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Reviews from July 2021 (21)

Revenge is Sweeter

Barbarians of the Beyond

By Matthew Hughes  

29 Jul, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

1 comment

Matthew Hughes’ 2021 Barbarians of the Beyond is an authorized sequel to Jack Vance’s Demon Princes quintet. 

A generation earlier, raiders commanded by the Demon Princes raided Mount Pleasant. The majority of the population was carried off as slaves, leaving only a small number of corpses to prove that the town was ever occupied. 

The raid had consequences for the five Demon Princes, consequences unrolling off-stage. The novel follows events in Mount Pleasant. The raid left a serviceable town empty. A religious community nicknamed Dispers soon installed themselves there. 

Dispers keep themselves to themselves. Thus, the stranger who comes calling is not entirely welcome.

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Doctor To My Disease

The Case Study of Vanitas, book 1

By Jun Mochizuki  

28 Jul, 2021

Translation

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Jun Mochizuki’s The Case Study of Vanitas (Japanese: ヴァニタスの手記, Hepburn: Vanitasu no Karute) is a gas-lamp fantasy manga series. It has been serialized in Monthly Gangan Joker since December 2015. Volume 1 collects the first four chapters.

Steampunk Paris! Second only to London in the technological marvels it introduced to the 19th century world, Paris will astound country bumpkin vampire Noé Archiviste — should he manage to reach it. 

Noé has been dispatched by his master in quest of the infamous Book of Vanitas. Rather conveniently for the vampire, the book will come to him.


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Lionheart

Deryni Rising  (Chronicles of the Deryni, book 1)

By Katherine Kurtz  

25 Jul, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

6 comments

1970’s Deryni Rising is the first book of Katherine Kurtz’s historical fantasy trilogy, Chronicles of The Deryni. There are five Deryni trilogies to date. Although there is a more recent edition of this book available1, this is a review of the original version. 

Gwynedd is one of the Eleven Kingdoms, a collection of feudal states entangled by history and proximity. As the novel opens, Gwynedd finds itself in a succession crisis when wise King Brion Haldane dies. Brion has an acknowledged heir, Prince Kelson. But what should be an uneventful succession faces several challengers. The most dangerous of them is Lady Charissa, the dark sorceress who covertly murdered Brion. 

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Gotta Serve Somebody

Servant Mage

By Kate Elliott  

24 Jul, 2021

Miscellaneous Reviews

2 comments

Kate Elliott’s 2022 Servant Mage is a standalone (thus far) secondary universe fantasy novella. 

Having led the Liberationists to victory over the corrupt monarchy, the August Protector then centralized government on herself, the better to provide society with the moral guidance it so desperately needed. Subjects found themselves firmly guided towards roles that best suited their strengths and guided away from distractions (like literacy) that could only confuse them. In the eyes of the Protector, utopia has been achieved. For some inexplicable reason, a handful of malcontents persist in resisting the correct social order.

Fellian, for example, is not merely unhappy that her magic was used to justify making her an involuntarily indentured servant AKA a slave. She secretly teaches people to read, something that could get her hanged if she were ever caught. Events will transpire such that illegal literacy will be the least of her crimes.

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Dancing Shadows

The Return of the Sorceress

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia  

23 Jul, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2021 The Return of the Sorceress is a standalone secondary-universe fantasy novella.

Yalxi, Supreme Mistress of the Guild of Sorcerers, has been deposed. But her usurper Xellah has made a fatal error: he has kept her alive as a prisoner so that he can make use of her magic-imbued blood. Dead foes may not be useful as sources of magic but living foes can escape, which is what Yalxi has done. 

Wounded and stripped of the Diamond Heart from which so much of her power came, Yalxi is nevertheless an opponent of whom Xellah should be wary. 

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Into the Fire

The Golden Days  (The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, book 1)

By Cao Xueqin  (Translated by David Hawkes)

22 Jul, 2021

Translation

1 comment

The Golden Days is the first volume of Cao Xueqin’s 1791(ish) The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber. David Hawkes’ translation is from 1973

Bao-yu knows that he was born to a good family, and that he was born with a piece of enchanted jade in his mouth. He doesn’t know that he’s a remnant of a construction project by the goddess Nu-wa, a remnant that wandered hither and yon and was eventually born as a human, to live and die as humans do.

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Oh Where, Oh Where

One Night in Boukos

By A. J. Demas  

21 Jul, 2021

Special Requests

1 comment

A. J. Demas’ 2018 One Night in Boukos is a standalone novel that shares a setting with the author’s Sword Dance secondary universe series. 

The Pseuchaian city Boukos is home to a thousand brothels. Small wonder that the town hosts the Psobion festival, which offers participants the opportunity for extensive debauchery. The festival is a new and alarming thing to most of the Zashian embassy … but not to the ambassador, his Excellency Zukohashkra. He’s in town to negotiate a trade deal between Boukos and Zash and intends to take full advantage of barbarian delights.

The slave eunuch Bedar accompanies Zukohashkra to a party but finding it not to his taste, returns alone to the embassy quarters. He assumes that Zukohashkra can find his own way home. 

Zukohashkra does not.

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This Glorious Quest

She Who Became the Sun  (Radiant Emperor, book 1)

By Shelley Parker-Chan  

16 Jul, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

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2021’s She Who Became the Sun is the first volume in Shelley Parker-Chan’s Radiant Emperor historical fantasy series.

A seer assures Zhu Chongba that he has a grand destiny, the exact nature of which is vague. Historically informed readers may think they know what is coming. Surely, Zhu will overthrow the alien Yuan dynasty. Racked by famine, plagued by incessant uprisings, the Yuan dynasty is weak. The right man at the right place and time will topple China’s Mongol rulers and restore a Han emperor to the throne! 

Zhu Chongba fails at his first trial. After his father is killed by passing bandits, he falls into a deep depression and dies. 

Zhu Chongba has a sister.


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