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Book Review: Fool’s Assassin

Fool's AssassinFitzChivalry is a bastard! I mean, technically he is a royal bastard, but a bastard nonetheless. Not only is he a bastard, he was once the king’s royal assassin. He thought he had left that life behind to pose as a country squire named Tom Bagerlock. He married his childhood sweetheart Molly, and things were going great until a strange messenger showed up at his doorstep with a message that is only for his ears. Fitz, who is so wrapped up in his masquerade, has the messenger wait until the morning and finds out that not only is the messenger missing, but presumed dead. Now to protect his new life, he must start reliving his old one.

From the description, this book sounds like it could be really good, but, in reality, it is mediocre at best, and by Hobb standards, it borders on sub-par. Like many before me, I fell in love with Hobb with the Fitz, the Fool, and the rest of this cast of characters through several previous series. Granted, some of the stories were better than others, but, like Star Wars, you don’t have to like every movie to love Star Wars. I’m going to have to guess that Ms. Hobb has long-term plans for this story, and that this book laid the foundation for the rest of this part of Fitz’s story. I have to believe that because if I don’t, then one of my beloved authors has sold out to the evil publishing gods for the seductive lure of the almighty dollar.

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Book Review: The Leopard

The LeopardA Novel by K.V. Johansen

To say Ahjvar the assassin leads a rough life is an understatement. You would think that being an assassin was a tough job, but try being an assassin who doesn’t die. Then try being an assassin who can’t die but wants to—not my idea of a good time. Even further, imagine being good enough at killing people that you have a title like Leopard. Ahjvar, the Leopard, is given an offer from the goddess Catairanach. She wants him to kill a prophet known as the Voice of Marakand. If he kills this prophet, his curse will be lifted and he can die like everyone else.

Like all good assassins, Ahjvar has a problem dealing with people—except his trusty sidekick Ghu, who is much more than he seems. Additionally in this book, a Northron wanderer arrives in Marakand with her demon lover and a magical sword on a mission to bring justice to seven devils that played escape from Alcatraz—only they escaped from hell. Confused yet? I was!

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Book Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2014

Nebula Awards Showcase 2014This collection of Nebula Award winners has been published annually since 1966, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America chose these stories and the editor of the anthology. You’ll find that this collection contains contributions from some of the best of the best, and it includes poems, novels, novellas, short stories, and much more.

Most of the content in this year’s anthology leaned toward science fiction, and much of that felt very old school in subject matter, but not in a bad way—lots of alien worlds and alien abductions. I would sum up this year’s collection as being esoteric excellence. Reading this book was very similar to watching the Academy Awards. In fact, many of the stories were the written equivalent of some of the movies that win Academy Awards. The book starts talking about the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, then transitions into the history of the Nebula Awards and finishes with the 2014 balloting. Then the book is broken down into the winners of each category, including some of the finalists for a few of the categories. Then, after all of these stories, this book explains the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award and the Rhysling Awards. Each of these explanations is followed by material about or from the winners, or both, in the case of Gene Wolfe, the winner of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

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Review: Skinwalkers (A Pathfinder Tale)

SkinwalkersJenderda has gone home to escape her pirate past. It happens that Jenderda lives in a stark rough island chain known as the Ironbound Archipelago, which is dominated by Nordic culture, longships and all. Jenderda wants to settle down and raise her son away from the swashbuckling life she led. She returned to find her childhood home ransacked, her father brutally murdered, and her sister missing a presumed dead, thanks to raiders. Many years later she has put her past behind her and has become a respected trader. All this comes crashing down around her as the islands are once again threatened by a strange clan of shapeshifters known as Skinwalkers, who start pillaging nearby islands. The raids and their grizzly results follow the same pattern of the raid that killed Jenderda’s father. Now Jenderda must take up her father’s axe and defend her fellow islanders and, most importantly, her son.

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Book Review—The Redemption Engine (Pathfinder Tales)

The Redemption EngineSalim Ghadafar is an atheist who happens to be the catspaw of the goddess of death. Yes, you read that correctly—he serves a goddess he doesn’t believe in. When the worst of the worst show up dead, yet their souls are unaccounted for, Salim is dispatched to find those souls. His first stop is the anarchic city of Kaer Maga. While there, he finds clues that lead him to Heaven and Hell. Along the way, he meets a cast of characters that would have P.T. Barnum salivating. Salim must find the lost souls, no matter how despicable they may have been in real life, and he must do so while trying to figure out whom he can trust and how he can avoid becoming more indebted to a goddess he doesn’t believe in.

The Pathfinder Tales once again prove that just because a book is based in an RPG setting, it doesn’t mean that said book can’t be deep and thought-provoking. This is a bit of a weighty tome; the paperback version I read came in at 509 pages of story with additional pages containing the always appreciated glossary beyond the story. This novel is as weighty in concept as it is in length. Sutter combined steady action with addressing some of the most esoteric concepts that can be tackled in fantasy writing. Combined with the subject matter are some interesting characters that continue to develop along with the story.

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