Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: _Maiden, Matron, Crone_

Many ancient cultures were matriarchal societies where women tended to hold the power. This was reflected in their religions where the main deities were a goddess. The mother goddess had three aspects of the maiden, matron and crone, portraying three major stages of women’s lives. _Maiden, Matron, Crone_ edited by Kerrie Hughes and Martin H. Greenberg contains thirteen stories exploring the triple goddess in her various forms. Stories range from poignant to serious, which many readers will find entertaining.

Elise is a runaway, wandering around the country by hitchhiking. She finds herself stranded along an empty road, walking until she encounters a mysterious woman in a berry thicket. “A Lingering Scent of Bacon” by Brenda Cooper follows Elise as she encounters different women that help her to make an important decision. The author creates a sympathetic character that readers will like and want to see how her story ends.

“Strikes of the Heart” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a story of three gene rations of women. Kishi is the granddaughter of the powerful wizard Omara who raised her. Laran, Kishi’s mother, is a warrior for the king. Kishi has a plant for a husband. She uses her magic to help at the castle. Her grandmother is showing signs of aging. When a man tries to rape her, Kishi discovers she is the victim of her grandmother’s spell. Laran is raped too. The king grows uneasy with Omara being so powerful but no longer in her right mind. Kishi must find a way to stop Omara. Ms. Hoffman creates a strong story with memorable characters and interesting magic.

In “Misery and Woe” by Jean Rabe, Elspeth is happy with her new home. She is a witch and wears the matron aspect of the goddess. Her main problem is the men of the village. They make excuses to visit her every chance because she is well endowed. This creates problems with the wives too. The author creates an interesting story with a strong theme through vivid, tight descriptions. A little humor runs through the story too, which ends in an unexpected way.

Celtic Fantasy is represented in a story about ancient Ireland. Brae is a woman warrior of the Fianna, an elite band of warriors of the king. She is teaching her young protege Etaine to be a warrior. Etaine has a vision that brings Brae into a quest with two other women to solve Etaine’s vision. “The Three Gems of the Fianna” by Fiona Patton is a lively story of strong women. Ms. Patton brings  the legends of ancient Ireland to life with memorable characters and a fascinating story.

“The Unicorn Hunt” by Michelle West is an Urban Fantasy with a dark edge and a twist on the unicorn hunt. Told in the first person point of view of the main character, this story is about the three aspects of the goddess embodied in three real women. They live in the real world and unicorns play a different role then they do in mythology. The main character helps Maggie, the Mother, to save the Maiden from danger with help from the main character’s acerbic grandmother. Ms. West provides a good story with interesting characters full of insight.

_Maiden, Matron, Crone_ edited by Kerrie Hughes and Martin H. Greenberg is an anthology of entertaining stories, which focus on the three aspects of the goddess. The stories have women in various stages that range from strong women to those learning life lessons. Readers will find many enjoyable stories to read contributed by good writers of the genre.

Review: _The Wizard's Treasure_ by Irene Radford

Many Fantasy books are part of a series. Some are good, extending the story to new ground, and some are rehashes of the same story over again, which can frustrate readers. _The Wizard’s Treasure_ by Irene Radford is an entertaining book that keeps the reader interested until the end. It is the fourth book in the “Dragon Nimbus” series. This book has an interesting plot, likable characters and strong world building.

Taking place around the same time as the third book, this one introduces two new characters into the conflict. Robb and Marcus are journeyman mages sent to bring back the dragons to the kingdom of Coronnan. They take shelter during a storm in an abandoned monastery to become trapped by an ancient spell curse. Other sub-plots include a missing queen with amnesia, an evil sorceress pursuing her father and a man trying to get back his son. Ms. Radford blends the plot elements into an adventurous mix that leads to a satisfying conclusion.

The author also populated her book with likable characte rs that keeps a reader hooked in the story. Marcus and Robb work their way through a difficult problem to find their own way to their coming of age. They do this by having a strong friendship and through teamwork. A new woman character is introduced with Vareena. She is loyally devoted to helping the trapped victims in the monastery, but longs to be free to start a new life elsewhere. In addition, the Rovers from a gypsy-like culture add a humorous and colorful element to the story. All of the characters are realistic and likable due to the author’s vivid descriptions of their interactions.

Lastly, strong world building is an important skill for a Fantasy author to bring their worlds to life. Ms. Radford has such skill for this series. Her setting of Coronn an is well developed with its cultures, politics and everything else. There is one kingdom that has destroyed its environment. The city of Hanassa has a population of rogue mages and criminals living in the caverans of its ancient volcano. All magic users have their own university and rules in the use of magic. This author weaves these and other elements to create a detailed world that appears realistic, keeping a reader engrossed in the book.

_The Wizard’s Treasure_ by Irene Radford is an entertaining book and fourth in the “Dragon Nimbus” series. The author creates a captivating book with an interesting plot, likable characters and strong world building. This keeps this series book intriguing for the reader through lively descriptions and plenty of adventure. It is an enjoyable book for readers.