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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
Hunted

Mercedes Lackey, Foundation series
Bastion

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

Deborah J. Ross, Darkover series
Children of Kings

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It seems that there has been a recent rebirth of the novella. I've been finding all sorts of books that are collections of three or four novella-length pieces - most of them in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance categories. Also, some publishing houses, notably Subterranean Press and Aquaduct Press, have been publishing a number of works in the novella to short novel range. And one finds novella-length pieces on various author and magazine websites all over the net. In the list below of novellas I've devoured this past year, if a novella was not acquired as a standalone publication (paper or edoc), I've tried to indicate the name of the book, or website I found it in/on.

As for the novellas themselves, there's quite a range. Many of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance novellas are much of a muchness. I was delighted to find a novella by Michelle Sagara set in her Cast universe, and found the novellas by Yasmine Galenorn and C. E. Murphy interesting enough that I intend to explore their novels.

On the other hand, I was very excited to read more tales set in Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam - Abigail Irene Garrett is a character I am very fond of. The same is true of the late and much lamented Kage Baker's steampunk sequence of novellas associated with her Company books. And I do like Diana Gabaldon's Lord John sequence of novels and novellas. And my devouring of Margaret Frazer's published oeuvre would not have been complete without the domina Frevisse novella.

Marjorie M. Liu, The Tangleroot Palace (Never After)
Marjorie M. Liu, Armor of Roses (Inked)
Marjorie M. Liu, Hunter Kiss (Wild Thing)

Yasmine Galenorn, The Shadow of Mist (Never After)
Yasmine Galenorn, Etched in Silver (Inked)

Mercedes Lackey, A Tangled Web (Harvest Moon)
Mercedes Lackey, Moontide (Winter Moon)
Mercedes Lackey, Counting Crows (Charmed Destinies)

Rachel Lee, Drusilla's Dream (Charmed Destinies)
Catherine Asaro, Moonglow (Charmed Destinies)
Michelle Sagara West, Cast in Moonlight (Harvest Moon) 
Cameron Haley, Retribution (Harvest Moon)
Karen Chance, Skin Deep (Inked)
Eileen Wilkes, Human Nature (Inked)
Maggie Shayne, Animal Magnetism (Wild Thing)
Meljean Brook, Paradise (Wild Thing)
Tanith Lee, Heart of the Moon (Winter Moon)
C. E. Murphy, Banshee Cries (Winter Moon)
Sharon Shinn, The Wrong Bridegroom (Never After)

Elizabeth Bear, In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns (Asimov's)
Elizabeth Bear, Seven For A Secret
Elizabeth Bear, The White City
Elizabeth Bear, Ad Eternum

Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Succubus (via author's website)
Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (via author's website)
Diana Gabaldon, The Custom of the Army (via author's website)
Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (via author's website)

Margaret Frazer, Winter Heart (Smashwords)

Kage Baker, Rude Mechanicals
Kage Baker, Nell Gwynne's On Land and At Sea
Kage Baker, Speed, Speed the Cable

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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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It's a grab bag of volumes from some of my favourite fantasy series! Well, in a couple of cases, loosely associated with my favourite fantasy series.


Mercedes Lackey, Intrigues
Mercedes Lackey, Changes

Volumes two and three of The Collegium Chronicles. In some ways, this series is very much like Lackey's very first Velgarth series, in which Valdemar and the Heralds were introduced through the eyes of Talia, an abused child whisked away from a life of misery to become a person of importance and destiny. But the particulars are different and the time is different and it's still great fun.


Mercedes Lackey, Sleeping Beauty

The latest in Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series. I actually think this series is among the most interesting work that Lackey has done. These are all engaging stories in their own right, but at the same time Lackey is both analysing and deconstructing traditional folk and fairy tale motifs, and rewriting those tales with a feminist perspective. I like.


Katharine Kerr, The Silver Mage

The last volume of Kerr's epic Deverry cycle. Truly epic in scope, what makes this series unique is that, it's not just about the heroics and politics of a rich and diverse fantasy world and the interplay of characters and nations, it's also a story of spiritual redemption across time for the key characters, who are reborn again and again until the actions that wove their spirits together are finally resolved, and in a sense for the nation of Deverry, for in this last volume we discover the events that set the movements of nations through the series, across hundreds of years. An excellent ending for one of the great fantasy series.


Tamora Pierce, Wild Magic

First volume of The Immortals series. Set in Pierce's Tortal universe, this new series shares some characters - at least so far - with her first series, Song of the Lioness (aka the Alanna Adventures). What I've liked about Pierce's work from the beginning is that these are YA novels in which young women get to do great and heroic things.


Kristen Britain, Blackveil

Fourth volume of the Green Rider series. This volume took the series to some very dark places - both in the Blackveil forest and in the kingdom of Sacoridia. Along with epic deeds, we also find deceit, betrayal of trust and corruption on a number of levels and in some disappointing places. But things have to get darker before dawn, don't they?


Michelle Sagara West, Cast in Fury

The fourth volume of the Chronicles of Elantra series (aka the "Cast" series). As this series has progressed, the protagonist Kaylin Nera, a member of the Hawks - the police force of the city of Elantra - has been drawn into situations that have given her entry and a unique understanding of the various races that live, more or less peaceably, in the City. In this volume, she must deal with some of the consequences of her last major mission, which involved the telepathic Tha'alani, while engaging in a personal quest to clear the name of her friend and superior officer, a Leontine accused of murder. And we are carried a bit further along in learning more about Kaylin's own past and powers and what is happening in the region known as Nightshade, where Kaylin once lived.


Jack Whyte, Order in Chaos

Final volume in the Templar Trilogy. Whyte completes the story of his alternate history secret order concealed within the historically secretive Order of Knights Templar with the destruction of the Templars. As with most Templar fantasies, the remnants of the order ( and the secret inner circle) flee to England and Scotland where their legacy lives on - an element of the Templar mythos that probably has its genesis in the fact that the Templars were not persecuted nearly as violently in England as they were in continental Europe, so that while the order itself was disbanded, many former Templars lived on in England and a number of survivors from Europe made their way across the Channel to begin new lives.


Liz Williams, Precious Dragon

Third volume in the series. The continuing adventures of Detective Inspector Chan and his demon partner Seneschal Zhu Irzh in Hell, Heaven, Singapore Three on Earth, and a few other assorted dimensions. Complete with dragons and the Emperor of Heaven.


Kage Baker, Nell Gwynne’s Scarlet Spy

This is more of a related stand-alone to Baker's Company series, but I thought I'd include it here anyway. Steampunk adventures of the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Gentlemen's Speculative Society, featuring Lady Beatrice. The two novellas collected here are all we shall ever see of Lady Beatrice, as they were written not long before the untimely death of Kage Baker - but at least we have these.

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Fantasy reads in 2010 included books by some of my favourite writers: Tanya Huff, Michelle West (aka Michelle Sagara), Lyda Morehouse (writing as Tate Hallaway), Mercedes Lackey (solo and in tandem with James Mallory), Kate Elliott, and Katherine Kurtz (writing with Deborah turner Harris).

I revisited Elizabeth Lynn's Chronicles of Tornor trilogy. discovered the work of Nnedi Okorafor and Anna Elliott, and found some newer works by familiar names - Andre Norton and Holly Lisle.


Anna Elliott, Twilight of Avalon

Mercedes Lackey, Gwenhyfar

Kate Elliott, King’s Dragon

Tate Hallaway, Dead If I Do

Elizabeth Lynn, Watchtower
Elizabeth Lynn, The Dancers of Arun
Elizabeth Lynn, A Northern Girl

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Zahrah the Windseeker

Michelle Sagara West, Lady of Mercy
Michelle Sagara West, Chains of Darkness, Chains of Light

Tanya Huff, Sing the Four Quarters
Tanya Huff, The Enchantment Emporium

Andre Norton & Sasha Miller, To the King a Daughter

Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory, The Phoenix Transformed

Holly Lisle, Fire in the Mist

Katherine Kurtz & Deborah Turner Harris, The Temple and the Stone

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It does not seem as though I am actually going to be able to catch up on the books I've read over the past couple of years.

So here's the new plan. I'm going to post lists of the books I read in 2009, 2010 and, once we hit December 31st, 2011, and my summaries of the best books of those years. Then I start afresh in January and try to keep up with comments on each book I read in the new year.

So, here are the remaining books I read in 2009.

Dystopic fiction

The Carhullan Army, Sarah Hall
Make Room, Make Room, Harry Harrison
Generation 14, Priya Sarukkai Chabria


Science fiction

Solitaire, Kelley Eskridge
The Mount, Carol Emshwiller
Starship & Haiku, Somtow Sucharitkul
Jovah’s Angel, Sharon Shinn
Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Gameplayers of Zan, M. A. Foster
The Warriors of Dawn, M. A. Foster
The Day of the Klesh, M. A. Foster


Fantasy

The Silver Lake, Fiona Patton
The Shadowed Isle, Katherine Kerr
The Last Paladin, Kathleen Bryan
Children of the Blood, Michelle Sagara West
The Hidden City, Michelle West
Borne in the Blood, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Victory of Eagles, Naomi Novik

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Into the Dark Lands, Michelle Sagara West

Into the Dark Lands is the first book of Sagara West’s Sundered series, and is also her first published book. It is unquestionably a strong debut, and one that shows just how much of Sagara West’s themes and style were present from the beginning of her professional writing career.

The universe of the Sundered is one created and sustained within a vast Manichaean struggle between two powers, one of the Bright and one of the Dark. In the first confrontation of these powers, lesser beings – the Sundered – were created out the substance of each power, beings which fought against each other without either side gaining an advantage. Eventually, the two powers joined in direct conflict, merging somehow yet remaining distinct, and falling dormant within each other's embrace. The result of this was the formation of the physical world, in which both Bright and Dark were equally present.

The Sundered who survived the cosmic battle – also called Servants of the Bright or the Dark – went down into physical reality and continued their battle, both directly and through their offspring, mortal yet having some of the powers of their parents among the Sundered.

When the series begins, the battle has been raging in human lands for generations. The First Servant of the Bright, despairing of ever finding an end to the killing, has dared to enter a dangerous prophetic trance in the hopes of seeing some way to end the war without yielding to the Dark. She emerges with a faint chance, which she cannot share with any of her companions or children, one that demands great sacrifices with only the smallest hope of success. Yet as the First Servant of the Bright, she makes the choice to risk all.

The first novel begins the story of Erin, granddaughter of the Lady of Elliath, also known as the First Servant of the Bright – a young girl with enormous potential as a healer who is destined to be the instrument of that fragile hope on which the forces of the Bright will risk so much.

I found it quite enjoyable, although I have some reservations about the overall nature of the way out of eternal struggle foreseen by the First Servant of the Bright. It is shaping up to be a “Beauty and the Beast” kind of tale, with a violent and feared man “saved” by the love of a good woman. The overall gendering of Good and Evil – excuse me, Bright and Dark – in the novel is somewhat problematic, but it’s a well-told story and I’m willing to take a ride with Sagara West to see what she does next with this set-up.

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Cast in Secret by Michelle Sagara (who also writes as Michelle West)

Cast in Secret is the third volume in Sagara West’s Chronicles of Elantra, featuring police officer and healer Kaylin Neva as she forges alliances with yet another of the many different peoples who inhabit the capital city – the telepathic Tha’alani – and learns more about her own mysterious abilities.

I’ve become quite a fan of the series – it has a strong but conflicted female hero, a complicated political background, well-developed non-human cultures, in short, lots of the things that turn me on in my SFF reading. And so far, the ominously predictable love triangle has not yet manifested (very surprising for a Harlequin imprint book, but more power to Sagara if she's found a way to avoid the obligatory annoyingly obvious romance plotline that detracted from some of the other Luna fantasy novels I've read), so I'm quite happy to keep reading.

Fortunately, the series is a hit with its publishers and Kaylin’s adventures are assured to continue for some time to come.

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Michelle West, writing as Michelle Sagara, has another interesting series going full blast: the Chronicles of elantra, perhaps better known as the Cast series.

At this point, I've read the first two books in the series, Cast in Shadow and Cast in Courtlight, and I am enjoying them, although not quite as much as West's other work - but I'll get into that a little later.

Fantasy doesn't often pay attention to the function of policing, being generally more interested in the doings of princes, heroes, wizards and occasional thieves, assassins and other folks from the underside who have great destinies ahead of them, for whom the local police are just another obstacle to get around. In this series, West has made her protagonist - Kaylin, a young women with a mysterious and traumatic past - a cop. She and her colleagues police the streets of the capital city of Elantra, where humans and a number of assorted other races dwell in uneasy proximity, surrounded by a band of lawless territories known as the Nightshade.

Kaylin was born in the Nightshade, where as a child she was caught up in a macabre series of ritual murders of children. she's grown now, and happy with her life - until the murders begin again and shadowy characters from her past come into her life once more.

There's a lot that I like to this series - the character and development of kaylin, the highly complex and structured society she lives in, which its multiplicity of cultures and people, all with different abilities, psychologies and customs, Kaylin's interactions with many of her colleagues and acquaintances - but this is another series published by Luna, and as with Judith Tarr's Luna series (published under the name Caitlin Brennan), there's sense that the romantic elements - which West is quite capable of handing in a way that I appreciate in other books - are just a little too foregrounded and formulaic at the same time. There's a little too much of the stereotype in some of the dark and mysterious men out of Kaylin's past, too much of the "is he evil, or just misunderstood" in their characters, too much of the annoyingly eternal triangle in their interactions with Kaylin.

That said, I'm reading 'til the end, because Kaylin herself is just too interesting to resist. Plus, she has a mentor who's a dragon, and I'm just a real sucker for that.

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Last year, I discovered the writing of Michelle Sagara, who also publishes under the name Michelle West (well, actually, I didn’t discover her, she’s been well-known, and deservedly so, for some time, but you know what I mean).

As Michelle West, Sagara has written a most wonderful fantasy series, six volumes in length, called The Sun Sword. Last year, I read the first two volumes of this series, The Broken Crown and The Uncrowned King, and earlier this year, I read the remaining four books – and am eagerly awaiting her next work, the House Wars trilogy, which will be set in the same universe.

The Shining Court
Sea of Sorrows
The Riven Shield
The Sun Sword

Sagara has written a great epic fantasy, the core of which is, as you might guess, that Sun Sword – or rather, what it represents, a centuries-old struggle between humankind and demonkind for the rulership of the world. But while only one person can wield the Sun Sword – and he must survive a great deal to prove his ability and right to take it up – this is the kind of epic fantasy where there are multiple quests and many heroes (and villains, and those who are not so easy to characterise as one or the other) whose labours and struggles are just as vital to the final outcome as that of the nominal hero (rather like The Lord of the Rings – it’s Frodo’s task to deal with the ring, but he wouldn’t have gotten very far without Sam, or Gandalf, or Aragorn, or Faramir, or even Gollum).

Part of what is so very wonderful for me about this series is that a great many of these other, vital characters are women, and they come from all kinds of backgrounds. Sagara gives us a very close look at three very different human cultures in this series, and one of the things that differentiates the three is the image, role and place of women – one culture is fiercely patriarchal, one is equally fiercely matriarchal, and one is egalitarian. And yet from each of these societies come women who, in their own way, are active and vital agents in the forward action of the story,

And it is a very complicated and complex story, with all sorts of prophecies and goals and possibilities and motivations for each of the players and wonderfully tangled political intricacies and plots going on in both the broader cultures – including that of the demons – and in the various smaller units – clans, houses, tribes, schools, armies, sects – that are a part of these cultures. In short, it’s a very realistic kind of epic fantasy, and that makes it very much the sort of thing I enjoy.

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I have recently discovered the writing of Michelle Sagara West, and this is a good thing, even though, since she is a prolific writer who has been writing for some time, I now have a lot to catch up with.

I began with the first book in the Sun Sword series, The Broken Crown, and found that it had many of the things I really enjoy in fantasy writing – strong, interesting characters, many of whom are women, lots of political intrigue, and people faced with issues that require them to figure out who they are and what they stand for, and to make nuanced ethical decisions in the midst of complex sets of loyalties, obligations and responsibilities. Oh, and also magic, and people with swords who know how to use them – I like that, too.

Having fallen in love with Sagara West’s universe for this series, and not wanting to miss anything, I then skipped back to read the Sacred Hunt duology - Hunter’s Oath and Hunter’s Death - that takes place in this universe before the events of The Broken Crown. A very interesting perspective on the responsibility of rulers to the people and the land they rule, and on the nature of divinity, and an exciting story of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice, these books confirmed my interest in Sagara West’s writing.

So I acquired and have now finished the second in the Sun Sword series, The Uncrowned Prince, and will now have to toddle off to buy and read the next four.

I like finding authors that write things I like to read. Michelle Sagara West’s books make me happy.

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