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Wizards, Piranha and Goa'uld

Another weekend gone by too fast- it was pleasant though, and I got a bunch of outdoor things done.  (Don't ask about the remix.  Bleh.)

Also there was some time goofing off and reading.  Mostly light stuff this week- Here are the latest batch of book reviews, including two of the SG-1 tie-ins I picked up in England. 

Wizards at War by Diane Duane

This is the eighth entry in her Wizards series (starting with So You Want to Be A Wizard). Like most long-running series, it has to cope with the problems of repeating themes. And like series involving magic, it has the common problem of needing to deal with power inflation (the next climax needing to be bigger than the last one).

Duane has done a remarkably good job of keeping the concept fresh through the series and the latest book is no exception. We have an appealing cast of secondary characters, including some repeating from prior books. The theme of good vs. evil is handled deftly as usual. There are many light humorous touches, continuing themes of responsibility, choice and sacrifice.

The ending was a trifle predictable and I'm not sure I'd have made the choices Duane did about who survived, but it was an enjoyable read, much in the same vein as the prior books in the series. I *don't* recommend it as the first book in the series to be read. These are much better read in order, as there are too many spoilers in later books for the plots of the earlier ones.

A Trace of Memory by Keith Laumer

After the selection of weaker stories that were contemporary with this that I read last month, this was a very pleasant surprise.

While there were some logical holes in the worldbuilding, the story had good internal consistency, a star-spanning plot, and a strong element of wish-fulfill ment, all of which took second seat to the strong plotting and pacing.

This story is more or less contemporary to the early sixties, so it is quite dated, but it's still a very enjoyable read.

Little Tiny Teeth by Aaron Elkins

A new Elkins is a not-to-be missed pleasure, and this is no exception.

Little Tiny Teeth takes Elkins' anthropologist-detective down the Amazon. Familiar secondary characters make a return appearance, along with a cast of plausible suspects. Elkin's vividly described settings always add interest to his stories, but he has really outdone himself with the jungle setting. Readers should not miss the photos and article written on the trip he took down the Amazon researching this book.

Desert Traveller: The Life of Jean Louis Burckhardt by Katharine Sim

This was a fascinating and thoroughly researched biography of Louis Burckhardt, the discoverer of Petra. The conditions he endured in pursuit of his explorations were appalling, but the accounts of traveling in the Middle East in Arab guise gave a marvelous glimpse into a world that no longer exists. I did find the author's adulation of her subject wearing at times, but overall the book was so interesting, I could overlook it.

The Vandermark Mummy by Cynthia Voigt

This was pitched a bit younger than I would ordinarily read, but who doesn't love a mummy? There was some nice historical detail, but I could have stood more mystery and less youth angst. This was an undistinguished mystery with a strong resolution and an appealing and well characterized hero. I did think she did a particularly nice job of writing a vivid climax that I think a young person would find suspenseful without being inappropriately scary or violent.

Stargate SG-1: Sacrifice Moon by Julie Fortune

I don't generally recommend tie-ins for people who are not fans of the source material, and this is no exception. However, for SG-1 fans, this read very much like a long episode, well-plotted, well-characterized, and with far better attention to the source canon than most. I thought it somewhat weaker as SF- there was some seriously questionable worldbuilding, and there was no good explanation- either scientific or canon- for some of the physical effects experienced by the characters. It was an enjoyable read, however.

Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

I debated picking this one up for a while- not because I thought the demon-hunting wouldn't be fun, but because I thought even demons wouldn't be enough to leaven a story about a suburban mom.

This would probably be a lot more amusing for women who have experienced suburban motherhood, but the writing was funny and fast-paced, and the premise- 'what if Buffy a demon-hunter retired, got married and never told her family what she used to do'- was enough to carry the book.

The Heart of Valor by Tanya Huff

This is the third book in the Valor series. Like it's predecessors, it's a fast-paced military SF adventure. While it doesn't take war lightly, it still manages to be both entertaining and funny.

Stargate SG-1: Siren Song by Holly Scott and Jaimie Duncan

Again- not recommended for people who aren't fans of the series. In this book, the authors take on the perennial fan question- "whatever happened to Aris Boch?" This time, Boch is after SG-1 on purpose. We get to see Boch's homeworld, we get Goa'uld (and Goa'uld-baiting), we get good team interaction. There were a couple of weaknesses in the resolution of the story however, which detracted from a satisfactory ending.

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