Tag Archives: elves

Review of Black Dog Blues & Mad Lizard Mambo, by Rhys Ford

I won an Audible copy of Black Dog Blues from the narrator, Greg Tremblay and Queer Sci Fi. Because I enjoyed the first one, I borrowed an ecopy of the second (Mad Lizard Mambo) through Amazon. Thank you A.

Description from Goodreads:
Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.

It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.

I really quite enjoyed this. 8 hours and 50 minutes and I listed to it in one day. Seriously, I got all my laundry folded, cleaned my house, did a little knitting. It was great. I think what I liked most was Kai’s sarcasm and the rough, fatherly affections of the stalkers. I appreciated how the elfin and human societies sat side by side, chafing at the edges. As well as how Kai was bisexual and the slow, slow burn of the romance.

I was annoyed with how women were represented. There aren’t a lot of them and they’re all cliched. The untouchable angel, the whore, the sexually aggressive cousin, the raving bitch, the manipulator and the mother (who was also disloyal). There wasn’t a single non-problematic women in the book, when taken all together. Why does MM so often do this?

I also liked the narrations. I was a little iffy with the Irish lilt, given the appearance of the character on the cover and the obvious Japanese influence. It didn’t match what I would have imagined. But it worked, given his adoptive father and once I got used to it.

Description from Goodreads:
Kai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

I enjoyed this in much the same way I did the first. I still liked Kai’s sarcasm and his tough outer shell that guards a big, squishy heart. I still liked Ryder and the side characters. I liked where the story seems to be going and the mysteries that are being revealed about Kai.

I did think there were a lot of coincidental, none plot related things happen. Like getting caught in a sudden flash flood or a buffalo stampede. I kept waiting to find out there was a weather mage or something causing it, but that didn’t appear to be the case. Additionally, they were supposed to be going somewhere super dangerous, but they barely encountered any challenges.

Regardless, I hope the next comes out soon. I can’t wait to read it.

Review of Steelflower, by Lilith Saintcrow

SteelflowerI borrowed a copy of Lilith Saintcrow‘s Steelflower from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Picking the wrong pocket can get a girl in trouble…

Thief, assassin, sellsword—Kaia Steelflower is famous. Well, mostly famous, and mostly for the wrong reasons. She’s made a good life for herself, despite being kicked out of her homeland for having no magic. She’s saving up for her retirement, when she can settle down, run an inn, and leave the excitement for others.

Then she picks the wrong pocket, wakes up with a hangover, and gets far more than she bargained for. Now she has a huge, furry barbarian to look after, a princeling from her homeland to fend off, and an old debt to fulfill. And for some reason, the God-Emperor’s assassins want to kill her.

It’s never easy being an elvish sellsword, and this time it just might be fatal…

I both really enjoyed and found myself quite frustrated with this book. I liked Kaia. I liked the Barbarian. I adored D’ri. I liked the world and the writing. BUT the book never really goes anywhere. They wander around and do this and then that and then something else, but there is no intent in it. Also, while I understood Kaia’s strong reluctance, I got tired of reading it. Worst of all, the hints that all the hardships she’d suffered in her life might have actually been her own fault, based on a misunderstanding that she didn’t seek clarification of over a decade is off-putting to say the least.

Despite all that, I’d read more if there was any, but Saintcrow states that she does not intent to continue the story, as e-piracy killed the series. Which means that this, an incomplete story (though not a cliffie), will always remain so and that makes it kind of a pointless read IMO.

Review of A Darkness Forged in Fire (Iron Elves #1) by Chris Evans

A Darkness Forged in FireI got a copy of A Darkness Forged in Fire, by Chris Evans, from the library.

Description from Goodreads:
We do not fear the flame, though it burns us,
We do not fear the fire, though it consumes us,
And we do not fear its light,
Though it reveals the darkness of our souls,
For therein lies our power.
— Blood Oath of the Iron Elves

First in a stunning debut series, A Darkness Forged in Fire introduces an unforgiving world of musket and cannon…bow and arrow…magic, diplomacy, and oaths — each wielding terrible power in an Empire teetering on the brink of war.

In this world, Konowa Swift Dragon, former commander of the Empire’s elite Iron Elves, is looked upon as anything but ordinary. He’s murdered a Viceroy, been court-martialed, seen his beloved regiment disbanded, and finally been banished in disgrace to the one place he despises the most — the forest.

Now, all he wants is to be left alone with his misery…but for Konowa, nothing is ever that simple. The mysterious and alluring Visyna Tekoy, the highborn daughter of an elfkynan governor, seeks him out in the dangerous wild with a royal decree that he resume his commission as an officer in Her Majesty’s Imperial Army, effective immediately.

For in the east, a falling Red Star heralds the return of a magic long vanished from the earth. Rebellion grows within the Empire as a frantic race to reach the Star unfolds. It is a chance for Konowa to redeem himself — even if the entire affair appears doomed to be a suicide mission…

and that the soldiers recruited for the task are not at all what he expects. And worse, his key adversary in the perilous race for the Star is the dreaded Shadow Monarch — a legendary elf-witch whose machinations for absolute domination spread deeper than Konowa could ever imagine….

This was a middle of the road read for me. Some aspects of it I quite enjoyed, like the dwarf and the spectacled kid, as well as a few of the other low ranking soldiers. And I thought it had a quite dramatic ending.

But there were other aspects that didn’t work for me. There is NO chemistry in the romance, none. I thought no one reacted realistically to the odd things happening around them and I thought the battles went on and on and on.

I think I’ll probably read the next one in the series, since it’s in my library and I can do so for free, but I’m not really racing out to get it as soon as possible.