Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review | Elves – Once Walked With Gods by James Barclay

Review by Karen Simpson Nikakis

It is extremely difficult to think of elves without thinking of Peter Jackson’s rendition of Tolkienesque elves as being tall, slender and blonde. From the lithe athleticism of Legolas to the serene beauty of Galadriel and the wisdom of Elrond, Tolkienesque elves might fight with the required ferocity, but their motivations are lofty, and their more desired pursuits that of poetry and music. The contrast with Barclay’s murderous, treacherous and ethnically or ‘thread’ divided elves couldn’t be more startling. Gone too is the cool arboreal gloom usually favoured as elvish habitation, replaced with tropical, parasite infested jungles. The hero Takaar is in self-imposed exile and in his absence, the various ‘threads’ turn on each other. Aided by human mercenaries, no act is too despicable, no murder too bloody. And like the elves, it took me a considerable way into the narrative before I could work out whose side I should be on. This is the first book in a trilogy, but its darkness and reliance on the events in the back story, make me think it would be far better suited as Book Two.

This review first appeared in the Aurealis Magazine subscriber newsletter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review | Tymon’s Flight by Mary Victoria

Review by Crisetta MacLeod

I caught up with Voyager’s new kid on the block at Aussiecon4 in Melbourne. She told me her background was in animation. She worked on Lord of the Rings, which is what took her to New Zealand, where she has lived for ten years after travelling the world ceaselessly. Her family is Iranian, Jewish and English, and her husband is French. They have a cute little four-year-old daughter who was wearing very covetworthy pink boots. Her husband designed the evocative cover, showing a quaint flying machine in the tree canopy.
Tymon’s story is based in Mary’s tree world–the canopy of the tree is as large as the Himalayan mountain range. We talked about Avatar, and I told her about Kaaron Warren’s Walking the Tree, but Mary Victoria’s tree world was originally based on Iggdrasyl, the Norse legendary tree which encompasses the world. Tymon the protagonist is a rebellious orphan, raised in a Seminary. (Mary doesn’t apologise for her use of familiar tropes!) On completing his studies he is sent to a distant part of the canopy, as assistant to a dissolute missionary. It is there that he meets with the people who have been used as cheap labour by his original masters.
One of them is ritually sacrificed annually to the tree by being thrown off into the swirling cloud-filled depths below. After getting to know the locals, Tymon becomes disaffected from his origins, and joins forces with the oppressed peoples. To tell more is to spoil the story!
Mary scrapped the first version of her book, and then rewrote it entirely from scratch. Her second volume is due out in February, so we don’t have to wait long to find out what happens next.
This review first appeared in the Aurealis Magazine subscriber newsletter.

Win Books and DVDs in our October Subscriber Newsletter Competition

This month Orbit have given us THREE copies of New Zealand author Helen Lowe’s debut novel Heir of Night. And Madman Entertainment have once again come up with a great DVD prize of THREE copies each of The Fifth Element and 20th Century Boys.

Subscribers to Aurealis Magazine should refer to this month's aurealisXpress newsletter for details on how to enter.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review | Path of the Stray by Kim Falconer

Review by Crisetta MacLeod

The prologue leads us from a familiar Falconer scene into the first book of a new trilogy. In an austere and deteriorating world, autocratically ruled, Luka is working with cryogenically preserved DNA to drag wolves back from extinction. He links up with Janis and her daughter Loni, witches both. Janis is working on nanotechnology and when combined with Luka’s research…but I’ve said enough, the story will be spoiled. Suffice to say that the werewolf results of their combined efforts are spirited away to a parallel world which is free of pollution and oppression. One baby wolf is lost in the transition, and as an abandoned and resentful orphan becomes a cruel oppressor. Falconer peppers her story with astrological references, as we have come to expect from her. She also uses another Falconer trope, in that the two worlds between which her characters travel have differences in elapsed time.
An engrossing read demanding full engagement from the reader.

This review first appeared in the Aurealis Magazine subscriber newsletter.

Russell Blackford reviews Classic Australian SF series

Australian writer, philosopher and literary critic, Russell Blackford, has reviewed each of of the 6 books in the Classic Australian SF series:

The Crowned Skull by Fergus Hume

The Shrieking Pit by Arthur J Ress

Vandals of the Void by James Morgan Walsh

A Bid For Fortune by Guy Boothby

A Week in the Future by Catherine Helen Spence

Out of the Silence by Erle Cox

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