Jack of Shadows – Roger Zelazny

On a tidally locked planet, the two sides are protected by different shields – scientific on the sunward side, magical on the spaceward side. Notorious thief and dark lord Shadowjack, killed only to resurrect in the Dung Pits of Glyve, plots an intricate revenge, only to find that enacting it will shift the the whole world. I’m a big Zelazny fan, and books like Jack of Shadows are the reason why. It’s not a perfect…

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Godbody – Theodore Sturgeon

An assortment of indirectly linked residents of a small town interact with a mysterious stranger. From what I’ve read of Theodore Sturgeon’s work before, Robert Heinlein and Stephen Donaldson seemed unlikely choices for, respectively, the foreword and afterword. On dipping into the novel, however, it began to make sense. Sturgeon’s Godbody is in some ways an amalgam of Heinlein’s own two Smiths – Woodrow Wilson and Valentine Michael, and the focus on a ‘free love…

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The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

A young woman in the depths of the Russian forest faces temporal and supernatural challenges, especially with respect to household spirits that few others can see. The cover of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale caught my eye at NetGalley. A closer look suggested it wasn’t my kind of book, but then I got several e-mails from the publisher suggesting I try it. They compared Arden to Robin Hobb, and Hobb herself blurbed the…

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Clockwork Phoenix 2 – Mike Allen

Clockwork Phoenix #2 An anthology of speculative fiction edited by Mike Allen. I didn’t care much for the first Clockwork Phoenix. While some of the stories were good, others felt forced. Overall, they all sounded similar. This second collection is more varied, though few of the stories really stand out. There’s less ‘grotesque for the sake of grotesquerie’, but more pretentious and more experimental work. At least two of the stories were thoroughly irritating in…

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Unquiet Land – Sharon Shinn

Elemental Blessings #4 Leah, once a foreign spy in Malinqua, has come home to Welce, dominated by the Five Families and the magic powers of the primes. She plans to reunite with the daughter she once abandoned, but also misses the close friend she made while away. When the Welce regent asks her to keep an eye on some foreign visitors, Leah finds herself drawn back into intrigue and danger. I like Sharon Shinn’s work…

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Magus Rex – Jack Lovejoy

Far in the future, Magus Rex is the most powerful sorceror who has ever lived. Valorius is far from a match, but has dared to fall in love with the great wizard’s daughter Zenobia. When he presses his case, Magus Rex takes his daughter far back in time, daring Valorius to follow them, and risk being stranded in the past forever. The setting of Magus Rex will be familiar to any fan of Jack Vance…

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