Review of The Queen is Dead
This is the second volume of Locke’s Immortal Empire series. The Spaceship reviewed the first volume, God Save the Queen, in our 2012 fantasy reads here: http://bullspec.com/2012/12/25/what-to-do-with-that-gift-card-part-1-fantasy-reads-for-2012/ .
Xandra Vardan continues her adventures in a quest to find the people who are experimenting on halvies (half-blood vampires or werewolves). She begins to accept that she is the queen of the goblins and this is in turn places obligations on her from the plague of goblins. Her werewolf boyfriend and his pack (which includes Xandra’a sister Ophelia), also have demands and obligations on her. She runs about in fantastic steampunk fashions sneaking into buildings, being kidnapped and chased, rescuing humans, halvies and goblins and of course having some romantic times with her werewolf. Some of the mystery is resolved in this volume but of course the person with the most knowledge is killed before Xandra can get any information out of her.
This volume ends with Xandra’s world on the brink of war between the goblins, humans, werewolves, vampires and halvies. The next volume, Long Live the Queen, is due out this October, which is a Good Thing because Your Humble Reviewer read this one in less than 24 hours.
Locke’s London is a very interesting mix of Victorian and modern with most of the action taking place within walking distance of the River Thames between Victoria Station and Covent Garden. Your Humble Reviewer having walked that area frequently, it is sometimes easy to visualize where Xandra is going and at other times the differences make it a bit strange to figure out the geography. There is a map in the front of the book however, which is useful to track where the characters are running about. The areas south of the river are completing missing their modern development and so are very different.
Her chapter titles are literary allusions to sources like Shakespeare and Nietzche and are sometimes humorous if viewed again after reading the chapter. Xandra shows a more mature view of her siblings, father, mother, and stepmother in this book than in the last, realizing why they might have done some things she considers wrong, but at least she is able to see the motivation behind their actions. She is still a hothead and quick to want to fight, but she has been eating things more appropriate for a goblin and so has more self-control than she did in the first volume. Her siblings are growing and changing as well, so the characters all seem like real siblings with changing relationships as life experiences shape them. Hopefully there will be many more volumes of this strange vampiric Britain.
Review of Shadows In Flight
The newest volume in the Ender’s Game universe has come to paperback (Tor February 2013). Card has returned to the story of Bean, last seen in Shadow of the Giant when he disappeared during the war and was thought dead by everyone on Earth except his wife and her parents. He took the three children (all of whom share a genetic defect with him) and left in an FTL ship in the hopes that a cure for that defect (heightened intelligence accompanied by gigantism and a greatly shortened lifespan) could be found on Earth and sent to them via ansible.
This volume starts on the ship Herodotus several years later when the children are 6 years old. The three children have all learned to do adult jobs by this point and each has their own specialty. Carlotta is an engineer, Ender a biological scientist and Cincinnatus is a soldier. Even genius 6 year olds fight among themselves and have sibling rivalry, but this suddenly becomes less important when the ship is going to pass near another ship so close there is no way they will not be detected.
What they find on the ship changes their views of the universe, and it will change that of everyone on Earth as well. The exciting plot and the tone of this volume are more like the original Ender’s Game than some of the volumes in between. The main characters are similar to their parents, Bean and Petra, so the thought processes and adult level thinking in children are like that of the original book. Almost two-thirds of the book is space adventure dealing with the ship and its consequences so this is a change from the war and political intrigue of recent volumes.
Orson Scott Card will be the writer guest of honor at Mysticon in Roanoke, VA February 22-24, 2013.