Here’s the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Gemini Cell by Myke Cole, the latest in his military fantasy Shadow Ops world. It’s sporting a new look with this fourth (standalone) volume, using an eye-catching illustration by Larry Rostant.
When Elizabeth Moon’s Sheepfarmer’s Daughter hit bookshelves in 1988, it boldly announced the arrival of a new voice in the genre. At the time, much of fantasy on the shelves, and specifically military fantasy, was written by men. What Moon brought to her tale was a deep and authentic military experience; she served in the Marines. The title alone could be seen as a play on expectations as many fantasies which leaned toward the Epic variety published in the 1980s involved farmboys and prophecies. This is definitely not the case with this trilogy. The Deed of Paksenarrion was written as one story over three novels, and many people (myself included) have encountered this series through the big blue omnibus Baen published in 1992.
Elizabeth Moon introduces readers to Paksenarrion Dorthansdottir, Paks for short; a young girl who wants nothing to do with the arranged marriage into which her father is forcing her. Despite her father having procured a dowry for her, Paks runs off to join a mercenary group. Much of the novel relays her experience becoming indoctrinated as a soldier through a measured, and very plausible build. While Paks seems to be all-too-perfect and dutiful, she does go through hardships this is the of three acts of the full story. An effective aspect of the narrative was how Moon glossed over months/weeks at a time then focused on the more important scenes, although there seemed to be a lot marching happening. The way in which Paks’s superiors seem more than aware of her growing importance and connection to Gird (a heroic savior from the past) came across quite well. Continue reading →
The third installment of The Completist looks at a military fantasy trilogy a little over a decade after the saga’s completion. The year was 1999, a new Century was on the horizon. In the Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing world, there were some very interesting books being written/published and read. We were in the middle of the Harry Potter saga, George R.R. Martin wasn’t yet the Epic Fantasy giant in the he is now, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time was still in what many consider its prime, Tad Williams took a break from Epic Fantasy with his massive Otherland SF saga, and Terry Brooks would soon return to his popular Shannara saga. Into this state of affairs enter John Marco with The Jackal of Nar, which launched both his writing career and his Tyrants and Kings trilogy. I immediately took to the series and was very pleased that a colleague where I worked at the time had also read and enjoyed The Jackal of Nar.
SYNOPSIS: Magic has come to the world, upsetting the established order. Lieutenant Oscar Britton is a regular soldier, attached to a military group that specializes in hunting and detaining dangerous radicals. Then, inexplicably, Oscar manifests a magical power of his own and soon he is on the run, wanted by the authorities.
MY REVIEW PROS: Interesting concept/setting; frenzied action. CONS: Unlikable protagonist; unlikable secondary characters; repetitive internal/external dialogue; lots of petty complaints that add up. BOTTOM LINE: A debut novel that does not live up to its potential or the hype surrounding it, yet I still have hopes for the sequel.