September 2016

Booking Through Thursday

Last week, the question was:
In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. But how about books? Does where a book is set affect your reading choices? Are you more or less likely to read books set in places you know or love?

Yes and no. 🙂 I love and “know” Babylon 5 and the Enterprise-D, not to mention Chalion, Dragaera, Ankh-Morpok, and many others) and I’m likely to read novels set in them. But I’m less likely to read books set in Finland where I live.

In SF and fantasy I’m attracted to places which aren’t real and sometimes can’t be, (although I’m hoping we will get starships, large space stations, and settlements on other planets in the future).

But I also read historical mystery and there the setting, and time, definitely influce my choices. Most of all I enjoy ancient world: Rome, Greece, Egypt. I’d love to read about ancient China and Japan and India if anyone can recommend books from then.

I’d love to read more books set in Venice.

And today:
An off-shoot from last week’s question: Do you read books from places you DON’T know and haven’t been as a substitute for actually travelling there?

A little bit, yes. I’d love to travel to all those ancient sites (and Venice!) but don’t have the money. (Traveling to Venice is actually possible. It’s the staying which would cost a lot.)

The first book in an SF duology but can be read as a stand-alone. Part of the Women in Scifi storybundle I bought last year.

Publication year: 2004
Format: ebook, epub
Page count: 317
Publisher: TOR

The Earth is crumbling under wars and environmental damage. Some people want to leave it. The Mira Corporation has built a ship which will take humans to an alien planet which should be able to sustain human life. Various groups have bought their way into the ship: a group of international scientists, a group of people who want to return to nature and are calling themselves Cheyenne (although they’re not Native Americans), a group of New Quakers who can’t stand the violence on Earth, a group of Chinese, a family of deposed Saudi royalty, and others. About 6 000 people. Jake Holman is the chairman of Mira Corporation and he’s going, too. The trip is one-way and most of the humans will be sleeping through it. While only seven years pass for the passengers, over seventy years pass on Earth before the ship reaches the planet dubbed Greentrees.

Only long range probes have inspected the planet, but the area where the humans will be going should be temperate. But when they get to the planet, a surprise is waiting for them: a small group of aliens. Humans have never met aliens anywhere so they’re very excited. However, the aliens live in small huts and don’t respond to the humans at all. But then, the humans find another group of seemingly the same alien species. But they attack humans. The surprises don’t stop there, either.

The story is told through the eyes of three people: Jake Holman, the CEO who is in charge of the expedition, Gail Culter, Jake’s second in command, and Dr. William Shipley, a medical doctor and the leader of the pacifist Quakers. All of them have their own problems. Jake is haunted by a dark secret in his past. He used to be a lawyer and is an excellent manipulator. Gail was born into a family of scientists but realized early that she had no interest in science. Instead, she’s an administrator and a no-nonsense type. She’s also a lesbian and her lover died before this trip. Shipley’s adult daughter hates him but has come along for the journey. Shipley is very worried about her but doesn’t know how to talk to her. Unfortunately, none of them were very appealing to me. They also don’t get much character development.

The best part of the book were the aliens. They were very interesting and different from usual aliens.

The various groups get along pretty well, mostly because they know that they have to rely on each other and no other help is coming. However, there are some conflicts, too, but they’re on the level of individuals instead of communities. I found this a bit strange at time, considering how different the various groups are.

The crew of the ship were Swiss mercenaries and they’re expected to act as police on the planet. They’re military and keep themselves away from the others. In fact, all of the characters are really only interested in their own specialty: Gail would even stop listening to other people when they talked about science stuff and she isn’t even interested in the aliens, the team’s main biologist is only interested in biological stuff, and physicist is only interested in ships etc.

The book has some science it in, mostly around space ship drives, but not too much. When the scientists start talking science the POV character either leaves or stops listening. This felt quite strange to me, especially when the survival of the person in question depended on the science but is a way to cut down science aspects for the reader.

This was a bit of mixed bag for me. I enjoyed a lot the exploration and aliens but there were some elements I didn’t like as much and none of the characters really appealed to me.

Crossfire doesn’t end in a cliffhanger. In fact, it can be read as a stand-alone but some things are left open.

Rowena Cory Daniells has written several great epic fantasy series which I’ve enjoyed a lot. Today she’s here to talk about her King Rolen’s King series and has exciting news:

As a writer, you never know when a small scrap of information will wedge itself in the vault of your mind and one day prove useful.


Back when I first left school I had a secondhand book shop. This was the perfect environment for an avid reader. In the days when the average novel was around 50,000 words I used to read a book in the morning, one in the afternoon and another after dinner. Reading at this rate meant there were days when I simply couldn’t find a book (even in a bookstore and even with very eclectic tastes).

Faced with this dilemma I would prowl the shelves looking for obscure interesting things. At the bottom of a shelf was a stack of dusty National Geographic magazines. Long before the days of the internet, this mag took the reader into homes and work places across the world. I’ve always been fascinated by people and how they live. I guess it is part of being a writer — that drive to understand why people do what they do. And then there were the photos. Unlike most writers I’m visually oriented so the photographs and illustrations in glorious colour fed that side of me.

Back in those days I devoured all the National Geographic magazines that made their way into my shop, including old black and white copies which I regarded as ‘time capsules’. What I didn’t realise was that my search for the obscure and interesting was laying down a rich groundwork for the books I would eventually write.

Sometimes a picture was enough to inspire me. This particular National Geographic cover struck chord with me.

I only ever saw it once and didn’t save the magazine but the feel of the photo remained with me and I used the boy’s style of clothing for the Utlanders in King Rolen’s Kin. (Turns out this was very appropriate since he was a Norwegian Lapp).

Because I couldn’t remember the year or month, I thought I would never find the image again. And I wouldn’t, if I hadn’t been wandering through a thrift store with my sister. (I love thrift stores, but that is another blog post). Sitting on the end of a rack, cover out, was this issue of National Geographic. And they were selling it for only one dollar. Naturally, I grabbed it and went over to the counter where I discovered all reading material was 50% off so I reclaimed a cherished image for only 50 cents. Made my day.

Then there were the first-hand accounts that I found particularly interesting. At the time I didn’t realise that this kind of research is called going to the primary source.

Back when I was a child I read an account of how a man and his two children were walking in a US national park when a snow storm came up suddenly. He built a snow cave and the children survived. In this case there were no photos and I had to research to find out about snow caves. But the idea that you could survive extreme conditions by building a snow cave stayed with me and I used it in King Rolens Kin. When the first book opens it is midwinter and Byren builds snow caves to camp while travelling.

Snow cave from Adventure Out

The King Rolen’s Kin series covers from midwinter to midsummer so it ranges from snow covered fields where Byren skates on canals and lakes to fetch help when his father’s kingdom is invaded, to the midsummer celebration when Byren hopes to reclaim the throne.


The KRK series has had a good run since it was first released with these beautiful illustrations by Clint Langley. I was surprised and delighted when my publisher contacted me to say they were going to re-release the KRK series to launch their Solaris Classics line.

These books have touched many readers who have reached out to me. And I think this is, in part, due to my fascination with the obscure and interesting. (Here’s what Mervi thought of the first book.)

Yes, I love fantasy. Yes, I love a rollicking tale. But I also love the obscure and interesting details that stick in your mind.

I hope the launch of the Solaris Classics line will enable King Rolen’s Kin to reach new readers.

The King’s Bastard on Kindle

The King’s Bastard Solaris Classic edition


Twitter: @rcdaniells

A stand-alone time travel story.

Publication year: 2014
Format: Audio
Running time: 12 hours and 8 minutes
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Publisher: Redhook

Harry August is born with the ability to live his life over and over. The first time he’s born, he doesn’t know it, of course. But when he’s born the second time, he thinks that he’s going mad and quickly kills himself in an insane asylum. The third time, he starts to sort of adjust to it.

Harry August is born on New Year’s Day 1919, in Leeds. He’s an illegitimate child, born of rape. His mother dies in the childbirth and he’s raised by foster parents. But he doesn’t know about his real mother until in later lives. He chooses different paths in different lives so he ends ups married to different people (the very few times he does get married), sometimes serving in the army and sometimes not. The chapters are rather brief and jump around to different lives. There’s not really a linear plot at all until near the end.

I enjoyed this book and the rambling style of jumping from event to event and from life to life but it’s certainly not to everyone’s taste. There are also some problems with how the time travel is presented. Because Harry isn’t the only one who does this. Yet, he and all the others seem to live different lives pretty much every time. Anyone who is interested in time travel probably knows what sort of hideous problems that would create. None of them are seen here. Also, the others seem to have gone through this loop many, many times before Harry is born which also seems, er, strange. You see, Harry at least claims to remember every life he’s ever lived. And for Harry time resets when he dies. However, the “loopers” don’t all die at the same time. So just what, or whose, reality are they living? I also really didn’t care for the multiple uses of torture.

So, I enjoyed this story as long I didn’t really think about the underlying assumptions or how things are supposed to work. Oh and the time travel aspect is never explained.

Technically the second book in the series, but doesn’t have any of the first book’s characters.

Publication year: 1995
Format: print
Page count: 416
Publisher: Daw

Vree and Bannon are sister and brother. They’re also the best assassins in the Havakeen Empire’s army. When the Emperor needs to get rid of rebel leaders or traitors, the generals send Vree and Bannon. But when they’re sent to kill rebelling Governor Aralt, something goes wrong. Vree discovers Bannon in an old man’s body – Aralt’s body. It seems impossible but Vree knows her brother. Aralt is dying and the only way to save Bannon’s spirit is for his consciousness to leap into Vree’s body. Vree allows it and together they agree to go after Bannon’s body which is now occupied by Aralt’s spirit. Unfortunately, that makes them deserters and if someone in the army realizes that Vree and Bannon have “deserted their duty”, assassins will be on their tail.

Meanwhile, two bards from Shkoder are invited guests in the capital. There are no bards in the Halvakeen and the nature spirits, the kigh, are alien to them. However, the two bards realize that kigh are terrified of being captured. The bards have no idea what is going on but investigate. Also, the youngest royal prince has a crush on one the bards, Karlene, and she tries to convince him that she isn’t the right person for him.

The book has an intriguing concept with Vree and Bannon in the same body. They’re always been close but quite soon this much closeness becomes too much. They’re both determined to get Bannon’s body back but soon they’re forced to work with the body stealer. Enemies forced to work together is a troupe I’ve always enjoyed and I really liked it here, too. However, I didn’t care for the romance aspect at all but it didn’t overwhelm the story. Also, there’s an incestuous vibe with the siblings and I didn’t care for that, either. Vree is apparently sexually attracted to her brother and Bannon wants to keep Vree dependent on her. So, not the healthiest relationship to begin with.

In this book, too, Huff uses a lot of quick point-of-view shifts but they weren’t as disorienting as in the first book. Karlene is a bard in her thirties: she’s inquisitive like all bards and determined to do her duty. We get to know the backstory of the body stealer and I suppose we should sympathize with him. But I don’t. Because he usually kills the spirit of the person whose body he takes over. He left Bannon alive only because his former body was poisoned and dying.

While Havakeen isn’t the same place culturally as Shkoder, bisexuality and same-sex partners are just as approved here as in the first book. Women in the army or as guards are also completely normal. They have several apparently competing religions but we’re not told much about them. Bannon and Vree follow the goddess of war, Jiir, but they aren’t ardent followers, more out of necessity.

Once again we have a lot of point-of-view characters. The actual bad guy is surprisingly sympathetic and at the same time chilling and creepy, which was great. He and Karlene were my favorites in this book.

The ending isn’t a cliffhanger but it leaves a lot of things open. I don’t have the next book, though.

A short story collection about… the end of the world.

Publication year: 2016
Format: ebook, epub
Page count: 252
Publisher: WMG publishing

As you might expect, these are pretty intense stories. All of them are emotional, one way or another. I’m actually not a huge fan of apocalypse stories, except for Terminator movies (and in them, it’s about avoiding the end of the world) but most of these I liked. Most of them are chilling stories, one way or another. When society’s rules break down, some people will only think of themselves but fortunately not all. Otherwise, humanity wouldn’t have evolved to have a society at all. This seems to be something that people are forgetting these days.

I think every story ends the world in a different way. I’m not entirely sure if I should enjoy the creativity or find it chilling.

The stories have been divided into several parts: just before the Apocalypse, the beginning of it, during it, surviving after it, and three stories which describe the whole thing.

Waiting for Apocalypse:
“String of Pearls” by Eric Kent Edstrom: The world has just heard that comets will strike the Earth and end human life. Lucas Piper and his girlfriend Vicki are among them. Lucas regrets not doing anything meaningful with his life. When they go to get more beer from the local small shop, they find out that the elderly shopkeeper has been murdered. Lucas decides to do something.

“The Shoes I Wore This Morning” by J. Daniel Sawyer: Lord Phineas Roxton Summerlee has just returned from an expedition where he and his small party were looking for a city of gold from the Amazons. The locals warned him away from it, but he didn’t listen.

The Beginning of the End
“The Dust Devil, the Riffraff, and the Big Orange Sunset” by Valerie Brook: Charlene Lynn Weaver is a patient on a psych ward. She and all the others have been locked up and nobody has come in the morning to care for them. Dust storms rage outside and the fine dust has filtrated inside so it’s not possible to leave the building. Charlene is one of the few people who know what’s really going on.

“Goin’ to the Chapel” by Rebecca M. Senese: In just three days, Marlee is going to get the perfect wedding she’s dreamed about since she was a little girl. Unfortunately, that’s the day when aliens invade Earth.

“With Wings the End” by Rob Vagle: The world is dying because people’s hearts are turning into blackbirds and flying away. The birds have mirrored bellies and fly in tight formation. Jeffrey wants to stay in his house, away from danger but his wife Laura wants to meet her friend whose heart is changing soon. On the way to the hospital, Laura also contracts the disease (or whatever it is) and Jeffrey brings her home to die.

Amidst the Apocalypse
“Cogs in the Machine” by Paul Eckheart: The Tickers have wiped out much of humanity but the survivors defend the remaining settlements. Tania wants to be part of Major Townsend’s village but she has a secret which might destroy her or save humanity.

“The Faerie Invasion” by Anthea Sharp: Ric Garcia is trying to protect his little sister from murderous fey folk who have invaded all of USA. But Angelina is sick and Ric doesn’t know what to do. Then the Wild Hunt come to their hiding place.

“Demon-touched” by Travis Heermann: Something infests or possesses humans. When they’re “ridden” (as it’s called) they do terrible things but don’t remember any of it afterwards. The narrator is a neuroscientist and one of the few who is still looking for a cause and a cure. But this time he awakes from “being ridden” in a cage with a shotgun in front of his face.

Survivors: Apocalypse came years ago but some survived it and have to continue living in a drastically changed world. This is perhaps my favorite setting for an Apocalypse story.
“Same Time Next Year” by M. E. Owen: 15 years ago something changed many people into Beasts. Still, Arlene’s family has a tradition to gather and celebrate their continued existence. But now they’re late and Arlene is worried for them.

“The Story That Has to Be Written” by Louisa Swann: A giant solar flare has wiped out a lot of humanity and made the whole planet much drier. The narrator, who is seven years old, her little brother, and father are still struggling to survive in a world where food is hard to come by because most of plant life can’t grow and most of the animals are gone.

“Tyrph Rights” by David Stier: USA is a wasteland thanks to genetic engineering gone wrong. Today, Devin and his new partner Rahel are going to try to get inside the Loop – the dangerous remains of the Sears Tower.

From start to finish:
“Paradox. Lost.” by Stefon Mears: The narrator has invented a time machine and it turns out to be a big mistake. Time travel doesn’t work like any of the theories.

“The Night of Brahma” by Leigh Saunders: Reina Varela Harrak can see the future but it hasn’t brought her happiness because only rarely have people believed what she has told them. Including her own family. Partly because they’re struggling to survive in the horrors of the Endless War.

“Three Degrees Above Zero” by Doug Dandridge: Scott Stafford was an astronomy teacher in Florida. Now, he might be the last man left alive on Earth because of a neutron star. The most science oriented story in this selection.

Collects CSI: Crime Investigation – Serial issues 1-5.

Writer: Max Allan Collins
Artist: Gabriel Rodriquez, Ashely Wood
Forensic Research, Plot Assist: Matthew V. Clemens
Publisher: Titan Books
Publishing year: 2004

This is a comics miniseries based on the original CSI TV-show. It uses most of the same techniques as the show and has the same characters: Gil Grissom, Catherine Willows, Nick Stoakes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, and Captain Brass. Set in Las Vegas, the comic starts with philosophical musing about Vegas. Like in the show, the comic has two plots.

In the primary plot, someone is killing prostitutes and on the second grisly crime scene Gil realizes that the killer is imitating Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately, there’s a Ripper convention going on, so there’s no shortage of suspects. In the second plot, a young woman’s body is found in a dumpster behind the Majestic casino. Sara and Warren investigate that.

The comic focuses on the cases and the characters get no real chance to shine. The most humor is found on the scenes where Warrick and Sara have to go through garbage and compare the killers to human garbage. The Ripper con could have given a chance to interview several suspects but that’s not used. The con is mostly an excuse to show cleavage shots.

The art is ok. The murder flashbacks are painted in a different and startling style from the rest. The collection has also interviews from three actors on the show.

An ok read aimed, of course, for the fans.

A fantasy book with a bard as the main character. It’s technically first in a series but the next book has different characters and is set in a different country.

Publication year: 1994
Format: print
Page count: 410
Publisher: Daw

This series is set in a world where magic is done through the Kigh. The Kigh are essentially nature spirits and by asking them (Singing) to do something the bards can affect earth, air, water, and fire. Yup, the bards do magic; there’s no mentions of wizards or other magic users. You have to be born with the ability to see the Kigh. Most of the bards seem to see only one kind of Kigh, some see two kinds. The rarest are the people who see all four kinds. You can only Sing to Kigh you can see.

Annice was born as the youngest of King Mikus’ children but she was also born with the gift to Sing to all four Kigh. The King of Shkoder and his heir wanted to marry (called joining in this world and also same-sex couples can join) her for political reasons but the headstrong Annice found a way to force his father the king to promise her to the Bardic Hall instead. However, after the old King’s death the new King Theron, Annice’s brother, proclaimed that in order to become a bard Annice had to cut all ties to the royal family and she would be a traitor to the crown if she joined or had a child without first getting the King’s permission. Annice was 14 and eager to become a bard so she agreed.

Ten years later, Annice finds out that she’s pregnant. She loves her life wandering around the country and having casual sex with both men and women. She even has a steady girlfriend Stasya, who is also a bard. She’s never thought about having kids but when she’s confronted with the pregnancy, she realizes that she wants the child. The kid’s father is very handsome but otherwise arrogant, pigheaded, opinionated etc. so Annice decides not to even tell him and raise the kid with Stasya and the other bards. She also intends to keep the kid a secret from the king.

However, the kid’s father, Pjerin, is a duc in a distant but strategically important mountain keep, guarding a pass between Shkoder and the hostile Cemandia. Pjerin is very proud of the place and content to keep it as it is, but others aren’t. People close to Pjerin scheme to get him out of way so that they can cement an alliance with Cemandia and get rich on the profits. They frame him as a traitor and soon Pjerin is dragged to the capital in chains and Annice has to decide what she’s going to do.

This was lots of fun. Annice and Pjerin are so much alike that they get on each other’s nerves all the time; there’s no romance really between them. In fact, there’s no sex scenes in the book. I really liked most of the characters, and the world and the magic system were great.

However, the plot could have been resolved very soon if Annice could have just gotten over the hurt and anger she had towards Theron. So, the plot really sprang up from the characters and their past. Some people seem to hate that, but this time it fit. However, it did take away the tension somewhat. Huff also does a lot of POV shifts very quickly. It took me a while to get used to them. Often enough I don’t care for bickering characters but this time I liked them. I think this is the second time I’ve read a book where the main character is heavily pregnant most of the time. (Cordelia was pregnant with Miles in Barrayar.)

I really enjoyed the world building. Shkoder is a land where traveling bards bring news from one end of the country to the other. They’re also part of the justice system because they can use Command which compels the person to tell the truth. Also, in Shkoder, same-sex relationships are the equal of opposite-sex relationships: both raise kids and are completely normal. Bisexuality is also normal.

I love bards and would like to read more books with bards as main characters but they seem to be rather rare. The next book apparently has a brother and sister assassins as the main characters.

Reprints some of the funniest stories from Fiction River.

Publication year: 2016
Format: ebook, epub
Page count: 146
Publisher: WMG publishing

“Generations” by Steve Perry: from “Fantasy Adrift”: Ziggy and his brothers live in a frontier planet where police aren’t around. When their enemy has a new toy, Ziggy has to get creative.

“Case Cracked” by Joe Cron: from “Fantastic Detectives”: Frank Dumpty is a hard-boiled detective in Magic City Police Department. A troll has been killed and Frank has a strong hunch who is behind it. But getting justice in a corrupt city isn’t a laughing matter.

“Role Model” by Kevin J. Anderson: another funny story from “Fantastic Detectives”: Dan Shamble is a zombie P.I. While working in a Cosplay Convention, he gets a sidekick: someone cosplaying him.

“Finally Family” by Ray Vukcevich: from “Unnatural Worlds”: Bugboy is an alien but he can’t tell people that. He lives in Japan but doesn’t even know the language. Then he meets Kimiko who teaches English to the Japanese.

“Time, Expressed as an Entrée” by Robert T. Jeschonek: from “Time Streams”: time devouring Rainbow Leviathan eats up everything until just one day is left. Then he encounters an anomaly.

“One-Night Stands for Love and Glory” by David H. Hendrickson: from “Universe Between”: the main character is a stand-up comedian. He used to be great but now unfortunately his Artificial Intelligence, which translates the jokes to the local language and culture, has begun to deteriorate.

“Earth Day” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: from “How to save the world”: One man thinks that he can save the world. His mother was an ardent environmentalist and so is the son… in his own way.

“Jelly’s Heroes” by Louisa Swann: from “Valor”: Staff Sergeant Jillian K. Wilson was given the task of training a small group of locals at Centauri VI. However, the locals are small and have no arms or legs. But that doesn’t mean they lack the spirit.

“Nice Timestream Youse Got Here” by Lee Allred: another story from “Time Streams”: the narrator and his good-looking but dumb partner Maizie work for the Temporal Protection Agency. This time they’re in New York City in 1940, looking for their next target. But they aren’t in it to protect any timeline.

“In the Play of Frigid Women” by Dean Wesley Smith: from “Fantasy Adrift”: Poker Boy and his love the Front Desk Girl are superheroes. However, this time they’ve decided to relax on a cruise. Everything goes smoothly at first but then a terrible storm hits. This time, Poker Boy and his gang have to really stretch their creativity to save the day.

These are all fun. I especially liked “Jelly’s heroes”, “Generations”, and “One-Night Stands for Love and Glory”. I’ve read previously about half of these stories but enjoyed them again.

The second in the fantasy series Magic Ex Libris set in modern times. And with magic that needs books!

Publication year: 2013
Format: Audio
Running time: 10 hours and 59 minutes
Narrator: David DeVries
Publisher: DAW

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer: a mage who can pull items out of books. This ability works for all printed books (which are well-known enough to have inspired large amount of belief) but he uses mostly science fiction and fantasy books. Firstly, because he likes them the best and secondly because those genres have the most useful toys: Excalibur, healing waters, scrying mirrors… Yep, they’re very useful indeed. After the previous book, Isaac was reconstituted as a field agent and he’s also doing magical research. He’s part of Die Zwelf Portenære, the Porters, who protect the world from magical threats and also from the very knowledge that magic exists. The leader of the group is Gutenberg himself who is still alive (and not a nice man). Isaac is also in a relationship with Lena Greenwood who is a dryad and kicks serious ass with her bokken.

The story starts with Isaac and Jeneta, a young woman who has apparently stumbled into a way to use e-readers for magic, which is something that was thought to be impossible. She’s trying to teach it to Isaac. However, Isaac is called away to investigate the murder of a wendigo. Apparently, the wendigo was killed by a human which is very rare. But after using a mirror that can see into the past, Isaac and his team gets clues about the murderer. But before they can do much about it, Lena’s tree is attacked and everyone (that is Isaac, Lena, and Dr. Nidhi Shah) return to Isaac’s home. Lena’s tree is behind it and strange small things which turn out to be magical metallic insects are attacking it. Of course, they have to investigate.

Each chapter starts with a vignette from Lena’s point-of-view. Lena a kick-ass dryad whose life has been quite unusual because she’s a character from the book “Dryads of Neptune”. She’s also bisexual and polyamorous. It’s great to see things from her perspective; the vignettes which follow her life give her a lot of depth which I don’t think could have been given any other way. I loved these parts! Although they don’t tie into the chapter or rest of the story until near the end.

This time we find out a little about the history of writing and magic outside the Western world and we get a non-Western magical society. But things don’t go smoothly, to say the least.

The plot is actually pretty close to the first book’s plot. Still, I greatly enjoyed this one, too. I like the characters a lot, especially Lena. I recommend reading the first book first, though. The ending isn’t (quite) a cliffhanger but things are likely to change a lot in the next book.

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