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The Dark Glory War: The DragonCrown Cycle
The Dark Glory War: The DragonCrown Cycle
by Michael A. Stackpole
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Prequel, Oct. 22 2001
Though I am a fan of Mister Stackpole, I must admit this novel threw me. I was expecting an entertain read, but this dark epic blew away my expectations with a riviting narrative that took me into the heart of a fresh and dangerous fantasy world. It follows the adventures of Tarrant Hawkins, a young warrior who soon sees more action than those twice his age. He plays a pivotal role that first is observer, hero, and final, witness to the final tragedy that ends this novel. Though some points are hammered home, vivid characters and good sense of the horrors of warfare interact with a world that deserves more exploration. When the next book of the DragonCrown saga hits NZ bookshelves, I certainly while be grabbing it. Of note, I will mention a certain apprenhension about the ending, which unfortunately feels artifical and does not fit the characters involved (the villianess of the piece gives reasons, but they too are artifical and unconvincing.) I am not complaining about the darkness, as the downbeat fit perfectly to the tone of the story, but a little more foreshadowing would have helped (especially involving Seethe.) Otherwise, Stackpole has proven himself a fantasy author to watch out for.

Cloak of Deception: Star Wars
Cloak of Deception: Star Wars
by James Luceno
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.30

5.0 out of 5 stars All roads lead to Palpatine...., Oct. 5 2001
After the release of Kathy Tyer's Balance Point, I have found each subsequent Star Wars novel to be disappointing. To be fair, the NJO books are more a case of central plot that bad writing, but I am also inspired by The Phantom Menace, and want to immerse myself in the old Republic and the ways of the Jedi. Though Darth Maul's ill conceived novel was utter trash, James Luceno has come through with a ripping good yarn that delves into the most complicated parts of Episode I - the politics, and how Palpatine manipulates them.
In Cloak, which has to be the ultimate Star Wars politically thriller, Luceno weaves several nefarious plots that threaten to collide, as well as sets up much of the plot to Episode I. In it, Chancellor Valorum tries to deal both to the greedy Trade Federation and the violent Nebula Front, a terrorised organization, which soon leads to an attempted assassination and the mobilization of the Jedi Council. At the same time, Palpatine subtly manoeuvrers all around him towards a secret and singular goal.
This book is chock full of intrigue and characters, with enough action thrown in to keep us Jedi fans amused without resorting to Bad Plot Devices like Numerous Dark Jedi and silly SuperTech that Star Wars avoids so well. Also, many characters from other books show up in amusing cameos. But the best thing is how Palpatine stars in this book without taking center stage. Much like the character indeed (I especially love the way both he AND Sideous are dealing with the Front!) After his exciting entrance into the SW universe with Hero's Trial, Luceno proves himself here to be one of the best SW authors around, rising up into the ranks that contain a select few, including the unbeatable Zahn, Stackpole and Perry. Hopefully, this will not be Luceno's last stand in the SW galaxy, and that goes double for the world of the old Republic.

Coldheart Canyon
Coldheart Canyon
by Clive Barker
Edition: Hardcover
40 used & new from CDN$ 3.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Raising Hell In Hollywood, Oct. 5 2001
This review is from: Coldheart Canyon (Hardcover)
In this horror-satire, Clive has crafted a witty ghost story that shares a love-hate relationship with Hollywood. It concerns what happens when superstar Todd Pickett is disfigured during a botched plastic surgery, and is moved into a seeming deserted mansion to recover. There, he is seduced by the mansions sexy (and immortal) owner, and introduced to the ancient horrors that live in the basement.
Out to save him, obsessed fan Tammy Lauper (a character all us fans can identify with to some degree,) who in turn discovers that the ghosts of old Hollywood haunt the mansion's grounds, and that she must go the extra distance to save the man she idolizes so much. A man who may not want saving.
Irreverent, amusing and epic, this is both classic Clive Barker and an interesting departure from his norm. It is great to see such a lovingly rendered heroine in Tammy (who gets to do many things she only dreamed of,) and even the vain Todd is likable (especially when dealing with his disgust at his own shallowness.) I especially loved the openning passages, which rang with the same portents as his much earlier Hellbound Heart.
My only grip is the second climax, which while it entertaining, seems a little tacked on. But then again, it may just be Clive's little dig at all those tacked on Hollywood endings. Don't you just Love them.

Rebirth: Star Wars (The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory, Book II)
Rebirth: Star Wars (The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory, Book II)
by Greg Keyes
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.92
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Good Author, Poor Try, Oct. 2 2001
Greg Keyes is a good author, even when doing tie-in stuff like this. But there were points in this book, points that were almost unreadable, where I had to ponder, "Was he even trying?" To be fair, I will say the main problem with this novel is the same that plagues all the New Jedi Order series, the Yuzzahn Vong are a boring, one-dimensional foe in an ongoing plot that really bites. This is usually redeemed by good characterization and interesting side stories. None of that is here. Following up from his boring Conquest, Keyes hits us with multiple plots: Luke and Mara prepare for their firstborn; Han, Leia and Jacen raid Vong-friendly ships, Anakin and his annoying girlfriend try to get Corran Horn killed by doing many stupid things; and Jania is duped by the trecherous dark jedi Kyp Durron (who does this with clumsy sexual advances!)Out of all these, the Han and Jacen plot works best, especially with dealling with Jacen's plight over the nature of their raids (the scene in the bar later is hilarious, and closest to classic Keyes.) The least compelling is the plot I failed to mention, because it should be in this novel, and only serves as setup for more idiotic ploting. In the end, save yourself some time and skip this novel and go for Troy Dennings Star By Star - hopefully it will be much better. Still, at least it was better than the appalling Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter.

Death of a Blue Movie Star
Death of a Blue Movie Star
by Jeffery Deaver
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.99
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Rune returns, April 23 2001
With this, the second novel to feature the bizarre Rune, Deaver once again tempers his hard-edge tale with Rune's usual wierdness and inexperience in the world of crime fighting.
This time, Rune becomes obsessed with a porn star whose murder she witnessed. Armed with a camera and her quirky attitude, Rune dives into the porn industry and ferrets out clues and suspects ... and once again puts her life in mortal danger.
Once again Deaver delivers a compulsively readable novel, but the twists in this one are more guessible than usual, especially the final (whichs shows Rune is kinder to certain people than they deserve) and next to no mention is made of the murders she experienced in the first book. Still, pretty good.

Manhattan Is My Beat
Manhattan Is My Beat
by Jeffery Deaver
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.82
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An odd & enjoyable novel, April 23 2001
The great thing about this book, an early entry from twistmaster Deaver, is its heroine. Rune is not the usual highly educated, all knowing experts that Deaver has made his name with, but instead a punkish, homeless girl who lives in her own fantasy version of Manhattan.
She is the last person who should investigate a murder, but that is exactly what she does when an old man she has befriended is brutally murdered in what appears to be a professional hit. Armed with only her spunk and knowledge gleamed from her favourite Nior films, Rune sets out to bring the killers to justice, only to learn that in the real world, there are no ture happy endings.
Highly entertaining tale is probably a little too whimsical for many hard-core thriller readers (fans of Deaver's clinical, cynical heroes will be shocked,) but the novel has atmosphere to burn, and the mystery keeps you hooked to the last page.
An offbeat treat.

Star Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
Star Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
by Michael Reaves
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Darkside Has Corrupted This One..., April 5 2001
I tried to keep an open mind when LucasBooks released Shadow Hunter, starring whirlwind of death Darth Maul. I had just read Dark Horse Comic's awful Maul miniseries and I thought the character was best left to what he did in the movies. Unfortunately, this novel is not much better than the comics. And worse, it requires you to lower your I.Q. just to finish it.
Not that it is completely hopeless. The two heroes are quite compelling, but you know they are going to die, so why root for them? Some of the situations are energetic, and at least the cover is nice.
But unfortunately, Maul himself is the biggest problem. He is a fighting machine, nothing more, a henchman and a lackey. He did not deserve a novel to himself, and no amount of double-bladed saber action will change that. Having Maul use is saber is a bad idea, anyway. Wouldn't the Jedi Council discover the Sith if one of their numbers is slashing people up left right and center? Let alone all evidence points to the first Jedi Maul encountered being Qui-Gon Jinn.
The other problem is Sideous, the cleaver Senator Palpatine. Or rather, the not so cleaver Palpatine in this story, as his plans lack the brilliant edge they did in Episode I, and the only reason they work is because everyone else in this novel is portayed as complete idiots (especially the one-note trade federation.)
The Old Republic, the Jedi, and the readers deserve better than this.

Thunderhead
Thunderhead
by Douglas Preston
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
96 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Indiana Jane and the Aztecs of Doom!, Dec 28 2000
God, these guys are great. From their debut with the splatter filled Relic to the high adventure Riptide, they have taken B-grade story, infused them with character and scienetific knowhow, and transformed pulp fiction into A-grade thrillers. And Thunderhead is no execption.
After discovering her father's lost journal, young explorer Nora Kelly goes looking for the fabled City of Gold. Tagging along for the ride and possible scoop, Bill Smithback, intrepid reporter from Relic! But upon reaching their destination, Nora discovers that curses can be quite real, as mysterious accidents plague the crew, and more danger comes from the daughter of her boss, who wishes credit for the find, and will even stupe to murder to get what she wants...
Thrilling read has everything Child and Preston's regular readers would expect, and has the added bonus of Smithback cast as the loveinterest! A great read.

Certain Prey
Certain Prey
by John Sandford
Edition: Hardcover
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Number One With A Bullet, Dec 28 2000
This review is from: Certain Prey (Hardcover)
What is it about Lucas Davenport that has made him so enduring? Sure, he's a womanizing, sometimes violent, sharp-shooting top cop, but he's just so damn good at it. He's larger than life, and that's what makes him so statisfying. And in this, the tenth novel in a series that refuses to run out of steam, he's as good as ever.
When an insane defense attorney and her gullible hitwoman sidekick go on a killing spree, they soon come to the attention of Davenport, who quite honestly wished it was someone elses problem. You see, despite knowing whodunnit, Lucas just doesn't have the evidence to arrest them, and he needs a plan to bring them down. But with someone in the department tipping the killers off at every turn, he has his work cut out for him.
Like the previous couple of Prey books, this cracking good novel once again focuses more on the villians that Lucas, but both are interesting in their own way, especially hitwoman Clara Rinker, who makes up for her dimness by being totally thorough, and author Sandford really does a number with the killer's perverse relationship. The only quibble - the anticlimatic final shootout at Davenport's place. Why bother? Otherwise, a top thriller by an author who refuses to let the series slip.

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Balance Point
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Balance Point
by Kathy Tyers
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from CDN$ 1.25

4.0 out of 5 stars The right balance, Dec 27 2000
First off, the best thing about this book is the return of Kathy Tyers, who wrote the mostly overlooked Truce At Bakura, one of the few storys in the original Bantam arc to do something interesting with the relationship between the Rebels and the Empire. Here, she returns with a strong, character-driven storyline that finally puts Jacen Solo on track and dares to add depth to the annoyingly shallow Jania. The twins had lacked true grit for the most part, with Jania being nothing more than another fighter jock and JAcen being a right royal moaner. But now, Jania has gotten over her brattiness, and Jacen is finally taken the giant step towards manhood he desperately need.
Tyers layers all this in a story in which our heroes must deal with the very real problems of refugees and the advancing Vong forces. And this is the only lapse in the novel. The Vong, for all their saber rattling, are not a convincing foe. So far they have won every battle the same way - by lack of resistance. With half the galaxy gone, one would think the New Republic would begin to fight back. And with the same small band of heroes fighting back each time, the series is becoming a little repeative.
But despite this, Balance Point is perhaps the best book to date in the New Jedi Order series. Tyers is an innovative Star Wars writer, and should be asked to contribute again.
A Post Script: On the subject of Danni Quee, I am glad she has been absent from the past three books. I felt her character was good in Vector Prime, but her training to become a Jedi in Dark Tide irked me. She is a valuable resource intelligence wise, but don't we have enough Jedi?
Until next time...

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