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Imager’s Battalion by LE Modesitt is the 3rd Quaeryt book and 6th Imager overall and it was another addictive read that I finished very soon after receiving an advanced review copy sometime last year.
Excellent stuff with the same structure as books 1/2 (Scholar/Princeps) though this one is mostly war: Imagers – magic, powerful but few of them – against musketeers, canon, guns, arrows, ambushes, lots of expendable soldiers and even the powerful super-weapon of the day, Antiagon fire, as now sub-commander Quaeryt leads 5th Battalion, the vanguard of the Southern Army of Telaryn led by commander Skarpa, his friend from Tilbor, into Bovaria proper against the forces of cruel Rex Kharst.
Also the hopes of the Pharsi nation, subjugated and persecuted by Kharst, rest on Quaeryt’s shoulders too as his command is mostly Pharsi refugee soldiers and officers in addition of course to the few mostly untrained Imagers whom he has to shape into officers too.
And not to make matters easier, Quaeryt’s wife and Lord Bhayar’s youngest sister, Vaelora, now pregnant, has her own job at court to co-rule with her sister-in-law Aelina, as Telaryn’s ruler is with the main Army of the North since he has staked everything on the invasion too..
Moreover the Telaryn Commander in Chief, Marshal Deucalon doesn’t like Quaeryt or Skarpa in the least so they get the minimum amount of soldiers and the maximum amount of hardship possible without triggering Bhayar’s ire, while Sub-Marshal Myskil, former close confidant of governor Rescalyn and presumably involved in his plot to take over Telaryn and depose Bhayar, still remembers Quaeryt’s so elegantly breaking the plot, while leaving a dead Rescalyn as a big war hero of Telaryn…
An all-new David Weber Honorverse short novel,I Will Build a House of Steel, chronicling the early days of the Manticoran Star Kingdom and the reign of King Roger.”
Volume 2 (House of Lies) will cover Heaven, and probably the Andermanni Empire and Silesia and volume 3 (House of Shadows) will cover the Solarian League and Mesa.
Jumping every few years to important events during his times, we get to see the established characters of the Honorverse (Hamish Alexander, Sonja Hemphill, Janacek, High Ridge etc) as young(er) people and the early tussles between Sonja Hemphill and Hamish are a delight to read; many hints for the future and a superb 200 page story.
The companion per se is quite detailed about Manticore, its history, notable people, navy, type of ships etc while the Grayson part is shorter though still a decent compendium. The last part with an essay and a few q/a by DW is also outstanding.
OverallHouse of Steel is highly recommended for fans of the series and as the compendium stops in early 1921 PD, so just before the first battle of Manticore, there are no real spoilers for the current part of the series so it’s a good “get up to date” for people who want to jump in but do not want to read 20+ books and tons of short stories.
Murder of the Heart is a first person narration from the sister of a recently dead girl, whose ghost warns her about the charismatic and successful writer former fiancee (of the now ghost girl). Something different from Philip Palmer who has written mostly variants of space opera and planetary adventure so far and while the story is something seen tons of times, I kind of like the writing so far.
The Smallest of Things by Ian Whates seems to be the old cliche – supernatural detective story in London – but it was interesting in a small dose.
The Ties that Bind by Juliet McKenna is set in a secondary pre industrial world and concerns a young woman married into a richer trader family whose husband is presumed dead; this actually has the greatest potential of the rest of the novels outside Gela’s Ring so far but the piece in the first issue was mostly set-up.
As befits serial fiction all the pieces above end at “hook” points, mostly of the “and now…” version and that is quite an attractive quality of serialization in my opinion…
In addition there is a short non-fiction piece by Eric Brown, presenting a prolific but not that well known author, Rupert Croft-Cooke, piece that is quite interesting and for once complete in itself.
Overall, a very strong beginning and I expect to read issue 2 the moment it pops in my inbox in a month or so.
Official David Weber Site/Forums
The Honorverse Wikipedia
Order Shadow of Freedom HERE
Read Chapters 1-9 from Shadow of Freedom HERE
Read FBC’s An Invitation to David Weber’s Honorverse
Read FBC Review of At All Costs
Read FBC Review of Storm from the Shadow and Mission of Honor
Read FBC Review of A Rising Thunder
Read FBC Interview with David Weber
“Wrong number? There are two sides to any quarrel . . . unless there are more.
Regarding the ending, I actually have a belief that it signifies quite dramatic developments soon as such would really amplify its already pretty emotional content.
When Eleazard begins editing a strange, unpublished biography of Kircher, the rest of his life seems to begin unraveling—his ex-wife goes on a dangerous geological expedition to Mato Grosso; his daughter abandons school to travel with her young professor and her lesbian lover to an indigenous beach town, where the trio use drugs and form interdependent sexual relationships; and Eleazard himself starts losing his sanity, escalated by loneliness, and his work on the biography. Patterns begin to emerge from these interwoven narratives, which develop toward a mesmerizing climax.
Shortlisted for the Goncourt Prize and the European Book Award, and already translated into 14 languages, Where Tigers Are At Home is large-scale epic, at once literary and entertaining, that belongs in the company of Umberto Eco and Haruki Murakami.”
French news correspondent and independent scholar Eleazard von Wogau is going through a painful divorce with archaeologist Brazilian wife Elaine and has moved to Alcantara, a decrepit provincial town where he is sent by his editors an incredible recent discovery, namely an original manuscript from the 17th century purporting to tell the life of Father Kirchner. Eleazard startspreparing the manuscript for publication and annotating it heavily, while getting involved with a mysterious Italian lady of many secrets.
Elaine – a professor at the University of Brazilia – is going on the jungle archaeology trip of a lifetime with a few colleagues, including star paleo-zoologist Dietlev who is her current on and off lover and the just minted geology PhD Mauro, son of rich Maranhao governor Moreira who is corrupt and involved in very shady stuff as most of his money actually comes from his Countess wife Carlotta while he only administers it in her name.
In the Fortaleza Favela de Pirambu, 15 year old “reduced” Nelson is scrapping a begging and occasional thievery life and dreaming of famed outlaw Lampiao and of better things, while squirreling money to buy his dream wheelchair – Nelson has no legs from birth. Nelson is being helped/tutored by truck driver, “uncle” Ze, as his real father has died long ago in an work accident in one of Moreira’s factories.
The clear number one novel of the year for me so far (going by the US translation just published in March 2013, while the UK edition appeared in 2011) and a novel that I believe will be hard to top the rest of the year.
Thomas Clarin is a divorce lawyer whose profession has fostered a deep and abiding distrust of marriage, preferring instead to “play the field.” Thomas Loos is a somber widower intensely mourning his wife’s death. With Clarin’s flirtatious, roving eye and Loos’s complete disenchantment with the world around him, it would seem these men had nothing in common. But after a fateful meeting in a crowded Swiss restaurant, the two strike up a conversation that unearths unnerving coincidences.
With brilliant ease, Werner’s meticulously rendered story begins quietly at first, then grabs its reader, refusing to let go. On the Edge, widely acclaimed by reviewers as a treasure of contemporary German literature, has been published in 15 different countries, and has sold over 400,000 copies in Germany alone since its publication in 2004.”
“Everything’s turning. And everything’s turning round him. It’s insane, but I’m even tempted to think that he’s sneaking around the house right now—with or without a dagger. Although he’s supposed to have left, and I’m just hearing crickets and the distant barking of dogs in the night.”
After this dramatic introduction by the narrator – womanizer mid-thirties Swiss divorce lawyer Thomas Clarin – he starts recounting how he drove to his mountain villa for a long weekend to write a paper on Swiss divorce law history, only to to go to a nearby famed restaurant terrace and due to its being busy, sit at a table with an older, powerfully built 50′s man, who at first ignores him after giving Clarin tacit permission to sit at his table. However after Clarin, outgoing, sociable, charming as his many conquests and “theory of dating” show, introduces himself, the older man starts paying attention and tells him his name is Loos as they start discussing stuff:
“Well, first, as I hinted, the discussion was all ‘God and the world,’ but then we gradually got more personal, more intimate, you could say. For example, he asked me about my life as a bachelor and then along the way about my love life.”
Loos is mourning his wife, dead one year ago after a bout with brain cancer and Clarin slowly falls under his spell:
“I met a man by chance at the Bellevue in Montagnola, a remarkable man, a little over fifty, a classical philologist. We got to be friends of a sort, talked with each other for two evenings long. His name was Loos, Thomas Loos, physically a bear of a man. He had come down here, as he gradually revealed, to commemorate his wife, his dead Bettina, whom he revered like a saint—it came across as crazy to me. He was unquestionably disturbed, from time to time almost unbalanced—then completely normal again and impressively sharp-minded, especially when it came to proving how awful the present age is, how unbearable the world—the only thing he valued was his wife, his happy marriage”
An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Years later, the writer’s stepson reflects upon his stepmother and the strange stories she used to tell him. Meanwhile, a surgeon’s lover vows to kill him if he does not leave his wife. Before she can follow-through on her crime of passion, though, the surgeon will cross paths with another remarkable woman, a cabaret singer whose heart beats delicately outside of her body. But when the surgeon promises to repair her condition, he sparks the jealousy of another man who would like to preserve the heart in a custom tailored bag. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders—their fates converge in a darkly beautiful web that they are each powerless to escape.
Macabre, fiendishly clever, and with a touch of the supernatural, Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge creates a haunting tapestry of death—and the afterlife of the living”
After the superb Hotel Iris (FBC Review), I decided to keep an eye on any of the work of Yoko Ogawa that is translated in English. On January 29, Revenge which is a collection of 11 interlinked tales – at least that is claimed and while so far I have read the first three, I have yet to see the connection, but it definitely may be there – will be published by Picador.
So far I have not had the chance to really get into it, but I think it is a very interesting anthology and worth taking a look at. As usual I will update here and on Goodreads when I read some stories from it.
This one is available only on Amazon Kindle as ebook for now as it is a Kindle Select title – so if you have any kind of Kindle you can borrow it for free on your monthly book quota, though since as mentioned earlier, I have a Nook HD+, I had to buy it of course, but it is worth all the money and more as so far I greatly enjoyed all the 7 stories I have read and I expect the same with the last 3 when I get to them sooner rather than later.
1. I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like Unauthorized Egg Model Book Cover
3. Manami’s Hair
4. The Garden of Sleep
5. I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like
6. The Quest for Chinese People
7. A Design for Life
8. I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like Etc.
9. The Eye of the Living Is No Warmth
10. A Thread from Heaven”
This is the effect of his book of sketches:
“Huge edifices, megastructures, poured from the leaves. Bridges which spanned oceans, towers which stretched into the clouds, huge fortresses which looked as if they could withstand the destructive force of an Armageddon. Vertical cities rose up from desert plains in startling anaxometrics, while spatial cities, cities built fifteen or twenty meters above their counterparts, stood forth as visions of utopian architecture, only to be outdone on subsequent pages by floating cities, vast nests of hexagonal pods resting atop lakes and oceans. Structures which straddled the earth and others which burrowed under it. Buildings which brought to mind lost civilizations or seemed to be the habitations of beings from another world . . . ”
Despite doubts, he is hired. And so, in this adventure of marble and mortar, of machines and workmen, of cult and manipulation, the most bizarre construction project since Babel commences its Cyclopean growth. Written by a contemporary master of the decadent and grotesque, The Architect is like Greek tragedy on hallucinogens—a brilliant, stylish short novel of eccentricity and decay”
While the story reveals itself soon as a pretty familiar one after a somewhat mysterious beginning where both the origins of the cult that is central to the novel and of the architect of the title are presented, the power of the book lies in the captivating style and the slowly turning up of the pressure and the stakes.
“You see,” Peng Zu said, “the gravest problems of state can be resolved over a bowl of soup. The people, seeing you live frugally will not resent you. When the ruler is calm, the nation is calm.”
Learn of the outrageous and sometimes dubious lives of Peng Zu and fifty other notorious cooks from the pages of history and legend, in a picaresque dictionary of delicious and playful story-telling”