Beyond The Empire

Sliding into this book (3rd in the series) was like getting into a comfortable and super fun bath. Not as good as the first one, but still a blast.

Space opera. Military sci fi. Political sci fi. Feminist sci fi.

The strongest relationship in the trilogy was between a man and woman who respected and loved each other without ever suggesting that they had any desire to ever have sex (with each other). If there was a criticism, it is that this friendship didn’t get the attention it deserved in the final book.

I gather there is a sequel series and I’m down to read it.

Magician: Master

A little less ‘D&D’-y than its predecessor, but a little more needlessly complex mythology. A lot of deus ex machinas at work here. On the positive side, some nice subversion of expectations (no one gets the princess).

The next volume, while a direct sequel to this one, I gather, is more of a novel within the same world than a continuation of the same storyline. And I’ll probably read it, but I won’t rush. Does that make sense?

‘Magician: Apprentice’ By Raymond E. Feist

I enjoyed it and I feel like it improved over the course of the book, but… I have a question for those who might know: did he shameless rip off Dungeons & Dragons or did D&D shamelessly rip off from Feist? Because the magic system seems like a good faith effort to justify/explain the D&D system of magic (which is all about creating a justification for why wizards shouldn’t be all powerful).

This was one of the books that I remember seeing in Waldenbooks and B. Dalton as a kid, with Feist being a prolific and popular author on the sci-fi and fantasy shelves of those now defunct (I believe) bookstores.

A Fighting Man Of Mars

Yup. Still reading these. Next up is Swords of Mars, which features John Carter as the protagonist for the first time since the third book (I think Fighting Man is the sixth or seventh book). But let’s not talk about John; let’s talk about Tan Hadron and his lady love, Tavia.

What’s the plot? There’s a kidnapping, beautiful women (including the most capable female character yet in Tavia, who is able to fence and pilot rocket ships with the best of them!), and plot twist after plot twist. The heroes keep encountering the enemy, having him at their mercy and then somehow getting captured and dumped into a new and terrible situation. This keeps happening. There are three or four books worth of plot crammed into several hundred pages, so let’s just say the action never lags.

And I still love it!

The Fortuitous Meeting

An alternate history ‘novelette’ (that’s what the good folks at Tor call it) taking place in a 17th century Brazil, but with magic and monsters. It’s the intro to a series called The Elephant and Macaw Banner and to two characters, the improbably named Gerard van Oost and the freed (by Gerard) slave Oludara. I found the style to be a bit stilted, to be honest and have little desire to read more.

The Black Tides Of Heaven

BlackTidesThis was an interesting book, but it is, perhaps, hard to untangle those facets that make it interesting as a hybrid fantasy novel (with some elements of science fiction; I have heard the genre described as a ‘silkpunk’) with its sexual character, which is entangled with the author’s non-binary sexual identity. Characters are genderless until they make a decision (which, it seems, usually occurs in the late teens or very early twenties) to choose it and then there is some sorcery (the term used is ‘slackcraft,’ the ‘Slack’ being an all pervasive something that rather resembles the Force). The main characters are twins who choose different genders and different paths (one becomes a revolutionary, associated with a group that seeks to use technology to give the ordinary people more power, making them less dependent on ‘slackcraft’ practitioners, known as Tensors; the other marries an abbot, which, I guess, is ok in this world). The society is also matriarchal.

I am torn on this. I enjoyed it, but did I enjoy it enough to read more in the Tensorate series?