Sunday, November 05, 2006

Books 97 - 101

I delayed a few reviews and the books started piling up, so I'm just going to give a little overview of the last several books I've read. I reached my goal of 100 books in 2006 so we'll just see what I end up with.

: Matriarch - Karen Traviss. The fourth entry in her Wess'har Wars is another satisfying one. When we left off we found out that Shan Frankland was alive, that even being left in the vacuum of space was not enough to kill off the c'naatat parasite that has made Shan nearly immortal. At the very end of the previous volume we discovered that the two who were responsible for the nuclear attack with the attempt of destroying all c'naatat but resulted in the genocide of the bezeri were handed over to the remaining bezeri for punishment. Since the bezeri are aquatic creatures Shan's two mates, the human Abe and the Wess'har Aras, both infected with c'naatat, decide to deliberately infect Rayat and Lindsay Neville. I cannot express how shocking this event was knowing what we know of these two characters and knowing what we know of c'naatat. Matriarch continues the storyline where Traviss shows us the culture of the bezeri and unloads one heck of a twist, and the Eqbas Vhori (a much more militant Wess'har culture) is preparing to send a ship to Earth to rehabilitate the ecological damage humanity has done to the planet.

Still better than most science fiction I have read, Karen Traviss continues to astonish as she runs her storylines in different directions that one would expect. She is harder on her characters than most authors would be willing to be. This is how you write science fiction, folks.

98: The Nuetronium Alchemist: Conflict - Peter F. Hamilton. Hamilton finishes the second volume (or fourth if you're reading the paperbacks, each volume has been split due to length) of his Night's Dawn Trilogy and at this point Hamilton defies description. Truly. He's expanded his story so much that I could mention that somehow most of the people who have died have had their souls stuck in this in between place and now they are able to return and "possess" the living. This has resulted in a plague upon humanity and humanity needs to learn how to solve this issue or face extinction. Others races have succeeded, others failed. There are numerous storylines going around this issue, some of the possessed, others not, and some just touch upon the possessed but is really about something else and it is hard to say how this all fits together. It's a decent read, but it has begun to become overwhelming.

99: Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson. I thought Elantris was one of the more exciting fantasy novels to be written recently and happily that one was a standalone, a rare feat in fantasy these days. Mistborn is the first volume of a trilogy, but I'll forgive Sanderson for that. The reason I am in such a forgiving mood is that the book is damn good and he takes a fascinating focus for the novel.

So much of epic fantasy has the same basic storyline: unknown farm boy/kitchen boy is pulled into a quest to save the world. Turns out farm boy is the prophecied hero and has noble lineage which is is not aware of. Farm boy saves the world and defeats Dark Lord.

Sanderson asks: What if the Dark Lord doesn't lose? What if the Dark Lord wins? In Mistborn this is exactly what happens and there is a thousand years of subjugation before the beginnings of an uprising begin.

It's good. It's very good.

100: Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld. It's almost chick-lit, the story of the four years at Ault Prepratory School for Lee, a freshman girl who we follow as she matures and doesn't mature and lives her life at a prep school. Lee is a scholarship kid among kids with very wealthy families and she is insecure because she is no longer one of the smartest kids...all of them are smart. This could be chick-lit, but Sittenfeld is a very good writer and tells a strong story and this is just a good book.

101: Kitty and the Midnight Hour - Carrie Vaughn. I won this book (and Vaughn's second book) in an online contest and I didn't really want to. I was just entering all of the contests run by this guy and hoping I'd win the good fantasy contests, but I won a couple of werewolf novels. Great... The books sat on my shelf for several months and I finally started the first one last week. Two days later I was done. Turns out Carrie Vaughn tells a good story of a werewolf who is a late night radio DJ and one night she unintentionally spends the entire show not playing music and taking supernatural type calls from the listeners, dispensing advice. She thinks it'll get her fired, but the show is a hit and her producer wants her to do this all the time. At first she plays the show as if she knows a lot, but doesn't reveal her true nature, but things change. What Vaughn does a great job of is describing the pack structure of werewolves and behavior and Vaughn has written a solid novel and I am actually going to read book 2 Kitty Goes to Washington. I'm not even interested in vampire and werewolf books, but Vaughn has changed my mind. I'll read her work.

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