Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Tale of the Thunderbolt is the third installment in the VAMPIRE EARTH series. Each book has so far followed the story of David Valentine, post-apocalyptic warrior extraordinaire. In this third volume, Southern Command has sent David on a mission to bring back a secret weapon that lays hidden somewhere on the Haitian side of Hispaniola. David has been undercover for over a year in preparation for this mission, and has done things for the sake of humanity that he dares not speak of.
The David Valentine in Tale of the Thunderbolt is unfortunately a bit different from the one seen in previous novels. He seems more than slightly damaged from the things he’s been through in the past. I always enjoyed the fact that Valentine always did the right thing no matter what the consequences were. There was a charming purity to his ideals that made him a beacon of hope in such a hopeless world. That’s been a little worn away now. He’s definitely a more realistic and complex character due to the changes, but I still miss the old Valentine.
Those who enjoyed the earlier books in the VAMPIRE EARTH series will enjoy this one, too. My only complaint was Valentine's slight attitude change, but ultimately it’s a very minor complaint. The story is still exciting and action-packed. There is a bit more descriptive sex in this one than there was in the previous two, but it’s not overdone. E. E. Knight’s ability to tell an action-filled story remains consistent, and he adds a few more interesting characters to his ever-growing stable.
I listened to Tale of the Thunderbolt on Audio CD published by Brilliance Audio. Once again it was read by Christian Rummel, who again gives an excellent performance and never ceases to amaze with his vocal abilities. Since the story ends on a cliff hanger, I am looking forward to the next installment in the VAMPIRE EARTH series. I want to keep listening to it on CD, but it won't be released until next month (7/15/2010). It's getting hard to resist buying the print version so I can have it sooner!
You can also learn more about EE Knight’s books at the Fantasyliterature EE Knight page
These books also remind me somewhat of the Deathlands series. Though EE Knight is a much better writer. My review of Deathlands is here: Pilgrimage to Hell
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Things begin to slow down some in Blood of the Mantis. The third book in the Shadows of the Apt series is the smallest, and yet took the longest for me to read. Adrian Tchaikovsky maintains the same level of writing established in the first two, but seems to be struggling a bit with middle-book syndrome. The events in book 3 are too important to completely leave out of the story, it’s too long to be split between other books, and feels a little wanting after the first two books’ onslaught of awesomeness.
Blood of the Mantis is not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just not as good as the first two. It had some seriously high standards to meet after Dragonfly Falling. Dragonfly blew me away and is likely to be a contender for my favorite book this year. I think my perspective might be a little skewed as well. I’ve been reading these one right after the other, so the differences between the two are immediately apparent to me, possibly making my judgment a little unfair. With the previous two so fresh in my mind, I simply can’t help making comparisons.
The plot is a continuation of what is set in motion in the previous books, and Blood of the Mantis doesn’t have an strong subplot of its own. The characters are still hunting the ShadowBox, and Stenwold is still dealing with political intrigue in Collegium and Sarn while trying to rally an increasingly unlikely Lowland alliance. The character development that was so amazing in both the previous books is almost nonexistent here. A few side characters get a little more attention, but nothing develops to the level of the previous books.
Tchaikovsky does take the reader to some new places. We get to see the lands around the Exalsee, and the potpourri of kinden that inhabit that area. I did enjoy the notion that Shadows of the Apt will have a much larger geographical playground. The first two books never talked much about anything beyond the Spiderlands. Blood of the Mantis is the first to take the story into those other foreign lands.
Tchaikovsky has set himself up with a beautiful and amazing world to play in. The variety of races and characters at his disposal is limitless. Blood of the Mantis may be a bit of a stumble in the series, but it’s a very small stumble. I’m very excited for book 4, and I get the feeling my reservations about Blood of the Mantis will be quickly forgotten.
You can also learn more about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s books at the Fantasyliterature Adrian Tchaikovsky page