Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review::Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

MarsboundMarsbound by Joe Haldeman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

I bought this as a light read and since I've only read a few older books by Joe Haldeman ,Mindscape, and all my sins remembered, I would have to say I didn't come into it with great expectations. The pace of the novel is rather sedate, which is good for a light read; it's not a novel that starts the reader by hitting the ground running and ramping up the pace every few pages. My impression of the character was that she was written from the point of a 17 year old and possibly because of the sex scenes the age was changed to 19. But that feeling might be wherein lies the beginning of problems with this novel. Still overall I enjoyed the novel and I think that if someone is looking for a light read in science fiction that this one should fit the bill.

Carmen Dula is our heroin of this story and as mentioned she's 19 years old. Her family is headed to Mars, because they are one of several families who were lucky with the lottery for this trip. Carmen is resistant to the idea of going but seems to feel she's being dragged along and I would think at age 19 she'd do something more than grouse about it. Instead she acts like a 17 year old who grudgingly has to go along; so she'll try to make the best of it. But then later after she's met Paul the man who will pilot the craft from Earth Space to Mars there will be an intimate scene and perhaps the story then calls for an advanced age to make this one fly past some of our inner censors. But then if this were true Young adult fiction then the young girl who acts 17 would be 17 and the sex scene would be deemed less necessary or maybe toned down. But the choice here was to leave that in and that ends up making Carmen Dula look like an immature young woman and confuses just what audience this might be written for.

For this reader having Carmen show up as immature still causes the sex scene to be jarring and doesn't help efforts to give the character more depth. The relationship seems to be a device to put the character at odds with other characters and set the scene for the portion where the real story starts. And that's where another problem crops up.

The first hundred or so pages are at a rather slow tedious pace and would have worked quite well for me if the character development had been accomplished more efficiently. Some character development is there and there is a whole bunch of world building and setting the stage and giving the reader a feel that this whole trip into space is real. It's almost too real; though we don't really get much of the science behind the space elevator, we get a protracted picture of what it's like to travel on one. There is a lot of time spent on developing the passengers, the Dula family and the other families that are going along. This is all good except that there will be a point when few of these characters play much of a part in the rest of the story; while at the same time we don't get enough understanding of the character of Carmen Dula; unless the whole first part of the book was supposed to demonstrate how immature she is. This imbalance hurt the story for this reader.

The next part of the novel is the interesting part but then the reader has to wade through the issues caused by that early relationship before anyone else begins to believe Carmen witnessed the things she does witness. Still Carmen looks immature because it took a tantrum to put her in danger where she would make a great discovery. The other characters treating her like a spoiled immature girl forces her to continue to break the rules when her own life and the lives of all the children are placed in danger.

This is really a story of first contact and then one that leads to a more sinister contact that might be a danger for all of Earth. And by the third part Carmen finally has matured at least to her age level possibly because she has to face the consequences of her actions though I was never clear about that. It's not the easiest thing to see, but mostly it's not the easiest of things to be certain that Carmen even fully appreciates how much difficulty her actions have caused. And that gets thrown away a bit with the realization that this was all an eventuality with or without Carmen.

Over all Marsbound becomes a complete novel within itself with a somewhat complex moral message and sets the stage for the possibility of more stories. It also becomes another addition to the Mars books that started proliferating when there were rumors of eventual missions to Mars in our future.

Good Simon Pure Science Fiction that plays more on characters working within accepted technologies and delves only on the surface as regards how things are made and work, which makes for a perfect matching with character driven stories; though these characters could have used more development or at least maybe a bit more exposure before the plot thickened and drown them out.

J.L. Dobias

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Review::The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington

The Diary of Pelly DThe Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington

I was doing my semi annual purchase of paper books from Amazon, so usually I have a full list of possibilities in my wish list. This time I was a bit scarce to making my numbers and knowing that at least three of the novels I was ordering were going to be epic fiction I thought I'd check a few that looked a bit light and that's how The Diary of Pelly D managed to get on my list. That and the excellent bargain Amazon let me have it for. I was a bit concerned that this was listed for ages 7-10 and that one of the main characters was 14 years of age. But I'm not one of those that subscribe to the notion that books for young adults should be avoided at all cost: by adults. Still this is more middle age and published under a children's label and at some point in my selections I was pushed over my limit and could’ve let it slide off my list. I'm certainly glad I left it there and I have to say that light reading is not what this is. This book is for all ages and is quite thought provoking and would definitely be a double treat for the target age level.

Being written in diary form the author L.J. Adlington takes some advantage in style by having the writer use strange abbreviations such as Shd Cd Wd for Should Would and Could. Fortunately for the reader it's mostly limited to those or I for one would have been a bit troubled. Another strange convention is the naming of characters like Tony V and Pelly D. There's reason for this that shows up later in the narrative. This is a tale that takes place in a fictional future world that has been founded with the notion that the planet would avoid the pitfalls of their home world (presumably our Earth) and the people lead an idyllic life in a virtual paradise.

But the story itself starts with Tony V a fourteen year old enlisted in the work group to rebuild a city after a great war (obviously a war that should never have occurred). Tony's job is to break away the rubble for clean-up and, though there are some who look for treasures in the rubble, treasure hunting is not his function. So when he finds a simple water container that should be tossed out, but weighs more than it should; his job is to either put it in the trash or turn it over to his supervisor. He instead opens it to find a diary, which he perceives as trash and should go in the dumpster; yet he instead takes it to his bunk and begins reading it.

The story that unfolds is two-fold in that at the beginning there is the impression that Pelly D is some over-privileged youth trying to skirt through life and just narrowly make the grade while having a good time. This is probably the one weakness that this narrative has especially for the age group; because nothing happens for a long time and even when it begins to happen it's all so subtle that it might be a difficult read for those raised in a culture of instant gratification with the rolling thunder of action packed story telling. This is a story of a different pace that, in the long run, though ponderous, is also thought provoking and eye opening in enough ways that I'd suggest the reader to give it time to grab their interest; because it is well worth reading.

This is a story about prejudice and racism; but it is mostly a story about how simple things that seem to be harmless, though questionable, can easily be used to turn people against each other. It also highlights the realization that even in the best planned environment there may always be undercurrents of old hazards and baggage that have made the long trip with the new pilgrims into their paradise. It's also a story of the growth of Pelly D from a self absorbed youth into someone who has had their eyes opened to full understanding that her perfect world was not so perfect and will never be the same.

The setting and some other characteristics of the characters make this science fiction though it's less of the technical science fiction and adventure and more the thought provoking type similar to H.G. Wells 1984 and Audous Huxley's Brave New World while touching close to terrors from out ot World War II.

Social Science Fiction for all ages; don't let the listing fool you. I recommend this to all ages; just don't expect it to be a light read.

J.L. Dobias

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Review::The Outskirter's Secret (Steerswoman Series book 2)by Rosemary Kirstein

The Outskirter's Secret (The Steerswoman, #2)The Outskirter's Secret by Rosemary Kirstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Outskirter's Secret (Steerswoman Series book 2)by Rosemary Kirstein

This is the second of the epic Steerswoman series. Though the novel is large it's not as large as some epic fantasy, but the scope of the world building is quite epic. A dystopic world of magic and technology twined together by forgotten knowledge and a strange new world that seems to have emerged after a disaster that took away the moon. This, the second in the series of Steerswoman takes the reader into the Outskirts where strange and deadly creature dwell; in search of answers to the secret of the gems that might have come from a fallen Guidestar.

Somewhere in the dangerous land lies the answer to a question that has put Rowan and her friend Bel in danger. Now Rowan will travel with Bel to Bel's part of the world in hopes of answers and a chance to add to her knowledge base. As a steerswoman she seeks knowledge and truth and must also impart this to anyone asking of her as long as they agree to answer her questions. Where she's dwelled before, steerswomen are well known and revered for this; but in the outskirts she may have to prove her worth. Every day she has new knowledge and new misgivings about the Outskirters; the people of her friend Bel.

This novel answers a few questions from the first novel and adds yet more so that the reader is compelled to continue the series.

One interesting and well crafted part of this story involves a character that Rosemary Kirstein manages to withhold information about; in such a crafty manner that it doesn't matter that the reader is a slight bit misled, because she uses it to show how different the culture is on this world and how much two cultures of the world differ from one another. The outcome is predictable and yet startling all at the same time while leaving at least one character stunned.

Once again this is a superbly well written novel that is well paced while it weaves a strange and dangerous world around such well crafted complex characters.

Lovers of SFF and paranormal should love this; although the magic most often looks like technology that's been forgotten, there are many creatures of paranormal nature that show up throughout.

I'm looking forward to the third book though a bit leery that there might be two more after that.

J.L. Dobias

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review::A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair Book 2)by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair, #2)A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair Book 2)by Emma Jane Holloway

Following up from the first book is the long awaited (I was waiting for the paper copy to show up in the mail) sequel. This one is no disappointment. But be prepared this is for lovers of epic tales who have the time for an epic book that makes the reader turn each page with anticipation.

We return to the world of Evelina Cooper, niece to Sherlock Holmes. Her lover from the circus, Nick, has stolen Athena, the air spirit, and has made an airship to give Athena the skies while he becomes a pirate. While her lover from society, Tobias, has forged an alliance with the Gold King, and is soon to marry the Gold Kings daughter to further cement that relationship. Imogen, Tobias's sister and Evelina's best friend, is further troubled by nightmares and soon to be ever more troubled that they might not just be nightmares. Evelina, betrayed on both sides, has removed herself from London, and now is returning to resume her life and hopefully avoid the trouble of marriage in hopes of gaining further education. She returns to find that her uncle is under attack from several of the various ‘kings’ of England.

These are only a few of the threads that weave through this novel and I can assure you that you will need a stack of 3 by 5 cards to keep track of everything and everyone in this story. Evelina will have the usual struggles and challenges that would hamper any independent minded young woman in 1888 England, but she will also be faced with some tough choices involving her friends.

Following the same tradition of Steampunk aka GasLamp and paranormal fiction Emma Jane Holloway has crafted a strange new world of magic and mechanics that thrust the reader forward in unstoppable motion.

I love the writing, the tone and even the moderate bit of romantic intrigue that help drive the characters past fortune and folly through a slightly altered yet familiar landscape.

Definite must for lovers of Paranormal Gaslite Romances and even a few of the Sherlock Holmes aficionados should love this bit of diversion in the Canon.

J.L. Dobias

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review::A Motive for Murder (A Misty Sales Paranormal Cozy Mystery, book 1)by Morgana Best

A Motive for Murder (A Misty Sales Paranormal Cozy Mystery, Book 1)A Motive for Murder by Morgana Best

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Motive for Murder (A Misty Sales Paranormal Cozy Mystery, book 1)by Morgana Best

Just coming out of the epic Baskerville Affair Series by Emma Jane Holloway and Heading into the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein I was looking for something a bit lighter to help keep my head from exploding with an overload of epic fantasy. This Cozy Mystery turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Misty Sales is a writer for a paranormal magazine based in Australia. It's not her first choice in jobs in that profession, but her private life intersected too closely with her professional and left her momentarily adrift from her dream job. When her Aunt Beth in England, who is growing old and frail, sends her a somewhat strange letter asking her to come to England to see her and collect some keepsakes, her initial reaction is to set it aside. But curiously such a trip coincides with a piece she is currently working on and she would just have to convince her boss to make this a business trip so she might be able to afford it.

Misty arrives too late and finds her Aunt has passed away; possibly the day before she arrived and Misty is just in time to be knocked down by a gentleman who seems to be fleeing from her Aunt’s house. As things unfold Misty begins to have suspicions about her Aunt’s death; but that suspicion comes after her initial reaction to call for help leads to a doctor who comes to quickly sign this off as natural causes and who promptly sends the funeral directors out to whisk the corpse away and leave Misty with an empty house with two rooms that might be ransacked, an elderly neighbor claiming to be a good friend of her aunt, a cat that likes to claw at her and the mysterious lingering smell of garlic that was hanging in the air around her deceased aunt.

A prior experience of my own clued me to a possible cause of death and I'll leave that for the next reader to figure out.

As it is: it seems that Misty's aunt had intentions of passing her more than just keepsakes and memorabilia; but before that comes to light Misty has to solve a number of mysteries. And as with many mysteries the reader meets all the suspects, with various clues, yet not quite enough information to fill in most of the blanks. And much the same as my old favorite Alfred Hitchcock-Cary Grant movie 'North by Northwest'; by the time the reader reaches the more dramatic parts Misty doesn't know who to trust anymore.

Excellently written cozy mystery; but don't take my word for it, because I'm new to this genre and had to look it up. There were a few sentences that might have drifted into colloquialisms that had me stopping to read them several times over to makes sure I had a grasp of what they might be trying to tell me; but otherwise it's a well written story and was the right diversion I needed to clear my mind. There were a number of jarring current pop references; but that might be something I'm over sensitive about.

J.L. Dobias

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review::The Steerswoman (Steerswoman series book1)by Rosemary Kirstein

The Steerswoman (The Steerswoman Series)The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Steerswoman (Steerswoman series book1)by Rosemary Kirstein

This novel really surprised me. I don't gravitate to those epic novels that require a map to assist the reader. I have an old set of the Lord of The Rings hard bound 1965 (I was likely still in high school) that came with a foldout map in the back cover. I've looked at that map only once and that was recently and when I read the books long ago I avoided the map like a plague. Since then and possibly partly because I struggled reading TLOTR, I shy away from epic books with maps. I'm glad I made an exception for this one.

Maps are essential to this book in that the main character, a Steerswoman, helps make maps and explores territories to update and expand maps. This is in a world where the moon has somehow met with a catastrophe that might have led to mankind taking a few steps back in development and knowledge. All people living at this time only know the moon like a myth, a tale passed down, none have ever seen it. Now the world is dominated by wizards whose magic help keep some perceived dangers at bay. Those include beings referred to as Gnomes, Dragons, and demons to name a few. There are inner land people and outskirt people. Inland people were merchants and educated people where the outskirters were considered barbarians and there are some beyond the outskirts who are considered less than that. In the skies are the two Guidestars that the Steerswoman use to help navigate although they also use the old system of navigation by stars. They seem aware that the Guidestars were placed there and they believe the wizards are responsible.

Rowan, the Steerswoman, as with every steerswoman collects information and remembers everything so that she can use the information to exchange for information. A steersman or woman is obligated to answer questions asked of them and to be truthful within the scope of their knowledge. In return they are allowed to ask questions of others and they live under a rule to always answer questions; unless someone denies to give them information when they ask them questions. When someone deliberately withholds information they and everyone else affiliated with them are placed on ban and the steerswoman no longer is obligated to answer their questions. This sets both a major key in the world and the major key that stands as an asset and a struggle that Rowan will have to go through in the novel.

When the novel opens we catch Rowan while she's actively pursuing her hobby. She has a gemstone that has been mysteriously polished and flattened and encased in a ring of metal, which she has now found is not a unique piece; though has still defied her efforts to find it's origin. She's investigating a chunk of wood that contains more of the same gems. They all seem to have been worked with fine tools and metal work that defies current technology. While vying for a chance to borrow the piece she encounters an Outskirter who has a belt made from the same gems. This and information obtained conversing with the Outskirter lead her to form an alliance with Bel, the Outskirter, and the two begin to travel together. In their travel Rowan finds Bel to be better educated than she would have believed.

When they are set upon by one of the red wizards men, Rowan becomes suspicious and when later dragons that should have been under another wizards control attack them, she begins to believe that it might involve her hobby. But she's unsure if her friends and mentors at the archive will sanction her further pursuit of that hobby. But when it becomes apparent that she's in danger and there are wizards watching the archive, the free spirit of the organization of steerswomen almost demands that Rowan continue to find answers. And so begins the unlikely journey of the Steerswoman and the Outskirter; soon to be joined by the boy who would be a wizard.

If you’re a reader who likes to get all the answers at the end of the novel, this one might not be for you. But if you are like me and don't look at the novel as having a swift start point and a solid end point; but rather view it as a matter of the journey to get from one to the other; then there is plenty to whet the appetite.

This is the story of a steerswoman trying to be something she isn't in order to survive and discovering that it makes her somewhat less and she can't tolerate that. And Rowan discovers that the differences she perceived in other people are not quite as disparate as thought in some ways and yet are still widely different in ways she would never expect.

The world that Rosemary Kirstein has built is a marvelous tapestry that is only overshadowed by the rich depth of her characters.

In a world that reminds one of Clark's third law:: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Only it's been twisted in that it’s possibly older technology that few if any fully understand; but that has yet to be resolved in some future novel in this series.

Excellent Science Fiction Fantasy in a gritty and sometimes unforgiving world with characters that come to life.

J.L. Dobias

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Review::A Study in Silks(The Baskerville Affair Book1) by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair, #1)A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Study in Silks(The Baskerville Affair Book1) by Emma Jane Holloway

I seem to be growing fond of Steampunk. I still prefer calling them Gas-lamp or Gas-lite. There is steam in this novel, but not much is evident and the most crucial steam item in the story is impractical: the steam driven pocket watch. Think possibly asbestos pockets for personal protection. Still--Emma Jane Holloway has crafted something that is bringing me closer to being a great fan of Gas-lamp.

One thing I'm not all that fond of is the proliferation of caricatures of Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft in many of this genre. In too man cases it’s more like name dropping to bring in the readers with little attention to them remaining in character. I was even a slight bit disappointed on his first appearance in this novel and I had to tell myself to cut some slack, both for the fact that this is an alternate universe and that the scene is short enough and early enough that there might be some reason his demeanor seems a slight out of character. Plus I tend to be picky about how Sherlock should be portrayed.

The story itself is supposed to be about Evelina, his niece, so it's not entirely fair to dwell on first appearances of a lesser character. This novel is chock full of characters and you will eventually need some score cards. We start up with Evelina who is in temporary residence with her friend Imogen Roth and the girl’s family, and her father Lord Bancroft. This exposes Evelina to Tobias Roth who might well be a heartbreaker. But this visit to her friend exposes her to more imminent danger than just the danger of her heart. And on this night all the cards are beginning to be set in place. And not without a bit of her past catching up to her in the form of her childhood love Nick.

Nick and Evelina come from a Circus life, something Evelina has tried to leave behind when Mrs. Holmes brought her home from all of that to fulfill some of what she’d wished for her own daughter who had run away to the circus, so to speak. It might even be said that this places Evelina in the precarious place of navigating the treacherous life of a young woman in 1888 England even though it be an alternate England. And this society becomes a thread in the plot when the Gold King uses her as inducement to get Sherlock to work for him in a supposed exchange for lifting Evelina past her station in life to be presented before the Queen. It's all a subplot within the main plot and you need a second scorecard for all the subplots that linger in the wings of this tale.

England is primarily run by six power players and a rather seedy group whose leader remains obscured. They are: Jasper Keeting, the Gold King; William Reading, the Scarlet King; Coal, the Blue King, Bartholemeow Thane, the gray king; Jane Spicer the Green king and chairwoman; Valerie Cutter, the Violet king; then lastly The Black kingdom (underground) presently represented by (Mr. Fish).

But let's get to the heart of the mysteries. Evelina while engaging in a number of crafts that might get her in trouble, one of which looks like witchcraft and could get her killed, witnesses Bancroft’s men removing what might be illegal automatons from the attic of the Bancroft’s house. In an effort to get away undetected she encounters some unknown people in the house because she's skulking in the near darkness. At least one of those might have had some tinge of magic, but she’s not certain. While diverting herself into her friend’s room to help her (Imogen has insomnia and frightful nightmares) Evelina is there when one of the servants, Grace Child, is murdered downstairs. To compound the issues and before the murder is discovered Evelina returns to her own room to find her childhood friend Nick has broken into the house and into her room. When brought to the scene of the crime Evelina begins her own investigation and purloins some evidence that could possibly get Lord Bancroft into a lot of trouble if it is found and she finds she also has to consider her friend Nick as a suspect in the murder. The strong evidence against her friend’s family is such that she decides to do her own investigation to determine some things before her Uncle Sherlock gets involved in the case.

This leads the reader into a whole bunch of world building and some explanation of details that not only begin to unravel many mysteries, but begin to weave even more mysteries while the main mystery of who killed Grace Child remains as the primary mystery throughout and frames the largest concern for suspicion of many of the main figures in the story.

Yet it seems that even this mystery begins to take a backseat near the end when someone tries to kill Evelina's Uncle Sherlock. The attempt on his life is integral to the story in so many ways that it almost overshadows Grace Child's murder. The clues are there though and the reader can easily deduce this mystery so it is more a matter of waiting for our young investigator to uncover the truth.

Though the world building is a large focus, the character development is quite well done and seems mostly to dominate; which serves to enhance the writing style that is already quite engaging. It is not difficult to sink deep into this world and the story to a level of maximum engrossment.

There seem to be threads that are left hanging; but the core of the story, the mysteries that define the primary plot are well taken care of with enough left to serve as inducement to continue to read the series. This is traditional published and that means that the ebooks are priced quite steep and as long as the price is right I'll likely be waiting for the hard copy to show up in the mail.

This makes for fantastic Alternate History, Gas-lite Mystery with some dominating Paranormal Magic. Just the right combination to be called Steampunk and should satisfy the hunger of most readers of those Genre.

J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review::Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee

Inish CarraigInish Carraig by Jo Zebedee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee

There are so many things that are good, about this novel, that it's difficult to say which one might have pushed it over the top and onto my pile of best novels for the year 2015. I've read the author’s first novel, Abendau's Heir, and I would recommend that when you finish this novel you should check it out if you haven't already read it. Abendau's Heir showcases the authors style of writing which might be described as fifty shades of dark. She likes to start things out in grey areas and slowly drip the characters through darkness until they reach some of the darkest places. But in this novel I think she proved that she could balance that and since Abendau's Heir is the beginning of a series it bodes well that she will eventually balance the scale in that story also. All of that considered: what she does better than dark; is her delving into consequences. Her characters are not the sterling white knights that you see in some novels. And the stories she tells start with those consequences and lead the reader and the characters down a path toward whatever redemption is possible. It’s a long and winding path filled with dark moments and things are rarely easy and often gruesome.

In Inish Carraig John and Taz are survivors, but just barely; and they are scratching the bottom just to keep the remainder of their families alive. Aliens have devastated the earth, despite our technology the Zelotyr did not recognize humans as sentient and they began a systematic extermination of the vermin, because they needed the Earth as a replacement for their own dying world. When they finally recognized the error, they reversed course and began working toward coexistence. Still many humans did not gracefully accept this coexistence or the fact that the aliens still held superior power and authority over Earth. There is the GC, Galactic Council and its members which include the Barath'na who seem to be in some type of cold war with the Zelotyr. And on the night we get acquainted with John and Taz, they are completing a task for McDowell; a man who has always been the lowest of low who commands the dark streets they hide among. After going to high ground, the two begin to release what almost appears to be ashes into the wind and that begins their descent into a convoluted scheme that starts with the Xenocide of those Zelotyr on Earth.

John and Taz are quickly caught and easily linked to the outbreak that is killing the Zelotyr. As the few remaining Zelotyr abandon earth the Galactic Council, and specifically the Barath'na, move in to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. John and Taz begin the trials that will show them the consequences of the actions they took and even though through ignorance they know they will face the consequence; but Taz is now sick because he was foolish enough to test the 'ash' (out of bravado and ignorance) before they released it. To make things worse, others who have been involved with spreading the virus are turning up dead and that doesn't bode well for John and Taz's future. John and Taz could help fill in the spaces and connect the dots; but they have family that they are certain McDowell will harm if they talk; so they walk that thin line allowing them to be convicted of the crime they committed in ignorance.

There is a far greater and more insidious plot below all of this that will put the human race at risk; as the only people who might be able to put things together are slowly and systematically removed from the playing field. As the responsibility slowly devolves upon John and Taz until they discern that they may be the Earths only hope, they are uncertain that they are up to the task especially when they've been handed over to the somewhat enigmatic Barath'na who have vowed to bring justice against the perpetrators.

This novel varies in its style of writing from Abendau's Heir and I suppose that might be something to do with editors and editing. And though there were some few glitches that suggest the possibility of author tinkering post-edit; they were not enough to distract from the intensity of the story. The pacing is somewhat less intense as regards the delving into darker areas, but is well paced overall to make this a rapid and satisfying read throughout. It's a well told and tightly plotted story that maintains a solid feel that lasts right to the very end.

Lovers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Suspense and Mystery should enjoy this one. And though the science is almost taking a back seat, it maintains a consistency necessary to carry the reader through. The story takes place in and around Belfast and contains some elements of colloquial speech that I found helped the story along and rarely demanded I stop to look things up, because the context usually clarified the meaning.

Read and enjoy.

J.L. Dobias

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