A new take on life, love and war among extraterrestrial colonists that successfully clears the launch pad.


In the second volume of Joseph’s (Colony Earth, 2012 ) fantasy saga, humanlike aliens try to adapt to settled life and interspecies marriage in Britain during the Iron Age, inciting conflict with each other as well as rival fiefdoms.

Derived more cleverly than one might expect from the “ancient astronauts” theories advanced by supermarket tabloids and such dubious scholars as Zecharia Sitchin and Erich Von Daniken, the Alterrans, a Nordic alien race, have technology bordering on magic; in fact, a quantum-physics spin on astrology is a legit science for them. After they establish a colony on Earth during the Iron Age, simultaneous catastrophes hit both worlds—perhaps astrological destiny. A comet strikes Earth and solar flares hit Alterra, indefinitely stranding the overwhelmingly male alien settlers in Albion (prehistoric Britain), with their energy sources, weapons and powers of rejuvenation waning. The best options for long-term survival are now intermarriage with humans and guiding the development of earthly civilization—an interaction that violates Alterran law. In this installment, set in and around the breakaway city of Khamlok, Alterra’s genetically predestined leader, Lil, witnesses the first generation of human-Alterran births, including his own children with his formidable bride, Alana, a survivor of Atlantis. Despite their lack of high-tech luxuries, the extraterrestrial colonists’ unaccustomed freedom from rigid Alterran society starts Lil’s men thinking for themselves, sewing seeds of internal dissent. Meanwhile, rival human fiefdoms (including a dark wizard) also struggle in the disaster’s wake, and they scheme against the “starmen” they envy and mistrust. The talky plot proceeds at a rather low boil until a pulse-quickening final act radically rocks Lil’s new world and sets invested readers on a countdown to the third volume. Fans of Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argo: Archives series might find this to be an interesting riff. While the large ensemble cast borders on being unwieldy, Joseph slyly references ancient mythology and archaeology of the Celts, Greeks, Sumerians and Egyptians, which never comes across as too heavy-handed or obvious.

A new take on life, love and war among extraterrestrial colonists that successfully clears the launch pad.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479377473

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

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

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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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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


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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