Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The City of Death/ Curse of the Iris

17675466Chadda, Sarwat. The City of Death (Ash Mistry Chronicles #2)
October 29th 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Book

Ash, fresh from his adventures in The Savage Fortress, finds that the most harrowing experience of all is... trying to ask out Gemma, his crush. He and his geeky friends have trouble talking to girls, even though Ash is really a demigod, the Kali-aastra, who helps the goddess Kali kill her enemies. When the Koh-I-Noor diamond is stolen from the crown jewels, Parvati (the daughter of the demon god Ravana, whom Ash killed in the first book) asks Ash to help her find the person who stole it, hoping it will lead them to the evil Savage. Along with the tiger rakhasa Khan, the group locates the thief, Monty, but things go badly wrong and Gemma is killed. Grieving, Ash agrees to go to Kolkata with Parvati to track down Savage, and ends up staying in an English cemetery. Ash finds Ujba, who was a friend of Rishi, the man who was supposed to train Ash to use his powers. Ash knows that he needs to be trained, but doesn't trust Ujba. Eventually, Ash tracks down Savage and is ready to kill him, but then thinks that Savage might be able to help him bring back Gemma. Constantly battling the good and evil sides of his nature, Ash travels to Ravana's palace with Savage, where Savage hopes to activate the Koh-I-Noor and become young again, and Ash hopes to bring back Gemma. Parvati is there to stop them, and Savage ends up not being everything that Ash thinks he is. When Ash gets back to London, everything is wrong, leaving room for the sequel. A World of Darkness.
Strengths: Rick Riordan blurbed this, and it is certainly an excellent choice for readers who want their action and adventure coated in a rich layer of mythology. There are so many different world mythologies that it boggles my mind how reliant writers are on the British and Celtic myths. The scenes in India, and all of the different kinds of demons and creatures are quite fun.
Weaknesses: It looks like the third book hasn't been published in hard cover in the US, which is not good. The ending is a real cliff hanger, and readers will want to know how things end. Drat! The British are much more cavalier about killing main characters, and I was rather upset by Gemma's death, especially when Ash breaks into her grave to place the Koh-I-Noor gem there. Not for the squeamish.

20783262Fry, Jason. Curse of the Iris (Jupiter Pirates #2)
December 16th 2014 by HarperCollins
Sequel to Hunt for the Hydra

The Hashoone family is back, and they come across a disabled ship which they hope will have some salvage value. What they find is a 20+ years dead crew but also information that starts them on the hunt for the fabled treasure of the Iris. Tycho, Yana and Carlo are all gung ho to find this, but their parents, Diocletia and Mavry, and their part robotic grandfather, Huff, are less than enthusiastic given the bad family history involved with the ship. It turns out that Huff's grandfather was part of a collective, along with a man named Unger and assorted other pirates, who stole a treasure and then hid it, most likely on a planet that has since been abandoned. It's not easy to hunt treasure in space when Thoadbone Mox and evildoers called Ice Wolves are on the loose, but the Hashoone family tries to work together. First, they get some clues from the bank, where there are some things in a safety deposit box (of a kind), and then they decide to hunt the treasure down on the watery planet of Europa. The children gain lots of new skills, and intrigue and adventure abound. Even if they manage to get the treasure, what will be the right thing to do with it?
Strengths: This has a lot to recommend it. Even though it's got a bit of a grim air about it (Huff? Diocletia? Someone's not happy.), it's got a lot of happy things-- a family working well together, people doing the right thing even when it is difficult, and adventure that ends pretty well. I like the trend toward space adventure. Much more fun than dystopia.
Weaknesses: This was a complicated book. There were lots of characters, lots going on, and even a huge glossary of terms at the end. This makes it great for Star Wars fans who thrive on intricacies, but it triggered my fantasy amnesia. I did buy a copy, though!

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