Review: The Tattered Banner

The Tattered Banner
The Tattered Banner by Duncan M. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars, rounding to 4, because there’s something in here that stays with you for a while.

It feels very much like the bastard love-child of Dave Duncan’s [b:Paragon Lost|57692|Paragon Lost (King’s Blades, #4)|Dave Duncan||1894792] and Modesitt’s [b:Scion of Cyador|618245|Scion of Cyador (The Saga of Recluce, #11)|L.E. Modesitt Jr.||749415], complete with special-swordsmen and border-raids-by-barbarians.

Still, I enjoyed the writing. Took too damn long to start, but I’m very much a give me the conflict now, please, I can figure out the backstory on my own type of reader, so there’s that.

Like Duncan and Modesitt’s work, it’ll linger.

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Review: The Countess Conspiracy

The Countess Conspiracy
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Regency Romance? Me, Aldous Mercer, anti-romance crusader for Science and Magic?

Yup. Regency Romance.

Blame Heyer – in my younger army-mad phase, my Father-the-Brigadier-General said Heyer used to be required reading for his Military History class. I picked it up, and lo, it was good.

Goddamn Commonwealth.

But I enjoyed the first one in this series – Duchess War – because of how very different it was from every other Regency-type storyline out there.

But I fear Ms. Milan has gone a bit too far: A cascade of Horrific Events in backstory-reveals is not entirely an adequate substitute for character development.

Also, Bitterness is not the path to progress for women in STEM fields. I applaud Milan’s social and mindset-shifting agenda, but ramming it down throats…swallowing bitter pills requires either more seriousness than the romantic aims of the book, or much more sugar, given the setting.

And yet…and yet, it’s a very powerful might-have-been. Everything in the story screams anger, and rightfully so. But there isn’t enough coherence within Violet for the whole thing to work, at least for me.

The writing, as always, is brilliant. And if I ever pick up a Historical again, I’ll give Milan’s other works a try.

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Review: Fledgling

Fledgling by Nicole Conway
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ll read most things with dragons in ’em, YA or otherwise. As advertised, the book has dragons, so +1 star. That’s…about it.

In terms of the Dragons, Fledgling tries to be a cross between [b:The Dragonriders of Pern|61942|The Dragonriders of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern, #1-3)|Anne McCaffrey||6614581] and [b:Heart’s Blood|270641|Heart’s Blood (The Pit Dragon Chronicles, #2)|Jane Yolen||3225146], but it has neither the charm of the one or the heartfelt intensity of the other.

In terms of Sword and Sorcery, it’s like a fleshed-out version of a half-assed backstory you come up with for your D&D character to justify “elvish” and “draconic” under the Languages tab.

It would have earned another star if the plot elements – especially the true conflict w.r.t the kidnapping, etc. were developed with proper attention to craft. Either the book ended too early, or it took too damn long to start…

However, Dragons. Dragons make everything better :) and the descriptions of the dragonriding-experience are fantastic. There’s a lot of potential there, and I could be persuaded to pick up the next one in the series if the price-point is right.

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