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Reviews from May 2022 (22)

Dare to Know

The Curse of Sagamore  (Sagamore, volume 1)

By Kara Dalkey  

31 May, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1986’s The Curse of Sagamore is the first volume in Kara Dalkey’s Sagamore duology.

Several generations ago, King Thalion decided that none of the heirs of his body were worthy of the throne of Euthymia1. His fool, Sagamore, was promoted to king. Unfortunately, this was a role for which neither the fool nor his descendants were suited. 

Prince Abderian is a minor son of Euthymia’s troubled royal family. He has no ambition to sit on the throne. Too bad for him that fate is no respecter of personal preference. 

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The Hunger

The Vampire Tapestry

By Suzy McKee Charnas  

29 May, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Suzy McKee Charnas’ 1980 The Vampire Tapestry is a stand-alone hard-SF vampire novel, consisting of five short episodes in the life of her protagonist.

Dr. Edward Weyland is a respected academic who specializes in dream research. Aloof and good-looking, he is catnip to most of the women and some of the men on Cayslin College campus. This is less luck than adaptation, for Weyland is a vampire. Colleagues and students are prospective food. 

His research provides him with all the sustenance he could want. Alas, this comfortable life is about to hit a snag in the form of a South African widow.

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Crossed the Deserts Bare

The Stardust Thief  (Sandsea Trilogy, volume 1)

By Chelsea Abdullah  

27 May, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


Chelsea Abdullah’s 2022 The Stardust Thief is the first volume in Abdullah’s secondary-universe Sandsea Trilogy. 

Mortal humans live in a barren landscape scoured by the hubris of the ancient jinn kings, a land where even walled cities do not always provide protection against malicious jinn. But there are valuable treasures hidden in the wastelands, treasures a knowledgeable few know how to salvage. 

Loulie al-Nazari, famous as the Midnight Merchant, is one such expert. Her treasures are worthy of a sultan. However, the sultan who has her detained and dragged in front of him has no interest in her welfare. What he wants is her expertise.

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How Many Roads

Minor Mage

By T. Kingfisher  

26 May, 2022

Miscellaneous Reviews


T. Kingfisher’s 2019 Minor Mage is a stand-alone fantasy.

A drought is destroying a small town and its farmland. Perhaps it could be ended if someone were to trek the distant Rainblade mountains, there to petition the Cloud Herders for respite. But who will undertake this dangerous quest? Oliver’s neighbors are sure that he is the best chance the town has. Oliver is the town’s only mage. 

Oliver really really doesn’t want to go, but he is only twelve. Who cares what some kid thinks?

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Baking Bread

A Bride’s Story, volume 9

By Kaoru Mori  

25 May, 2022



2016’s A Bride’s Story, Vol. 9 is the ninth tankōbon in Kaoru Mori’s historical manga, which is titled Otoyomegatari in the original Japanese. The English translation of this volume appeared in 2017. I seem to be catching up with publication faster than I’d like: there are only four more volumes….

Volume 9 wrestles with the same conundrum Volume 8 examined: is Umar so clearly well-matched with Pariya that even Pariya cannot somehow overthink the courtship into disaster?

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Empire State of Mind

The Bone Orchard

By Sara A. Mueller  

24 May, 2022

Special Requests


Sara A. Mueller’s 2022 The Bone Orchard is a secondary world fantasy. 

The emperor of Boren (henceforth Emperor) has a knack for innovation, or rather, plagiarism. In addition to conquering other nations and taking over their resources, he studies their agricultural, industrial, and political techniques. He adopts the ones that he believes will further secure his hold on power. 

He is a disappointing father; his sons are for the most part cruel and deranged. Bad news for the Empire if the boys ever rule! But thanks to Rejuv, the Emperor’s life can be indefinitely extended. The troubled succession need never be an issue.

Unless, of course, someone poisons the Emperor’s Rejuv. Then the issue of who is to succeed him becomes a problem for all of Boren.

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Endless Seasons

The Many-Colored Land  (Saga of Pliocene Exile, volume 1)

By Julian May  

22 May, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Julian May’s 19811 The Many-Colored Land2 is the first volume in May’s four-volume Saga of Pliocene Exile.

Earth has been absorbed into the Galactic Milieu. Planetary society has been rationalized, humans have been provided with an abundance of worlds to settle, and peace reigns. Utopia all round (provided one was not too attached to the languages and religions that the Milieu suppressed as superfluous to need). 

In the early 2030s, Theo Guderian made a fascinating discovery. Various factors unique to the French city of Lyon make it possible to send objects six million years into the past. However, retrieving objects from the past to the present day ages them almost instantly by six million years. While robust materials like amber could survive a round trip, living plants and animals could not. His time portal thus appeared to have few practical applications.

It fell to Theo’s widow to arrive at a use for the portal: not everyone is happy with the world as it is in the 21st century. For them, a one-way trip into the past is the only escape possible from the Galactic Milieu. At first covertly, and then officially sanctioned, exiles set off for what they expect will be a pristine and empty Earth3.

Surprises await!

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My Soul to Keep

Even Though I Knew the End

By C. L. Polk  

20 May, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


C. L. Polk’s 2022 Even Though I Knew the End is a stand-alone modern fantasy novel. 

Helen Brandt, disgraced sorcerer, formerly of the Brotherhood of the Compass, now ekes out a precarious living as an investigative warlock. A client asks her to investigate a murder scene, latest of the so-called White City Vampire serial killings. The scene reeks of powerful magic. Helen takes photos and prepares to leave, when she is interrupted by former colleagues from the Brotherhood of the Compass, who warn her away. 

Helen very much wants to please her client, Marlowe. The pay is lucrative and will add to the nest egg Helen plans to leave her girlfriend Edith. It will be a great help to Edith in her (planned) new life in San Francisco. But it will be a life without Helen. Helen knows she will die January 13, three days away. That’s something Edith doesn’t know.

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Make You Real

A Mask for the General

By Lisa Goldstein  

19 May, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Lisa Goldstein’s 1987 A Mask for the General is a stand-alone near-future SF novel. 

By 2012 America’s banks were computerized and networked. One ambitious thief’s malicious software could and as it happens, did, bring the United States’ entire cybernetic and financial edifice down overnight. In the days after the Collapse, General Otis Gleason had no choice but to take control, first of America’s nuclear weapons and then of the nation as a whole. Or at least that’s what he claimed.

Nine years after the Collapse, the American economy is a pale shadow of what it once was. Gleason is convinced that the problem cannot be his obsessive micromanagement; the problem must be the American people. Each day brings new regulations aimed at guiding easily misled Americans back towards wholesome conformity. Despite laws and harsh punishments, America is still plagued by non-conformists, particularly in the Bay Area town of Berkeley. 

Seventeen-year-old runaway Mary is determined to be one of those non-conformists.

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Cold Folks

The Apothecary Diaries, volume 5

By Natsu Hyuuga  (Translated by Kevin Steinbach)

18 May, 2022


1 comment

The Apothecary Diaries: Volume 5 is the fifth volume in Natsu Hyuuga’s secondary universe historical fantasy, the Apothecary Diaries series of light novels. The illustrations are by Touko Shino; the 2022 English translation is by Kevin Steinbach.

Having survived entanglement in high-level imperial conspiracy, Maomao returns to the pleasure district to pursue her vocation as a Verdigris-House-affiliated apothecary. She is accompanied by young Chou‑u, the last survivor of the disgraced Shi clan. Maomao fosters Chou‑u just as she does everything else: grumpily.

Maomao may wish to be done with imperial schemes, but imperial schemes are not done with her.

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