the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘demons

Penric’s Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold

published in May 2016

where I got it: received ARC from the publisher (Thanks Subterranean Press!)

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Everyone has heard of Lois McMaster Bujold. Creator of the beloved and long running Vorkosigan space opera series, and creator of the World of the Five Gods fantasy series, among other series and stand alones. I imagine she has multiple mantles in her house to display the myriad awards she has won during her long career.
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When Subterranean Press sent me advanced reading copies of her new novellas that take place in her World of the Five Gods series, my first thought was how many additional novels will I have to read for these to make sense? New novels and stories in the Vorkosigan series make me nervous because I am so under read in that series that I miss more than half the jokes. So as more Penric novellas showed up on my doorstep, I got more and more nervous. But? The first one was scarecly 200 pages, and if I read 20 pages and nothing made sense, I could always put it down, right?
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So, the good news is that I had nothing to worry about, because Penric’s Demon is a pleasure to read, and requires zero knowledge whatsoever of the world.
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The better news is that there are now four novellas in this group (not exactly a series?), so if you like what you read in Penric’s Demon, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy.
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Ok, I lied. You need to know a smidgen about the World of the Five Gods for Penric’s Demon to make sense. You need to know it’s a medieval secondary fantasy world with a feudal government and sorcerers receive formal educations to best use their powers. Also, there are five gods. There. That’s all you need to know to go into these novellas and enjoy yourself.
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Penric, the son of a country baron of dwindling fortune, is nineteen and naive. On his way to his formal betrothal ceremony, he stops by the side of the road to help an ailing old woman. She doesn’t make it, and this is the end of Penric’s boring provincial life. She wasn’t just any old woman. Learned Ruchia of Martensbridge was a physician, high sorceress, and she was carrying an old demon. When she died, the demon had to go somewhere. It went into Penric.

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The Anvil of the World, by Kage Baker

published in 2010

Where I got it: library

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I’ve been unbeliveably lucky lately. Nearly everything I’ve read these last few months has been smack dab incredible. When I do get to some mediocre book, books like this one are going to make that poor blameless book even more of a let down.

Fantasy should be fun, it should be fantastical and magical, it should make you smile and laugh and think a little and maybe get a little choked up at the end. If that’s the kind of fantasy you’re looking for, The Anvil of The World is the book for you.  A little big farcical, a lot of fantastic, The Anvil of The World was pure joy to read.

Having retired from his profession of assassin, and possibly trying to escape a blood feud, our main character Smith gets a job as a caravan leader. Smith isn’t his real name, but he really  is part of the increasingly large Smith clan of the race of the Children of the Sun. Smith’s people have always followed their God, The Smith, and traveled the world building cities and creating things and generally smithing about. However  not every race on the planet is all about the smithing.

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The Fuller Memorandum (a Laundry Novel), by Charles Stross

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: enjoyed the previous Laundry novel, The Jennifer Morgue

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Bob Howard has a problem. it’s that he’s too good at his job. The office manager leaves him alone; his boss, Angleton, is sending him on special errands; and his wife, Mo, has started bringing work home with her. When you’re a computational demonologist, none of those can be good things.  You see, Bob works for the ultra secret British government agency called The Laundry.  Think James Bond meets Torchwood, but instead of fighting the Russians and aliens, they’re fighting the Russians and unthinkable Cthonic soul sucking horrors from another dimension. When the end comes, make sure you’re armed with a shotgun (same goes for when playing Arkham Horror, btw).

Although The Fuller Memorandum is mostly action, usually involving Bob getting the crap kicked out of him, it was the slower parts that were some of my favorites. Things like getting to know more (perhaps too much) about the mysterious Angleton.  What Mo actually does with that bone white violin (she needs her own book. period). How to jailbreak an iphone in three easy steps (step one, allow a professional hacker into your house). How to handle Russian zombies and drunken cultists, and what the British secret service really thinks about Americans.  And Bob Howard, accidental computational demonologist, armed with a jailbroken unauthorized iphone running illegal apps, better solve all these problems before his soul gets sucked out by cultists who’ve awoken something far more evil than they were expecting. The slower bits might have been all interesting, but the crazy action bits? Totally over the top frakin’ awesome.

If you’re grinning, you can skip the next paragraph, however if you’re a bit confused, quit skipping around and stop feeling bad.

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The Damned Busters, by Matthew Hughes

Release dates-  US: May 31st 2011, UK May 5th 2011

Where I got it:  Received Review copy from the friendly folks at Angry Robot Books

why I read it:  Interesting premise + totally cool cover art = sign me up.

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Meet Chesney Arnstruther, diagnosed in childhood as a high functioning autistic, his social skills are limited to the occasional game of low stakes poker, reading comic books, ogling over women who jog in the park, and speaking on the phone to his televangelist obsessed Mother, Letitia. Employed at an insurance company, Chesney gets to spend his days doing what he loves: working with numbers. Averages, graphs, predictions, statistics, those are the things that sing in Chesney’s heart.  Logical and practical, he respects his mother’s religious leanings, but Chesney’s personal faith lies in numbers, percentages, and algorithms.

You can get the gist of how things get started by following the genius cover art:  Man stubs hand with hammer in presence of an inadvertent pentagram. Demon is summoned, offers man  his hearts desire in exchange for his soul. Man says “No thanks!”, and before long, all Hell breaks loose. Well, not so much “break loose”, as goes on strike. Yes, the Demons of hell are organized.  And Chesney suddenly finds himself smack dab in the middle of their union negotiations.  He never sold his soul or signed a deal with the Devil, so what are they do with him?  He’s a special case, so he gets a special deal, one named Xaphon.  With the looks, sound, and personality of a prohibition era gangster, the demon Xaphon is Chesney’s to command for two hours out of every 24.

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 This review was originally published here. And no, my feelings haven’t changed any.

Sandman Slim isn’t so much a novel as it is a revenge genre graphic novel with no pictures – plenty of action, violence, some flirtation, and not much else. A bastard child of The Crow, Constantine, Spawn and Sin City, it’s all the grit and action of a first person shooter adventure video game, with a less intelligent script.

When James Stark was 19 years old, he was a talented magician, in love with the beautiful Alice, and running with the wrong crowd. After a ritual gone horribly wrong (or right?) he ends up in hell. Alive and kicking, but in hell. An obvious novelty, Stark spends the next eleven years as a slave pit warrior, killing monsters left and right, and generally becoming a hellion himself. He eventually finds the magic key that gets him out of hell and back to earth. None of this is really explained, the reader learns of it through Stark’s scattered flashbacks.
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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.