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Review: Anne Bishop’s “Vision in Silver” Shines

There’s nothing ho-hum about the characters, the world in which they live, or the premise of this book. Of the three books in the series to date, I enjoyed Vision in Silver the most. Here, you see how the progressive social project initiated by the Courtyard has long-reaching effects on humans (“a two-legged kudzu”) and others (Named’s creAnneBishopVision in Silverations) alike, and encounter the first results of the conflicts between them when it goes very wrong elsewhere.

I cannot say that there’s another series in the urban fantasy genre that’s remotely like this one.  That, in a genre that sometimes borders on — dare I say it? — dull, trite and cliché, owing to everyone and her third cousin dipping a toe into the supernatural pool, is a rare treat.

This isn’t a cop-out, but there hasn’t been another book outside the series that leaps to mind that has a similar premise. This is good, but it makes comparisons difficult. If you’re looking for a human-supernatural bodice ripper, this isn’t it. It’s also not a human-versus supernatural element the way the genre usually presents it; in this series, humans are the “clever meat” — how the dominant species (the Others) describes them.

Some scenes stood out and made me a bit teary-eyed.  It happens, but not as often as it should.  I became downright sniffly as I read scenes where human children and young Terra Indigene (earth natives that are the equivalent of supernatural shape shifters) interact… absolutely adorable.

I want to play with wolf puppies now.

Other notable moments:  “Words can be a weapon as devastating as a gun”
— this quote from the book applies to a number of situations in the book, a few of which made me a little angry. As for scenes that made my heart ache, the struggles of the relocated cassandra sangue endure qualify. To give further details would spoil a truly entertaining and engaging read.

I’ll tell you this: I enjoyed this series so much, I introduced my 70-year old mother to it. She enjoys it so much, she ordered her own shelf copies of the books, and has shared them with her friends. They loved them.

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Robin Hobb Has Outdone Herself:

I’m absolutely thunderstruck. I’ve been completely spellbound from the moment the words began spilling over to me. From the very first page, Fool’s Quest completely took me in, and, despite the fact that I’m a huge fan and I’ve read the entire
series with voracious abandon, this is in every sense, the best of the entire series to date.

First of all, yRobin Hobb Fools Questou should know that it will pull new readers back to events from earlier novels. If it seems a lot, it’s because the Farseer books and their companion series, while connected, are distinct in their stand-alone ability. They are incredibly rich and worth the time to explore on their own. Yes, you can still follow along through the masterful retelling of those events throughout the story arc… but having read the others, you will find yourself rewarded with an honestly amazing read.

I have cried twice already, damn it.

This series takes the best of it all and revisits Fitzchivalry Farseer at precisely the moment where the first book in the Fitz and the Fool series left off. This is our reward for being left gasping, “What on earth just happened?” at the conclusion of Fool’s Assassin.

You will barely have time to catch your breath.

It’s that good, and that incredible.

More than that, Hobb makes the transitions between the chapters incredible — those delicious, tantalizing “excerpts” from old ballads, letters, texts and observations from histories and characters both unknown and well-known to those who follow Hobb’s work. They are beautiful and quotable and they will leave you in delighted amazement. Hobb is a poet every bit as much as she is a spinner of epic fantasy, and her sense of humor and dramatic irony are an added bonus.

Her character building is among the best of any book series I’ve ever read… and I’ve read widely and continue to be amazed at the quality and breadth of writing she produces.

In terms of narration, it may be a bit of a jar initially if you’re used to the different narrators between the series. However, Elliot Hill delivers fantastically. He seems to flawlessly transition between characters — both human and non-human — and has a depth of storytelling ability that truly enhances an already wonderful book.

If you have credits to use, do not hesitate to use them on this book. My only regret is that, once I’ve devoured it, I have to soldier through the long wait until the third book’s release!

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Jim Butcher’s “Aeronaut’s Windlass” — Review, and The Shaking of Fists

Wow. Just… wow.  I received an ARC of The Aeronaut’s Windlass from the publisher and I’m still reeling from the effect this book has had on me.

Let me first note that I’m a huge Butcher fan. As much as I love the Dresden Files books, and the Codex Alera books even moreso, I initially balked at the news of the Cinder Spires project. Why? I resented any distractions that might redirect his efforts elsewhere. And, steampunk? Was it really necessary for Jim Butcher to go that route? No, I said. Absolutely not interested, I said.

How stupid of me. I should have known better.jim-butcher-aeronauts-windlass

Let’s forget it’s Jim Butcher we’re talking about here. Forget that The Cinder Spires series is not The Dresden Files or Codex Alera. It does not matter one damn bit. The book is amazing. The characters are compelling (I’ve a hard time trying to choose a favorite — how he managed to develop so many imaginative and varied characters in a single book blows me away — some of them aren’t even human; then again, this shouldn’t surprise me, considering how fond I am of some of his other non-human characters). Admittedly, I cringed a bit at the first few pages, and then forgot why, because I got sucked into this wonderful adventure against my will.

It’s so, so good. And I really did not expect it to be, and part of me didn’t want it to be.

It’s not fair, and it’s not right. Now I have to wait for him to write sequels to TWO COMPLETELY DISTINCT BOOK SERIES, and there are only so many hours in the day. I almost don’t care, except that I really, really do, and I hate the fact that I’m dying to read the next installment (and THIS BOOK isn’t even due to be released for a few months yet, which means he probably hasn’t even started the next book!). Ugh. Just, not what I needed in my life, Mr. Butcher. So not right.

This book is what might happen if Joss Whedon handed Jim Butcher the reins and said, “Dude. The people want more. Pretend Firefly had a half-sibling. Now author a new book series and blow them away.”

Now stop imagining it. Buy the book.

Back to “wow”.  This book not only holds its own against the best in the genre, but it’s going to displace some of the heavy hitters on many a bookshelf. You will not regret one minute of all the sleepless hours you’ll spend devouring it.

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