http://This is the sequel to Empire of Silence,one of the most promising debuts and series openers of recent years.The story opens a dozen years after Book 1 with our hero waking up from fugue and flooded by memories before diving straight into the action.The main theme of the novel is what it means to be human and other than human, the perils and strangenesses of messing with our humanity and the horror and wonder of confronting the non-human, both alien and cyborg.Ruocchio shows us how the aliens and posthumans think entirely differently.This is a great sense of wonder book-wonder at the beauties of the galaxy whose secrets Ruoccho is starting to hint at-and it is packed with cool stuff and lyrical prose.Recommended.
Well.I was looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint.Last year it was the thirtieth anniversary of Osten Ard and the Memory,Sorrow and Thorn trilogy and in 2017 came The Heart of What was Lost-a slim bridge between hefty trilogies-and then The Witchwood Crown,Book 1 of The Last King of Osten Ard.Tad’s books are landmarks in my life,I have grown up reading his stories and this one was as gripping as ever.You need to have read Book 1 and ideally MS & T but there is a handy synopsis at the outset to get the reader up to speed.This book had the reader and characters meeting some marvellous races of creatures and reacquainting themselves with some previously met like the niskies and immersed in some treacherous political infighting-GRRM eat your heart out! Osten Ard is a complex,teeming world and it was good to be back in it.
This is not a new book.The stories collected in it were first published from 1972 in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine with the exception of 3 out of the 12 stories that were specially written for the book.I am a Black Widowers fan but they may not be to everyone’s taste.They are a gentleman only club who meet at the Milano Restaurant every month for dinner.One of the Widowers brings a guest and he is grilled as to how he justifies his existence and invariably the guest has a problem,a puzzle which is bedevilling him and the Widowers do their best to solve it but when they are finally stumped,as they always are,the genius waiter Henry supplies the answer.I have read two of the stories before but even though I know the answers I can reread them with pleasure for the atmosphere.It can be said that the stories are repetitive but the fact that they are so formulaic is part of their appeal although it is best that the stories are not read all at once,I left gaps between banquets,and they are short and like all of Asimov’s writing easy to read.
The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding
This book made me feel young again.A great coming of age story and a classic old school epic fantasy it took me back to my early teens when I avidly consumed everything from the Dragonlance Chronicles to the Belgariad to the Wheel of Time.It is also refreshingly uncynical,heartfelt and hopeful as well as gripping.Aren and Cade are two young men growing up together in a small seaside town in an occupied land,one a noble’s son,the other a carpenter’s but best friends when they fall foul of the Krodan Empire and end up in a prison camp from which they escape and go on a perilous journey with an unlikely fellowship of outcast rebels led by the mysterious Hollow Man and stalked by dreadknights. It sounds derivative bit it mixes the classic tropes into something fresh and the sequence set in the haunted hidden fortress of Skavengard injects horror into the mix and is genuinely scary.