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A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell Hamilton

Description: Dark Fantasy. Faerys in modern day America. Meridith, a faery princess, and not happy about it, try's to navigate her way through the court of her Aunt, the Unseelie Queen of Air and Darkness.

Imagine a world where all the legends of the fay are real. That sometime during the era of Thomas Jefferson, they came to America to find a new home in Ohio. Image that they are strange and bizarre and frequently really good looking.

This is the introductory book to a new series for Hamilton and she does a good job building a magical world. The interactions between the fay and the modern world are believable. The varieties of fay, as always with Hamilton, display an impressive amount of mythic research.

For those familiar with Hamilton's Anita Blake series, KoS is not nearly as violent. Which is to say that people loose limbs, get shot, turned inside out, and compared to the Anita books, it's really not that hardcore.

Instead, there's a lot of sex. I mean really. Impressively enough, it all furthers central plot points in the book and helps develop the fay as creatures of the senses.

Meridith is a little more used to weird goings on than Anita and well, less inclined shoot people. However, she kicks plenty of other worldly posterior and is a strong, likable female main character. 

There are quite a few characters, but Hamilton manages to flesh them all out and make them real. 

My personal favorites were Doyle and Frost. Personal guards to the Queen of Air and Darkness. You can really believe that they are ages old with motivations not quite like ours. 

Doyle, the Queen's Darkness, is mysterious and enigmatic. A creature of ages old pride and loyalties. One moment insanely cool. Another moment protesting that of course he knows what film noir is...it means dark film right? Right?

Frost is a little more straightforward. It's odd to call a 1000 year + old man who carries weapon on weapon on weapon as sort of sweet (and well, blush, there is that scene in the bathroom, did I mention the sex), and yet, he is sweet.

The villains are villainous and Hamilton lays plenty of groundwork for future plots.

Here's looking forward to reading them all.

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Description: Fantasy. Cazaril, a former soldier, returns from foreign imprisonment looking for peace, but the gods have other plans.

I've been reading Loisí Vorkosigan series just this side of forever. So, it didn't take much to get me to buy the Curse of Chalion.

And once again she delivered on an excellent, exciting, thinking novel. Huzah for a new universe. This time in fantasy. I loved the medieval Spanish influenced background, which felt new, exotic, a wonderful new world to explore. 

There was plenty of action (wild horse rides, battles, miracles), court intrigue, and a touch of romance. And plenty of interesting intrigue to go around. The central mystery of the story draws you in and won't let you put the book down.

The main character, Cazaril, is a witty and fully fleshed person. But heck with Lois, even the villains are fully developed. I love clever heroes. Characters who are more than thews and a shiny sword.

If you like good fantasy. Fully developed characters. Interesting worlds. Good writing and you don't mind missing some sleep, read the book.


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