Solidly engrossing if unspectacular fare, with greatest appeal to readers who prefer the familiar over the innovative.

COLD WELCOME

After an extended—and impressive—excursion into fantasy, Moon returns to science fiction, picking up her Vatta’s War series (Victory Conditions, 2008, etc.) where she left off.

Although no prior knowledge is assumed or required, we plunge immediately into a swirl of familial politics and interstellar intrigue. Following her victory in the recent brutal war, Ky Vatta, now the youthful Grand Admiral of the interstellar Space Defense Force, returns to her home planet, Slotter Key. But Ky’s shuttle loses contact and crashes into the sea. Searches, hampered by a lack of communications, appalling weather, official foot-dragging, and a deliberate, long-term effort to conceal the region from probes, prove fruitless. Ky must take command of a motley band of soldiers who only reluctantly accept her authority—they report to Slotter Key, not Ky’s space fleet—and weld them into a force capable of survival, maybe even fighting, in the extreme cold. Neither Grace Lane Vatta, Ky’s great-aunt and Slotter Key’s civilian Rector of Defense, nor Stella Vatta, CEO of the family business empire, believe Ky is dead. And Ky’s love interest, Rafe Dunbarger, CEO of a corporation that makes ansibles (instantaneous communicators), has a secret, private method of communication, so he knows she’s alive. Once again, Moon’s great strength is her characters, particularly the soldiers and how they comport themselves when under great stress. Less robust, the underlying plot, or what little’s discernable here, comes across as a trudging retread of previous conspiracies and treacheries. And while the life-and-death situation intrigues, the overall narrative lacks tension—Ky’s successfully negotiated so many similar circumstances we never seriously consider the possibility that she’ll be killed or even defeated.

Solidly engrossing if unspectacular fare, with greatest appeal to readers who prefer the familiar over the innovative.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-88731-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

GIDEON THE NINTH

From the Locked Tomb Trilogy series , Vol. 1

This debut novel, the first of a projected trilogy, blends science fiction, fantasy, gothic chiller, and classic house-party mystery.

Gideon Nav, a foundling of mysterious antecedents, was not so much adopted as indentured by the Ninth House, a nearly extinct noble necromantic house. Trained to fight, she wants nothing more than to leave the place where everyone despises her and join the Cohort, the imperial military. But after her most recent escape attempt fails, she finally gets the opportunity to depart the planet. The heir and secret ruler of the Ninth House, the ruthless and prodigiously talented bone adept Harrowhark Nonagesimus, chooses Gideon to serve her as cavalier primary, a sworn bodyguard and aide de camp, when the undying Emperor summons Harrow to compete for a position as a Lyctor, an elite, near-immortal adviser. The decaying Canaan House on the planet of the absent Emperor holds dark secrets and deadly puzzles as well as a cheerfully enigmatic priest who provides only scant details about the nature of the competition...and at least one person dedicated to brutally slaughtering the competitors. Unsure of how to mix with the necromancers and cavaliers from the other Houses, Gideon must decide whom among them she can trust—and her doubts include her own necromancer, Harrow, whom she’s loathed since childhood. This intriguing genre stew works surprisingly well. The limited locations and narrow focus mean that the author doesn’t really have to explain how people not directly attached to a necromantic House or the military actually conduct daily life in the Empire; hopefully future installments will open up the author’s creative universe a bit more. The most interesting aspect of the novel turns out to be the prickly but intimate relationship between Gideon and Harrow, bound together by what appears at first to be simple hatred. But the challenges of Canaan House expose other layers, beginning with a peculiar but compelling mutual loyalty and continuing on to other, more complex feelings, ties, and shared fraught experiences.

Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31319-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more