rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Yesterday's review.

The second of the Twenty Palace books continues to follow Ray Lilly, an ex-con who now works for a society of extremely ruthless magicians who are trying to keep the world safe from Lovecraftian ex-dimensional predatory monstrosities. Ray is too low on the totem pole to be told anything about anything, which makes the worldbuilding a fun mental jigsaw.

I was not as pleased with this book as I was with the first, Child of Fire, because this was too much like the first: small town under siege because of the actions of the wealthy and ruthless, which becomes blockaded from the greater world, and in which Ray is the person who cares the most about mitigating the damage to civilians. And the predator was creepier in the first book.

Still, this is perfectly competent fantasy of a kind I would call 'urban' except that it's kind of semi-rural, with an enjoyable Twin Peaks vibe. I will definitely give the series a third book, to see whether any of the various pieces of the jigsaw start to fit together and whether the setting and plot are sufficiently different. At the moment, things could go either way.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Competent, enjoyable, intelligent, non-romantic urban fantasy with less snark than the Dresden Files and less angst (to date) than Mike Carey. (Well, in my opinion, and depending what you mean by angst.)

Ray is the driver for a scary-ass mage who hates him. Her job is to go around and eliminate things that have magic and control the knowledge flow surrounding magic, because magic can provide gateways into the world for, essentially, Lovecraftian ickiness. She and Ray have bad blood between them, which is the whole reason he has this job, and so when they find themselves in a peculiarly infested little town in the middle of nowhere in Washington State, she's pretty invested in not telling him about what's going on. In fact, she'd prefer he politely get himself killed as soon as possible, and occasionally gives him direct orders that ought to make that happen.

Ray, of course, would prefer not to.

The book is full of various action scenes (standard-ish and otherwise), interesting hints at the worldbuilding dropped at long intervals, a couple of things I'm pretty certain will be overarching plot eventually, Ray kicking ass in an annoyed sort of way because it really is true that no one wants to tell him anything, and a small town sufficiently reminiscent of Twin Peaks that I think it uses some of the same sets (this is a compliment). The secondary characters are well-fleshed-out. Ray's boss is scary in that way where she's not actually secretly likable, except that she is. The plot has a sufficient number of red herrings and different things going on in it. Ray is several notches more competent than anyone actually would be under the circumstances, but for this genre he's got a lot less firepower than the usual protagonist.

In short, this is damn entertaining, very promising for a first novel, and I will cheerfully read more at this level of competency or higher. It's not Dostoyevsky or anything, but it does give you hope that the author has ambitions; he is, so far, hitting what he aims at.


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