Joelene Pynnonen

Joelene Pynnonen embraces the life of an avid book lover in every way. Her household is ruled cruelly by a wrathful cat; and should a fire ever start it is doubtful that she would make it past the elegant stacks of novels to her room door. At least once a year she coerces her mother into watching the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice with her, and will often follow up by re-reading the book.

 

tarr_forgotten sunsThe planet of Nevermore has been empty – seemingly abandoned by its previously vast population for thousands of years. For Aisha’s archaeologist parents, this is a mystery that needs to be solved – if only they can scrape together the funding for it. Unfortunately, resources for such expeditions are low and, when it looks as though Aisha and her family will be forced to leave Nevermore, Aisha sets off an exploration, hoping to find a treasure worth keeping the expedition funded.

What she does instead is unleash an ancient being, put to sleep six thousand years ago when he became too volatile to manage. Everything about his world has changed since he went to sleep, and all he wants is to find out why. If he is to be loosed on the unsuspecting world, however, Aisha cannot let him go alone.

Khalida is trying to recover from the horrors she has seen and inflicted during her years at war. She’s not doing a particularly good job of it, but when orders come through, calling her back to the precise battle that she had tried to end, she has no choice but to follow. Her niece, Aisha, and Rama, the unbelievably powerful being that Aisha released, are along for the ride – whether Khalida wishes it or not.

As promised in the Kickstarter campaign funding this novel, Forgotten Suns is a rip-roaring adventure in the guise of a space opera. Like any adventure, there is a great journey – though this one spans universes, not just worlds. The world of Forgotten Suns is intricately and tightly woven. Not purely sci-fi, it delves into fantasy at times, seamlessly melding the two genres.

While the mystery at the centre of the story concerns Nevermore, the abandoned planet, and Rama, the ancient being that Aisha awakens, there are other storylines going on that are much more interesting. Khalida’s broken mind and her struggle to keep herself alive, the Psycorps relationship to Military Intelligence, and how it affects the planets they exploit are storylines that are not explored as well as they could be. Much of the issue is that Rama is too powerful for this novel. Any conflict that arises he is too easily able to quash. Psycorps is a genuinely scary organisation and has the potential to be a serious threat, except for Rama’s abilities.

The world of Forgotten Suns is as richly imagined as any space opera should be. Rather than imagining a white-washed future, it delves into a universe diverse in race, sex and sexuality.

Forgotten Suns is a futuristic journey of discovery spanning not only universes but dimensions. Vividly imaginative and almost poetic in metaphorical description, it’s the novel for any aficionado of space opera.

Forgotten Suns – Judith Tarr

Book View Café (April 21, 2015)

ISBN: 9781611384772

Krista McKeeth

Krista McKeeth is a blogger and reviewer from Utah. Visit her website.

de Bodard_house of shatteredMulti-award winning author Aliette de Bodard, brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy…

In the late twentieth century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins, the aftermath of a Great War between arcane powers. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

EDITION Hardcover ISBN 9780451477385 PRICE $26.95 (USD)

The story opens up with a fallen angel being dissected by scavengers. The land is in ruins as a result of the great war, and angel essence is a much sought after drug. Selene, the head of House Silverspires, saves Isabelle and one of the scavengers, Phillipe. Selene can tell there is something different about Phillipe and intends to keep a close eye on him.

Since the war, the houses have never been too friendly, and when events bring the houses to a conference at House of Silverspires, all hell breaks loose. There is a shadow figure on the loose who has been killing people. Betrayals, secrets, revenge and abusive of powers all eventually become part of the storyline, as everybody’s lives, especially those of the House, are in danger.

There is never a dull moment in the story, and the world building was amazingly detailed and hauntingly post-apocalyptic. Phillipe becomes the focus of the story as Selene tries to figure out who he is, and he tries to figure out a way to become unbound from her powers. Isabelle and Phillipe have a tie to each other and that comes into play throughout the story. The one character that has really stuck with me after reading this book, however, is Madeleine, the alchemist of House Silverspires, formerly of House Hawthorn, who is addicted to angel essence. Everything about her was hauntingly honest and true; the growth of her character throughout the story really stood out to me.

There was nothing that I did not like about this story. Everything comes together with perfect timing and intensity. If you enjoy stories about war, politics, fallen angels, high fantasy magic, this is a must read!

A book that I would highly recommend with a great ensemble of characters and story lines. It’s pretty epic.

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

Hogan-Crucibleof-Souls_3D_smallversion-1Once in an age a novel comes around that stirs up such excitement that even before it reaches a publishing house the author grows a following that many writers can only dream of. A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan is one of these astounding novels.

Originally self published by Hogan in 2013, A Crucible of Souls quickly attracted followers drawn to his enthralling storytelling style and complex characters. With more than thirty thousand ebook sales under his belt Hogan was approached by the speculative fiction arm of HarperCollins, Harper Voyager, and now this great series has a new home between physical covers. And as many bibliophiles will attest, it isn’t Sword and Sorcery unless you get to feel the pages beneath your fingers as you read.

And Sword and Sorcery this series is, but it’s thankfully far removed from the classical epic styles and with plenty of twists to provide distinction from the old tropes that usually permeate the genre.

A Crucible of Souls follows the complex and event plagued life of Caldan, a young man orphaned in his youth under mysterious circumstances and raised by sorcerer monks in a monastery that is part refuge, part school for the wealthy and magically gifted. After an incident in the monastery results in Caldan’s exile from everything he knows, he is quickly thrown into the real world with little more than a collection of half-trained skills, a pair of enigmatic rings, and a burning need to find out what happened to his family.

What follows is both far and familiar to readers of the Fantasy genre. This is still a tale of magic and swordplay in a pre-industrial revolution setting, and there are the classic themes of heroism and epic struggle redolent since the golden age of Fantasy, where Hogan differs from most authors is how he crafts his characters. For when a writer creates a world, it’s the characters that define what it becomes.

Hogan’s characters are some of the most human to be found on paper in many years. Deep and flawed, ambivalent, conflicted between self-interest and doing the right thing, every character in A Crucible of Souls is sculpted from raw emotion into something real and shocking enough that even though many only last a few pages the reader nevertheless is drawn to every story they might have to tell.

And it’s not just the characters that work so hard to make this novel a success. Hogan has built a world unique in its treatment of the subject of sorcery, of the desperation of mankind, of the atrocities committed in the name of “doing good”. And while this is primarily Caldan’s tale, Hogan does not shy away from giving brief glimpses into the minds of other characters that make this novel such an enthralling experience.

Any fan of the Fantasy genre will love this novel, as will anyone who enjoys epic storytelling, complex characters, or just getting the chance to read something that stands far above the norm.

 

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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