James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Project

Reviews in Project: Special Requests (263)

A Sign in the Wind

The River South  (Riders Guild, book 2)

By Marta Randall 

28 Nov, 2019

Special Requests


2019’s The River South is the second volume of Marta Randall’s Riders Guild series.

Abandoned by her mother, Kieve Rider, as a baby, Shrug was left to the care of the Rider Guild in Koerstadt. The Guild was a careless guardian and Shrug a challenging ward. 

Someone else seems to have a keen interest in Shrug’s future. This unknown party would like Shrug’s future to be short. Shrug escapes the first assassin. 

One of the riders, Daenet, remembers Kieve fondly and tries to protect her daughter against further attempts. He takes Shrug with him on a river voyage, which gets the girl out of Koerstadt. Daenet is accompanying Lord Kyst, whom he serves as rider (and who is also his lover). 

Read more ➤

Each Merry Man’s Friend

Mapping Winter  (Riders Guild, book 1)

By Marta Randall 

19 Nov, 2019

Special Requests


2019’s Mapping Winter is the first volume in Marta Randall’s Riders Guild secondary universe speculative fiction series. It is a reworking of her 1983 novel Sword of Winter1.

Kieve Rider delivers portentous news to the scattered communities of Dalmorat Province. After four decades of autocratic rule, Lord Cadoc Marubin is finally dying. Few will be sad to see the Lord dead, but his death may not bring happiness to his subjects. Cadoc leaves behind an innovative system of secret police and midnight arrests, ugly tools his successor may set aside … or take up. 

Kieve Rider despises Cadoc but, having sworn an oath to him, has no choice but to serve. Like the rest of the people of Dalmorat, she hopes Cadoc’s death will bring freedom for her. It may instead send her to her own death.

Read more ➤

With a Candle to Guide Me

Trail of Lightning  (Sixth World, book 1)

By Rebecca Roanhorse 

12 Nov, 2019

Special Requests

1 comment

Trail of Lightning is the first book in Rebecca Roanhorse’s post-apocalyptic paranormal Sixth World series.

Maggie Hoskie is a supernaturally enhanced monster-hunter. She became so as a consequence of a near-death encounter as a girl. Another way to look at her is that she’s a marginally domesticated monster whose utility to her Diné people is slightly higher than the risk of allowing her to live among them. True so far. 

When children are stolen away by monsters, Maggie is the logical person to ask for help. That’s not to say she’s always successful…

Read more ➤

How Every Empire Falls

Lanark: A Life in Four Books

By Alasdair Gray 

5 Nov, 2019

Special Requests


Alasdair Gray’s 1981 debut novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books is a standalone dystopian surrealist work. Or to look at it another way, it’s one part straightforward literary fiction and one part portal fantasy (of sorts).

Lanark is an unsocial man living in the troubled city of Unthank. Duncan Thaw is a socially deficient inhabitant of Glasgow. The two men are connected in ways of which neither is immediately aware. And why would they be aware? They inhabit different realities.

Read more ➤

A Plan As Big As The Sky

Interference  (Semiosis, book 2)

By Sue Burke 

24 Oct, 2019

Special Requests

1 comment

Sue Burke’s 2019 Interference is the second instalment in her Semiosis Duology. 

Over two centuries have passed since the original human settlers first arrived at Pax, a habitable terrestrial planet over fifty light-years from Earth. During that time Earth was focused on internal matters. Now it is finally interested enough to send a follow-up mission to Pax. 

Karola is very, very determined to be on that ship.

Read more ➤

Every Smile You Fake

Telepath  (Hive Mind, book 1)

By Janet Edwards 

23 Oct, 2019

Special Requests


2016’s Telepath is the first volume of Janet Edwards’ Hive Mind series. 

In the Hive cities of the future, everyone is tested at eighteen, then assigned a niche, some useful role for which they are well suited and in which they will be content. An unlucky few are assigned a role with which they may not be content. But it’s a necessary role, so must be filled.

Read more ➤

This Old and Empty House

The Twisted Ones

By T. Kingfisher 

19 Oct, 2019

Special Requests


T. Kingfisher’s 2019 The Twisted Ones is a standalone horror novel. 

Rather than saddle her elderly father with the job, Melissa — Mouse to most folks — accepts the task of sorting through her late grandmother’s North Carolina home. In life, the old lady was malicious and cruel. Nobody much misses her. Even in death, Mouse’s grandmother gets one last joke at her relatives’ expense: she was a hoarder. The house is full of detritus and poor Mouse must sort through it. 

Read more ➤

Art to Enchant

Hild  (Light of the World, book 1)

By Nicola Griffith 

17 Oct, 2019

Special Requests


2013’s Hild is the first volume in Nicola Griffith’s Light of the World historical series. 

Hild is the second daughter of Prince Hereric Yffing. Alas, Hereric was Hereric the Hapless. He was deposed, exiled, and poisoned, leaving his widow and children in an awkward position. Their existence makes them a potential threat to the ruler who deposed and exiled the former king: Edwin Snakebeard. Hild’s uncle. 

Flight would be a chancy strategy. Hild chooses to submit to the new king and make herself useful. Young Hild becomes the king’s seer. 

Read more ➤