Thursday, December 19, 2019

My Thought's On. . .

The Poppy War
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. And by a lot, I mean over forty books a year on average. It’s not only because I love the genre, either – which I do. I treat each journey into an author’s imagination as a treasure hunt, you see. It’s as if I’m panning for gold in mineral laden sediment that’s become a little choked in recent decades. (Avid readers will know what I mean). But it’s worth the effort, because every now and then, I uncover a 24-carat nugget that stands out from all the other gems. And “The Poppy War” by R. F. Kuang is one of them.

Fang – Rin – Runin is a war orphan. A girl forced upon a merchant family from a poor province in a society where class and station mean everything. As you can imagine, Rin in looked upon as a burden that the Fang’s want to offload as soon as possible.

Sure enough, the moment Rin reaches fourteen years of age, the Fang’s arrange a marriage for her. She is to wed a man twice divorced and three times her age. Little wonder, then, that Rin rebels. The Keju – an annual national test to find the brightest students in the Nikara Empire – is approaching. Rin takes matters into her own hands. She’s a bright girl with a good mind, and through some artful maneuvering, manages to secure private tuition.

The trouble is, when Rin aces the exams, she finds her success is merely illusory, like fools gold. Why? Entry into Sinegard – the Empire’s most prestigious military school – doesn’t guarantee her troubles are over. Far from it. They’ve only just begun!

Prejudice, bitter rivalry, narcissism – from classmates and instructors alike, make Rin’s life a living hell. But this dark-skinned peasant girl with a strange accent from the south has one thing going in her favor. She’s not a quitter. And when she discovers she is one of only a few people in existence who can summon the power of the gods, well . . . events take quite a turn.
Alas, the gods are unpredictable. Vast in scope. Insanely passionate and impossibly cold and aloof. And when their majesty is brought to bear upon insignificant little humans, the results can be – and often are – catastrophic. Rin witnesses this firsthand when the Mugen Federation declares war upon Nikara.

Far from helping her take control of her own life, Rin finds her future thrown into jeopardy when an avenging god seeks to use her as its conduit onto the mortal plane.
As to how that goes, exactly, you’ll have to find out for yourselves. But in summation:

“The Poppy War” is a fantastically mystical story, operatic in scale, personal in its appeal, and one of the most entertaining, thoroughly satisfying journeys you will ever take through the pages of a book.
Prepare to have your perceptions altered.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

This Weeks Review Of. . .

After the events that almost tore their family apart in Australia, life has changed for the better as far as Rebecca Hope-Patko and her husband, Lord Justyn are concerned. They’ve brought Eric and his new sister, Harmony, home to New Jersey, and opened their very own dinner theater – the Ange du Palais. Not only that, but Rebecca has taken firmer control of her personal affairs. She’s learned to look after herself, and volunteered her services and her home to a covert underground railway that helps women and their children escape life-threatening situations.
All starts well. The children are happy; Rebecca receives her first assignment, helping an abused mother and child flee a violent home; and the Hope-Patkos launch their new venture with their very own production of “Ghost Bride” based on the animated adventure – Corpse Bride.
Alas, the specter of past trials and tribulations continue to haunt them. There are skeletons in the closet – and in all sorts of other places they shouldn’t be, come to that. And soon, it becomes obvious that someone’s out to sabotage their every effort. No wonder everyone is spooked, for they don’t stand a ghost of a chance of finding out who is responsible unless they pick through the bones of all the little clues left along the way to put this latest whodunit to rest.

It’s always been a treat to return to the ever evolving world of Lord Justyn and Rebecca. I’ve followed them from the very beginning, and love the way their creator, Laura DeLuca, molds their lives around the theme of popular musicals. It creates an environment you can immediately relate to, and helps you involve yourself in the Hope-Patkos’ struggles as they become embroiled in their latest murder mystery. Very clever . . . and lots of fun!
Christmas is coming. Why not treat yourself and take a peek into something that’s bound to leave you feeling both festive and reanimated for the New Year?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

My Thought's On. . .

The War Within
Twenty years have passed since the events recorded in Seventh Decimate. Prince – Now King – Bifalt of Belleger is now married to Queen Estie of Amika, forging an uneasy alliance in order that the two nations can work together for a war they can ill afford to fight. Alas, the Last Repository – the greatest library of arcane knowledge in existence – has to be protected at all coasts. Or so the Magisters say.
At this stage, the enemy is still unknown. However, that enemy must be great indeed if the protectors of the Repository fear their coming. So, despite the fragile peace, Belleger and Amika work hard in preparation. Existing defenses are expanded; new ones built and fortified; old alliances strengthened as best they can. Even so, a damaging rift still exists: that between Bifalt and Estie, one that might be exploited if the missionary priests of the Great God Rile have anything to do with it.
How do they fare when the enemy arrives at last, revealing a command of the decimates unlike anything seen before?
Only time will tell, but in true Stephen Donaldson style, every step of the way will be described in graphic detail, revealing a depth of narrative and skill that will involve you from the moment you turn the first page. Outstanding work from the master of speculative fiction.