Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Flame On!

James Bennett “Chasing Embers” (Orbit, 2016)

Maybe you are thinking that you are just tired of urban fantasy.  It’s been done to death.  You know both plots & quite frankly are sick of vampires and werewolves.

Allow me to tell you about Chasing Embers.  Sure, it’s urban fantasy, but it’s not like that other stuff.   

The protagonist, he’s a dragon.  Yeah, a dragon.  Not a dude who is turned into a dragon, but a dragon who can turn into a dude.  And he’s not a detective, private or otherwise.  In fact, he’s not particularly any good at figuring anything out.  The plot’s not about solving a mystery.  It’s about stopping some seriously messed up people.  The plot and all the various motivations and machinations are slowly revealed as we learn how this world is different from our own.

And while there is a love angle here, it’ not in any danger of being called a romance.  

While the core of the world building is set in Western Europe, I do have to commend Bennett for attempting to include some African folklore.  Unfortunately it felt at times like these elements were crashing into a book that comfortably sat in the European tradition. Hopefully that will be rectified later in the series.

On the whole this is a promising start to a new urban fantasy series.  There’s an intriguing world with interesting characters and lots of action.  There’s plenty of unexplored space in the world to build on in future books.  Recommended particularly if you are jaded on bog standard UF. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Churning Out That Boogaloo

D Nolan Clark “Forsaken Skies” (Orbit, 2016)

There’s a small Mexican village that is plagued by bandits.  The villagers pool their meager resources & go to hire gunfighters to defend the village.  They don’t really have enough money for this, but an old fighter with a soft heart takes the job, & assembles a ragtag crew of fighters to help them.

Wait… that’s The Magnificent Seven.  But it’s also Forsaken Skies.  (And Seven Samurai, and…)  Hey I get it, it’s a great story.  That’s why it has worked in so many places.  

So this is The Magnificent Seven…. In SPAAAAACE.  And to help make it a series, there’s a first contact story grafted onto this as well.  (The first contact part comes from Star Trek, though.) 

So then the plot is solid, if a bit well worn.  What’s left?

The character work is sufficient, but not particularly in depth.  This is more about action & adventure.  And does it deliver?  I’d say so, though your opinion may vary based on how much you like descriptions of pilots during fight sequences.  I don’t know when I ever read so much talk about the details of flying fighter planes. (And these are just fighter jets in space).

Forsaken Skies was fun.  It’s not going to be breaking any barriers for originality or depth, but sometimes that’s ok.  I enjoyed it, & plan on checking out more in the series.