Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: _Owlsight_ by Mercedes Lackey

Middle books of trilogies sometimes end up being slow or do not advance the story further. It becomes difficult for authors to keep the momentum going. This is not true of this book. Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey is the second book of a trilogy continuing the story of Darian. It is a part of Ms. Lackey’s Valdemar series. The author keeps the second book entertaining by growth in the characters, an interesting plot and a realistic setting.

Characters, old and new, continue to grow throughout Owlsight. A few years have passed when Darian returns to his village a little older. He is expected to be a bridge between two different cultures. This character undergoes further maturing as he faces new problems and meets new friends. A new character is introduced in Keisha. She is a young woman with the gift of healing who must self-train herself to be a Healer. Keisha is unsure of herself as she grows throughout the story. Changes in their lives helps with the growing and increase in depth along with the influence from nonhuman characters like the hertasi and dyheli. The characters’ growth comes from the plot.

An interesting plot keeps the book from getting dull. Darian returns to his home town after living and training for years with the Hawkbrothers. He helps his friends set up the new vale in the forest. While this is happening, Keisha struggles to learn how to use her burgeoning healing talent. everyone is brought together when a new threat appears. Another group of barbarians are moving closer to the town and an outnumbered diverse group must work together to stop the new incursion. Ms. Lackey weaves these plot threads together for an entertaining read.

Finally, a realistic setting gives the characters a place to live out the events of the plot. Ms. Lackey provides vivid descriptions of the setting that brings it to life. The Vale is an interesting community of humans, nonhumans and magic. Dwellings and buildings fit together in an environmentally regulated place of living. This place mixes in with a rural village, lord’s keep and forest, creating conflict and a need to be watchful for survival. Such a detailed setting gives the readers a realistic touch that draws them into the story.

Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey is an entertaining middle book of a trilogy. The growth of characters, interesting plot and realistic setting blend to create an absorbing book for readers. Ms. Lackey’s writing style brings another tale of Valdemar to readers by appealing to the reader’s emotions and sense of adventure. This is a good book to read.

Mini-Book Review:  Magic’s Song: Tales of the Harper Mage by Laura Underwood

This book is a collection of short stories about the harper mage Anwyn Baldomyre and his talking harp Glynnanis.

Anwyn Baldomyre is born with a magic talent. To release the magic within him, he must make some kind of sacrifice. He refuses to do this, preferring to wander the world as a harper. His magical harp, Glynnanis, contains the soul of the last unicorn in it. Together, they roam their world, getting into various problems. Each story tells of a predicament Anwyn gets into and must use his magic songs to escape. Ms. Underwood creates vivid images and interesting problems for each story.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review: _Perchance To Dream_ edited by Denise Little

“To sleep perchance to dream,” wrote William Shakespeare. Dreams are a part of our world each night. They fascinate us and can be nonsensical, entertaining or profound. Perchance To Dream edited by Denise Little is a themed anthology with stories about dreams. They range from pleasant diversions to sad tales. There are many stories that readers will like.

The anthology opens with “1-900-NODREAM” by Diane Duane. Jim is haunted in his dreams by the ghosts of murder victims. He spends his time trying to help the ghosts but the dreams are destroying his mind with the constant reliving of the crimes. In desperation, he calls a phone number that claims they can help with dreams. A Ms. Cumaya helps him through the rest of the story. This story is very entertaining with likable characters. It has an interesting theme of how dreams can affect people’s lives.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a creative author of Contemporary Fantas   y. She writes stories that are memorable. “Night Stuff” is a strong ghost story about a mother and daughter that met a tragic end. They can only talk while inhabiting other people’s dreams. Through dreams can they find the doorway to redemption and freedom. Readers will enjoy this poignant tale.

“Needle and Dream” by classic Fantasy author Andre Norton takes place in one of her worlds. When people in the village dream, they must tell the Keeper who records it. Dreams are rare in this world and some prophetic. Krista wakes up from a dream about a threat to her village. The Keeper determines that she needs to finish her quilt. What follows is a wonderful story of courage and dreams fulfilled.

Historical Fantasy is represented by Nancy Springer’s clever story “Dreamfisher.” A young girl is driven from her people for naming things. She comes to a mountain lake where she meets Herodotus the a   ncient historian. He helps her to discover herself and the beauty of dreams. Ms. Springer gives readers a descriptive story of what life is like without dreams.

The theme of dreams takes a different turn in “A Butterfly Dreaming” by Susan Sizemore. Maggie is a surgeon from our world or dreaming trapped in the body of a woman in a Fantasy world by magic. She can’t go home and faces a perilous existence in the other world. The priests burn anyone they discover is from another dreaming. Ms. Sizemore weaves a clever plot with good characters that ends in a surprise.

Perchance to Dream is an entertaining anthology on the theme of dreams. Readers will find stories with interesting plots and likable characters. Dreams are an important part of our lives. We can’t live without them. Read some the the stories in this anthology, then go dream your own.