March 2015

The next Retrieval Artist book!

Publication year: 2015
Format: Audio
Running time: 10 hours, 36 minutes
Narrator: Jay Snider

This is definitely not a stand-alone book. It continues from the previous one and instead of ending, it just stops. No Miles or DeRicci. Instead, we get a diverse cast of characters, although some are seen only briefly and they all have their own stories. This almost felt like a collection of short stories or novellas of various characters who were all deeply influenced by the Anniversary Day bombing. Some of them are new and some were introduced in the previous book, A Murder of Clones. Deshin and his family are explored more in the short novel “The Possession of Paavo Deshin” and he has appeared in previous Miles books.

Behane Magalhaes is the daughter of a rich tycoon. Her mother was killed four years ago when the dome was sectioned during the earlier Moon bombing. Behane hasn’t really gotten over it; but in this story she’s slowing healing. Her boyfriend Torkild dumps her very publicly during the Anniversary Day bombing and she realizes a lot of things about her life. Among them is the fact that she wants to help people. So, she joins as a volunteer to Search and Rescue. The start of her story was seen from Torkild’s perspective in the previous book “The Murder of Clones”.

Luc Deschen is these days mostly-legal businessman. He wants to know who is behind the bombing so that he can protect his family. He’s left his criminal life behind but now he returns to Armstrong Dome’s seedy underbelly to search for clues of the bombers.

We also follow Eva who is looking for her sister who was on the bombing site when the bomb went off. Eva works for the Earth Alliance Investigations’s human division so she has resources which other people don’t have.

I really enjoyed these stories since I’ve long wanted to see the universe beyond Flint and DeRicci. However, the overall plot behind the bombings doesn’t advance much. Still, the pain and grief of the characters is quite painful to read about sometimes. Fortunately, Behane is moving on with her life. She even meets a romantic interest. Still, there is one quite gruesome scene when she searches for DNA evidence about the people who were pretty much vaporized in the bombing.

This is a rather intense book in the series and it’s clearly heading towards the end, where all will be revealed, but it doesn’t have any sort of closure. Fortunately, the next book will come out soon.

Today the topic of Top Ten Tuedays is Top Ten reads from the past three years. This turned out to be quite hard. In the past three years I’ve read a lot of books from series I follow and new-to-me authors. Today, I felt the best were these:

Seanan McGuire: The Winter Long
Lois McMaster Bujold: Barrayar
Kristen Imani Kasai: Tattoo
Marie Brennan: With Fate Conspire
Robin McKinley: Sunshine
A Lee Martinez: Emperor Mollusk and the Sinister Brain
Terry Pratchett: Going postal
Fiction River: Moonscapes
Steven Brust: Hawk
Andy Weir: The Martian

I also read a surprising amoung of media-tie books, mostly from Buffy, Star Trek: TNG, and Babylon 5.
Favorite media-tie in read:

Chrisopher Golden and Nancy Holder: The lost slayer omnibus

In fact, I enjoyed the Buffy books most. It could be that I was just starting to read them and read the best ones first.

And of course favorite comics:
I read the whole Busiek’s Avengers run in 2012 and it’s really hard to pick favorite among them but these are the ones I wanted to immediately reread:

Morgan Conquest (the first issues of Busiek’s run)
Avengers Assemble vol. 2 (including Ultron unlimited!)
Avengers Forever

It was interesting to note that when I looked over the comics I’ve read in the past three years, this Busiek run made me want to re-read them again. As much as I love the X-Men, they just don’t incite that same feeling.

A stand-alone fantasy book.

Publication year: 2003
Format: Audio
Running time: 12 hours, 36 minutes
Narrator: Claire Christie, Jeremy Arthur

Aidan McAllister was wonderful singer and musician even as a child. The hunchbacked god of music talked to him and guided him. Aidan is also a cousin to the King of Elyria but they have so different interests that they aren’t rivals. However, one day when Aidan is 21, he is captured and imprisoned. His judge, who seems to be a Dragonrider, tells Aidan that he can go free if he agrees to be silent for seven years. Aidan resists and at first his god is with him, supporting him when he endures terrible torture. But finally the god’s voice weakens and stops, and Aidan can’t endure the torture anymore.

After 17 years of imprisonment, Aidan is finally free. His voice is a croak, when he can force himself to speak at all, his fingers have been broken so many times that he can’t use them properly, and his back is a mess of scars. He’s also not sure why he was imprisoned and what he should do. He saves Callie, a young prostitute, from an attack and in turn Callie saves him, taking him in. Slowly Aidan starts to mend a little but he still doesn’t know what he had done to earn such terrible things and he’s not really sure if he wants to know.

This book has dragons and I was fascinated by them. Essentially, everyone thinks that dragons are all rage and hate. The Dragonriders use blood stones to control them and ride them to war. Each dragon has one blood stone and they can’t be controlled by another. The Dragonriders themselves are proud and Spartan people. From what we see of them in this book, they live rather joyless lives of duty and honor. They live in tents and have few possessions. They despise people who live differently than they. They still serve the king Elyria so they actually defend people they dislike. They also seem to have a tendency to abuse their position.

I was fascinated by another race: the Elhim. They are a sexless race whom the humans insist on thinking as male and use the “he” pronoun when talking about them. They are very long lived and look so similar to each other that humans can’t tell them apart. They help Aidan for reasons he doesn’t know at first.

The book is written in first person and most of it is written from Aidan’s POV. Later, Berg switches to another person’s first POV. That person is quite a bit more tormented than Aidan and blames herself for her troubles and for failing everyone around her. Berg also has couple of other character’s first person POVs, briefly.

Betrayal is a strong theme in the book and you never know who is going to betray another next. This is quite a somber book with few humorous passages. The plot centers on various mysteries.

The pace is good and I liked the characters well enough. In fact, I couldn’t help but compare Aidan to Bujold’s Cazaril. They’re both older men, both have suffered imprisonment and been broken by it. Both are also physically weak at first. However, I definitely like Caz more. The Song of the Beast also has very few female characters. The one we have is quite tortured character herself, even gloomier than Adrian.

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