Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reading A to Z: O-T

More books on my Reading A-Z challenge. (Part 1, A-G; Part 2, H-N). The rules: choose a book with a title for each letter; it has to be something I already own (if I don't have a books for a particular letter but have a sample, I can buy that book); DNFs don't count (except in the case of collections and boxed sets; have to read at least one of the stories all the way through); indie authors strongly preferred. So, here's O through T (links, except for Quest, go to Goodreads):
Out of Exile
Out of Exile (Teutevar Saga, book 1), by Derek Alan Siddoway

What if the medieval Europe of traditional fantasy took place in the American West? Out of Exile explores the combination of the two in an exciting story in a refreshingly different setting. Read my full review here, and also Derek's guest post on medieval westerns.

Path of the Heretic
Path of the Heretic (The Beholder, book 2), by Ivan Amberlake

Path of the Heretic is the exciting follow-up to The Beholder, and I liked it even more than the first book (which I enjoyed very much). The book is darkly moody and atmospheric, but I also appreciate the touch of romance from the man's point of view. Great reading for fans of urban/contemporary fantasy. See the full review here.

Quest, by various authors

I didn't have any books for Q, but I do have a multi-book boxed set called Quest, so I decided to dip into that. I didn't read every book in it, but here are a few notes on what I did read. On the whole, there's something in it for nearly all fantasy fans, and it's well worth picking up to sample some new authors.

The Book of Deacon - Joseph R. Lallo: I had already read this. Not without its problems, but if you enjoy coming-of-age and learning-about-magic fantasy, check this one out.
The Emperor's Edge - Lindsay Buroker: I had also already read this, as well. Book 1 of the wonderful Emperor's Edge series, fun and exciting epic fantasy with a steampunk twist. I highly recommend the whole series.
The God Decrees - Mark E. Cooper: The kingdom of Deva, under attack by a kingdom of powerful sorcerers, is desperate for help, so one of Deva's few sorcerers risks everything to bring a powerful magician from another world to help out... a 19-year-old aspiring Olympic gymnast from our world named Julia. Who knows nothing about magic, and anyway, women aren't supposed to be able to use magic! See the full review here.
Defender - Robert J. Crane: Epic fantasy that reads a lot like a video game. Readers who also like playing games like World of Warcraft will probably enjoy it a lot.
Draykon - Charlotte E. English: skipped because I was getting impatient to move on to the next letter.
Fire & Ice - Patty Jansen: Interesting premise, set in a world where people born with physical deformities are left to die, but those who survive are capable of powerful magic.
Lost City - Jeffrey M. Poole: Treasure-hunting dwarves in an adventure story for tweens/YA readers.
Reversion: The Inevitable Horror - J. Thorn: skipped for now because I was ready to move on.

Redfall (Legacy of Ash, book 2), by James Downe

A group of travelers are crossing a vast, desolate grassland, hoping to avoid the barbarian natives. The leader of the caravan ignores some dire omens, resulting in trouble when they meet up with the barbarians - and when one of the travelers turns out to not be what they appear to be.

A long short story (close to novella length), suspenseful and magical, written in evocative language (though it could use one more quick edit to clean up a few mistakes). The characters are memorable, the world is well-developed in a few well-chosen words, and the climactic confrontation is explosive. Intriguing possibilities are left open at the end, and I really hope there'll be a follow-up story. Recommended if you want a quick immersion into an exciting fantasy world. (Redfall is labeled Book 2 of Legacy of Ash, but it stands alone.)

Soldier, Kraken, Bard
Soldier, Kraken, Bard (Legacy of Ash, book 1), by James Downe

A city perched on rocks over the sea is attacked by a gigantic storm, presenting a challenge to the survival of three characters - a female soldier, a talented bard, and a young girl. Who will triumph, the people fighting the storm or the storm itself?

Tense and evocative and horrifying, set in a well-developed fantasy world skillfully conveyed in a few careful brushstrokes. Beautifully written (though it could use a final clean-up edit to fix a few mistakes). The ending is somewhat darker than I prefer, which is why I couldn't quite rate it 5 stars, but I would really love to know what happens next and hope there'll be a follow-up story.

Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids
The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble's Braids (Amra Thetys #1), by Michael McClung

Wow, this was really amazing, one of the rare books that I start reading and it almost hurts to have to put it down. Reads like a mashup of thief/assassin fantasy and hardboiled detective novels (I could almost hear Amra saying in a female Humphrey Bogart voice "I knew he was trouble the moment he walked in"). Read the full review here.

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