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The Lotus War Book Review

The Lotus War book series by Jay Kristoff can definitely be described as incredible.  I just finished reading the entire series and am most amazed at Mr. Kristoff’s ability to create evocative imagery without slowing down the pace.

As a child, I took piano lessons.  Each week, three of my siblings and I would get dropped off at our piano teacher’s house.  As we waited for our lesson, we got to watch her TV.  This was a real treat since we didn’t have one. Our teacher lived a bit off the beaten track and because of this, she didn’t have much in the way of TV reception.  To exacerbate the situation, she only had two movies for her VCR.  One was a taped copy of Shogun television series and the other was The Sound of Music.

We watched the Shogun series a whole lot.  I can also sing along with nearly every song from The Sound of Music–and I’m never sure if this is something to admit or not.

The Lotus War series takes place in a Steampunk Japanese Dystopia which brought back a lot of memories from my time watching Shogun waiting for my piano lesson.  Kristoff does a great job creating a believable world which has all the expected issues such as class warfare, a rigid hierarchy, and a Samurai class obsessed with honor.

This book series felt a lot like Shogun with some significant differences.  Think feudal Japan with chainsaw katanas, flying airships, and even a bit of magic mixed in for good measure.  Kristoff handles this mash-up with professional ease.  The characters are compelling, the imagery incredible, and the action is fantastic.

If you are looking for an enjoyable read that sits a bit off the standard beaten track of fantasy book–give these books a try.  I rate them a solid 5 out of 5.

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The Lives of Tao — Book Review

The Lives of Tao, written by Wesley Chu, is an absolute winner.  A science fiction book that reads more like a modern thriller, The Lives of Tao has it all–action, suspense, comedic relief, and characters you want to stand up and cheer for.

The book starts out with a bang and doesn’t let go.  After the initial action scene, which I won’t spoil for you here, the star character Roen wakes up hearing voices in his head.  And like any of us, he assumes he has gone around the bend.  But unlike any of us (I assume) he has a brain passenger, an alien life form named Tao.  Tao is in the middle of a civil war that has raged for millennia and peace is not on the horizon.  Roen is out of shape and unruly, just what Tao doesn’t need.

Throughout the book, Chu reframes the history of the Earth as we know it through the eyes of the two warring factions of the alien race called the Quasing.  The Genjix and the Prophus have been warring for centuries over the direction they should take the human race.  Many famous ancients are seen in a new light as you find they were really hosts to a Quasing.  The problem the Quasing have is they can’t survive in the Earth environment for more than a few minutes.  When their host dies, they have to find a new host or they perish as well.  And the other problem they have, they can’t just force their host to do what they want done.  They must persuade, cajole, and encourage.

Because Roen is so out of shape and unruly, Tao has his work cut out for him.  He even calls for back up help in the form of Sonya, another human who plays host to a Quasing named Baji.  Tao and Baji have been friends and allies for a long time.  The interplay between hosts and their Quasing provides for many a chuckle.

I love the pace of this book.  The characters are well developed.  And within a few sentences, I was hooked on the action.

I finished this book in just a pair of evenings–I would have finished it all in one but I had to work early the next morning.  As soon as I read the last page, I went over to Amazon and ordered the sequel.

The Lives of Tao rates 4.75 out of 5 stars for me.

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Book Review — The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book in the Gentleman Bastard series Scott Lynch.  I came across this book at a B&N and purchased it on a whim.  I’m glad I did.  The book is based in Camorr, a fictional city similar in my mind to Venice–but bigger and much more chaotic and lawless.  The hero of the book, Locke Lamora, is an orphan that ends up in the care of a respectable rascal by the name Chains.  Chains is a thief who forms a gang of youth and trains them in the fine art of confidence games.  His goal is for them to one day destroy Capa Barsavi–the man who brought all the gangs of Camorr under his thumb and rules them with an iron fist.  The book is entertaining from the first page.  After the characters and the scene have been set,  Locke and his fellow Gentleman Bastards Jean Tannen, the twins Calo and Galdo Sanza as well as Bug, their apprentice, go about running a con on one of Camorr’s wealthiest citizens — Don Lorenzo Salvara.  Their con has multiple layers to it and begins perfectly.  In the middle of the con, they get interrupted by a war that breaks out between Barsavi and the Gray King.  Locke owes allegience to Barsavi but is unwillingly co-opted into working with the Gray King through blackmail.  Then their con gets even more disrupted by the appearance of the actual Spider of Camorr, who just happens to be one of the people Locke Lamora was  pretending to be in the con the Gentleman Bastards are running.   I could go on, but I don’t want to ruin the story if you haven’t read it yet.

The plot is incredibly fantastic and the characters are a delight.  Don’t read the book if swearing and foul language bother you–swearing must be a fine art in Camorr because the characters swear like sailors.  The writing is smooth and fast paced.  The main plot is interspersed with flashbacks to the training of the Gentleman Bastards through their youth.  This is a great swashbuckling read if you enjoy fantasy and action.  I thing the thing I enjoyed most about this book is the structure of the book.  Lynch has done an amazing job with this one and I look forward to reading the next few books in the series.

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Book Review : The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment

L.E.Modesitt--The One Eyed Man

L.E.Modesitt–The One Eyed Man

This book lands in the Science Fiction section because of the technology involved and the stage on which it is set.  There is plenty in the book for any SF fan to enjoy, but it doesn’t break new ground with new and exciting pieces of technology.  Instead, like most every Modesitt book I have read, it focuses most of the attention on the characters and what is happening in their interactions with others.  This book presents a main character, Dr Paul Verano, that you can immediately relate to on many levels.  His family life is falling apart and he is presented with the chance for a, shall we say, extended work trip.  He snatches at the trip that doesn’t quite turn out to be what he expected.  His professional training is as a freelance ecology consultant, but his skill is in understanding the truth behind the facade that people in his life attempt to present as reality.

The assignment he is given is to write an ecological report on the current impact of those living on Stittara.  Stittara is a distant planet. In fact, due to the vagaries of space travel, although his entire trip may only last about a year for him, by the time he returns to his home planet nearly 150 years will have passed.  Many things impede his efforts to create a fair and impartial report.  Not the least of which is the division in the very government that sent him–whichever way the report falls, he is bound to anger one group or another.  The biggest issue is the most important export from Stittara is a longevity drug that has changed human life on the home planet.  Because the impact of his ecological report could possibly have on the continued production of the drug, the stakes involved are huge.   Like most of us with work assignments, it is all too easy to create enemies when we are merely trying to do a great job.  As with nearly every book from Modesitt, a large piece of the story is what isn’t said–what is found between the lines of what the characters are saying versus how they are acting. In the background are the strange and mysterious “skytubes” that no one wants to really discuss.

I always love Modesitt and this book is no exception.  The situation is compelling, the issues are real, and the solution is fantastic.  This book is a bit slower paced than some of his books, but designed to make you think. If you haven’t read one of his books before–give this one a shot because it is well worth your time.

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