Barren


I continue to be way behind on my Peter V. Brett reading, with no excuse to offer to explain this. And now that the sequence is complete, I figure I will have to do something about this sooner rather than later. Still, having enjoyed all of the author's previous novellas, I was happy to give Barren a shot when I was offered an early read.

If, like me, you are not up to date with Brett's Demon Cycle, keep in mind that this novella contains minor spoilers as to what has been taking place in the main series. In any event, I'm not sure why anyone uninitiated would want to read Barren before the Demon Cycle installments, as it's meant to sort of fill in the blanks regarding some characters and storylines. Hence, I reckon this one to be for existing Brett fans and not for newbies.

Here's the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett returns to his groundbreaking Demon Cycle series with this enthralling novella—the latest story set in his much-loved fantasy world.

Each night, the world is overrun by bloodthirsty demons. For centuries, humanity survived only by hiding behind defensive wards—magical symbols with the power to repel the demons. Now, the rediscovery of long-forgotten combat wards has given them the magic they need to fight back.

In Tibbet’s Brook, the fighting wards have brought change, but the factions and grudges of a troubled past remain. Selia Square, the woman they call Barren, has long been the force that holds the Brook together. As a terrifying new threat emerges, she rallies her people once again.

But Selia has a past of her own. And in a small community the personal and the political can never be divided. If Tibbet’s Brook is to survive, Selia must uncover memories she has buried deep—the woman she once was, the woman she once loved—and retell their story.

As was the case with Brett's The Great Bazaar and Other Stories and Brayan's Gold, understandably this latest novella is part of a vaster story arc. And unlike Messenger's Legacy, Barren worked well as a stand-alone. In all likelihood due to the fact that this latest work doesn't contain important spoilers like its predecessor. Indeed, Barren is meant more to further flesh out the main protagonist, Selia Square.

There is only one point of view and it's that of Selia. The woman is Tibbet's Brook's Speaker. Her mandate demands that she balance what is often small town bickering and politicking while coordinating the community's struggles against the nightly demon attacks. As a lesbian in such a small rural environment, Selia's sexuality and how it affects how she is perceived are at the heart of the tale that is Barren.

The structure of the novella follows two different timelines. The first features an older Selia, the Speaker in her seventies, having a secret love affair with a much younger woman. The second occurs fifty years earlier and essentially recounts Selia's backstory and that of the Square Girls' Club. And though protecting the town against demons come every nightfall is part of the plot in both timelines, ultimately Barren is more about the exploration of social politics and sexual persecution in a small, rural community.

These novellas give Peter V. Brett a chance to explore a different locale from his universe, while telling a tale that helps flesh out one of his main protagonists even more. And as was the case with Messenger's Legacy, Barren once again captures the author's knack for creating a dark atmosphere, one in which certain characters act as beacons of light offering a brighter future to come.

In the end, Barren should appeal to Brett's numerous fans as they eagerly await his new series set in the same universe.

The final verdict: 7/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hanf od Darkness for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction—winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to Winter, an alien world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants can change their gender whenever they choose. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Fritz Leiber's The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser omnibus for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Hugo and Nebula Award–winning series of swords and sorcery, featuring two unorthodox heroes, from a Grand Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Many decades before George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, Grand Master Fritz Leiber ruled the sword-and-sorcery universe. These three short story collections chronicle the unconventional adventures of Leiber’s endearing antiheroes: barbarian Fafhrd and former wizard’s apprentice, the Gray Mouser.

Swords and Deviltry: Fafhrd, a handsome barbarian of the Steppes, is seduced by a beautiful prostitute and her equally intoxicating city, while the Gray Mouser, a slum rat wizard-in-training, is tempted by the dark arts. The two men meet on a night of multiple thieveries and an enduring partnership is born.

Swords Against Death: Rogue swordsmen and devoted companions Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pursue ill-gotten fortunes within the confines of Lankhmar. They cross paths with two wizards, Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, and a most violent clash ensues. Eventually, following further adventures, the two antiheroes end up as indentured swordsman servants to their former foes.

Swords in the Mist: A cloud of concentrated hatred and lean times in Lankhmar compels Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to temporarily depart the most corrupt metropolis in all of Nehwon as they seek adventure in the realm of the Sea-King—and on a different world entirely.

This must-read collection of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser short stories features multiple Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated tales, and includes the acclaimed novella Ill Met in Lankhmar.

Win a copy of Deborah Harkness' TIME'S CONVERT


I have a copy of Deborah Harkness' Time's Convert up for grabs, compliments of the folks at Viking Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, a novel about what it takes to become a vampire.

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor–the young employee at Sotheby’s whom Marcus has fallen for–is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both–forever.

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time’s Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "CONVERT." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Jim Butcher's Furies of Calderon, first volume in the Codex Alera series, for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In this extraordinary fantasy epic, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Dresden Files leads readers into a world where the fate of the realm rests on the shoulders of a boy with no power to call his own...

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies—elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal. But in the remote Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy—the Marat horde—return to the Valley, Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness will be a power greater than any fury, one that could turn the tides of war...

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Andy Weir's Artemis for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The bestselling author of The Martian returns with an irresistible new near-future thriller—a heist story set on the moon.

Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich.

Not crazy, eccentric-billionaire rich, like many of the visitors to her hometown of Artemis, humanity’s first and only lunar colony. Just rich enough to move out of her coffin-sized apartment and eat something better than flavored algae. Rich enough to pay off a debt she’s owed for a long time.

So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Sure, it requires her to graduate from small-time smuggler to full-on criminal mastermind. And it calls for a particular combination of cunning, technical skills, and large explosions—not to mention sheer brazen swagger. But Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, and she figures she’s got the ‘swagger’ part down.

The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems. Because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.

Trapped between competing forces, pursued by a killer and the law alike, even Jazz has to admit she’s in way over her head. She’ll have to hatch a truly spectacular scheme to have a chance at staying alive and saving her city.

Jazz is no hero, but she is a very good criminal.

That’ll have to do.

Propelled by its heroine’s wisecracking voice, set in a city that’s at once stunningly imagined and intimately familiar, and brimming over with clever problem-solving and heist-y fun, Artemis is another irresistible brew of science, suspense, and humor from #1 bestselling author Andy Weir.

Win an Advance Reading Copy of Anne Rice's BLOOD COMMUNION


I'm giving away my advance reading copy of Anne Rice's Blood Communion to one lucky winner! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Vampire Chronicles continue with a riveting, rich saga–part adventure, part suspense–of Prince Lestat and the story of the Blood Communion as he tells the tale of his coming to rule the vampire world and the eternal struggle to find belonging, a place in the universe for the undead, and how, against his will, he must battle the menacing, seemingly unstoppable force determined to thwart his vision and destroy the entire vampire netherworld.

In this spellbinding novel, Lestat, rebel outlaw, addresses the tribe of vampires, directly, intimately, passionately, and tells the mesmerizing story of the formation of the Blood Communion and how he became Prince of the vampire world, the true ruler of this vast realm, and how his vision for all the Children of the Universe to thrive as one, came to be.

The tale spills from Lestat’s heart, as he speaks first of his new existence as reigning monarch–and then of his fierce battle of wits and words with the mysterious Rhoshamandes, proud Child of the Millennia, reviled outcast for his senseless slaughter of the legendary ancient vampire Maharet, avowed enemy of Queen Akasha; Rhoshamandes, a demon spirit who refuses to live in harmony at the Court of Prince Lestat and threatens all that Lestat has dreamt of.

As the tale unfolds, Lestat takes us from the towers and battlements of his ancestral castle in the snow-covered mountains of France to the verdant wilds of lush Louisiana with its lingering fragrances of magnolias and night jasmine; from the far reaches of the Pacific’s untouched islands to the 18th-century city of St. Petersburg and the court of the Empress Catherine . . .

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "BLOOD." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Extract from Peter F. Hamilton's SALVATION


The folks at unboundworlds.com have just posted an extract from Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Here's the blurb:

Humanity's complex relationship with technology spirals out of control in this first book of an all-new trilogy from "the owner of the most powerful imagination in science fiction" (Ken Follett).

In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation--including starships--virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful...until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy...

Bursting with tension and big ideas, this standalone series highlights the inventiveness of an author at the top of his game, as the interweaving story lines tell us not only how humanity arrived at this moment, but also the far-future consequences that spin off from it.

Follow this link to read the excerpt.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Peter Straub's Ghost Story for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Peter Straub’s classic tale of horror, secrets, and the dangerous ghosts of the past...

What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?

In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.

But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying accident. And they are about to learn that no one can bury the past forever...

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 10th)


In hardcover:

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fall of Gondolin debuts at number 1. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's The Outsider is up one position, ending the week at number 4.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Stygian debuts at number 8.

Ilona Andrews' Magic Triumphs debuts at number 11.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 7 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Quote of the Day

When they wake you up as an overrider, your main job is to save the ship. How you get than done can end up being a delicate, lengthy, and complicated process.

Staying alive and killing people is the easy part.

- RICHARD K. MORGAN, Thin Air (Canada, USA, Europe)

This one has been pretty good thus far! =)

Musical Interlude



A blast from the past from the Crüe! =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The Wheel of Time ® is a PBS Great American Read Selection! Now in development for TV!

Since its debut in 1990, The Wheel of Time® by Robert Jordan has captivated millions of readers around the globe with its scope, originality, and compelling characters.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire for only 2.99$ here! There is a price match in Canada here.

Here's the blurb:

A stunning new epic fantasy from two-time Hugo Award winner Kameron Hurley.

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past... while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. At the heart of this war lie the pacifistic Dhai people, once enslaved by the Saiduan and now courted by their former masters to provide aid against the encroaching enemy.

Stretching from desolate tundra to steamy, semi-tropical climes seething with sentient plant life, this is an epic tale of blood mages and mercenaries, emperors and priestly assassins who must unite to save a world on the brink of ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war; a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family to save his skin; and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father's people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise - and many will perish.

Its sequel, Empire Ascendant, is available for only 4.99$ here.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Peter Clines' The Fold for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A page-turning science-fiction thriller from the author of Paradox Bound and the Ex-Heroes series.

Step into the fold. It's perfectly safe.

The folks in Mike Erikson's small New England town would say he's just your average, everyday guy. And that's exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he's chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence.

That is, until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve: far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so that a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step.

The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the Door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems—and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret. As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may only be a matter of time before the project destroys…everything.

A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you’ll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuinely page-turning science-fiction thriller.

Quote of the Day

It was the Valley media's cocktail specialty--lazy-assed journalism stripped down to sound bites and sanitized dross, just enough to scratch the viewing public's itch for input. Raw spectacle shoved in a blender, shorn of all useful context or depth, then splattered across the audience's collective face like an endless series of cum shots.

Give Us a Minute, and We'll Give You. . . well, pretty much what you deserve, assholes.

And none of it could quite hide the colossal dearth of facts currently available to anyone in the media machine.

- RICHARD K. MORGAN, Thin Air (Canada, USA, Europe)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Peter F. Hamilton's The Dreaming Void for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Reviewers exhaust superlatives when it comes to the science fiction of Peter F. Hamilton. His complex and engaging novels, which span thousands of years–and light-years–are as intellectually stimulating as they are emotionally fulfilling. Now, with The Dreaming Void, the first volume in a trilogy set in the same far-future as his acclaimed Commonwealth saga, Hamilton has created his most ambitious and gripping space epic yet.

The year is 3589, fifteen hundred years after Commonwealth forces barely staved off human extinction in a war against the alien Prime. Now an even greater danger has surfaced: a threat to the existence of the universe itself.

At the very heart of the galaxy is the Void, a self-contained microuniverse that cannot be breached, cannot be destroyed, and cannot be stopped as it steadily expands in all directions, consuming everything in its path: planets, stars, civilizations. The Void has existed for untold millions of years. Even the oldest and most technologically advanced of the galaxy’s sentient races, the Raiel, do not know its origin, its makers, or its purpose.

But then Inigo, an astrophysicist studying the Void, begins dreaming of human beings who live within it. Inigo’s dreams reveal a world in which thoughts become actions and dreams become reality. Inside the Void, Inigo sees paradise. Thanks to the gaiafield, a neural entanglement wired into most humans, Inigo’s dreams are shared by hundreds of millions–and a religion, the Living Dream, is born, with Inigo as its prophet. But then he vanishes.

Suddenly there is a new wave of dreams. Dreams broadcast by an unknown Second Dreamer serve as the inspiration for a massive Pilgrimage into the Void. But there is a chance that by attempting to enter the Void, the pilgrims will trigger a catastrophic expansion, an accelerated devourment phase that will swallow up thousands of worlds.

And thus begins a desperate race to find Inigo and the mysterious Second Dreamer. Some seek to prevent the Pilgrimage; others to speed its progress–while within the Void, a supreme entity has turned its gaze, for the first time, outward. . . .

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Peter F. Hamilton's The Temporal Void.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Greg Bear's Beyond the Farthest Suns (The Complete Short Fiction of Greg Bear Book 3) for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

7 remarkable stories, newly revised for this collection, showcase the award-winning talents of one of the 21st century’s finest writers of speculative fiction.

Whether penning science fiction (Moving Mars, Queen of Angels, War Dogs), alternate history (the Mongoliad series with Neal Stephenson), or fantasy (Sleepside, The Infinity Concerto), Greg Bear tells stories that engage the reader’s intellect while gripping the imagination. His short fiction is no exception. Beyond the Farthest Suns takes readers to the far end of the universe and the borders of scientific understanding. The volume includes:

· “The Way of All Ghosts,” set in the bestselling universe of Eon and Eternity;
· “The Venging,” which takes a group of desperate fugitives fleeing alien dominance down into the awesome gateway of a black hole;
· “The Fall of the House of Escher,” in which a world-famous illusionist is brought back from the dead for a terrifying command performance;
· “Hardfought,” the critically acclaimed Nebula Award–winning story showcasing a far future in which a legendary female pilot and her alien captor are forced into a tapestry of echoing lives where they struggle to communicate and find the deepest secrets of their history.

These works, along with 3 additional entries, stunningly illustrate how Bear interweaves the rationality of science with remarkable characters whose thoughts and emotions reflect our own.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 3rd)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Outsider is down one position, ending the week at number 5.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is up three spots, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

A bit of humor. . .




Salvation


As you know, although I own every single title Peter F. Hamilton has released over the years, other than the stand-alone novels I'm really far behind when it comes to his series. I've finally begun the Night's Dawn trilogy earlier this year and was planning on reading The Neutronium Alchemist when Salvation unexpectedly showed up in my mailbox. I was glad, for now I'd be able to read and review installments of a new Hamilton sequence as they are published.

Having only read The Reality Dysfunction, I can't really compare the opening chapter in the Salvation Sequence with the Night's Dawn, the Commenwealth, and the Void series. Yet as was the case with the Peter F. Hamilton books I've read thus far, it's obvious that Salvation is another space opera yarn of epic scope.

Here's the blurb:

Humanity's complex relationship with technology spirals out of control in this first book of an all-new trilogy from "the owner of the most powerful imagination in science fiction" (Ken Follett).

In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation--including starships--virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful...until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy...

Bursting with tension and big ideas, this standalone series highlights the inventiveness of an author at the top of his game, as the interweaving story lines tell us not only how humanity arrived at this moment, but also the far-future consequences that spin off from it.

Hamilton is renowned for his worldbuilding, which is always vast in scope and vision. And Salvation is certainly no exception! By the beginning of the 23rd century, mankind has taken to the stars. Demonstration of quantum spatial entanglement engendered the creation of portals that now connect every place on Earth and every settled planet and asteroid out there. Solar powerwell portals dropped directly into the sun provide the vast amount of energy required to keep everything running. In 2144, as a number of planets are being terraformed, an alien starship approaching our solar system is detected. The extraterrestrial civilization is known as the Olyix and they travel in the arkship Salvation of Life to the End of the Universe to meet their god. The arkship requires enormous amounts of electricity to generate antimatter, so the Olyix begin to trade their superior biotechnology with humans in exchange for the energy they need to continue their endless pilgrimage across the galaxies. When a portal ship arrives in the Beta Eridani system in 2204, it detects a beacon signal coming from a crashed alien spaceship light years away from Earth. And as impossible as it sounds, that ship contains the remains of human victims. An assessment team comprised of powerful and important men and women is sent to investigate, and they'll soon realize that they have more in common than they ever thought possible. And eighty-nine years from their home world, they'll come to realize that Earth might be facing a threat and that no one is aware of the imminent danger.

The structure of this novel is a little unusual and takes some time getting used to. There are three different timelines, and one of them feels somewhat discordant until you realize that it takes place far into the future. The first timeline follows the assessment team as they make their way to the alien ship's crash site. The second timeline explores the backstories of a number of members of the assessment team, and these chapters allow readers to connect the dots and find out how some of these people are related to one another and why they were selected for this mission. The third timeline occurs on Juloss, a terraformed planet nearly six centuries after the arrival of human settlers. That final timeline is decidedly different and it takes a while for things to start making sense. Protected by skyforts and with traveler generation ships having portaled out of orbit, the only people left on Juloss are those training to face the enemy which has decimated countless of mankind's home worlds. It's only when they refer to some of the assessment team members as Saints that it dawns upon you that the Juloss plotline takes place centuries, or even millennia, in the future and that Earth may already have been destroyed. This atypical narrative structure can sometimes make for an uneven reading experience. Salvation is never boring, mind you. But until everything comes together at the very end, one often wonders why such a big chunk of the pagecount is dedicated to some characters' backstories. The plot doesn't progress a whole lot for the better part of the novel, and Salvation often feels like the introduction to an introduction.

Peter F. Hamilton always had a knack for creating interesting and genuine characters and the same can be said of the Salvation cast. The perspective through which we follow the assessment team is that of Feriton Kayne, an exosolar security division officer from the Connexion company. He is convinced that someone on the team could be an alien spy and he's trying to uncover who it might be before they reach the crash site. The second timeline features the points of view of disparate protagonists as their respective backstories are unveiled. It was interesting to discover what led to Callum and Yuri's profound hatred and how they were both involved with Jessika. And I loved how the mysterious dark ops agent only known as Cancer showed up in both Alik's multiple-murder case and Kandara's secret mission. The Juloss timeline is comprised of two POVS, that of Dellian and Yirella, following the evolution and training of a boy and a girl at the beginning, all the way to adulhood when they ultimately board a battleship and leave their world in search of the nameless enemy for a final showdown.

Sadly, Salvation does suffer from occasional pacing issues. As is habitually his wont, Hamilton's latest novel weighs in at 565 pages and is another big work of fiction. Problem is, the bulk of the book focuses on the aforementioned backstories, not on what the blurb promised. And although those backstories can be fascinating and action-packed, there are times when you wonder why such a huge portion of the novel is devoted to what at first appears to be extraneous material. Only a handful of pages actually deal with the assessment team's arrival at the crash site, which was a bit of a disappointment. Having said that, Peter F. Hamilton closes the show with panache, with all the storylines culminating into the sort of ending that makes it impossible for me not to want to read the second volume, Salvation Lost, as soon as it comes out.

In the end, Salvation is another epic space opera that sets the stage for what should be another gripping series featuring rich worldbuilding and complex characters. On its own, the book is not as self-contained as it could have been and that can be detrimental to both the plotlines and the rhythm of the novel. Still, it's a satisfying read that will likely get better and better when the forthcoming sequels are published.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's excellent Quicksilver for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe, in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe -- London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer and legendary King of the Vagabonds -- risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox.

And it is the tale of Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance.

A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time.

And it's just the beginning ...

Extract from Myke Cole's THE QUEEN OF CROWS


The folks at barnesandnoble.com have just posted an extract from Myke Cole's forthcoming The Queen of Crows. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Myke Cole, star of CBS’s Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series is here with book two of the Sacred Throne Trilogy: The Queen of Crows.

In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greateness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.

No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and lay siege to the Imperial Palace itself.

Follow this link to read it. =)

Quote of the Day

Hindsight is always the clearest vision.

- PETER F. HAMILTON, Salvation (Canada, USA, Europe)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Bradley P. Beaulieu's Of Sand and Malice Made for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Çeda, the heroine of the novel Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this prequel, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf; none but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, an ehrekh, a sadistic creature forged long ago by the god of chaos. The ehrekh are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda’s struggle becomes a battle for her very soul.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Kay Kenyon's The Seeds of Time for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Time travel was never like this--tied to the motions of the stars, a short cut across the galaxy, and--if you're a rare Dive pilot--a chance to be a hero. Clio Finn is one of these, a space pilot on the run from a dystopian and graying Earth toward the only future she ever wanted: the stars. Problem is, she's on the razor edge of burnout. Next stop: a labor camp in dictatorial America.

Clio might be in it for escape, for adventure, but there's also that hero thing. Her mission: to retrieve viable biota to reseed the Earth. Now, a long way from home, she's found the jackpot, a lush paradise, with plant life so vital, its seeds could give Earth a second chance, or--as her enemies believe--seal its destruction. But she's determined to bring her payload home. It's Clio Finn's last Dive. It's Earth's last chance.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 27th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Outsider maintains its position at number 4.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down three spots, finishing the week at number 10 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can once again get your hands on the digital edition of Seth Dickinson's The Traitor Baru Cormorant for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In Seth Dickinson's highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire's civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.

Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it's on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.

But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

The Poppy War


Back when I originally received the email from the folks at Harper Voyager inquiring if I'd be interested in a digital galley of R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War, I elected not to request a copy. The cover blurb did not really catch my fancy and there seemed to be little about this book which was special and made me want to give it a shot.

Later, the novel started to garner rave reviews from trusted sources that were heralding The Poppy War as the fantasy debut of the year. At that point, it was too late for me to get my hands on a review copy. But soon afterward, the ebook was put on sale and I immediately purchased a copy. Not long after that, I was reading it.

It's no secret that 2018 has not been a banner year for the genre, and R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War might well be the debut of the year. Having said that, although I found the story compelling, the book suffered from too many shortcomings for me to rave about it like several of my peers. It is a good novel, mind you. Just not the great and wonderful read that many people made it out to be.

Here's the blurb:

A "Best of May" Science Fiction and Fantasy pick by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, The Verge, SyFy Wire, and Kirkus.

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

The worldbuilding was inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War from mid-20th century. The plot makes reference to real life events such as the Nanjing massacre and the appalling human experiments which took place within Unit 731. Drawing from actual historical facts, Kuang pulled no punches in portraying the scope of the horrific atrocities committed by the Federation of Mugen's forces against the people of the Empire of Nikara. One of my biggest disappointments was that, though it features some decidedly bleak and disturbing scenes, The Poppy War was definitely YA in style and tone. Most of the plot was decidedly black and white, with very little in terms of shades of gray. A little less so once we reach the third and final part of the novel, but the first two read more or less like a YA title. I also expected a lot more from the Sinegard plotline. Sadly, it read like every other clichéd combat and magic training school storyline out there. I understand that Rin's education is an important component of the woman she'll become, but I just feel that this trope has been done ad nauseam. In addition, though this will undoubtedly continue to be an ongoing plotline that will be explored in the sequels, I wish we would have learned more about the shamanistic magical system that is at the heart of this tale.

The characterization was a bit uneven, with the badass main protagonist often hard to relate to and root for. Like many teenage girls, Rin is ruled by her emotions and this puts her in problematic situations at every turn. Extremely temperamental, she fails to learn from her mistakes and is often an accident waiting to happen. I mean, she makes Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad look like the absolute soul of wisdom and the voice of reason. There are times when you want Rin to get bitchslapped or spanked for her juvenile and inane behavior. Thankfully, it does get better toward the end. But the readers needs to sail through choppy waters in order to get there. Constantly railing against the world and the unfairness of everything throughout the novel, Rin is a difficult character to come to like. Unfortunately, the supporting cast is made up of unappealing or uninteresting characters, some of them, like Altan, as over-the-top as Rin herself. The only exception was Jiang, a mix of Yoda and Mr. Miyagi, but who also sometimes can be as dumb and silly as the bald old man always getting head-slapped on the Benny Hill TV show.

There are pacing issues that plague this book, especially at the beginning. The first part of The Poppy War moves at a slow crawl and can be a chore to go through at times. The second part takes a turn for the better, with the story progressing at a better clip, and with everything coming together in the final portion. I just wish the rhythm could have been better balanced between the three different parts of the tale.

R. F. Kuang came up with an unexpected ending, one that opens the door for plenty of things to come in the subsequent volumes. She had a few surprises up her sleeve, which made for good reading toward the end. Although it doesn't offer as much resolution as I would have liked, there is no denying that the ending is the culmination of a lot of plotlines that were finally brought together.

In the end, Kuang's The Poppy War simply may not be for everyone. Personally, I felt that the YA style and tone didn't quite work for the story the author was trying to tell. This debut can be dark and brutal, but the black and white juvenile outlook was often discordant with what Kuang was trying to convey to her readers. As a young teenager caught between childhood and adulthood, Rin must face sexism, racism, and discrimination due to her class. While training to become an elite warrior, she must deal with betrayal and death. The Poppy War is a manifestly angry novel featuring a main protagonist who seldom manage to control her emotions. That can get old real fast and it often gets in the way of the plot.

As I mentioned, it nevertheless turned out to be a compelling read. But it suffers from too many flaws, chief among them the lack of engaging characters, to be a truly captivating book.

Love it or hate it, I feel that Kuang's debut remains one of the fantasy novels to read in 2018. Perusing online reviews shows that the majority of readers enjoyed The Poppy War, so you should give it a go to discover what the noise is all about. I will definitely give the second installment a shot, if only to see if the author can up her game and make Rin a more endearing protagonist. I'm all for angst and anger, but this was a bit too much and it ended up being detrimental to the storytelling.

The final verdict: 7.25/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Wow! Blast from the past! You can now download Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Forging the Darksword, first volume in the Darksword trilogy, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From the bestselling authors of The Rose of the Prophet and The Death Gate Cycle, the first in a majestic saga of magic, fantasy, and adventure.

In the enchanted realm of Merilon, magic is life.

Born without magical abilities and denied his birthright, Joram is left for dead. Yet he grows to manhood in a remote country village, hiding his lack of powers only through constant vigilance and ever more skillful sleight-of-hand.

Forced to kill a man in self-defense, Joram can keep his secret from the townspeople no longer: he has no magic, no life. Fleeing to the Outlands, Joram joins the outlawed Technologists, who practice the long forbidden arts of science. Here he meets the scholarly catalyst Saryon, who has been sent on a special mission to hunt down a mysterious “dead man” and instead finds himself in a battle of wits and power with a renegade warlock of the dark Duuk-tsarith caste.

Together, Joram and Saryon begin their quest toward a greater destiny—a destiny that begins with the discovery of the secret books that will enable them to overthrow the evil usurper Blachloch . . . and forge the powerful magic-absorbing Darksword.

Kings of the Wyld


I've been meaning to read Nicholas Eames' King of the Wyld for quite a while. Given all the rave reviews and the fact that it's supposed to be the kind of book Terry Pratchett and Joe Abercrombie would have written if they had ever collaborated on a project, my curiosity was piqued in earnest.

Based on all the praise it has garnered, some readers might have lofty expectations that this novel simply cannot live up to. Kings of the Wyld is not a work akin to George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, or Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World, or any other work of speculative fiction that turned out to be a game-changer. However, it is the most fun you'll have reading this year. And that's worth a whole lot!

So just buckle up and enjoy the ride, for Kings of the Wyld is a real treat!

Here's the blurb:

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best -- the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk - or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It's time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.

The worldbuilding is nothing special and can be decidedly generic at times. Most of the elements have been seen and done before, over and over again. Pretty much all the tropes are present. In essence, the plot often felt like an Advance Dungeons and Dragons campaign being played out. But à la Abercrombie, the author enjoys subverting said tropes and play with readers' expectations. Hence, he has a number of surprises up his sleeve. Nicholas Eames doesn't take himself too seriously, which is why Kings of the Wyld is so much fun to read. For example, the meanest badass antagonist has bunny ears. And the fact that mercenary bands are idolized like rockstars gave this novel its unique flavor. As is the case with music today, with so many people complaining that it's not as good and authentic as music from the 70s, 80s, or 90s, the new mercenary companies of Eames' universe are competing against one another to live up to and ultimately outshine the bands from the past. I believe that if you grew up listening to heavy metal and hard rock, this book might speak to you even more. It sure did for me! It's hard to put a label on such a work, for one minute it's moody grimdark and the other it's laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The characterization was by far my favorite facet of this novel. Nicholas Eames truly knocked it out of the park in that regard. Like the members of Twister Sister and Judas Priest, the men who comprised the legendary mercenary band Saga are way past their prime and are only poor shadows of the powerful figures they once were. Other than Ganelon, who spent the last decades frozen in time, Clay Cooper, Mattrick Skulldrummer, Arcandius Moog, and “Golden Gabe” Gabriel have seen better days. All are flawed, yet extremely endearing characters. And when Gabe's daughter finds herself in a siege and her life is in danger, the man somehow manages to get the band together for one last quest. The only perspective of Kings of the Wyld is that of Clay Cooper, and a more entertaining narrator I haven't encountered since Abercrombie's Sand dan Glokta. The most even-keeled member of Saga, I just loved his cynical and the-glass-is-half-empty kind of outlook on life. He definitely was the best choice of POV for this novel. Every band member has his moments, which makes for a nearly perfect balance between the protagonists. Furthermore, the supporting cast is made up of a panoply of engaging men and women, from Clay's wife Ginny, to badass Larkspur, to super villain Lastleaf, to Jain and the Silk Arrows.

If realism is important to you as a reader, then perhaps Nicholas Eames' debut may not be for you. This is a fantasy story that hearkens back to the popular quest books from the 80s and early 90s. True, there are grimdark elements meant to spice things up and the dialogue is more contemporary, but essentially the characters surmount seemingly impossible odds without getting killed and somehow find a way to come out on top at the end. It doesn't always make sense, but it is a hell of a ride nonetheless.

In terms of rhythm, there are a few rough patches in the middle portion of the book. Indeed, certain chapters serve little purpose other than having the proverbial shit go down the crapper and send our cast on another misadventure where they'll have to pull through and survive another ordeal to get them one step closer to their objective. But for the most part, the pace is fluid and I definitely ended up breezing through this book.

Truth be told, I haven't had this much fun reading in many a year. Eames' Kings of the Wyld really scratched an itch I wasn't even aware I had, and I went through this novel in record time. Trouble is, I doubt that this same recipe can work a second time around. It will be interesting to see if the author can do it again in the sequel, Bloody Rose. But if he can, this is an auspicious beginning that could see Nicholas Eames ultimately rank right up there with Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie.

If you are looking for a lighter and hilarious read, look no further. Nicholas Eames' Kings of the Wyld is just what the doctor ordered.

Fun, entertaining, action-packed, and at times touching; that's Kings of the Wyld in a nutshell.

Highly recommended.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Haruki Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

An instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the remarkable story of a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Here Haruki Murakami—one of the most revered voices in literature today—gives us a story of love, friend­ship, and heartbreak for the ages.

Cover art for Guy Gavriel Kay's A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO


We now have a cover!

Cover blurb for Guy Gavriel Kay's A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO

We now have a title and a blurb for Guy Gavriel Kay's forthcoming novel: A Brightness Long Ago.

Here's the blurb:

International bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest work is set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offers an extraordinary cast of characters whose lives come together through destiny, love, and ambition.

In a chamber overlooking the nighttime waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra’s intelligence won him entry to a renowned school even though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count–and soon learned why that man was known as the Beast.

Danio’s fate changed the moment he saw and recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count’s chambers one autumn night–intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen, instead of a life of comfort, one of danger–and freedom. Which is how she encounters Danio in a perilous time and place.

Vivid figures share the unfolding story. Among them: a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a powerful religious leader more decadent than devout; and, affecting all these lives and many more, two larger-than-life mercenary commanders, lifelong adversaries, whose rivalry puts a world in the balance.

A Brightness Long Ago offers both compelling drama and deeply moving reflections on the nature of memory, the choices we make in life, and the role played by the turning of Fortune’s wheel.

Can't wait! =)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 20th)

In hardcover:

Laurell K. Hamilton's Serpentine debuts at number 3.

Stephen King's The Outsider is down one position, ending the week at number 4.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down one spot, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The Three-Body Problem


A lot has been said about Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem and I've owned the novel since Tor Books first sent out review copies. So why wait this long to finally read it? Well, although this book has garnered lots of rave reviews and was even pimped by President Obama himself, the fact that it was a translation sort of put me off for a while. And yet, I always knew that I'd give it a shot.

As is usually the case when I wait for a few years to finally read a book, I felt like an idiot for not reading the opening chapter of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series when it first came out. The Three-Body Problem may not be perfect, but it is indeed a superior read.

Here's the blurb:

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Cixin Liu became the most popular science fiction author in China, but most wondered if the English translation could do justice to this series. Ken Liu's translation worked well for the most part. There are a few clunky portions here and there, and I have a feeling that some things got lost along the way because they could not be translated properly. In addition, the dialogue did not always ring true. I'm glad Ken Liu elected to go for footnotes to provide additional information, as there are already too many massive info-dumps throughout the novel. All in all, I have a feeling that the English translation is as good as it could be and that certain elements simply couldn't be translated perfectly. True, some readers might find that off-putting. Then again, The Three-Body Problem is a novel of big ideas and one soon forgets about these little things. What's a little clunky dialogue when there are mind-blowing themes being thrown around?

I loved the fact that the backdrop of the beginning of this novel was the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The vast majority of the science fiction I've read over the years was produced by American and British authors. To get the Chinese point of view regarding world events and witness how the country would react to first contact with an alien civilization was interesting. Non-Western views were indeed quite refreshing. There are a lot of hard scifi concepts involved in the plot of The Three-Body Problem, and the author did a great job "dumbing" down most of them so that virtually any genre readers can enjoy the story. Though it was probably impossible, I just wish that massive info-dumping could have been avoided. Still, for a novel of relatively short size, The Three-Body Problem is extremely vast in scope and vision. Imagine something that can rival with Peter F. Hamilton's imaginiation but with a third of the pagecount.

The characterization can be a bit uneven, especially early on. It takes a long time to get to know the protagonists, but it does get better as the plot moves forward and secrets are unveiled. There are two main characters who take center stage. The Three-Body Problem starts during the Cultural Revolution, when a young Ye Wenjie is forced to watch as her scientist father is beaten to death by revolutionaries. The girl is then sent to do hard labor at a re-education camp, where she somehow manage to find herself working, unbeknownst to her at first, on a top secret government project seeking out extraterrestrial life. In the present, nanotech scientist Wang Miao gets arrested by cops, only to be brought to a secret meeting comprised of international military officials who are fighting an unknown threat. Some unnamed force is seeking to destroy human science and technology by killing brilliant scientists or driving them to suicide. Fearing that he might well be the next one to die, Wang must go undercover and begin playing a virtual reality game called The Three-Body Problem; a game only the greatest scientific minds can hope to beat. The supporting cast is not particularly memorable, with the sole exception being Captain Shi Qiang. It's hard to like the policeman early on, but he definitely grows on you as the story progresses.

The Three-Body Problem suffers from pacing issues from time to time, especially in the first third of the book. Yet the more you learn about the project Ye Wenjie is working on, and the further Wang Miao advances into the virtual reality game, you gradually begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together and the more fascinating the novel becomes. It's no surprise that it won the Hugo Award for best novel.

The Three-Body Problem is science fiction as it ought to be! If, like me, you have yet to read Cixin Liu's bestselling award-winner, you should give it a shot ASAP!

The final verdict: 8.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe