Review: Unseemly Science

UnseemlyScience-144dpiTitle: Unseemly Science (2015)
Author: Rod Duncan
Pages: 368
Series: Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #2 (Series Tracker)

Unseemly Science picks right back up with Elizabeth Barnabus attempting to solve a new mystery involving blocks of ice, body-snatchers, and an enigmatic charitable foundation. I found this to be a worthy sequel that lost only a bit of the magic from the first book. Author Rod Duncan has crafted an amusing, well-drawn story with a wonderful protagonist. The overall story has yet to feature much in the way of empires falling, as the series title suggests, so perhaps the third book is more towards that end. I look forward to finishing out this series in time for Rod Duncan’s new Elizabeth Barnabus series coming in 2018.

★★★¼ out of 5

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Review: Children of Time

chaykovski.jpgTitle: Children of Time (2015)
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pages: 600

More often than not, I’m left feeling that a book with a cool/intriguing concept fails to properly deliver on said concept. Children of Time is an exception to this trend. I was blown away by how masterfully Tchaikovsky executes this evolutionary tale.

I was immediately hooked on the story, which builds and builds as a spider species on an alien planet evolves across millennia, while the last remnants of the human race exist in a sort of suspended stagnation just trying to survive in deep space. The narrative is told in a very straightforward way, with propulsive pacing and a tremendous amount of momentum. It’s engrossing from start to finish with few lulls along the way. It easily joins the ranks of my favorite science fiction novels. Read this!

★★★★¾  out of 5

“Why should we be made thus, to improve and improve, unless it is to aspire?”

Review: Fool’s Quest

fool-s-quest-2Title: Fool’s Quest (2015)
Author: Robin Hobb
Pages: 788
Series: The Fitz & The Fool #2, Realms of the Elderlings #15 (Series Tracker)

After a stellar first book, this follow-up was a bit of a let down. Fool’s Assassin felt fresh, with new characters and circumstances reviving Fitz’s tale. Fool’s Quest feels stagnate, with very little forward plot momentum. The events at the end of the previous book led me to believe that we would see an emboldened Fitz, hellbent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. Instead, we see travel preparations, brooding, licking wounds, and minimal plot progression. Hobb’s writing is still wonderful but this feels very “middle book-ish” with no resolution or sense of completeness. I’m still excited for the final book, though. Onward!

★★★½ out of 5

Review: The Providence of Fire

Staveley_Anderson_Providence-of-FireTitle: The Providence of Fire (2015)
Author: Brian Staveley
Pages: 737
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2 (Series Tracker)

Picking up where series-starter The Emperor’s Blades left off, siblings Adare, Valyn, and Kaden, continue their fight to save the Annurian Empire. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the first book, but any goodwill that carried over to book #2 quickly evaporated. Gone are the training sequences, monk wisdom, and black ops action scenes that made the first book so absorbing. There is more bloodshed, fighting, and military maneuvering here, and the scope has expanded to such a degree that more intimate, personal narratives are left in the dust.

I had seen some stellar reviews from people I trust, but this didn’t end up being for me. I don’t think I’ll finish the trilogy, but I am intrigued by Skullsworn, a prequel novel that focuses on Pyrre, an assassin that has been a fun side character in this series. I have faith in Brian Staveley as an author and I hope my dislike The Providence of Fire came more from the story evolving out of my comfort zone, than from the quality of the narrative he is telling.

★★½ out of 5

Review: The Fifth Season

 


Title: 
The Fifth Season
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Pages: 500
Series: The Broken Earth #1
Read via: Kindle

Summary: The continent of The Stillness is in perpetual motion. The only relief comes from orogenes, individuals who can quell earthquakes and bring calm to the earth. While all of society benefits from their gifts, the orogenes must cope with outside forces that seek to manipulate, control, and oppress their people.


Review: It is always tricky to objectively rate a title that has earned such critical praise. I had heard wonderful things about N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, and while it didn’t quite live up to the hype, it also didn’t disappoint. As a reader, it’s always refreshing to be dropped into a world you know nothing about. Jemisin uses colloquial slang and terms several times before it’s clear from the context what they mean. This provided a welcome challenge, but it also delayed my ability to shift attention to what was actually happening until about halfway through the book.

Jemisin establishes such an interesting and unique world that was fascinating to uncover. In a way it didn’t feel like fantasy, as the world is gritty, fully realized, and there’s no talk of magic. Everything just is as it is, and it’s written in a way that makes it all seem very believable. I’m interested to see where Jemisin takes this world and these characters next.

★★★½ out of 5