Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Greg Van Eekhout’

We return to the alt-future Los Angeles of Van Eekhout’s Daniel Blackland trilogy for the con of a lifetime and the finale. If you haven’t read these books, perhaps you should skip the rest of this post because of spoilers.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ready?

At the end of Pacific Fire, Daniel and his adopted son, Sam, were racing each other for the right to sacrifice their own lives in order to destroy the pacific firedrake created by a consortium of bad guys (and one not so bad). Which is, by the way, one of the best father/son scenes I’ve read in years. Sam won the dubious honor. His personality now inhabits a fire-breathing monster that roams the kingdom of Southern California torching neighborhoods because it can.

Daniel has gathered a posse to try and somehow get Sam out of the dragon’s body. They include old friends Moth, Cassandra, and Sam’s sort-of girlfriend Em. After a failed rescue attempt, guerilla fighters from the enemy kingdom of Northern California swoop in to abduct the firedrake. Now the race is on. Joined by the not-so-bad mage, Gabriel Argent, and his BFF, Max the magic-hound, Daniel heads north to get the one object that can save Sam.

This he does by impersonating his clone-brother, Paul, who met his fate at the end of Pacific Fire. To be fair, Paul tried to kill Daniel but Daniel turned the tables. Now Daniel has to navigate the treacherous waters of Paul’s life, including mentors, friends, lovers,  and Paul’s four-year-old daughter (a monstrosity in her own right). Not to mention the mother who left Daniel behind all those years ago. Virtually everyone is insanely ambitious, and some of them keep trying to kill him.

Meanwhile, Sam struggles and fails to stop the firedrake’s rampages. He encounters a young woman named Annabel, one of the original Hierarch’s numberless victims. Together they search for answers, penetrating the thickets of the dragon’s brain, only to confront their mutual worst nightmare. All this while Cassandra, Gabriel and Max face their own moments of decision between loyalty and justice.

As in previous books, there’s a lot of crazy magic and horrific references, leavened by snappy banter. The caper moves throughout. But this series is really about characters who lay it all on the line for family and friendship. Add in the pacific firedrake, and there’s not much more you could ask for.

Read Full Post »

This is the second book of a trilogy, but there’s no “slumping middle” here. I enjoyed how this volume carries the story forward by bringing in new viewpoints, instead of going over and over the same set of characters. I savored learning more about the Emmas, a group of golems (magical clones, essentially) all grown from a woman named Emma, who have their own resistance network.

Ten years pass between California Bones and Pacific Fire. This allows several characters to mature enough to be fully active in the plot. Sam Blackland, Daniel’s adopted son and a golem made from the dreaded Hierarch, is most important of these. It also allows more consequences of Daniel Blackland’s powers to unfold. Other characters who were believed dead return here, and there’s continued reflection on how the powerful prey upon the weak.

This is, again, a heist novel set in an alt-history Los Angeles. Daniel learns that some of his old enemies have banded together and are trying to create their own dragon. Pacific drakes are one of the largest and most terrible species. They are also extinct. However, the consortium has gathered enough fossil bones from individual dragons to assemble a complete skeleton. They plan to use Sam’s life force to reanimate the beast.

Nobody really wants to know what would happen with such evil people controlling an unstoppable dragon. The only certainty is that a lot of innocents will die. It’s a twisty plot with a lot of heart, despite the occasional creepy cannibalistic references. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Read Full Post »