As Tolkien had his Silmarillion, so Martin has this trilogy of foundational tales. They succeed on their own, but in...

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A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS

Huzzah! Martin (The Ice Dragon, 2014, etc.) delivers just what fans have been waiting for: stirring tales of the founding of the Targaryen line.

Duncan—Dunk for short—has his hapless moments. He’s big, nearly gigantic, “hugely tall for his age, a shambling, shaggy, big-boned boy of sixteen or seventeen.” Uncertain of himself, clumsy, and alone in the world, he has every one of the makings of a hero, if only events will turn in that direction. They do, courtesy of a tiny boy who steals into the “hedge knight” Dunk’s life and eventually reveals a name to match that of Ser Duncan the Tall—an altogether better name, at that, than Duncan of Flea Bottom would have been. Egg, as the squire calls himself, has a strange light about him, as if he will be destined to go on to better things, as indeed he will. Reminiscent of a simpler Arthur Rackham, the illustrations capture that light, as they do the growing friendship between Dunk and Egg—think Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues, if your knowledge of basketball matches your interest in fantasy. This being Martin, that friendship will not be without its fraught moments, its dangers and double crosses and knightly politics. There are plenty of goopily violent episodes as well, from jousts (“this time Lord Leo Tyrell aimed his point so expertly he ripped the Grey Lion’s helm cleanly off his head”) to medieval torture (“Egg…used the hat to fan away the flies. There were hundreds crawling on the dead men, and more drifting lazily through the still, hot air.”). Throughout, Martin delivers thoughtful foreshadowing of the themes and lineages that will populate his Ice and Fire series, in which Egg, it turns out, is much less fragile than he seems.

As Tolkien had his Silmarillion, so Martin has this trilogy of foundational tales. They succeed on their own, but in addition, they succeed in making fans want more—and with luck, Martin will oblige them with more of these early yarns.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-345-53348-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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