AKK

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Smashwords book reviews by AKK

  • Encrypted on Feb. 02, 2011

    "Encrypted" - which I read (almost) in one go, interrupted only by work and very little sleep - is a delightful story that reminds me strongly of two very beloved books: McMaster Bujold's "Shards of Honor" (the first issue of her famous Barrayar series) and the more recent steampunk magic novel "Havemercy" by Jones and Bennett. However, "Encrypted" manages to avoid the issues found in both books, making it a truly enjoyable read with complex plot, believable (and captivatingly flawed) characters, a truly unique setting and storytelling that matches the fast pace of the events to a proverbial T. It is difficult to sum up its content without spoilers, so I decided just to give a list of tags I use to describe it: science fantasy, military scifi, romance, naval steampunk, cryptographics. "Encrypted" is one of the few novels that uses science not only in terms of useless gibberish or as backdrop for the hero(ine)s romantic interest, but as a truly thought-out plot device, despite all brilliance of the scientists involved and the science fictional / fantasy elements used in a believable fashion. As of now, I mourn the death of one character, wish for more on the two main characters, and look forward to what happened to another character, who appears grown-up in the author's next novel "The Emperor's Edge".
  • The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam) on June 13, 2011

    The Emperor's Edge is a fast-paced, character-driven page-turner which -- together with the related short story collection _Ice Cracker II_ and EEs just published sequel _Dark Currents_ -- literally gobbled up my last weekend, including the nights. The imaginative - and neatly anal-retentive - female (former) police officer Amaranthe and the taciturn, mono-if not no-syllabic (not-quite-former) assassin Sicarius (yes, the one from _Encrypted_, but as a grown man now!) are an irresistible composition. The setting is a refreshing genre mix with elements of steampunk, cop story, military and fantasy rolled into one to form an utterly compelling, self-carrying world that reminds as much of 19th Century London as of 19th Century Moscow. Language and the style of the story-telling remind me of Lois McMaster-Bujold's early Barrayar books (most notably Shards of Honor), but the dry wit & humor shown by the well-defined characters are utterly unique and not to be missed. I hope this series continues soon (though I would love seeing _Encrypted_, playing in the same universe but 25 years before the events in Emperor's Edge, continued as well).
  • Dark Currents (The Emperor's Edge Book 2) on June 13, 2011

    I've read Dark Currents together with its direct prequel _The Emperor's Edge_ and a related short story collection _Ice Cracker II_ in one go this weekend. This series is a fast-paced, character-driven page-turner one shouldn't start reading with major deadlines within the next three days, because it will grab you and not let go until you drop off its (hopefully current) end. The imaginative - and neatly anal-retentive - female (former) police officer Amaranthe and the taciturn, mono-if not no-syllabic (not-quite-former) assassin Sicarius (yes, the one from _Encrypted_, but as a grown man now!) are an irresistible composition. The setting is a refreshing genre mix with elements of steampunk, cop story, military and fantasy rolled into one to form an utterly compelling, self-carrying world that reminds as much of 19th Century London as of 19th Century Moscow. Language and the style of the story-telling remind me of Lois McMaster-Bujold's early Barrayar books (most notably Shards of Honor), but the dry wit & humor shown by the well-defined characters are utterly unique and not to be missed. I hope this series continues soon (though I would love seeing _Encrypted_, playing in the same universe but 25 years before the events in Emperor's Edge, continued as well).
  • Ice Cracker II (and other stories) on June 13, 2011

    Ice Cracker II is a small collection of short stories illuminating some details in the lives of the characters starring in Lindsay Buroker's wonderful steampunk/cop/military/fantasy series The Emperor's Edge and Dark Currents. While the stories may not be independent reads, the collection is a lovely addition to that series.
  • Deadly Games (The Emperor's Edge Book 3) on Dec. 03, 2011

    I found it very, very difficult to write a review for this book without repeating everything I said about The Emperor's Edge series in my previous reviews. It's as fast paced, as character driven with dry wit and humor as the other installments, and - at least for me - even more gripping than the previous Dark Current (though that might be partially due to road stories not being my preferred brand of tea and the fact that the character developments from the previous books come to -partial, mind you!- fruition here (no, I will *not* tell you, how. Read for yourself!). Forced to also mention the downsides, I can list only two: First, the book is too short (its 110100+ words were over much too fast), and Second, it ends on a cliffhanger (no, two cliffhangers actually: there's the emperor's note and the labyrinthine developments!) that makes me itch for what comes next. I truly hope we don't have to wait too long for Empire Edge's continuation.
  • The Assassin's Curse on Jan. 19, 2012

    Assassin's Curse is a tough, short-paced short story adventure of the center pair of Lindsay Buroker's captivating "The Emperor's Edge" novel series. Fans of the series, especially A+S shippers, would not want to miss it! At least, I for sure loved every minute of reading it. :-) Then why only 4 of 5 stars? It's because Assassin's Curse suffers from a typical "established series in between short story illness": the indecision of whether to include all the details necessary for freshly visiting readers or to accept that it is an inbetween story catering to established fans and leave out the established background where it doesn't connect to the actual plot. The result of this indecision are "info dumps" esp. in the first part of the story that are not enough for new readers to appreciate the characters (and their treats & quirks), while tempting an established fan to jump a few lines. Interestingly, the later part of the story doesn't suffer from this. Background details here (the supposed lineage of the current emperor, for example) are used skillfully as plot device and are also expanded to greater depth. Lovely so, I may add. So much about style, but what about content? It's not even 12.000 words, read yourself! No really, I don't want to summarize a short story. It would give too much away imho. However, since only two of the five main characters star in this, I think it might be nice to have the other three say their thoughts about the events: "Following heavily armed thieves onto a cursed island is not prudent." ~ Books. "There's something wrong with a man, when it takes a shot to the back to make him hug a beautiful woman." ~ Maldynado. "Whatever." ~Akstyr.
  • Blood and Betrayal (The Emperor's Edge Book 5) on Oct. 07, 2012

    The fifth installment of Lindsay Buroker's "The Emperor's Edge" novel series is as fast-paced, action-filled and character driven as the previous ones. "Blood and Betrayal" sees a good deal of character development and a holds several crucial moments for the plot, notably a cathartic experience for the main couple and a critical step with the Imperial family conundrum (Note: Amaranthe and Sicarius-shippers do not want to miss any of this!). However, be warned that some serious dark matters, including violent interrogation, only ever hinted at in previous books are put into the spotlight in this one. Ms. Buroker certainly pulls no punch here. The aftereffects, while shown, are less prominent than I would have liked, given the severity of the experiences described before, making me wonder if they are going to spill over into book 6. Luckily, "Blood and Betrayal" does not end with a cliffhanger like the previous book "Conspiracy", but it will certainly keep me at the edge of my seat wanting to know what comes next!
  • Enigma on Nov. 07, 2012

    Superb as always. The Encrypted universe (not only as predecessor to the Emperor's Edge novels) is an all-time favorite. Two smart heroes, believable action, witty banter... the only qualms I have with this short story is that it makes waiting for Encrypted's sequel all the more difficult. Anyway, if you liked Encrypted, you definitely won't want to miss Enigma.
  • Forged in Blood II (The Emperor's Edge 7, Final Book) on July 28, 2013

    What a finale! I followed this series of seven since book 1 and if you like action, adventure, humor, intriguing (and developing!) characters in a detailed world with unique steampunk/scifi flavor, these are your books! I especially liked how the two book finale touched on most if not all the important plot-defining tropes from the previous installments (and even the short stories in between them). A fulfilling closure for a breathtaking ride of seven books with just enough sadness filled in to avoid any sticky sappiness feeling from marring the experience. I seldom use the words "perfect" for a book series, but [book: The Emperor's Edge] series deserves it. Perfect!