Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review: The Element of Fire by Martha Wells

Pistols fire at an invading Unseelie host. The king is a weak, emotionally battered young man. Strong and ruthless, the king’s mother tries to keep the kingdom intact. These are some of the many events of _The Element of Fire_ by Martha Wells. This book has many elements that weave together to form a powerful entertaining Fantasy for readers. Vivid characters, a convincing plot and detailed setting add up to a great adventure.

Thomas Boniface is the Captain of the Queen’s Guard, an excellent swordsman, clever but cynical. He works for the Dowager Queen Ravenna. She is an aging, strong willed woman who keeps the kingdom from falling apart. Her son Roland, the king, is controlled by the cold, vicious man Denzil. Another entry into this volatile mix is Kade Carrion, the half human half fairy daughter of the dead king. She is a wildã rejected member of the family, but a powerful sorceress. The author brings these characters to vivid life with her subtle descriptions and their actions. These characters  bring the plot to fruition.

Ms. Wells has created a very convincing plot of court intrigue, nasty fairies and mages, and a very dysfunctional royal family. Thomas must maneuver through all these things to keep Ile-Rein in one piece. The book starts out with the rescue of a sorcerer from a Bisran renegade. Then, Kade Carrion, the exiled illegitimate princess returns to court. This sets off a murder and invasion by the Unseelie fairies of the palace. Thomas evacuates the royal family and tries to discover who is the traitor to the crown. The plot is neatly set up and tightly woven to produce a hard to put down story of intrigue and adventure.

Lastly, the setting of Ile-Rein is a detailed place that brings the story to life. LMartha Wells created an unforgettable setting with rich descriptions of the culture and court life. The little details combine with the overall background to give a realistic feel to the kingdom of Ile-Rein. Readers can almost feel the bitter cold and smell the odor of gunpowder and death in the air. Ile-Rein becomes a memorable Fantasy world.

Vivid characters, a convincing plot and detailed setting weave together to make _The Element of Fire_ a very entertaining book. Martha Wells is an excellent author. She creates rich Fantasy worlds full of interesting characters, cultures and magic. Her stories add a fresh view to the Fantasy genre. This book is currently out of print but might be found in a used bookstore. Seek out her other books too: _City of Bones_, _Death of a Necromancer_ and _Wheel of the Infinite_.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tim Powers

The Fantasy genre encompasses a broad spectrum of possibilities from Epic to those books with a minimum of fantasy elements. Many authors write in the familiar parts of the genre while others find new territory. Tim Powers is an author that has carved out his own unique niche in the spectrum. He creates unique Fantasy worlds blending history and fantasy elements until there is a doubt whether it could be real or not. His books have wonderful characters and plots. Some of them have won the World Fantasy and other awards. Readers can find interesting new worlds to explore with these books.

Mr. Powers first book was _Drawing of the Dark_. It is the story of the soldier of fortune Brian Duffy in 1500’s Vienna. The Turkish armies are coming to take the city. Brian must save the world from evil by protecting a tavern that makes a famous special beer. He is assisted by a mysterious wizard and King Athur’s spirit. Mr. Powers{ weaves Arthurian elements, the story of the Fisher King and real history to create a book full of action and adventure with some sly humor.

The next book of this author was _The Anubis Gates_, which became an award winner. It mixes time travel, Egyptian mythology and strangeness in Seventeenth Century England. A scholar of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Brendan Doyle, travels back in time and gets caught up in stopping a plot to destroy the English monarchy. He must fight several evil creatures, a band of Gypsies and Egyptian sorcerer. This book demonstrates Mr. Powers talent for writing tight, action filled plots with interesting characters. Historical details give the book a realistic touch to the Fantasy elements.

_Dinner At Deviant's Palace_ is a different book than the author's usual. A post apocalyptic Lost Angeles is the setting for this tale. Greg Rivas must infiltrate a cult to save a woman he once knew. The cult is run by the mysterious Norton Jaybush and his members eventually disappear for good. All of this happens at the private club Deviant's Palace. Mr. Powers creates a dark story with cynical characters and dangerous horrors in a strange future world.

The Carribbean region of 1718 is the setting of the next book of _On Stranger Tides_. Pirates and voodoo magic appear in the tale of John Chandagnac, a bookkeeper caught up with Blackbeard the pirate. They are on a quest for the Fountain of Youth in Florida. Supernatural elements are woven into this pirate story by Mr. Power’s usual unique talent. It has plenty of action and frightening moments.

Horror is the primary theme of _The Stress of Her Regard_. Michael Crawford is a doctor in 1815. He awakens in bed one morning to find his bride's savaged body next to him. Blamed for the previous deaths of a brotherÄ and other bride, Dr. Crawford flees to Italy to meet Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats, seeking answers to his curse. This book incorporates the mythologies of vampires, succubi and lamia to provide a detailed, vivid horror story that is one of Power's best books.

Las Vegas is a fantastical city in the Nevada desert. It is the setting for _Last Call_, a mythic Fantasy that revolves around the Tarot and legend of the Fisher King. Georges Leon is the current King. He tries to maintain his throne by destroying his sons. The mother saves the youngest son, Scott, by throwing him onto a boat passing by on a trailer. Scott is raised by the wizard Ozzie and comes back to challenge his father for the throne to get revenge. The throne is decided by playing poker with magical Tarot cards. Scott gets help from various people including the ghost of Bugsy Siegel. This book has a dark˝ edge, but is filled with good characters and a memorable story.

_Expiration Date_ takes place in Los Angeles of the 1990s. This is a ghost story with Mr.Powers unique ideas about them. Koot Parganas is a young boy who steals a small vial containing the ghost of Thomas Edison. He later is possessed by the ghost, which gives him strange powers, and this makes Koot a target of dark things. Various strange allies help him along the way. The author wrote an entertaining tale of ghosts in a contemporary setting.

In his next book, _Earthquake Weather_, Mr. Powers brings back characters from the last two books mentioned for a new story. The theme of the Fisher King is visited again when Scott Crane, the King of the West is assassinated by a ghost possessed woman. Loyal followers move Crane's body to a protected home where Koot Hoomie lives. Koot is thirteen and suffers from a wound that won't heal. He should become the next King, but he is too young. There is a race to restore the King of the West because California is slowly being destroyed by earthquakes, riots, fires and floods. This novel is an intricate blend of plot and characters from previous books. Mr. Powers succeeds again in providing a vivid story.

[His most recent novel is _Declare_. In this book, Mr. Powers creates a Fantasy spy thriller. Allan Hale was a retired former spy until he receives a call in 1963 bringing him back to duty. Mr. Hale must contest with the Russians to complete a mission he failed to accomplish after World War II. The Russians are trying to awaken supernatural entities that sleep on Mr. Ararat. There are several historical events of the Cold War that the author weaves into this book to produce a richly complex tale of espionage with fantastic elements. Mr. Powers created a powerful award winner to add to his works. This book is nominated for 2002 Mythopoeic Award.

Tim Powers is an unique Fantasy author in the genre. He takes historical people and events, weaves them together with supernatural and fantasy elements, and provides entertaining, thoughtful stories for readers. His characters are memorable with interesting human characteristics that make them realistic. The depth of detail and research put into his works demonstrates what an award winning talent he is. He is a real gem of the Fantasy genre.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

Welcome to the new year.

2015 played havoc with my writing, especially with keeping up on my blog. Life events kept me too busy. I’m hoping 2016 will be better, though sometimes the best laid plans. . .

 I plan to focus on my writing this year as much as possible I’m going to strive and make the effort to do it. Keeping my blog up to date is a priority along with my fiction writing, so please have patience with me. Stay tuned.

May the gift of fantasy and wonder be yours in 2016!