Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer #2)

The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer) - Brent Weeks This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Kip must survive becoming a Blackguard while Gaven must survive losing his ability to command all 7 colors. All this while the Color Prince is bent on raising up the old gods of Color and destroying the mono-theism of the Chromeria.

My Thoughts
It took me almost 6 months to read this book. Not because it wasn't good, but because I started this as my "gym" book, and well, my time at the gym has practically disappeared between one thing and another.

Once this series is done, I look forward to re-reading it in one gulp.

Kip is a fantastic character. He is the just the right amount of young hesitation, insecurity and doubt to make him feel real, but at the same time he has moments of genius, courage and heroics so that I can root for him and not feel like he's a whiny douchebag.

Gaven & Daven. For all the time given to the imprisoned Gaven, and his torturous escape from the prison, I was thinking he was a bit more of a better man than he turned out to be. So when Daven simply killed him, after Gaven's horrible revelation, it was a very weird feeling. I was glad he was dead, but then it felt like it was a buildup for no reason. And to be honest, Daven posing as Gaven still confused me at times with who did what as who, when, and why and... and I think you get the idea.

Weeks seems to be a very talented storyteller but the one thing that I pick is his use of "real world" profanity. I understand that people are going to curse, swear and generally profane the things that their world holds holy. So why do words like "shit" and "fuck" repeatedly occur? Those things would still be sworn by, but not those specific words. Kind of like in Battlestar Galactica, they use the word "phrack". I find that to a weakness of Weeks' [ha, get it?] and I'm  hoping that as he matures, he'll go the route that Zahn or Sanderson has gone, ie, very light on the profanity and with "in world" words when used.

In the Night Angel Trilogy, I found the violence a bit disturbing, as a lot of it was directed at women and children. Thankfully, not nearly the same amount of time is given to it in this book, but it is still there, reminding us of just how bad this Lightbringer world can be.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Author: Brent Weeks.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com by express permission of this reviewer.

All the unicorns but 1 have disappeared and she sets out on a journey to find out what happened to them. Along the way she meets up with various characters and has various adventures. And everything good is ripped away, her dreams crushed, her love destroyed, her hopes dashed.

My Thoughts
The ending tries to salve over the horribleness that is the book, but it didn't work for me. So while this technically has a happy ending, it is pretty obvious that Beagle is a product of his generation and is pretty much a sad sack of hopelessness and a person that I wouldn't mind giving a swift kick in the pants to.

While intended or not, while reading this book I felt like Beagle was trying to tear down every hope, dream and wish that makes up fantasy and replace it with his raped, dirty, rat infested vision of reality. I cannot abide those who write to tear down because they cannot have.

This was wonderfully written and almost magically lyrical and I suspect that most who read it will love it. But I am in the minority in that regards. I'll not be reading any more by this author.

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Author: Peter Beagle

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Knight (The Wizard Knight #1)

The Knight: Book One of The Wizard Knight - Gene Wolfe This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions.
Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com by express permission of this reviewer.

A young boy from our world is transported to fairyland, then to another world. Once there, he meets a fairy goddess who grows him up overnight. His various adventures while trying to be a knight and refind his fairy love.

My Thoughts
While I enjoyed the writing and story [having read Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun and thought it was pure trash, this was a delightful surprise], something just seemed off-putting about how the narrative jumped around.

I haven't read any other reviews, so I haven't been influenced that way, but to be honest, my first thought was that the main character was autistic. I still think so.
There was a lot of the "boyish" in the character, which is to be expected as he is supposed to be 12 or 16 or something until he's magically "adult'ed" and I found that rather charming. But the timelessness, the odd hesitancies, the complete and utter honesty, the vagaries, it was different enough that it made me feel slightly uncomfortable.

The whole world was engaging. From the various levels of reality, the monsters, the fairies, the side characters good and bad,the giant mystery dog, it all was interesting and well constructed.

I am looking forward to reading the sequel, The Wizard, very soon.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Author: Gene Wolfe

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Realms Thereunder (Ancient Earth #1) DNF

The Realms Thereunder (An Ancient Earth) - Ross Lawhead This author, Ross Lawhead, is Stephen Lawhead's son, so I had high hopes.

However, I am sick and tired of main characters who are whiny, broken people. I get enough of that in my own life and in real life. I DON'T want to read about it in a book.

And when they are kids and then older teens/young twenty somethings, it makes it worse for me.

The story follows two 12/13 year olds who accidentally awaken 2 of Arthur's knights and apparently they have an adventure and save the world. The story splits between that time and "now", 8 years later. The girl is psychologically broken by the experience and barely holding on. The boy is now a homeless vagrant. As youngsters the girl is bossy but afraid and the boy is rebellious and stupid.

None of those circumstances appeal to me in any shape, way or form.

So goodbye young Lawhead, you blew your chance with me.

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Scorpion (Legend of the Five Rings: Clan War #1)

The Scorpion (Legend of the Five Rings:  Clan War, First Scroll) - Stephen D. Sullivan Synopsis
In a fantasy Japan ruled by an emperor who must balance the 7 Clans, the Scorpion Clan leader has a prophecy revealed to him that the current "Divine" line of Emperors will herald in doom for the entire world by allowing Feng Lu, THE demon, to be loosed.

My Thoughts
To be honest, this is filled with the most purplish of prose you'll ever come across. It is based on Japanese culture, but that would be like if a Japanese author read all of Louis L'amour's westerns and then wrote a book "about America" based solely on those.

I don't know anything about the Legend of the Five Rings except that there was a collectable card game based on it some time ago. So I'm sure I might be missing details.

The story. It reminded me of a Forgotten Realms book with its simplicity and man-handling of the plot. There was no attempt at subterfuge on the authors part at all, it was full on "get this story told" kind of thing. The Scorpions were supposed to be the intelligence of the kingdom, but man, do they screw things up royally. So instead of saving the kingdom, it looks like they set things up for the End of the World.

There are 7 books in this series and several authors participate. I hope some of the other authors do a better job. I like the idea, just not the execution of this book. I'll keep reading it until it forces me to stop.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Author: Stephen Sullivan

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Malady of Magicks (Ebenezium #1)

A Malady of Magicks - Craig Shaw Gardner Synopsis
A young apprentice to a powerful wizard must help the wizard get through all sorts of adventures while the wizard is under the weather of an allergy to magic.

My Thoughts
This book was trying to be funny. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. Sadly, in this case, it meandered from one to the other. Some of the mini-adventures were funny, some were kind of meh, and some were just downright stupid.

The constant jumping from one place/adventure to another without any warning was weird as well. However, the Apprentices constantly falling in love with whoever the lady of the adventure was was pretty funny.

The apprentice felt like he was the narrator and his character was tacked into the story. It might have worked better to have an omniscient narrator and have the apprentice be more of an actual character.

I'll be reading the next 2 in the series however.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Author: Craig Gardner

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Carol (Classic)

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens Synopsis
Scrooge, the meanest, most cold-hearted man in England, is visited by 3 spirits on Christmas, in an attempt to change his fate.

My Thoughts
This is a classic for a reason. For one thing, it is short. Short enough to tell a good story, short enough to read over a single week, short enough to keep even a child's interest.
And Dickens brings forth his skill as a wordsmith and weaves a magic tale that will keep you entranced.

I think just about everyone in Western Civilization knows the story, at the least the basics. Scrooge has become synonomous with greed, miserliness and general grumpiness at anything fun. The spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, we know them.

For goodness sake, the MUPPETS made a movie based on this. And I have to say, it was a good movie too!

The changes in Scrooge came fast and furious and at times I wondered how someone could go from one to the next and be real, but the whole point Dickens was trying to make was that people could change, And while Dickens only alludes to Christ, his point was that Christmas was a changing point for the whole of humanity.

Now that I've read this [I believe I had read it in highschool, but not since], I can see it easily becoming a yearly traditional read.

Author: Charles Dickens

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Green Brain

The Green Brain - Frank Herbert Synopsis
Socialists on earth are trying to remove every insect except for mutated/hybrid bees and bad things start to happen.

My Thoughts
I've read all the Dune books by Herbert and loved them. However, every other book I've read by him has not been very enjoyable. I am convinced that if it weren't for Dune Herbert would not be the name he is today.

Basically, bugs are taking over the world because the Communists in China and South America are trying to wipe them out and failing miserably about it and lying through their teeth.

This story is about 3 people trapped in the middle of Bug Country and how the evolving bug supermind is trying to communicate before everything is destroyed.

This felt like a mix of Greenpeace/PETA propaganda, with McCarthy like paranoidism and some very slow adventure story. Lots of introspection and "thought bubbles". I think David Lynch's movie version of Dune would be a perfect example of how much this was used in this book.

I think I'm done with Herbert. Cerebral can be good, but not when it excludes every other aspect of a story.

Author: Frank Herbert

Rating: 2.5 Stars of 5

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

Think & Grow Rich (Non-fiction)

Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill Synopsis:
Mr. Hill takes us through the process of thinking like a champ and tells us it will work.

My Thoughts:
I suspect this book would be good for someone who actually wants to accomplish a large goal, or someone focused on attaining a large amount of money.

For me, I've accomplished the large goals in life I want [married, own our own place and work at a job I Iove] and money, while necessary, isn't something I want to be chasing after. I'm a Christian and the words Hill uses in describing how to attain riches are words I would only feel comfortable using about Jesus, not money.

However, there were some good tips about focusing, staying positive and other stuff. I am not a big non-fiction kind of guy. So if I read 2 non-fiction a year, I'm doing really good.

This was recommended to me by a really good friend who is a retired investment manager, so in all fairness, I actually finished this book more because of my respect of him than because of anything in this book.

Author: Napoleon Hill

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snow in the Desert (Short Story) (Polity)

Snow in the Desert (Short Reads) - Neal Asher I started reading this and it sounded VERY familiar. And it turns out it was in a book of short stories by Asher, The Gabble: And Other Stories, and I wasn't going crazy.

So this short story is about a man who has regenerative powers and who Earth Central wants, along with unscrupulous bounty hunters who want his powers for themselves.
And a sexy cyborg.

Neal Asher just writes enjoyable stories.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Plan B (Liaden)

Plan B - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Synopsis
Everyone comes together on one world to defeat an Ingxtray [or whatever the "bad' humanoids are called] invasion and the sinister Department of Something Something continues its plan to purify Liadens.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this. It had a fantastic blend of space battles, ground force battles, suspense, romance AND it still had a happy ending.
Sadly, the Turtles are barely in this story, but they ARE mentioned.

Name details are fuzzy for me. So while I know what they mean while I'm reading, as soon as I'm done, poof, they're gone from my head.

So far, this Liaden universe is enjoyable, light and just the right balance of fun and suspense. Thankfully there is nothing "epic' about this, but there are quite a few books to read.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Author: Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Honor's Paradox (Kencyrath #6)

Honor's Paradox (Chronicles of the Kencyrath) - P. C. Hodgell Synopsis
I don't know where to begin. Another Equinox festival, another test at the college, more interfering by sundry and sorts.

My Thoughts
While this was the most non-cryptic book so far in the series [and it is the latest written to date], it also was the book where I figured out WHY I hate these books so much even as I like them.

The good guys are filled with nothing but indecision and fear and allow themselves to be pushed around without pushing back.
The bad guys are always breaking the unwritten rules without any consequences.

That type of disparity always pushes my buttons. I'm a small guy and I learned early on as a teenager that if someone bigger than me hits me, I hit them back twice as hard. 99% of the time, it rocked them and shut the situation down. That other 1% sucked, but hey, not everything is perfect, right? ;-)
So when I see people just giving in, giving ground, not fighting for what is right, it grates pretty bad on my psyche.

And the story isn't anywhere near finished. So I think I'm done with the Kencyrath world. At the rate the books are being written [started back in '86 I believe], they will never get done.

Author: P.C. Hodgell

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

Valkyrie Burning (Hayden War Cycle #3)

Valkyrie Burning (Warrior's Wings Book Three) - Evan Currie Synopsis
Sgt. Aida comes back to Hayden to push out the remnant of the elite alien soldiers. At the same time, Space Fleet Valkyrie must deal with another space based alien invasion. Poor Hayden, it just can't catch a break.

My Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed this. Aida is a kickass sergeant and man, with her implants, she does a lot of damage. In many ways it reminds me of Neal Asher's Polity universe, with it's integration of humanity and A.I.

The space battle was meh, as are most space battle that I read now. After reading Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet and his in-depth explanation of space maneuvers, time, timing, communications etc, I find these simpler battles kind of like kindergarten.

Now the fight between Aida and the alien soldier, that was good! And if you ever think of elevators as boring, with sleep inducing muzak, then you need to read this book, it'll change your view, REAL QUICK.

Overall, I'm really liking Currie's works. He could use a good editor to polish him up, but the mechanics are all good and the foundations are solid. Kind of like Dean's old muscle car from Supernatural.

Author: Evan Currie

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Earthman Jack vs The Ghost Planet DNF w/ Extreme Prejudice

Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet (The Earthman Jack Space Saga) (Volume 1) - Matthew Kadish 0 stars, author is blah, blah, blah.

Books that I can't finish aren't worth the typical review, as I don't care about who the author is [except to maybe to avoid], what the synopsis is or even what I thought of the story.

Well, to be honest, I do like to write about why I couldn't/wouldn't finish this.

I have a real problem with those who have a problem with authority. And Jack is the quintessential rebellious teen who simply doesn't care. His mom works her ass off to keep him fed and sheltered, working double shifts to pay for things, and he doesn't care. His teachers push him to succeed and punish when needed, and he doesn't care.

In fact, as far as I could tell by the time I got to 14%, Jack didn't care about anything except his own selfish desires.

This was supposed to be a comedy, and from the very ripped off from Hitchhiker's Guide tone, I suspect it might have turned into one. But I was not going to waste my time getting there.

it is pretty obvious that Jack is going to save the earth and that he is supposed to be a typical kid. But while I like reading about underdogs becoming great, I don't like reading about selfish assholes who won't accept responsibility for their actions nor think about the consequences of said actions.

I definitely won't be reading any more by this author.

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kill Decision

Kill Decision - Daniel Suarez Author: Daniel Suarez

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Somebody is using unmanned drones to attack targets in the United States and their ulterior motive remains unclear.

My Thoughts
First off, there is NO A.I.! That in itself knocked a star off for me. After Suarez's Daemon duology, I was hoping for more scary super brains. Instead, we get The Hidden Powers That Be [and feel free to say that in a super SPOOKY voice] trying to make autonomous unmanned aircraft the future of war.

Only one man, deep undercover and practically rogue, along with his heroic team and one sexy ant studying lady, stand in the way.

Yeah, really, that truly sums it up. And it doesn't get any better.

Near the beginning Suarez overwhelms us with technobabble that doesn't add anything to the story except confusion. And many aspects of the story felt very klug'ed together.

On the positive side, there are lots of gun battles, action out of the whazoo and near the end, a whole BOATLOAD of killer robots, err, drones.

I'll read whatever Suarez writes next, but that is the tipping point. This just wasn't good enough.

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Panic In Philly (Executioner #15)

The Executioner #15: Panic in Philly - Don Pendleton Author: Don Pendleton

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Bolan goes to Philly to clean out another family nest of Mafia

My Thoughts
To be honest, this is getting kind of old. Mack boldly infiltrates a Mafia family by pretending to be a high ranking Mafia member and then either wipes them out from within, turns them upon each other or a combination of the both.

There is always a mention of some girl,but she is so throw-away that she barely registers.

There is a real lack of creativity happening.  I guess it is to be expected with such a serial series, but still, it started pretty good and now it just BLAM, BLAM, BLAM alongs, like an old jalloppi.

I've got through 19 in my Calibre library. At one time I was considering buying up through 50 or 60 and cutting and scanning them in and creating my own digital versions, since the early books don't seem to exist digitally. However, now I don't think that is worth the effort.

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

League of Night and Fog (Brotherhood #3)

The League of Night and Fog: A Novel (Mortalis) - David Morrell Author: David Morrell

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Multiple men from the WWII era have disappeared inexplicably. At the same time, Saul and Erika (from Brotherhood of the Rose) are attacked while Erika's father disappears. Also, the man and woman from Fraternity of the Stone (I simply can't remember their names, they are so forgettable) are attacked. Everything ties together in one big mish-mash.

My Thoughts:
WWII, Nazis and Jews. And covert ops, black ops, invisible ops, you name it.

I enjoyed this more than the other 2 books mentioned [and they're necessary to understand this book], but it was kind of funny to be honest. Whenever someone uses Nazis* as  the badguys in modern times, I just have to roll my eyes.

There is a twist revealed partway through when you realize there are 2 groups of disappeared men instead of 1 and that throws everything for a loop. Suddenly, some of the people you were feeling sympathetic towards, you simply don't anymore.

So while this was supposed to be a thriller, I found it more comedic than the author probably intended.

*whenever I head "nazi's", all I can think about is the scene from the movie Ratrace where Jon Lovitz accidentally impersonates Hitler in front of a whole group of WWII vets. Here's the clip:
Ratrace Jon Lovitz is Hitler Clip

Crossposted on Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Midnight's Mask (Erevis Cale #3) (Forgotten Realms)

Midnight's Mask: The Erevis Cale Trilogy, Book III: v. 3 - Paul S. Kemp Author: Paul Kemp

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Erevis and Company must stop the Sojourner from fulfilling his evil plans of summoning the Crown of Flames, even though nobody except the Sojourner knows what it is.

My Thoughts
First off, Riven isn't the craven, two-faced hypocrite we were led to believe he is.

I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. There was fighting and magic galore. The Sojourner shows his true colors and while it was explained why, it still seemed like a cop out to me. A being of almost unimaginable power wants to walk on the surface of the world before he dies? It seems like there must have been easier ways. Oh well.

The whole "death isn't really the end" that is used a lot in Forgotten Realms is thought about and the implications of bringing people back from the dead are brought to the forefront.

I also came across the first mention of the Netherese, who I know play a big part in the Sundering books currently being written.

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Friday, December 06, 2013

Undaunted (Kris Longknife #7)

Kris Longknife: Undaunted - Mike Shepherd Author: Mike Shepherd

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Princess Kris Longknife meets up with an Itechee envoy who has been sent to warn humanity of a potential threat to both their species.
The second plot is a localized plot on a planet to try to split the United Sentients federation.

My Thoughts
I didn't have the usual whiplash, "did I miss a book" feeling when I started this. Considering the problems between the U.S. and the Peterwalds and the internal problems of the U.S., I was kind of surprised that Shepherd decided to write about the Itechee, the big bad aliens who almost wiped out humanity 80'ish years ago.

And I was even more surprised that they were "friendly" and bringing warning of an even greater threat to us all. Ramped up the "Threat Matrix" and made sure that the series wasn't going to end in 2 books. Boo to that! I am getting sick of the "never ending" series I'm coming across lately. A long series is fine, but one that has no over arching plot, no "big" storyline, that just plods on from one plot to the next, well, it reminds me of Alan Dean Foster's Pip and Flinx series, that I gave up in disgust on.  I just hope this doesn't become something like that.

The little on planet battle was a brief, easy lull in the tension. There was no chance of it working and we the reader could see that a mile away. So we got to see Space Marines kick local redneck butt. Good stuff.

All along I thought this was going to deserve a 4star. Then Shepherd has Longknife start wondering sexually about the Itechee ambassador, to the point of spying on him while swimming. 7 foot tall aliens with no penises, well, WHY would a female be interested in that?
It grossed me out and smacked of filthy fan service.
Or maybe Shepherd is a sick perv and he can't admit it so it is sublimated into his stories?

Crossposted on Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer #1)

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) - Robin Hobb Author: Robin Hobb

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

A royal bastard is thrown into the royal court and trained to be an assassin.

My Thoughts
Having heard of Robin Hobb and specifically this trilogy, I went into this with some high hopes. Sadly, this was only a mediocre story.

Lots of grinding, whining, angst, blah, blah, blah. I found the main character to be thoroughly uninspiring. The kingdom as a whole was a backdrop that felt like it was kind of painted on and the threat of the Redships and the forging, well, it wasn't much of a threat since it didn't make the story change.

And I have to admit, I was expecting something a bit flashier from an assassin. I think Brent Weeks and his wetboys have ruined me for simple assassins.

I'll finish the trilogy, but I doubt I'll be reading any more of Hobbs, she has failed to impress.

Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com

Monday, December 02, 2013

Year of the Demon (Fated Blades #2)

Year of the Demon: A Novel of the Fated Blades - Author: Steve Bein

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Mariko is now in the NARC department, with a new partner. She crosses paths with a delusional psycho cult leader who is in possession of a magic mask that has an affinity for weapons and her blade specifically.

The 2 historical storylines are about the making of the mask and an encounter between Victory Unsought and the Mask later on.

My Thoughts
I have to admit, I read the first book, Daughter of the Sword, because the cover showed an incredibly cute asian woman with a sword. Well, the cover for this book is even better in my opinion.

I think this is classified as Urban Fantasy, but the fantasy part is so slight that you might miss it if you sneeze. Plus, 2 of the 3 storylines take place in Historical Japan, not modern day.

Mariko's storyline about the psycho cult leader was pretty good, but was more of a "plucky girl gets her mojo back" storyline than anything else. And there was no sword fighting. Also, the whole Sword and Mask thing didn't seem to be a big part of this line of the story.

Which brings us to the second storyline. About Daigoro and his continued fight for his and his house's survival. The Mask and Sword were focused on much more and there was lots of intrigue, fighting, politic'ing and moments of "ah ha!" that I enjoyed. We get to see how the Mask really affects its wearer.

And that leads us to the final storyline. The young girl Kaida who is a diver. Her little village sees a huge shipwreck and several days later some very scary men come to look for something specific in the wreck. One of the men makes the Mask and it is very evident that Arcane Powers are used and infused into the Mask.

All 3 storylines wrap up satisfactorily. Unfortunately, as I noted earlier, Mariko doesn't get any sword fighting time. I was hoping for another sword fight duel in Tokyo, much like in the first book. Oh well, maybe in the next book.

 Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com