From a Drood to a Kill

courtesy of Amazon.comObligatory SPOILERS message be here. This book just came out so if you haven’t read it, skip this review.

Ah Simon. I do adore your writing. I am so sad that you’re going to be wrapping up your Secret Histories, Nightside and Ghost Finders novels. If you haven’t heard (and I think I may have posted on this earlier this year…? Maybe?), Simon R. Green has been diagnosed with diabetes and in anticipation of that perhaps having health complications, he is wrapping up his series quicker than he originally planned. He is then going to write individual novels a la Shadows Fall.

At any rate, I just finished up From a Drood to a Kill. This novel picks up, naturally, where the last one left off. Eddie’s parents are missing and he is heading to Drood Hall to demand they help him. Eddie and Molly make a right mess of the Hall and a bunch of Droods who, in theory, know how to fight but in reality just don’t Eddie’s skills. They make it to the Sanctity where they bargain with Maggie, the current Matriarch, for Drood help.

Since Eddie wants their resources for a private quest, he needs to do one for them. And only Eddie. Molly gets sidelined, which she isn’t happy about, but she takes the time to go visit her equally impressive and troublesome sisters, Isabelle and Louisa (or is it Isabella and Louise? Can’t remember and too lazy to go back and find the right page to check). It seems that some intelligence is leaking from Britain’s latest high tech listening station, nicknamed the Big Ear. No, I don’t know who came up with that name. Its a little ridiculous. Okay, it’s a lot ridiculous.

The mission delivered and agreed to, the Armourer (Jack Drood and my personal fav.), gives Eddie his old Bentley (man, I wish I had that car. It would be awesome) for the trip. The Bentley is much more than just a car. Or even much more than one of James Bond’s cars. It can travel through dimensions, among other things, so it allows for a trip across Britain much quicker than driving a regular vehicle or taking a train.

Of course, the mission starts out with a bump. The Bentley gets sidetracked, kidnapped to the subtle realms by a group of rogue fae that includes a former aunt of Eddie’s, Melanie Blaze. Eddie preps himself for a fight, because faeries don’t just give up, when Melanie…just gives up. She lets him go when just moments before she was planning on using him as a bargaining chip with the Drood (good luck with that). Utterly perplexed, Eddie completes his mission without having to kill anyone (his new vow, tough one to keep for a Drood).

When he finishes, he finds out exactly why Melanie gave up so easily. The one Drood she’d really wanted to deal with, the Armourer Jack Drood, died. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not Jack! I was so upset by this! Even though it was established that Jack was really quite old, it was a hard it. It was such a likeable character. Luckily enough, it wasn’t murder (which is something of an issue with Droods) but just old age. Rare that an agent can die peacefully at home.

After a solemn ceremony on the Drood estate, a wake for friends (plus Eddie and Molly) gets held at the Wulfshead, Eddie’s usual club. People come from all walks of life to say goodbye to Jack in grand, drunken fashion. Including Cedric Drood, the Sergeant-at-arms, that Eddie doesn’t get along with in the least. They put their animosity aside for the night to celebrate Jack’s life. Eddie learns there was more to his beloved uncle than he ever knew. It doesn’t make him feel good, that he didn’t even bother to learn these things. He always thought he’d have the time to talk to Jack more, I suppose.

After the party, which goes off without a hitch oddly enough, Molly gets kidnapped. Right out of the Wulfshead, which is supposed to be impossible. Angry, grieving for his uncle, Eddie goes on a tear to find her. Kidnapped by the grandiosely (and self) named Powers That Be, Eddie kicks arse and takes names as he tries to find their home base of the Shifting Lands.

Molly has been kidnapped for the Big Game. A supposedly private and hush-hush event strictly for the Powers That Be and their amusement. They kidnap people who owe debts so large (usually on their soul and/or body) to powerful beings (Heaven, Hell, Powers, Dominations. You name it, they’ve probably done it) that they could never repay those debts even in death. Like Molly, who made deals upon deals with Good and Bad in order to gain the power to destroy the Droods for killing her parents.

The Big Game is a fight to the death and the last one standing has all of their debts paid for by the Powers That Be. To make things interesting, the Shifting Lands are ever changing based on the mood and force of will the players can enforce upon it. One minute, it can be your place of power, the next it might be your opponent’s place of power.

I won’t give away what happens with that. Its really too good and I wouldn’t do it justice. It was obvious from the writing that this series is, indeed (and sadly), winding down. That doesn’t make it any less interesting or well written though. In most cases of Simon’s writing, I would say you really don’t need to read the previous book to get the gist of this one. And while that is true to a certain extent with From a Drood to a Kill, I think it would definitely make more sense if you read Casino Infernale before reading this book. That one was absolutely amazing and the events in that have a direct impact on those in From a Drood to a Kill. Hell, I suggest you read the whole damn series. Its so much fun and the titles are delightful puns on James Bond titles. Rating: A.


Courtesy of goodreads.comAnd I’m back! Finally have internet back up at our new place after two weeks. I’ve gotten to read a few books in that time so I have something to review. Woohoo! I don’t often times go for scifi books. My genre of choice is urban fantasy. But I had an urge to see if there was anything good at Amazon in that genre and I managed to stumble upon a winner.

Written by Marissa Meyer, Cinder is a cyberpunk retelling of the classic Cinderella tale. Set in the Eastern Commonwealth of a far distant future, Linh Cinder is a cyborg mechanic. Cyborgs are considered second class citizens in this future and Cinder is no exception. An orphan who was saved by a man called Linh Garan, Cinder is treated harshly by her stepmother Adri who blames Cinder for her husband’s death. Cinder is only allowed her mechanic shop because the money she earns goes to Adri.

Cinder is a very talented mechanic. Considered the best in New Beijing, she is the one that Prince Kai, the Emperor’s only son, is referred to when something happens with his personal tutoring android. Cinder and Kai connect on a personal level. Cinder doesn’t treat him like royalty, Kai doesn’t treat Cinder like she’s nothing. Cinder eventually agrees to see what she can do about the broken android and the pair go their separate ways.

This is just a bit different from the usual Cinderella tale in that they meet first thing and not at a ball. Kai knows that Cinder is a mechanic, though she doesn’t let on that she’s a cyborg. Cinder thinks that she’ll maybe see Kai once more when he comes to pick up his android but events conspire to bring them together again and again. And yes there is a ball, but that doesn’t happen until the very end of the book.

First, there is her stepsister Peony getting sick from a plague called letumosis. Originally coming from the Lunar population (a group of people that had, at some point, been human but had evolved over time to become a separate species that can manipulate bioenergy that appears as magic to humans), letumosis is universally deadly to those who catch it. If you’re human and you catch it, you die. Peony getting sick causes Adri, the stepmother, to be even worse to Cinder. She does, in fact, sell Cinder to the cyborg draft which has been set up specifically to use cyborgs as test subjects for plague cures.

This brings her to the attention of one Dr. Erland. He’s been trying to work on a cure since Emperor Rikan, Kai’s father, got sick. Unfortunately, he’s come up negative from twenty-seven attempts. He injects Cinder with the plague and finds…she’s immune. Some how, her body gets rid of the letumosis. Intent on using her blood to find a cure, he bullies and blackmails Cinder into willingly working with him by promising Peony would get any potential cure right after the Emperor himself.

Unfortunately for him, part of Cinder’s cyborg programming is a built in lie detector. She knows when people are outright lying or even when they’re just holding something back. So there’s something more to what Erland wants than just her blood. She can do nothing about that though, as once she agrees to become a test subject, she runs into Prince Kai again while he comes down for an update from Erland.

At this point, Kai tries to get Cinder to attend the ball with him. And…she refuses. Because she’s a cyborg and she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. Because there’s something more unusual about her that’s making Erland lie right to the Crown Prince. Cinder doesn’t want to drag Kai into whatever is going on but that wish is fruitless.

We find out later that the reason that Cinder is immune to letumosis is because she is herself a Lunar. And not just any Lunar but the long-lost beloved Princess Selene whom many presumed dead at the hands of her aunt, Queen Levana. So of course, her path crosses with Levana at the ball. There is a mess and an unveiling and Prince Kai ends up handing Cinder over to Levana as technically, Lunars are not allowed to live on earth (there’s a whole treaty because Levana wants to keep all of her people under her thumb or kill them if they can’t).

The book ends on a cliffhanger with Cinder in jail awaiting execution by Levana and Prince Kai refusing anything to do with her (rather understanding as she did kinda lie to him). She faces two choices, given to her by the somewhat barmy Dr. Erland: stay and die or use her newly found Lunar powers (‘magic’) to escape prison and go with him to Africa. Its a chance to save Kai and indeed many others from the clutches of Levana, who wants to conquer Earth.

The best I can describe this is: Cyberpunk Cinderella. And its actually pretty good. I’m strongly considering continuing with the series but Simon R. Green has just released two new books and there’s a new Jane Yellowrock that is calling my name. But I have to say, if you like cyberpunk and you like fairy tales, you should check this out. It just grabs your attention and keeps it. Cinder isn’t a damsel in distress and I hope she continues in that vein for the other books. Rating: B+/A-. The female characters could have talked about more than Prince Kai and the ball but otherwise a very well done and fresh take on Cinderella.