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After finishing the Jaran series by Kate Elliott, I turned around and read the Highroad Trilogy by Alis Rasmussen aka Kate Elliott. They were re-released in the last year or so as ebooks. Jaran is set in the same universe, but takes place a few generations before--complicated by the fact that some people have access to longevity medicine.

The Rift is a set of worlds that were colonized by Earth with ships using the "low road", slow interstellar travel. A faster method was invented/stolen/adapted after they left, but meanwhile the path had been lost to most. A few people have made it to the Rift, hiding from the government and other enemies. The main character is Lilyhae Ransome, the daughter of a mining house on a barely inhabitable world (basically, sealed underground). She's restless and has been studying martial arts with a man called Heredes. Then Heredes is kidnapped, and Lily decided to rescue him.

Reading it directly after the Jaran books made it much easier for me to catch the connections, name drops, etc. Lots of fun to try to piece together the connections while the main story (and it's complicated) unfolds. Definitely an early work by Elliott, but quite enjoyable even so.

"The old man is dead."

I then finally picked up a new book, The Sea of Time by P.C. Hodgell. It's the seventh (is that all? alternatively, already??) of Jamethiel's story. Jamethiel is a Kencyrath. The Kencyrath has been fighting a loosing battle against evil (Perimal Darkling) for thousands of years. They've been on their current planet for about three thousand. Meanwhile, there was treachery, the fall by her relatives, so she and her brother, Torisen, were raised in a kind of exile. Both have made it back to the main society, but are causing quite a bit of turbulence and mayhem in their wake. In this book, Jame has survived the randon (military) academy is assigned to the Southern Host. A good chunk of the Kencyrath have been hired as mercenaries for a fabulous trading city.

We get some more answers in this book about her and Tori's past which is great. It feels less like a diversion as some of the previous books seemed to me. I know that they're not really, everything is important, but...
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I continued on a Martha Wells binge, and read the 3 Raksura novels again. Then instigated by someone's post (sorry) and their release as ebooks, I read Kate Elliott's Jaran series again.

What to say, what to say?

Both series have incredible worldbuilding. I do wish we get a few more books in the Jaran universe, even if they're in different time periods (the Highroad trilogy by Elliott but published as Alis Rasmussen is set in the future of the Jaran series).
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It took a bit to finish the latest book due to my work's user conference and the fact that the book was almost 600 pages. It's the final book in the latest series by Kate Elliott, Cold Steel. It's told first person by a young woman, Catherine Bell Barahal. The world is an alternative earth, approximately 1800s, where the ice ages are ongoing. Also, a "salt plague" arose in Africa (something like zombies) so there were mass migrations north into Europe. Imperial Rome also never fell, although it's reduced. Catherine was raised in a Phoenician household with her cousin, Beatrice. Phoenicians are known for trade and spycraft, so they have several useful abilities for their adventures. Beatrice is a seer, and Cat has her own magical abilities. There are also 'trolls' aka some sort of evolved dinosaur-based creatures from the western hemisphere who are starting to migrate into Europa.

At the end of the last book, Cat and Bee are still in the new world in a town called Expedition. It's an independent colony next to the Taino kingdom. The Taino are an Aztec or Mayan analogue. Cat's husband has been captured and she's trying to get back to Europa. Meanwhile, the Iberian Monster (Napoleon-analogue) is planning to return to Europa as well and conquer it. He wants to overthrow the princes and cold mage houses (there are fire mages too, but much rarer except among the Taino) who have been keeping many people under their thumbs.

It's a fun series. I enjoyed it a lot. Elliott always does a good job creating a wide cast of interesting characters. I wouldn't mind visiting this world again. You wouldn't want to read this series out of order--too much going on.

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Another long delay. I was traveling again, but this time I managed to finish two books and a chunk of another one, all new. I have two more new books started and hope to finish both by next weekend.

Cold Fire by Kate Elliott is the sequel to Cold Magic. Catherine Bell Hassi Barahal is half-Phoenician and given up to the cold mages as part of a marriage alliance in Cold Magic. In her world, an ice age has continued into present day (maybe 18th or 19th century). Meanwhile a 'salt plague' has driven people out of Africa and into Europe.

She and her sister, Bea[trice], are on the run from the cold mages (who draw power from the glaciers) and are looking for allies. Cat ends up in the western hemisphere where there's an existing empire (possibly Aztec analogue) with a few European colonies tolerated on the coast. There, fire mages hold sway while cold mages are suppressed and weak. Other characters, including Bea, manage to make their way to Cat, including her estranged cold mage husband, Andevai.

I like this series quite a bit. Not as much as Elliott's Jaran or Crossroads series, but certainly better than the Crown of Stars series. I'm sure it's because of the characters. Elliott produces different and believable characters that are informed by their backgrounds and cultures. I don't find the main characters in Crown of Stars nearly as sympathetic as those in the other series.

Concurrently, I was also reading Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix. Set in a historic China-analogue, Ai Ling is the daughter of a disgraced scholar living far from the imperial capital. Her father heads to the capital after being summoned, but doesn't return. Ai Ling, under pressure to become the fourth wife of a smarmy merchant, decided to travel to the capital to find her father. On the way she becomes involved with Chen Yong, who is on his own quest to find out more about his heritage. I appreciated the strong Chinese influences including mythical creatures. I want to read the sequel, but plan to wait until it's out in tpb, probably next year.

Next I read Daniel Abraham's first book in this Long Price Quartet, A Shadow in Summer. It is strongly recommended by Jo Walton, a writer that I enjoy a lot and respect, so when I spotted an omnibus of the first two books in a used bookstore, I picked it up. The first book is complex with adult (not necessarily "mature") themes including ends-justify-the-means, enslavement, betrayal, friendship, etc. There are several viewpoint characters whose stories are interconnected. "Poets" can make a thought real with volition. The spirit is one of the andat and has a certain power depending on what the poet desired. Seedless, the main andat in this book, can pull the seeds from harvested cotton or remove a baby from a pregnant woman.

For some reason, I kept thinking of Cherryh, perhaps partially because of the concentration on politics and economics. The Khaiem reinforce speech with subtle poses and gestures. That and the andat made me think of CJC's Serpent Reach, but this could be a false echo. It's been years since I read Serpent's Reach.

The book's very well-written. The characters are interesting and I want to find out what happens to them. I'm definitely going to continue the series, but plan to read other books in between. 

On a side note, a new Sarah Tolerance novel, The Sleeping Partner, by Madeleine E. Robins, will be released later this month by Plus One Press.


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November 2016

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