Thursday, May 17, 2018

Remind me to take Cornwall off the bucket list

Ishmael Jones and his girlfriend Penny are back at it again in Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green. While a slim read at 162 pages, it does continue our maybe an alien's story in a fun way that has absolutely nothing to to do with British National Security, the Organization, or really much of Earth shattering import.

Which is a nice change.

Instead, we find Ishmael and Penny invited to a pre-opening dinner of an Inn in Black Rock Towen. Said Inn (The Castle) has a spotty reputation dating back at least to the Victorian era when the Inn was run by Tyrone, who poisoned all of his guests and was later lynched by the locals. Prior to that, the Castle had been built by smugglers as a fortress. In the more modern era, legends abound about the long dead and gone tree appearing in the mist on occasion.

While Penny is the one with the invite, she takes Ishmael along as her "plus one", since the new owners knew her father. The owners won the lottery and are having old friends for dinner. These include the town vicar and his wife, a local reporter, and a woman who has done lots of background research on the castle. However, right before dessert, the wife vanishes into thin air in the kitchen.

What follows is seven people becoming increasingly paranoid, dredging up old tales of interdimensional demons and pacts with the devil as one by one, their numbers vanish into thin air. In the end, only Penny and Ishmael remain standing, left to finally solve the mystery.

Sadly the resolution and the identity of the culprit aren't exactly groundbreaking and original, but it's a solid yarn nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

There really isn't a single nice person in this

So, when I followed the tag to find out the last time I read a book in Richard K. Morgan's A Land Fit For Heroes trilogy, I found out I last posted about it in 2012, and even then it was mentioning the series in relation to another series I was writing about. However, someone in a facebook group posted about the series recently and I found out he'd finally finished it back in 2015.

Which brings us to The Dark Defiles, which has taken me about two weeks to wade through, where every character talks like they're playing golf on a pirate ship. Seriously. I think the ocean they're all sailing on isn't nearly as salty as the dialogue at points. Even the gods/demons/whatever they actually are drop the f bomb every other word or so.

Any rate, the whole series centers on three warriors, veterans of another war, called back in to duty as the dwenda, figures of legend, start re-entering the world. We have Egar, also known as Dragonsbane, from the steppes, who had taken over his clan until his brother and a shaman tried to kill him and take over the clan. We have Archeth, a half-human who's father came from another outside race that helped drive out the dwenda the last time and who currently is the Emperor's advisor. And we have Ringil, who started off in the League, got exiled for taking a male lover, then managed to alienate both major governments by trying to end the slave trade single handedly. Add to it that he was schtupping a dwenda back in book one and now spends a bunch of time in the wounds between the worlds... Oh yeah, and he commands the glyphs that make up the magic in this world.

At the start, the three warriors are well north of both the Empire and the League looking for the body of the Illwrack Changeling, supposedly the dwenda's champion in time long gone. During the course of the search, Ringil gets separated from the other two, who get captured by League privateers, since the Empire has decided to start a war with the League again.

Egar and Archeth wind up getting free when they shipwreck near the fabled city they were also looking for, built by Archeth's people in the Ago.

Ringil uses magic, captures the leader of the privateers (eventually), and starts his own quest to pretty much kill everything that moves.

(That's really simplified, but true enough.)

Eventually, we find out there's not a single nice character in this entire series, and just about every faction has been plotting to serve their own goals rather than what's best for everyone.

The entire series is quite interesting, and has a bunch of Queer representation in its characters.  It's also quite coarse and unrefined. While I kind of doubt I'll ever reread them, I don't regret wading into this series.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Not long after starting R. S. Belcher's The Night Dahlia, I had to go look up the previous volume in this series just to refresh my memory on Latham Ballard and his drunken magic.

So, this volume is not quite as conspiracy heave as the previous volume, although a fairly large one looms later on in the book as the mystery coalesces between Where is Crystal vs. How is she related to the previous serial murders that drove Latham out of LA several years ago?

Let's start at the beginning. The first chapter concerns Latham's continuing deal with the Devil, then we get to meet Ankou, a rather large presence in the Fae world who's also quite rich. Ankou's daughter vanished several years ago and no one can figure out where she is, leading Ankou to find her. A few deals are struck, and Latham is off to Greece with Vigil the Knight in tow. In Greece, connections are made, and we end up in the City of Angels, where Latham trained to be a Nightwise and ended up dropping out of the program. (There's a lot of information presented with this, in dribs and drabs. By far the most attention getting to me was that the Nightwise are funded by The Builders, out of the Brotherhood of the Wheel.)

Again, the actual mystery goes plaid over time, with cameos by Charles Manson, evil Buddhists half human crash carts, a few really seedy and one mildly classy sex clubs...drugs, alcohol...

Really though, much of the book is the gradual redemption of Latham from his own demons. And boy does he have a few. But really, exploring previous interpersonal relationships he had in LA when he was sure he was a good guy and how he started down the road he's been on and the start of climbing out of the hole his life is when everyone is telling him he can't is an interesting story hiding behind some very strange narrative points.

I look forward to returning to him whenever that time comes.