Fantasy/SF Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, December 2003 Page Two of Two
Impossible Odds by Dave DuncanEos, November, 2003
Hardcover, 365 pages
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The King's Blades are back in another adventure in the popular sword and sorcery series. The Grand Duke Rubin is on the run and in desperate need of protection after being illegally deposed from his throne. King Athelgar wants to order several King's Blades to be assigned to the Duke, but there are no suitable candidates at Ironhall. So the Grand Master is forced to assign Ranter, Ringwood and Bellman to the Duke -- although none of the young Blades are ready for the responsibility. Also joining the Duke's entourage is a young White Sister, one of the mystical order whose members can literally sniff out the presence of magic and sorcery. Now the young Blades are in for the challenge of a lifetime as they face dark magic, evil and some shocking revelations about their own employer.
The release of a new Dave Duncan book is always something to look forward to. Duncan has that rare ability to whisk you away from your present surroundings and plant you squarely in a world of sorcery, swordfights, bravery and adventure. Duncan writes with energy and humor; he is as skilled with words as the legendary Lord Durendal is with a blade. Impossible Odds is one of the stand-alone books set in the King's Blades universe, so no prior knowledge of the books is necessary to enjoy this entertaining tale.
Monstrous Regiment by Terry PratchettHarperCollins, September, 2003
Hardcover, 368 pages
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Using his fantasy world, Discworld, as a backdrop, satirist Terry Pratchett takes on the madness of war in this ironic and witty novel. The fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia is always at war; no slight is too petty or small to be overlooked by the military minds of the tiny kingdom, which is ruled by a Duchess who most people think is dead anyway. What with all the casualties, recruits are in short supply. So Polly Perks takes her chances and pretends to be a boy in order to join the army. Polly is determined to find her brother, who went off to war and hasn't been heard from since. If Polly can't find her brother, her family will lose the inn they own because girls can't own a business under the country's absurd laws. (Many things have been labeled Abominations by the country's living god, Nuggan, such as oysters, the color blue, and, of course, women dressing up as men.) Polly joins a regiment which is composed of a troll, a zombie, a vampire and others who have just as much to hide as Polly (now known as Oliver). Oliver and company actually manage to capture a high ranking personage of the opposing force with no training whatsoever and suddenly Oliver's regiment becomes quite famous in Ankh Morpork, thanks to the diligence of a young reporter. The mismatched regiment may manage to change the course of the war entirely.
"To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion or empire above any realm, nation, or city is repugnant to nature, contumely to God, and the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice." So wrote Scottish theologian and noted sourpuss John Knox in 1558 in his book titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, which explained to everyone why Mary Tudor, or in fact any female, was unfit to rule England. Bestselling author Terry Pratchett uses Knox's fossilized ideas as a jumping off point for his hilarious and insightful novel, which satirizes war, the aristocracy and the way in which society views and treats women. Although this is technically the thirty-third Discworld novel, it is not necessary to have read any of the other books to understand and appreciate Pratchett's latest, excellent offering.
--Claire E. White
The Q Continuum (Star Trek) by Greg CoxPocket Books, October, 2003
Trade Paperback, 362 pages
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The energy barrier around the galaxy has puzzled scientists ever since it was discovered -- there simply is no reason for such a thing to exist. Now one scientist thinks he has found a way to breach the barrier and Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew have been assigned the job of assisting the famous though emotionally unstable Betazed scientist with his test. Q arrives and demands that Picard stop the test, but refuses to give a reason for his demand. When Picard refuses to stop the test without some kind of good reason, Q promptly kidnaps Picard and takes him on a trip through history and a time when the Q Continuum faced its greatest threat. Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Q's wife and child have decided to stick around, much to the dismay of the crew who have to deal with them.
In this Signature Edition, Pocket Books presents another look at one of the most fascinating characters in the Star Trek universe: Q, who was so brilliantly portrayed by John de Lancie. Finally, we meet the young Q -- a Q who was actually naïve and who made some really bad mistakes. Greg Cox knows his Trek and his work is both funny and moving. Star Trek: TNG fans won't want want to miss this marvelously funny and enlightening visit to the Star Trek universe.
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