A Hard Day’s Knight

Simon R. Green does love his punny titles. A Hard Day’s Knight picks up immediately after The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny left off. John just gets home from rescuing Tommy Oblivion and killing Walker and is looking forward to some down time with Suzie when she give him some unpleasant news. Something came in the post for him. And when he spots it, that something looks suspiciously sword shaped.

And it is Excalibur. Someone has sent it through ordinary post to John. But why him? If there was every anyone not worthy to hold such an item, its John. And yet clearly he’s meant to be carrying it for some reason. It feels right to pick it up and wield it. When Suzie reaches for it, she just knows that she’s not worthy enough to touch it.

In order to find out the answer to his question, he has to go out to London Proper, to find the London Knights. The London Knights are the descendants of King Arthur’s original round table knights. They have been training down the centuries for the time that Excalibur would come back into the world and Arthur would wake from his long sleep. They know more about the myth and legend (and facts) that is King Arthur than any group or person.

Of course, since they are descended from Arthur’s knights, they very much disapprove of the Nightside and all its denizens (this includes the practically saintly Julien Advent). They are not happy that John has Excalibur rather than one of them, but the Lady of the Lake pops in and tells them all to grow up. Some of you Green fans might recognize the Lady of the Lake, Gayle (Gaea-Mother Earth) from Drinking Midnight Wine. Green so does love to intertwine his story lines, which I love.

John has a destiny (which he really isn’t a happy about). He is to wake Arthur and prevent the Elves from going to civil war with each other. Of course, no one knows exactly where Arthur is sleeping, but that’s minor details! Especially when the aforementioned Elves break into the London Knights’ demesne of Castle Inconnu.  There is a great battle where much ass is kicked and John…manages to lose Excalibur to a man (and former Knight) named Jerusalem Stark (great name).

So of course, he has to get it back. Stark runs to the Nightside to sell Excalibur to King Artur of Sinister Albion. Sinister Albion is an alternate history of Camelot where Merlin Satanspawn accepts the title of Antichrist and everything goes to shit. Quite literally. John and Suzie are so close to getting Excalibur back when she kills Artur and Stark escapes to Sinister Albion. This swordbearer thing is a lot harder than it sounds.

So they go to the Doormouse (and I’d love to see an artist’s rendering of this character because he sounds just so delightfully fuzzy) and get a door to this alternate earth. We see yet more mayhem and ass kicking and John finally gets Excalibur back. The Gaea from this time track sends them back to the Nightside but they’re a bit worse for wear. They’re filthy from the fighting and since they ended up in the wishing well of the Mammon Emporium (poor thing), they decide that cleaning up is the first order of business. Luckily you can find pretty much anything in the Mammon Emporium and that includes heavy duty cleaners. Half an hour and they’re good as new but the night is long and so very far from over.

John heads back to London Proper (with Suzie this time because he gets in trouble otherwise) and they bang on the door of the Castle Inconnu until they’re allowed in. John refuses to let the Knights beat around the bush any longer and insists on talking to their so called Grand Master. Imagine their surprise at coming face to face with Sir Kae, who they ran into in Paths Not Taken. And of course he still remembers them (how many people do you think have brained him with his own mace?) though he holds not grudges.

Turns out that Merlin, in all his nasty sense of humor, made Kae immortal so that something of the old, glorious Camelot would be around when Arthur woke up. And he is the only one who knows where Arthur is buried. And it isn’t Avalon (a rumor Kae started) and it isn’t Glastonbury (a modern myth I believe). It’s the basement of Strangefellows because honestly, who would think to look there. Especially with Merlin being buried right next to him.

Kae leads John, Suzie and Alex (because its his bar god damn it) into the cellars and John lays Excalibur at Arthur’s feet. Arthur pops awake as if its been mere hours, though he has been listening in his sleep this whole time (an easy way to get Arthur to speak modern English, natch). There is much rejoicing between brothers and much drinking by Arthur, whose quite thirsty after almost fifteen hundred years.

Still, they’re not quite sure what exactly they need to do. John doesn’t get much time to enjoy being in the presence of a legend. He gets a call from Julien Advent, who insists on meeting right. Now.  So John fires up the portable timeslip from Walker’s watch (which he stole before Walker took a swan dive) and meets Julien…at the place where Griffin Hall used to stand. Where Walker was killed by John’s own hand.

Julien shows John that Elves have come to the Nightside and are slaughtering people. He doesn’t know which faction they come from but it hardly matters. He demands John do something. John says he has an idea that Julien will almost certainly not like and then whisks himself off to Strangefellows before Julien can object. He tells the others what is happening and asks Kae to get his Knights. It order to do this in a timely fashion however, they have to go back to the Doormouse, who throws himself at Arthur and snuggles. Its rather cute.

The Doormouse is how the Elves got into Castle Inconnu earlier and though he isn’t entirely unrepentant, he does agree to send them back. There’s much rejoicing (yay) by the Knights at seeing their king alive and well. Arthur rouses them to battle and the whole lot of them (around a thousand in all) head into the Nightside via the Knights’ own dimensional doors (which I can only imagine must be operated from within the hall because otherwise why wouldn’t Kae use that instead of the Doormouse?).

Elves and Knights clash until the Elves are beaten down. John is pissed at this whole thing because there are people, his people, dead and dying in the streets and buildings mere ruins now. He’s damn well tired of the carnage and demands that Mab, Oberon and Titania parley with Arthur. And it is Arthur’s presence that ensures they actually do, because the Elves still have honor and they have old agreements with Camelot and her king.

In order to press upon every one that a civil war is most definitely a bad idea, John brings them all to a place he’s been working to erase since Something from the Nightside. The dead future timeline where he killed Razor Eddie is still a possibility (and he wishes he knew why, because he really wants to avoid it). Arthur and Kae are shocked and horrified. Oberon and Titania agree that perhaps a civil war is a bad thing but what can they do?

Its then that Arthur tells them of the Doormouse and his doors to alternate earths. There is a pristine earth behind one of those doors. An earth that has never known a sentient being, let alone something like and elf or a human. The Elves can thrive there, can be themselves there. Oberon and Titania agree but Mab, crazy Mab, does not. She’s all set to kick off some major carnage when she’s taken out (very trickily) by her own son, Puck.

And so war is averted for now. The Elves go to their paradise, where they can thrive. Oberon locks the door to that plane and disappears into Shadows Fall. He and Titania don’t belong in the new world. They are far too old fashioned for it. Arthur goes off with the Lady of the Lake, to await the Final Battle (whenever and wherever that may be). Kae gets to stay through the coming years the hard way. Again.

And John gets a bit of surprising news from Suzie. But we’ll wait until the next book to spill that little tidbit. 🙂 This was great. I loved the whole thing, beginning to end. If you could read just one of the Nightside books, I’d have to say that this should be it. Rating: A+.

Ever After!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I’m back. I’ve been away a while because I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series. Again. 🙂 At any rate, I’ve just read the new Hollows novel, Ever After by Kim Harrison. When is the next one coming out? Cause seriously, this one was good. It wasn’t really as frustrating as those early books were. Since this book has just recently come out, you are warned that HERE BE SPOILERS.

Rachel Morgan, our leading lady, has actually changed! She doesn’t rush head long in to dangerously stupid (or stupidly dangerous) situations. Thank god. That was really annoying. And she’s actually learned that she can get help from people! Oh my god! Okay, enough with the sarcasm (maybe).

In this book, she’s in trouble because a ley line that she accidentally created (which makes it her responsibility) is leaking ever after (the place where the demons live and allows for magic to be used). Only it isn’t her fault. True she created the line but someone has cursed it, causing the ever after leakage. That person (well, demon really) is the creepy Ku’Sox that demon she bested a few books ago. He is out for revenge in a big way.

Ku’Sox uses Rachel’s ex-boyfriend (who hasn’t appeared in a while) Nick Sparagamos as a familiar. Nick wants revenge on Rachel in a big way…though I can’t really remember why. I’d be tempted to go back and re-read those early books if Rachel Morgan wasn’t so god damn irritating in them. At any rate, Nick (or crap-for-brains as Jenks calls him) is abducting witch children with Rosewood Syndrome, the same deadly disease that Rachel had as a child. And if they’re cured, they will become day walking demons just like Rachel.

Not only that, but Ku’Sox kidnaps Trent Kalamack’s child Lucy as leverage. Trent is the only one who knows the complete Rosewood cure. So Rachel has to get the babies, get Lucy and stop the ever after from shrinking. And if she doesn’t? Oh the usual…death by Newt (the only other female demon, not the lizard).

I won’t go into too much detail but I really, really enjoyed this one. Rachel is finally, finally becoming a fully fleshed out character. And she finally freaking kissed Trent! I’ve been waiting for that to happen for several books now. I’m am really looking forward to the next one, whenever it may be released. Totally worth the read. I might even re-read it. Rating: solid A.

A Perfect Blood

**SPOILERS**

So I just plowed through Kim Harrison’s latest Rachel Morgan novel, A Perfect Blood. It was good and yet in parts of it I wanted to wring the main character’s neck. We’ve had quite a few of these books and apparently Rachel Morgan still goes off half-cocked with no plan and no back up only to be surprised when she gets captured by the baddies!

In this book, she’s essentially spayed herself magically speaking because she’s afraid of how people will treat her as a full powered demon. Not to mention she doesn’t want to live permanently in the ever after with Al and the other wacko demons. So for half the book or so we watch Rachel trying to continue working as she had before…but without any of her demon abilities because while she’s come out as a demon, apparently she just mentally has not accepted that her life will change.

And now we have a new group of bad guys who, while clearly focusing on Rachel for something, are more into the destruction of anything non-human rather than Rachel specifically. This makes a nice change from the previous books where the bad guys seem intent on wiping Rachel out simple because she’s Rachel.

At any rate, her life is changing and she’s getting frustrated that she can’t keep up. Ivy and Jenks are moving on with their respective others and Rachel is just a bit jealous because she doesn’t have one. She’s trying to talk herself out of a clear crush on elf Trent Kalamak and I’m note entirely certain why. He’s a bit of a dick, sure, but he’s also helped her out of quite a bit of trouble. Those two need to shag and get it over with already.

Eventually Rachel reaches a breaking point where she HAS to regain her demon powers by removing her charmed silver bracelet. From there, she ends up kicking her ass in her usual Three Stooges way. Let’s face it, she can fight and she can spell but she really has little common sense. She never waits for backup and she purposefully limits herself by dampening her powers. I really do like these books but sometimes Rachel Morgan just seems a little too cliche to me.

Rating: BB+

A Hard Day’s Knight

As I’ve stated before (I think…), I am a HUGE Simon R. Green fan. I love his writing. It’s evocative and witty and so very British. He reminds me of a very dark Douglas Adams. At any rate, I just re-read his latest Nightside novel A Hard Day’s Knight. I love this book, and the series, and I highly recommend them.

In A Hard Day’s Knight, private detective John Taylor starts off trying to relax from the end of the last book’s events. Spoiler alert: John has killed the infamous Walker. But let’s face it, the man had it coming. I love the Walker character but he was a right arse. At any rate, John comes home to Suzie Shooter and finds something on the table that he really, really doesn’t want. Excalibur. Yes, the Excalibur. And it isn’t what he thinks it is.

Well, alright, it’s a sword. But it’s so much more than that. And John, being neither good nor pure, has been given a special dispensation from the Lady of the Lake to bear Excalibur and find King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. Something of a spoiler alert, the Lady of the Lake is Gayle from his stand alone story Drinking Midnight Wine.I absolutely love when Green brings elements from his other stories together. 🙂

Unfortunately, everyone and their brother wants Excalibur and are quite determined to wrest it from John’s control. They make quite a mess of John and Suzie’s front yard…well, front land mine zone really. So in order to figure out how to get rid of the damn thing, John decides to go to the London Knights, the descendents of Arthur’s original knights. Before he gets too far though, he’s forced to accept the title of Walker and clean up a nasty little soul bomb. Some days, you should just stay in bed with the lights off.

And just to make things even more complicated…the Elves have decided to go to war with each other. On Earth. Hopefully wiping out the humans while they fight. So, just the usual day, or night, in the Nightside. It’s a great story and I can’t wait for the next book, The Bride Wore Black Leather. So get it, read it. A+ And I really hope Puck comes back in future Simon R. Green books. 🙂

The Hollows, to present

I’ve been zooming through books recently and haven’t had much time to update my blog, so this one might be a long one.  I left off my review of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series with A Fistful of Charms. Following on the heels of that book comes For a Few Demons More.

In this book, Rachel Morgan still has the 5,000 year old demon made Focus in her possession and someone has found out that it is in Cincinnati. Someone is killing off werewolves in Cincinnati trying to find it and take it away from them and a serial killer seems to be on the loose, going after human women with no discernible link.  Rachel gets pulled in by the FIB and Detective Glenn to help investigate and the trail leads to Rachel’s own Alpha, David Hue.  Add master vampire Piscary and Trent Kalamack into the loop and things get really complicated, real fast.

Of course, once Rachel does get things figured out…she gets stupid.  Kim Harrison hasn’t quite gotten passed putting her main character in situations that are created entirely from her own stupidity.  And the only way for Rachel’s stupidity to be fixed is by summoning a demon, a new one by the name of Minias.  Spoiler alert: The werewolf focus gets magically sealed into Alpha David Hue.  This allows him to create werewolves by biting a humans, which hasn’t been done in thousands of years.

Next up is The Outlaw Demon Wails. With (spoiler) Kisten dead at the hands of some unknown enemy, Rachel’s life is in the midst of falling apart. Not that it was every really together.  Now, however, she’s even more determined to not do stupid things. At least, not before determining that stupid is absolutely the only way out.  Which happens to be the case in this book.  With at least one demon after Rachel and she has to figure out who is setting him on her, why and how to stop them.  Her trip will lead her into the ever after with her hated enemy Trent Kalamack on a trip that will save both her and the Elves.  But she has to survive first and to survive, she has to embrace the fact that she can spin demon magic.

White Witch, Black Curse.  Rachel is determined to figure out who murdered her vampire lover Kisten two novels ago, but ends up getting side tracked by a banshee.  Rachel’s FIB friend Detective Glenn gets injured in the line of duty and Rachel and Ivy are called in to help.  Rachel figures out that one of those involved is a banshee, who sucks the aura/emotions out of people.  Here we find out what Ivy did with the leprechaun wish she received in the first novel and how it relates to the banshee problem.

We’re also introduced to a new character, a witch by the name of Gordian Nathanial Pierce.  He starts out life as a ghost of a witch who is (conveniently) buried in the cemetery in Rachel’s backyard.  He was, in his day, one of the most powerful witches out there.  He and Rachel met when she accidentally gave him a body some dozen years ago or so. Rachel had thought him finally at rest, but such is not the case.  He ends up getting a new body by agreeing to become the demon Al’s familiar.  This also ties in with the banshee later on down the road.

Rachel causes a lot of destruction and gets a bit of bad press from the pursuit of the banshee, which probably helps lead up to the situation she finds herself in in Black Magic Sanction.  Rachel has been blacklisted by the coven of witches that guides the moral fiber of witch society. It’s something left over from when witches had to hide, but it’s still a very real thing for modern witches. While I can’t remember the term off the top of my head, it basically means that she can’t buy anything from a witch or a witch-run business in good standing.

To top it all off, this particular branch of witches want to use her as a lab rat to increase the power of witches.  They want to harvest her eggs and/or lobotomize her to get her ability to spin demon magic.  Ex-boyfriend Nick shows up again when the coven forces him to summon her.  Since she switched her summoning name with Al’s in the last adventure, the initial summoning might have been construed as a mistake.  And Nick does help summon Rachel back to Cincinnati a few hours later.

Adding to her troubles is Trent Kalamack, who is pissed by the fact that in the ever after (which he will most likely never set foot in again), he is consider Rachel’s familiar-a situation that is akin to being owned. He hates the thought of that and instead of simply asking Rachel to remove her mark on his body, he tries to force her into a contract that would legally bind her as his property in this realm.  Rachel, obviously, will have none of either and finds a way out of the situation in a suitably destructive and public manner.

Nick pits himself firmly in the asshole category in this book.  He sells out Rachel to Trent, unsuccessfully, but thanks to Ivy and Jenks’ well placed mistrust of him, Rachel hears all the details through a radio transmitter. It is highly unlikely that Nick will have Rachel’s help ever again. At least one would hope.  However, she might have reconciled with Trent Kalamack, who turns out to be a very old friend from when she was sick as a kid.

I keep flip-flopping on whether or not I like Kalamack.  There are times when I am truly repulsed by his behavior. But at the end of this book, I am almost rooting for Rachel and Trent to at least do the nasty if not get together. The story arc is obviously going somewhere that should be culminating in the next book (or two perhaps) and I can’t wait to see what lies in store in Pale Demon.