Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review::Sunset Over Abendau(The Inheritance Trilogy Book 2) by Jo Zebedee

Sunset Over Abendau (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2)Sunset Over Abendau by Jo Zebedee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sunset Over Abendau(The Inheritance Trilogy Book 2) by Jo Zebedee

For anyone who's read Jo's first book in this set, it may be easy to understand when I talk about how dark that book seemed to be. I almost struggled to decide when I'd subject myself to this: the next installment. So of course I started with the sample.

It starts with a prologue and I often don't care much for prologues. This one is done well and is quite appropriate to the story. It both sets the plot and brings the reader up to date to things after the end of the first book and gives the reader a look at Averrine whose power was blocked by Kare at the price of his own power being lost. Though she has lost her power, Averrine is neither cowed nor worried; instead she's plotting her revenge as she is locked up in a maximum security prison.

The story begins ten year after. It does not start with Kare, instead it starts with Baelan; the son that Kare doesn't know he has. Baelan is being raised in the desert by tribesmen and Phelps, one of Kare's most hated enemies. Baelan is being groomed to take Kare's place and also to help bring his grandmother, Averrine, back into power. We're five percent into the book and the plot is getting so thick that you're not going to want to stop by the end of the sample.

Finally we get to the victors of the last battle in the last book and if ever there were a story to paint a picture depicting the phrase 'to the victor belong the spoils' Jo nails it quite well. Her characters, who already are quite complex to begin with, have added new layers of complexity along with a false sense of complacency that is only compounded once again by the consequences of their actions. Except this time we include the consequences of the inaction.

The reader is reintroduced to the survivors of the first book and it doesn't take long to realize that the group is highly dysfunctional. Kare never wanted to take his mother's place and yet he seems entrenched in that spot while he's let his personal life get away from him. His wife Sonly and her brother Lichio both have their own issues lingering in the background and they all seem to have let the distance of ten years make them complacent about the enemies they have let live. But as the reader advances into the story it becomes evident that the ensuing events might be just what our heroes need to get them back on track. Even if it means there might be a journey into the darkness once more and with Jo at the helm that's almost a guarantee.

It's not often that a reader sees the second book in a series outshine the first in so many ways. I highly recommend the first book in the series and despite how dark it felt to me it is one amazing premier novel for an author. For those who haven't read Abendau's Heir, I suggest you get to it quickly so you can better enjoy the second book. And for those who have read the first book-you'll love this one more.

I have to mention that there were elements of the desert, the tribes and the political landscape of this novel that kept bringing Frank Herbert's Dune to mind, and I hope the author doesn't take offence in me making that comparison. When it comes to the characters, their complexity and their struggles it's all pure Jo Zebedee. So when all of you SFF fans finish this, if you haven't already, you should check out Jo's Inish Carraig. (Completely different world and characters, but an example of the range this author has to offer.)


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review::Code Breakers Complete Series 1-4 by Colin F. Barnes

Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4 by Colin F. Barnes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Code Breakers Complete Series 1-4 by Colin F. Barnes

I picked this one up on a special. It looked good and though I have to admit that it wasn't quite what I expected, there were a great number of other things that have caused me to put this on my love to hate list. I wasn't so much expecting a dystopic tale. Just having read John Shirley's A Song Called Youth which is touted as a cyberpunk story, but is more a thriller suspense with cyberpunk leanings. Code Breakers ABGD is more a dystopic tale wrapped around cyberpunk with elements ranging from those familiar to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein all the way to some of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian and Venusian series. There were certainly all the tropes for cyberpunk and those classic SFF adventures. A lot of good ideas wrapped in old tropes and unfortunate smatterings of grammatical challenges.

The author appears to be British English and I try to keep that in mind. I've read a wide number of British authors recently and have been training my ear to certain quirky colloquialisms and idioms and even have discussed a few with those authors. With that in mind there is a pet peeve that I still feel a need to mention because it doesn't appear to be universally accepted as good English throughout the realm. This would be the usage of was sat, were sat, was stood and were stood. In all cases I'm used to was sitting, were sitting, was standing, were standing and those others are like fingernails on a chalkboard when I say them out loud. But those are pet peeves and have little if nothing to do with the stars I portion out.

What I'm mostly concerned with is the omitting of words and the subsequent creation of incomplete sentences that leave the reader to fill in the blanks. Such as:

Gerry detected a hint of disappointment Jachz’s voice.

Barnes, Colin F. (2015-11-12). Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4 (Kindle Location 3205). Binary Books. Kindle Edition.

Sasha had learned from Enna that Cheska a transcendent.

Barnes, Colin F. (2015-11-12). Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4 (Kindle Location 6463). Binary Books. Kindle Edition.

If he could feel, he’d have felt exhilarated, such was the speed at which moved.

Barnes, Colin F. (2015-11-12). Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4 (Kindle Location 6788). Binary Books. Kindle Edition.

These are just a random sampling and there are more, but it doesn't stop there because there are words munged together missing spaces between them and places where the t is missing from stay.

or this next::

Despite their lack of proper military training and experience, they displayed admirable brave.

Barnes, Colin F. (2015-11-12). Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4 (Kindle Location 6484). Binary Books. Kindle Edition.

I can't help but think they displayed bravery rather than brave.

Still I am forgiving even for those; but there is one spot where my bubble burst when the author was in the middle of a scene and the name of a character who was not in the scene was used in the place of another character and nearly spoiled the up and coming reveal later in that or the next chapter. In case the author cares to fix this it is in location 4250 of my kindle.

Really, though, I enjoyed the series most of the way through and would have loved to give it 4 stars, and since I am giving it 3 stars that is the reason I'm being a bit hard on it. I think that any fan of cyberpunk and fantasy and perhaps those who have read John Shirley should enjoy this book and after stumbling over some of those errors and getting past most everything the first three stories make for a great set.

As to the last book; there is no doubt that it finishes off the series and completes specific threads and further answers some lingering question, so it has a purpose. There were some moments when I almost put it down but for the most part I'm glad I finished it just to wrap up the lives of the few characters who made it through those first three books. Oh...and of course, some of those don't make it through the last book.

There are lots of twists and turns in the plot to surprise the readers; though I have to admit sometimes the feeling of Deus ex Machina is there. It has all the tropes and earmarks found in most dystopic tales and I'll admit that dystopia's are not my favorite or strongest genre. For those who love those and enjoy the cyberpunk elements I think this would be a good addition to their library and looking at the number of 4 and 5 stars reviews there are a good number of people who must have more than enjoyed reading these novels.

The author goes on my to read list for some future enjoyment.

J.L. Dobias

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