The Book of Abisan, C H Clepitt

The Book of Abisan, C H Clepitt

The Book of Abisan

The Book of Abisan is an adventurous urban fantasy, where a religious elite that persecutes magic users is extending its activities across alternate realities.

Yfrey is a magic user on the run, her home long since gone and her family and friends dead or imprisoned. Jacques works as an archivist in the UK, keeping people at a distance as much as she can. When a fluke of magic sends Yfrey stumbling into Jacques’s life, neither Jacques nor Yfrey thinks they stand a chance of surviving the pursuit on Yfrey’s trail, never mind fighting back—but the freedom of two worlds is hanging on their success.

The Book of Abisan creates a tantalising cast of relatable characters, with their own traumas and doubts, trying to pull off the impossible. On the one hand the story combines a journey to self-discovery for the protagonists, and on the other the storyline is balanced by violence and danger. As I’m not keen on the fluffy-fluffy approach in my reading, I appreciated author C. H. Clepitt’s ability to inject glimpses of gritty realism into the plot. The book makes good use of the alternate realities theme, building up the antagonists across realities in very different guises.

The Arks of Andromeda, W H Mitchell

The Arks of Andromeda, W H Mitchell

The Arks of Andromeda (The Imperium Chronicles Book 1)

The Arks of Andromeda is an interesting view on the cultural interface between humanoid, AI, and religion.

As pirates make increasingly bold forays into civilised space, the aristocracy becomes increasingly concerned with the perception of weakness that those forays build of them. The Emperor, already distracted with his fractious offspring, is trying to discreetly manage a series of public relations disasters caused by his youngest son. However, while the press captures unfortunate cameos of high-placed misbehaviour, AI, ubiquitous in society, is making its own plans – plans that may make the most totalitarian regime look laid-back.

W. H. Mitchell’s science-fiction adventure is an intricate web of politics, alien artifacts, and a post-Earth interstellar civilisation. In places, I found that the sheer number of points of view from which the story was told made my relationship with the characters less engaging than it might otherwise have been, but overall, the story was an interesting read. I enjoyed the thought behind the world-building, the consistency and detail of which supported the storyline and helped to bring continuity to the main plot. I did find that the concept of introducing religion to AI, which are primarily logic-based systems, to be an interesting solution; one I would expect to trigger a wave of absolutist jihad, as doctrine is over-analysed in a search of internal logic. I will be interested to see the development of the author’s theory in future books.

Pangaea; the Sunslinger, Bolivar Beato

Pangaea; the Sunslinger, Bolivar Beato

Pangaea; the Sunslinger: (Age of Immortals)

Pangaea is an epic fantasy-style story that makes a valiant effort to be all things to all people. Peopled with semi-immortal, metres-tall races, Pangaea is not a peaceful area. The young of the ruling class spend centuries of their long lives learning the arts of war, and subsequently the rest of their lives applying that knowledge.

I found that this book, while some of the settings were interesting, tried to mix and match too many cultures and races to permit focus on the actual story. It read rather like the literary equivalent of a tube of glitter mix – pretty, but neither logical nor coherent.

It is also a smorgasbord of mythological references, relying heavily on Norse legend, but mixing in a variety of Greek and Eastern influences as well. Everything from Valkyrie to lamassu shows up at some point, and while I applaud the eclectic representation, I didn’t find that most of the various types of legends did more than figuratively appear on stage and take a bow; for the vast majority, their history and significance had no role in the story other than to show up.

I also admit I had difficulty finding much empathy for the protagonists. The perfect heir in hiding, famous in his hometown for his mastery of pretty much everything he put his hand to, and the high-born but utterly useless princess both lacked appeal for me. I do feel that with a thorough developmental edit to unearth the bones of the story from the rest, this story could have worthwhile elements, but as it is, the reader is left, like a lone archaeologist, to attempt to unearth stray threads of the plot from the surroundings that they’re buried in.

The Colonel and the Bee, Patrick Canning

The Colonel and the Bee, Patrick Canning

The Colonel and the Bee: A Globe-Trotting Adventure

The Colonel and the Bee is a sunny, swashbuckling adventure of giant hot-air balloons, treasure hunting, and international mystery. From the moment that Bee runs away from her old life as The Amazing Beatrix in a travelling circus and encounters the mysterious and infamous Colonel James Bacchus, she finds herself immersed in the new and the strange on every side, from investigating a bona fide murder in the Netherlands to crossing the Sahara in the Colonel’s amazing flying home.

It’s often easy, when using a very distinctive type of dialect or language, to either get carried away or to start falling out of character. Author Patrick Canning managed to maintain an endearingly old-world form of English without falling into either of these traps, and it made a great addition to the overall atmosphere of the story. While I had the impression that the storyline at times played fast and loose with distance and geography, the book is a highly enjoyable adventure, well-paced and filled with original characters. The Derringer Sisters, an international sisterhood of jilted ex-flames of the Colonel’s, were one of my favourite examples of the humour that makes appearances through the read. There’s enough suspense to keep a reader interested, which is quite a feat as the book is largely very light-hearted. I can’t over-recommend this for anyone looking for a fun adventure read.

The Night Watch, Chris Gerrib

The Night Watch, Chris Gerrib

The Night Watch (The Pirates Trilogy)

The Night Watch is a story of a colonised Mars, under attack by a religious conservative movement from Earth’s USA. With various Earth nations holding independent oversight over various areas of Mars, and law enforcement in Mars space left to a volunteer group in mis-matched, antique ships, Mars looks like a soft target to the entrepreneurs behind the Manifest Destiny movement. The big question is whether or not the disparate interests of Mars can learn to pull together in time to stay free…

Chris Gerrib’s story backdrops benefit from a complete lack of any glamour, giving the settings an air of run-down reality that is one of the strongest elements in the book, and sets it apart from the majority of slick, futuristic sci-fi story settings. Other than that, I found this book a bit hard to really get into. While the principal characters were mostly plausible, the point of view moved frequently from character to character. It didn’t prevent the story as a whole from holding together, but there were a few points where I ended up trying to remember why someone was important and if they’d showed up before. Potentially, narrowing the focus a little might support the overall narrative; it felt a bit scattered at times as I read.

Pin It on Pinterest