Dark Sight by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dark Sight gets TG Ayer’s new series “Daughter of Pythia” series off to a good start. Set in an alternate reality where America is known as New Germania and society is based on the Roman Empire, governments around the world hire or consult with oracles to help with solving crimes, averting disasters, strategizing and other such matters. The most powerful oracle is known as the Pythia and is a descendant of Apollo’s oracle at Delphi. When she begins to recieve visions of an apocalyptic-scale disaster in the near future, she must work with officials from the New Germanian government to piece together the clues her visions present in an attempt to thwart the cataclysm.
I really enjoyed this book, though I did have a couple of problems with it. The characters were complex and relatable and the plot avoids most of the more predictable traps often found in urban fantasy and romance novels. The one exception is that that the potential romance between the leads hits a roadblock because one decides to put a brake on things out of fear that the other will reject them if certain information becomes known rather than discussing it. This particular trope is the one that annoys me the most because talking about it would show trust and a willingness to be vulnerable, both of which can actually make a relationship stronger. Plus, if the other person is going to reject them upon learning the information, wouldn’t it be wiser and less painful to find out early on? My other issue with the book is a sub-plot that felt to me kind of like filler. The impending disaster presents numerous opportunities for dramatic tension without needing to add a secondary villain, especially since that section didn’t really provide much additional information that couldn’t have been revealed while resolving the main plot. Fortunately, this detour isn’t terribly long so the story gets back on track quickly.
Despite these issues, I found myself drawn into the book’s world and the characters’ lives enough that I was dissapointed to find I’d have to wait a bit before the next volume is released. There’s considerable promise in this book, and having read her Valkyrie series (which begins with Dead Radiance I know how fresh Ms Ayer’s writing can be.
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Dead Radiance by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have a great love for books that use Norse lore as a basis, so checking out this series was pretty much inevitable for me – and I’m glad I did. It’s one of the better ones I’ve come across. Author TG Ayer mines the rich treasure that Nordic myths provide and keeps the main core of the various characters reasonably close to the source material while giving them a unique spin to make them her own. She gives Asgard and its denizens the sense of ancient grandeur and magical wonder they deserve interwoven with the culture and technology of today, giving the series depth and relatability.
Ayer also does a nice job of keeping the story fresh by subverting some of the tropes that are all too common in the Urban Fanfasy genre. There were a number of times throughout the 5-book series where I thought I knew exactly where something was heading only to be surprised when it played out in an entirely different way. That’s something I appreciated so much, I’m now checking out some of her other series in the hopes that they, too, will provide such freshness (and in the case of Dark Sight – the only one I’ve finished so far – that’s been the case.)
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Gears of Fate by Wilbert Stanton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review.
“Gears of Fate” is a fun read, but it gets off to a bit of a slow start. The world the story takes place in takes a bit of explaining, and the idea of the Norse and Greek Gods working together felt a bit odd to me – though that may be more a function of my great love for the Norse Gods and their lore than anything else. The biggest hurdle for me to overcome, though, was that the lead female character came off rather spoiled and self-centered, leaving me wondering how enjoyable taking a journey with her would be. Thankfully, once the preliminary “setting up” of the story is done and we’re off to the adventure, we see that there’s much more to her than that initial impression suggested and I quickly succumbed to her charms.
The slow-ish start aside, the only real issue I had with the book is that while the steampunk elements work beautifully in the sky-city setting, there are times when the characters are on Earth that it feels a bit tacked on. So much of the Fae world has a natural and organic sense to it that having a creature need its engine wound or seeing a fairy with metal wings jars a bit, though by no means did it stop me from enjoying the story and the world in which it is set.
I particularly liked the way that the author avoided many of the tropes found in the young-people-on-an-impossible-quest genre, and he does a nice job of providing just enough foreshadowing that when a late-in-the-book twist is revealed, it doesn’t feel like it came from out of nowhere.
While this book is subtitled “Forgotten Gods #1” I was quite pleased to find that the story didn’t leave me hanging, waiting months to find out how things turn out. In fact, I initially thought it was a stand alone book, though there is easily plenty of room left for more stories to be told, and I look forward to visiting this world and these characters again.
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