The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
If you fancy a bit of light spirited fun with Victorian setting then the parasol protectorate books by Gail Carriger may just what your looking for. Well written and creative they have vampires, werewolves and a bit of steam punk all at once. Throw in a mystery and some adventure and you get the Parasol Protectorate series.
The series starts with “Soulless” in which we meet Alexia Tarabotti who struggles to be a proper Victorian lady while hindered by her spinster status and of course her soulless nature. A run in with a vampire starts off her adventure and then she gets off on the wrong foot with Lord Maccon who serves not just for Queen and country but is also pack leader of a local group of werewolves.
I looked at the first book in the series at least a half dozen times on the shelf before I bought it. I wasn’t sure what a soulless was and I’m not always keen on some of the recent spat of books with vampires or werewolves. I decided to risk it and was glad I did. My guess is that the books will appeal more to women readers. It has a bit of a love story and many details about clothing and interiors that may not appeal to men. The whole series will make great light summer reading or spirit lifting winter reading for that matter. I recommend this for quick read when you want something light and a little bit fluffy. Start with Soulless and work your way through all five.
The other books in the series are Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless.
It seems I have been so busy playing and figuring out how to make my new phone connect with -everything- my reviews for the last two posted books are a bit late. All on top of that tonight, honest. As long as I don’t start a Twitter account or something…
Lords of the Bow - Book 2 of The Conquerer Series, -Conn Iggulden
A novel of historical fiction, charting Ghenghis Khan’s united Mongol tribes’ attack against the mighty Chin Empire to the East. I have always been a fan of historical fiction, but for the most part it has just been set in a recognisable era of Earths history, weaving in and out of it while presenting a fictional plot and characters, this is one of the first novels I have read that is based around known facts and fills in the gaps.
I only found out much later in the book, once I had done a bit of research for this review that this is actually the second in a trliogy, the first following Ghenghis as he unites the tribes, the last as he continues his conquest.
It is a great credit to the author that at no time did I feel I was missing out reading the books out of order, and will gladly read the other two books in whatever order I happen to find them, as Iggluden skillfully makes the book start at a natural point and finish at a satisfying point in the story.
Weaving intriguing plotting, characterisation and interactions around solidly known facts (which handily the author breaks down at the end), this paints an intriguing picture of the Mongol people and their culture , the tactics and politics and the charisma of a man who became one of the mightiest conquerers the world has ever know.
The author seems to have writtten several other historical works besides this trilogy, and I heartily look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
You can find it at Amazon here.
Lure of the Basilisk, Lawrence Watt-Evans, 1980 Book One of The Lords of Dus.
Another book found when I was not even into my teens that somehow has survived house moves, bookcase-pairing-downs and damage (for the most part!) to remain on my shelf to this day. It follows the tale of an ‘Overman’ called Garth.. distantly related to humans in some way but markedly different in appearance. Near seven feet tall, extremely strong, nose-less.. and as you progress through the novel hints will be dropped as to how else his biology is different which leads to some surprises contained in otherwise innocuous sentences.
The Overmen live in exile in the snowy northern wastes of the continent after the Race Wars.. though physically superior to humans, they were smaller in number and now have little contact with their relatives to the south.
The Overman begins his journey with a visit to the Wise women of Ordunin, seers among his kind. He explains that he is sick of death and decay, and wants his name to live on far past his death, to be remembered forever. He is sent south to the human lands, to a decrepit border town called Skelleth, there to find the Forgotten King, who can grant him his wish.
Garth is not only different physically from humans - in attitude and outlook, he struggles to understand humans and their emotions and it is a great credit to the author that we can sympathise with the protagonist despite his differences. This is a short novel really, if you put your mind to it you could probably read it in a single sitting on a wet Sunday afternoon, but despite this Watt-Evans manages to weave an interesting world, leaving tantalising clues as to the origin of the Overmen (and their steeds, massive panther like creatures incorporating traits of other animals) that leave you wanting more. Garth’s quest also intrigues - who is the forgotten King, what does he want of Garth, and the spoils of the task he sets him? Is the cost of the fame Garth wants too much?
While there may be many such slim (just over 200 pages) fantasy novels on the shelves, none of them have stuck with me quite like this one, and it is not just out of sentimentality. There arre four books in the series, but you can start by picking this overlooked classic up at Amazon here, in print and on the Kindle. -V
Tiger! Tiger! - Alfred Bester, 1956, This edition 1991. Also released as ‘the Stars my Destination’.
I picked this up when I was 11 or 12 from one of the book sales my mum used to have with one of the choirs she attended and I just loved it. It took me quite a while to realise how ‘early’ (in terms of science fiction to my mind, at that age) which it was written - it had a very contemporary feel to it and made me reconsider my snobbish idea that any SF written more than ten years ago would be out of date.
The story follows one Gulliver ‘Gully’ Foyle, a man of physical and mental potential, but, essentially, a lazy guy. 171 days stranded in his ship the Nomad, he suddenly makes contact with another craft, the Vorga-T:1339. Which instead of rescuing him, promptly leaves. he vows revenge and thus a new man is born and his tale begins..
Really highly recommended, lots of interesting ideas with a compelling main character. hardback editions now fetch rather steep prices but you should be able to find it at Amazon for a couple of bucks, at least if you settle for the import papaerback version.
Welcome to our new sideline!
We thought this might be a nice companion to our regular 3d work, as so many of our interests are similar and a lot of digital art (not all we realise!) likes to focus on science fiction or fantasy. We love both those things, in print and film as well as art, so we thought we’d do s semi regular little series where we write about our favourite books and movies, what we’re reading right now, and what we just watched. Hope we share some gems you may not have ever heard of!