George V. Reilly

Review: Fire and Blood

Title: Fire and Blood
Author: George R.R. Martin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Bantam
Copyright: 2018
Pages: 736
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 28 December, 2018–1 January, 2019

I've been waiting longer than most for George R.R. Martin to finish the A Song of Fire and Ice series: I read the first book when it was newly published in paperback in 1997. Fire and Blood is a new addition to the series, but it is a prequel and does not advance the plot at all. This book is a history of the first half of the three hun­dred–year reign of the Targaryen dynasty, the dragon riders who conquered Westeros with their fire­breath­ing dragons. The Game of continue.

Review: I Shall Wear Midnight

Title: I Shall Wear Midnight
Author: Terry Pratchett
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 355
Keywords: humor, fantasy
Reading period: 3–5 February, 2017

Tiffany Aching is now the overworked and overly re­spon­si­ble Witch of the Chalk. People everywhere are fearing and dis­trust­ing witches more. When her patient, the ailing Baron dies, she is blamed. Other troubles multiply. Eventually she realizes that the Cunning Man, a long-dead witchfind­er, is seeping poison into people's hearts. Aided by the trou­ble­mak­ing Nac Mac Feegle, she defeats him.


I Shall Wear Midnight follows The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Win­ter­smith.

Review: Watership Down

Title: Watership Down
Author: Richard Adams
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Avon
Copyright: 1972
Pages: 476
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 28 December, 2016–1 January, 2017

Upon hearing of Richard Adams' recent death, I reread Watership Down for the first time in many years. I first read it not long after Penguin published it in paperback. I believe that I was given the book for my ninth birthday in 1974, or perhaps for my tenth, but I think it was my ninth. Certainly the giver was my godfather, my Uncle Gabriel, who also gave me The Lord of the Rings and the Titus Groan nov­el­s—other books which I reread many times.

I'm happy continue.

Review: The Very Best of Kate Elliott

Title: The Very Best of Kate Elliott
Author: Kate Elliott
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Tachyon Pub­li­ca­tions
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 386
Keywords: sf, fantasy
Reading period: 19 May–3 June, 2016

A collection of short stories and essays from Kate Elliott, some of which are drawn from her various story universes. In the foreword and the essays, she discusses the cultural biases that lead to the “male gaze” and male characters being the un­con­sid­ered defaults for many readers and writers. These stories amply demon­strate that good, in­ter­est­ing fantasy and SF stories can be written with strong female characters and subtle plots. (I already knew this; some in SF fandom still don't.)

Review: Victory of the Hawk

Title: Victory of the Hawk
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 211
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 22–29 April, 2016

After the Vengeance of the Hunter, the Anreulag, the creature known as the Voice of the Gods, has gone rogue, waging war on the Adalonian empire that controlled her for centuries. The Order of the Hawks have found the long-hidden stronghold of the elves. The humans of Nivirry and the elves are throwing off the shackles of Adalonia, but the Anreulag has no regard for anyone's lives, human or elf. Faanshi, Julian, and Kestar may be able to stop her but it won't be easy.

A satisfying conclusion continue.

Review: Vengeance of the Hunter

Title: Vengeance of the Hunter
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 213
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 15–22 April, 2016

After the events of Valor of the Healer, the three pro­tag­o­nists went in different directions, but now they must come together again. Faanshi, the former slave girl, is coming into her own as an ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly powerful healer with her new people, the elves. Kestar, formerly a Hawk sworn to expunge elven magic, is a prisoner of the Hawks being taken to stand trial. Julian, his lost hand and burnt-out eye regrown by Faanshi's magic, is seeking vengeance against the brother who maimed him. Rumors of Faanshi's power and ac­com­plish­ments continue.

Review: Valor of the Healer

Title: Valor of the Healer
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 266
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 17 March–14 April, 2016

Fleeing from his botched attempt to as­sas­si­nate the Duke of Shalridan, Julian discovers the Duke's greatest secret: Faanshi, a half-elven slave girl with ex­tra­or­di­nary powers of healing. She heals his wounds in an instant and he makes his escape. Meanwhile, Kestar, a knight of the Order of the Hawk, who are sworn to extirpate elven magic, also discovers her existence. When Julian rescues her and Kestar is gravely wounded, she heals him too, forming a strong mental bond with him, which endangers them all.

This is a well-told high fantasy, with continue.

Review: Crack'd Pot Trail

Title: Crack'd Pot Trail
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 208
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 16–28 February, 2016

A disparate group of necro­mancer hunters and artists are trekking through the desert. They're out of food and the artists must compete not to be eaten by the strongmen by telling stories by the campfire. It's the Canterbury Tales crossed with Scheherazade. The narrator shows how he skillfully and shame­less­ly ma­nip­u­lat­ed the various parties. His stories within stories sow doubt and dissension. There's black humor and art criticism and enough suspense to keep you going, once you get past the in­ter­minable beginning.

Review: She Returns From War

Title: She Returns From War
Author: Lee Collins
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Angry Robot
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 368
Keywords: Dark Fantasy
Reading period: 2–4 February, 2016

In this sequel to The Dead of Winter, a young lady called Victoria Dawes travels from England to Al­bu­querque to seek the aid of Cora Oglesby, the now-retired monster hunter. The women draw the attention of a Navajo skinwalker and a vampire, and they spend the book dueling each other. Under Cora's sarcastic tough love tutelage, Miss Dawes grows from a sheltered Victorian lady into a semi-capable fighter.

The in­ter­ac­tion of the two main characters was fairly en­ter­tain­ing, not wholly pre­pos­ter­ous, and certainly passed the Bechdel test.

Review: The Dead of Winter

Title: The Dead of Winter
Author: Lee Collins
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Angry Robot
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 377
Keywords: Dark Fantasy
Reading period: 28–30 January, 2016

Cora Oglesby and her husband Ben have been slaying monsters and slinging guns all over the Old West for years, ever since the Civil War ended. In a bitterly cold winter, on the outskirts of a silver-mining town in Colorado, they take down a wendigo and then a nest of vampires.

Cora is tough and hardened and takes no crap from anyone, man or monster. But she's damaged too, more than we realize at first. I thought the first-time author did a decent job of writing a paranormal Western: the continue.

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