has gotten him into most of the fixes he’d suffered, and his wit certainly is sharp. He’s got a strong will, but not always as selfish as he’d like us all to believe.

You can’t help but like him.

With such a great cast of characters on a quest that turns into a bit more than any of them bargained for, The Thief is a tale well worth the read time and time again.


Learn more about Megan Whalen Turner on her website or Goodreads page, and don’t forget to grab a copy of The Thief to read for yourself!