Next book

THE BRITTLE RIDERS

Densely packed, SF-tinged high fantasy that mildly satirizes the genre.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

In McCormick’s fantasy/SF novel, a lone mystic gathers allies to defeat the hordes of a sadistic warlord on a fantastical future Earth.

In the far-flung future, Earth is now called Arreti. The humans (referred to as “makers”) are gone, replaced by their final creations. Following a tragi-comical contact with aliens (“Sominids”), who were friendly but refused to share any of their technology or wisdom, mankind slipped into an existential funk. Scientific genius Edward Rohta countered with the implementation of “brands,” genetically modified, intelligent beings (typically blended with animal DNA) who took over roles such as laborers, warriors, sex workers, and spies from the indolent Homo sapiens. Brands were not meant to live long or reproduce, but these fail-safes…failed. Now the makers are gone, killed by particularly hostile brands. The North American Midwest has become a patchwork of bizarre beast-clans, fauna fiefdoms, goblin-esque guilds, and other motley creatures. Tyrant warlord Xhaknar, created to be a GMO “super soldier,” conquers and subjugates the plains with his hordes, guided by his cruel programming. He is opposed by Geldish, a rare “wizard” whose brand was granted powers of levitation and psychic cognition for use in mining ops. Geldish gathers representatives of other “fringe” races (including the seductive Succubus and the equine Llamia) under the banner of the “Brittle Riders.” Xhaknar is mostly amused by the feeble resistance effort—but Geldish has a secret plan. Readers who can hack pathways through the eye-glazing terminology and jargon (“Geldish and BraarB looked at the eight dead, dismembered Naradhama and smiled. Just then, two haven-lords appeared from the shadows”) will be rewarded with a densely populated high fantasy yarn that casts a gimlet eye on the genre’s tropes and excesses. While the title suggests a sequel, this saga installment works fine as a standalone.

Densely packed, SF-tinged high fantasy that mildly satirizes the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2016

ISBN: 9781945987045

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Azoth Khem Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 186


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 186


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Next book

FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

Close Quickview