FSFH Book Review

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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto
Allen, Roger MacBride
Allie, Scott
Allston, Aaron
Anderson, Kevin J.
Barclay, James
Barnes, Steven
Baum, L. Frank
Bear, Greg
Bendis, Brian Michael
Bischoff, David
Bisson, Terry
Blackman, Haden
Bova, Ben
Bowen, Carl
Brooks, Terry
Canavan, Trudi
Card, Orson Scott
Chadwick, Paul
Clarke, Arthur C.
Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
David, Peter
DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
Howard, Robert E.
Jacques, Brian
James, Charlie Hamilton
Jenkins, Paul
Jeter, K. W.
Johns, Geoff
Jones, J. V.
Jordan, Robert
Jurgens, Dan
Karpyshyn, Drew
Kennedy, Mike
Kerr, Katharine
Keyes, Greg
King, Stephen
King, William
Knaak, Richard A.
Kube-McDowell, Michael P.
Lawhead, Stephen
Layman, John
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lewis, C. S.
Lieberman, A. J.
Loeb, Jeph
Lorey, Dean
Lowder, James
Luceno, James
Lumley, Brian
Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
Marz, Ron
Matheson, Richard
McCaffrey, Anne
McIntosh, Neil
McIntyre, Vonda
Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
Milligan, Peter
Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
Nylund, Eric
O'Neil, Dennis
Ostrander, John
Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
Perry, Steve
Pratchett, Terry
Pullman, Philip
Quinn, David
Reaves, Michael
Reed, A. W.
Reed, Brian
Rice, Anne
Richardson, Nancy
Roberts, Adam
Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
Shelley, Mary
Shultz, Mark
Simone, Gail
Simonson, Louise
Simonson, Walter
Smith, L. Neil
Spurrier, Simon
Stackpole, Michael A.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stewart, Sean
Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
Williams, Sean
Williams, Tad
Williams, Walter Jon
Windham, Ryder
Wolverton, Dave
Woodring, Jim
Wurts, Janny
Yeovil, Jack
Zahn, Timothy
Collaborations A - F
Collaborations G - M
Collaborations N - R
Collaborations S
Collaborations T - Z
Anthologies A - R
Anthologies S
Anthologies T - Z
Still to come
Reviewing Literature
Collaborations Titled G to M

Books by two or more collaborating authors.

Hammers Of Ulric
by Dan Abnett, Nik Vincent & James Wallis
A Warhammer novel.  At first this book looked to be another trashy and cliched offering from Games Workshop.  It begins with a group of troubled veterans (Wolf Templars to be precise) who ride off into the woods and smash skulls with their warhammers; entertaining as far as it goes, but far too shallow.  However, the book then opens up it's cast of characters in a series of short story-like chapters.  Added to the veterans of White Company are Lenya the milkmaid, the honourable thieves Wheezer and Kruza and a priest of Morr, the Death God.  The episodic nature of the chapters slowly builds both the characters and the dark plot layer upon layer, until in the final chapter all of the characters have to confront the culmination of all the lesser evils throughout the novel.  This final chapter is an excellent conclusion to the book, showing the various heroes attempting to save Middenheim as the city errupts into chaos.  One thing that did bother me was the 'love story' between Lenya and Drakken.  I felt that it should have been handled differently or not included at all.  After all the belaboured 'moments' between them, she ends up falling for someone else and then deceiving him about it.  Perhaps it's just that I'm an old romantic and that I feel for the the unrequited-love guy, but the fact that they don't have a happy ending, as it were, kind of spoiled the conclusion of the book a bit for me.
4 out of 5
'It was, to no one's great surprise, raining in Middenheim that day.'
Heroes For Hire: Civil War
by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
(Graphic Novel with art by Billy Tucci, Francis Portela, Tom Palmer and Terry Pallot)
A tie-in to Mark Millar's 'Civil War', in which the Superhuman Registration Act tears the superhero community in half, with Iron Man on one side and Captain America on the other.  In this book a new Heroes for Hire team is put together from vigilantes, mercenaries and former criminals in order to hunt down supervillains attempting to escape the Registration.  The leaders of this team are best described by one of the characters in the book itself; "The overtly sexual, scantily-clad, adolescent-male fantasy team of Misty Knight and Colleen Wing".  Wing is a samurai swordswoman and the absurdly named Misty Knight has a robotic arm.  They then hire the likes of Orka, Paladin, Tarantula, Humbug, Shang-Chi and Black Cat to join them.  There's nothing too ground-breaking here, with sexy women kicking ass, wise-cracking sidekicks and the usual growing pains of a team of misfits.  However, despite being a bit cliched, this book is nevertheless good fun to read.  It's got action, tension and even manages to touch on some of the liberty-versus-law issues which made 'Civil War' great.  And I'll be honest, the whole scantily-clad, overtly-sexual element doesn't hurt!
4 out of 5
Honoured Enemy
by Raymond E. Feist & William R. Forstchen
The first book of the Legends of the Riftwar.  The story, set amidst the Riftwar's darkest years of battle, is told from two perspectives here, Midkemian and Tsurani which makes for interesting reading as we get to see both sides of each battle and encounter.  Basically it is about a band of Tsurani and a band of bitter Kingdom soldiers who, stranded in Moredhel territory, must make an uneasy alliance in order to escape the dark elves.  The book is entertaining and insightful, written well-enough that you'll feel frostbite setting in as you read it and generally an enjoayble read.  It certainly lacks the epic scope of the Riftwar trilogy and the subtlety of the Empire trilogy, but allows us to relive the events of 'Magician' from a different perspective.  I also liked the way that it has deliberate ties to the other books in Feist's series (refering to Mara of the Acoma and Gorath, the dark elf in 'Krondor: The Betrayal') which helped to establish the feeling of it being one story among many.  I also found it interesting that, at the end of the book, Hartraft is considered a traitor for allying with the Tsurani, making a good counterpoint to the fact that we've seen he is a hero.
5 out of 5
'The rain had stopped.'
House Atreides
by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
The first prequel written to Frank Herbert's awe-inspiring Dune series starts a few decades before the original 'Dune' and focuses on the likes of Shaddam Corrino (later to be Emperor), Leto Atreides and Vladimir Harkonnen.  This book's clear intent is to set up not only the background to 'Dune' itself, but also to establish the characters and situations to be featured in it's two sequels (prequel sequels?).  The most enjoyable aspect of this book is the story of Pardot Kynes, the Imperial Planetologist who is sent to Arrakis to discover it's secrets.  The ensuing tale of how the taciturn and secretive Fremen people are caught up in his grand dreams of turning Dune into a lush paradise is very compelling.  Sadly, however, the rest of the book fails to deliver such enjoyment.  The true genius of Frank Herbert was his ability to create a story of numerous layers and great subtlety ("wheels within wheels") but his son and Anderson simply don't have his talent.  The plots created are predictable and unimaginative and the whole style of writing comes across as very shallow.  There is no literary flair to this book, which is a massive disappointment to a long-term fan of the Dune series.  I have to admit that I was enjoying the latter third of the book somewhat more, but by that point it was just too late for it to recover from my initial disappointment.
2 out of 5
House Of M: Spider-Man
by Mark Waid & Tom Peyer
(Graphic Novel with art by Salvador Larroca and Danny Miki)
A tie-in to Brian Michael Bendis' 'House Of M' (obviously).  The Scarlet Witch's reality-altering powers have changed the world into a place where humans are oppressed by mutants and all of her former allies have been gifted with their hearts' desires.  In Spiderman's case this involves him being a rich and famous celebrity, married to Gwen Stacy, with J. Jonah Jameson as his personal whipping-boy.  However, Peter Parker's perfect life is plagued by an inexplicable sense of guilt which leads him to write stories in which Gwen, his Uncle Ben, his father-in-law and his Aunt May are all killed in tragic circumstances.  Peter is also harbouring a secret which could destroy his career; he is not a mutant.  In 'House Of M', Spidey was the one most affected by the tradgedy of the Scarlet Witch's alternate reality and this book further explores the web-slinger's emotional instability, caused by a life filled with tragic losses.  This book's best moment is the genuinely surprising revelation as to the identity of the latest incarnation of the Green Goblin.  One thing that did annoy me a bit, being something of a stickler for continuity, is that at the end of this book Peter is reviled and believed dead and yet in 'House Of M' (where his true memories are returned to him) he's popular and being recognised in public.
4 out of 5
Jimmy The Hand
by Raymond E. Feist & Steve Stirling
Jimmy is a very likeable character, but his ability to do just about everything does get annoying at times, so I had mixed feelings when I began this book about his first adventure outside of Krondor.  The story begins within the time-frame of 'Magician' and, following Prince Arutha and Princess Anita's escape from the city, there is a crackdown on the Mockers.  Jimmy then disobeys the orders of the Upright Man in order to rescue his friends from prison, an act that leads to his temporary exile.  I won't reveal too much of the story, but the sinister plot isn't particularly original, although it's given a bit of depth and tension as Baron Bernarr's dreams reveal the dark history preceeding the events in the story.  The twists and turns of the plot aren't all that surprising and the 'revelation' about the Baron's son made me roll my eyes.  Putting all that aside, the book is well written, with good flow and clever structure.  Also, it is raised up by the quality of the characters (although fans of the series will find Jimmy is just the same as always, with no major development), particularly the contrasting girls Flora (a protitute trying to leave the game behind) and Lorrie (a farm girl whose world is turned upside down) and the way in which they interact.  When all's said and done, this book isn't groundbreaking, but it is an enjoyable and well-written story.
4 out of 5
'Men cursed as they grappled.'
JLA: Crisis Of Conscience
by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg
(Graphic Novel with art by Chris Batista and Mark Farmer)
Part of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis series.  The secret that certain members of the JLA used their powers to lobotomise the Secret Society of Super-Villains begins to tear the team apart.  Batman, having suffered the same treatment as the Secret Society, has quit the League.  Superman and Martian Manhunter are appalled at the behaviour of their teammates.  It is then that Despero restores the memories of the Secret Society.  The JLA then find themselves caught between their consciences and the fact that the Society is aware of their secret identities and the names of their loved ones.  As well as those mentioned above, this book features Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Hawkman, Flash, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna and Wonder Woman.  There is some great character-based tension in this book particularly between those involved in the lobotomising and those not.  I also enjoyed seeing the continuation of the sexual tension between Batman and Catwoman, which has been their trademark since the characters first met, and also Bruce's fear that their friendship may not have been Catwoman's choice.  There's plenty here for action fans, but I liked this book for the morality issues dealt with by the main characters.
4 out of 5
Judge Dredd Vs. Aliens: Incubus
by John Wagner & Andy Diggle
(Graphic Novel with art by Henry Flint)
It was inevitable that the xenomorphs would one day make it to Mega City One and, frankly, I ain't complaining!  The two franchises work perfectly together, making for a story full of brutal horror and dark humour.  Dredd is on unsually humane form here as he acts as mentor to Sanchez, a rookie Judge, which provides an interesting emotional connection that might not otherwise be there.  As you can imagine, this book is a visual feast, absolutely bathed in Lawgiver rounds and acid blood.  My favourite element, however, is something that definitely has it's origins in Dredd's franchise.  The villain, who unleashes the Aliens, is a mutant, but in true 2000AD style, his mutation isn't physical but is rather a 'predisposition to doing evil'.  Great concept!
4 out of 5
Mistress Of The Empire
The final book of the Empire trilogy.  After the ending of 'Servant of the Empire', you'd be forgiven for thinking, 'well that's it isn't it?' but the two author prove that there is quite a bit more worth telling about Mara of the Acoma.  The book begins with a devastating event that eventually unbalances the Acoma's apparently unassailable position.  However, Mara must face more than simply her enemy Jiro of the Anasati as the Assembly of Magicians begins to consider her a threat to their power.  The book includes all the plotting, espionage and politics you might expect from the trilogy, but included here are questions about the Tsurani culture as well as Mara's quest to find answers in distant lands.  The book is of higher quality than it's predecessors and really makes you feel like you've gone on a journey, a feeling that other authors who write books of similar length sometimes omit (ahem, *Robert Jordan*).  You could conceivably skip the other two books of the series and simply read this one, although I wouldn't necesarily recommend it.
5 out of 5
'The morning sun shone'
Murder In LaMut
by Raymond E. Feist & Joel Rosenberg
This book is very different from Feist's other Riftwar books and, as such, has taken quite alot of abuse.  I, however, am willing to go out on a limb and say that just because it lacks the epic scale or huge cast of characters or glorious battles of those other works, doesn't mean it's not a good book.  I actually quite enjoyed it and found Durine, Kethol and Pirojil to be wonderfully cynical and pragmatic characters.  Their constant bending (and occasionally breaking) of the rules to get results is a nice change from the clean cut heroes of many other fantasy books.  The prose is of a high quality and the freezing weather of LaMut will soon seep into you mind, leaving you shivering.  Generally speaking, this is not an epic fantasy tale and fans of that particular brand of the genre should steer clear.  However, if you want an intrigue-filled murder mystery with a fantasy background then I would definitely recommend this book; it's not outstanding, but it is an entertaining read.  Keep your eyes peeled for the bit where Kethol 'invents' snowshoes and fakes a Tsurani invasion!
4 out of 5
'It was a dark and stormy night.'

'Anyone who has lived through an English winter can see the point of building Stonehenge to make the Sun come back.'
 - Alison Jolly

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