BooksOfTheMoon

Terminal Uprising (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse #2)

By Jim C. Hines

Rating: 4 stars

The second volume of Hines’ Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is just as fun and engaging as the first. Mops and her motley crew have been on the run from the Alliance aboard the Pufferfish for four months when their contact in Command sends them to a mysterious rendezvous who, in turn, provides information that leads them back to the one place they don’t want to go: Earth.

What they find on Earth isn’t really going to be a surprise to anyone with any experience in the genre (heck, or even in storytelling as a whole). Well, the first thing they find, at least; the second is more of a surprise. Wolf gets some decent characterisation here, as a secondary PoV character, and learns that war isn’t as much fun as she thought. Especially when others are looking to her for leadership in Mops’ absence.

It’s all change by the end of the book, and I really have no idea where Hines is going to go from here. He seems to have set up a bit of a Kobayashi Maru for himself in the war between the Alliance and the Prodryans. I look forward to seeing where he takes Mops and her crew and how their actions change the balance of power in the galaxy.

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Terminal Alliance (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, #1)

By Jim C. Hines

Rating: 5 stars

Despite the blurb describing this as a “hilarious” book, it’s much more serious than I was expecting from a group of space janitors accidentally being left in charge of a spaceship, while still being an awful lot of fun to read. I was expecting the out and out comedy of something like Red Dwarf, but Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her crew are remarkably competent.

The book is set after the zombie apocalypse on Earth, where humanity pretty much destroyed itself. The alien Krakau discovered and started curing us, in exchange for helping fight in their Alliance’s war against the Prodryans. Mops is head of the hygiene and sanitation team aboard the EMCS Pufferfish (I do like how the Earth warships are named after the most deadly things on the planet, including the EMCS Mantis Shrimp, the EMCS Hippopotamus and, my favourite, the EMCS Honey Badger) and after a battle, her team is the only one unaffected by a bioweapon that undoes the cure, reverting humans to shambling biters. They have to save their crew, learn to work the ship, and stop the weapon being unleashed throughout human space.

Like I said, I was expecting an out and out farce, but the book is played much straighter than I was expecting (notwithstanding the Clippy-like Puffy, who appears to offer tutorials on how to work the ship (“It looks like you’re trying to fire the weapons. Would you like some help…?”). The menace is real, and the aliens are all interesting and well-created species. When they try to contact Command for help, they’re basically told that they can’t afford to take any chances with the bioweapon and that the affected crew will be “put down”. This is what prompts Mops to effectively hijack her own ship to try and save her crewmates.

The worldbuilding is intriguing, the rest of Mops’ crew are all good characters, even if they don’t get the same characterisation as Mops herself. There’s the ex-marine, Munroe, with an intelligent prosthetic arm; Kumar, who reads technical manuals for fun; and Wolf, young and eager to fight.

There’s some major revelations towards the end of the book and it’ll be really interesting to see if Hines can pull off the consequences for the rest of the series. Either way, I enjoyed this a lot and I’m looking forward to more adventures of the Pufferfish and her motley crew.

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Year of publication: 2017

Goblin Quest (Jig the Goblin, Book 1)

By Jim C. Hines

Rating: 4 stars

This a fun wee story about a Goblin just minding his own business, doing his Goblin-y things (mostly involving being picked on by other Goblins) when a group of adventurers come into his mountain, kill the other members of the scouting party and capture him to be their guide further into the mountain.

As other reviewers have noted, there’s a strong influence from D&D-style roleplaying involved here (it was, actually, one of the reasons I picked it up – in one of my group’s RPGs, we encountered a stray Goblin child and adopted him as our mascot for the party). Jig here is a fun character, a Goblin who is actually competent and refuses to just barge in and try and kill things, while also stabbing his own colleagues in the back (something his fellows despise him for). He grows as a character a lot during his time with his captives and even bonds with one of them. Not being particularly strong or fast, he has to think his way out of situations, and he does so with flair.

A fun wee fantasy story, with a heavy D&D influence that’s easy to read, with a sympathetic protagonist. It certainly makes me re-evaluate my actions as a PC in our D&D campaign!

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Year of publication: 2004

Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris, #2)

By Jim C. Hines

Rating: 4 stars

The second volume of the Magic Ex Libris series kicks off a few months after the first, with Isaac, Lena and Nedhi chasing after someone who murdered a wendigo. There’s a girl who can use e-readers for libriomancy (something thought to be impossible) and someone who’s after Lena and her own powers.

Like its predecessor, this is a fun book. Isaac is a very likeable protagonist, the love triangle between him, Lena and Nidhi is sensitively handled and you can’t complain about lack of action. In fact, if I had one complaint, I’d say that at times you barely had time to breathe between big set-pieces where things were exploding, being captured, breaking free etc.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of Janeta and her abilities. Being introduced in the opening chapter, she felt like a Chekov’s Gun, but (given the epilogue) it seems that she’s being held back for the next book.

I must confess that the ending, with Isaac having his magic taken away, blindsided me. I wasn’t expecting that. Well, maybe not so early in the series. I thought maybe it might go a bit Earthsea, and he’d lose it in the final showdown in the final book, but this is intriguing. I assume that he’ll get it back since otherwise, the next couple of books are going to be short!

An enjoyable and fairly short and easy read. I look forward to getting the next book in the series.

Book details

ISBN: 9780091953461
Publisher: Del Rey
Year of publication: 2013

Libriomancer

By Jim C. Hines

Rating: 4 stars

A book about a secret society of magicians who do magic through their love of books?! How could I not love this? Isaac is a libriomancer, someone with the power to reach into a book and pull out objects (and, in rare cases, living creatures) to use in our world. Johannes Gutenberg created libriomancy and he’s still around (thanks to supping from the holy grail) but he’s gone missing, and vampires are attacking libriomancers and those close to them. It’s up to Isaac, along with the dryad Lena Greenwood, to discover what’s going on.

This was a lot of fun. The book was incredibly readable. It’s not hugely complex but the characters are enjoyable and the reason that Lena seeks out Isaac makes for an interesting dilemma, and moreso when a revelation makes that more complicated. I’m not entirely comfortable with the ethics of Lena’s situation (i.e. a magical creature, created in a book to be a man’s fantasy and moulded to his personality) but I think it’s handled well. I’ll look forward to looking out the next book in the series.

Book details

ISBN: 9780091953454
Publisher: Del Rey
Year of publication: 2012

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