March 26, 2007

Trickster's Choice

By Tamora Pierce
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Aly is the daughter of the famed Lioness of Tortall, Alanna, and of spymaster George Cooper. At age 16, Aly finds herself bored and looking for a direction in life. She would like to become a spy, but both her mother and father react violently in the negative to that suggestion. But when Aly's sailboat is attacked by pirates and she is taken to be sold as a slave, she uses all the spy training her father ever gave her to figure out how to free herself. After being thrown in with some other slaves to serve a duke's family, Aly's plans for freedom are halted when she is visited by the god of the Copper Isles--Kyprioth, the Trickster. He makes her a wager--keep the elder, half-raka daughters of the duke alive through the summer, and he'll send her home. She'll even get help in the form of his favorite birds, the crows. After she agrees to the challenge, Aly finds herself in the middle of a brewing revolution that needs a girl with exactly her skills for planning and spying. The native raka are ready to overthrow the invader luarin people after generations of servitude, and the duke's daughters by his first wife, Sarai and Dove, are the heirs apparent. But even with the family in exile to avoid the king's madness, the girls are in grave danger that is going to take all of Aly's wits to avoid. Filled with political intrigue, plenty of spying techniques, action, and a touch of romance, this well-plotted tale will keep readers riveted to the pages and ready to pick up the sequel, Trickster's Queen. You may also enjoy other stories by Tamora Pierce set in the same world, like her Alanna series about Aly's mother and her Protector of the Small series about Lady Knight Keladry.

March 12, 2007

Soul Eater

By Michelle Paver
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is the 3rd book of a projected 6 titles in the excellent Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series (you can read reviews of Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker in the October 2006 archives). It is winter, and Torak and Renn are out hunting with Wolf when Wolf scents "strange prey" and runs off after it. When Wolf doesn't return, Torak knows that he has been captured and being taken into the Far North, well beyond the Forest that they know and are comfortable with. Torak and Renn immediately pursue the wolf-nappers, and only survive the frozen tundra when someone from the White Fox clan takes them in. Soon they discover that the trail they are following is left by none other than the evil Soul Eaters, and they are gathering other "hunter" animals to sacrifice to release a great evil upon the world. Torak will have to infiltrate the very group he is bound to some day destroy if he wants to save Wolf. Can he do it and come out alive? Like the previous books, this one is hard to put down as it is filled with adventure, woodcraft, and ancient magic. More information about the Soul Eaters just whets our appetites for the final battle to come! Another outstanding entry in this compelling series. The 4th book, Outcast, is due out in 2008.

March 07, 2007

The Stone Light

By Kai Meyer
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is book 2 in the Dark Reflections Trilogy, which began with The Water Mirror. This book takes up where the conclusion of the first one left us. Merle has escaped Venice, which is besieged by the Egyptians, on Vermithrax, the flying stone lion. Merle has the goddess of the lagoons, the Flowing Queen, inside of her, and the trio are heading to find a way down into Hell to ask Lord Light to aid Venice. Meanwhile, Serafin, once of the Thieves Guild, is recruited by his old enemy Dario to help in an assassination attempt on the Pharaoh. The operation is the brain-child of Lalapeya, one of the very magical, almost ageless sphinx, who has been living in Venice before it even existed as a city. Both Merle and Serafin will find nonstop adventure in their quests. Merle will uncover the truth about Lord Light and Hell and meet up again with her friend Junipa of the mirror eyes. Serafin will discover the true purpose of Lalapeya and experience the despair of betrayal. Readers will be drawn pellmell to the conclusion, where both Merle and Serafin find themselves stranded in different ways and places. Readers will be anxious to read the last installment, The Glass Word, due out in the fall of 2007. A unique and intriguing fantasy.