Slow, highly political fantasy.

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The Books of the Kings

I. DETERMINATION

From the The Books of the Kings series , Vol. 1

In Effemm’s debut novel, King Hhalon of Genan is driven to choices that bring danger to his reign.

Infuriated that his son Prince Hhamen has taken up with Dena, daughter of a rich and insolent merchant, the king is further provoked by what he perceives as attacks on his royal prestige. The symbol of his royal house is white gold—reserved for the king only—but in an act of rebellion, earls and commoners such as Dena’s father have begun using the metal indiscriminately. When the king banishes earls Teraven and Novan to spearhead an expedition to expand Genan to the south, forces within the realm begin bigger moves against him. The nation’s military, espionage, and religious factions plot and take subtle action, and soon imprisonments, intrigue, and danger are afoot. Before long, the disarray within the borders of Genan draws the attention of the vili—inhuman creatures that have long coveted the land of Genan. In Effemm’s novel, descriptive detail is generally sumptuous, offering sensory immersion for the reader. Dialogue is clear, if somewhat undistinguished, and the largish cast is reasonably distinct but not very sophisticated. In addition to a few typos, word choice occasionally seems odd—“Do you think they won’t move when they see us trying to nibble at their territory?”—and some cultural references appear unfit for the author’s fictional world: “ ‘Prince Charming,’ Dena said, giggling as she admired her prince.” Pacing is deliberate, with painstaking worldbuilding not unlike the Song of Ice and Fire novels, particularly in terms of the intrigue, politics, war, and feudal fantasy setting. However, though this story has a few strong curse words and several mentions of sex, its violence is generally discreet and nearly free of atrocities. Also included are a simple but straightforward map and a 12-page glossary, including an alphabet. As is now customary, the novel ends on a cliffhanger, setting the stage for a series.

Slow, highly political fantasy.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5115-4951-6

Page Count: 324

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 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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