There's general agreement that the series has gone downhill since book 6 or 7. This is book 13, dismally slapdash and often...

THE OMEN MACHINE

This new entry in Goodkind's longstanding Sword of Truth series directly follows the events of the previous volume, Confessor (2007).

Following the dreadful and debilitating war against the Imperial Order for control of D'Hara—though there are no bodies, no wounded or any damage; the main consequence seems to have been that the leading characters lost half their brain cells—Richard, Lord Rahl and his wife Kahlan, the Mother Confessor (she neither hears nor makes any confessions), settle down at the People's Palace to enjoy, so they hope, a period of peace and prosperity. However, everybody from the realm's assembled dignitaries to the lowliest peasant is suddenly obsessed with prophesy. Though the prophesies all come true, they seem fairly trivial, like "the roof will fall in," until scholars reveal that the exact same prophecies occur in an ancient tome. Then, during a terrible storm, a glass roof does fall in, causing the floor beneath to collapse and revealing the huge, ancient magic-powered machine of the title. The machine commences to churn out the same prophesies. Various unpleasant things happen, convincing the dignitaries that they should be ruled by the prophesies rather than Richard. And, despite the intractable idiocy of the protagonists, some enemies are revealed: the Hedge Maid, whose magic is proof against Richard's irresistible sword, and Hannis Arc, a naked, tattooed super-wizard with a grudge against the Rahls. Such is the general bewilderment that even favorite figures like the old wizard Zedd are given little to do except stand around frowning in puzzlement and stoically ignoring the obvious.

There's general agreement that the series has gone downhill since book 6 or 7. This is book 13, dismally slapdash and often just plain dumb.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2772-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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THE NIGHT CIRCUS

Self-assured, entertaining debut novel that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic.

The world’s not big enough for two wizards, as Tolkien taught us—even if that world is the shiny, modern one of the late 19th century, with its streetcars and electric lights and newfangled horseless carriages. Yet, as first-time novelist Morgenstern imagines it, two wizards there are, if likely possessed of more legerdemain than true conjuring powers, and these two are jealous of their turf. It stands to reason, the laws of the universe working thus, that their children would meet and, rather than continue the feud into a new generation, would instead fall in love. Call it Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, save that Morgenstern has her eye on a different Shakespearean text, The Tempest; says a fellow called Prospero to young magician Celia of the name her mother gave her, “She should have named you Miranda...I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.” Celia is clever, however, a born magician, and eventually a big hit at the Circus of Dreams, which operates, naturally, only at night and has a slightly sinister air about it. But what would you expect of a yarn one of whose chief setting-things-into-action characters is known as “the man in the grey suit”? Morgenstern treads into Harry Potter territory, but though the chief audience for both Rowling and this tale will probably comprise of teenage girls, there are only superficial genre similarities. True, Celia’s magical powers grow, and the ordinary presto-change-o stuff gains potency—and, happily, surrealistic value. Finally, though, all the magic has deadly consequence, and it is then that the tale begins to take on the contours of a dark thriller, all told in a confident voice that is often quite poetic, as when the man in the grey suit tells us, “There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.” Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53463-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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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

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