Category Archives: Adult

Subjugation (Subjugation #1)

Title: Subjugation

Author: James Galloway

Series: Subjugation #1

Humans had dreamed of alien contact, but nobody expected the Faey to show up one day in a gigantic battleship, demanding Earth surrender or be annihilated. These blue-skinned humanoids then solidified the subjugation by using their telepathy to root out and crush any resistance. But Jason Fox refuses to surrender. His plan to do just well enough in school to avoid forced labor on the farms and then wash out to a quiet career comes to a screeching halt when he captures the interest of one of the Faey Marines stationed in his town. She wants him, and she won’t take no for an answer. Soon his little resistance snowballs into a far bigger fight than he ever imagined.

I’m really torn on this book. On the one hand, I love the detailed descriptions of alien tech. The ideas behind it, how it fits together, and how Jason scrapes by with obsolete components built to do something outside the original specs is a lot of fun. The plasma-based technology is interesting, and some of my favorite parts are where the story spends a page or more simply breaking down how the newest gadget works. Add to that the challenge of building a habitable base in an urban wilderness of abandoned towns, or the various prank wars Jason initiates, or the eventual real war that happens despite everything, and there’s a lot of fun to be had.

And the twist about human telepaths was really good.

On the other hand, there’s just no way I buy the “romantic” relationships. The Faey are a female-dominated society whose women are a teenage boy’s wildest dream come true: girls whose thoughts are dominated by sex, all have great bodies, and don’t mind sleeping around. All. The. Time. In fact the book gets pretty fervent in its defense of why it’s totally okay for Jason to be true loves with one Faey female but bedding anyone else he finds attractive. And his partner equally expects to be able to sleep around herself.

I don’t buy the lack of jealousy (he rationalizes the situation over and over to himself, but since when was jealousy rational?), or on the flip side, the way his roaming eye isn’t degrading his bond with his true love. I don’t see anything deep in his relationship with the woman he gets involved with. It’s a relationship that starts with her not honoring his “no,” and even though that drives him wild, once he ends up sleeping with her they’re golden. I could go on, but it boils down to Sex Makes Everything Better just being something that ought to work out better in theory than in practice.

(For a great counter-example, see Teckla by Steven Brust, where Vlad and his wife love each other but have irreconcilable political differences. And this is not because I think everything ought to end unhappily, but because it highlights the hard truth that holding to convictions can cost you, and which ones you choose to hold on to determine what has to be sacrificed).

Overall, whether or not you like this is going to depend on two things: if you like getting a lot of details about pretty much everything, and if you don’t mind or enjoy the way all the sex gets presented. I rate this book Neutral.

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A Simple Task

Title: A Simple Task

Author: James Galloway

No particular series, but set after Pyrosian Chronicles #3

Tarrin’s work for the God of Gods has put him into an interesting situation. He’s tasked to stop a war, and without using his preferred method of wanton destruction to both sides. Since subtlty isn’t his strong suit, he ropes Miranda and a few others into the scheme to make a boy a king worthy of his crown, stop a war, and preserve the Balance of the multiverse.

As a “short” story (still the length of a long novel), this is an interesting addition to the canon. I actually hadn’t been aware of this until my recent reread through the main series, so I was very happy to find a bonus story to cap everything off.

This is set several years after Demon’s Bane, so it does help to have read the Firestaff series and the Pyrosian Chronicles first. Amazingly, it manages to introduce even more different types of magic (psyonics/will, which was very briefly mentioned in previous books but gets a fuller treatment here, plus some of the tricks Tarrin has picked up that he insists aren’t magic but certainly behave that way).

I like that we do get several returning characters, although I wish Haley got a bigger role. But the returning characters also hamper the story a bit, as the characters from the new world tend to take a back seat to the ones imported to help Tarrin with his job.

I also found it fun how much of Polin’s education centers around teaching him that even though he’s the king, he doesn’t have the power to fix everything, and he shouldn’t try. That no matter what he does, people will still suffer, but his job is to do what he can where he can so he can be a good king.

Overall, this is more of an optional extra for those who liked the main series. It serves to answer a few lingering questions (Telven, Haley, and what’s up with Tarrin’s alter-ego on Pyrosia), and provides a bit of fun in a new place, but doesn’t impact the characters or the world too heavily. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

Demon’s Bane (Pyrosian Chronicles #3)

Title: Demon’s Bane

Author: James Galloway

Series: Pyrosian Chronicles #3

Pyrosia is in trouble. Tarrin is dead, a Demon Lord is on the loose, and the pieces of Tarrin’s sword–which still contain all the power of a god–have been scattered across the world. The situation is grim for the defenders. They’ve put everything on the line, but without Tarrin, is it going to be enough? Meanwhile, Tarrin has used the destruction of his body to launch his soul into the Crossroads, a place where he can continue his hunt for the One. The single rule of the Crossroads is “Do no violence.” But Tarrin has never been inclined to follow the rules . . .

It’s interesting to me how basically every book in this series manages to introduce so many new things. In this case, the big addition is the other planes Tarrin traverses in his search for the One’s home domain. In those places, the rules can be very different, and Tarrin only has a few tricks and no friends.

Although the Goddess does send Jula and Tsukatta to attempt to head him off.

Also fun is that Demon’s Bane (aka Bane) proves to be very much like Val’s shadow in that it can evolve as it grows. The problem is, it either doesn’t or can’t talk, so nobody on either side has any idea what it’s up to, because it’s not indiscriminately slaughtering demons the way everyone expected.

There’s also a rather massive war—which, ironically enough, isn’t actually the point (although if the Demons win, it would certainly make Tarrin’s plans more difficult). So there’s plenty of large-scale action as Pyrosia’s version of the Blood War plays out.

I love the surprise near the end, too, with how the situation in Pyrosia works out. Seeing Triana and Haley’s reactions in particular cracks me up. Poor Triana can handle just about everything except Tarrin, because he surprises everyone, even himself.

Overall, this is an excellent finish to the trilogy, and properly caps off the saga of the Firestaff. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

See my reviews and more at https://offtheshelfreviews.wordpress.com/

Sword of Fire (Pyrosian Chronicles #2)

Title: Sword of Fire

Author: James Galloway

Series: Pyrosian Chronicles #2

Tarrin has one simple mission: find out what happened to the Dwarves and Sorcerers that entered Pyrosia a few thousand years earlier to escape the Blood War. And now that’s become a more urgent mission to find Kimmie and Phandlebrass, who escaped an avalanche and entered that world almost a month ago. But the more they explore Pyrosia, the more they realize something is very wrong. The local Younger god is consorting with demons, the Elder god has abandoned his responsibilities, and Kimmie’s trail is going in worrying directions . . .

This book is so much fun. Tarrin reacts about as well as could be expected to a culture built on oppression, and besides leaving a rather messy trail carved through the countryside, ends up caring for a few children that caught his attention. Eventually he takes personal affront to the One and continues to escalate their spats.

And behind all the action is the question of just how much of his power as a god has followed him back to his mortal life, and what that’s going to mean for him going forward. The majority of the gods on Sennadar are overjoyed he left and don’t want him to come back, which is causing all sorts of problems as his Goddess tries to stand up for him.

But soon what Tarrin wants becomes secondary to what has to be done. And since it’s indirectly his fault, he feels responsible to fix it.

It’s hard to say everything I’d like to say about this book because most of that would spoil something good. This is another great adventure, with crazy fights, spectacular magic, and clever twists. Highly Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

Axe of the Dwarven King (Pyrosian Chronicles #1)

Title: Axe of the Dwarven King

Author: James Galloway

Series: Pyrosian Chronicles #1 (sequel series to Firestaff)

The threat of the Firestaff has been neutralized for another 5000 years, and Tarrin is more than ready to settle into the “happily ever after” the Goddess promised him. He has his house, his mates, his children, his friends. And those friends are getting married and having children, too. Triana wants to train him as a Druid, and Tarrin wants to dig deeper into the lost race of the Dwarves. But Tarrin can never forget what he did to defeat Val, not entirely. Not when the gods are still skittish of him, and some of them think it would be better if he hadn’t come back. And when an unexpected confrontation turns ugly, the past resurfaces in ways no one expected . . .

This is an unusual book in that the majority of it is basically an extended epilogue to the Firestaff series. Triana’s been threatening Tarrin with Druidic training for a while, and she finally has an opportunity to make good on that. Everyone who went back to their own homes is settling into their lives again, which means lots of vacations for babies—but traveling halfway across the world isn’t quite the barrier it used to be now that the spell to teleport has been rediscovered. It’s a good chance to see how the new normal is shaping up.

Of course, “normal” only goes so far when it comes to someone like Tarrin, who still has some interesting echoes from his ten minutes as a god. And when those become too big to ignore, it throws a whole new set of complications into his formerly peaceful life.

I like the extension of the story beyond the bounds of Sennadar. A new world introduces a new set of rules, new opportunities and limitations, and plenty of opportunities for Tarrin to get into mischief.

Overall this might feel slow to get going, due to all the normal life stuff at first, but I enjoyed it, and it sets the stage for another adventure. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

Weavespinner (Firestaff #5)

Title: Weavespinner

Author: James Galloway

Series: Firestaff #5

The Firestaff’s final defense did the unthinkable—Tarrin is once more completely human, and without any memories of the last two years, from the point when he was bitten onwards. And he now HAS the Firestaff, which puts everyone in a double dilemma. How can they protect the Firestaff appropriately without Tarrin’s previous abilities? And now that Tarrin has a choice about whether or not he’ll go back to being a Were-Cat, what will he choose?

This is an excellent cap to the series. Tarrin’s quest has drawn together a diverse group of people, but the problem is that HE’S the one that drew them together, and now that he’s basically a different person, no one knows what to do with him. His personality had been twisted by the Cat, by the abuse he suffered, and by the atrocities he inflicted, but now without any of those staining his soul he’s much more open and friendly. On the other hand, everyone he dearly loved except for his family and the two who came from his village is now just another set of strangers.

The group that stood up to every challenge so far is now disintegrating as their different opinions about what Tarrin needs to do start tearing them apart.

I don’t like Auli. Tarrin’s consistent in his weakness towards beautiful women showing an interest in him, but it is annoying to see how weak his convictions are when a woman comes after him. And she causes a heap of trouble for Tarrin without ever really getting appropriately punished.

After the whole mess with Tarrin’s choice plays out, though, there’s still the issue of the Firestaff. Tarrin knows now when it’s due to activate, and he has a plan . . . but Val’s forces strike and that goes out the window. So Tarrin concocts a new plan to make Val pay. He shows he’s learned the various lessons of his journey very well, and the showdown is an amazing conflict.

Overall this is a great finish to the main arc (there’s a followup series, The Pyrosian Chronicles, which finishes out the story of the Firestaff). It’s shorter than most of the other books but it still has a ton of impact. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm

The Shadow Realm (Firestaff #4)

Title: The Shadow Realm

Author: James Galloway

Series: Firestaff #4

Tarrin thought they would have a head start on the Firestaff, but after it revealed itself at the battle for Suld, their advantage has been whittled down considerably. With no time to waste, Tarrin and his friends head to Wikuna so they can use Kerri’s new steamship to find the place hinted in old poems. But no one is prepared for what awaits them . . .

This book starts well, but I hate the hedonistic society they encounter, so I mostly like this one for the beginning and the end and not so much what’s in the middle. It’s my least favorite book in the series, but it does provide some important pieces.

And the plot twists at the very end are a ton of fun. One in particular changes EVERYTHING for Tarrin.

I do like that every time Tarrin is confronted with a hard choice directly related to his mission, he won’t allow himself to be swayed. He might hate himself afterwards, but it doesn’t stop him from choosing the greater good.

Overall this is the weakest book in the series, as Tarrin’s challenges are mostly external and he’s rarely in a position where things can threaten him as badly as they did in previous books. Even so, since the plot as a whole depends heavily on what happens here, it’s not skippable if you want to see how everything ends. I rate this book Recommended.

You can read the book for free here: http://www.weavespinner.net/worlds_of_fel.htm