Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: Death Masks by Jim Butcher

One of the things I love about the Dresden files is that with every novel you can see how both Jim Butcher’s writing and the protagonist Harry Dresden mature just a little bit more. Death Masks, book five in the series, is no exception.

As usual Harry finds himself knee deep in trouble. He is challenged to a duel to the death by Ortega a duke of the red court. If Harry loses the war between the council and the court will be over if he wins Chicago will become a safe zone. If he doesn’t accept the challenge assassins will begin picking off everyone he cares about one by one. On the same day Harry is hired to find the missing Shroud of Turin which is believed to have been spirited away to Chicago. A few minutes later he is shot at by a few of Marcone’s, the Chicago crime lord who he thought he had an understanding with, thugs. To cap it all off his ex-girlfriend and semi-vampire Susan shows up and says ‘the two of them need to talk’.

One thing that stood out for me was the motivations of some of the ‘bad guys’ were explored quite nicely. Harry has always been a bit of a morally complex character but the bad guys have tended to be a bit simplified so this is a nice touch. In fact a few of the ‘good guys’ get the same treatment with equally interesting results. Otherwise Death Masks does all the things that we have come to expect from a Dresden novel and does them well. 8/10.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Review: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

I’ve been waiting to read A Madness of Angels for some time. I won a contest for it back in February but it never arrived. Once the people at orbit books learned about it they sent me another copy immediately. After finishing the book I’m glad they did.

Mathew Swift was a sorcerer living in London, after having an argument with the man who trained him and storming in off in a huff he is attacked and presumably killed. Two years later he wakes up, now sharing his body with a mysterious entity know as the blue angels, sparks life left over from the emotions poured into the telephone. Mathew begins gathering allies and plotting his revenge but does he really know what he’s dealing with?

The opening of Madness of Angels was confusing. The reader is thrust right into the middle of the story, no gentle introduction here. However I think this is rather well done, the protagonist is clearly disorientated and confused, not sure how his resurrection took place. The magic system is rather clever and I enjoyed it. Life exits everywhere and since life in modern day London centers on the city that is where sorcerer’s draw the magic from. Everything from the buzz of rush hour to the vermin that scuttle about unseen provide the life for magic. I have never seen a city portrayed so convincingly in any book before. Griffin really brings London and all it’s idiosyncrasy’s to life, it’s almost like the city is another character. If you are actually familiar with the city I’m sure you will get even more out of this.

Overall Kate Griffin’s first foray into grownup novels is a good one. I’m glad I chose Madness of Angels as my first venture into urban fantasy outside of the Dresden files and I can’t wait to see what she does next. 8.25/10