Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

a black dragon holds a porthole showing the iconic Russian church in Moscow's Red SquareThis is my current book: Naomi Novik’s Blood of Tyrants. It’s the seventh book in her recreation of the Napoleonic Wars with dragons, after Crucible of Gold. Some have compared her to author Patrick Kelly, but with dragons as well.

Mind you, I don’t picture the dragon Temeraire as having blue eyes. I think they’re black, like the rest of him.

Recent books

The Complete Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

I recently polished off Ian M. BanksConsider Phlebas, about a changer named Horza; his Matter, a Culture novel about a shell world with multiple surfaces 1400 km apart; and his Transitions, which is not a book about the Culture but about hopping from one reality to another. I find his books a little hard to get into because it’s hard to care about what happens to the characters. I’ve read a couple of others and they seem very intellectual: Banks is a big-picture guy.

I read The Complete Fuzzy compendium of H. Beam Piper novels. The first is Little Fuzzy. The second is Fuzzy Sapiens. And the third is Fuzzies and Other People, which was discovered in manuscript many years after Piper’s unfortunate suicide.  They are old-fashioned space opera. Everyone smokes and drinks; women are called “girls” and work as secretaries. No one worries about alien diseases or incompatible biochemistry; but on the other hand, biochemistry and evolution are elements in the story. The stories also deal with greed and land grabs.  They were OK light reading and rather charming. They would also be suitable for young readers.

For fillers, I reread John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, an homage to Robert Heinlein but well done and not as obvious as Spider Robinson’s attempts, and Time Traps, a collection of time travel stories edited by Robert Silverberg, whose asides are full of himself as usual.

Finally, I read a couple of good science fiction cat stories from a big book of cat stories. The novella was Novice by James H. Schmitz, in which Telzey Amberdon first appears and makes telepathic contact with an alien species. The shorter story was “The Game of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger) from Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1955.

There’s a wrenching difference between the convoluted and rarefied worlds of Iain M. Banks and the straightforward stories by the other authors.

Summer reading

Those of you who are tired of George R. R. Martin’s meandering opus, A Game of Thrones, might like some Barbara Hambly’s novels. They have mystery, good and evil, monsters, and magic–and things get resolved.

The Antryg Windrose Chronicles (Empire of Gwenth fantasy):
1. The Silent Tower
2. The Silicon Mage (1 & 2 are also published together as Darkmage.)
3. Dog Wizard
4. Stranger at the Wedding (standalone novel in same universe, next summer)

The Kingdom of Darwath fantasy series:
1. The Time of the Dark
2. The Walls of Air
3. The Armies of Daylight
4. Mother of Winter
5. Icefalcon’s Quest

The Unschooled Wizard fantasy series (possibly the same universe in a different era):
1. The Ladies of Mandrigyn
2. The Witches of Wenshar
3. The Dark Hand of Magic

Winterlands (Dragonsbane) a ruined quasi-Scotland with dragons:
1. Dragonsbane
2. Dragonshadow
3. Knight of the Demon Queen
4. Dragonstar

Bride of the Rat God (standalone, 1920s Hollywood with Chinese magic)

Victorian vampires (Victorian Europe with vampires):
1. Those Who Hunt the Night
2. Travelling with the Dead
3. Blood Maidens (haven’t read this one)

Benjamin January mysteries (historical, New Orleans 1830s):
1. A Free Man of Color
2. Fever Season
3. Graveyard Dust
4. Sold Down the River
5. Die Upon a Kiss
6. Wet Grave

Also recommended:
* Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series
* Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart Victorian series (lighter, YA style, but quite standable)
* Guy Gavriel Kay‘s Fionavar Tapesty series

Currently reading: Snow Crash

I’ve been dipping into Neal Stephenson’s book Snow Crash for some time now, off and on. It’s a cyberpunk dystopia in the near future when government has been replaced by corporations, from the Feds to the Mafia and independent nations or territories from individuals to “franchulates” or franchised consulates. Snow Crash is the name of a new computer virus or drug or…. I’ve reached Page 222 and the story is finally beginning to make sense. My interest has been sustained by Stephenson’s inventive ideas and amusing touches: the good-guy protagonist is named Hiro Protagonist.

When fantasy meets technology

funny pictures of cats with captions
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It can be kind of fun.

Currently reading


  • The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh by C. J. Cherryh
  • The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, stories selected by Ellen Datlow
  • The Heart of Valor by Tanya  Huff – third in a series about a sergeant in warfare


  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. Finished. It really is like Heinlein without the lectures.

Currently reading: “Victory of Eagles” by Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles

Victory of Eagles

Bless Naomi Novik and her “beta readers” for turning out well constructed historical fantasy. Imagine Horatio Hornblower meets Lessa of Pern. In Novik’s alternate history, the Napoleonic wars are being fought with aerial support mounted on flying dragons. Victory of Eagles is the fifth in the series.

The chief draconic character is Temeraire, a large black dragon of the Celestial breed. His human rider is Captain Will Laurence. As the book opens, Laurence and his dragon partner, Temeraire, are unwillingly apart. Laurence is under sentence of death and is being kept imprisoned–his life used to keep Temeraire docile.

But events sweep them up when Napoleon and his dragons invade England under the direction of the Chinese dragon Lien.