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I've been having the year from hell as far as health issues go, and have been spending far yoo much time sick, in pain, depressed and in hospitals of various kinds.

When I'm on this sort of state, I tend to reread my beloved favourite fantasy books rather than try to focus my brain on more demanding fare - and often, just being new is too demanding for me.

So, just to note what I've been reading:

Mercedes Lackey, By the Sword
Mercedes Lackey, Oathbreakers

Elizabeth Moon, Sheepfarmer's Daughter
Elizabeth Moon, Divided Allegiance
Elizabeth Moon, Oath of Gold
Elizabeth Moon, Oath of Fealty
Elizabeth Moon, Kings of the North
Elizabeth Moon, Echoes of Betrayal
Elizabeth Moon, Limits of Power
Elizabeth Moon, Crown of Renewal

Lackey has long been one of my "i'm sick and braindead, bring me magnificent comfort reading" authors, but I haven't reread the whole Paksworld series (minus the two Gird books) in one sweep before, and watching the stories evolve as Paks and her unorthodox style of paladinship quite literally lead to the whole world changing was interesting. And good for my poor brain.

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Elizabeth Moon's collection of short stories, Deeds of Honor: Paksenarrion World Chronicles, is exactly what the title suggests. Set in the world of her classic fantasy trilogy, collectively known as The Deed of Paksenarrion, and the various novels that followed, the stories collected here focus on deeds of honor, be it the honor of thieves or kings, servants, soldiers or noblemen and women.

Some of the characters in these tales play important roles in Moon's two series The Deed of Paksenarrion and Paladin's Legacy; others are characters met briefly, a few are only referred to, or performed the deeds recorded herein on the periphery of events, before them, or even after the conclusion of the Paladin's Legacy series. All, however, are rich with the flavour of Paksenarrion's world, and for that reason will be welcome to any fans of Moon's fantasy writing.

For myself, I was very hsppy to see, or hear about, some of my favourite characters again. If there are no more Paksworld novels, at least one can hope for more stories like these.

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Moon's "Paksworld" fantasy novels have been among my favourites ever since I first read Sheepfarmer's Daughter. When she returned to this world for the Paladin's Legacy series, of which this is the last volume, I was so excited, I couod hardly wait the long months between the announcement that she had done so, and the publication of the first book of the series.

The series, and particularly this last installment, have lived up to my expectations. Loose ends, apparent inconsistencies and questions from all the previous books have been resolved, and the ending leaves one feeling that all is going to be well in the lands of Aare and Aarenis.

And.... Dorrin Verrekai was one of my best loved characters, next to Paks herself - and her destiny left my eyes wet with joy for the character.

All I could wish is that Moon finds another inspiration to bring her back to the world of Paksenarrion.

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More series reading from 2013, this time books that are in series that are, or may be, unfinished.

George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons

Elizabeth Moon, Paladin's Legacy series
Limits of Power

Kate Elliott, the Crossroads series
Shadow Gate
Traitor's Gate
(Technically, this is the end of a trilogy, but Elliott has a stand-alone novel and a second trilogy planned in the same universe which will continue the story.)

Michelle Sagara West, the Chronicles of Elantra
Cast in Peril

Katharine Kerr, the Nola O'Grady series
Water to Burn

Marie Brennan, the Onyx Court series
In Ashes Lie
A Star Shall Fall

Juliet Marillier, Sevenwaters series
Heir to Severwaters
Seer of Sevenwaters

Diane Duane, Young Wizards series
A Wizard of Mars

Jasper Fforde, Thursday Next series
The Woman Who Died A Lot

Liz Williams, Inspector Chen series
Iron Khan

Kevin Hearne, Iron Druid Chronicles

Mercedes Lackey, Foundation series

P. C. Hodgell, Kencyr series
Bound in Blood
Honor's Paradox

Deborah J. Ross, Darkover series
Children of Kings

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I follow a lot of authors who write both science fiction and fantasy series. New volumes in ongoing series read in 2012:

Tanya Huff, The Wild Ways

The second novel about the Gale family, whose women are strangely gifted and powerful and whose men - rare in a family of many sisters, aunties and nieces - are the embodiment of the Horned God. The full story of what and who the Gales are is slowly unfolding as Huff tells stories about its various members, and I'm sure there is more to come.

Lois McMaster Bujold, Lord Vorpatril's Alliance

Now that Miles Vorkosigan is settled into a title, important court function and family, Bujold has turned her attention to one of the people in Miles' inner circle. An improvement on Cryoburn, largely because the new focus lets Bujold play wild games with her characters again.

Elizabeth Moon, Echoes of Betrayal

This follow-up series to Moon's Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter series just keeps developing more and more twists and taking a wider scope with each volume. I'm thinking by the end that we will know a lot more about the history and future of this world, and that's a good thing.

Charles R. Saunders, The Trail of Bohu (Revised)

The third volume of Saunders' exceptional Imaro series was first published decades ago, and revised recently now that the new era of self-publishing has finally allowed him to complete the series. Although I had read the original version when it was first published, between revisions and the passage of time, thiswas very much a new book for me. And it sets up the coming confrontation between Imaro and his life-long enemies very well.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Burning Shadows

Somehow I never tire of the Count Saint Germain, warrior, healer, alchemist, vampire. This one is set in 5th century Hungary and Romania, where the Count faces the coming of the Huns.

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Silence
Michelle Sagara, Cast in Chaos
Michelle Sagara, Cast in Ruin

Finally almost caught up with Sagara West's Elantra Chronicles featuring Private Keylin Neya.

Todd McCaffrey, Dragongirl
Todd and Anne McCaffrey, Dragon’s Time
Todd McCaffrey, Sky Dragons

Fare thee well to Anne McCaffrey, creator of Pern and other worlds. I've been reading her work for most of my life, it seems, and while I have issues with her gender politics, still I can't ignore what a key figure she was in science fiction. And as Todd McCaffery cones into his own as inheritor of his mother's creations, I'm hoping to see more originality and more of the greater awareness of sexual and gender diversity and equality that he has been bringing to the series.

Kevin Hearne, Hexed
Kevin Hearne, Hammered
Kevin Hearne, Tricked
Kevin Hearne, Two Ravens and One Crow (novella)
Kevin Hearne, Trapped

Atticus O'Sullivan (born Siodhachan O Suileabhain), the 2000 year-old Druid with a sharp wit and enough magical power to take on a god or two, is one of the most enjoyable new characters I've encountered in some time. The Iron Druid Chronicles are fast-paced and truly funny. I hope Hearne has quite a few more brewing in the back of his mind.
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Steve Perry, The Musashi Flex

After re-reading all of the Matador series books published back in the 1980s and 90s, I discovered that Perry had returned to the Matador universe and had written a prequel that harkened back to the origins of the fighting style used by the Matadors in their revolution. I am pleased to report that the first of the prequels was just as good as the original series. I understand from Wiki that two more prequels are in progress, and I’m waiting for them eagerly.

Linda Evans, Far Side of Darkness

This is a well written and rather enjoyable book. There’s a conspiracy involving scientists and the military and a few other assorted people who want the world to be run their way. There’s a co-opted top secret government project involving time travel. And there’s a group of ordinary people caught up in all of this, accidentally sent through time, who eventually manage to come together and start to figure out what is going on and realise they may be the only ones who can stop it.

But I cannot recommend it, because the book ends on a cliffhanger, with no resolution at all. It was clearly intended as the first half of a tightly-connected duology, and given that it was originally published in 1996, it seems unlikely that the second half will ever be available. So, as things stand, don’t buy it – you will find yourself with a severe case of reading interruptus. That said, if the sequel is ever published – grab both volumes and go for it.

Eleanor Arnason, Tomb of the Fathers
Eleanor Arnason, Mammoths of the Great Plains

Eleanor Arnason is brilliant. She thinks deeply and honestly about things like gender, class, race, colonialism and imperialism, and how they affect her characters and the stories she wants to tell. And then she folds these important considerations into fascinating tales with interesting and multi-dimensional characters. She writes with wit and grace. Her work is thought-provoking and satisfying. I was going to say something about the two Arnason books I read last year, but then I discovered a review by Kelly Jennings at Strange Horizons that says much of what I would have said abut them, so I will direct you there instead:

Lyda Morehouse, Resurrection Code

For those who know Morehouse’s AngeLINK series – this is a must-read. Mouse and Morningstar. Prequel and sequel. Betrayal and redemption. Cyberpunk and angels. Gender fluidity. Prophecy and portent. Everything that Morehouse does so well. For those who do not know the world of AngeLINK – this is probably not the place to begin, but I urge you to try your hardest to find Morehouse’s four previous AngeLINK novels (sadly out of print) and read them. I’ve never been able to understand why these books, which are full of amazing characters, provocative ideas about mind and soul and sex and technology, and complex and satisfying storytelling – all that science fiction at its best is about – have failed to find a wider market. Perhaps it is the moral (and gender) ambiguity of some of the characters – but Morehouse knows that all beings are complex, and contain multitudes and contradictions. If you haven’t figured out by now, I love Morehouse’s work in this series. She has written other books that are a joy to read – under the name Tate Hallaway – but this series truly is her masterwork. And it really should be in print again.

For those who are interested, here is a link to a review of Resurrection Code by Russ Allbery (where you can also find links to his reviews of the other AngeLINK books).

Elizabeth Moon, Hunting Party

While I do enjoy some milsf, I tend not to read it as often as I do fantasy, whether high or otherwise. So even though I love Moon’s high fantasy, I had never really made reading her milsf a high priority. However, after finishing the new volumes in the Paladin’s Legacy fantasy series, I found that I wanted more Moon – so I decided to try this, the first volume of volume in her Familias Regnant milsf series. And enjoyed it. The things that I enjoy so much in Moon’s fantasy are there in her sf too – strong female characters, well-paced stories with political intrigue. I intend to read more.

Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World

A darkly satirical post-apocalyptic action-adventure comedy which poses serious questions concerning the nature of reality and identity, Harkaway’s first novel is perhaps a bit excessive, but has moments of sheer genius and more than enough energy to pull the reader through the rough spots. To say nothing of the question that is likely in the back of every reader’s mind – what the fuck will he do next? I really can’t easily describe it – just check it out for yourself.

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I loved Elizabeth Moon's books about Paksenarrion, the sheepfarmer's daughter who ran away from an ordinary predictable life to become first a mercenary and then a paladin. It's been a long time since Moon wrote those, but she has returned to the richly detailed world of Paksenarrion with a new series focused on Kieri Phelan, a key figure in the original books.

Kieri Phelan, homeless orphan who became leader of a mercenary company and later a Duke, was revealed in the first series to be the long-lost half-elven heir to the kingdom of Lyonya. Moon's new series follows King Kieri's efforts to establish himself in his new role, defend his country against dark plots within and invasion without, and restore his lost elven heritage so that he can be a whole person and the kind of king that Lyonya, a kingdom of both humans and elves, desperately needs.

Naturally, in preparation for the new series, I had to re-read all of the earlier books in this world.

Paladin's Legacy
Oath of Fealty
Kings of the North

The Deed of Paksenarrion
Sheepfarmer’s Daughter
Divided Allegiance
Oath of Gold

The Legacy of Gird
Surrender None
Liar’s Oath

The third volume in the Paladin's Legacy series comes out next month, and I am very much looking forward to reading it. Moon cannot write these books quickly enough to please me - but I'm so happy she is writing them that it doesn't matter.

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I read some science fiction novels that weren't re-reads in 2010, too, and found all of them quite enjoyable. New (to me) authors Sarah Zettel, John Scalzi, and Helen S. Wright were all discoveries to be savoured - Wright's book A Matter of Oaths in particular, as it is the only book she has published, and is a very good read, with an original setting,strong worldbuilding, and interesting characters. I have heard rumours that she is working on a new book - I hope it's true.

The most eagerly anticipated SF novels I read in 2010 were Jo Walton'sHalf a Crown - the excellent ending to a brilliant and chilling examination of how easily a people can be led into embracing a fascist and hate-mongering state - and Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn, the latest volume in the highly entertaining saga of Miles Vokosigan.

Rounding out the year's new reading in science fiction were a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Moon, a John Wyndham novel I had somehow missed before now, another of Todd McCaffrey's books expanding on the world and history of Pern created by his mother, the late and sadly missed Anne McCaffrey, and one of Sharon Shinn's Samaria novels.

Elizabeth Moon, Moon Flights

John Wyndham, Web

Todd McCaffey, Dragonheart

Jo Walton, Half a Crown

Sharon Shinn, The Alleluia Files

Sarah Zettel, Fools’ War

John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
John Scalzi, The Ghost Brigades
John Scalzi, The Last Colony

Lois McMaster Bujold, Cyroburn

Helen S. Wright, A Matter of Oaths


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