The Alleluia Files

by Sharon Shinn

When religion encounters technology, people die. As you’d expect when humans are involved.

Shinn pretty much wrapped up the mystery of Samaria in the previous two books, so in this book the focus is almost entirely on how the two couples at the center of the story meet, fall in love, and save the planet. A lot like the previous book, actually, minus the mystery. It’s pretty predictable, except for the “plot twists” that are just a bit too convenient to be believable.

This wasn’t the best book in the series. If you want to keep going, it looks like the next books start jumping around in the timeline, which could present some interesting opportunities. Or just serve as excuses for more romance. If you read them, let me know.

Jovah’s Angel

by Sharon Shinn

This book is a sequel to Archangel only in the sense that it takes place in the same setting, and later in the timeline. The characters are new, and they must confront a disabled Archangel, a malfunctioning god, the emergence of the industrial age, and the legacy of the settlers of Samaria.

The central mystery of Samaria is revealed by the end of this book. Although for it to have remained a mystery to the residents of Samaria for 500 years the settlers must have surgically removed curiosity from their bloodlines.

I liked it and I’ll keep reading. Shinn has created an interesting world and populated it with engaging characters, and the future will only get more interesting. (I’m pretty sure at some point Samaria has to become like a replay of the Star Trek: Voyager Episode, “Blink of an Eye.”)


by Sharon Shinn

Humanity—or a part of it—traveled to a distant planet, where their ship—or perhaps something aboard it—called itself god and sent humanity down to the surface to worship it. Some are even—genetically engineered, I assume—angels. And apparently everyone has to sing a lot, because that’s how you talk to god. It’s a caricature of religion, deployed as overt social control. And everyone goes along with it because this is a vengeful, Old Testament god that will smite anyone who doesn’t.

Or will it?

I’m a sucker for fantasy about gods and angels and demons (as long as it’s not just Christian fan fiction), and I liked this. And by the end of the book I’m no wiser about what’s floating above the planet changing the weather and smiting things, so I’ll keep reading the series.

The Language of Power

by Rosemary Kirstein

Rowan follows a slim clue to track down the wizard who threatens the world. She travels to the South where she learns the true nature of wizards and dragons.

This cannot be the last book in the series because it does not conclude the story. But this book was published in 2014 and there is not yet a fifth book. Rosemary Kirstein’s blog is active and she says she is still working on The Steerswoman series. So hopefully we’ll get more soon!

The Lost Steersman

by Rosemary Kirstein

The search for the wizard who destroyed a Guidestar and threatens the world takes Rowan off the map of the known world. There, the full extent of the mystery surrounding Kirstein’s world will begin to make sense.

This was probably my least favorite book, if only because the “demons” felt a bit too weird-for-the-sake-of-weird. Very Golden Age Sci-Fi, which isn’t itself a bad thing but feels kind of out of place in this book.

But I mean, keep going! The adventure continues (for one more book).

The Steerswoman

by Rosemary Kirstein

I picked up this book after a random encounter soon after I joined Mastodon, and I’m so glad I did.

Steerswomen must answer any question they are asked—and if they ask a question it must be answered truthfully or no steerswoman will ever answer you again. Steerswomen gather information about the world and share it freely. Only the wizards refuse to answer their questions. But one Steerswoman starts investigating a strange object, and as a result someone tries to murder her—twice.

Before long it becomes clear that the world itself is a mystery to be unraveled.

This was a great read, and one of my favorite books/series I picked up this year.

The Shadow of the Torturer

by Gene Wolfe

In the Earth’s far future humanity lives in the ruins of human civilization and an exiled torturer with a fantastic sword embarks on a journey. Before he makes it out of the city, he picks up a magic rock that provides the title for the sequel, ends up in a duel with plants as weapons, joins a troupe of traveling players, and finally leaves the city.

This book reminded me of Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth series, which is not a good thing. It is set so far in the future that anything goes and there’s no effort to justify anything. I call it space magic.

This book is a sterling example of the space magic genre. Unappealing characters. Nonsensical nouns. Supposedly super-advanced, totally unexplained technology (magic).

I did still read it, though. And I picked up the sequel, too. Although I wouldn’t recommend it. For a better take on deep future sci-fi, pick up Elder Race.