Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Reviews
Green Rider by Kristen BritainDaw, November 1998.
Hardcover, 504 pages.
Karigan G'ladheon has been kicked out of school for winning a fencing match with her social superior, who then, in a fit of pique, pulled some political strings to oust his rival. Dejected, wondering how in the world she will explain this to her merchant father, she sets off on the long journey home through the vast forest known as Green Cloak. While pondering her future, suddenly a galloping horse crashes through the underbrush to stop in front of her. A rider wearing a green cloak with two black arrows in his back is slumped over the horse's back. Clearly dying, the rider turns out to be one of the legendary Green Riders, messengers for the king. Before he dies he extracts a solemn promise from Karigan that she will deliver the urgent message he carries to the king. She reluctantly agrees, and the messenger dies. Wondering what she has gotten herself into, Karigan takes the golden winged-horse brooch which identifies her as a Green Rider, the Horse and the satchel and sets off on the ride of her life. Pursued by ruthless assassins and surrounded by strange magic, she will meet both friend and foe on her incredible journey to save a kingdom from pure evil.
First-time novelist Kristen Britain has written an extraordinary story in this stunning debut. Karigan G'ladheon is a spirited young woman who finds she has hidden reserves of strength and resourcefulness as she struggles to keep the promise she made. The pace is lively and the supporting characters are well-rounded and vividly-drawn. The three sisters of Seven Chimneys who provide assistance to Karigan at the beginning of her journey are especially well-done. With a fine sense of humor, thrilling adventure and a fascinating magical surrounding, The Green Rider is a must-read for fantasy lovers. Highly Recommended.
Mir by Alexander BesherSimon & Schuster, July 1998.
Hardcover, 297 pages.
In 2036, Trevor Gobi, son of the virtual reality investigator Frank Gobi (See, Rim) is hot on the trail of a new virus called Mir which has infected the sentient tattoo on his girlfriend's body. The powerful virus, which threatens to destroy both reality and virtual reality, is multiplying and is spreading from person to person through tattoos, individuals' consciousness and the World Wide Net. His search to save his girlfriend and the entire world from this threat will take him to some very strange places indeed, from a shockingly real virtual world in which a war is being waged, to Hong Kong where sick buildings are hypnotized to cure them and to San Francisco's Tenderloin district where the sentient tattoos add some kinky new elements to the dating ritual. Naturally, various criminal elements also wants to get their hands on the virus for their own purposes, so it becomes a race against time to find the virus and save the world.
Mir is the second book in the Rim Trilogy, following the critically acclaimed Rim. Imaginative, original and irreverent, Besher creates a compelling tale which rises above the usual cyberpunk offerings. Although the plot is, at times, unnecessarily complicated Besher deftly ties the loose ends together by the breathless ending. A welcome entry in this excellent Trilogy.
Stars and Stripes Forever by Harry HarrisonDel Rey, October 1998.
Hardcover, 338 pages.
In the latter half of the 19th century America, war is raging between the North and the South. The South has been crushed by forces in the North and its changes of winning the war look grim, although it still has an opportunity with a new ship, the ironclad Virginia. In the meantime, two Confederate soldiers are captured from a British ship, before they can report to England to ask for help in the war, and are placed in captivity. England demands their release, but Abraham Lincoln refuses to give into their demands. Prince Albert, who would have kept England from getting involved in a war, passes away after being ill for some time, leaving the possibility of war in Queen Victoria's hands. England, under the orders of a feeble-minded and grief-stricken Queen Victoria, declares war on the Northern States taking sides with the Confederate army. But the British Navy is not the fighting machine they were in the early 1800s and they accidentally attack and kill the soldiers of a Confederate post. The South requests help from the North to retaliate against the British. Now united against a common enemy can the Northern and Southern troops keep British reinforcements from England at bay? Will the peace continue between the North and South? To defeat the British and keep the peace, Abraham Lincoln and confederate leader Jefferson Davis have their work cut out for them.
Harry Harrison has written an exciting alternative history novel based on the following scenario -- what if the British had attacked during the Civil War while America was extremely vulnerable? Stars and Stripes Forever is an exciting story chock full of heroic Americans in battle, grim stories of war, details of what the first battles with iron ships were like and a believable and charming characterization of President
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