Creative and diverting; a massive amount of story, perhaps too much, for an opening volume.

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DREAMWANDER

From the In The Ruins of Eden series , Vol. 1

A man finds himself in a baffling, dreamlike world of gods, archangels, and dragons in the first installment of Kildare’s fantasy series.

Cillian Rysgaard is hardly surprised by his physician’s diagnosis of dementia. But when the 86-year-old leaves the doctor’s office in Fargo, North Dakota, he seems to enter an entirely new world and to have a shockingly younger body. He initially encounters people who apparently know him, calling him a “champion” and speaking in various tongues like Gaelic and Latin. Certain that he’s dreaming, he accepts a mission from a wizened man who holds the ancient Roman title of “Imperator”; Cillian must slay a dragon, which first requires stealing a powerful, ancient sword. Unfortunately, Loki, the god of chaos, tricks Cillian into freeing him from captivity. A group of archangels (the seven remaining after wars in heaven) find Cillian and enlist his help in recapturing Loki, who has somehow “chosen” him. Accordingly, Cillian will be a spy for the archangels and try to learn Loki’s mysterious intentions. Nevertheless, as he continually awakens in strange places, Cillian still believes that what’s happening to him is occurring in a dream. But in a world of deadly creatures, a rampaging troll army, and an impending war, he may be better off acting as if his life is in genuine peril. Kildare jam-packs this opening installment with characters and exposition on topics from heavenly wars to Cillian’s childhood. Cillian is a savvy, sympathetic protagonist, a multilingual professor who misses his late wife. And while some of the abundant menaces are oft-discussed villains who don’t show up, it’s clear that the human race may be in danger. The author fills the pages with environmental details in a mostly sober narrative, save a charming Loki who makes a mean margarita. However, so much unfolds, especially with Cillian repeatedly waking up in new locations, that readers are likely to be as confused as the protagonist typically is. They may have to look for answers in sequels.

Creative and diverting; a massive amount of story, perhaps too much, for an opening volume.

Pub Date: May 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9963057-1-6

Page Count: 305

Publisher: Kildare Press LLC

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2020

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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

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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