Review: Goddess of the Dance

The Goddess of Dance by Anna Kashina

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In The Princess Of Dhagabad, the princess managed the impossible: she freed a djinn from slavery. In defiance of her father’s plans and what was best for the kingdom, she followed her heart with the belief she and Hasan would live happily ever after. In Goddess Of The Dance, the princess, now known by her name Gul’Agdar, comes to terms with the naiveté of her choice.

Gul’Agdar is still expected to marry Prince Amir of Veridue and, as a free man, Hasan is sent away from the palace. The Voices want to recapture the former djinn and a collection of wizards and sorcerers are interested to learn his secret, how he, an all-powerful one, can remain free. Then there is the prophecy, an obscure, all but forgotten scroll foretelling the end of everything.

Hasan undertakes a quest to find this scroll, hoping he can save Gul’Agdar from the same fate that befell him. Though she knows no magic, he believes she is at risk, that the Voices may seek to imprison her as they did him lest she destroy the world. Hasan’s search for knowledge occupies much of his time, but he is always available when the princess calls. In his absence, Gul’Agdar embarks on a quest to learn magic. Through her dreams, she relives the life of a goddess of the dance known as Thea. She begins to practice what she learns, opening herself to the possibility of magic. Hasan remains unaware, but the Voices do not. Neither do the other agents working against the pair.

All conspire against Gul’Agdar and the princess. Her father, in possession of a son, at last, replaces her as heir. The kingdom of Veridue falls in with the Caliph in a plot to kidnap the princess and the other sorcerers lure Hasan to the desert where a trap has been prepared. All plans fail to take into account the very factor that set these events in motion: the bond between Gul’Agdar and Hasan. Once again, the deep and abiding friendship between the pair stands against all obstacles, and the princess proves she has the power to free more than one slave.

Again, I was drawn quickly into Anna Kashina’s world. I could easily imagine the sights, sounds and scents of Dhagabad. The characters from the first novel continue to grow and the deepening love between Gul’Agdar and Hasan unfolds as sweetly as in the first novel. The continuing swirl of politics and intrigue is cleverly plotted. The meddling wizards, the long awaited for son for the sultan and the shifts of power all drive the plot forward, giving the princess’ adventure more substance. There are no glimpses into Hasan’s thoughts this novel, but the lack is more than made up for by the story of Thea as it unfolds in Gul’Agdar’s dreams.

Goddess of the Dance is another wonderful novel. I am eager to continue reading the adventures of the princess and Hasan.

Written for and originally published at SFcrowsnest.

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Review: Alt Hist Issue 4

Alt Hist by Mark Lord

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The fourth issue of Alt Hist magazine features six stories of horror, history and fantasy:

Restless by Dylan Fox set in the 1860s onboard a fleet of British ironclad warships steaming towards China.

Kleine Menschen by Eric Jackson is a historical fantasy story set in World War II Germany.

Feast of Faith by Shane Rhinewald explores the struggles of common soldiers during the First Crusade who don’t have enough to eat.

Three Months of Summer by Svetlana Kortchik is a love story that happens during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1942.

The Stork by George Piper is a backwoods horror that will scare and surprise you.

Battalion 202: A Blinded Falcon and Battalion 202: Into the Darkness by Jonathan Doering are two alternate history stories about the British resistance to a German invasion of Britain.

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Ramble: The Future of Food

This is an article I submitted to an online magazine many, many years ago. I can’t even remember the name of the magazine, but they liked it, posted it and paid me a whopping great ten dollars. I’d like to say I saved the ten bucks, framed it. I didn’t. I’m sentimental, but not about money.

The future of food: Will everything be synthesized?

Last night was a typical scene in my apartment.  My roommate and I in our respective positions on the couch, getting our daily dose of Star Trek.  We sit there for several long minutes, each of us apparently enthralled, until one must dispel this illusion, either by comment or question.  These queries are usually phrased in either of the following methods:

“You know what I hate about this series?” or “Why is it that….?”

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Story: Lost Socks

Andy, or Ser Andrew Banvard, is a character I play at Warden’s Vigil. I write a lot of short stories for Andy. He’s one of the most insistent voices in my head and such a patient little fellow. I enjoy writing him and I enjoy sharing his adventures.

In the following story, Andy has returned home after a shift with the guard. He is supposed to be looking after a cat for his friend, Iain. His wife, Blythe (Bit), is next door with her sister, Evelyn, helping Evelyn pack for a trip overseas. Andy is in a bit of a broody mood. He’s just seen Iain off on a quest, his wife is due to give birth any day and his dear friend, Evelyn, will be leaving soon after. Losing Iain’s cat will make a trying day even less memorable and Andy would prefer not to let down a friend.

((29 Bloomingtide, Evening. Highever))

The house had a foreboding look. Pausing at the gate, Andy frowned at the darkened windows and shadowed doorway. From the street, his house appeared unoccupied. From the perspective of an active imagination, his house might be haunted. Lips twisting in a pensive manner, Andy attempted to talk himself down; yes, haunted houses existed outside of stories and, yes, he had been taunting himself with the idea a rift in the Fade wandered Highever, ready to part at whim, spewing demons and the shade of every fish, rabbit and chicken he’d ever eaten onto the cobblestoned streets. But, to imagine the convergence of three such fantasies in one place…

That took talent.

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Review: Cut & Run (Cut & Run)

Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban, Abigail Roux
(Dreamspinner Press, September 2008. Paperback, 376 pages)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As entertaining as I’d been led to expect, but this could have been a much better book. There is a decent plot and the dynamic between Ty and Zane is well portrayed. The pace hiccups, though, as the authors pay more attention to the agents trying to sort their feelings for one another and while plot conveniently waits.

I would liked to have seen shorter chapters with alternating points of view rather than the constant head hop from Ty to Zane, and some of the conversations were repetitive. It was obvious they were confused by their feelings for one another and the authors did a fair job of tying that to the action, but at times the angst overwhelmed everything else.

Ty Grady kept me reading to the end. I found him fascinating. If I pick up the next book, it would be to learn more about the man beneath the masks.

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