Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Review: Ice Song by Kirsten Imani Kasai

Title: Ice Song
Author: Kirsten Imani Kasai
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publishing Date: 19 May 2009
Paperback: 384 pages


Sorykah Minuit, mother of twins called Ayeda and Leander, is working in an ice-drilling submarine. She’s an engineer, an ice miner. But what makes her somehow special is her mutated DNA: she’s a Trader, a shifter. She lives with the risk of turning into a man.

Her work takes Sorykay away from her babies, who remain in the care of their nanny Nels, while Sorykay is away. That’s why she’s very excited to meet them again when the submarine touches the Sigue coast. However, Nels and her babies don’t turn up when Sorykay reaches the cold rendezvous point. She starts to think about what to do and that’s when she hears the name of Matuk, a cruel mutant collector.

Don’t Judge A Book By It But...

I love the color combination of the cover art. The ice-blue lower part hints at a cold world that the name of the book promises. The girl on the cover has a look full of determination. Without the look in her eyes, I’d say she’s lost after a party because her long dress and the way that she holds it suggest that she’s not there to take a stroll in woods. However, the look in her eyes, the way she comes from behind the tree, gives the impression that she’s been following whoever she’s looking at and that she’s going to get what she wants.


In Ice Song, Kasai has created a very interesting world in a captivating setting. Once upon a time, Sorykah Minuit’s world was just like ours. Then, one day, evolution took a giant leap and rather than crawling, it started to run. Mutations happened too fast and with their modified DNAs, somatics and shifters appeared. However, this wasn’t a long time ago. At least, not long enough for them to get accepted by the rest of the humanity. In Sorykah’s world, somatics and shifters are marginalized and casted out because a somatic is a genetic mixture of a human and an animal and a shifter, just like our protagonist, is of both genders that shift periodically.

The other peculiarity of this world, at least in the Sigue, where Sorykah’s tale unfolds, is its being Arctic-like. It is covered with ice, whipped by icy winds and visited by deadly frozen nights. From Kasai’s own words:

“The Sigue was the Land of Ice Song, a surreal pole formed from ice that sang, juddered, and moaned. Ice plates ground against one another with subarctic cricket legs, keening shards and frosts that played the most primitive and abstract melodies yet had shaped the culture of this tiny nation. ... Hearing it now – angry, plaintive, sorrowful – Sorykah remembered shy she had volunteered for this frigid, outlandish post, for the Sigue song replicated her own bitter tune.”

Ice Song is a fantasy novel; but in its essence, it is a mother’s struggle to find her babies. In the most significant quest of her life, Sorykah continuously tests her limits. She accomplishes things that she thought she was incapable of. Along the way, she makes new friends, faces enemies of various types and learns how deadly the Sigue’s nature can be. There are also other smaller currents in the story, such as the story of a powerful family whose leader alienated the other members and the way that we cast away the ones that don’t resemble us.

I truly enjoyed Ice Song. It came in a moment where I was planning to read nothing but the books I had on my pile. I read a few reviews about it and I thought I heard the Sigue's Ice Song. In the end, I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed with it. It’s not only the setting or the plot but Kasai’s style is beautiful, which gives this dark world its depth and its colors.

Kasai’s debut novel has definitely impressed me. I heard that she's been working on the sequel called "Tattoo" and a third book called "Saudade". When they come out, they will take their places high in my list.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Pearl Of Wisdom

"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away and you have their shoes"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Elves: Once Walked With Gods

Wow! I just heard that James Barclay has been working on a new trilogy called ELVES (or Elves: The Trial Of Calaius). This got me pretty excited because I usually love stories revolving around Elves.

The first book is called Elves: Once Walked With Gods and according to Amazon it is coming out on the 21st of January 2010. I'd love to get my hands on a review copy :).

About The Book

The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of 100,000 elves lost to the Garonin. The elf who led that fight, Takaar, is blamed for the losses and has gone into hiding. Now the weakened elf race is tearing itself apart in civil war, human mercenaries have arrived in Calius and are ripping the continent apart. Only one elf can unite the elves. And only one elf believes in him. A young warrior named Auum sets out to bring back the shamed hero and save the elven race.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Free e-Book: Crescent by Phil Rossi

Crescent is Phil Rossi's recently published sci-fi horror book, which, by the way, looks like a great one. I read a few dozen pages and I'm totally hooked. I've been looking for a good sci-fi horror for a while and I hope I've found what I'd been looking for.

A big thanks to Dragon Moon Press for giving away a free e-book version (PDF). If you like the book, please buy a copy to support the author.

About the Book

Darkness has inspired fear since mankind first watched the sun go down. Bad things hide in the dark feral beasts with mouths full of razors waiting for a taste of flesh.

But now, the darkness is stirring with a life of its own. Crescent Station is the last bastion of civilization, floating in the cold, outer systems where colonized space gives way to the sparser settlements of the Frontier. Like the boom towns of distant Earth's Old American West, Crescent Station is a gateway to power, wealth, and opportunity for anyone who isn't afraid to get his or her hands dirty.

Deep within the station's bowels, in Crescent s darkest and most secret places, an ancient evil is awakening and hungry, and it threatens the very fabric of space and time. Will the residents of Crescent Station find a way to stop it before the terror drives them insane?

Or is it already too late?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Free e-Book: 2 More Free E-Books From Suvudu

New titles of this month in Suvudu's free e-book library are:

Darkfever written by Karen Marie Moning and Manifold: Time written by Stephen Baxter.

As usual, the e-books are available in various formats.

Book Review: Legend by David Gemmell

Title: Legend
Author: David Gemmell
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: 21 Aug 1986
Paperback: 432 pages
Standalone/Series: First novel of the Drenai Saga


Abalayn, the leader of the Drenai Empire is a weak leader. However, on the north, Ulric, one of the best leaders the world has seen, is building a massive army and he has his eyes set on the Drenai Empire. The only place that can hold Ulric’s tribal Nadir people is the fortress of Dros Delnoch. But can Dros Delnoch be manned on time? And who would stand on its walls and fight to death to give Drenai Empire a chance?

Don’t Judge A Book By It But...

The axe-wielding warrior, broken spears, bloody swords, spiky helmets and shiny armors promise heroic battles throughout this book. The cover reminded me of the old Conan comics of my childhood. It may well be one of the reasons why I decided to read this book in the first place...


Legend is probably David Gemmell’s most popular novel and I would qualify it as a heroic fantasy where the story revolves around a few well constructed characters. The plot is built in a European-like medieval setting where a Mongol-like invasion is imminent and an inconceivably large tribal army marching to the gates of the empire. The Gengis Khan-like tribal leader, Ulric, has achieved what had looked impossible before: Rallying the tribes under his banner.

Legend is a fast-paced and gripping book, full of epic battles, highly motivational speeches, hidden-heroes ready to be discovered in the heat of the war, men and women who can enjoy life while looking in the eyes of the angel of death. I truly enjoyed even the earlier character-building chapters. With the start of the book, I thought I knew very well where the story was going. But fortunately Legend is not a hack-and-slash book. There are subplots and enough turns and twists to make you want to read more. Its characters were very enjoyable too, even though some of them are stereotypical. I guess I was expecting a bit of that in a heroic fantasy novel written early in the 80s, so I found it was well attuned to the spirit of the book. I also enjoyed Gemmell’s heroes of epic stature with pretty cool names such as Druss The Legend and The Earl Of Bronze. However, Gemmell reminds us that those heroes are all human with their imperfections. They all fight their personal battles and struggle to face their personal demons.

One may find deeper meanings in the behavior and circumstances surrounding the protagonists. A hero, by definition, is a man or woman distinguished by exceptional courage and strength, celebrated for bold exploits. But Gemmell depicts ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary feats, some of them discovering their worth thanks to the circumstances that they find themselves into. The author paints a very human picture of men and women who, without a doubt, become some of the biggest heroes the Drenai have known throughout the story.

The story was not perfect either. The one thing that I disliked in the book was the sudden love story that developed between two of the protagonists. I thought it was very rushed. However, this is probably just a detail among many great qualities.

Rating: (8/10)

Noticeable Quote

- "Remember this: To have may be taken from you, to have had never." – Druss The Legend

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Free e-Novella: Bone Shop

Bone Shop is a prequel novella about the early adventures of Marla Manson, the heroine of an urban fantasy series by T. A. Pratt. It is supported by donations from readers, so you're invited to pay whatever you like.