Tag Archives: fantasy

Review of The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie

I borrowed an audio copy of Ann Leckie‘s The Raven Tower through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.

But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods.

It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo–aide to Mawat, the true Lease–arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself…and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever. 

Review:

This had a slow, but consistent pace. But I found that I continued to find chores I could do to keep listening to it. I enjoyed that the narrator was utterly unexpected and that the main character was just a tad off-centre from power. If you’re looking for a rollicking, fast-paced novel, this isn’t it. But it you like interesting, thought-provoking narrations it very well could be. This was my first Leckie book, but it won’t be my last. And Adjoa Andoh did a great job with the narration. In fact, while I’m sure I’d have liked the book regardless, I wonder if I’d have loved it as much as I did had I not listened to it.

Review of The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie

I purchased a paperback copy of The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie.

Description from Goodreads:

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. 

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea. 

Spoilerish Review:

Those in my book circle seem to love this book and I can see why. Perfectly readable writing, YA lesbian leads, a bad-ass female pirate captain, racial/identity/economic diversity, acknowlegement of power differences, dads and brothers who play domestic roles while women work, all things it’s nice to encounter, and even better when gender norms are perverted, not just swapped. The characters are natural in their role and the author doesn’t play it up for points. 

But the simple overall fact of the matter is that, despite liking aspects of the book, I didn’t enjoy the book. I felt that Cassandra’s sudden siding with her captors simply because she’d gotten to know some of them was beyond plebeian. Her sudden willingness to kill her own because she’d become attached to one person made me grit my teeth. It’s far too weak a motivation. 

And the ending? Well, I feel like the villain won. Nothing in the ending felt satisfying. I didn’t feel like Cassandra accomplished anything or grew. In fact, she put herself in the hands of her enemy. Nope. I was not happy with the ending.

Review of An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1), by Charlaine Harris

I borrowed an audio copy of Charlaine HarrisAn Easy Death form the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.

As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.

Review:

I would like to quote another reviewer here, who summarized this novel with:

Girl has guy. Guy is killed. Girl kills killers. Walks across the desert. Kills other people. Drives across the desert. Kills more people. Walks across the desert. Kills still more people. Has sex with frenemy. Walks home. The end. Nice cover. No point.

I agree with this entirely, except for the no point part. I do think the book has a point, even if it’s no deeper than your average action-based gunslinger book. 

I liked Gunny Rose. I thought Harris created an interesting, if hard, world. I listened to the audio version, and I thought Kaminsky did a nice job with the narration. But it’s all just a little flat, a bit on the tedious slow side. Things happen, one after the other (just as Miki’s review suggests) and then the book ends. I just kind of shrugged, not hating it, but not impressed either.