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Book Review: Desert Moon

Desert Moon
Novel by Mark Walker

The year is 2341, and Earth has formed a multi-planet confederation. As part of this confederation, Earth is now known as Terra and they have a defense force known as the Terran Defense Force (or TDF). The TDF consists of modern weapons including power-armored tanks and vehicles, which are called CATs. Most of these are manned by genetically engineered troops called Purebreds. These troops are made to be faster, smarter, and bigger than normal humans. Combined with this arsenal of equipment and super soldiers are the Assassins. Surpassing even the Purebreds, the Assassins are faster and stronger, and they have their sense enhanced past their peers. Oh, and there is one other catch: They are vampires. Their need for blood drives them to be some of the most feared killers in the confederation. The only weakness these vampires have is that they crave blood; stakes, garlic, and sunlight mean nothing to them unless the garlic is on bread—then they will eat it.

Sediana, the setting for the novel, is the future’s version of a Native American reservation, and it has vast amounts of bauxite, which is a key component in the manufacturing of things like space ships. The TDF wants to protect the resource, but the locals are getting restless and they have just found an ancient stash of M1A4 Abrams tanks, Bradley IFVs, M-4 carbines, and attack helicopters.

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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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