Tag Archives: dragons

The Awful Truth About Forgetting (Rachel Griffin #4)

Title: The Awful Truth About Forgetting

Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Series: Rachel Griffin #4

Rachel is determined to fight against the demons invading her world—if anyone could figure out how. But she’s also struggling with the betrayal of one of her closest friends, and the things she remembers that everyone else forgets. Ordinary magical school life once again mingles with an adventure that could determine the fate of the world.

I like that Rachel is learning physics from Gaius. I also like the growing relationship with Vlad and the Knights—and how Rachel is now a key figure for Vlad as well.

“We are defending the world,” replied Vlad, firmly. “I am not certain that all we do keeps the entire world from spinning off into chaos. But, on the other hand, I am not sure it doesn’t. Why would I take the risk?”

And the humor is, as always, spectacular. Sigfried takes another easy first place with his many quotable moments.

“Siggy! Come and meet me in the gym. I’ve had a most superior idea! Come see!” Rachel spoke into her calling card.
“I can’t. We’re locked in.” Sigfried sounded petulant, as if the security measures had been designed to personally stop him. “Lucky and I are burrowing through the basement floor with flaming acid. But we won’t be out for another hour or two.”

The revelation of one of the major villains was a very nice surprise. Rachel can’t tell anyone who could help, because that would mean showing that she’s aware of something she should have forgotten. Rachel is also starting to run into real trouble due to her relationship with Jariel. Her trust in him is pitting her against those she loves, who still see him as an enemy.

Overall this was a fantastic fourth book, and given the secrets revealed by the end, I hope the next will not take long to arrive. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland (Rachel Griffin #3)

Title: Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland

Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Series: Rachel Griffin #3

When a bit of dreamwalking goes wrong, Rachel ends up across the world and deep in another mess. Demons are breaking into her world—and will break her world utterly if they aren’t stopped. The only problem is that no one knows how to stop them.

The best thing about these books is still the humor. Siggy and Lucky, as always, get first place.

“Sorry,” growled Lucky. “Couldn’t resist. I mean they were just flying there… like tiny chickens. Who could be expected not to want to annihilate them utterly with super-hot flame?”

But they’re starting to get fierce competition from Gaius, whose remarks often left me in stitches.

Gaius raised his right hand solemnly, “I will keep your secret. Er… with Vlad’s standard clause of: ‘if you are planning to blow up a significant portion of the world, the deal is off.’”

Now that we’re three books in, the character development continues to improve. We finally get more details about who Vlad and Gaius were in their previous lives (well, off-planet, before-Raven-meddled lives). And the answers are fascinating, because it’s obvious neither of them have truly changed at their core, but the various factors around them may have the power to move them in somewhat different directions this time.

I especially liked the development with the Raven. He’s gone from being Rachel’s most dreaded nightmare to something closer to a best friend. It’s also interesting to see how Rachel may be unwittingly humanizing him, as his appearance has been changing from beast to angel.

I liked how history plays a bigger role in this. Certain historical references come up, and end up being very important to the overall plot. Although I’m also really amused it gives Gaius the opportunity to show off.

“In other words, we do not want any Pyrrhic victories,” said Gaius, “which is appropriate, considering that we are discussing a deity worshipped by the Carthaginians. Oh… wait. Wrong Roman war. That would be a Punic victory, wouldn’t it?”

Overall this is another excellent story in the ongoing series. If you liked the earlier books at all, this one continues to up the ante. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel (Rachel Griffin #2)

Title: The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel

Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter

Series: Rachel Griffin #2

Things have barely quieted down at Roanoke Academy since the battle with the dragon. Now that the Wisecraft know there is a geas that can control people without them remembering it, everything is in an uproar. Rachel is desperate to be in the thick of things, but the adults are trying to keep students in the dark—even though the students themselves are the ones most likely to be hurt. If no one will tell her anything, she’s determined to keep investigating herself . . .

I really like how Vladimir Von Dread and Gaius are shaping up as the book goes on. Pretty much all the adults have written Vlad (and by extension, his loyal henchman Gaius) off as evil, but as the first book showed, that’s oversimplifying things by a lot. Now Rachel is finding that the people she trusted so well are brushing off serious concerns, but Vlad is willing to take her warnings to heart.

As for Gaius, he’s enough older than Rachel to make dating a concern—which even Rachel admits. So she teeters between wanting to keep him as a friend, and wanting him to be more. I like how Gaius is, even more than Vlad, ambiguous.

But nobody beats Siggy when it comes to making me laugh.

Rachel sighed. “Sigfried, you’re a human being. You don’t have glands like that.”
Yet!” said Siggy stubbornly. “You told me people can’t turn into dragons—but look at Dr. Mordeau! If she can do it, I can do it. I have great hopes for alchemy class. I can’t wait to perform alchemical experiments on my head!”
“It’ll work out great!” Lucky added loyally. “You’ll overcome many naked monkey boy handicaps! When have horrible experiments with unknown magical forces ever gone wrong?”

The scene where Mr. Burke is trying to explain about dangerous areas to Sigfried is another bit of comedy gold. Siggy and Lucky take all his warnings as if they were signs on attractions, and wants to see them all.

This is a darker book than the previous. Although the event itself happens offscreen, a student was raped, and she’s struggling to heal.

The Raven also gets some interesting bits of development. Rachel’s always seen it as a harbinger of doom, but once she knows a little bit more of who he is and what he’s doing, her feelings get more complicated.

Overall the story continues to build and improve. I rate this book Recommended.

The Phoenix Ascension (Eve of Redemption #10)

Title: The Phoenix Ascension

Author: Joe Jackson

Series: Eve of Redemption #10

The war is in full swing. Kari, Kris, and their allies are pushing to conquer the desert kingdom of the shakna-rir as fast as possible, so they can take down an ancient evil before it unseals itself. This is complicated by the simultaneous wars on two other worlds Kari holds dear, but slowly, things are starting to pull together . . .

I received a review copy of this book for free, but I bought it anyway because I love the series.

This is a book best suited to being read shortly after the previous, as it picks right up where those left off and wastes no time throwing the dozens of characters we’ve come to know into play. The epic scale shines, although in contrast to most of the rest of the series, the grand nature of the constant battles leaves little time for anything else.

Despite the raw power commanded by many of the individuals in Kari’s army (least of all Kari herself) it was interesting to me to see how war changes things. Whether it’s Kari turning down Ashanti’s plans to fight 17-to-1, or to have the focus more on the position of troops than any individual fighter, it was clear that the sheer numbers of soldiers involved changes the game considerably. And that’s without considering Kari’s desire not to wipe the “enemy” out, as she’s mostly interested in curtailing the demon activity involved in the usurpation.

“Then we shall have to clear a path,” Ashanti said.
“I like your determination, but not your sense of self-preservation,” Morduri said with a roll of those amethyst eyes.
“No kidding,” Kari said. “Sheesh, it’s one thing to die for a cause, but can we set our sights a little higher than foot soldiers and maybe aim for fighting something like this idiot?”

There’s also still a bit of humor, even though the circumstances lend themselves less to banter.

I was happy to see several longstanding plot threads resolved—and some of them in very surprising ways (Kari’s reaction to the portal at the end was priceless). Although the plot is bending in a few new directions, it feels like the series will resolve soon.

Overall this is another strong book, though not my favorite in the series. The focus on battle does mean less opportunity for characterization, and the huge cast means it’s hard to stay emotionally connected with them all. But this is a necessary chapter in the ongoing saga, and it will be interesting to see what comes next. I rate this book Recommended.
Other favorite quotes:

Kris blinked. “I didn’t mean go there to fight, Kari. You’ve got a much tougher job than that. You’ve got to go do cleanup detail after the fight’s won. But then again, if our friends fail… kill everyone you can, and we’ll figure it out afterwards.”

Dragon Seed (Archemi Online #1)

Title: Dragon Seed

Author: James Baldwin

Series: Archemi Online #1

Hector is dying of an artificial virus, but he’s determined not to go out quietly. When he receives a message from his estranged brother, he returns home to find an unexpected opportunity to extend his life via the first full virtual reality game. The only problem is that the game’s still in progress. Still, Hector decides it’s worth the chance, and plunges into a fantastic world with the goal of becoming a dragon rider . . .

This has amazing characterization. From the very beginning, Hector’s reckless personality shines bright, and the various humans and NPCs he runs into are equally compelling. (I’m not totally ditching the “this is actually another world” plot twist, but for now they do appear to be actual NPCs).

Hector’s start in the game is plagued by some disturbing glitches. He’s dumped straight into a nightmare-grade quest, the safety measures that the devs assured him were in place don’t seem to be working for him, and he somehow caught the interest of one of the local gods (which really wasn’t supposed to happen given the game’s background lore).

Of course, my absolute favorite character is Cutthroat, the dinosaur-like mount used to haze the newbies, which of course ends up as his gifted steed. Cutthroat has all the tricks of a bad horse and then some, and her antics frequently had me laughing out loud.

Given where this ends, the next book is going to be really entertaining.

The litRPG element is fairly light, with most of the game elements confined to the character creation scene. Most of the rest of the book plays out like a more typical fantasy adventure, just with a few skills to use during battles.

Overall this was a very fun book, and I’m eager to see where the series goes from here. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime (Anime)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
Episodes: 1-25

Mikami Satoru was an ordinary man, until the day a mugger ends his life and sends his spirit to another world. Reincarnated as a slime monster named Rimuru Tempest, he fumbles his way through meetings with dragons, goblins, ogres, and more in this brand-new world.

So now that the first season is completely over, I thought I’d throw a few thoughts out there.

The first two major arcs are definitely the strongest. The initial exploration of this new world, culminating in meeting Shizu, and the Orc Lord arc were both a lot of fun whether it was anime, manga, or light novel portraying them.

The last two arcs, unfortunately, are a step down in several respects. I never liked the Milim arc much, and cutting down the number of episodes adapting it doesn’t help an already weak plot with Charbydis. The major characters here basically show up, fail to pose a credible threat, and resolve much too fast.

Similarly, the last big arc with Rimuru turning teacher doesn’t have enough focus on the kids who are supposed to be at the center of it all. In both cases, the weaknesses were present in the light novels, but not as strongly because of other interesting content to balance it out. I still hope Rimuru’s journey to the capital gets animated as an OVA, as that had several amusing encounters that the anime completely cut out.

The last two episodes are special episodes. One is a standalone episode about Shizu and a particular demon who will later meet Rimuru, and the last is a recap of the series with Veldora and Ifrit voicing some of the scenes from Veldora’s diary (the short stories at the end of every manga volume). I liked Shizu’s episode better, as it at least provides some new material. Veldora’s diary was a recap coming right on the heels of another episode with a lot of recap (plus they skipped some of the funnier bits of his diary anyway, like how he found manga through Rimuru’s memories and took it as sacred texts).

Overall I still enjoyed my time each week with the show, but I think after the Orc Lord arc the quality does go down a lot. That said, I’m looking forward to season 2, which has already been announced, as it will cover some of my favorite moments in the web novel. (The light novels covering those arcs haven’t come out yet in English.) I rate this series Recommended.

Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill

Title: Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill
JP Title: Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Not linking because this is getting published. Amazon has a good-sized sample. I read chapters 1-129.

Mukouda was a regular office worker who got caught accidentally in the hero summoning of three teenagers. Excusing himself from the situation, he goes off to find a job somewhere more peaceful than his arrival point, but his journey out is interrupted by a fenrir who insists on joining him for his cooking. Now he’s stuck trying to fill up his eternally-hungry companions, but at least he’s got an ability to buy things from an online supermarket.

I read the web novel version, so I’m not sure how much this changes from the novel version. The set up alone is amusing. Mukouda can see what’s coming as far as “heros” are concerned: war. Since he’d rather just be left alone to live a peaceful life, he asks for an allowance and high-tails it out of there. It’s a pity a legendary beast smells his cooking and gets addicted to being fed.

But Fer turns into an amusing ally, even if Mukouda has to work not to be bullied. Pretty much nothing can stand against the fenrir, who is willing to kill anything he deems tasty. So Mukouda does get a more-or-less peaceful life. He keeps gaining allies, as well, both in other people and more familiars. Ironically, they think of him as a legendary Tamer, and the few glimpses we get of the teenage heros confirms Mukouda has gotten far, far stronger than they have, despite all their Hero bonuses.

This is much more of a slice-of-life novel, with a great deal of attention devoted to the various meals Mukouda is preparing. Because of that, the pacing can feel really slow at times. I enjoyed the various bits of humor, but I do wish the story had included recipes, because it doesn’t get in depth enough to follow along.

Overall, this isn’t going to be a story for everyone. But for those who enjoy a quieter travel story about a boy and his (completely oversized and ridiculously overpowered) dog, this would be a good one to check out. Recommended.