The Cloud Roads Read Along Part 4

Welcome to week four of the read along of Martha Wells’s The Cloud Roads. This is the last section in the read along, covering from Chapter 16 to the end of the book. For my prior posts in the read along, visit the “Raksura Read Along” tag.

There’ll probably be a break for a while before we start on book two, The Serpent Sea, and the schedule for it is still up in the air. I’ll make a post to announce when the dates are set, but anyone’s welcomed to join in once it starts.

Spoilers are below the cut.

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September Short Stories

This month I’ve read a few short stories that are available free online from various science fiction and fantasy sites.

“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon. 

At night the jackalope wives dance around the bonfire, leaving their rabbit skins behind. A young man sees them dancing and decides to take one for his own, throwing her rabbit skin into the fire so she’ll be trapped in human form. It is up to his grandmother to deal with the catastrophic results of his action.

“Memorials” by Aliette de Bodard.

A woman deals in secret AIs made of the memories of her people’s elders, handing them over to be broken into parts, their memories reused in the dominant culture’s media and entertainment.

“The Days of Flaming Motorcycles” by Catherynne M. Valente.

The zombie apocalypse has arrived, not with a bang but with a stutter. The narrator is possibly the last remaining human in her hometown, accompanied only by the walking dead. Yet the zombies seem to retain some awareness of who they once where.

“A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone.

A vampire settles down with a former vampire hunter and has a son. Now he’s trying to be a father to his child while dealing with his inner monstrosity.

I really enjoyed all of these stories, although if I had to pick a favorite it’d probably be “A Kiss with Teeth.” There’s just so many good, free short stories out there – I really need to start exploring the format more.

Review of Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

25890355Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine. ★★★1/2

Paper and Fire is the sequel to Rachel Caine’s YA alternate history fantasy novel, Ink and Bone. This is a series that really must be read in order, so if you haven’t read Ink and Bone, I’d suggest looking into it before Paper and Fire.

Jess Brightwood has infiltrated the Library, the tremendously powerful organization that controls access to knowledge throughout the world and ruthlessly crushes all who oppose it. When Jess learns that his friend Thomas Schreiber, who disappeared presumed dead after inventing a machine that would destroy the Library’s monopoly on books, may still be alive, Jess is determined to stage a rescue. But this rescue will put Jess and his friends at even greater peril from Library forces.

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Review of The Door Into Fire by Diane Duane

8403571The Door Into Fire by Diane Duane. ★★★

The Door Into Fire is a 1979 fantasy novel set in a world where essentially everyone’s pansexual and same-sex relationships completely common and accepted. Since some great past calamity, Herewiss is the only man to posses the power of the blue flame, but he cannot find a means to control or use it. But while he’s struggling to try and forge a sword capable of bearing his power, he receives an urgent summons from his lover Freelorn, a usurped prince trying to gather an army to retake his country. Freelorn is trapped and needs Herewiss to rescue him. And perhaps along the way, Herewiss will finally learn to unlock his magic.

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Review of The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

25036395The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst. ★★★★

The Queen of Blood is a strong start to a new fantasy series. Humanity exists in a careful balance with the bloodthirsty nature spirits, who compelled by their twin desires to create and destroy. Only a human queen gifted with power is able to hold them in balance. Daliena, a young woman with some ability to control the spirits, is determined to do what she can to protect humanity from the devastation periodically unleashed by capricious spirits. Ven is a disgraced champion who has been roaming the wilderness between villages, fighting an increasing number of spirit attacks. With the queen possibly loosing control over the spirits, Daliena and Ven will have to combine forces.

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Review of Everfair by Nisi Shawl

26114130Everfair by Nisi Shawl. ★★★

Everfair is a novel that collapses partly under the sheer weight of its ambition. Yet for all that, it still contains some interesting ideas at its core.

Essentially, Everfair is a steampunk novel taking place in the Belgian Congo. A group comprised of an odd melding of Fabian Socialists and African American missionaries joins forces to purchase land from King Leopold II to ideally create an utopia, Everfair. But the group soon comes into conflict with King Leopold and with itself.

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