Monday, August 14, 2017

Nanoreviews: The Black Elfstone, Assassin's Fate, The Dispatcher

Brooks, Terry. The Black Elfstone [Del Rey, 2017]

The Black Elfstone begins the final push to the end of Shannara.  Brooks has been hit or miss since his Heritage of Shannara series published in the early 90's, but The Black Elfstone is a strong start to the final quartet of novels. We are now more a couple hundred or so years since the conclusion of Witch Wraith and I've been waiting for Grianne's story to tie back in (spoilers, I'm still waiting) - but Brooks tells a story of the Druids in chaos - led by an personally ambitious but morally feckless Ard Rhys - and a new enemy threatening the Four Lands.
Score: 6/10

Hobb, Robin. Assassin's Fate [Del Rey, 2017]

As I read the closing chapters, with water filling my eyes, I was reminded of first reading Assassin’s Apprentice curled up one of those plush and comfortable reading chairs Barnes and Noble used to put out for their customers (this was back in 2003). I did not know anything of the journey I was beginning, only that there was this boy who didn’t have all that great of a life and he was bonding with a wolf named Nighteyes and, oh, he was the bastard son of the Prince. It was a dark and dirty existence, though the title of the book suggested his what his future may hold. Maybe this will be a fun romp.

Reader, it was not a fun romp. It, and all of the subsequent novels were anything but a fun romp. They were beautiful and painful and aching and rippling with pain, but sprinkled with moments of pure grace. Assassin's Fate is a fitting, but wrenching conclusion to Fitz's story. Robin Hobb remains at the height of her powers.
Score: 9/10

Scalzi, John. The Dispatcher [Subterranean, 2017]

Here's a cool idea: die of natural causes or suicide and you're just dead. Die of murder and pop, you're back in your bed with your body reset to its condition just hours before your untimely end (999 times out of 1000, that is). There's no in story explanation for this and it's otherwise our world, just with one particular twist. Given that twist, there is no surprise that people figured out a way to monetize and legalize murder that allows a respawn. I love the silky smooth storytelling of John Scalzi. The Dispatcher is a delightful read with an imaginative conceit I'd love to see more of. 
Score: 7/10

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Writer / Editor of the mostly defunct Adventures in Reading since 2004. Minnesotan.