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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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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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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