Saturday, May 10, 2014

One for challenge, one for fun.

So one more finished for the challenge and I reread another that wasn't on the list just for fun.

Challenge read
The Serpent's Shadow (Elemental Masters #2) by Mercedes Lackey 4*
BLURB: Mercedes Lackey returns to form in The Serpent's Shadow, the fourth in her sequence of reimagined fairy tales. This story takes place in the London of 1909, and is based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Lackey creates echoes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, pays affectionate homage to Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey (who plays an important role under a thin disguise), and turns the dwarves into seven animal avatars who masquerade as pets of her Eurasian heroine, Maya.
Some of Maya's challenges come from the fact that she is not "snow white," and she has fled India for her father's English homeland after the suspicious deaths of her parents. Establishing her household in London, she returns to her profession as a physician, working among the poor. Her "pets" and loyal servants stand guard, and Maya herself uses what bits of magic she managed to pick up in childhood to weave otherworldly defenses as well. But the implacable enemy who killed her parents has come to London to search for her; if Maya can be enslaved, her enormous potential powers can be used to the enemy's ends. Fortunately, English magicians of the White Lodge have also noted a new, powerful presence in their midst, though they're having trouble locating her, too. They send Peter Scott, a Water Master, to track her down. He finds Maya beautiful and benign, and is determined to teach her to use the Western magic she is heir to, before her enemy discovers her.

My Review: Long time readers of my reviews will know, by now, that I love reworked fairy tales and this one is very good. However I wasn't as happy with it as I was with The Fire Rose, but that might be because my favourite fairy tale is Beauty & the Beast on which The Fire Rose is based. In The Serpent's Shadow I loved the historical setting of London in the early 1900's and Ms. Lackey was able to imbue the whole book with the atmospheric feelings of helplessness and despair of those times. The addition of the magic was carefully and skilfully embroidered into it so that the whole thing seemed very real. I liked all the characters but more than that I really loved Maya's 'pets'. It was worth reading the book just for them.

Bolo! (Bolo #14) by David Weber 4*
BLURB: Controlled by their tireless electronic brains which were programmed to admit no possibility of defeat, the gigantic robot tanks known as Bolos were almost indestructible, and nearly unstoppable. Their artificial intelligences were designed to make them selflessly serve and protect humans throughout the galaxy and made each Bolo the epitome of the knight sans peur et sans reproche, and often far more noble than the humans who gave them their orders. Now, David Weber, New York Times best-selling author of the Honor Harrington series, continues the history of the Bolo, in four short novels, one of them published here for the first time. One Bolo is driven over the edge by the very humans it is pledged to protect. Another Bolo must decide whether or not to disobey when it is given an order that constitutes genocide. A third must hunt one of its own kind whose robot brain is damaged and rescue two children which the deranged Bolo thinks it is protecting from a nonexistent enemy. And more, including as a bonus, David Weber's own authoritative technical history of the Bolo, all in a volume that will be irresistible both for David Weber's huge readership and Bolo fans everywhere.

My Review: It's been some years since I first read this book and my opinion of it hasn't changed. The stories are really good and I love any books about Bolos and am very glad that a lot of great science fiction writers have taken up the stories where Keith Laumer stopped. I first read this one from the library and this reread was my very own e-reader copy, the first I hope in getting my own collection of Bolos together so that I can reread them to my hearts content. There is just something primeval in me that responds to military science fiction stories about almost sentient 32,000 tonne tanks.

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