The professionally done graphic for 'Shoot The Messenger' by Pippa DaCosta/
And, the link for those of you with AdBlock, or similar software:
Preliminaries. I picked this book because it is a finalist for the 2018 Dragon Award for 'Best Fantasy Novel (including Paranormal).' This is the ninth book I have reviewed in this series, and the third finalist in this category.
Disclaimers. I believe I try to avoid reading books with the 'Fantasy' label, because all too often I have found them to be overblown and pretentious, and unsubtle, badly executed imitators of either 'The Lord of the Rings' or the 'Harry Potter' series. Therefore, I probably miss out on a great deal of really very good books; and, when I am dragged by my betters, kicking and screaming all the way, and FORCED to read a fantasy work, I find that I enjoy what I am reading.
Nonetheless, I prefer science fiction. I like exploding spaceships.
What is Magnificent About This Book. First, to address my lowbrow prejudices, this book is neither a Tolkien nor a Rowling knock-off. It has plenty of action, and while I read nothing which is TECHNICALLY an exploding spaceship, science fiction themes are central to the plot.
In fact, the CORE of the book is about the tension between science fiction and fantasy, expressed here as the tension between 'tek' and magic. I think it is lovely when writers take Clarke's Third Law (Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic), and bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate it, or even apply it directly,and come up with a nice work.
A near-criminally brief, and totally unfair, review of the novel. This, by the way, is strictly the Amazon review that I submitted a little while ago. If they have published it before I finish the blog post, I'll link it HERE. If they haven't, I'll put the link in the comments section. That way, the comments section will get used for SOMETHING, anyway, since none of you seem engaged enough to share your opinion. I mean, really. (last edit: well, it published. So much for the comments section of THIS post...)
Kesh LaSota is a Messenger. With her sidekick, an upgraded former war drone named Sota, she delivers high-value, high-priority messages across the world of Calicto. She has a special talent for the work, being invisible to the ubiquitous surveillance that covers the entire population.
Her crisis unfolds after she delivers a message to a gangster-type, telling him he has 18 seconds to live, followed 18 seconds later by a bullet to his head.
And thus we enter the fantasy part of the novel, because the actions described in that interval would take a HECK of a lot longer than 18 seconds to transpire in Mundane Land.
Everything that happen after that is a fantasy function as well. Every commodity is available to the population, except ...water. There is a synthetic form of water, though, but good old dihydrogen monoxide costs a bundle.
Lots of action. Lots of hunky men. A few gorgeous women. And plot convolutions you won't believe, even after you see them, If you are a fan of the genre, this is going to blow you away. It's going to make the author a lot of money.
As for me, I couldn't wait for the book to be over. Umm,,,, I mean that literally. I read the first half, realized I still had to post about it, and skipped chapters until I got to the end. I am utterly fine with that,as I am with the fact that this book outsells almost every single book I really like.
Quite possibly will win the Dragon Award.
Closing commentary on the review, and whatever else comes into my head. It was the scarcity and incredibly high monetary value of water that really kicked me out of the novel. Synthetic water? REALLY? Honestly, my reaction to that was to go check on the the author's background. She CLEARLY was writing at an adult level, but synthetic water is a concept I would have expected to see in a story written by a sixth grader. And, by the way, the author has an astounding number of published novels, and she's publishing in a field that I understand to bring in carloads of cash for those who write it, so, sure. I guess she gets to write about synthetic water if she wants to.
Personally, though, once I was knocked out of the narrative, I stayed out.
This is the opening volume in a 'slow burn Reverse Harem' series, and the author is careful to point that out to us. I do not know what a 'slow burn Reverse Harem' is, and my 'Freakishly Aversive Reaction To Reading Even Soft Porn' warning light started flashing when I came across the word 'harem.' As I disclosed in the review, I skipped a LOT of the last half of the book, but from what I DID read, it's obvious that there is some magically-induced non-consensual sex action I missed, for which I am grateful. I accept that it is a rule of certain genres that there MUST be incorporated some explicit sex, and that bedroom doors are a fiction. This will likely garner votes for this book, as it has garnered cash for the author.
Peace be on your household.