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Kathleen Baker

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Chindi A Novel
Chindi A Novel
by Jack Mcdevitt
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from CDN$ 1.00

2.0 out of 5 stars A bad sci-fi story with aspirations of greatness..., Oct. 29 2002
This review is from: Chindi A Novel (Hardcover)
I really should have quit while I was ahead with Jack McDevitt's more recent novels, but I couldn't resist the Native American mythos behind the novel's title, "Chindi." I should've resisted. It starts out promising enough, with a good premise and an even better plot. But then the main characters actually get out in space, and things go awry.
It seems that McDevitt can't handle as many characters as is required for a space ship's crew, as he kills them off seemingly at random at the most inopportune moments. I spent half the novel wondering if my next-favorite character was going to be the next one to bite the dust, and wondering if the author drew names for the "next victim" out of a hat. I realize that perhaps the author is saying, "Look, this is life, people die"...yes, they do, but not in random, obviously stretched-out for a reason encounters.
Furthermore, towards the end of the novel, the author lost the plot. Don't ask me where; but he lost it. First they were out investigating satellites and following the chindi, not knowing what it is, and suddenly it's all a glorified rescue mission. And afterwards? Nothing. Satellites? What? We've never heard of any satellites. Chindi? Eh? But hey, look, the characters got the glory again!
Though I do have to admit, the plot and ending was better than the contrived and trippy "Engines of God" ending, but "Deepsix" was much better. But really, I have to wonder why I bothered with this book. I could've told anyone half the plot without even reading it; Jack McDevitt's plots are getting so predictable.

Icewind Dale Trilogy: Collector's Edition
Icewind Dale Trilogy: Collector's Edition
by R.A. Salvatore
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 71.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A good story, yet still flawed in its own ways..., Oct. 27 2002
I am, admittedly, a Drizzt fanatic, and it was the original (separate) versions of this trilogy which first hooked me. The characters are compelling, and I more than once found myself holding my breath to see if they would survive, or shaking my fist at guards when the main character, dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, was turned away from the gates of yet another city. The storyline, too, is also rich with both action and philosophy, and this particular edition of the trilogy also includes journal entries written by Drizzt, which are a welcome addition.
However, this wonderful book is also not without flaws. Namely, the typos. I have absolutely no idea what R.A. Salvatore's editors were using as their spellchecker (and they should've run a visual sweep anyway), but it is in desperate need of replacing. The worst typo I can bring to mind at the moment is the repeated spelling of the word "alley" as "ally"--those words have two very different meanings in a fight scene. It should be noted that these typos were absent from the original novels, so there is no excuse for the serious lack of editing. Another note on the fight scenes which I noted in the last novel, "The Halfling's Gem," should be made clear. Apparently, these characters are immortal, because they survived things that should have killed at least one of them. The climax of "The Halfling's Gem" stretched my believability in the story to its limits and beyond, I am sorry to note, and the Companions lost a bit of my respect. (Though they did regain it in later novels, where they were more human and less of demi-gods.)
The other flaw in the story appears in "Streams of Silver," with its tale of Mithril (or Mithral, as certain editors have taken to spelling it) Hall, gray dwarves and the dragon Shimmergloom, runs an all-too-familiar road--one already taken by J.R.R. Tolkien with Moria in the Fellowship of the Ring. As much as I do admire one particular character's noble sacrifice and another's silent tribute to him (which I will never, ever forget), the entire climax of the novel rings too similarly with LotR for my liking.
Still, the rest of the trilogy is enjoyable, with its unforgettable, laughable, and romantic moments. Definitely a must for fantasy fans, if you can stomach the typos.

The Merchant Prince
The Merchant Prince
by Armin Shimerman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, good ol' sci-fi..., Oct. 26 2002
I admit, it's been a long time since I've picked up a science fiction book with the intent of reading it. I've been disenfranchised with the entire genre as a whole since I tried stomaching a few bad novels. But, lo and behold, this one made me sit up and take note! There is hope yet!
This novel in particular I was pleased with because of its historical accuracy to the Renaissance period while being unafraid to drop in a bit of alien involvement here and there. The main character, John Dee, is also particularly endearing. While he's easily recognizable as the protagonist and the one who is supposed to "save the world" (such as it is) he's still a bit of a scoundrel and a villain. I would, without a doubt, recommend this novel.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Music to raise the dead with!, Oct. 26 2002
This review is from: Vengeance (Audio CD)
From the first kick-off of astounding techno merged with ancient Scandinavian to the last, soaring note, Garmarna manages to make an album which brings Swedish legends to life. My favorites on the CD have to be the opening hair-raiser, "Gamen," the CD's title track with its unforgettable opening sound of a heart beating, "Vedergallningen," and the melodic "Euchari." And it is obvious from a glance at the CD's lyrics (sadly only printed in English) that Garmarna wastes no time on toning down the blood, violence, and magic of its selected folk tales. Another plus is Emma's beautiful, soaring voice, but even when it's absent the instrumentalists do a wonderful job, as evidenced by the song's only non-vocal track, "Polska."
The CD's only drawback, I believe, is the lack of explosive emotion and sound immediately following the opening track. The ending track has actually put me to sleep a few times, disappointingly, and the rest of the CD seems unable to match the frenzied pace set by "Gamen." Still, this album is definitely worth your money, whatever the drawback.

The Thousand Orcs: The Hunter's Blades Trilogy, Book I
The Thousand Orcs: The Hunter's Blades Trilogy, Book I
by R.A. Salvatore
Edition: Hardcover
64 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Salvatore does it again, and then some..., Oct. 26 2002
I picked up this book with a bit of trepidation along with my excitement after the slight letdown that I experienced with the conclusion to the previous novel, "Sea of Swords." This time, I was not disappointed in the slightest. "The Thousand Orcs" drops you in the middle of the action, not long after where "Sea of Sword" left off. I say in the middle of the action because, even though it doesn't appear to be so, serious trouble is brewing in the midst of the mountains.
Another thing to be noted about this book is that it breaks away from the Companions of the Hall at times and introduces new, though equally welcome, characters--and a bit of politics. But fear not, readers! This isn't just politics--it's dwarven politics, complete with rioting and tavern fights. At first I found the political aspect and the break away from the Companions irritating and time-consuming, but by the time I was a third of the way through the book that plot, too, had drawn me in, and I anticipated the latest developments.
Many near miracles happen towards the end of the book (all of which earned a welcome sigh of relief after a daunting climax!) and there are characters from other FR novels popping in and out from time to time. I feel that the best part of the novel was the subtle character growth occurring in several of the characters, and I at one point found myself cheering on Wulfgar, a character I have never before even remotely liked. And, of course, there are the pitched battles and heroic moments for which Salvatore is so famous, all present and out in force in the latter half of the novel, especially. Next October (and the release of the next novel in the trilogy) can't come soon enough.

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