The Sword of Michael by Marcus Wynne
2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars
Marius Winter doesn’t walk the road of the shaman-warrior alone. He has powerful allies in the Other Realms and in ordinary reality. His spirit guides are a Lakota war-chief and medicine man, First In Front; Tigre, a powerful feminine spirit who appears as a white tiger; and Burt, a spirit raven who channels an old Jewish bookie from the Bronx.
Now Marius is targeted by a powerful sorcerer. In the battle for the souls of his friends and lover, he must storm the gates of the underworld and fight through the Seven Demi-Demons of Hell to the deepest dungeons to confront Belial himself.
I found myself skimming and skipping most of this book. The first two-thirds seemed your standard urban fantasy with a supernatural flare, demons and angels, the old Holy War, tied into or growing out of the Fall of Atlantis. The dialogue was forced and re-used one-liner clichés poorly. After about the sixth time I’d read a ‘one-liner’ I just about gave up. I forged on, but the ‘pay off’ didn’t pay as much as just felt off.
Continue reading “Book Review: Sword of Michael by Wynne (2.5 Stars)”
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
4 out of 5 stars
Read in May 2009
This was a hoot!
I thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious satire of Armageddon. The AntiChrist as an eleven-year-old boy with a Hellhound masquerading as a rat terrier mongrel. The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse easy riding to the End of the World. And it all started with the Serpent and the guardian Angel from the Garden of Eden. To top it all off, a 17th century witch named Agnes Nutter accurately predicted everything.
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The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint
4 out of 5 stars
Read in August 2010
I enjoyed this short novel, but found it hard to categorize since it crossed so many subgenres. Ghost, spirits or spiritwalkers, a smidgen of Native American shamanism, a pinch of paganism (Wiccans at the Witches’ Ball no less), Catholic saints, a peculiar Purgatory, existentialism, a dangerous delusional mother and a surprising touch of redemption wrapped in tattoos. Oh, and a brief romance kindled after the protagonist’s death. Trust me, it sounds strange (it is strange), but de Lint delivers.
To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust
3 out of 5 stars
Read in January 2010
Brust’s second published novel, To Reign in Hell, seemed to me almost an alternate history/legend/mythos to Milton’s Paradise Lost. Not having read Milton’s works thoroughly, I probably missed much of Brust’s subtleties, wit and demonic humor. I still smiled at his quirky repartee among the bit characters. He coaxed me into sympathizing with the traditional enemy host, illustrated that truth can be in the eye of the beholder and perception is everything.
I read the novel quickly and the story kept me turning pages. My only complaint stems from the over abundance of dialog. It reads more like a screenplay (without any indication of whose speaking nor stage directions). I got used to all the dialog by the end of the book, but I struggled through the first third of the book because of it.
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
4 out of 5 stars
Read in May 2012
I liked Throne of the Crescent Moon a lot. I loved the characters. I liked the setting, although the world building relied on references to Earth-like locations in our own Middle East, including the cultures and legends that thrive therein.
The magic found in this world contained some supernatural elements: an Angel-touched shapechanger; something similar to a demon helping an undead (or reanimated) man create ghuls (vaguely like zombies but different) using pain, torture, etc. (blood magic or necromancy); some alchemy; some aura-like internal magic; and, an invocation style magic wielded by the main character.
A murder mystery with apocalyptic consequences. Lots of action sequences kept me turning the pages. And as much as our young dervish might strive mightily for stark black and white choices, all of the characters find themselves compromising their principles and morals for the greater good and survival.
I can’t wait for the next installment in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms series.
The Terror by Dan Simmons
4 of 5 stars
Read in Feb/Mar 2012
I read The Terror as part of a group read at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club at GoodReads during the month of February. I participated in the discussion, as did many others. To review those threads, please follow this link.
I started reading this the evening of February 13th, with snowfall predicted to commence after midnight. I sat shivering at the kitchen table while I read the first few chapters, even though the furnace kept my house a toasty 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I even dug out a blanket to put on the bed before I went to sleep (still shivering). Brrrr….. Great writing by Dan Simmons, atmospherically speaking.
And I restrained my insatiable desire to research the quest for the Northwest Passage and specifically the final voyage of the HMS Terror until after I finished reading the novel. Simmons kept me riveted until the last few chapters, when he decided to take an extreme detour into arctic supernatural spirituality that left me, well, cold.
Still, a great read by an outstanding author. I recommend lots of warm tea or hot cocoa and abstinence from long pork.
A Shot in the Dark by K.A. Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Shot in the Dark continues a few months after A Devil in the Details, with Jesse James Dawson mostly recovered from his last demon death-dance and tornado tango, but still suffering from nightmares of an earlier near-fatal demon fight. His annual Colorado camping trip with his buddies should provide ample opportunity for rejuvenation and recreation… What should have been a relaxing retreat quickly turns into a siege reminiscent of the Alamo . . .
A Shot in the Dark provides a good mystery, a few thrills, a new take on zombies, MacGyver-esque innovations in demon fighting and a peek into the true identity of Jesse’s favorite demon sidekick, Axel (hint: read To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust or Milton’s Paradise Lost). This is a strong sequel to last year’s A Devil in the Details and a great summer vacation read. Just don’t forget the holy water, mirrors and swords.
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A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wry urban fantasy is not my normal fantasy subgenre, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart. I can savor the supernatural (angels, demons, witches, clerics) but please pass on the paranormal (vampires, werewolves, zombies) and that’s just what Jesse James Dawson did.
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