Scifi Month 2021 – Wrap Up

Well another Scifi Month is in the books! This was my first year joining in the fun from the start (as it was the first year I actually remembered to line things up), and I have to say that it went way better than I would’ve thought! Granted, I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but I’m mostly a mood reader, so it’s quite hard to schedule things in advance. And… I’m not disappointed in the results! Got 6 reviews up, along with some prompts, and had great fun reading everyone else’s posts around the blogosphere. If you missed theirs, I’ll include links to just a few of my favorite sites below so you can go check them out!

Read

Inhibitor Phase – by Alastair Reynolds

Memoria – by Kristyn Merbeth

Blood of the Chosen – by Django Wexler

Remote Control – by Nnedi Okorafor

Additional Reviews

Hard Reboot – by Django Wexler

Every Sky a Song – by Jay Posey

Prompts

My Favorite Scifi Novels of the Last 10 Years

Beautiful World of Books

Revelation Space (Alastair Reynolds)

The Wayfarers (Becky Chambers)

Four Science Fiction Trilogies (Kristyn Merbeth, D. Nolan Clark, Jay Posey, Mike Brooks)

Misses

As always, not everything goes as planned. I had some other posts, reviews and reads that I scrapped for a number of dumb reasons (such as I didn’t get around to writing them, reading them, or so forth). Let’s take a look at a few of those (obviously, these aren’t linked as there’s nothing to link to) here:

• Shards of Earth – by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Didn’t have time to read this. Still on the schedule for Ketchup Month, though!

• Project Hail Mary – by Andy Weir

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, sometimes the review just isn’t forthcoming in the writing.

• Salvation – by Peter F. Hamilton

While I’ve heard good things about the rest of the trilogy, the intro piece to the Saints of Salvation is just a collection of vaguely related tales and history set to introduce the cast of the series. I started it earlier this year, and it’s just turned into a slog.

• Beautiful World of Murderbot

Pretty sure you can guess the idea here. It’ll probably happen at some point, but not now!

• The Beauty of the Planet Donovan

Again, a BWoB centered around W. Michael Gear’s series of Donovan. I’d expect this down the line as well.

In Case You may have Missed…

The Bibliosanctum

Books, Bones & Buffy

Space and Sorcery

Realms of My Mind

Reißwolf

The Captain’s Quarters

A Dance With Books

Re-Enchantment of the World

I apologize if I missed you but I had to stop and like, go do things (mostly eat) and really I could just go on for ever and ever with this list. There are so many good blogs out there, go check them out!

And that’s it!! Hopefully I’ll see you next year for more Scifi Month! Otherwise, maybe I’ll see you back tomorrow for the intro to Ketchup Month! Bye!!!

Memoria – by Kristyn Merbeth (Review)

Nova Vita Protocol #2

Scifi, Space Opera

Orbit; December 8, 2020

419 pages (paperback)

GoodreadsAuthor Website

4.3 / 5 ✪

While I usually try to avoid language in my reviews, look out for that here. But if excessive language is a deal-breaker for you, you probably shouldn’t read Memoria anyway;)

Please beware spoilers for the previous Nova Vita Protocol novel, Fortuna. If you haven’t read it, maybe browse my review of it HERE before starting your adventure!

After the Kaiser family helped avoid a catastrophic multi-world war that their mother helped orchestrate in the first place, they crash land on Nibiru where they are welcomed as heroes, and granted asylum. With no ship, and no way off-world, the Kaisers decide to stay, at least for a little while. Nibiru—a water planet composed of a few small archipelagos—represents an opportunity, though no two siblings seem to agree on just what that opportunity is.

Scorpia will do anything to fly again. A former criminal that just can’t bring herself to go straight, she longs for space even more than for Shey, the long-haired political exile she fell for years prior. But while neither of these seems that likely at first, it seems both may be in the cards, should she play them right.

Corvus cares little for his sister’s plans. Working as a fisherman, he attempts to leave his violent past behind all the while haunted by the nightmares from his time on Titan. The quiet, lonely days on the ocean help drown out the voices, but he remains skeptical that they will ever really fade.

When fate conspires to fling them back into space—on a mission from the Nibiru Council to explore some anomalies on the recently evacuated Gaia—the family’s opinions are divided. But when they stumble upon the truth of the destruction of Titan and Gaia, one question eclipses all others. Do they trust Nibiru’s Council with this information, or is it just something that they take to their graves?

The entire system of Nova Vita hinges on their decision.

The dueling 1st person POVs from Fortuna return in Book #2, with alternating chapters from Scorpia and Corvus. While it’s something that worked after a fashion in Book #1, Kristyn Merbeth admitted that it was something she did on the advice of her editor after the story was completed. Here in Memoria it fits together and flows much better, though if it’s the kinda thing that bothers you you still might notice some issues with it. But while I had issues differentiating the two POVs in the first installment, the siblings’ personalities and approaches are so much different in this sequel that it’s hard to confuse them; Scorpia remains hot-headed and impulsive, while Corvus is much more thoughtful and stoic.

The love-triangle isn’t very believable, particularly after the way things pan out in the first book, you can start to see something similar coming in the second. Still, it creates a believable tension that actually affects the plot in interesting ways, even after the romance is resolved.

I say “romance”, but Memoria isn’t anything approaching a romantic book. Yeah, there is some romance in it, even hints at something more in future installments, but it always plays second fiddle to the story itself. Speaking of the relationships between characters, it’s very interesting how they play out and alter the way the story wends. The love-triangle—again, if you’d call it that—has very obvious connotations for the later stages of the book, even the future of the series itself. But it’s more the subtle, non-romantic relationships that dominate the text. The familial bond between the Kaisers is one of the selling points in Fortuna, and continues throughout its sequel, with very realistic bonds being tested, explored, and strained. The Kaisers are far from the perfect family; they fight a lot—often physically, sometimes violently—but always move past it when one of their own is threatened. They have drastically different notions of what is best for the family, something that they usually don’t discuss but often work towards independently, often in direct opposition to their siblings desires. It was very interesting to see how each member is still dealing with their mother’s betrayal, and how it affects their interfamilial relationships here in Memoria.

While I was admittedly on the fence about the plot of Memoria, I have to admit it works quite well, despite a few stumbles approaching the end. There are some obvious holes in the plot—mostly after the 3/4 mark—story devices that were a bit glaring to my eye, but none of them are particularly relevant in the end. But while it took me a little to get into the story, I got quite invested before the halfway mark, to the point that these devices (an alarm that should’ve been triggered much earlier coming late and at a very opportune time, reasoning that really didn’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny) really didn’t bother me too much. At the end of it all, I was enjoying the tale too much to care.

“These political fuckers are up to some political fuckery.”

There’s definitely some “political fuckery” in Memoria. I don’t really remember this coming up at all in Fortuna. While the Book #1’s style was a lot more in-your-face, Memoria seems to have gone for a more subtle approach; more politicking, dropped hints and clues that I caught only when reading them for the second time. It’s an interesting transition that actually works quite well since the overall content doesn’t change that much, just how it’s relayed does. There’s still a heavy does of action, tension and a thorough focus on character interaction, especially the familial bonds.

TL;DR

An overall improvement on its predecessor, Memoria is a very different adventure from the science fiction thriller that came before, instead focusing on character interactions, familial relationships, and political fuckery. While there’s still more than enough action and excitement and thrill to go around, it sets a much more subtle, tense tone than Fortuna. Possessed of a much slower build than the original, Memoria took some getting used to, took me longer to buy in to the story. But once I did, wow was it good! The plot and setting and interactions sucked me in so much that not even the few missteps towards the end could slow it. I’d definitely recommend this one, and look forward to the conclusion of the Nova Vita Protocol—Discordia—coming next week, December 7th, 2021!

Note: I picked up Memoria used in paperback after failing to find it at my local library. Paid $7 (including shipping) and save $3 on the ebook edition, plus whatever credit I’ll get following it’s return to the used book exchange (unless I just donate it to the library—or keep it myself).

Music Monday – The Sounds of Scifi

If you didn’t know, “Tokyo Rose” was what the Allied forces in the South Pacific called the Japanese propaganda machine abroad—an organization comprised of several English-speaking women scattered throughout the Japanese Empire at the height of World War II. Their job was to demoralize the Allies through reporting military losses, costly engagements, and other difficulties (I composed this from multiple sources including my own brain, but then learnt that it was all just on Wikipedia. So, if you’re interested in learning more, maybe just try there.

Anyway, Music Monday is a meme created by Drew the Tattooed Book Geek in order to share music that you enjoy (“eargasm” is a term I stole from Holly the Grimdragon—you should totally follow them both).

Today’s artists—in honor of Scifi Month—just happen to start with TOKYO ROSE, an American musician often partnered with ALEX to pioneer the genre darkwave (which is just synthwave that sounds… darker, I guess?). When I think of science fiction—especially a cyberpunk or AI dystopian kinda future—Synthwave, EDM and various forms of Electronica are the sounds that come to mind. Part of the Fixt label, they’re often compared to Scandroid (Celldweller), whom you’re probably heard of. This song, Out of Luck, features TOKYO ROSE, PYLOT, and Essenger (who I’ve featured in this segment before).

Zombie Hyperdrive (other than being a killer name) is a electronic musician from Halle, Germany. I’ve literally not heard of them before this month, but the stuff is pretty good. Black Wolf is like a cross between synthicized horror movie soundtracks and so-called darkwave beats. And while this isn’t my favorite song they have—it’s quite the thing, even if it’s not yours. If you’re interested, the first album, The Cobalt Ship, is free on bandcamp.

I’ve already featured Daniel Deluxe for his work on the Ghostrunner soundtrack, so I figured I’d add a wildcard. Joss Nemesys is a synthwave project out of Spain. Don’t know much about him, other than I think it’s a guy, and he’s/they’re Spanish. Oh, and I like his/their track VR.

Last but not least we come to the track that’s been sneaking into all my playlists this year. Think I mentioned it earlier in a monthly recap, but I got his album Solid State for a couple bucks earlier this year. I know it’s not synthwave, but is classed as Electronic Metal instead. I’m not really sure about the distinctions here, but I do love this song, so I guess it’s all a bit moot. Oh, and I think I featured him in a Beautiful World of Books thing to better demonstrate recycled covers.

Inhibitor Phase – by Alastair Reynolds (Review)

Revelation Space Universe
Inhibitor Sequence #4

Scifi, Space Opera

Orbit; October 12, 2021 (US)
Gollancz; August 26, 2021 (UK)

454 pages (paperback)

GoodreadsAuthor Website

4 / 5 ✪

I was kindly furnished an advance copy in return for a fair and honest review. Many thanks to Gollancz and many, many thanks to Orbit Books for providing me with a lovely, physical ARC! This in no way affects my partiality, or my cynicism. All opinions are my own.

Please Beware Minor Spoilers for the Revelation Space Universe.

224 years after the reappearance of the Inhibitors, humanity has become an endangered species, hiding in the galaxy’s darkest corners. Miguel de Ruyter lives on the airless world of Michaelmas—a godforsaken, pockmarked world at the edge of known space. Here, hidden in caves deep below the surface, humanity ekes out an existence. Three thousand people call Sun Hollow home, making it the largest known human settlement in space. Though for de Ruyter, it’s the only known human settlement.

But things are about to change.

When de Ruyter heads topside to destroy a colony ship—worried that the Wolves (the Inhibitors) will detect the presence of so many humans, the people of Sun Holloware prepared to destroy the newcomers before the they bring the Wolves down on Michaelmas—he comes away from the ship with a startling discovery. A lone sleeper casket, fortunate to survive the explosion. More fortunate still, the occupant, a woman known only as Glass, seems in good health if rattled by the experience. But when de Ruyter returns her to Sun Hollow all that changes.

It appears that Glass was not the desperate refugee that de Ruyter had taken her for. Within days of landing on Michaelmas, she has the colony on its knees, defenseless before her. They can refuse her nothing, but Glass only wants one thing from Sun Hollow: Miguel de Ruyter.

One man in exchange for the colony. And if de Ruyter agrees to go quietly, they’ll undertake the mystery that Glass came to Michaelmas to solve. The enigma of the Knights of Cydonia, a way to defeat the Inhibitors, a lost world known only as Charybdis, and the long-dead Nevil Clavain.

“Why’d you shoot it?”
I glared at him. “Would you rather I
hadn’t shot it?”
“I’d rather those other ones weren’t suddenly taking an interest in us.”

On the whole, Inhibitor Phase was an excellent read, just what I was hoping for for my return to the Revelation Space universe. I’ve only read the opening novel, Revelation Space, which only just hints at the wolves’ existence—but I still found this a satisfying continuation of the universe. Additionally, I think that new readers won’t have to hard of time of things. Inhibitor Phase doesn’t throw you in the deep end; instead building the universe from the ground up from the safety of an isolated haven before introducing the universe and history at large. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll probably know all these things already, but shouldn’t be too put off by the amount of hand-holding it does in the opening Part One.

Inhibitor Phase is written in first-person POV, and told over seven distinct Parts, which take place over a total of about 60 years. There’s a helpful glossary and timeline at the end, as well as a list of key characters and note on chronology. I used these all the time to square what I remembered with what I was being told—and it’s an incredibly helpful detail to have along. The events within are set after most of what happens in Absolution Gap (which I’ve heard is depressing), and while the tone isn’t completely positive, it’s certainly more so than not at all.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Inhibitor Phase! The story flows along really nicely after it departs Sun Hollow, and I had absolutely no problem getting along with the story. It reads quick and to the point, with a bit of flair, a bit of drama, and a bit of pace. In all honesty, I think it could get away with being 50% longer. I actually kinda felt that it glossed over some things in the interest of time; things that could’ve really become an adventure all in their own right instead of a footnote in another. But I know why it was done this way, and it’s really quite a good read the way it was written. But the best stories always leave you wanting more, and that’s what Reynolds does here. The plot flows quite nicely, with barely an issue—until the events of Part 6 (which will remain nameless in anticipation of spoilers). Then it takes some interesting license. And the story loses some of its cohesion. And don’t get me started on the ending. So… I know what they were trying to do. It all makes sense, in general, generally, on the whole. But explicitly… I have no idea what was going on. Everything just starts leaping all over the place.

While Inhibitor Phase is somewhat of a serious book—I mean, it has to do with the possible extinction or survival of humanity—it’s not without its fair share of humor. Which I found… good, I guess? Funny. Entertaining. Reynolds doesn’t do humor like Andy Weir. Or like Peter F. Hamilton. Or like Becky Chambers. Like so many other authors out there, he has his own peculiar brand of humor which you’ll either like or hate, either have to get used to or won’t.

“It isn’t as bad as it sounds.”
“You’re not stupid, and I’m reasonably sure you’re not suicidal. Explain how this helps us.”
“Good—at least you’re being open-minded. The fact is, we’re only considering a brief dip into the photosphere of the star: barely different to skimming the atmosphere of a planet.”
“Except it’s a star.”
“Don’t get too hung up on that. The photosphere is merely a transitional zone where the mean free paths for photon collisions undergo a large change. From
Scythe’s point of view, it will be no different to moving from plasma environment to a somewhat denser, more excited environment containing the same plasma.”
“Except it’s a
star,” I repeated.

TL;DR

Inhibitor Phase continues the Revelation Space Universe and Inhibitor Sequence Arcs in a very different way than the previous de facto concluding Absolution Gap (which, to be fair, I haven’t read but I’ve heard many things about—mostly that it’s depressing). Inhibitor Phase is a serious book, but there’s humor in it too. In fact, if the survival of humanity wasn’t at stake, I’d class it as a story about adventure, or a mystery to to solved. And solve it it does—to a quite satisfying degree over the course of its 7 separate Parts, 34 chapters and 450-odd pages. While a little artistic and scientific license is taken at the end, on the whole this is an immensely entertaining, satisfying read that I have no issue recommending to both old-timers and those new to Revelation Space. And I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here!

My Favorite SCIFI Novels of the Last Decade

2011

Leviathan Wakes – by James S.A. Corey

The Icarus Effect – by James Swallow

The Martian – by Andy Weir

2012

Pines – by Blake Crouch

The Slab – by Karen Traviss

2013

Steelheart – by Brandon Sanderson

Three – by Jay Posey

2014

Red Rising – by Pierce Brown

Cibola Burn – by James S.A. Corey

2015

The Fold – by Peter Clines

Children of Time – by Adrian Tchaikovsky

2016

Morning Star – by Pierce Brown

Hell Divers – by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

2017

Six Wakes – by Mur Lafferty

Company Town – by Madeline Ashby

2018

Record of a Spaceborn Few – by Becky Chambers

Exit Strategy – by Martha Wells

2019

Summer Frost – by Blake Crouch

Fortuna – by Kristyn Merbeth

2020

The God Game – by Danny Tobey

Automatic Reload – by Ferrett Steinmetz

2021 (thus far)

Doors of Sleep – by Tim Pratt

Project Hail Mary – by Andy Weir

While I’ve tried to avoid repetition from the same series, there were a few years where I didn’t have much choice. Turns out, there were a number of years where I binged little but fantasy. I’m not going to go in-depth on anything here, but I did want to explain 2011. At first, I tried for one book a year, but that was way too restrictive. There were too many years with too many great books I would’ve left out. Next I tried two a year but there were a couple of problems to that as well—specifically 2011, 2016, and 2020. But three was too many. Some years (like 2012-2014) I struggled even to get two. So I settled on two, with the exception of 2011, where I couldn’t avoid including three.

Some of my highlights from this list include:

  1. The Expanse – I’ve only read up to Book 6 but still the series is awesome and needs mentioning.
  2. Andy Weir – even though he had a ten year gap between killer reads (as Artemis fell flat).
  3. Pierce Brown – try as I may, I couldn’t avoid listing two from the Son of Mars trilogy.
  4. Authors Becky Chambers, Martha Wells, Adrian Tchaikovsky who somehow I managed to limit to one year each despite their amazing series.

In all—four authors (Andy Weir, Blake Crouch, James S.A. Corey, & Pierce Brown were featured twice. Brandon Sanderson, Becky Chambers, Nicholas Sansbury Smith, and Martha Wells each made the shortlist multiple times, but only ended up with the one book. There are four authors (Kristyn Merbeth, Danny Tobey, Madeline Ashby and Mur Lafferty) featured despite this being their only book I’ve yet read. And then two books—The Icarus Effect (Deus Ex) and The Slab (Gears of War)—that were based on video game franchises. While I’ve read all of these, I’ve only reviewed 8 of these:

  1. The Fold – by Peter Clines
  2. Hell Divers – by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
  3. Six Wakes – by Mur Lafferty
  4. Summer Frost – by Blake Crouch
  5. Fortuna – by Kristyn Merbeth
  6. The God Game – by Danny Tobey
  7. Automatic Reload – by Ferrett Steinmetz
  8. Doors of Sleep – by Tim Pratt

…Which I’ve decided to link up because why not.

Don’t know if anyone else is doing a list of their best from the last ten years, but I’d love to see your own picks! Any that I seriously missed on, or forgot to include? Do let me know;)

Remote Control – by Nnedi Okorafor (Review)

Standalone

Scifi, Novella

Tor.com; January 19, 2021

156 pages (ebook)

GoodreadsAuthor Website

4.4 / 5 ✪

For the first five years of her life, Fatima was a sickly, if normal child. Then came the day all that changed.

Sitting in the branches of her family’s shea tree, she watched the sky fall. A meteor shower, one that lit the sky up with a greenish glow. One of these meteors—a “seed”, about the size of a small bird’s egg—happened to fall directly before her tree. When Fatima picked it up, the seed suffused her with it green glow. She put the seed in a wee box she kept in her room, and told it her secrets. And for a time, all was well.

A year later, a man came and took the seed, paying her father a healthy amount for it. Fatima was heartbroken at first, but her father bought her a dress and eventually the heartache faded—the way only can it, in youth.

That is, until the day Fatima forgot her name. The day Death came to call. For when she is struck by a car, the green glow rushes forth to protect her—killing everyone around. Everyone.

Alone and devastated, the young girl searches for answers. Answers only the seed can provide. But it’s gone—taken by the man with the gold shoes and the mysterious LifeGen corporation. And yet… she knows where it is. She can feel it at the edges of her vision, the pulsing green glow, telling her where the seed is. So she sets out to find it, taking only scant possessions from her house—including a new name: taken from the carvings of Sankofa birds her brother once made.

And so Sankofa wanders Ghana in pursuit of the seed. And where she goes, Death comes with her. Thus her legend is born, and her tidings infamous.

“What is wrong with you?” she asked.

“As if you don’t know,” he said over his shoulder. “The Adopted Daughter of Death comes and asks what is trying to kill me. Oh the irony.”

Remote Control is a coming-of-age story, blending science fiction and mystery with the Guinean (West African) culture that permeates it. For example “Sankofa” is a word in Twi that means “to seek” or “to return and fetch”. The corresponding Sankofa bird isn’t a kind of bird at all but instead a symbolic representation of this, an ideal that has evolved over the years to convey the bringing of what is good from the past into the present in order to make some positive contribution. This is used in Remote Control in order to tell a story that focuses on family, feeling, and life.

An illustrated sankofa bird turned around, picking an egg off its back.

Instead of a straightforward A to B plot, the story wanders a bit, moseying around the Ghanian countryside as Sankofa searches not just for the seed, but for meaning as well. While at first I was a bit perplexed by the format, I soon came to love the way the story of Sankofa is told. I laughed, I teared up, and I experienced the full emotional journey I normal expect from a good full-length novel. For although Remote Control is short, it left me feeling anything but disappointed. It tells a complete, intriguing, heart-achingly beautiful story—one I’ll not soon forget.

The only issue I had was with LifeGen. The mysterious, shadow-corporation to is clearly the man behind the man. But what the corporation is, and what it represents? It’s… not really clear. Hell, I’m still not even sure what LifeGen represents. It’s mostly just confusing, and a mystery whose answer remains unfulfilled even after the story ends. I mean, it’s a bit maddening, as the lone frustratingly vague puzzle in an otherwise perfect story.

Oh, and I love the fox, Movenpick. A mostly silent companion for Sankofa, he provided enough reassurance when there was otherwise none, and added more to the story than I would’ve thought a mostly-absent red fox could.

TL;DR

Remote Control details the coming-of-age tale of a girl alone in the world, a girl who’s blessed under the shadow of Death. Her thoughtful, meandering journey around a near-future Ghana provides insights upon life, mysteries worth solving, and way more emotions than I would’ve expected out of a novella. I honestly loved this story, but for one annoying facet—one that continues to confound me with its inclusion. For it’s a tale that leaves a lasting impression; a good one, at least for me. While it took me a couple chapters to fall in love with Remote Control, fall for it I did—a bit surprising considering how blasé I felt Binti was. Thoroughly recommended, especially for Scifi Month or as a bridge between two lengthier, unrelated works.

Note: All that said, I wouldn’t be willing to pay $11 for it (as that’s the current ridiculous ebook price). I mean, it’s $13 for a hardcover that might look and feel and read quite nice, but that’s kinda steep for a novella of its length. Still… it’s a damn good read. Get Remote Control on sale, or from your public library—that’s what I did.

Blood of the Chosen – by Django Wexler (Review)

Burningblade & Silvereye #2

Fantasy, Scifi, Epic

Orbit Books; October 5, 2021

415 pages (paperback)

GoodreadsAuthor Website

4.8 / 5 ✪

I was kindly furnished an advance copy in return for a fair and honest review. Many, many thanks to Orbit Books for providing me with a lovely, physical ARC! This in no way affects my partiality, or my cynicism. All opinions are my own.

Please beware minor spoilers for Ashes of the Sun.

No need to reread or browse Ashes of the Sun just because you’re a bit foggy on the details! I mean, you certainly could—it’s still a damn good read—but should you not wish to, Blood of the Chosen comes with a series recap and character cast up front. Love these; even if you’re up on the series, I love them being there, so the author doesn’t have to spend the first few chapters intermittently setting the stage while recapping the previous.

Where Ashes of the Sun was my favorite book from last year, Blood of the Chosen is a letdown—it’s not quite as good. This is pretty much like finding a golden idol buried in your backyard and complaining that unlike the last one, this one isn’t quite as shiny. Blood of the Chosen is an amazing read in its own right! (Just not quite as good).

Fresh from the battle for control of Deepfire (and possibly the continent), Gyre returns to the ghouls a failure. Their leader dead; Kit mostly, pretty much dead; and the plans to overthrow the Order pretty much just as likely. But not only does he aim to spin this defeat off as a minor setback, Gyre thinks that he can even talk them into giving him a ton of ancient tech and weapons and money and turning him loose on the southlands to gain allies and blacken some Order eyes. He even may succeed in doing so, after a fashion. But even if he convince the ghouls, uniting the rebel factions in Khirkhaz won’t be so easy. And defeating the Order—less so.

Maya remains with the Order, although she’s a bit unsure of her position there. Meeting with Gyre seems to have caused some cracks, however slight. These are only widened after Maya is sent on a mission to the Forsaken Coast, north and west of Deepfire, to find an Order archive long lost. Lost after the region was overrun by plaguespawn. What she finds here may yet renew her faith in the Order—or shake it to the core. For while she might doubt some of their policies, Maya knows the Order holds the world’s best interests—as well as her own—at its forefront. Unless of course, they don’t.

Where Ashes of the Sun began this amazing journey of brother and sister, Blood of the Chosen continues it. Like Deepfire, Khirkhaz has its own share of ancient relics—both those with obvious meaning and others whose use has been lost to time. The backdrop (the setting) may be different, but is no less vibrant. A few familiar faces come along for the ride, too. In addition to Beq, Varo, and Tanax on Maya’s end, Sarah and Kit have joined Gyre as well. Along with these old characters come new ones—each carrying an interesting amount of mystery and depth as well. While the siblings remain center stage and the cast around them fluctuates, it’s still unclear as to just who may steal the show.

It didn’t take me any more time to get into this than its predecessor, but unlike Ashes of the Sun, there was a small but noticeable lag in the middle. A minor side mission, for each character. While Maya’s did actually pertain to the overarching plot, I can’t say for sure that Gyre’s did. Instead, this stands out as the one baffling choice amidst an otherwise tremendous sequel.

There are some heart-pounding moments in this entry, but some hilarious ones as well. I loved, I laughed, I… never cried, but I did have a lovely time regardless. The action, the romance, the… whatever Gyre and Kit have—all of it was interesting and immersive and exciting. There was a heavy dose of mystery in the air, and not all of it from Maya. While her turn through the archive did sort of steal the spotlight away from Gyre’s second revenge crusade, the two managed to share the focus more or less evenly otherwise. And with that ending…! (The ending was quite good) I can’t wait to see what they get up to in the third!

Supposedly this is just a trilogy, but I’d quite like to see a bit more of the world. While Gyre and Maya’s story might be about to come to fruition, I hope the world itself will have more stories to tell. Unless it up and ends in the third book. In which case, if it’s anything like the rest of this series, it’s sure to be an incredible, bloody, steamy, heartwarming ride! I can’t recommend Burningblade & Silvereye enough—anymore than I an wait until Book #3 is out: at the moment titled Emperor of Ruin, release date TBA.

4 Beautiful Scifi Trilogies – The Beautiful World of Books

This week, in honor of Scifi Month 2021, I present you covers from not one but FOUR Scifi trilogies, each of them visually stunning both inside and out. Well, probably. I’ve finished three of these, but not yet made it through Kristyn Merbeth’s Nova Vita Protocol. So let’s start there.

Nova Vita Protocol – by Kristyn Merbeth

Fortuna • Memoria • Discordia

I absolutely ADORE these covers! Though I am a little disappointed that they have a waxy feel to them, instead of the sleek, glossy texture that I would’ve thought. I think this would have been the better option—a smooth cover, possibly with some foil, to highlight the vibrant neon colors. Orbit did these up, courtesy of designer Lisa Marie Pompilio, and an illustration that claims it was from a bulk site. If anyone knows who arted this, let me know, please!

The Silence – by D. Nolan Clark

Forsaken Skies • Forgotten Worlds • Forbidden Suns

At first a well rendered galaxy with seemingly an infinite amount of space, the beauty that is the Silence soon devolves into a dark crusade that spans both time and space. The covers of this series are equally beautiful, even more so when you get into the books themselves. When everything around you screams of haunting loneliness on a truly vast scale, maybe you’ll understand what the author was going for. I mean, while they are quite nice, they have relatively little to do with the actual books. Another Orbit Books trilogy; this combines the designs of Lauren Panepinto and the illustration of Victor Mosquera.

Legends of the Duskwalker – by Jay Posey

Three • Morningside Fall • Dawnbreaker

While the Legends of the Duskwalker didn’t exactly start everything for Jay Posey, this is the trilogy which conveyed the screenwriter from writing narratives for such video game series as Rainbow Six to his own published words. This is certainly not the first nor last you’ll hear of it from me, as his science fiction thriller Three remains one of my favorite leads—not to mention series starters—of all time. Additionally, this was the first series that introduced me to Angry Robot, who published these. Steven Meyer-Rassow provides the cover art for these, in a style that I absolutely love (though it seems he’s recently taken his craft in another direction, you should still check out his work).

Keiko – by Mike Brooks

Dark Run • Dark Sky • Dark Deeds

Before Mike Brooks made the jump to epic fantasy and the Black Library, the Keiko was the series that put him on the map (well, I guess that and maybe punk). A trilogy that doesn’t read like a trilogy, act like a trilogy, or end like a trilogy—the Keiko introduces us to a ragtag crew that toe the line between family and associates. Brought to life by the scifi artist John Harris and published by Saga Press, this may be the final trilogy I included in this week’s Beautiful World of Books post, but it won’t be the last science fiction you’ll see for the month!

Have you read any of these? Which covers are your favorites? Anything else that strikes your eye? Let me know!