Turtledove. Harry. We Install and Other Stories.

NY: Open Road, 2015.

Harry’s early fantasy novels and alternate history short fiction, published in the mid-1980s, weren’t bad. His first full-blown alt-history novel, Guns of the South, was also pretty good. But shortly thereafter, he began cranking out novels as fast as he could type and their quality degraded badly. Of the sixty or so mostly fat books he’s published in the past twenty-five years, many are frankly unreadable, at least to me – but I keep checking back on his work, just in case.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Obelisk Gate.

NY: Orbit Books, 2016.

This isn’t a sequel to The Fifth Season so much as the middle section of a continuous epic narrative, and it’s easily as good as the first volume. And, like the first volume, it also won the Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula. Essun (who once was Damaya and then was Syenite) is a very powerful orogene, a manipulator of the geology of the Earth (which, one begins to suspect for various reasons, is actually our Earth, perhaps in the far future), has found sanctuary in a community that includes many others of her kind — which amazes her, since people like her are universally feared and frequently killed as children, as soon as they begin to show their abilities.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Fifth Season.

NY: Orbit Books, 2015.

I finally read Jemisin’s earlier “Inheritance” trilogy a few months ago and enjoyed it immensely. I’m pleased to discover that the first volume of her more recent “Broken Earth” trilogy is of equally high quality. There’s a reason it won the Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula and several other major awards. The author’s worldbuilding skills are fully on display and the characters and the setting will rope you into the story from the first page.

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Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona.

NY: Harper, 2015.

EXPLOSIONS! SCIENCE! SHARKS! NERDS! SYMBOLISM! Yep, that’s the kind of graphic novel this is. It won a bunch of awards, not only from other artists but from its (mostly) teenage readers, as well. Lord Ambrosius Goldenloin is the Official Hero here and Lord Ballister Blackheart is the Bad Guy, but neither of them is really terrible — even though the former hacked off the latter’s arm back when they were students together. Now, Ambrosius works for the Institution while Blackheart tries to keep the kingdom’s growing police state from impinging on its subjects any further.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Awakened Kingdom.

NY: Orbit Books, 2014.

If you enjoyed Jemisin’s “Inheritance” trilogy as much as I did, then you will certainly want to read this shorter sequel. She calls it a novella, but at 250 pages, I regard it as a novel.

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Published in: on 29 April 2018 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Jemisin, N. K. The Kingdom of Gods.

NY: Orbit, 2011.

The most common pattern for a fiction trilogy is for a good deal of action and the introduction of strong characters in the first volume (to hook the reader), extended plot development and a relative lull in action in the second volume (the “bridge”), and a wrapping-up of everything in the third volume. Jemisin declines to follow that well-worn path, though.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Broken Kingdoms.

NY: Orbit, 2010.

This is the second volume of the “Inheritance” trilogy, and it might be even better than the extremely good first volume. It’s set in the city of Sky — now called Shadow by the residents, since the coming of the World Tree — a decade after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and all the major characters are new, though the gods and godlings (being immortal) are still the same.

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Published in: on 2 February 2018 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Jemisin, N. K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

NY: Orbit, 2010.

[NOTE: Apologies for the unexpected three-day hiatus, folks. I was out in the wilderness without an Internet connection.]

By the time I was one chapter into this not terribly long first volume of a trilogy, I knew I’d be along for the whole ride. The characters are that fascinating from the outset and the prose is that mesmerizing. In Jemisin’s world, the Arameri clan runs everything — and Dekarta Arameri runs the clan — and they do it with the assistance of the gods, both Bright Itempas (only survivor of the original Three) and all the little godlings who are their children (sort of). Itempas insists on order and avoidance of change, and that’s how things have been for the more than two thousand years since the Gods’ War.

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Published in: on 23 January 2018 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rothfuss, Patrick. The Wise Man’s Fear.

NY: DAW, 2011.

The first volume of this engrossing fantasy trilogy-to-be ran close to 700 pages and it took me longer than usual to read because I took my time and thought about what I was reading. Rothfuss’s multilayered style has that effect. This second volume is 1,000 pages even and, again, I took my time. The Chronicler has come to Kvothe’s small-town inn in search of his story, which the legend-covered man known as “King-Killer” decides it’s time to tell, in all its many facets.

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Published in: on 24 December 2017 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Maas, Sarah J. Throne of Glass.

NY: Bloomsbury, 2012.

The author has apparently aimed this series (it’s up to at least eight books now) at the teen market — and I mean that in the most denigrating way possible. She seems to think that as long as there’s a swashbuckling female lead, plus magic and a bit of romance, the reader won’t notice the plot holes, the seriously non-credible characters, or the gratuitous overwriting. Celaena Sardothien is the most able and successful hired assassin in the kingdom (or empire, or whatever it is) of Adarlan, even though she’s only eighteen.

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