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Review

Station 11

Station 11

If you’re looking for a book that focuses on character development, then STATION 11 is the book for you.

Or maybe plot isn’t so important and you like meandering through a setting that is both familiar and foreign.

It may also be that you like books with elements that don’t seem important to the plot as a greater whole OR maybe you find satisfaction with plodding through 280 pages before you start seeing the connections between the characters and plot points.

If this is the case, you might just enjoy STATION 11. Alas, those aren’t the kinds of things I look for in a book. I definitely wasn’t the target audience.
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Review

The Goblin Emperor

Posted: June 22, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Katherine Addison, Fantasy
The Goblin Emperor

A while ago we published a new page on the site that listed out a few handfuls of books that we thought were the best examples of fantasy fiction to be had (EBR Page). One of the comments we received on that page suggested that our list was missing this exact book. I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly enthralled by the cover or the title though, and so I passed it by as I did so many others that just didn’t tickle my fancy.

Recently, however, the audiobook was released, and so I figured that I might as well give it a go. After all, I’m always up for another suggestion of a great read.

Turns out, I probably should have just passed it by.
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Review

The Girl and the Mountain

Posted: June 18, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Mark Lawrence, Fantasy
The Girl and the Mountain

The other day I was admiring the long stretch of Mark Lawrence books on my bookshelves, and I realized just how many great stories this guy has pumped out for us in the last decade. He’s currently working on closing out his fifth trilogy–that’s pretty impressive, given the timeline–and so much of what he’s brought to the table has just been awesome. If you haven’t checked his books out yet (EBR Archive), you should.

However, I have to admit that I felt somewhat trepidatious (an adjective that Wordpress’s spellchecker apparently doesn’t recognize) in approaching this next book. The first book in the series, while entertaining, had a few aspects to it that made me worry about the evolution of the story to come. Where it might go. How it might tackle the perspectives it was trying to bring together.

And I’m afraid that my concerns ended up being quite justified.
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Review

The Court of Broken Knives

The Court of Broken Knives

Back during one of my interminable years of college, I was able to take Sanderson’s Creative Writing course. This was before things took off for him with the Wheel of Time. Mostly I just took the class because I’d begun to dabble with writing my own stuff–instead of just reading–and the teacher happened to be a local author of some minimal renown. Deal. One of his lectures that semester was about how to use perspective and point of view in our stories, and we talked about all sorts of things, not the least of which was the several options we had to choose from.

I remember one question in particular from our discussion being about mixing first-person and third-person POVs within a single book. My recollection is that he said something along the lines of “being careful” but that you could do it, if you wanted to. That’s not something you come across very often though: first- and third-person POVs in the same book. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that did things that way.

Well, not before this one, anyhow.
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Review

Demons, Ink

Posted: June 2, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Clayton Snyder, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Demons, Ink

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and someone will listen.

That’s essentially what happened to me for this book. The author threw out a tweet about needing reviews for his books that made me laugh, and so I told him I’d oblige. Figured out later that the book of his that I bought was self-published and recently entered into the SPFBO that Mark Lawrence runs. Funny enough, he got lumped into the same initial group of books as ALONG THE RAZOR’S EDGE (EBR Review). So, while I’d suggest that Mr. Snyder not hold his breath at the possibility of moving on to Round 2… this was still a pretty good book, and something I’m glad I found my way to.
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Review

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Posted: May 27, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Marlon James, Fantasy
Black Leopard, Red Wolf

I find it interesting just how wide and varied the opinions given for a single book can be. This concept has been rattling around in my brain ever since I started reading this book. Prior to deciding to pick it up, I’d seen a decent amount of buzz about it making the rounds on social media. Nothing too excessive. Some people bandying it about as an “African Game of Thrones”. But then it showed up on a list of books. Well, not just any old list, but a list from Time Magazine of “The Best 100 Fantasy Books of All Time” put together by a selected panel of “well-esteemed” fantasy authors. I mean yeeeeesh. How could I not take them up on that opportunity? At the time though, I somehow completely missed the fact that the author of this book… was actually on the panel.

[side_eye]

Yeah. Okay, I’d say that’s a pretty good primer for one of the most tedious books I’ve finished reading in a long, long time.
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Review

Machine

Posted: May 24, 2021 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Elizabeth Bear, Science Fiction
Machine

Seriously, how does Elizabeth Bear come up with such mind-blowing, thought-provoking stuff on the regular? There’s RANGE OF GHOSTS (EBR Review), there’s THE STONE IN THE SKULL (EBR Review), there’s KAREN MEMORY (EBR Review)–all of which are very different, yet all crazy weird and engaging and fun to read.

Bear does it again with THE MACHINE, only this time it’s science fiction with a dose of medicine. (Even if you didn’t read the linked but not necessarily series ANCESTRAL NIGHT you’ll get caught up relatively quickly).
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Review

The Shadow Saint

Posted: May 19, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Gareth Hanrahan, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
The Shadow Saint

Potential. Potential. Potential.

This was my mantra after having read the first book in this series, THE GUTTER PRAYER. In what ended up being the most influential ways, that single repeated word kept me from picking up this second book in the series for quite some time. Then I came across a picture of Rob J. Hayes (EBR Archive) on Twitter where he was reading a copy of this book… and for some reason, I couldn’t get the freaking thing out of my head. Something about the way he was looking at its open pages almost haunted my reader brain. Thus, when I came across an announcement that the third in the series had an upcoming release date (yesterday, as it happens), I bit the bullet and bought all three. I just couldn’t help myself.

And, man, am I glad I did.
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Review

Stormblood

Stormblood

I came across this book in an interesting way. Responded to a tweet that Pierce Brown had made, and afterward realized that he’d just been responding to another guy. The initial tweet had been something along the lines of “I don’t need to read anything from [list of golden age SF authors here] and anyone saying that I should is absolutely insane”. Afterward, it only took a little investigation to find out that this other guy just happened to have recently released his first, traditionally published novel through Gollancz. So, of course he was taking the opportunity to get on his soapbox to try and cast a little shade where he could.

Sigh.

Still, I thought that the introduction made for a relatively interesting case study. I mean, if the guy was able to sit down and write a killer story, then maybe he was right, and he *didn’t* need to read that older SF. Maybe he’d be perfectly fine as a science fiction author by just reading the current stuff.

So, I bought his novel. And thus, the game was afoot.
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Review

The Sword of Kaigen

The Sword of Kaigen

Golly-gee willikers, I really miss being part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. 🙂 🙁 Every time I see the now annual contest come round, I think to myself, “Maybe this year…”, but then I decide to stop lying to myself. The fact of the matter is that, these days, we just don’t have the staff to participate and still keep up any kind of regular reviews for traditionally published books. So, as much as I’d love to dive back into the trenches with our book-review bretheren and sisteren, I’ve come to some kind of peace (Perhaps even, a troubled one? Sorry. Bad time for a pun…) with the way the chips have landed here. Still, this doesn’t preclude my ability to, at the very least, pick up the winner for each year, and see what rose to the top of the pile. Which leaves us with a single glaring omission…
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